|Friday, 19 September 2014|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 18 September 2014 Issue No: 4762
 Prime Minister Samaras to meet Chancellor Merkel on TuesdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will have a working lunch in Berlin on Tuesday, September 23, it was announced on Wednesday.
The Secretariat General of Information and Communication announced that the meeting was finalized yesterday following a communication between the two offices, noting that the meeting was decided by the two leaders when they met on the margins of the July 16 Summit.
Prime Minister Samaras and Chancellor Merkel had agreed to meet again in September to discuss the prospects of the Greek economy and the course of the Greek programme, the formal announcement added.
An announcement on the prime minister's visit to the German capital was made in today's scheduled press briefing in Berlin by deputy government spokesperson Christiane Wirtz. A federal government announcement that followed said that Samaras and Merkel will focus on the economic situation in Greece, on European policy issues and on current foreign policy issues.
The meeting will take place at 12:30 (local time) and will be followed by a press conference.
 Venizelos addresses Ministerial Conference on Stability and Development in Libya and North AfricaGreece's willingness and readiness to support the rebuilding of Libya was underlined by government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in his address on Wednesday before the Ministerial Conference on Stability and Development in Libya and North Africa held in Madrid, Spain.
He noted that all regional organisations should cooperate to tackle the problem of illegal migration in response to the increased inflow of illegal migrants recorded in southern Europe.
Venizelos referred to the importance of the international community's support to the legally elected Libyan government and the need for the country to adopt a constitution that will guarantee the state of law and the fundamental rights of the people of Libya.
He expressed support for the UN role and UN special representative Bernardino Leon and called on those present to focus their attention on the humanitarian crisis caused by the recent conflicts and the increased inflow of migrants from the Libyan coast to southern Europe.
The foreign minister also underlined that it is necessary to shape a comprehensive policy to handle the situation.
 Greece among western Mediterranean countries at Madrid meeting on LibyaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Spinthourakis)
Greece is among countries attending a meeting of Western Mediterranean nations in Madrid on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Libya. Others include Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Chad and Sudan.
Also invited are representatives of the Arab League, the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Union and the United Nations.
The aim of the meeting is to assess the impact of the Libyan conflict on the region, in terms of both security and migration, and in relation to the prospects for economic recovery. The first such meeting was held in Libya in March 2012 and followed by a second meeting in Rabat, Morocco in November 2013.
International conferences on Libya were held in Paris in February 2013 and in March 2014, and in Algiers last May.
 Greece won't need 3rd aid package, FinMin Hardouvelis tells 'Handelsblatt'BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
Greece will not need a third aid package, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis has said in an interview with the German financial paper "Handelsblatt" due to be released on Thursday. The Greek minister also appeared confident that the country's economy will show positive growth rates in the third quarter of 2014 and announced that Athens is planning to issue a seven-year bond in the near future.
According to a DPA despatch on the interview, Hardouvelis said the new seven-year bond seeks to offer investors a wider range of bond maturities and notes that Athens tested the waters by issuing a three-year bond in April and a five-year bond in July.
The minister appeared confident that Greece will be able to borrow on tolerable terms and at lower interest rates than those charged by the International Monetary Fund, DPA said.
He also welcomed a planned European Central Bank ABS-purchase programme as a means to create necessary liquidity, noting that "one monetary policy for all cannot work".
 SYRIZA leader Tsipras to be received by Pope Francis on ThursdayMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday will meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican.
According to Avgi newspaper, Tsipras, accompanied by the party's spokesman Panos Skourletis, will be received by the Pope on Thursday morning. Their discussion will focus on issues related to poverty, migration and the environment.
The meeting is considered a "historical" one, as no other leftist leader has ever before been received by the head of the Roman Catholic church.
The meeting is scheduled at 10.00 local time at the Papal Palace, according to a party announcement.
 Tsipras' upcoming meeting with the Pope is of historical significance, SYRIZA saysSYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' upcoming meeting with the Pope Francis has historically significant political dimensions, the party said in a statement, noting that the meeting "has a unique political significance for the radical Left and for Greece itself."
SYRIZA believes the fact that Pope has never before received a European leader of the Left and a Greek political leader indicates the new phase that the European Left has entered as well as the international recognition of SYRIZA.
Regarding the agenda of the meeting, SYRIZA noted that it would focus on world peace, the need for initiatives that would avert war conflicts, the migration issue as well as the necessary actions to protect the environment.
Regarding the international impact of Tsipras' contacts, SYRIZA stressed that following his candidacy for President of the European Commission, SYRIZA and the European Left are now recognized as equal partners at international fora, by proposing a different strategy for the course of Europe and the exit from the crisis.
Tsipras is scheduled to meet with the Pope on Thursday morning in the Vatican.
 Tsipras' visit to the Vatican is historic, SYRIZA religious affairs sector head Amanatidis saysMan opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP and the party's parliamentary group religious affairs sector head Yiannis Amanatidis characterized the forthcoming visit to the Vatican by party leader Alexis Tsipras as "historic", speaking in an interview with ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
Amanatidis said that the meeting with the Pope was under discussion for the past year and will be held at the initiative of SYRIZA and the European Network for Alternative Thinking and Political Dialogue. Its agenda will focus on peace, migration and environmental protection issues.
He also said that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece have been briefed on the visit.
Tsipras' visit shows that SYRIZA's positions and views on the issues that will be discussed have an impact on Europe, Amanatidis underlined.
 Deputy Health Minister Papakosta on Tsipras' visit to the Vatican in ANA-MPA interviewA visit by main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to the Vatican "could serve as a good opportunity for him to present proposals and help the prime minister and the country," Deputy Health Minister Katerina Papakosta on Wednesday underlined in an interview with ANA-MPA.
The deputy minister noted that Alexis Tsipras' visit to the Vatican on Thursday "is a good opportunity to ask for synergy on the issues faced by Europe and Greece".
"Instead of highlighting everything that divides us," Tsipras should make proposals to help the prime minister, she said, adding that it is customary for the political leaders in their visits abroad to help the country's prime minister.
Domestic confrontations should not be exported, she underlined.
The full interview will be available in Greek on the ANA-MPA WebTV site on Thursday.
 Development Minister Dendias to meet with German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel next weekDevelopment & Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias will meet with German Vice-Chancellor and Economic Affairs & Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who will be on a private visit to Greece next week, it was announced on Wednesday. Their discussion will focus on ways to increase Greek exports to Germany.
Dendias referred to the visit while addressing an event on the promotion of exports of Greek foods and farm products to the German market hosted by the Enterprise Greece state agency and the German Embassy.
Referring to the working group established as a result of the cooperation between the German Embassy and Enterprise Greece in support of exports of Greek foods and farm products, Dendias requested the preparation of an action plan with a specific timetable and tangible results to be discussed with the German vice-chancellor next week.
Speaking about the structural weakness of the Greek economy in the sector of exports, the minister noted that the fragmentation of the food and farm sector enterprises has played a role. He said that production remains small despite the fact that the sector employs three times more workers compared with France and Italy, clarifying that the sector corresponds to 3.5 pct of the country's GDP and employs 12 pct of the population.
He underlined, however, that among the major advantages of Greek food and farm exports is their high quality.
The good quality of Greek food and farm exports was also underlined by German Ambassador to Athens Peter Schoof.
 'Panic has led PM Samaras to irresponsible and uncontrolled doomsday rhetoric' SYRIZA leader saysMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, during a meeting with his aides on Wednesday, lashed out at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, accusing him of "irresponsible and uncontrolled doomsday rhetoric".
"Panic has led him to irresponsible and uncontrolled doomsday rhetoric. The prime minister's role requires a sense of responsibility and not irresponsible interventions in the Parliament coffee-shop," Tsipras is quoted as saying by sources within SYRIZA.
The main opposition leader was responding to assertions allegedly made by Samaras during talks with New Democracy deputies on Tuesday night, such as accusing SYRIZA of populism or saying that "not a single euro will be left in bank accounts" if SYRIZA wins the elections
 The panic is all SYRIZA's, gov't spokeswoman replies to main oppositionDismissing criticism from the main opposition on Wednesday, government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi stressed that the "panic" was confined to SYRIZA's camp, as it tried to cover up the thinness of its proposals and realised, in terror, "that no one any longer believes 'there is money'."
"They are busy generating leaks about 'interventions in the Parliament coffee shop' at the same time as they bombard the people with cafe-culture proposals," she added.
According to Voultepsi, SYRIZA was desperate to hide "the one and only truth: That the only sources of funding they have discovered for the 'programme' is the Financial Stability Fund and the National Strategic Reference Framework! In other words... other people's money."
If SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and his party were ever in a position to carry out their threats, there would be no 'others' nor their money, she added.
The spokeswoman was replying to reports that Tsipras had earlier criticised Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his meeting with ND MPs in the Parliament coffee shop on Tuesday night, during a meeting with his own aides, saying that "panic has led him to irresponsible and uncontrolled doomsday rhetoric".
 Government and SYRIZA policies both subservient to capitalism, KKE saysThe clash between the government and main opposition SYRIZA over who has the most "realistic" and accurately costed programme "hides from the people that the 'realism' of both is subservient to the goals of capitalist profit-making and perennial EU memorandums," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Wednesday.
For this reason, the party added, the controversy is over "a few crumbs for the management of the most extreme poverty when the people are still being bled dry as a result of the overall anti-popular policy."
 Development Minister Dendias on bad loans and SYRIZADevelopment Minister Nikos Dendias on Wednesday underlined that an agreement in principle had been reached with troika regarding the bad loans and the technical details would be specified after their visit at the end of September or early October.
Speaking on private Vima radio station, Dendias said he did not expect "troika to block the issue as there is an agreement in principle."
He added, however, that "now there is a big debate about the technical details" adding that this is welcomed "as long as what is going to be heard is serious and documented. It is a crucial issue for Greece and requires transparency..."
"There will be a settlement for business and home loans. There is no point in giving you a certain percentage, because it will depend on each case separately," he noted.
Dendias attacked again SYRIZA claiming that they have not dealt seriously with the issue but simply say what people what to hear. "The model presented by (SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras is not viable and it is not an economy model, but fragmentary promises-rhetoric of the past decade as well as a repetition of what has led Greece to the crisis," he added.
 Environment ministry unveils draft bill for end user energy efficiencyThe environment, energy and climate change ministry on Wednesday unveiled a draft bill on energy efficiency measures for public dialogue and consultation. The draft bill incorporates EU directives on energy conservation policy into Greek law.
Among the measures envisaged is the installation of individual consumption meters in buildings with central heating by December 31, 2016 "if this is technically feasible and financially sound," the introduction of carbon taxes that may lead to lower energy consumption, financial and tax incentives for using energy-efficient technology or techniques that lower energy consumption and other measures to improve energy efficiency by end users.
For buildings, in particular, the ministry intends to complete a report on long-term strategies to mobilise investments in improving energy efficiency of the national building stock (residences, commercial properties, both private and public buildings), to be submitted to the EU by the end of this year. This report will include policies and measures to enhance financially sound 'deep renovations' in buildings, including progressive deep renovations, as well as finding the best approaches based on the type of building and climate zone and presenting estimates of the expected energy savings.
 Administrative Reform Minister says Greek public sector already more efficient, for citizens and businesses alikeSpeaking at an event of the Embassy of Italy in Athens on Wednesday in the framework of the ongoing Italian EU presidency, the Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis highlighted the public administration reforms under way, such as the new functional personnel charts of the ministries, as well as the reduction of administrative burdens and procedural simplifications.
Mitsotakis also made a reference to both the significant upgrading of electronic governance and the new innovative system for selecting public servants for senior positions in the public sector.
For the minister, the public sector is now in a position "to function much more efficiently, to the benefit of the citizens and businesses".
 Duties assigned to European Parliament vice-president PapadimoulisThe European Parliament, following a proposal by the president Martin Schulz, and by an unanimous decision defined the duties of its vice presidents, according to a statement by main opposition party SYRIZA.
The duties that SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis assumed under the September 15 decision enable him among others to replace the President in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the International Parliamentary Union. Moreover, he was appointed among others responsible for the equal opportunities policies and head of the working group for the gender equality and the diversity.
 Supreme Court prosecutor orders preliminary investigation into Lagarde and Tsipras' allegations over death threatsSupreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Kotzamani ordered on Wednesday a preliminary investigation into the allegations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde and the main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras that they received threats against their lives.
Lagarde, in an interview with Financial Times, had said that she had received death threats when she spoke about tax evasion in Greece. Tsipras made similar allegations during his press conference at Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou on Tuesday sent a letter to Lagarde asking for additional information regarding the death threats she received so that the Greek authorities could take the necessary legal measures.
 Justice minister on letter sent to IMF head LagardeJustice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou, in statements to Vima FM on Wednesday, said the letter he sent to the International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde was aimed at two things.
"First, to protect Ms Lagarde's life, if the allegations are proven to be founded and second, if the perpetrators are proven to be Greeks, to hold those people accountable...I think it was an obligation of the Greek state to move to that direction and it is a legal and political act, so that Greece does not appear to be indifferent to an allegation concerning the country," he noted.
He added that he had discussed the issue with the prime minister, noting that "if the Greek state did not take any action on this, this would be defamation for the country, namely that we are a country that does not protect the legal order and the citizens' safety."
"This is the reason for reacting so fast, so as not to give any room for doubts," he noted.
He also said that "Ms Lagarde assumed her post in 2012, therefore a reasonable question arises: why has she not made any complaints for so long, and whether this constitutes a threat or a simple intervention" and added: "These are issues that fall under a prosecution authorities' jurisdiction."
On similar allegations made by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, he said: "I believe that no party leader should be threatened... He should have reported it when he received the threat; or if he did not want to report it to the prosecutor, he could turn to the Justice ministry and then I, as a minister, would deal with it, considering he is the main opposition leader."
 KKE message marking 1st anniversary since Pavlos Fyssas murderIn a message marking the first anniversary since the musician Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death by a member of the ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday highlighted the responsibility of past governments for tolerating Golden Dawn's criminal activity.
"One year after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by the Nazi criminals of Golden Dawn, we honour his memory, strengthening the struggle against Fascism-Nazism, against a system that breeds and nurtures the fascist beast," the party announcement said, urging the people to participate in actions organised by the party for the anniversary.
"The developments and revelations about Golden Dawn's criminal action, after the murder of Fyssas, highlight the responsibility of the governments until now and the bourgeois political system's tolerance of [its] action," KKE added, noting that there was now much more proof that Golden Dawn was a Nazi criminal organisation and that its criminal action arose from its Nazi ideology.
 Macedonia-Thrace minister meets protesting steel workers fearing lay offsIn a meeting with Hellenic Steel workers on Wednesday, Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Orfanos underlined that the government did not intend to allow more job losses. Orfanos received a delegation of workers and Thessaloniki Labour Centre representatives at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry.
Workers at the Thessaloniki-based steelworks had been protesting outside the ministry on Wednesday against the management's decision to declare the company bankrupt.
Orfanos said that a meeting will be held in the coming period with Development and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias to find a solution.
 Press conference on the Orange Grove one-year anniversary on Sept.24The Dutch embassy on Wednesday, September 24 organises a press conference to mark the one-year anniversary of the Orange Grove, the embassy's initiate for supporting new businessmen and startups in the sector of e-learning.
Jan Versteeg, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Greece, will present successful neophyte companies.
Visitors will have the opportunity to talk with representatives of the companies and watch videos from the workshops, seminars and lectures held during the year.
The press conference is scheduled for 13.00 at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Athens.
 Tourism Minister Kefalogianni meets with Russian Ambassador MaslovThe reinforcement of bilateral relations and the further strengthening of cooperation between Greece and Russia in the tourism sector dominated in a meeting on Wednesday between Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrey Maslov.
Their discussion focused on the further development of alternative tourism and made a special reference to the shutdown of Russian tour operators, underlining the need for safety valves that will provide guarantees to Greek entrepreneurs and Russian tourists alike.
Kefalogianni referred to the moves made by the Greek side to minimize the impact of the problems caused and the very good cooperation between the two countries on the specific issue.
She underlined that the Russian market is very important to Greece, noting that it seeks closer cooperation on all levels.
Kefalogianni invited the Russian deputy culture minister, responsible for tourism issues, to visit Athens on October 23 in the context of the meeting of the BSEC tourism ministers.
 Coastguard chief congratulates merchant vessel crews for rescuing irregular migrantsCoastguard Chief Vice-Admiral Athanassios Athanassopoulos addressed congratulatory letters to the captains and crew members of oil tanker "Bonita" and freighter "Cosco Yantian" for their decisive role in the rescue of irregular migrants in the sea region of Libya, southwest of the Aegean island of Crete, it was announced on Wednesday.
The tanker "Bonita" rescued a total of 538 people in the sea region of Libya, while 299 people were rescued by freighter "Cosco Yantian" southwest of the Crete, the Coastguard announced.
 EdF EN Hellas to build 450-mln-euro power station in CreteEdF EN Hellas, a subsidiary of French energy group EdF, unveiled plans to build an hybrid electricity power station, worth 450 million euros in Crete.
The project has been licensed by Greek regulatory authority and last Friday Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis approved the environmental study of the project. Under the plan, EdF EN Hellas will build an electricity power station which will include four windpower parks and one hydro-electric power station with a total power of 190 MW.
L. Lazarakis, chief executive of EdF EN Hellas, speaking to ANA-MPA said that the company will file an application to be included in the fast track legislation and noted that final investment decision was expected by mid-2015. He stressed that the project will lead to a reduction of electricity production cost in Crete and to lower bills for consumers.
 Greek inflation rate at -0.2 pct in August, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris) - Greece recorded the third lowest negative inflation rate in the European Union, with -0.2 pct in August, following Bulgaria (-1.1 pct) and Spain (-0.5 pct), Eurostat said on Wednesday.
In a report released here, the EU executive's statistics office said that the inflation rate in the Eurozone was 0.4 pct in August, unchanged from July, but down from an 1.3 pct rate in August 2013. In the EU, the inflation rate was also unchanged at 0.5 pct in August from July, down from an 1.5 pct figure in August last year. Estonia, Italy and Slovakia also reported negative inflation rates in August, while Austria and the UK recorded the highest inflation rates (1.5 pct each).
 Minister asks all sides 'to contribute' to lowering milk pricesA meeting on lowering milk prices between Deputy Development Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos, retailers and dairy industry representatives ended on Wednesday, with one ministry source confident that dairy companies will soon be issuing press releases to announce a 5-pct reduction in prices.
"Milk is not expensive but since measures were taken and the price did not fall, we must all show our social responsibility to the people," Giakoumatos said after the meeting. Senior ministry officials also stressed that the need for initiatives to lower prices was "self evident" for all companies that "understand their role in the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility".
During the meeting, the ministry said it was seeking solutions to improve the functioning of competition on the market in order to lower prices, such as changes to the distribution system and "dynamic" pricing.
It also urged market players to "invest in the confidence of Greek consumers" and welcomed an announcement by a dairy firm on Tuesday night that it will lower the price of one of its milk products by 0.05 euros, forecasting that this move will be copied by other dairy firms and the retail trade.
Regarding VAT for milk and other basic food products, Giakoumatos underlined that VAT in Greece was already high in comparison with other EU countries, such as the United Kingdom, but did not clarify whether it would be reduced.
Dairy firm representatives, on their part, appeared unwilling to consider a cut in prices, stressing that the recent reforms in the milk market did not reflect market needs or support domestic production.
"When the state itself increases the cost through taxation, it cannot then ask companies to lower their prices," one source said. According to figures presented by the local dairy companies, since the measures extending the shelf life of milk were passed, milk imports had increased by at least 5 pct and this had put pressure on domestic production and led to an increase in producer prices of at least 0.02 euros per litre.
 Aegean Ministry and CRES join forces in the environmental management of Greece's portsThe Shipping and Aegean Ministry signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (CRES) on Wednesday, promoting the principles of energy saving and of utilising Renewable Energy Sources, in the framework of the environmental management of Greece's ports.
In statements offered at the signing ceremony by the Aegean and Shipping Minister Militadis Varvitsiotis, he stressed that his ministry's cooperation with CRES "mainly involves our ports, their energy design and the environmental management".
On his side, CRES's president Konstantinos Kourniotis noted that the cooperation with the ministry will involve taking advantage of as many national and European funds available, putting them to good use for programmes and actions related to the protection of the urban and sea environments and the long-term sustainability of the transporation sector.
CRES is the Greek national entity for the promotion of renewable energy sources, rational use of energy and energy conservation.
 British Ambassador to Greece visits innovative Corallia technology clustersThe British Ambassador to Greece John Kittmer visited on Wednesday the headquarters of the Hellenic Technology Clusters Initiative "Corallia" in Athens, in the framework of the Greek-British cooperation in the fields of innovation and technology.
Kittmer had the chance to see in their natural environment the two highly specialized technological clusters coordinated by Corallia, namely "si-Cluster" (space technologies and applications) and "gi-Cluster" (gaming and creative content).
This was the second visit of the British Ambassador to Corallia, the previous one having taken place at Corallia's facilities at Patras, north-western Peloponnese, where the "mi-Cluster" for nano-/micro-electronics systems and applications is based.
Kittmer noted, that his latest visit to Corallia produced new ideas about novel ways of cooperating and exchanging know-how with London's Tech City, the third largest technological start-up cluster in the world.
He also underlined that a strong Greece with a competitive economy is in the interests of Britain.
 EuroParliament approves 6.096 million euros for dismissed Nutriart workersThe European Parliament on Wednesday approved the disbursement of 6,096,000 euros from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to be spent on retraining and assisting 508 workers laid off by the bankrupt bread maker Nutriart (formerly Katselis) and for training 505 unemployed youths in Central Macedonia.
The measures to assist the dismissed workers, as well as laid off workers in Spain, the Netherlands and Romania, were ratified by 624 votes in favour, 69 against and 11 abstentions.
The relevant legislative acts must now also be approved by the appropriate council of EU ministers, which is due to vote on the assistance to Greece and Romania on September 25.
The sums represent 60 pct of the total cost of retraining Nutriart's laid-off workforce so that they can rejoin the labour market, while they will also be used to train 505 unemployed young people in Central Macedonia, where youth unemployment now stands at 60.4 pct.
 Self-employed women to also qualify for maternity benefitDeputy Labour Minister Antonis Bezas on Wednesday signed a ministerial order that extends the payment of maternity benefit to self-employed women insured by ETAA, a fund for freelance workers and the self-employed.
The benefit will be given as a lump sum, amounting to 200 euros a month for four months, and the application must be received within six months of a woman giving birth.
Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said the move aimed to correct the deficiencies of the previous welfare system, which was often unfair and had glaring omissions.
 ASE's annual roadshow opens in LondonThe 9th Annual Roadshow of the listed companies organised by the Athens Stock Exchange opens on Wednesday in London.
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi and the president of the Hellenic Bank Association Giorgos Zanias are expected to visit the roadshow within the week.
The officials of the 31 listed companies that participate in this year's roadshow are expected to have over 1,000 meetings with representatives of 300 international funds and fund managers to whom they will present the prospects of the Greek economy and of their enterprises.
The listed companies that participate in the roadshow are among others, the National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, Attica Bank, Aegean Airlines, Folli Follie, Fourlis, MIG, METKA, Motor Oil, OPAP, Lamda Devolpment, GEK-Terna and Frigoglass.
 Greek stocks end higher on WednesdayGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, ending a four-day decline of the market during which the composite index lost 4.08 pct. The index ended at 1,131.84 points, up 0.78 pct, after rising as much as 1.85 pct during the session. Turnover jumped to 110.42 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.83 pct and the Mid Cap index eased 0.87 pct. Folli Follie (6.71 pct), Eurobank (3.66 pct), METKA (3.0 pct), OTE (2.25 pct) and Athens Water (1.75 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Petroleum (2.26 pct), Viohalco (2.05 pct), Terna Energy (1.47 pct) and Alpha Bank (0.78 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, the Commerce (6.69 pct), Insurance (2.92 pct) and Telecommunications (2.25 pct) scored big gains, while Chemicals (4.26 pct), Oil (0.78 pct) and Personal Products (0.75 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 70 to 59 with another 33 issues unchanged. Naftemporiki (29.71 pct), Dionic (14.75 pct) and Galaxidi (9.83 pct) were top gainers, while Atti-kat (20 pct), Sfakianakis (19.91 pct) and Compucon (18.81 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -0.08%
Real Estate: +0.23%
Personal & Home: -0.75%
Food & Beverages: +0.39%
Raw Materials: +0.99%
Mass Media: unchanged
Travel & Leisure: +0.89%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.640
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.77
Coca Cola HBC: 16.95
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.18
National Bank of Greece: 2.45
Piraeus Bank: 1.42
Eurobank Properties: 8.80
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 4.76 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 4.69 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 5.81 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.05 pct. Turnover was a strong 46 million euros, of which 26 million were buy orders and the remaining 20 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed to higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.347 pct from 0.346 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.261 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.188 pct from 0.187 pct, the three-month rate was 0.081 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.006 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.47 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 48,204 contracts with 47,647 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 94,221 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (17,106), followed by Alpha Bank (12,663), National Bank (16,216), Piraeus Bank (11,098), MIG (13,548), OTE (5,446), PPC (1,788), OPAP (1,950), Hellenic Exchanges (1,289), Mytilineos (1,976), Hellenic Petroleum (2,926), GEK (3,740), Ellaktor (1,147), Intralot (546), Frigoglass (444), METKA (333), Coca Cola HBC (265), Piraeus Port (183), Titan (210), Athens Water (180) and Jumbo (128).
 Foreign exchange rates - WednesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2956
Pound sterling 0.7936
Danish kroner 7.4458
Swedish kroner 9.2634
Japanese yen 139.05
Swiss franc 1.2101
Norwegian kroner 8.304
Canadian dollar 1.4218
Australian dollar 1.402
 Heavy rains inundate ThessalonikiThe heavy rains sweeping Greece continued to cause problems on Wednesday, though the heaviest impact shifted northward to the city of Thessaloniki, particulary the city centre and northeast districts.
Roads flooded and the Egnatia highway at Sintrivani Square was filled with debris carried by the torrents, disrupting traffic on major roads but not requiring intervention by the fire brigade. Damage to crops due to the downpour has been reported in other areas of Central Macedonia.
 Byzantine grave and human remains unearthed during works in downtown ThessalonikiA grave dating back to the Byzantine period and human remains were unearthed during works for the installation of underground waste containers along Thessaloniki's downtown Agia Sofia Street, it was announced on Wednesday.
The findings were located after workers dug a hole that was just one metre deep. According to deputy mayor Thanassis Pappas "the working crews found traces of a Byzantine wall, a Byzantine grave and a small vessel, most likely dating back to the 14th century AD. A second grave, partially destroyed by underground utility networks, with a human skeleton in it, was also found".
The works for the installation of underground waste containers are carried out in the presence of archaeologists.
 Clouds, rain on ThursdayClouds, rain and northerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds in the northern parts with rain in the afternoon and temperatures ranging from 16C-24C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 17C-27C. Clouds and rain in the central and eastern parts, 18C-28C. Clouds over the islands, 21C-29C. Partly cloudy in Athens, 18C-28C. Clouds and rain in Thessaloniki, 16C-24C.
 Two remanded in custody over football match violenceTwo men aged 24 and 27 years old, respectively, were remanded in custody on Wednesday for the incidents at a football match between the Irodotos and Ethnikos clubs, in which a 47-year-old man was seriously injured. The victim is currently receiving treatment at the 401 military hospital in Athens.
A third suspect, aged 22, was released on bail and ordered not to leave the country, as well as being required to report to a police station whenever Irodotos was playing.
A fourth suspect, aged 32, that was being sought by the authorities appeared before the public prosecutor of his own volition and was given by Friday to prepare his testimony.
All four face charges of attempted manslaughter and causing serious injury at a sporting venue.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Tsipras (Alexis, SYRIZA leader) to meet with Pope Francis.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The cost of terror.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Scaremongering off limits.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: New criteria for benefits and tax exemptions for the disabled.
ESTIA: SYRIZA invests in despair.
ETHNOS: Students transfers sink the universities in major cities.
IMERISSIA: Athens Stock Exchange in an ordeal.
KATHIMERINI: Samaras (Antonis, prime minister): Bankruptcy recipe by Tsipras.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Towards a new currency war over the euro.
RIZOSPASTIS: Government delivers Attica's coastal front to the capital.
TA NEA: Declassification of woodlands in 10 days.
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