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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-07-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Debate on bill to extend store hours on Sundays opens in Parliament
  • [02] Military cadets graduation gets top-level attendance, including president and visiting officials
  • [03] Shipowner Victor Restis arrested for embezzlement
  • [04] Greece has met all prior actions agreed with the troika, Finance Ministry officials say
  • [05] Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in Q1

  • [01] Debate on bill to extend store hours on Sundays opens in Parliament

    ANA-MPA -- Small stores may open seven Sundays a year, while the vice-prefect of each region will decide on up to 45 additional Sundays, according to amendments tabled late on Tuesday to a draft bill on extending store hours, in discussion that opened in Parliament the same day.

    The seven obligatory Sundays include two days at Christmas, one at Greek Orthodox Easter, and one Sunday each during the four sales periods of the year. The additional Sundays will be observed on a voluntary basis. All regulations relate to stores not larger than 250 square metres.

    According to the amendments, the vice-prefects - including those responsible for Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki - must issue their decisions three months from the publication of the law, once it is voted in, or face sanctions. They will be able to revise their decision once annually, starting in 2015.

    The store hours on Sundays will extend from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., excepting popular tourism areas that already follow an extended schedule.

    Addressing Parliament, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis cited OECD figures according to which Greece was one of five European countries out of 47 where stores were not open on Sundays, and the law would expand consumers' choices and give the opportunity to tourists to shop.

    The measure has drawn furious opposition from most parties, which have vowed to vote it down on Wednesday, when it is expected to be voted on.

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party charged Hatzidakis with neoliberal obsessiveness, saying, "The transgression of Sunday as a day of rest is the most violent alteration in the market's operation, at least during the post-junta period."

    "The most important argument against this comes from store owners themselves," Democratic Left (DIMAR) party said, "and it is that the operation of their businesses for even just one more day raises their cost of operation and will not lead to price reductions."

    Independent Greeks parliamentary spokesperson Notis Marias called for "a ceiling on prices of basic foodstuffs," and said that the bill gives that opportunity "only in those cases where there is no competition."

    The draft bill is "anti-Greek and anti-Christian," was the charge levelled at the government by Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi), adding that "eating out, entertainment and theatres will be most affected, as what you give one sector you remove from another."

    PASOK rapporteur Michalis Kassis defended the draft bill, particularly article 16, saying that the obligatory openings related to only seven Sundays, while the rest were on a voluntary basis.

    At a rally on Tuesday at central Athens' Omonia Square, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said thousands of small stores will go bankrupt under the new draft bill.

    The measure will bring "greater exploitation, intensification and unpaid work for thousands of workers, and the government's excuse of strengthening the market is very cheap," he added, calling on people to fight it.

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP responsible for health Pavlos Haikalis said that the ruling parties of New Democracy and PASOK "are listening to the wishes of lenders instead of those of merchants and people in the know," and charged that the measure will "bring an end to every hope for recovery and development of family-run and medium-sized enterprises."

    [02] Military cadets graduation gets top-level attendance, including president and visiting officials

    ANA-MPA -- Graduating cadets at the Evelpidon Military School in Vari on Monday received their ritual swords from President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and the Defence Ministers of Greece and Cyprus Dimitris Avramopoulos and Fotis Fotiou, on an official visit to Greece, during a ceremony in this southeastern suburb of Athens.

    A total of 249 second lieutenants - including 23 women - graduated. They hailed from several countries besides Greece, including Albania (2 graduates), Armenia (7), Burundi (1) Cameroon (4), Cyprus (29), Jordan (2), Libya (3), Montenegro (2), Nigeria (2), Serbia (1), Syria (2), Popular Republic of Congo (1) and Uganda (1). Graduates include 23 women (22 Greek nationals and one Cyprus national).

    The Libyan graduates were given their swords by major general Salem Masoud Ahmed Al-Dnaidy, Libya's armed forces chief, who is on an official visit to Greece.

    The ceremony was also attended by government secretary general Panagiotis Baltakos, Parliament Vice-President Yiannis Tragakis, Alternate and Deputy Defence Ministers Fofi Gennimata and Athanasios Davakis. SYRIZA deputy Theodoros Dritsas represented the main opposition and other parties also sent representatives.

    [03] Shipowner Victor Restis arrested for embezzlement

    ANA-MPA -- Shipowner Victor Restis, charged with embezzlement at the expense of First Business Bank (FBB) bank, was given until Friday, July 26, to prepare his defence before being led back to jail on Tuesday.

    He was arrested the same day on a warrant related to a 5.8 million euros loan from FBB that ended up with a former business partner of his and gave his testimony before investigator Rea Katsiveli, specializing in corruption.

    Three people involved in the case are wanted.

    According to sources, Restis is denying the charges and claiming that he has sued his business partners over the loan case. Meanwhile, other reports claim that two more arrest warrants have been issued for former business partners of his.

    Katsiveli ordered his arrest following press reports that initiated an investigation in January on bad loans made by FBB. The case file includes two reports by the Bank of Greece and a third one by the Authority for Fighting Money Laundering, while the exact loan amount is still being determined.

    Meanwhile, the National Bank of Greece, which acquired FBB, issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it had "absorbed only the healthy part of FBB" and that it was "in no way responsible for actions or oversights by the previous administration of FBB."

    The National Bank said it had taken over FBB's 19 branches as of May 13, 2013 and the former FBB had been placed under liquidation proceedings, which was still being carried out by an independent liquidator appointed by the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank.

    [04] Greece has met all prior actions agreed with the troika, Finance Ministry officials say

    ANA-MPA -- A draft bill tabled to Parliament on Tuesday envisaging the introduction of a Tax Procedure Code – expected to be voted on Thursday - the Greek government is implementing all 22 prior actions needed for the disbursement of the next instalment of a bailout loan, Finance ministry officials said on Tuesday.

    They were commenting on press reports alleging that the German Finance ministry noted that the disbursement of the loan tranche to Greece would be delayed because the country has not approved five of the 22 prior actions agreed with the troika.

    A Euro Working Group is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to approve the disbursement of the instalment worth 2.5 billion euros. The IMF will meet in July 29 to approve its part of the loan.

    [05] Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in Q1

    ANA-MPA -- Tourist arrivals surpassed one million in the first quarter of 2013, for an increase of 4.6 pct compared with the corresponding period last year, offering a a first clear evidence of an increased tourism trend in Greece in 2013.

    Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), in a report published on Tuesday, said that tourist arrivals in the January-March period grew by 4.6 pct to 1,023,354, form 978,559 in the same period last year. Arrivals from Europe (which accounted for 78.9 pct of all arrivals in the country) fell 2.6 pct, while arrivals from the European Union fell by 3.3 pct in the three month period.

    Arrivals from Bulgaria, Spain, Russia and Germany grew significantly in the January-March period, while on the other hand, arrivals fell from the UK, Cyprus, Holland and Belgium.

    Bulgaria (14.6 pct), Albania (12.5 pct), Germany (8.1 pct), Cyprus (5.9 pct), UK (4.5 pct) and Italy (4.2 pct) recorded the biggest shares in tourist arrivals.

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