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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-07-01

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

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

Friday, 1 July 2016 Issue No: 5197

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras discusses cooperation in energy with German VC Gabriel
  • [02] Europe will proceed without Britain, says President Pavlopoulos at his meeting with German Vice Chancellor Gabriel
  • [03] Greece, Germany to sign deals on supporting SMEs and on energy
  • [04] Environment Minister Skourletis and Gabriel discuss energy issues
  • [05] Tsakalotos and visiting German vice chancellor to meet on Friday
  • [06] Dep. FM Mardas holds series of meetings in Israel with focus on construction sector
  • [07] COSCO contract will be ratified as planned, Gerovasili says
  • [08] Government denies report of Chinese demarche over COSCO contract
  • [09] Shipping minister says government will examine COSCO's objections
  • [10] ND leader Mitsotakis slams government on COSCO deal snag
  • [11] Electoral law will have been voted by July 20, parliament president Voutsis says
  • [12] Government VP: Europe will either change or be dissolved
  • [13] European 'Titanic' still on course for the iceberg after Brexit, MEP Stelios Kouloglou tells ANA
  • [14] Government of deception and lies, says ND spokesman Koumoutsakos
  • [15] MRB poll gives solid lead to main opposition New Democracy, sees ANEL outside parliament
  • [16] German, Greek businesses explore possibilities for cooperation during German vice chancellor's visit
  • [17] Katseli criticizes new corporate governance framework for Greek banks
  • [18] UK vote will have limited impact on Greek economy, Alpha Bank's chairman says
  • [19] Large number of Russian enterprises to participate in 81th TIF
  • [20] Greek gov't to begin repayment of overdue debt to private sector
  • [21] Greek PPI down 9.3 pct in May
  • [22] Greek retail sales volume down 1.5 pct in April
  • [23] Cheaper fares to islands worst hit by refugee crisis, from Blue Star Ferries
  • [24] Athens Venture Fair successfully completed
  • [25] Greek stocks end flat
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Opera gala in the SNF Cultural Centre grounds on July 3
  • [28] Faltaits Folklore Museum on Skyros
  • [29] 57,235 identified migrants and refugees in Greece on Thursday; 36 new arrivals recorded in the last 24h
  • [30] Public sector union ADEDY to hold rally to mark one year since the Greek referendum
  • [31] Mostly fair on Friday
  • [32] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras discusses cooperation in energy with German VC Gabriel

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday received German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Athens on Thursday, with whom he discussed cooperation in the sectors of energy and renewable energy.

    Tsipras noted that Gabriel's visit coincides with a crucial time for Greece and Europe and that time has come to discuss the project for a social Europe. He reiterated that the outcome of the British referendum is a wakeup call which should be heard, otherwise Europe risks having extreme right parties obtaining a leading role. "We have to cooperate more closely," he said.

    On his part, Gabriel said that their discussion focused on investment possibilities in Greece and stressed the importance of a common front in order to replace austerity with growth and boost employment. The two sides discussed developments in the implementation of Greece's program and the procedure for debt relief.

    "It is a crucial moment," Gabriel noted and stressed the importance of bringing Europe together with an emphasis on growth and employment. He also said that countries implemen-ting reforms must be supported with investments and growth.

    The meeting was also attended by Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and a delegation of German MPs from all parties who posed questions to the prime minister.

    [02] Europe will proceed without Britain, says President Pavlopoulos at his meeting with German Vice Chancellor Gabriel

    The British people's verdict is totally respected but, Britain must decide to ratify the referendum, President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said during his meeting on Thursday with visiting German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

    Pavlopoulos underlined that this ambivalent stance in EU cannot continue adding that Europe and EU will proceed without Britain. Besides EU existed before Britain and will exist after Britain. He also noted that all those that believe in the European vision will give the battle for its completion. It does not matter how big Europe is but how better or how much better it can become.

    Receiving Gabriel, Pavlopoulos referred to a European leader with European vision and thanked him for his stance before Greece last summer.

    Greece, as Pavlopoulos said, remains committed to the European Union, and with the people's verdict, in its core, the eurozone and the people do it with many sacrifices, he underlined.

    Moreover, Pavlopoulos referred to the refugees issue stressing the need the EU-Turkey agreement to be fully implemented pointing out Greece efforts so far.

    The Greek president said that Europe should reconsider its roots underlining that the economy is important but the focus must be on the human being. Economy should serve the man and not the man the economy.

    On his part, Gabriel agreed with the Greek president's opinion that Europe nowadays is having a difficult time adding that the Europeans must understand that we must support each other. Referring to the British referendum, he supported that Britain's exit should be made immediately because if it delays it will harm both sides.

    We do not want parralel processess, added Gabriel adding that Europe will not be destroyed because Britain will leave and expressed his concern over what Europe should do so that the diverging dynamics turn into converging ones.

    He also supported that the Greeks need hope to continue and expressed his admiration for the Greek people for all those they endured in the last years.

    On the refugee issue, he underlined that Greece assumed huge responsibilities and obligations adding that European solutions are needed clarifying that Greece will not be left alone.

    [03] Greece, Germany to sign deals on supporting SMEs and on energy

    Greece and Germany will sign two deals on supporting small and medium-sized businesses and innovative products and on energy, German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday in a joint press conference with Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis in Athens.

    Speaking to journalists, he said the time when the focus of the conversation was fiscal policy has passed and now the two sides should be thinking mainly about growth and job creation.

    "Last year, Greece stunned, because instead of shrinking, it recorded growth, albeit small. Anyone in Europe who argues that there should be further austerity in Greece, is endangering this anemic growth which is forecast," he said.

    For this reason, Sigmar continued, it is important to try and help stabilize Greece's social systems and try to create jobs. "To this direction, on Europe's side, we will do whatever is possible to support investments in infrastructure, digitization and energy and I think the Greek government is doing all it can to this end," he said.

    He then went on to describe the program that will promote research and development for small and medium-sized businesses, mainly on issues of innovation. "We will open this program in Greece as well, to fund and support small and medium-sized businesses which focus on innovation," he said, adding that this program is also operating in Israel and Poland.

    "I'm certain it will meet with an enthusiastic response from the Greek companies," Gabriel said.

    [04] Environment Minister Skourletis and Gabriel discuss energy issues

    Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis on Thursday met visiting German Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel, for talks focusing on energy issues.

    In statements afterward, Skourletis said that the energy sector could be a springboard for a new growth course and an area of close cooperation between Greece and Germany, as indicated by the vice chancellor's presence in Greece.

    He said the meeting with Gabriel had been "extremely useful" for exploring the margins and potential for cooperation in this area, while also noting a very interesting conference on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency that will take place in Athens on Friday.

    [05] Tsakalotos and visiting German vice chancellor to meet on Friday

    Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is to meet German Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel on Friday at 13:00. The meeting will be held at the finance ministry.

    [06] Dep. FM Mardas holds series of meetings in Israel with focus on construction sector

    The strengthening of the export activity of the Greek construction sector dominated the two-day visit of Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for International Economic Relations Dimitris Mardas to Israel.

    Mardas held a series of meetings with state and private organizations (large construction and consulting firms, urban planners and research and development centres) of the Israeli construction market.

    According to a Foreign Ministry announcement, Mardas met with the with the head of the Housing Policy and Infrastructure, the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Avigdor Itchaky, and the general manager of the Construction Ministry, Eshel Armoni, during which they explored ways of cooperation and the joint participation of Greek and Israeli companies in public and private projects. They also discussed the possibility of organizing business missions of construction companies from Greece to Israel this autumn.

    He also visited the General Consulate in Jerusalem to pave the way for a business mission in Palestine later this year.

    Afterwards the Greek minister left for Russia, where he will represent Greece at the 34th ministerial meeting of BSEC that will be held on Friday in Sochi and will mark the end of the Russian presidency in the organization. The main topic will be the initiatives to reform the organisation

    Immediately after the end of the meeting Mardas will leave for Beijing where he will accompany Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in his official visit to China from 2 to 6 July 2016.

    [07] COSCO contract will be ratified as planned, Gerovasili says

    The ratification of the contract with COSCO, the Chinese company running the container terminal at Piraeus port, for a majority stake in the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) will take place as planned, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said on Thursday. She denounced what she said was an attempt to exploit the issue politically, on the eve of a trip by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to China.

    "As Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas made clear, the furore surrounding [this] matter concerns an essentially non-existent issue," Gerovasili said, adding that the government and the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) have proceeded to make the necessary improvements "in order for the wording of the ratification law to be legally complete."

    "The matter has already been fully clarified and the contract will be ratified as planned," she said.

    In a letter sent to the Greek parliament's trade committee on Wednesday, COSCO accused the shipping ministry of making significant alterations to the contract that the company had negotiated and signed with the Greek privatisation agency HRADF. The bill ratifying the agreement was being debated in Parliament using fast-track procedures so that it could be passed ahead of the prime minister's visit to China this weekend.

    [08] Government denies report of Chinese demarche over COSCO contract

    Government sources on Thursday categorically denied a report in the newspaper 'Proto Thema' that the Chinese embassy had sent a demarche to the Greek government concerning the contract with COSCO, the Chinese company running the container terminal at Piraeus port.

    "There is no Chinese embassy demarche to the Greek government on the issue of the contract with COSCO," the sources said, adding that the journalist involved "has for the second time in a very short period proved that his 'sources' are imaginative, deeply sensationalist and completely devoid of any sense of reliablity and journalistic ethics."

    Both the journalist and the newspaper he worked for "deserve pity ...for the level of journalism they serve," they said.

    [09] Shipping minister says government will examine COSCO's objections

    Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas left open the possibility to make changes and improvements to the draft bill ratifying a deal with China's COSCO, during a debate in the trade committee on Wednesday.

    Dritsas responded to questions from opposition MPs who asked to know how the government would respond to the letter sent by COSCO, in which it criticized the shipping ministry for unilaterally changing elements of the signed deal.

    "The government will look into it, will examine the objections, might reflect on possible improvements, will tackle all issues and we will see how to resolve the issue. This is the context of this issue. Nothing more, nothing less," Dritsas told parliamentarians.

    [10] ND leader Mitsotakis slams government on COSCO deal snag

    The leader of the main opposition slammed the government on Thursday for the problem that arose in the ratification of a deal between Greece and China's COSCO for the sale of a majority stake in Piraeus Port (OLP), after the company accused the shipping ministry of overturning important elements of the deal signed in April.

    "Never in the history of parliament has any government ever breached a transnational agreement," the main opposition leader said during the debate in parliament. He said the government is incapable of handling investments and accused it of harming the country, noting that instead of making investments a priority, it pushes away the few investors left.

    Mitsotakis also said the prime minister is personally responsible for "the actions of is minister" and accused the government of jeopardizing Greek-Chinese relations "which were built with the efforts of many governments" days before the prime minister's visit to the country just to satisfy " a bunch on unionists".

    "You failed in investments. You've failed everywhere," he said.

    [11] Electoral law will have been voted by July 20, parliament president Voutsis says

    The electoral law will be submitted to Parliament in the next days and will have been voted by July 20, parliament president Nikos Voutsis said in an interview with SKAI TV.

    Voutsis stressed that the key elements of the new electoral law is the simple proportional system with the abolishment of the bonus seats, the right of vote at the age of 17, while the threshold to enter the Parliament remains at 3 pct.

    He also appeared optimistic that the 200 deputies required to enact the new electoral law will be gathered. He assured, however, that there is no question of early elections.

    Asked on higher taxes, he said it was the only solution in order to avoid pension and salary cuts adding that he was confident that the 2018 primary surplus target will be cut to 2 pct from 3.5 pct. He also rules out the possibility of mass layoffs.

    Referring to the Brexit, he stressed the need for strenthening solidarity in EU and underlined that the "protestant" austerity policy must come to an end.

    Voutsis also said that there should be dynamic steps of democratic, social, economic convergence through integration policy.

    [12] Government VP: Europe will either change or be dissolved

    The situation formed in Europe after the British referendum has shown everyone that Europe will either change or dissolve, Government Vice President Yiannis Dragasakis said on Wednesday evening, during a SYRIZA event in Athens.

    "Now everyone recognizes the obvious; that Europe will either change or be dissolved," he said, adding that the outcome of the referendum is not an isolated event but brings to the fore a multidimensional crisis.

    "It's a crisis of orientation for Britain itself, a crisis of political and social legitimacy of the European Union, but also a crisis of content of neoliberal globalization; the globalization of austerity, privatization, of the shrinking welfare state, of explosives inequalities and exclusions," he added.

    [13] European 'Titanic' still on course for the iceberg after Brexit, MEP Stelios Kouloglou tells ANA

    Europe was failing to make a "course correction" in spite of the political earthquake caused by the British public's vote for Brexit, SYRIZA MEP Stelios Kouloglou said in an interview with the ANA in Brussels.

    "The course of the European 'Titanic' toward the big iceberg is continuing and, even though it has already hit one, they are acting as if they felt nothing," he said.

    The European United Left - Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) MEP, in an interview given to ANA on Tuesday, had just come from a European Parliament plenary session dominated by a diatribe from UKIP MEP Nigel Farage and the reactions this prompted. According to Kouloglou, the discussion in the European Parliament was "disappointing" and overlooked the underlying causes of the UK vote.

    "There was essentially no reference to the reasons that led a majority of Britons to vote in favour of leaving. And the main cause is that the European Union is no longer attractive, due to the policies it implements," he said, while adding that Farage offered an "easy target".

    "He is a populist politician; the next day [after the referendum] he admitted to making exaggerations during the campaign and was therefore a very easy target. The main issue, though, is that the discussion offered nothing."

    According to Kouloglou, Europe was once again entering the "constellation of the far right," with the exception - mainly due to their history - of a few countries in the European south, such as Greece, Portugal and Spain.

    [14] Government of deception and lies, says ND spokesman Koumoutsakos

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman George Koumoutsakos accused the SYRIZA-Independent (ANEL) government of lies and deception saying that on Wednesday 150,000 low pensioners saw a decrease in their pensions .

    "Every day the cost is increasing. Tax declarations and Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) will follow," Koumoutsakos noted during his briefing to the press on Thursday.

    Referring to COSCO, he said that the country is again facing a credibility blow. "The contract with the company tabled in parliament was different from the one signed. The country is being discredited. The responsibility lies within Mr Tsipras and not his ministers Mr Dritsas or Mr Spirtzis," he added.

    [15] MRB poll gives solid lead to main opposition New Democracy, sees ANEL outside parliament

    Main opposition New Democracy had a solid lead of 5.9 percentage points over ruling coalition leader SYRIZA in an MRB poll released on Thursday. In a nationwide poll of 2,000 adults with voting rights, 26.1 pct said they intended to vote for ND if there was a general election, followed by 20.2 pct intended to vote for SYRIZA.

    Third in line was the far-right party Golden Dawn with 6.6 pct, followed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.1 pct, the PASOK-DIMAR Democratic Alliance with 5.8 pct and Centrists' Union with 3.6 pct. The junior partner in the ruling coalition Independent Greeks (ANEL) came in next with 2.6 pct - below the 3 pct minimum needed to enter parliament - followed by Zoi Konstantopoulou's 'Course to Freedom' party (2.5 pct), Potami (2.2 pct), Popular Unity (1.0 pct) and 'Other' (2.2 pct). More than one fifth (21.1 pct) of those participating in the poll did not specify their intended vote, with 8.5 pct saying they were undecided, 7 pct saying they would abstain, 3.3 pct saying they would cast a spoilt vote and 2.3 pct a blank ballot.

    Just over half (51.4 pct) forecast an ND victory if there was a general election now, followed by 24.8 pct for SYRIZA, 'no party' with 15 pct, 'Other party' with 5.2 pct and 'Don't know/ won't answer' with 3.7 pct.

    Asked to estimate the chances that they will not vote in the next elections, 11.4 pct said it was 'very likely', 14.9 pct said quite likely', 23.6 pct said 'not very likely' and 48.4 pct said 'not at all likely', while 1.7 pct did not have an opinion.

    A majority of 55.3 pct said they definitely or probably opposed holding general elections immediately, while 39.4 said they were definitely or probably in favour.

    Asked to choose between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis as most suitable for prime minister, Tsipras was chosen by 21.8 pct and Mitsotakis by 27.5 pct, while 45.4 pct of those asked replied 'neither'. On which of the two large parties, SYRIZA or ND, were better able to handle the country's problems, 26.2 pct chose ND and 19.2 pct chose SYRIZA, while 41.7 pct said 'neither'.

    The poll was conducted using the method of personal interviews on June 16-24.

    Financial News

    [16] German, Greek businesses explore possibilities for cooperation during German vice chancellor's visit

    Greek and German business delegations meeting in Athens on Thursday explored the prospects for cooperation in a number of different sectors, including renewable energy and energy efficiency, IT and technology applications, tourism, pharmaceuticals, the financial sector and construction, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) announced. The German firms were part of a delegation accompanying Germany's Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel on a visit to Athens.

    In a speech, SEV Executive Vice-Chairman Konstantinos Bitsios urged German business people to invest in productive sectors with high growth prospects in Greece, such as logistics, the agri-food sector, energy, mineral wealth, IT and others. He also suggested investments in innovative sectors, such as biotechnology, artistic productions and fashion, where Greece could build up a 'brand name' and attract significant investments.

    He presented figures showing that Germany remains one of Greece's main trading partners, with Greek exports to Germany rising 6 pct in 2015 in comparison with 2014 to reach 1.9 billion euros, while imports fell by 3 pct to reach 4.7 billion euros.

    There followed a discussion on sectors of bilateral interest and then the Greek firm representatives had the opportunity to have private meetings with the 40 German companies that came with the German vice-chancellor. In addition to SEV, the meeting included representatives of the Greek pharmaceutical industry association, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises SETE, the Hellenic Bank Association and the Greek Logistics Company (EEL).

    [17] Katseli criticizes new corporate governance framework for Greek banks

    Restrictive criteria of a new law on banks' corporate governance framework imposed an one-dimensional management scheme to Greek banks, with board members having a limited and restricted field of knowledge and expertise, Luca Katseli, president of National Bank said on Thursday.

    Addressing an annual general shareholders' meeting, Katseli said that adoption of such a model would raise very serious risks to an efficient implementation of challenges faced by Greek banks and undermined their competitive position in a competitive international banking sector.

    A successful international practice, followed by all advanced countries and adopted by all large banking groups around the world, has become prohibitive for the country's banking sector, Katseli said, adding that a new corporate governance framework rightly promoted and upgraded banking skills that a board should have and independence from the political system but at the same time it cut the necessary connection to the real economy and deprived the fully needed skills and expertise that a board has to have as a collective body to cope with new challenges.

    National Bank's head said that the Greek economy showed mixed signs in the first months of 2016 with positive outlook, if a clime of economic and political stability was to be strengthened. "Within an unstable European environment, an expected stabilization of the Greek economy and of the political environment, the first positive signs of recovery makes us cautiously optimistic. If there were no new unexpected developments, if agreed measures were implemented fully with corrections where necessary and if fiscal and structural measures were included in a credible medium-term programme of productive restructuring, then we could look forward to a gradual but stable improvement of business and investment climate, of purchasing power and confidence in the economy and the banking system," she said.

    Commenting on National Bank, Katseli said that challenges were many and urgent. National Bank's basic strategic goals were to recover and expand its profitability, to maintain its leading role in the country's financial system and to play a leading role in the restart of economic activity in the country. The course towards sustainable profitability needs efficient and fast response to a series of challenges, such as the management of non-performing loans.

    Leonidas Fragiadakis, chief executive in National Bank, in his address said the bank aimed at further improving its operating profitability, upgrading the quality of its loan portfolio and supporting the Greek economy in exiting a recession. He added that a fair resolution of the non-performing loans issue was an one-way road and stressed that National Bank saw this as an opportunity.

    [18] UK vote will have limited impact on Greek economy, Alpha Bank's chairman says

    Latest developments after a UK vote to leave the EU have created an adverse climate which is expected to affect negatively the economic outlook of European economy and will have possible negative effects -but not significant- on the Greek economy as well, Alpha Bank's chairman Vasilis Rapanos said on Thursday.

    Addressing the annual general shareholders' meeting, Rapanos said "we hope that soon a way will be found for a smooth exit process to limit any negative consequences on economic activity". The Greek banker said he expected the Greek economy to remain in recession in 2016 and to return to positive growth rates in the second half of the year as confidence is expected to be restored and structural reforms were implemented.

    Dimitrios Mantzounis, Alpha Bank's chief executive, in his address said that a new agreement reached between Greece and its partners could become the starting point of a course towards a final exit from the crisis, if it was to be fully implemented. He said that Alpha Bank's goal was to offer long-term solutions to its customers and to raise the recovery value of NPLs through its strong capital base, a favorable legal and regulatory framework and an increased operating ability to deal with NPLs.

    [19] Large number of Russian enterprises to participate in 81th TIF

    Over 100 Russian businesses will take part in the 81th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) that will be held in September.

    Russian enterprises activating in the energy production, mechanical engineering, agriculture, constructions, transport, commerce and the supply chain will be part of the Russian exhibitors that will present their products at the Russian pavilion that will cover over 3,000sqm.

    A series of very special Russian products, some Russian inventions will be presented for the first time to Thessaloniki's audience. The main idea of the Russian presence in the 81th TIF is the promotion of Russian products, the introduction of the technology and the country's services as well as the attraction of investments in the industrial sector of the Russian economy.

    A two-day conference will be held from 10 to 11 September with focus on the strengthening of the Greek-Russian dialogue on matters of entrepreneurship as well as renewable sources of energy. A series of business meetings including Russians visits to companies and agro industrial parks will be held from 12-14 September.

    A business forum will take place on September 15 on the food and beverages production and on September 16 a forum on the tourism industry.

    Moreover, a workshop on transport will be held on September 11, said a TIF-Helexpo announcement on Thursday.

    [20] Greek gov't to begin repayment of overdue debt to private sector

    The Greek government is starting the repayment of all overdue debt to the private sector totaling 5.5 billion euros, of which 3.5 billion this year and the remaining 2.0 billion euros in 2017.

    In a circular sent to all general government agencies, Deputy Finance Minister George Chouliarakis set all procedures needed to be followed by government agencies in order to get the money to repay their overdue debt.

    Repayment of all overdue debt to the private sector was part of an agreement reach between Greek government and the institutions in the framework of a first review of the Greek programme. Implementation of this agreement is expected to offer a significant liquidity breathe to the market and the economy.

    [21] Greek PPI down 9.3 pct in May

    Greek Producer's Price Index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell 9.3 pct in May this year, compared with the same month in 2015, after a 4.6 pct decline recorded in the 2015-2014 period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, attributed this development to an 8.1 pct decline in the domestic index and a 12.9 pct fall in the external market index.

    The composite index was up 1.8 pct in May from April, after a 0.7 pct rise recorded in the same period last year.

    [22] Greek retail sales volume down 1.5 pct in April

    Greek retail sales volume fell 1.5 pct in April this year, with all store categories recording a decline with the exception of clothing/footwear which recorded an increase in sales helped by an offer season in Easter.

    Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a monthly report, said that volume of sales grew 16.2 pct in clothing/footwear and by 8.8 pct in department stores, while the volume of sales fell 6.1 pct in fuel/lubricants, 5.3 pct in pharmaceuticals/cosmetics, 1.5 pct in home appliances, 1.4 pct in food/alcohol/tobacco and 0.5 pct in supermarkets.

    The retail volume index (turnover in fixed prices) fell 1.5 pct in April compared with the same month last year, but grew 4.2 pct compared with March 2016. The seasonally-adjusted index fell 0.6 pct in April on a monthly basis.

    The turnover index (current prices) fell 3.9 pct in April compared with the same month last year, but grew 5.8 pct from March 2016. The seasonally-adjusted index eased 0.5 pct in April from March.

    [23] Cheaper fares to islands worst hit by refugee crisis, from Blue Star Ferries

    Blue Star Ferries on Thursday announced it was offering a 30 pct discount on all fares to Lesvos, Chios, Leros and Kos in an effort to reverse a negative climate and boost tourist arrivals on the islands on the front lines of the refugee crisis.

    The discount is open to all passengers choosing one of the four islands for their holidays, as well as their vehicles, provided they provide proof from collaborating travel agencies that they have booked stays of least four nights in a hotel or rented accommodation, the company announced in a press conference.

    Attica Group CEO Spiros Paschalis said the offer, which will start on Thursday and last until September, was intended to assist the local economies and tourism on the four islands, which were hard hit by the waves of refugees over the last year. He noted that it will be open to both Greek tourists and foreigners and expressed hope that hoteliers and other businesses on the islands will do what they can to promote it.

    With the 30 pct discount, the economy class ticket to Chios and Leros falls to 29.5 euros per person, the ticket to Mytilene on Lesvos falls to 32.5 euros and that to Kos falls to 38.50 euros. The price for a car will be 58 euros for Chios, 66 euros for Mytilene and 73 for Leros and Kos, respectively.

    Paschalis said that 2015 had been a good year for coastal shipping, partly as a result of the thousands of refugees travelling from the islands to mainland Greece and partly as a result of low fuel prices.

    The press conference was also attended by the mayors from the four islands, who welcomed the initiative and said it would help offset a drop in tourist traffic as a result of the crisis. Each presented their island's particular attractions as a tourist destination, such as the Mastiha Museum dedicated to the endemic mastic gum tree on Chios, the Petrified Forest on Lesvos, a UNESCO site, the natural landscape on Leros and the ever-popular Kos, whose 1.5 million tourists each year make it the fourth most popular tourist destination in Greece.

    Kos Deputy Mayor Ilias Sifakis said the island had faced a "tsunami" of problems the previous year and had to strike a balance between protecting the refugees desperately seeking help and the island's economic environment and businesses. He noted that migration flows to the island had stopped from the end of 2015.

    Lesvos Deputy Mayor Efstratios Tzimis, whose island received the bulk of refugees, noted that Lesvos very quickly created facilities for their accommodation and to preserve the health and safety of the island's residents. In this context, he urged the media not to broadcast older photos and videos they had on file, which were damaging to the island's image.

    [24] Athens Venture Fair successfully completed

    More than 40 new businessmen from 15 rising companies presented their business plans and their vision to around 120 investors from the US, Europe, Australia and Canada during the second annual Athens Venture Fair, a project by The Hellenic Initiative (THI) aimed to strengthen Greek business activity.

    Participant companies covered a wide range of business sectors, such as food/beverage, technology, health, tourism, music, Internet of Things, retail commerce and real estate.

    George Stamas, co-founder of THI, addressing the event said that this year's Venture Fair was open to more investors and stressed that Greece has business talents that need an equal opportunity to participate in the global market. All participants expressed their enthusiasm for the event and expressed the hope that this initiative will continue promoting Greek business activity as a strategic approach to create job positions and to promote social change.

    Among the 15 companies which participated in the 2nd Venture Fair were: Accusonus, Blueground, Centaur Technologies, Easyhero (former Douleutaras.gr), RT Safe, Advantis - Medical Imaging, ERGON Foods, COM Media Communications, Heliix, Zoottle, Fieldscale, Pockee, Spotawheel, Yolenis E-Table.gr.

    [25] Greek stocks end flat

    Greek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, the last trading session of June which saw the market losing 16.21 pct of its value in the month. Bank shares came under strong selling pressure after Morgan Stanley cut price targets for Greek bank shares in the aftermath of a Brexit vote in the UK.

    The composite index of the market rose 0.04 pct to end at 542.12 points, after falling as much as 1.07 pct early in the day. The Large Cap index eased 0.86 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.28 pct higher. Turnover was a moderate 83.826 million euros in volume of 168,024,998.

    Jumbo (4.99 pct), Motor Oil (3.16 pct) and Metka (2.74 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Piraeus Bank (6.40 pct), Alpha Bank (6.36 pct) and Eurobank (2.48 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses among blue chip stocks. Among market sectors, Personal Products (4.25 pct) and Oil (2.83 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (4.79 pct) and Travel (2.01 pct) suffered losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 50 to 37 with another 19 issues unchanged. Intrakat (21.74 pct), Alpha Bank (20 pct) and Pasal (19.78 pct) were top gainers while Sfakianakis (10.77 pct), Space Hellas (9.96 pct) and Inform Lycos (9.75 pct) were top losers.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The July contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.03 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,983 contracts with 5,858 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 65,902 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (20,926), followed by Alpha Bank (14,202), Piraeus Bank (16,842), Eurobank (4,273), MIG (7,101), OTE (353), PPC (567), OPAP (520), Hellenic Petroleum (363), Motor Oil (116), Mytilineos (87), Jumbo (338) and Hellenic Exchanges (37).

    General News

    [27] Opera gala in the SNF Cultural Centre grounds on July 3

    An opera gala held outdoors on Sunday, in the grounds of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC), will end the cycle of Greek National Opera 'pocket' performances at the SNFCC Visitors' Center.

    The evening starts at 20:30, with some the GNO's leading soloists performing renowned arias and duets from the lyric repertoire against a backdrop of the canal and the new premises of the National Opera in the SNFCC, where it will be relocated in the coming months.

    Tasos Apostolou, Vasiliki Karagianni, Maria Mitsopoulou, Dimitris Platanias and Yiannis Christopoulos, accompanied by Sofia Tamvakopoulou on the piano, will sing extracts from operas and operettas by Verdi, Donizetti, Bizet, Puccini, Strauss, Lalo and others in their last performance at the SNF Visitors' Centre this year.

    Entrance is free of charge.

    [28] Faltaits Folklore Museum on Skyros

    The Faltaits Museum on Skyros (www.faltaits.gr), which houses unique collections of tools and utensils of primary and secondary traditional economy, announced that it planned to introduce this summer a series of experiential and informational seminars on the traditional life, trades and crafts of Greece.

    Those who will participate in the seminars will have the opportunity to come in direct contact with thousands of items of the traditional life of the Greeks, collected from Manos Faltaits from different parts of Greece.

    The Faltaits Museum, established in 1964, is housed in the reasidence of the Faltaits family. The Museum houses items of everyday life in the various periods of the long history of Skyros. There is also a collection of documents and publications dating from the Byzantine period to the Independence war, traditional Skyrian costums, everyday tools, maps, gravoures, rare books and manuscripts, sculptures and paintings of Manos Faltaits.

    During the seminars, participants will have the chance to try traditional products of the island such as dried figs, olives, local wine, pies and tsipouro.

    [29] 57,235 identified migrants and refugees in Greece on Thursday; 36 new arrivals recorded in the last 24h

    57,235 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Thursday while 36 new arrivals were reported in the last 24 hours.

    According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 23,687 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 10,208 are hosted in the region of Attica, 8,637 on the Greek islands and 1,954 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece. 6,290 refugees and migrants are hosted in several facilities rented by the UNHCR, 4,959 are staying in non-organised facilities while approximately 1,500 persons are living outside organised facilities.

    [30] Public sector union ADEDY to hold rally to mark one year since the Greek referendum

    The union of public sector employees, ADEDY, said on Thursday it will hold a rally on July 5 to mark one year from the referendum the government called last summer.

    "It was a great moment in the fight against the austerity policies of the government and the European Union, which was sealed by the landslide victory of 61.3 pct in favor of the 'No' which opposed the agreement with the troika," the union said and accused the government of turning people's "No" into a humiliating "Yes" to all .

    The rally is scheduled for 19:00 (local).

    Weather forecast

    [31] Mostly fair on Friday

    Mostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the afternoon in the northern and the western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 19C-35C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 20C-36C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 22C-32C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 21C-35C. Partly cloudy in the afternoon in Thessaloniki, 22C-34C.

    [32] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies

    at a glance

    AVGHI: Now is the chance for the electoral law

    DIMOKRATIA: Schaeuble uber alles

    ESTIA: Economy without a backbone

    ETHNOS: Regulations for pensions and benefits

    IMERISSIA: Trojan horse for banks

    KATHIMERINI: Fiasco with Cosco and OLP

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Marinopoulos: Another three banks in article 99

    RIZOSPASTIS: The new anti-labor measures prepared by the government

    TO PONTIKI: Europe on knees

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