|Wednesday, 20 March 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-12-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 18 December 2012 Issue No: 4250
 PM Samaras calls for initiatives by foreign businesses in GreeceRepresentatives of 13 multinational companies operating in Greece met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at his office in Maximos Mansion on Monday morning and were briefed by him on the government's targets to improve infrastructure and create new jobs.
The meeting was also attended by Ministers of Finance Yannis Stournaras and Development Costis Hatzidakis, and Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis.
Samaras asserted that the country's competitiveness had improved and that the issue of its exiting the eurozone had ended. The new investment draft bill would change the landscape, he said, and he called on the business officers to intensify their presence in Greece and introduce new products. Both sides will hold a follow-up meeting a month from now.
Companies want business processes to be improved, and bureaucratic obstacles to business to be lifted in particular, Stournaras said following the meeting. He added that the tax bill must be passed by Parliament in order for Greece to get the next loan tranche, but did not specify whether the vote would take place before the holidays or not.
 Gov't spokesman: Investors can feel assured that Greece will remain in eurozone"Government has other priorities and not the elections," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told national radio NET on Monday.
Kedikoglou said the government has "secured the liquidity necessary for the economy and our banking system, and now this liquidity must be taken advantage of. Investors can now feel assured that Greece can remain in Europe and in the eurozone; let us see how this will affect Greek citizens. Unemployment is the first front we must bring results in."
Referring to the political leaders' joint meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the government spokesman said that Prime Minister Antonis C. Samaras and his ruling coalition partners Evangelos Venizelos of PASOK and Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left "must determine the government's future plan, their future moves and how we will utilize what we gained with EU summit's decision."
Responding to a question of whether the new electoral law will be on the agenda in Tuesday's meeting, Kedikoglou replied that the government's priorities are different, and do not relate to elections.
 Support for EU prospects of Balkans at Samaras, Borisov meetingPrime Minister Antonis Samaras and visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov concluded a meeting here on Monday by stressing their support for the European prospects of western Balkan countries, with the provision that the rules of good neighbour relations were respected.
In statements after a high-level meeting of Greek and Bulgarian ministerial delegations, Samaras said that cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria was "strategic" and occurred on multiple levels, extending across the full range of relations between the two countries.
"We discussed the entire range of relations and placed emphasis on cross-border cooperation, on tackling organised crime and managing water resources," Samaras said. He also announced Greece's support for Bulgaria's bid to join the Schengen Treaty and said the two sides had reaffirmed their dedication to the principles of good neighbour relations, while noting the express desire of the two countries to work together more closely in the areas of economic affairs, tourism and diplomatic relations.
The Greek premier then announced plans to visit Sofia in February.
Replying to questions about the EU prospects of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Samaras noted that Greece and Bulgaria "coincide" on the final communique agreed unanimously by the EU on this issue, which said that FYROM must respect the rules of good neighbour relations and that its compliance with this condition would be monitored.
"I am satisfied with respect to the principles and criteria that exist in Europe. In a time of crisis and difficulties for all the world, conflicts and irredentism lead nowhere. Every country must realise that such policies cannot be conditions for accession," the Greek premier stressed.
Borisov referred to Greek-Bulgarian relations as historically "exemplary" and stressed that they could now be further improved for the prosperity of people in both countries.
He highlighted energy, sport, culture and tourism as possible areas of cooperation, noting that roughly one million Bulgarians visited Greece each year, while many Greeks visited Bulgaria's winter resorts. Concerning the problems with managing the waters of the Evros River, he said that these would be overcome.
He also repeated Bulgaria's position concerning respect for the rules of good neighbour relations and "mutual respect on all sides" when questioned about FYROM's EU accession prospects, noting that Bulgaria was in favour of the EU and NATO entry of Balkan countries if these conditions were met.
During a joint session of the two ministerial delegations, Greece and Bulgaria signed a series of bilateral agreements. These included a memorandum of understanding between the two foreign ministries for exchanges of diplomatic staff, a programme for cooperation in education and culture, a joint statement on tourism, a protocol for cooperation in sport, an agreement relating on IT and technology and a memorandum of cooperation for improving quality in the production and distribution of agricultural products.
Samaras also referred to delays in the completion of the Makaza-Komotini border crossing, saying that this was due to be ready in March and would help further develop tourism and trade.
 Greece-Bulgaria enjoy a model relationship, President Papoulias saysRelations between Greece and Bulgaria are warm and of strategic importance, President Karolos Papoulias said after receiving visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov at the Presidential Mansion on Monday.
Borisov is in Athens to attend a one-day joint summit of the Greek-Bulgarian council of cooperation between the two governments.
"We are pleased because Greek-Bulgarian relations are developing the way Greece and Bulgaria wish; they are a model of relations," Papoulias said. "I compare them to the relations between Germany and France, in that we have overcome past difficulties and there is a warm relationship of strategic importance, which contributes specially to balance in the Balkans and the greater area," he added.
Borisov said that trade exchanges between the two countries will improve after the major Strymonas roadway connecting the port of Thessaloniki with the ports of Bulgaria on the Black Sea is completed, while the Sofia to Belgrade roadway is expected to be ready in two years. He also said tourism would improve and he made special mention of environmental issues, noting that inter-border rivers had been mostly cleaned.
 Task Force report on Greek public administration reformA quarterly report out in December by the European Commission's Task Force for Greece (TFGR) notes the progress achieved in the area of public administration reform, while it describes as landmark a decision to setup and operate a inter-Ministerial coordination structure, under the prime minister, Antonis Samaras.
The report places emphasis on the plan for the reorganisation of ministries, which should be completed within 2013, by reducing administrative units by 30 to 35 percent, following the assessment process that is already under way at the ministries.
The assessment and reorganisation of all other public entities, the report stresses, should commence in 2012 and continue in 2013, adding that the specific process will include the merger or abolition of a number of public entities.
The quarterly report also refers to the work on the definition of evaluation criteria and methodology for assessing the competences of civil servants, underlining that decisions are now needed on the way to progress.
In addition, discussions have started on the development of a new human resources policy, including rules of recruitment, training, mobility, competence and overall management of officials' career path.
According to the report, Germany has started providing technical assistance for administrative reform at decentralised, local and regional levels, while a roadmap was developed and signed, defining the following six priority axes for the reform:
1. Definition of methods and procedures to improve the effectiveness of Municipalities and Regions (pilot applications: area of urban planning, rural development);
2. Design and implementation of public policy in the field of real estate of Municipality and Regions, to support local development;
3. Improving the capacity of local authorities to utilize the Structural funds (management, simplification of chain procedures for decision);
4. Waste management (costing, billing services, municipal cleaning fees);
5. Empowering the design and implementation of central policies for the evaluation of the Local Government structures, to improve the services provided to the citizens, taking into account issues of efficiency and highlighting existing spatial variations;
6. Supervision of Municipalities and Regions.
Several working groups have been created to assess work on the operational implementation plans of each of these dimensions. A dedicated steering committee was set-up and met for the first time in October.
Finally, in the field of dealing with corruption, the report stresses that an action plan has been agreed between the Greek authorities involved in the prevention, detection and eradication of corruption. The Task Force believes that the next step should be the appointment of a national coordinator, in addition to setting up a coordinating committee and an advisory agency, as well as mapping out an national collective strategy against corruption.
 Rehn satisfied with Greece's decisive work on structural problemsBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Spinthourakis)
"Greece deals with its deeply rooted structural problems in a decisive way, as the Eurogroup has recognized," European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said here on Monday commenting on a quarterly report by the European Commission's Task Force for Greece.
"The Task Force is working hard to support Greece in implementing the necessary reforms to reinforce its competitiveness, as to create a more fair and effective tax system, sustainable growth and employment," Rehn said, adding that "such reforms are of Greek ownership, but the Commission is there to provide assistance and the Task Force is the obvious proof of such support."
Similar comments were made by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman van Rompuy, who -while briefing the European Parliament on the decisions of the latest EU Council- welcomed Greece's efforts.
 SYRIZA meeting with Brazil's ruling party officialsSAO PAOLO (AMNA/A. Kavvadia)
The leadership of Brazil's ruling Workers Party (PT) is categorically against the austerity policy enforced in southern European nations, as it emerged during a meeting on Monday with a delegation of Greece's main opposition radical left SYRIZA party, headed by leader Alexis Tsipras.
One of the main reasons of the SYRIZA visit to the South American nation, Tsipras said, was to assess Brazil's experience in managing -10 years ago- to escape a social crisis, led there by the extreme liberal policies, and exit the economic crisis in a democratic and coordinated way, by redistributing wealth, dealing with extreme poverty and restructuring its production base.
The message extracted was that the policy followed in Greece -an extreme, barbaric and neoliberal one, as Tsipras put it- was not a one-way to exit the crisis, as there are alternatives, SYRIZA's leader said.
In this context, that SYRIZA calls active, multi-faceted external policy, Tsipras noted that it was especially crucial that in a multi-polar world Greece has the support of a global economic power like Brazil.
On his part, RT president Rui Falcao, with "first-hand knowledge" of the outcome of neoliberal policies, expressed his wish that relations between the two respective countries -and the two respective parties- be strengthened to allow assistance to Greece through solidarity policies.
According to reports, in addition to SYRIZA's assessment of the outcome of the policy followed in Greece so far in terms of the country's debt, unemployment and poverty, the fact was stressed that the austerity programme followed, apart from being barbaric is also ineffective. And this is of interest to Brazil in its capacity as a major player in the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The leadership of PT was unconditional on the fact that cutting salaries and pensions and crushing a country's social web can in no way help in dealing with the economic crisis.
 Trade unions condemn attack on SYRIZA MPThe General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY, representing workers in the private and public sectors, respectively, on Monday issued announcements condemning an attack on main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) MP Dimitris Stratoulis by suspected far-right extremists.
The GSEE announcement spoke of a "fascist attack" and stressed that violence was condemnable and unacceptable, regardless of where it originated and who it targeted.
ADEDY also condemned the attack and noted that Stratoulis' accusations concerning the political origins of his attackers "intensify the concern of the trade union movement".
Stratoulis on Sunday reported that he was the victim of an attack outside Athens' Olympic Stadium, during half-time in a football game between the teams AEK and Atromitos, by individuals claiming to be members of the ultra-right-wing nationalist party Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi).
 PASOK party leader addresses party members in western AthensPASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos, addressing party members in western Athens on Monday evening, stressed that Greece cannot be governed without a national reconstruction plan being implemented, without a national strategy being implemented and only PASOK can guarantee this.
Venizelos also referred to cooperation governments, saying that a different political culture is necessary and underlined that these governments need a leading force and only PASOK can be this. He chose to begin his tours, in light of the party's February congress, from western Athens, a onetime PASOK stronghold, which in the recent elections sustained the biggest electoral setback.
The PASOK leader referred at length to the policy implemented by PASOK over the past three years, that he fully justified and criticised those claiming that there was a different solution that PASOK did not implement. "It is an insult for the efforts of the Greek people for some to claim that there was a different solution and this also appeared in the cases of the other countries, including Cyprus," he noted.
Venizelos also stressed that "now is the time of growth" and expressed his optimism saying that "the target (of growth) is feasible".
 KKE leader, ESEE president join in criticising tax bill, Sunday openingCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday had a meeting with the presidium of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE). In statements afterward, she stressed the additional burdens placed upon small businesses and their owners by the new taxation bill prepared by the government.
"This period we are focusing our attention on the taxation issue and the desire on the part of the government and major capitalist ownership to impose 'law of the jungle' opening hours, with shops open on all days not for the convenience of consumers but chiefly to concentrate turnover in much fewer hands," she said.
She called for a shared framework of opposition, with dynamic and substantial forms of action "against these choices, that existed before the crisis, which accelerates their adoption".
ESEE President Vassilis Korkidis, on his part, noted that any small and middle-sized businesses not closed down as a result of the new tax bill would be finished off by Sunday opening. He said that he had asked for Papariga's support for such small businesses during the crisis, noting that the roughly 680,000 small and medium-sized businesses of Greece employed more than 1.5 million workers.
 Dendias meets with Russian interior minister; visa waiver for Russians with biometric passports plannedPublic Order & Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday met Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev during his two-day visit to Moscow.
The meeting focused on police cooperation issues and tackling organized crime.
Dendias conveyed a message by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos as regards a visa waiver programme for Russian nationals with biometric passports to be promoted during the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.
After the meeting, Dendias stated that they also agreed to launch a discussion on a new agreement that will supplement the 2001 agreement and will deepen cooperation between the two countries' security agencies.
 Pharmacists have no reason to strike, health minister saysHealth Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Monday called on pharmacists to suspend strike action over mounting unpaid bills owed to them by social security funds for past prescriptions, underlining that he is open to dialogue. At the same time, he backed Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis on the issue of employee mobility.
Speaking on the municipal radio of Tripolis, a city in southern Greece, he said that the strikes called by pharmacists were an excessive tactic used by trade unionists against the government, which can only do harm to the sector.
He said that "this is an intransigent behaviour adopted by trade unionists," adding that "the government cannot let patients go without medicine. He warned that "decisions will be made that are not pleasant" and that it would be unfair to blame the government for that. He also underlined that "pharmacists are first in line when repayments are made" and noted that they have no reason to strike, pointing out that "if they think that they can always blackmail society, they are mistaken."
As regards the labour reserve measure and the mobility of civil servants, Lykourentzos stressed that any personnel shortages in the sector of health will be remedied based on a provision incorporated in the measure and offered his unreserved backing to the efforts made by the administrative reform minister.
 Shipping minister on tragedy in sea region between Lesvos, TurkeyShipping and Aegean Minister Kostis Mousouroulis expressed Monday his profound sorrow over the tragedy in the sea region between the island of Lesvos and Turkey, in which at least 21 people lost their lives when a boat attempting to carry them illegally from the neighbouring country to Greece overturned and sank.
The minister said that the cooperation of Turkey in the effort to dismantle trafficking networks is more imperative than ever, adding that measures of a purely police nature are not enough for the problem to be handled effectively and the partners in the EU must realise this.
The search in the region for spotting and rescuing possible survivors is continuing incessantly. Port officials have discovered the bodies of 21 immigrants on a beach on the island, while only one castaway aged 20 has been found safe and is being treated in a hospital.
 European Commission assesses Greek government covering lost groundBRUSSELS (AMNA/V. Demiris)
The European Commission, in its evaluation regarding the implementation of the fiscal adjustment programme by Greece, assessed that the Greek government has covered the lost ground to a great extent in the past months.
In parallel, the Commission notes the basic challenges that Greece is being called on to face to ensure that the programme will remain on the right track. The Commission, as relevant officials stressed in Brussels on Monday, insisted in particular on the need for the full implementation of the structural reforms that have been decided and which will constitute the basis for the return to growth. It believes, however, that risks remain high concerning the programme's implementation.
The report, publicised on Monday, stresses that recovery will depend on the restoration of business confidence and of investments and on the positive impact of the implementation of the projects jointly financed by the EU.
The Commission mentions that the new government detected and took suitable measures in time to cover the delays concerning the programme's implementation, with intensive work during the summer. However, it is pointed out that for a long period of time the implementation of the programme was "partial", due to the accumulation of delays from the double elections last summer. The Commission acknowledges that in 2013 the Greek economy will be characterised by recession for the sixth consecutive year (by 4.2 percent) while gradual recovery will return at the end of the next year. Marginal growth (0.6 percent) will be observed in 2014, that will be strengthened in 2015 and 2016 (3.7 percent).
 Ministry disputes Task Force concerns over loss of NSRF fundsGreece's development ministry on Monday disputed estimates that Greece might lose Community funds available from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) for 2012 because of a low rate of absorption. Responding to concerns outlined in a report by the European Commission Task Force for Greece released earlier in the day, the ministry said Greece will be applying for very large sums before the end of the year that would fundamentally change the overall picture for NSRF fund absorption.
"Based on our own assessments, and this will become apparent in 15 days, there is no risk of a loss of funds through the implementation of the N+2/3 rule," the ministry said.
It also pointed out that the Task Force had accepted that Greece was above the EU average for absorption of Community funds, in spite of liquidity problems that were a serious obstacle to implementing programmes.
The Task Force's report had also criticised weaknesses in planned tax reforms, noting that these could have been "more ambitious", and said that targets for tax audits of the very wealthy were likely to be missed while those for non-payment of VAT had been greatly exceeded. Members of the Task Force also noted the delay in the start of disbursements to Greece from the European Investment Bank.
 Registered unemployed up 9.86 percent since last year, OAED reportsThe number of registered unemployed has risen 1.09 percent in November 2012 relative to the previous month and 9.86 percent with respect to November 2011, according to figures released by the Manpower Employment Organisation OAED on Monday. The latest rise brings the total of OAED registered unemployed to 786,236, of which 41.97 percent are men and 58.03 percent are women.
According to OAED, 34,138 jobs were lost in November, down from 50,473 in October 2012 and 55,855 in November 2011.
The number of subsidised unemployed has increased to 214,573, increasing by 36,008 people or 20.17 percent relative to the previous month in October.
New hirings reported to OAED fell 26.24 percent in November relative to the previous month and increased 14.67 percent relative to November 2011. Dismissals fell by 25.36 percent relative to October 2012 and 12.01 percent relative to November 2011. The number of temporary contract expirations also fell by 33.66 percent relative to October 2012 and by 14.51 percent relative to November 2011. Voluntary departures from jobs decreased by 16.42 percent relative to October 2012 and by 0.99 percent relative to November 2011.
 Dep. Minister leaves on investment trip to Abu DhabiDeputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis will begin an official two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to discuss investment opportunities in Greece.
Mitarakis, who is leaving for Abu Dhabi on Monday, will be accompanied by officials of the Invest In Greece agency and the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED). During his visit, he will meet with top-level government officials and state agencies and address an event to be attended by state agency, investment fund and private business leaders.
 Greece signs rural products cooperation with BulgariaGreece and Bulgaria on Monday signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on enhancing quality and safety in the production and transportation of rural products and foodstuffs, in the framework of the Second Greece-Bulgaria Supreme Cooperation Council.
The memorandum, signed by Greece's Agricultural Development and Food Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris and his Bulgarian counterpart Miroslav Naydenov, provides among other thinks for the setting up of an ad hoc working group of experts to look in detail into rural cooperation between the two countries.
In 2012, the volume of rural products trade between Greece and Bulgaria is expected to exceed one billion euros, that is double compared to 2009.
 Greece's trade deficit shrinks in Jan-SeptGreece's trade deficit shrank significantly in the Jan.-Sept. period to 11.4 billion euros, from 17.7 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, Eurostat said on Monday. The EU's statistics service said in a report that Greek exports grew by 12 percent in the nine-month period, while imports fell by 13 percent.
Eurostat said that Greece recorded the fourth highest trade deficit in the EU-27, following the UK (121.9 bln euros), France (62.5 bln) and Spain (27.3 bln) in the Jan.-Sept. period, while Germany (142.1 bln euros), recorded the highest trade surplus.
The eurozone recorded a trade surplus of 10.2 billion euros in October, from a surplus of 9.5 billion euros in September.
 Supreme Court declines to 'freeze' court ruling on property surtax; hearing on finmin's petition on TuesdayWith a final discussion pending on Tuesday regarding Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras request for the temporary suspension of a court decision blocking the collection of a property surtax via electricity bills, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to issue a temporary 'freeze' of the lower court's ruling.
As a result, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) is, at least temporarily, unable to collect the surtax attached to electricity bills until the matter has been resolved.
Supreme Court judge Gerasimos Fourlanos had earlier refused to issue an order 'freezing' an Athens first-instance court ruling in a class action suit, which found that the collection of a property surtax via PPC bills to be illegal and unconstitutional.
The discussion on the finance minister's main petition, which seeks to temporarily suspend the court ruling, will be held before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
 IKA extends 'write-off' period for unlawful claims to 20 yearsIn a circular issued on Monday, the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA-ETAM) extended the period for writing off unlawfully claimed benefits from 10 years to 20 years, implementing a relevant law.
This means that IKA-ETAM will continue to demand the return of any benefits wrongly claimed or paid out for a period of 20 years since the last payment made. The new rules apply for wrongfully paid benefits ascertained after November 12, 2012 while the previous "cut-off" of 10 years applies to those officially established before that date.
This means that IKA-ETAM can now demand the return of wrongfully paid benefits dating back to January 1, 1993 provided an act ascertaining the irregular payment are issued within 2012 and until January 1, 1994 for those ascertained in 2013.
The 10-year period will also continue to apply for unpaid social insurance contributions.
 ADEDY holds press conference ahead of Wed. strikeThe civil servants' union federation ADEDY on Monday expressed fears that the labour reserve measure will be followed by thousands of dismissals in the public sector, during a press conference on a 24-hour strike due to be held on Wednesday. The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) representing the private sector will also join in ADEDY's strike with a three-hour work stoppage from noon until 3:00 p.m. and a protest rally in Klafthmonos square at 12:30 p.m.
ADEDY President Costas Tsikrikas and other senior trade unionists outlined their concern that up to 60,000 would have to be dismissed from the civil service in order meet a target of reducing public-sector staff by 150,000 by 2015, which was one of the commitments made by Greece in the bailout loan memorandums.
They said that administrative reform ministry estimated the number departing from the public sector before the end of the year would not exceed 40,000, meaning that the numbers would have to be made up in some way. ADEDY also expressed fears that this will create problems for the running of the civil service and greatly increase unemployment. He also pointed to the losses for social insurance funds as a result of reduced salaries in the public sector, which he said exceeded 50 percent.
 Greek banks raised dependence on ELA in Nov.Greek commercial banks raised their dependence on the Emergency Liquidity Assistance fund operated by the Bank of Greece in November.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that Greek banks borrowed 123.30 billion euro from ELA in November, up from 122.79 billion in October, while at the same time, Greek banks cut their borrowing from the European Central Bank to 5.61 billion euros in November from 6.52 billion in October.
 Bounced checks total 1.25 bln euros for Jan.-Nov. 2012The value of bounced checks totaled 1.25 billion euros in Jan.-Nov. 2012, or 119,275 in volume, while the value of unpaid bills totaled 180 million euros in the Jan.-Nov. period, or 113,942 in volume, official figures showed on Monday.
A report by Tiresias SA, the market's watchdog, showed that bounced checks totaled 72.4 million euros in value in November 2012, down 56.28 pct from the same month last year.
 Freeze of auctions for first residences extended to Dec. 31, 2013A current freeze of auctions in the foreclosure of first residences for unserviced loans, as well as the evictions of commercial store owners, will be extended for an additional year until Dec. 31, 2013, according to a Legislative Act to be published on Monday following an initiative by the ministry of development aimed at protecting citizens facing financial problems.
In addition, the act will allow stores and enterprises to open in the next two Sundays ahead of the Christmas Holidays and New Year's Eve.
 Hios tangerines added to EU's PGI products listTangerines grown on the Aegean island of Hios have been added to the European Union's list of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) foods, raising the number of Greek products included in the EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) lists to 97.
The Greek agriculture ministry strives to gain PGI and PDO status for Greece's traditional products on a European level in order to protect Greek farming's cultural diversity and give added value to Greek products.
 Business Briefs-- The Bank of Piraeus has submitted a compulsory public proposal to the shareholders of the General Bank of Greece S.A. for acquiring all of their common nominal shares at the price of 6.86 euros in cash per share.
-- The subsidiary Titan Global Finance PLC announced on Monday the completion of the offer for the exchange and issuing of new commercial paper totalling 200 million euros, guaranteed by Titan
 Greek stocks drop 1.47 percent as pressure mounts on banksGreek stocks fell sharply on the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, dragged down by strong pressures on banking stock ahead of recapitalisation, the release of 3rd quarter results and the BlackRock audit. The general index of the market shed 1.47 percent to close at 844.46 points at the end of the session. Turnover was a medium 69.783 million euro.
The Big Cap index fell sharply lower by 2.80 percent and the Mid Cap index fell 2.34 percent. The Technology (9.95 percent), Industrial Products (1.62 percent) and Foods (1.24 percent) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Banks (-12.60 percent) and Financial Services (-3.23 percent) suffered losses. Viohalco (2.45 percent), Frigoglass (2.37 percent) and Motor Oil (1.68 percent) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (-14.94 percent), Piraeus Bank (-14.64 percent) and Eurobank (-13.48 percent) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 83 to 66 with another 26 issues unchanged. Myloi Kepenou (20.00 percent), Athina (19.55 percent) and Compucon (17.39 percent) were top gainers, while HOL (-19.89 percent), Nutriart (-19.77 percent) and Teletypos (-19.71 percent) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.70%
Personal & Household: -0.68%
Raw Materials: +0.03%
Travel & Leisure: +0.79%
Food & Beverages: +1.24%
Financial Services: -3.23%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.31
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.48
HBC Coca Cola: 16.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.73
National Bank of Greece: 1.21
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.57
Bank of Piraeus: 0.31
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds moved to 11.62 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday from 11.29 pct from on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.98 pct and the German Bund 1.36 pct. No transactions were made in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were: The 12-month rate was 0.55 pct, the six-month rate was 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.18 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium 0.92 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 39.039 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,576 contracts worth 22.970 million euros, with 36,287 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 98,235 contracts worth 16.069 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (34,183), followed by Piraeus Bank (14,993), Alpha Bank (12,872), Bank of Cyprus (6,679), OPAP (5,598), Cyprus Popular Bank (4,038), OTE (3,770), Eurobank (2,908), Intralot (2,809), MIG (2,357) and PPC (2,286).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.335
Pound sterling 0.824
Danish kroner 7.573
Swedish kroner 8.885
Japanese yen 112.05
Swiss franc 1.226
Norwegian kroner 7.481
Canadian dollar 1.318
Australian dollar 1.268
 Vienna concert celebrates Mikis TheodorakisVIENNA (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Renowned Greek composer and political activist Mikis Theodorakis received a standing ovation in Vienna on Friday at a concert given in his honour.
The concert, attended by nearly 2,000 people, was devoted to Theodorakis' symphonic works, including "Mauthausen", "Requiem" and "Third Symphony". Performers included singer Maria Farantouri, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Academy Chorus, the Geboldtskirchen Children Chorale, conducted by Stefan Vladar and singers Mara Mastalir, Lisa Maria Jang and Daniel Serafin.
Mauthausen, named after the concentration camp in Upper Austria, had its world premier at the camp site in May 1988 at a concert attended by then-Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and the late writer Iakovos Kampanellis, a camp survivor, who had written the lyrics on which the symphony was based.
 Acropolis Museum welcomes families for ChristmasThe Acropolis Museum will host a series of family events to celebrate the Christmas holidays. The programme will open on Saturday 22 December to welcome adults and young visitors in interactive activities and archaeological games, concerts and 3D screenings, children's workshops and other events including Christmas sweets. Children will also have the opportunity to decorate an olive oil branch, in an ancient custom, and sing 3,000-year-old carols.
 Section of Tripoli-Kalamata motorway to open on December 21The section of the Tripoli-Kalamata motorway in the Peloponnese, in the region of Tsakonas, that had remained closed for three years due to roadworks, will be opened to traffic as of December 21. The Infrastructures ministry has provided this 11km sector for traffic to facilitate Christmas holidaymakers. There will be only one small detour at the location of the big bridge's construction.
 Proton Bank's Lavrentiadis sent to Korydallos PrisonBusinessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, former governor of Proton Bank, is being held on remand in Korydallos Prison, it was announced on Monday. He will be transferred to the same wing as former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is also facing financial crimes charges. If he complains of further health problems, he will be treated at the prison hospital or mental clinic.
Lavrentiadis was admitted to central Athens Evangelismos Hospital last Thursday following his arrest after saying that he suffered from a chronic health condition. According to reports, Lavrentiadis later complained of psychological problems after Evangelismos physicians found his health to be generally good and he was taken to Dafni Mental Hospital in western Attica last Friday evening.
Soon after being examined, he was found fit to return to Evangelismos Hospital before being led to Korydallos Prison.
The former Proton Bank boss is facing multiple charges related to money laundering but was arrested on suspicion of fleeing the country, despite an order preventing him from exiting Greece.
 NGO board members face felony charges for mismanagementAn Athens First Instance Court prosecutor pressed charges of fraud and money laundering against 10 former board members of the "Circle of Patmos" NGO, serving in the period between 2000-2010. The charges included perpetrating fraud against the state, fraud against private individuals and money-laundering. The charges were filed within the framework of a major investigation launched by the prosecutor's office into the economic management of various NGOs.
The investigation conducted into the case brought to light instances of mismanagement in the NGO's finances, specifically, in the allocation of funds it received in the form of state subsidies or private donations.
According to the prosecutor assigned with the case, the charges concern an amount of 4-5 million euro, a large part of which was traced to an undeclared bank account in London, as well as unjustified expenses charged to the NGO.
 TTBank employees on strikeHellenic Postbank (TTBank) employees on Monday are holding a 24-hour strike and a demonstration in downtown Athens, to protest against a Bank of Greece (BoG) report calling for structural changes.
"We reject the report of the Bank of Greece concerning the non-viability of TTBank that was based on manipulated data," the employees charged. They added that they support the bank's recapitalisation and its treatment as equal to the "systemic banks".
 Man, 79, found dead; homicide suspectedA 79-year-old retired highschool teacher was found dead in the early hours of Monday morning. His body was found wrapped in blankets and plastic bags in a recycling bin in Thessaloniki's Saranta Ekklisies area, by municipality rubbish collectors. Police said the man is considered the victim of crime, based on the initial evidence.
The elderly man lived near the area where his body was found and had been missing since last Tuesday. He was reported missing two days later by a relative.
Police are now investigating the possibility that he was killed by tenants living in a number of small apartments that he owned in the area, most of which were leased to foreign nationals, over financial differences. A number of suspects have been brought in for questioning.
 Man's body found in garbage binA man's body was found early Monday in a garbage bin in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
According to police the body was wrapped in blankets and plastic bags. Police cordoned off the scene and is conducting an investigation.
 Super League resultPAOK Thessaloniki beat PAS Yiannina 3-1 away in a game played for the Super League on Monday evening.
Standings after 15 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 39
2. PAOK 31
3. Asteras 25
4. Atromitos 25
5. Panionios 21
6. PAS Yiannina 21
7. Levadiakos 21
8. Panathinaikos 20
9. Panthrakikos 20
10. OFI 17
11. Platanias 16
12. Xanthi 15
13. Veria 15
14. Aris 13
15. Kerkyra 12
16. AEK 12
NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 0C and 17C. Local showers in Athens with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 9C and 16C. Rainy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 3C and 6C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe uniform payroll that goes into effect in the Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO) as of Jan.1, the changes in the social security system and government's plans for development, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Black provocation".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "2013 brings 18 changes in all social security funds".
ESTIA: "European party under (prime minister) Antonis Samaras".
ETHNOS: "Public sector payscale applied also in Public Utilities and Organisations".
IMERISSIA: "Battle for growth".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Ten-year growth plan that will change the political and economic conditions in Greece".
TA NEA: "How Google steals from us".
VRADYNI: "Tragedies in USA and Lesvos island".
6 DAYS: "The 10 reversals in pensions".
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