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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-10-23
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Piraeus Bank acquisition of Proton Bank stake cancelledPiraeus Bank on Thursday announced the cancellation of an agreement for its acquisition of a 26.98 percent stake in Proton Bank's share capital.
The two banks had announced on October 13 an agreement under which Piraeus Bank would acquire a 26.98 percent stake in Proton Bank's equity capital through a stock swap deal.
An announcement by the Piraeus Bank administration on Thursday said it had agreed to a relevant request by Proton Bank and its shareholders, and has signed an agreement cancelling the acquisition deal.
Consequently, all legal procedures and financial audits for the acquisition were terminated on Thursday morning, Piraeus Bank concluded.
 Ladino Congress in ThessalonikiThe 4th International Congress on Ladino (Judeo-Spanish, the language of the Sephardic Jews), titled "Judeo-Spanish satyrical texts written by Thessaloniki Jews" will be held in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, from 26 to 28 October.
The congress will focus on the language and the traditions that were brought to Thessaloniki in the 15th century by the Sephardic Jews after their expulsion from Spain, which evolved into an inalienable part of the identity of the Jews of Thessaloniki and of the city itself.
The event is organised by Jewish community of Thessaloniki and is sponsored by the Cervantes Institute of Athens and Madrid-based Casa Sefarad-Israel organisation.
 EOT office in BucharestTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Wednesday attended the official opening of the new Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) office in Bucharest during his visit to Romania's capital.
In an address at the opening, he referred to Greece's extroverted strategy for tourism and the "identity" of the Greek tourist product:
"Greek tourism offers quality and a variety of choices. It is equally interesting at all times of year. It respects the natural and cultural environment. It offers visitors real, authentic experiences and warm hospitality," he said.
He forecast that the emerging global economic crisis would have a limited impact on Greece's tourism sector, which was in any case turning to new markets such as Russia, the Ukraine, eastern Europe, China, India, Africa and South America. To demonstrate his point, he noted that revenue from tourism increased by 8.5 percent relative to the same period in the previous year during the first eight months of 2008, in spite of the global economic crisis.
Referring to relations between Greece and Romania in terms of tourism, Spiliotopoulos said that Romania was a key market for Greece's attempted opening to mature and emerging markets in the Balkan region, Russia and the Ukraine. He said Greece's aim was to further develop tourist ties, with emphasis on cultural, religious and agricultural tourism.
He also cited figures showing that Greece was the first choice of destination for 72 percent of Romanians considering a trip abroad and that 45.1 percent of Romanians visiting Greece spent an average of 500-1,200 euros during their stay in the country.
Before leaving Romania, Spiliotopoulos will meet Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises, Trade, Tourism, & Freelance Professions Minister Ovidiu Silaghi on Thursday and inaugurate the Greek stand at the Bucharest Tourism Fair, after which he is scheduled to meet Bucharest's Mayor Sorin Oprescu.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos
 Athens Stock Exchange: PlungeEquity prices were declining at the opening of trade on Thursday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), influenced by the major international money markets, with the basic share price index down 4.08 percent, standing at 1,943.24 points at 12:15 a.m., and turnover at 120.3 million euros.
Individual sector indices were moving mostly downward, with the biggest losses in Food & Beverages, down 9.93 percent; Banks, down 4.87 percent; and Financial Services, down 4.79 percent.
The biggest gains were in Insurance, up 5.98 percent; Chemicals, up 0.19 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 4.08 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 2.26 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 3.08 percent.
Of the stocks moved, 29 were up, 148 were down, and 24 were unchanged.
 EU rules on franchise collegesThe European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled, following action brought before the Court by the European Commission, that Greece's rules on recognition of diplomas are contrary to EU legislation, in reference to the non-recognition of diplomas issued by the relevant authorities of other member states following studies conducted in Greece in franchise colleges, noting that "only the member state where a diploma was awarded may verify its basis".
The ruling rejected Greece's approach of applying its own rules -- as the member state in which the education and training were received -- "since that would have the effect of treating persons who received education and training of an equivalent quality differently, that is to say, depending on the Member State in which they undertook their education and training". The Court also notes that the education and training need not necessarily have been received in a university or in a higher-education establishment.
A European Court press release noted that "Community law has established a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years' duration", adding that, following complaints from 37 individuals, "the Commission brought an action against Greece before the Court of Justice for non-compliance with the Community Directive of various aspects of its national legislation".
"The Commission complains first that Greece systematically refuses to recognise diplomas obtained following education and training provided within the framework of 'homologation agreements' (also referred to as 'franchise agreements'), pursuant to which education and training provided by a private body in Greece is homologated by an authority of another Member State which awards the diploma on the basis of a prior agreement between the two establishments.
"In this respect, the Court recalls that the general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas is based on the mutual trust that Member States have in the professional qualifications that they award. That system does not involve recognition of a diploma for its intrinsic value, but establishes a presumption that the qualifications of a person entitled to pursue a regulated profession in one Member State are sufficient for the pursuit of that profession in the other Member States. It is for the competent authorities awarding the diplomas alone to verify, in the light of the rules applicable in their professional education and training systems, the conditions necessary for their award and the nature of the establishment in which the holder received his education and training. By contrast, the host Member State cannot examine the basis on which the diplomas have been awarded.
"The Court rejects Greece's approach - which is to apply its own rules (as the Member State in which the education and training were received) - since that would have the effect of treating persons who received education and training of an equivalent quality differently, that is to say, depending on the Member State in which they undertook their education and training. The Court also notes that the education and training must not necessarily have been received in a university or in a higher-education establishment.
"The Court therefore declares that, by failing to recognise the diplomas awarded by the competent authorities of another Member State following education and training provided in Greece within the framework of a homologation agreement, Greece has infringed the Community rules on recognition of diplomas.
"As regards 'compensatory measures', the directive - far from obliging the Member States to recognise diplomas automatically and unconditionally - enables the host State in certain cases to require an adaptation period or an aptitude test, the choice of which is in principle left to the person applying for recognition of the diploma. The directive provides for derogations from that principle, but the Court states that Greece's suppression of the choice of compensatory measure in more cases than those allowed by the Directive infringes that directive.
"The national provisions moreover entrust a specific body (SAEITTE, the Council Responsible for Recognizing Professional Equivalence of Higher-Education Qualifications) with the power to verify, first, whether the establishment which provides the education and training is a higher-education establishment and, second, whether the applicant has the necessary professional experience, in a case where the duration of the education and training falls short by at least one year of that required in Greece in order to pursue that profession. The Court holds that that provision is incompatible with the Directive. The matters which that body is called upon to verify are already definitively established by certificates and documents issued by the competent authorities of the Member State of origin.
"Lastly, the Court finds that there has been an infringement of the Directive in that, in the public sector, there is no possibility of hierarchical and/or salary reclassification of persons recruited - as holders of a diploma awarded in another Member State - at a grade lower than that to which they would have been entitled if their diplomas had been recognised in accordance with that directive."
Caption: View of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. ANA-MPA/EPA/JOHN THYS
 Athens Newspaper HeadlinesThe Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
A closely watched vote, taken unanimously, just after midnight Thursday morning in Parliament to establish a fact-finding committee on the Vatopedi Monastery land exchange case expectedly dominated the headlines in Athens' dailies on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Fact-finding commission together with prosecutors' brief".
APOGEVMATINI: "Main opposition PASOK donated 1.6 billion euros to Vatopedi abbot Ephraim".
AVGHI: "Ruling New Democracy and PASOK insincere over Vatopedi scandal - Parliament unanimously votes for fact-finding committee".
AVRIANI: "Prosecutor's findings on Vatopedi a slap for slanderers".
CHORA: "Quicksand - Period of political instability begins - Parliament boiling after decision for establishment of a fact-finding commission".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Theodoros Roussopoulos instead of speaking on alleged responsibilities on Vatopedi case attacks PASOK leader George Papandreou".
ELEFTHEROS: "Prosecutors quarrel over ministers' responsibilities on Vatopedi case - All prosecutors confirm felonies except for Supreme Court's prosecutor. |"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Roussopoulos makes heroic exit - He's determined to facilitate prime minister ".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Who points at prosecutor's brief".
ESTIA: "Political world sliding - Unprecedented tension prevailed yesterday in parliament".
ETHNOS: "State Minister Theodoros Roussopoulos spoke in Parliament for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who was absent - Arrogance by Roussopoulos".
KATHIMERINI: "Vatopedi propels developments - Roussopoulos attacks Papandreou in prime minister's absence - Climate in ND grave".
LOGOS : "Roussopoulos' confession on Vatopedi - He spoke of 'firestorm of slander' against him".
NIKI: "Three prosecutors and witnesses accuse government".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Forests, mountains and lakes must be public estates".
TA NEA: "Probe file 'bomb' points to ministers".
TO VIMA: "Government being stripped - Ministers dissent and acceleration of developments".
VRADYNI: "Everything comes to light - Prosecutor's brief in parliament - Nobody can keep on disininforming".
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