|Monday, 12 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-11-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 13 November 2013 Issue No: 4510
 Europe must adopt 'common action' against youth unemployment, PM urges EU leadersPARIS (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira)
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday outlined the Greek government's key priorities in dealing with youth unemployment, while addressing a European leaders' conference on joblessness among 15-24 year olds in Paris.
Samaras started by referring to Greek society's "fatigue" with an extended recession that had caused the jobless rate among young people to soar to a staggering 59 percent, more than double the rate for the general population, which stood at 27 percent.
"Different member-states have different levels of youth unemployment, for different reasons, but we all need to take common action," he said.
He then outlined the general direction of the Greek government's new policies, with structural reforms in the economy and society. Samaras stressed that Greece was fully prepared for a comprehensive implementation of two basic programmes for young people demanded by Europe, the "Young People's Initiative" and "Guarantees for Youth", announcing that full implementation of both programmes will be achieved from January.
In terms of legislation, Samaras referred to the institution of apprenticeships, noting that this dual system served to link mandatory education with the labour market, strengthening the bonds between education and professional experience.
The Greek premier also referred to a reorganisation of the country's Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) and its cooperation with similar agencies notable for their success in other countries, such as Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom.
"We are putting into implementation institutional tools for the prompt identification of labour market trends. In this way we can evaluate future problems at a very early stage," he said.
Samaras said that Greece had recently completed its national operational plan for employment, which is also demanded by Europe in order to boost the number of jobs. In collaboration with the EU Task Force for Greece, meanwhile, the Greek government has started to carry out this plan, adding new tools like community work and the 'voucher' programme.
"Over and above these structural interventions and necessary cyclical initiatives, we need a long-term strategy to alleviate the repercussion of the crisis for young people," Samaras added. "This calls for a sustainable model for growth that will lead the European continent in coming decades," he added. The Greek premier ended on a note of optimism, saying that "2014 must be the year for the recovery of the European economy, which will allow us to deal finally with unemployment among the young."
Samaras was accompanied at the conference by Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, who had arrived a day earlier and attended a morning conference with his European counterparts.
Twenty four European leaders, among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accepted the invitation from French President Francois Hollande, with British Prime Minister David Cameron being among those absent.
The conference follows a July summit initiated by Merkel in Berlin, where she described youth unemployment as one of the most pressing issues facing Europe.
According to the European Commission's latest statistics, the EU-wide youth joblessness rate stands at 23.5 per cent. A total of 7.5 million aged 15-24 are neither in work, education or training. The equivalent figures in Greece and Spain are the highest on the continent, at 57.3 pct and 56.5 pct, respectively.
 Vice-president Venizelos to meet European Investment Bank officialsGovernment Vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will meet the president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Werner Hoyer, and EIB Vice President responsible for Greece Mihai Tanasescuat on Wednesday, according to a foreign ministry announcement.
The meeting will take place at the foreign ministry, at 8.30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
 Troika eases excessive demands on Greek gov't, Finance ministry official sayTuesday's second meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the heads of the troika representing Greece's creditors ended late in the evening, with a top Finance ministry official saying that "the ice (between the Greek government and the troika of lenders) has been broken and we are now starting to converge on more reasonable figures." The same official explained that the "ice" was associated to the fact that the troika arrived to Athens and initially demanded that measures of 2.9 billion euros be taken for 2014, but now has "eased" the specific requirements.
According to the official, the measures requested by the troika are not "horizontal," which would mean new pension and salary cuts.
Even though Finance ministry officials described the current talks as "positive and constructive", they could not accurately say when an agreement was likely to be achieved by the two sides.
"It (the negotiation) will be lengthy, discussions will take some time," said a top official, adding that "I cannot say whether it will extend beyond Christmas.
Stournaras and the heads of the troika are scheduled to leave Athens on Wednesday to attend a Eurogroup session on Thursday, November 14 in Brussels.
The troika will return to Athens on Friday, but Stournaras will come back on Saturday, as he will also participate in the Ecofin meeting.
The troika representatives are scheduled to continue their talks with the Greek government over the prior actions for the disbursement of a loan tranche of 1.0 billion euros pending since last July and another one of 4.9 billion euros, normally to be paid out in December.
 Greece dismisses comments of 'great distance' in talks with troikaGreek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday strongly reacted to comments made earlier in the day by a European official regarding ongoing talks between the Greek government and the EC/ECB/IMF troika of lenders.
Speaking to reporters in Athens after the completion of an afternoon meeting with the troika, Stournaras said: "Whoever made this comment, which does not reflect the constructive discussions with the troika, should have the courage to say it by using his name. We are not miles apart, we are meters apart".
Greece and the troika are far from reaching an agreement on a funding gap for 2014 and the need to promote structural reforms in the country, a top European official said in Brussels earlier on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, the official said that Greece was making "slow progress" in implementing prior actions needed to disburse a loan of 1.0 billion euros and noted that there was "a gap of kilometers and billions" between the troika and Greek authorities over the fiscal gap of 2014, while he added that without any agreement Greece's partners would be unaware of the country's funding needs. He stressed that after a "technical interruption" of talks between the troika and Greek authorities it was clear that a fourth assessment of the Greek program could not have been completed before the November 14 Eurogroup meeting, probably not even before the Eurogroup meetings to follow in the rest of the year.
"We are far away from achieving an agreement," the official said, while he doubted whether an agreement could be reached even in December. He underlined that as long as the Greek side stalled the next loans would not be disbursed. Greece must implement structural reforms included in the prior actions, he said, adding it has been proven in the past that implementing structural reforms in Greece was more difficult than fiscal consolidation.
"Slow promotion of structural reforms was a significant loss of the dynamism of the program," he noted. He said that a delay in reaching an agreement did not cause a cash flow problem in the country. "We have been through this before," he said, adding "it is always good to meet timetables. Any delay is a problem. A small delay means small problems and a big delay means big problems". He dismissed reports alleging that there were a difference of views between the troika members over the fiscal gap of 2014, although he noted that where there are three economists in a negotiating table, usually there are different views.
 First meeting with Finmin, development ministerA first meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and the heads of the troika representing Greece's creditors ended on Tuesday afternoon.
Commenting on the results of the talks, the Greek side estimated that an agreement on the end of a ban on auctions of foreclosed properties, which expires on December 31, will be reached by mid-December.
A senior development ministry official reported an "initial conjunction of views" and said there was neither a climate of tension nor a sense of things will be "wrapped up tomorrow".
"We discussed various measures that have either been taken or will be taken in order to speed up the process. The discussion will continue on a technical level next week," he said.
Since the discussion centred on the auctions ban, a number of cabinet ministers whose ministries are involved in various capacities were present at the meeting, in addition to Stournaras and Hatzidakis. They included Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou and Deputy Development Minister Thanassis Skordas, as well as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Greece Yiannis Papadakis.
According to development ministry officials, the Greek side insists that those who are really poor must be protected from losing their homes through auctions - through defining "acceptable living standards" - and also wants protection for it calls "cooperative" debtors, as well as the activation of the institution of arbitration. The officials appeared reasonably confident that a "common denominator" will be found on these issues with the chiefs of the troika mission.
Conversely, troika officials are adamant on the issue of business property leases and insists that these be fully deregulated, for both old and new lease-holders.
 KKE on gov't-troika talksThe Communist Party of Greece on Tuesday criticised both the government and the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), while commenting on talks between the Greek government and the EC/ECB/IMF troika of lenders.
"The introduction of new anti-popular measures by the government and the main opposition's statements of compliance with the European and American partners confirm that, despite any differences, no government that supports the EU, recognises the debt and serves capitalist profiteering, wants and can put an end to the anti-popular downhill slide," KKE said in a press release.
 Bill on public sector arrangements ratified with many improvementsAn Administrative Reform ministry draft bill concerning arrangements in the public sector was ratified for its terms and amendments by the Parliament Plenum with a majority vote.
The ministry's leadership made many improving changes for the bill and also accepted deputy amendments as well.
These included an amendment by deputies of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), which anticipates the exclusion from the so-called mobility scheme of athletes having global or European distinctions; the amendment was accepted almost unanimously, since only the Golden Dawn party voted against it.
 Minutes of Administrative Reform Council meetings are confidential, Mitsotakis saysThe minutes of the Government Administrative Reform Council meetings are confidential, as stipulated by law, according to a document signed by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and forwarded to Parliament on Tuesday in response to an MP that requested them.
Mitsotakis noted that the ministry of administrative reform examines all legal and practical aspects in order to give access to excerpts of the minutes to MPs that request them and ensure that Parliament is adequately briefed.
The document was sent to Parliament in response to a relevant request by opposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) MP Marina Chrissoveloni.
The AN.EL MP had requested the minutes of the Government Administrative Reform Council meetings on the reorganization of public hospitals, social insurance funds and higher education institutions, noting that "all decisions are veiled in secrecy". She had also requested the evaluation reports and the recommendations made by the minister of administrative reform.
 Alternate finmin, EU commissioners discuss Greek presidency prioritiesGreek Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras briefed EU officials over the priorities of the Greek EU presidency, particularly in the field of the European Union budget and the condition of the Greek economy.
The Greek minister met with EU Commissioner for Tax and Custom Union, Algirdas Semeta, and with the EU Commissioner for Fiscal Programming and Budget, Janusz Lewandowski, on the sidelines of an ECOFIN council in Brussels.
During the meetings, Staikouras was briefed on the portfolios, programming and priorities of the two Commissioners for 2014 and said that the Greek EU presidency will seek to safeguard the proper execution of the 2014 budget, based on realistic estimates and the principles of proper fiscal management, while it will work towards setting directive lines of the 2015 budget and ensuring a continuation of funding for EU policies.
Staikouras also briefed the two Commissioners over the condition of the Greek economy, the positive steps made and the achievement of the country's fiscal goals in the framework of an Economic Policy Program.
 DIM.AR assesses results of censure motion, urges gov't not to agree to new measuresThe opposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party's executive committee convened on Tuesday, in a meeting chaired by party leader Fotis Kouvelis, to assess the impact of Parliament's rejection of a censure motion tabled by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).
The meeting found that DIM.AR's performance during the debate was satisfactory and agreed on the need to more strongly differentiate the party's policy platform from that of the government and SYRIZA. It also found that the censure motion "rebounded" on the main opposition and proved damaging for the ruling majority, which showed signs of weaker cohesion after PASOK MP Theodora Tzakri 'rebelled' against the majority and was expelled.
In an announcement, DIM.AR also urged the government not to accept any new measures "regardless whether they come wrapped as structural reforms" that will make the situation more difficult for the economy and society.
"In its negotiations with the troika, the government must seek modifications to the adjustment programme, so that this is linked to growth and social protection," DIM.AR said, while especially emphasising the issue of auctions for properties foreclosed because owners were genuinely unable to service their loans, saying a ban on auctions should be extended for another two years.
 Former Parliament president sees 'untransparency' in hospital appointments, calls for full briefingIn a question tabled for Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Tuesday, veteran PASOK MP and former Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis referred to a "atmosphere of untransparency, behind-the-scenes scheming and petty political aims" in the way hospital appointments were being made, demanding that Parliament be fully briefed on these issues.
"Having some experience of the sector and the problems of public health, I am disagreeably surprised to see the announcements of new managements at hospitals and the information released or commented on by local communities, and especially the healthcare community, of able people that are removed or transferred to be replaced by others not equally qualified, either formally or practically, who are appointed in the positions of governors and deputy governors," Kaklamanis said.
He asked Georgiadis, therefore, to present to Parliament the CVs of all those appointed, removed or transferred, as well as those that applied for a senior position but were turned down, for every hospital where a position was filled through recent decisions made by the health minister.
The former Parliament president also asked that Parliament be informed on the finances and overall spending of hospitals, especially purchases of drugs and other consumables, the amount of debt serviced for the year 2009-2012 and the number of patients treated, operations, average length of hospitalisation and other information.
 Second PASOK MP threatens to break ranks over property taxAnother PASOK MP on Tuesday threatened not to support a planned 'comprehensive' property tax planned by the government, in statements to the private television channel Mega. Following warnings from PASOK's Mihalis Kassis that he will not support the law as it stands on Monday, Thanos Moraitis adopted an identical view on Tuesday.
"If the plan for the property tax remains the same, it will not pass, it will not be voted in. The law must have other features and anothe another prospect, in accordance with what PASOK is asking for," he said.
PASOK, which is the junior member of Greece's ruling coalition government, has already lost the MP Theodora Tzakri during a censure motion debate tabled by SYRIZA that culminated on Sunday night, reducing the government's majority to 154.
 Defence Minister Avramopoulos to speak at Tufts and Harvard UniversitiesDefence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will address on Wednesday the Constantine G. Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic and European Studies at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, greater Boston area, on "The new geopolitical role of Greece," according to a Defence ministry announcement.
On Thursday, Avramopoulos is invited by the European Club of Harvard University's Kennedy School to talk to graduate students about on geopolitical developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region and on Europe's exit from the economic crisis.
During his stay, Avramopoulos will also meet with repre-sentatives of the Greek diaspora and a delegation from the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
 World must wake up to Turkey's real intentions on Cyprus issue, FM spokesman saysThe international community should wake up to Turkey's real intentions concerning the Cyprus issue, Foreign Ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said on Tuesday.
Responding to press questions about statements reportedly made on Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the effect that there is no country called Cyprus but a local government of southern Cyprus, Koutras said, "The disputing by the Turkish Prime Minister of the existence of the Cyprus Republic itself ought to be a wake-up call, at last, for the international community regarding Turkey's true intentions on the Cyprus issue. Any further comment on this is superfluous."
 Deputy FM Gerontopoulos calls for implementation of illegal migrants' readmission agreementDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos underlined in separate meetings he had in New Delhi, India on Tuesday with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh, Sartaj Aziz and Dipu Moni, respectively, that the illegal migrants' readmission agreement signed with the European Union will have to be observed.
The meetings were held on the sidelines of the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers' Meeting (FMM) on November 11-12. The implementation of the readmission agreement with the EU was raised by the deputy foreign minister, considering that thousands of migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh are illegally in Greece.
Gerontopoulos pointed out to the two foreign ministers that the issue will be raised again in the context of the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.
 Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis requests crosschecking of foreign language certificatesThe validity of foreign language certificates submitted by a total of 9,873 individuals hired after succeeding in 49 state hiring agency ASEP examinations in 2003 will be checked by the Inspectors-Controllers Body for Public Administration (SEEDD) as requested by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, it was announced on Tuesday.
Mitsotakis said that efforts will focus on putting an end to the practice of submitting forged documents to obtain a position in the civil service, noting that all public sector employees found to have presented fake documents will face the consequences of their actions.
The crosschecking of certificates (high school and university diplomas, foreign language certificates, computer operator certificates, etc) filed by Municipal Police personnel is currently underway, with 57 pct of the 11,863 certificates already crosschecked. The forged certificates found during the process belong to 42 municipal police officers, corresponding to less that 2 pct of the certificates submitted.
 Deputy Public Broadcasting Minister interviewed on move to clear ERT buildingThe government will make an inventory of equipment at the former public broadcaster ERT, which will be handed over to finance ministry committees and technicians of the interim broadcaster Public Television (DT), Deputy Public Broadcasting Minister Pantelis Kapsis said in a private radio interview on Tuesday. He said technicians will be visiting the building formerly occupied by ERT in Agia Paraskevi on Wednesday afternoon or on Thursday morning,
Speaking to Real FM, Kapsis also pointed out that DT services will gradually move into the Agia Paraskevi building over the next two weeks.
As regards the planning of the new public broadcaster NERIT, Kapsis said that it is the responsibility of its fully independent supervisory and administrative councils. He added that the plans include the establishment of two television channels that will broadcast nationwide and a satellite channel for the Greek diaspora.
Responding to allegations that the government's move to shut down ERT, instead of carrying out its reform while in operation, has put a burden on the taxpayers, the deputy minister said that the cost is estimated at no higher than 50-60 million euros and concerns severance payments to those who were laid off, adding that amortization will take two to three years.
Referring to the legislative act for the closure of ERT, which hasn't been ratified in Parliament yet, he said that ERT was shut down based on a Joint Ministerial Decision, which continues to apply regardless of the legislative act that served as an additional guarantee for the government. He added that the Council of State (CoS) supreme administrative court has upheld the Joint Ministerial Decision by ruling that the ERT closure is legitimate and by requesting that in the meantime the public broadcaster's services should be provided by DT.
Responding to a question if, being a journalist himself, felt uncomfortable on the morning the riot police stormed the ERT premises in Agia Papaskevi to evict journalists occupying the building since ERT's closure in June, Kapsis said that he accepted his current position because he had seen a "window of opportunity" to make state television that was truly independent of the government, adding that "this will be a major achievement for the political system and society".
Kapsis noted that legality should be observed by everyone in the country, adding that he did not like witnessing the riot police intervention but it had to be done.
 Dev't minister Hatzidakis meets Sweden's ambassadorDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis met on Tuesday with Charlotte Wrangberg, Sweden's ambassador in Greece, to discuss the ministry's plans and the priorities of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2014.
They also talked about the cooperation of the two countries in simplifying export procedures with technical assistance by Swedish experts.
 Former PM George Papandreou in IstanbulISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Former prime minister George Papandreou made a symbolic visit to Gezi Park in Taksim Square in Istanbul on Tuesday, who is in the Turkish city for a conference organised by the opposition Popular Republican Party CHP together with the Socialist International.
Papandreou, together with other socialist leaders participating in the conference for last June's events, symbolically planted a tree in the park, which the Turkish opposition wants to promote as a symbol of its struggle against the government, particularly in view of the municipal elections this coming March.
Replying to questions by the press, Papandreou stressed that, in parallel to his capacity as president of the Socialist International, he is always a Greek politician who appreciates in particular cooperation with the Turkish government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul, for the promotion of Greek-Turkish relations which, as he said, are at a very positive point.
Papandreou also expressed hope for progress in the Cyprus issue, which he stressed would facilitate an overall improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.
The former prime minister will be visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Fanar in the afternoon, before departing from Istanbul.
 GD MP Barbaroussis' trial adjourned again until May 13The trial of ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) MP Kostas Barbaroussis and another 11 individuals accused of attacking street vendors in Messolonghi in September 2011 was adjourned again on Tuesday and will now begin on May 13, 2014. Defence lawyers representing the MP said they were unable to attend because they were also representing defendants in other cases now on trial, the court announced on Tuesday.
The defendants are accused of impersonating authority, damaging private property and using violence.
A number of people gathered outside the courthouse chanting slogans during the arrival and departure of the defendant GD MP that took place under tight security.
The trial was first adjourned on October 8 until November 12 because three of the defendants had no legal representation.
 COSCO's PCT to invest another 230 mln euro in Piraeus port, shipping ministry announcesThe shipping ministry announced on Tuesday an agreement between Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) and the Chinese-owned COSCO subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) for new investments amounting to 230 million euros in Piraeus' port.
The agreement includes the construction and exploitation of OLP's West Pier Container Terminal III by PCT, the construction of an Oil Refuelling Pier and the upgrade of Pier II and East Pier Container Terminal III with new mechanical equipment.
According to the ministry, the investment is expected to create 700 new jobs directly and 1,500 indirectly, and will ensure the growth prospects of Piraeus' port.
"The COSCO investment, which was opposed more fiercely than any other in the past, will bring huge benefits for our country, and today we double the amount of the investment with a further 230 million euros," Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis noted.
"The agreement seals the transition of the port of Piraeus into a new era, as this is the largest investment in crisis-stricken Greece," he added.
 Viohalco seeks new capital abroad to make new investments in GreeceViohalco is not moving out. It does not escape taxation. It does not abolish job positions, its factories and companies are not leaving Greece. Instead, it seeks new capital abroad to make new investments in the country. That was the message sent to the company's shareholders by Viohalco's chairman Ioannis Fikioris during an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting.
The meeting, which brought together more than 95 pct of the group's shareholders, approved the trans-border merger between Viohalco and Viohalco SA -based in Belgium.
Fikioris said that Greek banks supported and continue supporting the group. However, they are not in a position to expand their support for new activities. Foreign banks were not offering capital on "Greek risk" guarantees. Instead, they offer capital on competitive cost if the guarantee is of "European risk". With its listing in a European stock exchange, Viohalco automatically expanded its sources of international funding. With the completion of trans-European mergers, the company directly acquired a cash flow of 67 million euros. "Therefore, the Europe road is an one-way road," Fikioris said.
He noted that a restructuring plan presented by the board was designed primarily to boost the company's productivity and towards shareholders' interests.
Viohalco celebrated 76 years of productive presence in Greece this year, with 69 subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Greece. It owns 28 factories of which 18 in Greece with a workforce of 4,461 workers in the country. The group has invested 1.7 billion euros in the last 12 years, 70 million euros annually for maintenance works at its factories and seeks a 300-milllion-euro investment to boost employment in Greece.
The group's board said Viohalco was examining a share capital increase scheme, the issuance of bond loans and exploiting its real estate assets. Board officials said that Viohalco would proceed with public tenders for its Greek-listed subsidiaries if the Capital Market Commission ruled it was obligatory. Viohalco's shares will be traded in the Athens Stock Exchange by Friday, 15 November. From November 22, its shares will be traded in the Euronext market.
 Financial crimes squad imposed fines worth 164 mln euros in OctoberGreece's Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) imposed fines worth 163.6 million euros in October in the framework of its investigation and audits aimed to combat financial crime, the Finance ministry said on Tuesday.
In a report, the ministry said the fines were imposed for tax evasion and undeclared incomes, with all significant cases referred to the financial attorney's office.
SDOE carried out a total of 1,942 audits in Attica in October and found 976 illegal cases, imposing fines worth 163,613,532 euros.
The Ionian Islands department of SDOE revealed a tax evasion case worth 3.4 million euros in the wholesale of farm products, while the Peloponnese department imposed fines worth 3.0 million euros on taxpayers who failed to declare their real estate property through off-shore companies and levied fines worth 1.83 million euros on farmers for issuing fake invoices.
 Tourism minister Kefalogianni to visit ArgentinaTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni will visit Argentina, where she will have a series of meetings with government officials with a view to opening Greece's tourism market in Latin America.
Kefalogianni is expected to meet with Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Zuain and Tourism Minister Carlos Enrique Meyer. She will analyse the government policy and sign an agreement on tourism cooperation between Greece and Argentina.
Kefalogianni will also speak at an event in honour of Greek expatriates in Argentina.
 Agricultural Development minister discusses Greek agriculture prospects with EIB representativesAgricultural Development Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris held a meeting on Tuesday with representatives of the European Investment Bank (EIB), focusing on the prospects of Greek agriculture and possibilities of cooperation between the Agricultural Development ministry and the EIB.
Tsaftaris outlined the ministry's priorities and strategy, stressing that agriculture and fisheries constitute productive ground with many investment opportunities with a growth indicator on which the national economy can be backed.
For this reason he proposed the immediate starting of detailed discussions between the two sides, expecting productive mutual benefit cooperation soon, presenting the priorities with which the EIB also agreed in such actions as big investments at national level (new farmers, improvement plans, etc) and support for young innovative entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector.
 Hilux and Foxconn in joint venture with Dasteri in GreeceGreek authorities will do everything possible to facilitate licensing procedures for Dasteri' s factory in the industrial zone of Sindos and for construction to begin in 2014, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou told representatives of Hilux and Foxconn - partners of the Greek company in the project.
Marc Litke, president of US company "Hilux" and Eric Cho, marketing director of "Foxconn", announced during a meeting with the Greek minister on Tuesday, their decision to cooperate with Dasteri SA - a Greek company - in the construction of interior/exterior LED lighting production unit in the industrial zone of Sindos.
"We need to create job positions, the capital for investments exists, the global market is open to high-quality technological products and it is very important that representatives of the two business giants are offering a vote of confidence in the Greek economy," Karaoglou said, adding that the presence of the two companies (with a combined turnover of 108.3 billion US dollars in 2012) in Greece "was proof that Macedonia-Thrace is really an attractive destination for investors".
The two officials and Dasteri's president, Yiannis Dasteridis, said the investment will constantly evolve and noted that the new job positions will be created according to the demand of the products. "We have worked hard and in the next few days we expect further development in our work. This investment will create more job positions," the president of Hilux said, while Foxconn's marketing director stressed that cooperation between the three companies aimed to "bring progress to Greece".
The investment project has an initial budget of 3-5 million euros.
 Global Entrepreneurship Week on Nov. 18-30The annual Global Entrepreneurship Week will be held in Athens under the title "Disrupt, Startup, ScaleUP" on November 18-30.
Every year since 2007, the world's largest annual conference for young entrepreneurs is observed in 139 countries all over ther world, with the participation of more than 25,000 entities participating in 34,000 activities globally. The overall number of people involved exceeds 7,000,000.
The Athens activities will be co-hosted by the Greek Federation of Associations of Young Entrepreneurs (OESYNE) and the National Council of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The key event of the will take place on November 23-24 at the Athens Concert Hall.
Organised on the on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Week will be a meeting aiming at the creation of a "regional ecosystem", which will promote entrepreneurship and innovation.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Gea CEO Aris Kefalogiannis said, "The business proposals that will compete in the global event will be announced in the coming days."
 Greece-fYRoM economic-business forum to be held in Athens, Dec. 17A Greece-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) economic-business forum is being planned to take place in Athens on December 17, the first such forum to be held in the Greek capital.
It is being organised in cooperation between the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) and the Foreign Investments and Export Promotion Organisation of fYRoM, as well as fYRoM's economic chambers and with assistance by the foreign ministries of the two countries.
The forum's objective will be primarily to explore the potential for further development of trade between the two countries. Preparations are already under way, while the event is expected to attract large participation interest by businesses from both countries.
According to fYRoM's statistics office, Greece is currently the country's second largest trade partner.
In the first nine months of 2013 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to 662 million dollars. Exports of fYRoM to Greece in that period amounted to 163 million dollars, while imports from Greece amounted to 499 million dollars.
 Ten municipal energy conservation projects to get NSRF fundingTen municipal energy conservations projects with a total budget of 3.5 million euros are to be funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), based on decisions signed on Tuesday by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis.
The projects, which are to be carried out by the end of 2015, are expected to lead to better energy efficiency and savings, fewer CO2 emissions and also create new jobs.
 Greece raises 1.3 bln euros from T-bill auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a three-month Treasury bill issue, raising 1.3 billion euros from the market at a slightly lower cost.
The Public Debt Management Organization said in a statement that the return of the issue was set at 3.90 pct, down from 3.95 pct in the previous auction of same issue on October 15, 2013.
Bids submitted totalled 2.025 billion euros, 2.03 times over the asked sum. The organization also accepted non-competitive bids worth 300 million euros and will accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by Thursday, November 14.
 Titan reports positive results in Q3Titan on Tuesday reported losses worth 15 million euros in the January-September period this year, despite an increase in its revenues to 883 million euros in the same period, compared with the nine-month period of 2012.
The Group had reported profits of 2.0 million euros in the January-September period last year and revenues totaling 847 million euros last year. In a statement, Titan reported a strengthening of positive trends which began in 2013 despite uncertainty and adverse conditions prevailing in specific markets.
Turnover grew 6.0 pct to 316 million euros in the July-September period, EBITDA grew by 22 pct to 61 million euros and net profits totaled 7.0 million euros, from a loss of 6.0 million euros in the third quarter of 2012.
Consolidated turnover totaled 888 million euros, up 5.0 pct from 2012, while EBITDA fell 5.5 pct to 154 million euros. Net results, after minorities and tax provisions, showed a loss of 15 million euros, after earnings of 2.0 million euros last year. Free cash flow totaled 76 million euros in the nine-month period, while net borrowing fell by 73 million euros to 594 million euros. Net borrowing is down around 50 pct since 2009.
 BA announces weekly direct flights to Mykonos, Santorini for next summerBritish Airways on Tuesday announced the launch of scheduled flights to the fashionable Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini in the summer of 2014, linking the UK with two popular holiday destinations in Greece.
The scheduled flights to Mykonos will begin on May 3 and to Santorini on May 4. Both islands will be serviced with two weekly flights until the end of the summer season.
BA Commercial Manager of Greece Freddie Stier noted that the airline gives a vote of confidence to Greece, adding that this move will boost the local economy.
Bookings are already available at ba.com and tour operators.
 Union of museums, archaeological sites guards hail resolution of overtime work issueThe National Union of Antiquities Guards (PEYFA) hailed the passing vote of a regulation that takes care of overtime and rest days, they said on Tuesday, resolving a "long-term, just and operational request of the union".
The regulations were in an article voted as part of a Health ministry draft bill.
Staff thanked Culture Ministry Panos Panagiotopoulos and said they expected that a relevant government contract would be signed soon. "This regulation will greatly help in serving visitors (to ancient sites and museums) and in increasing revenues for the state," they said.
The regulation takes care of a long-standing issue that has frequently led to strike action by guards in the past, shutting down major archaeological sits and museums to visitors, especially during the summer tourist season.
 Sharp rise in power disconnections since crisis began, power grid operator reportsThere has been a significant increase in the number power disconnections for both households and businesses since the start of the crisis in Greece, with only 60 percent of those disconnected later returning to the grid, according to figures presented on Tuesday by the head of the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO) Georgios Kollias.
Kollias said the number of power disconnections had risen to 350,000 a year, up from roughly 300,000 two years ago. Of these, only 210,000 reconnected to the power network at a later date, representing shops and businesses that had closed, holiday homes no longer in use but also several households, with homes estimated to represent 60 percent of disconnections and businesses the remaining 40 percent.
The network operator's CEO also highlighted the problem of illegal reconnections, estimated to have risen to 35,000 a year, which he stressed were dangerous and expensive for consumers when they were discovered, as well as carrying penal sanctions, with 2,500 lawsuits filed to date.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market to its lowest levels since mid-October. Bank shares came under strong selling pressure. The composite index dropped 3.10 pct to end at 1,129.86 points, near its day's lows of 1,128.30 points. Turnover was a moderate 87.87 million euros.
The Large Cap index dropped 3.26 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.48 pct lower. Titan (3.64 pct) was the only blue chip to end higher, while Viohalco (8.79 pct), Ellaktor (7.12 pct), MIG (7.01 pct) and Piraeus Bank (6.94 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
All sector indices ended lower with the Banks (5.29 pct), Raw Materials (4.44 pct), Industrial Products (4.43 pct) and Financial Services (3.72 pct) suffering heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 98 to 31 with another 25 issues unchanged. Boutaris (18.06 pct), Progressive (15.11 pct) and Tzirakian Profil (14.44 pct) were top gainers, while G.E. Demetriou (30 pct), Hellenic Fish Farms (18.06 pct) and Maillis (15.58 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.18%
Personal & Household: -2.38%
Raw Materials: -4.44%
Travel & Leisure: -0.38%
Food & Beverages: -3.09%
Financial Services: -3.72%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OTE, OPAP and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.624
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.58
Coca Cola HBC: 20.58
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.20
National Bank of Greece: 4.12
Eurobank Properties : 8.52
Piraeus Bank: 1.34
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 6.58 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 6.42 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.34 pct and the German Bund 1.76 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 17 million euros, of which 12 million were sell orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.53 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.44 pct, the six-month rate was 0.34 pct, the three-month rate was 0.224 pct and the one-month rate was 0.129 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.29 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising sharply to 70.497 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 32,975 contracts worth 62.675 million euros, with 51,041 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,225 contracts worth 7.822 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (8,133), followed by National Bank (1,661), Alpha Bank (1,837), OTE (1,382), PPC (1,787), Mytilineos (1,186), Eurobank (334), MIG (514), OPAP (518), Intralot (471), GEK (501), Hellenic Exchanges (161), Hellenic Petroleum (154), Sidenor (145) and Ellaktor (177).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.363
Pound sterling 0.857
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 9.044
Japanese yen 135.88
Swiss franc 1.251
Norwegian kroner 8.424
Canadian dollar 1.430
Australian dollar 1.461
 Greek citizens more pessimistic over economic developments, survey showsGreek citizens are more pessimistic over the course of the national economy and their households' finances, a survey by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) showed on Tuesday.
The survey "Economic Barometer" is conducted by ALCO and its findings are processed by EBEA's research and studies center. The survey was conducted on a sample of 1,000 persons aged more than 18 years throughout Greece in the period 20-23 October 2013.
Constantinos Mihalos, president of EBEA, presenting the survey, said: "It is obvious that our creditors' general stance has burdened an already negative climate prevailing in the Greek society. This is reflected in the latest Economic Barometer of EBEA, with optimism and pessimism indices falling to their worst levels since early 2013. This adverse climate is deteriorating by citizens' expectations that a difference between the government and the troika will end to additional horizontal measures and to a new memorandum".
The pessimism index for the country's economic outlook rose to 70 points in the latest survey, from 68 in the previous survey, while the optimism index eased to 15 pct from 18 pct.
The pessimism index for personal finances' outlook, rose to 75 pct in the survey, from 74 pct, while the personal optimism index fell to 10 pct. Both indices have lost all the gains recorded earlier in the year and are returning to 2012 levels.
One in three participants in the survey said they could not afford to pay their property taxes in 2014, although 50 pct of participants said they would meet their tax obligations. Another 50 pct said the introduction of an intermediate sales season in early November was useful both for the consumer and for the market ahead of the Christmas season.
 Inspection of weapons-laden freighter continues with no claimant, minister saysGreek authorities found ammunition in about 9 containers of 55 on the freighter held at the port of Rhodes, while authorities are still trying to determine the ship's destination and sort out statements by the crew, Shipping and the Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told private Vima FM on Tuesday.
Sierra Leone-flagged "Nour-M" was intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard on Thursday in the eastern Aegean, with a bill of lading showing it was carrying roughly carrying about 20,000 Kalashnikovs as well as bullets in 56 of a total of 59 containers. The ongoing inspections began on Sunday.
"The freighter is not in sailing condition," Varvitsiotis, who flew to Rhodes, told the radio station. "It has a lot of remarks against it, therefore it's being detained at a port of Rhodes. It carries weapons that relate to the warring zones of the Mediterranean. According to the bill of lading, it is carrying weapons to Libya. According to comments by the captain and the crew - which are in conflict - the ship was heading for Syria or Turkey, near the borders with Syria," Varvitsiotis said.
He said that "the principal listed is Libya's Ministry of Defence, but we have had no complaint so far either from Libya or from the shipowning company, which is of Turkish interests," after adding that the remainder of the containers would be opened on land after explosives experts examined them in case they were booby-trapped.
There is conflicting information concerning the freighter's destination, with possibilities being the ports of Tartus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya, while Iskenderun was declared as destination port by the ship's captain. Earlier, sources had told ANA-MPA that the vessel had set sail from Ukraine destined for the Turkish port of Iskenderun and, aside from the large number of firearms, it also allegedly carried a large quantity of explosives.
In earlier statements, Varvitsiotis said "the UN prohibits weapons and bullets from reaching those countries and, in meeting our international obligations, we have to hold the ship for as long as it takes."
 Prosecutor orders investigation into Athens universities staff strikesThe First Instance Court Prosecutor ordered on Tuesday an emergency preliminary investigation into the continuation of the strikes of the Athens University and the National Technical University (NTUA) administration staff.
The universities' administrative staff voted on Monday to continue strike action, adopting their unions' proposal for another five-day strike this week, in defiance of a Friday court ruling declaring their labour action abusive and illegal.
The staff launched their long-term strike to protest government plans to slash staffing levels at the two universities by including roughly half the workforce into a transfer or gradual layoff scheme, part of a greater effort to downsize the public sector.
 Event in the European Parliament marks anniversary of Crete's union with GreeceA special event in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday marked the centennial of Crete's union with Greece.
German MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (FDP), who is originally from Greece, was the organizer of the event attended by MEPS, Greece's ambassador to Belgium and representatives of Cretan local authorities.
Referring to the message of the anniversary, Chatzimarkakis said that "it is our duty to fight with the weapons of peace for prosperity, progress and the abolition of austerity which is responsible for the ordeal the people in south Europe are going through".
 Event marking 15th anniversary of Ombudsman institutionAn event on the 15th anniversary of the Greek Ombudsman's operation was held at the Acropolis Museum's amphitheatre on Tuesday, with the support of the Council of Europe. A large part of Greek society resorts to this institution to handle public service mismanagement phenomena, during the past years of the acute economic crisis in particular, that is also a tool for improving public administration.
The event was addressed by Parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, while attendants included former caretaker prime minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos and former prime minister Costas Simitis with his wife.
Meimarakis referred in his brief address to the Ombudsman's usefulness and Mitsotakis underlined the Ombudsman's contribution to many sectors and the need for reforms in public administration.
 Government building illuminated in blue to celebrate World Diabetes DayAs part of the November 14 World Diabetes Day 2013, the Greek Parliament building was on Tuesday "dressed" in the colour of the blue circle, the global symbol for diabetes and central component of the World Diabetes Day campaign logo, as were a number of iconic buildings and sites throughout the world, including Sidney's Opera House in Australia, the Little Mermaid statue in Denmark, Germany's Brandenburg Gate and Argentina's Obelisk of Buenos Aires.
The blue lightings symbolize beacons of hope for the millions of people worldwide living with diabetes and provide a strong visual element to increase awareness to the diabetes cause as the disease tends to taking on dimensions of an epidemic.
Athens' all-marble Panathinaiko Stadium (also known as Kalimarmaro), will be illuminated in blue lights on Wednesday and Thursday.
 Official inquiry reveals serious, long-term problems in Patras cemeteriesSerious problems stretching back over 15 years were discovered in an official inquiry into the running and management of municipal cemeteries in the port city of Patras, the municipality announced on Tuesday. According to the final report, the way the cemeteries were run was judged to range from "unacceptable and untransparent" to "completely inadequate".
According to the municipality, the inquiry has yielded serious evidence of mismanagement and even embezzlement linked to a specific employee, whose case has been forwarded to the public prosecutor and the general inspector for Public Administration by Patras Mayor Yiannis Dimaras.
It slammed the management systems used at the cemeteries as "opportunistic, perfunctory and archaic" and said these facilitated irregularities benefiting employees and third parties at the expense of the municipality.
Based on the results of the inquiry, Dimaras has initiated disciplinary proceedings against five employees involved in the management of the city's cemeteries and instructed the city's legal service to evaluate whether action should be taken against employees now retired.
 Moderate quake registered in EviaAn earthquake measuring 4.8 points on the Richter scale was registered at 20:09 on Tuesday evening with its epicentre located between the village of Taxiarchis and the city of Istiea, on the island of Evia.
The quake caused no damage, according to initial reports from the area.
The tremor was felt all over central Greece, while in the prefecture of Fthiotida in particular it was felt from Martino to Lamia, Stylida and Pelasgia. Panic broke out in Edipsos, Evia, and inhabitants rushed out of their homes, while similar reactions occurred in Istiea.
Several tremors of a smaller intensity have occurred in the specific region so far.
 Public sector work stoppage on ThursdayThe Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council's (ADEDY) Executive Committee decided on Tuesday to call a nationwide work stoppage in the entire public sector and services from 12 noon until the end of working hours on Thursday, November 14.
A protest rally will be held at a downtown Athens location at 1 p.m. in the framework of the work stoppage.
ADEDY also decided to continue labour action against the measure of suspension-mobility.
 Iranian national arrested for knifing court clerkA 37-year-old Iranian national was jailed Tuesday for attacking and knifing a court clerk at the courts in Evelpidon, where he was taken for charges related to another case, on Friday.
The man, arrested immediately, was read his charges on Tuesday by an investigator without a lawyer present and was detained pending trial for attempted murder by a decision of the investigator and the prosecutor.
In his testimony, the man said that he "wanted to harm" the inspector and her secretary because in the past "they had been unfair to him and forbidden him from leaving the country." He said that if he hadn't found their investigating office open, he would have tried the next one.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and easterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 9C and 22C. Rainy in Athens with easterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 15C and 21C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 13C and 20C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "Constant fear of censure motion" felt by government
DIMOKRATIA: "Adonis storm", about the Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis' conflicting statements the same day
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "PASOK, the weak link" in the government, following the motion of censure vote
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Unified insurance fund with shameful pensions"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Passport to 27,948 jobs: the requirements"
ESTIA: "Tsiprafoolery and sophistries" about SYRIZA and its leader in the debate over the censure motion in Parliament
ETHNOS: "Illegal additions and structures legalized by property exchange"
IMERISSIA: "Large-scale projects start" in roads infrastructure
KATHIMERINI: "Danger of clash with troika"
LOGOS: "Warm money for funding (infrastructural) projects"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Store owners in 47 prefectures reject Sunday openings"
RIZOSPASTIS: "With blackmail and self-delusions they contribute to the system's staying power"
TA NEA: "At the mercy of two university rectors"
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