|Monday, 12 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-11-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 14 November 2013 Issue No: 4511
 Greek budget records 2.592 bln euros primary surplus in Jan-OctThe Greek state budget recorded a primary surplus of 2.592 billion euros in the January-October period, after a primary deficit of 1.139 billion euros in the corresponding period last year and a budget target for a primary deficit of 3.036 billion euros in this year's 10-month period, official figures showed on Wednesday.
A finance ministry report said that the general government's deficit totaled 2.957 billion euros in the 10-month period, after a deficit of 12.258 billion euros last year and a budget target for a deficit of 8.726 billion.
Tax revenue surpassed initial targets by 700 million euros in October. Net state budget revenue totaled 42.948 billion euros, up 2.308 billion euros or 5.7 pct compared with budget targets. Net regular budget revenue totaled 38.935 billion euros, up 1.845 billion euros or 5.0 pct compared with budget targets.
Tax proceeds totaled 35.594 billion euros in the January-October period, up 250 million euros or 0.7 pct from the budget target. The finance ministry said that a very good performance of tax proceeds in October more than covered a deviation in the previous months (tax proceeds were down 1.061 billion euros compared with budget targets in the January-July period, down 728 million euros in the January-August period and 455 million euros in the January-September period). Tax returns totaled 558 million euros in October, up 110.6 pct compared with a monthly target of 265 million euros.
State budget spending totaled 45.905 billion euros, down by 3.461 billion euros compared with budget targets. Regular budget spending totaled 42.580 billion euros, down by 1.886 billion compared with budget targets, reflecting a 1.480 billion euros decline in primary spending. Regular budget spending was down 16.1 pct compared with the same period last year, reflecting a 2.592 billion euros, 6.7 pct decline in primary spending and a 50.1 pct decline in interest payments.
 SYRIZA: government celebrations over primary surplus have 'expiry date'Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on Wednesday, noted that the latest statement by a European official, despite the denials from Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, had demolished a climate of euphoria that the government had sought to cultivate in past months.
Citing an unnamed official's statement that the Greek government and troika were "miles apart, billions apart" on fiscal measures, SYRIZA noted that the government celebrations for meeting the targets, achieving primary surplus and exiting the memorandum, were only for internal consumption and had a specific expiry date.
According to the announcement, the government can do nothing to defend the interests of the Greek people. "It cannot and does not want to really negotiate with the EC/ECB/IMF troika of EU lenders. It is pretending to negotiate in Europe, when all it does is abide by the lenders' rules. Their goal remains the full implemention of the memorandum, without taking into account the social cost," it added.
 VP Venizelos meets with European Investment Bank presidentMeasures to boost creative, extroverted, small and medium-sized Greek enterprises were discussed at a meeting between Government Vice President Evangelos Venizelos and the president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Werner Hoyer on Wednesday.
In statements to the press, Venizelos said that EIB is working with the Greek banking system, which it considers trustworthy, strong and ready to help the real economy.
The two also discussed how the Bank can help the Greek Presidency initiatives in the first half of 2014.
Venizelos concluded that Greece is now in the process of relaunching the real economy and exiting the crisis. "We must become a normal European country again. We will do so, thanks to the sacrifices of the Greek people," he added.
 Parliament unites to salvage Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. (EAS)The effort to salvage the Greek defence industry on Wednesday united five political parties in Parliament, which voted in favour of the legislative act providing tax and social insurance clearance to Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. (EAS), the state-run group of companies manufacturing defence equipment.
The New Democracy (ND) and PASOK in the government alliance, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Democratic Left (DIM.AR) and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted in favour. They noted, however, that the government should not accept any solution other than the company's continued operation.
The legislative act was voted down by Independent Greeks (AN.EL) and Golden Dawn (GD), clarifying that the country's defence industry should develop further and continue production.
A shipping ministry-sponsored rider on leisure boat taxation was also passed, while a draft law aimed at boosting the yachting sector will be tabled in Parliament next week.
 Alternate Defence Minister Gennimata addresses Parliament on the future of Greek defence firmsAlternate Defence Minister Fofi Gennimata on Wednesday addressed the Parliament, inviting the deputies to support the government and the efforts made by the defence ministry to prevent the shutting down of Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. (EAS), the state-run group of companies manufacturing defence equipment.
"This highly important industry for the country must not shut down," Gennimata said during a Parliamentary discussion on the Legislative Act providing tax and social insurance clearance to EAS.
Gennimata said that the relevant government-sponsored draft law should be backed because it provides for an important transitional phase necessary to reach a definitive solution.
"The definitive solution sought after is a viable, restructured Greek defence industry," Gennimata said, adding that she never talked about shutting down the industry. She also noted that the government wants EAS to be restructured and become viable without needing the financial backing of the taxpayers' money.
Gennimata said that EAS's management is urged to promote extroversion by participating in tenders and signing contracts. She noted that important contracts have been signed despite the difficult circumstances for the company, adding that she cannot become more specific because this could put the contracts in jeopardy.
 SYRIZA deputies file amendment on public defence industryAn amendment "to rescue the public defense industry" was filed on Wednesday by nineteen MPs of the main opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), led by Theodoros Dritsas.
The amendment prohibits the liquidation and corporate restructuring of Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS), Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO) and their subsidiaries, especially if they aim to remove control from the state.
Among other issues, the amendment provides for the payment to workers of accrued salaries, pensions and social security contributions, and proposes these are excluded from seizure of assets.
 Gov't vice-president Venizelos criticises troika's negotiating mannerGreece calls for reliable political interlocutors, government vice-president and Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos told parliament's committees of European and Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, while criticising the negotiating manner of the country's troika of international lenders.
"The country is wronged by the debate that has opened on the economic negotiation, which disparages the sacrifices by the Greek people, while at the same time pretending that it ignores the fiscal achievements," Venizelos said during a briefing of the committees' members on Greece's priorities ahead of undertaking the EU rotating presidency on January 1, 2014.
"We are not asking for political negotiation, but for reliable political interlocutors to carry out a financial negotiation, who would be able to grasp the realities and the dynamics of figures," Venizelos added.
 DIMAR comment on troika negotiationsDemocratic Left (DIM.AR) announced on Wednesday that the anonymous leaks from Brussels and statements by the European officials are provocative for public opinion and adversely affect the climate in negotiations between Greece and the its troika of lenders at a time when Greek society is exhausted.
"The government must make it clear that there cannot be any new measures relating to wages and pensions cuts," stressed DIM.AR while calling on the government to demand changes in the adjustment programme, so it can be associated with development and social protection.
"There must be a change in measures that have been proved ineffective and socially painful," the announcement concluded.
 KKE leader Koutsoumbas on gov't-troika talksCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Wednesday said that at KKE "we honestly do not know if the government and the troika are separated by miles or metres. What unites them, though, is the EU's targets and the recovery of capitalist profitability," Koutsoumbas told a meeting of self-employed in Athens.
He was commenting on a reported statement by an unnamed European official that Greek authorities and the troika were "billions, or miles apart" from agreement over the fiscal gap of 2014.
"That is why the downhill slide has no end, whatever the government says, but also all those who are moving 'within the walls' such as (main opposition Radical Left Coalition) SYRIZA," he added.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Tuesday, the EU official who declined to be identified said that Greece was making "slow progress" in implementing prior actions needed to disburse a loan of 1.0 billion euros and that the two sides were "billions apart" over the 2014 fiscal gap.
 Future of EOPYY doctors will depend on assessment, health minister saysHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Wednesday said the dismissal of doctors from the national healthcare system EOPYY remained a possibility, with the future depending on the results of an assessment of EOPYY and the health centres network, which are to be merged.
If this found a surplus of staff or specialists that were not needed in primary healthcare, these doctors would be fired, he clarified.
"If there are dismissals of doctors from EOPYY, I would beg that this is not blamed on the troika, I do not want Mr. Thomsen to steal the glory for the self-evident," he added, describing the framework in which he will act in terms of primary healthcare issues.
He said the government intends to make EOPYY and 'purchaser' of health services from the public and private sector and to stop being a 'provider'.
Commenting on statements made by doctors' representatives, who said the minister had offered assurances that no doctors will be fired from EOPYY during their meetings with him, Georgiadis denied making any such claim and said the "country suffers from a lack of understanding".
He clarified that he had been referring to firing from hospitals, while the reforms for primary healthcare were an entirely different issue.
 Prime minister's press office head lashes out at SYRIZA spokesmanThe head of the prime minister's press office Giorgos Mouroutis on Wednesday lashed out at main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis in response to the latter's statement concerning Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Mouroutis wrote on Facebook that "the Left of Leonidas Kirkos, the Left of Andreas Lentakis, the Left of Harilaos (Florakis), even the Left of (Aleka) Papariga or (Nikos) Constantopoulos was defined by Parliamentary integrity and political ethos. The Skourletis-kind of left cannot sink any lower after using the prime minister's deceased parents as an argument in public speech. Read below the public statement made by the SYRIZA spokesman. I expect his serious comrades and mainly the progressive commentators, journalists, politicians and citizens to condemn the 'public ethos' of SYRIZA.."
Speaking earlier in the morning on Skai private television, Skourletis had said "we have watched the prime minister acting as the opposition to the opposition. The prime minister has a lot of brass. Apparently, his studies in Harvard and colleges have gone to waste. If Mr. Samaras' parents are still alive they can't be very proud, considering the money they have spent."
 Admin. Reform minister present for first electronic notification of supreme court rulingAdministrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by Deputy Admin. Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou and ministry officials, on Wednesday paid a visit to the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court. The minister called on CoS President Sotiris Rizos in order to attend the first electronic notification of a supreme court ruling to the administrative reform ministry, bearing an electronic signature.
The procedure was carried out by the head of the CoS 3rd Section Dimitra Tetradi-Harlafti and the receiving ministry service replied with electronic message acknowledging receipt within three minutes.
After the end of the demonstration, Mitsotakis stressed that this was a historic day for the Council of State, adding that this was the positive side of administrative reform. The minister noted that electronic notification of court decisions will bring huge benefits, given that three million pages are exchanged each year between the ministry and the Council of State.
Christofilopoulou assured the CoS president that support for the court will continue and be expanded further with the next Community support framework.
 Admin. Reform ministry website dedicated to mobility programmeThe Administrative Reform ministry has set up a website with information regarding the public sector's mobility programme, forum.ydmed.gov.gr.
Users will have the chance to submit questions about the process and to exchange views, according to a memorandum by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The site will also provide more immediate solutions to any problems arising, he noted, and treat all civil servants in the mobility scheme equally.
 SYRIZA, Ind. Greeks party file lawsuit against police, claim 'endangerment' at broadcasting buildingParliamentary deputies of main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) and the opposition Independent Greeks party on Wednesday filed a lawsuit with Supreme Court Public Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani, claiming that police outside the former ERT broadcasting building late on Saturday night were guilty of a number of criminal and misdemeanour offences that had placed Constantopoulou's life at risk.
The MPs Zoi Constantopoulou, Panagiotis Kouroublis, Dimitris Stratoulis and Vassilis Hatzilambros signed on behalf of SYRIZA, while Rachel Makri signed for the Independent Greeks.
The complaint refers at length to the events leading to ERT's closure and the incidents and exchanges between Constantopoulou and police and prosecuting authorities on November 9.
It claims that violence and psychological pressure was used against the MP and that orders were issued that led to "conditions of compression and suffocation".
Constantopoulou also claims that she was placed at risk during the closure of the building's gate, "which literally started to close on her" and that she was only able to escape with the assistance of Theodora Mega, a former ERT employee, and Rachel Makri.
Another point in the lawsuit said it was "clear that the situation was engineered, through orders and with acceptance of the possibility of causing serious bodily harm, amputation or death".
Leaving the supreme court, Constantopoulou and Makri said that justice must intervene.
 Independent Greeks party to support antimemorandum candidates in upcoming local electionsThe Independent Greeks party on Wednesday announced support for anti-memorandum candidates in the upcoming local administration and regional elections.
The decision was taken by the party Parliamentary group during a meeting on Wednesday, which said the Independent Greeks will proceed, at their own initiative, to "create a big anti-memorandum, democratic and patriotic front in light of the struggle of the local administration and regional elections". The meeting also elected Imathia deputy Costas Yiovanopoulos to the post of Parliamentary group secretary and Magnissia deputy Marina Chrysoveloni as alternate secretary.
The final decisions will be taken at the party's National Council, while the party's coordinating committees in each region as well as the candidates will play a key role in the election of the persons, while the autonomous participation of Independent Greeks party candidates is also be examined "according to circumstances".
 ND MP Vlachogiannis says unconditional lifting of home foreclosures ban will not passNew Democracy (ND) MP Ilias Vlachogiannis on Wednesday said that troika's demand for unconditional lifting of a home foreclosures ban will not pass in Parliament.
Speaking on Vima private radio, he said that such a measure could be discussed only for tax dodgers and those who systematically avoid making payments, adding that it cannot be imposed on the financially weak.
Referring to the uniform property tax, he said that the MPs representing rural areas raised strong objections because it was sloppy and clearly unfair, noting that they demand fair taxation for everybody.
 EESC Employers' Group President criticizes EU official's statement on Greece's negotiations with the troikaPresident of the European Economic and Social Committee's (EESC) Employers' Group Henri Malosse on Wednesday said that he was shocked by a statement allegedly made by a European official that Greece and its creditors are "billions apart, or miles apart," from an agreement on fiscal measures and that talks will probably resume after the "skiing holidays".
Speaking in a press conference at the European Commission Representation Office in Athens, Malosse said that the specific statement was out of place, unfortunate and foolish, while it gives the impression that a game and blackmail going on.
He said that the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014 is an opportunity for Europe, stressing that the country is in such a state not because of no Europe but because of a bad Europe.
Referring to the six billion euros approved in the context of the "Youth Guarantee" European programme against youth unemployment, he said that the amount could be twice as high, noting that it will have to be distributed immediately and expressing fear that its implementation could be delayed for up to a year because of European red tape. He also said that a large part of the money approved is usually lost along the way due to red tape and the involvement of intermediaries.
He supported the tough restructuring measures in Greece, but also noted that the austerity measures must end. He said that the social cost is higher than the benefits gained because economic growth and the economy are being destroyed and added that if this does not change, the EU edifice will be brought down by its own citizens.
 Athens Polytechnic "November 17" celebration opens on ThursdayTight security measures will apply in Athens in the three-day celebration starting on Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of the "November 17" Athens Polytechnic uprising of 1973 against the military junta, at a time that the country's educational community is at loggerheads with the government over tertiary education administrative staff layoffs.
During the celebration, the gates of the Athens Polytechnic (National Technical University of Athens - NTUA) will be open to the public all day long.
The customary rally and march from the NTUA to the U.S. Embassy, through Athens' central roads, will be held on Sunday at 15:00.
On Thursday, at 12:00, a rally outside the Athens University on Panepistimiou street and a march to the Parliament has been organised by NTUA administrative staff, educators, schools guards and former employees with the now defunct state broadcaster ERT.
In the evening, at 19:00, a concert will be held in the NTUA, featuring the Mikis Theodorakis orchestra, organised jointly by striking NTUA staff and former ERT employees.
The November 17 anniversary will be celebrated in schools on Friday, according to a circular issued by Education deputy minister Symeon Kedikoglou, and no classes will be held on that day.
 KKE message on Polytechnic uprising anniversaryThe struggle against Greece's military dictatorship and the uprising against it provides an inexhaustible source of inspiration and lessons about the value of organised struggle, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Wednesday marking the 40th anniversary of the November 17, 1973 student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic against the junta.
Referring to events from the restoration of democracy in July 1974 to the present, the party said "the historical lesson for the populace is that it must defend its rights regardless of bourgeois aspirations and clashes, and organise its struggle with the aim of attaining its own ruling power, the power of workers and the people."
In its message, the KKE charged that many political parties and mechanisms of the system wanted to rub out the Polytechnic uprising and called on the Greek people to overturn the rule of monopolies, write off the debt, cancel the loan memorandums and leave the European Union.
 SYRIZA leads ND by 0.5 pct, poll showsThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leads the New Democracy party by 0.5 percent, according to a poll carried out by the Pulse RC company, to appear in the newspaper "To Pontiki" on Thursday, November 14.
On the question of what would you vote in the event elections were held today, 22 percent of respondents said SYRIZA (same as in October) and 21.5 pct replied ND (21 pct in October).
Third place is taken by the ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party with 10.5 pct (9.5 pct), followed by PASOK with 6.5 pct (6.5 pct), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 5 pct (5.5 pct), Independent Greeks 4.5 pct (4.5 pct) and Democratic Left 3 pct (3 pct).
As much as 7.5 percent of respondents chose another party, while blank/abstention garnered 10.5 pct (10.5 pct) and undecided/not answering 9 pct (10 pct).
 President Papoulias met with representatives of large f amilies confederationRepublic President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday met at the Presidential Mansion with Supreme Confederation of Multi-Child Parents of Greece (ASPE) representatives, who outlined their demands focusing on taxation and financial issues.
The confederation vice-president Nikos Fotopoulos underlined that the "demographic downhill" is a major national threat, noting that households with many children are treated equally taxation-wise with single people and families without children, a fact that will keep families from having many children.
President Papoulias shared the confederation's concerns and underlined that the low birth rate constitutes a national threat. As regards their taxation, he pledged that he will raise the issue with the minister of finance, noting that he will also contact the minister of education to settle the issue of student transfers.
 Turkish frigate in Greek territorial watersThe Turkish frigate ?TGS Oruc Reis?, coming from the Hellespont Straits, entered Greek territorial waters at 10:32 pm on Tuesday between the islands of Evia and Skyros, according to a National Defence ministry announcement on Wednesday.
The frigate exited Greek territorial waters at 11:04 pm south of Skyros, sailing towards the southeastern Aegean. The frigate was escorted by the Greek Navy.
 EIB to participate in Hellenic Investment Fund projectEuropean Investment Bank (EIB) on Wednesday agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with Greece for its participation in a government plan to set up an Hellenic Investment Fund.
The agreement was reached during a meeting between Greek Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and EIB's president Werner Hoyer.
Greece has a already signed a memorandum of understanding with the German bank KfW to participate in the Fund, while other organizations such as the Onassis Foundation have pledged to participate in the project. "We asked for EIB's support and I believe we will get it very soon. We recommended to sign a memorandum of understanding, as with KfW, and it was accepted. This is positive news for Greece, for liquidity and for small- and medium-sized enterprises," Hatzidakis said.
EIB's president said negotiations were currently under way with the Greek government to sign a memorandum of understanding, although he stressed it was too early to determine EIB's participation in the project. He revealed, however, that other agencies, including organizations from France, have expressed interest in participating in teh Fund, which he said would be a driving force for Greece's real economy. The Hellenic Investment Fund will fund and offer guarantess for funding of small- and medium-sized enterprises and infrastructure projects.
Hoyer said EIB's funding program to Greece will total 1.5 billion euros this year, from 550 million euros in 2012 and urged banks to accelerate trade finance operations, a funding tool introduced by EIB for the first time in Greece and aimed at facilitating import and export trade. "I know several sucessful Greek enterprises that need this. We are the bridge between these enterprises and international and Greek banks," he noted.
"We emphasize on SMEs because they will create new job positions," Hoyer said.
Hatzidakis said that from the 1,44 billion euros of funds available for Greek SMEs through EIB's funding tools, a total of 635 million euros could have been disbursed by the end of the year and the remaining 800 million euros would be disbursed in 2014.
Hoyer said that works on national road projects have begun or were about to begin, which was a great success for Greece, while Hatzidakis noted that without the contribution of EIB restarting of these projects would be impossible and underlined that EIB invested in Greece and had confidence on the government's policy.
 Greece to receive 160.2 mln euros in EU funds to support young employmentBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
Greece will receive 160.24 million euros from community funds earmarked to support young employment in Greece in the period 2014-2015, the European Commission said in a statement released here on Wednesday.
The funds, coming from a so-called "European Initiative for Youth Employment" with a budget of 3.0 billion euros, will be distributed to subsidized employment and training programs in European regions, where unemployment among young people surpassed 25 pct. All Greek regions, excluding the Ionian Islands, are eligible to receiving such funds. The funds will be available from January 1, 2014 and must be absorbed by the end of 2015. National governments must submit their programs by the end of 2013. The aim is to exclusively support young people, aged 15-30 years old, who are out of education, training or job. The European Union has earmarked 6.0 billion euros for programs to support unemployment among young people in its 2014-2020 budget.
 Development Minister Hatzidakis addresses event on innovation, ICT Venture CapitalsThe high unemployment rate calls for incentives to young entrepreneurs using tools, such as 'business angels' and venture capital funds, among others, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Wednesday said.
Addressing an event on innovation and ICT Venture Capitals financed by the European Investment Fund (EIF), Hatzidakis expressed appreciation to the EIF for supporting innovation in the country by offering its experience and prestige. He also noted that the ministry promotes specific actions such as, the Network for Innovation & Young Entrepreneurship, has launched cooperation with Israel's Yozma Fund and puts an emphasis on innovation and clustering.
The planning of a new multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 is regarded as highly important. Already, the resources used to fund research and innovation have doubled from 4 pct to 8 pct, while an effort is being made to simplify all financial engineering tools and programmes, putting an emphasis on Venture Capital and Private Equity Funds.
 Development minister notes sharp rise in NSRF absorption rateDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis noted a sharp improvement in Greece's absorption of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, in comments at an event organised by the Attica Region on Wednesday for the signature of new NSRF programmes.
"There is no room for more programmes in the currently active NSRF, while the next NSRF is coming and those that can't get into this one will be covered by the new one," he said.
The minister said that growth can't be "ordered" but was the result of good planning, persistence and hard work.
Hatzidakis said the past year had dispelled past anxiety over NSRF absorption rates, there was now no room for any more and, in the final two months remaining, the government was having to choose between the programmes on the waiting list.
"It is not just a theoretical proclamation that the country, from being 18th in levels absorption in the European Union last year, this year is fourth. This is reflected in daily reality. It is reflected in the day-care centres that are being built, the social programmes for the uninsured and unemployed. It is reflected in the 17,000 business plans that we recently approved. In a series of technical projects that are underway throughout Greece. All these come to prove that, yes, NSRF is up and running and changing our lives," he said.
 Minister promotes Greek tourism in ArgentinaGreece and Argentina on Wednesday signed a joint declaration on cooperation in the tourism sector. The declaration was signed in Buenos Aires by visiting Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and her Argentinian counterpart Carlos Enrique Meyer.
The two ministers expressed their common desire for a new start in promoting bilateral relations in the tourism sector, "based on the existing friendship of the two peolpes", according to the Greek ministry press release issued in Athens.
The joint statement foresees the holding of joint actions aimed at an increase of tourist exchanges between Greece an Argentina, visits by travel agents and journalists in the two countries, promoting and facilitating investments in tourism by Greek and Argentinian business peopole, direct contacts and communication between Greece's National Tourism Organisation (EOT) and Argentina's National Institute of Tourism Promotion, as well as enhancing cooperation in particular forms of tourism, such as agrotourism, eco-tourism and cultural tourism.
Kefalogianni also met with Argentinian Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Zuain, with talks focusing on the issue of visas and direct flights between Athens and Buenos Aires.
The Greek minister briefed Zuain on Athens' planned "strategic opening to Latin America", adding that Greece is an extremely popular country in Latin America.
Kefalogianni also participated in an event organised by Greek expatriates in Buenos Aires.
 Attica regional governor signs five new project contractsAttica regional governor Yiannis Sgouros on Wednesday signed five new construction project contracts with a total budget of 42.5 million euros, in the presence of Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis.
Eleven projects having a total budget of 44.3 million euros were also included in the Attica Regional Operation Programme (PEP), of which the total expenditures that can be selected amount to 37.7 million euros and a programme contract was signed with a budget amounting to 1.7 million euros.
The event was attended by mayors from the regions in which the projects will be taking place. The projects concern flood protection, drainage pipes, bioclimatic and other arrangements, sports facilities and road network repairs.
It was revealed that the Attica Region has included in the Attica PEP 2007-2013 projects amounting to 590 million euros.
 Greek banks' presence in SEE a strategic choice, BoG governor saysBank of Greece governor George Provopoulos on Wednesday said that Greek banks' presence in Southeastern Europe was a strategic choice linked with the long-term prospects of the wider region, but stressed that this presence should be combined with some mergers which would allow Greek financial institutions to acquire market shares supporting their efficiency and profitability.
Addressing the 7th Greek-Albanian Forum in Tirana, the Greek central banker expressed his satisfaction over the "impressive" restructuring of the banking sector and stressed that the domestic banking system was not well capitalized and regaining its competitiveness. Commenting on the course of the Greek economy, Provopoulos predicted that it will return to growth in 2014, adding that "already markets have begun to realize this".
 Minister for East African Affairs visited Peloponnese region to promote trade relationsKenyan Minister for East African Affairs Phyllis Kandie on Wednesday visited the Peloponnese region and more specifically Tripoli in order to develop trade and cultural relations and promote the exchange of knowhow.
Phyllis met with Peloponnese prefect Petros Tatoulis to discuss the development of trade relations in agricultural products, tourism, transport, investments and culture. In addition, they talked about an agreement to connect Gythion port, due to be fully operationaly opened in 2014, with Mombasa port in Kenya, which is the biggest port of East Africa.
Tatoulis described Kenya as a growing market and an interesting destination for agricultural exports, adding that the Peloponnese region will participate in a Greek business delegation organising various events presenting the regions agricultural products, to be held in Kenya in 2014. Tatoulis also accepted Kandie's request for the provision of agricultural, tourism and transport expertise. Kandie stressed the importance of the transfer of knowhow and pointed to business opportunities in tourism and agriculture.
 Cadastre posts property registration for review by home, land owners in four Attica towns, SamosProperty registered in four large Attica prefecture municipalities and for the island of Samos will begin being posted as of Wednesday, for public review before the registrations become official, the National Cadastre & Mapping Agency (EKHA) said.
The Greek land registry is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and was established by law in 1995. It has been gradually been opening sections of the country for registration in a process that includes public review of each area whose registration has been completed. The data then becomes official.
Today, Wednesday, property registered in Piraeus, Peristeri, Egaleo, Agia Varvara and the Vathy area of northeastern Aegean's Samos island will be set up at each cadastre office (where the property was originally registered). They will remain on view until January 13, 2014, EKHA said.
The cadastre also mailed out to registered owners the data pertaining to them so they may check them for possible oversights. The cadastre is replacing the land registry known in Greece as "ypothikofylakio".
Further information is available at the cadastre web site, www.ktimatologio.gr
 Preliminary VAT figures encouraging, finance sources sayRevenues from the reduction of VAT from 23 percent to 13 percent in restaurants and food establishments, including bars and fast-food stores, seem promising, according to government sources on Wednesday.
The VAT rate was reduced by agreement with the troika at the end of the summer season in an effort to help food establishments from lagging receipts.
The sources said that the final figures showing the effect of the measure would be in by the end of the month. If the figures are encouraging, the measure may be extended further.
 Businesses to be given priority in VAT tax reimbursementThe tax service will give priority to exporters and businesses with no tax violations when returning the VAT, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday.
The public revenues secretary general said in a memorandum to all tax service bureaus that businesses should receive their returns by priority, as the state is obliged to pay interest to businesses for VAT returns delayed beyond 90 days as of the date of filing.
Returns affected are those for businesses that filed from August 28 to October 22, 2013. The memo included information on distinguishing between returns that can be processed without further controls and those that require a review because of indications of possible tax violation.
 Nireus says open to proposals for industry consolidationNireus, a Greek-listed aquaculture industry, on Wednesday said it was open to proposals aimed at leading to a further consolidation in the industry on the precondition that this development would improve the financial situation of the new groups, enhance competitiveness in international markets and add value to the industry's activity.
In a statement, Nireus responded to an open invitation for cooperation offered by Selonda's chief executive Yiannis Stefanis to Nireus' head Aristides Belles on Tuesday. In his invitation Stefanis publicly called for a partnership with Nireus and noted that the Greek fish farm industry needed encouragement and acceleration of consolidation moves to lead to at least three new groups, which would cover 80-85 pct of total domestic production.
In the statement, Nireus said it was making its strategic plans according to developments in the sector. "It is self-evident that for any planning to succeed it first needs to have secured the consensus of managements, shareholders, banks, creditors and all supervisory authorities," it noted.
 Aegean Air may add new flights from Thessaloniki to the Balkans, starting in 2015Aegean Air Vice President Eftichios Vassilakis announced on Wednesday that the company may add six new international flights from Thessaloniki in 2014, and may possibly attempt - under certain conditions- to directly connect the city with up to seven or eight airports in the Balkans.
In 2014, Thessaloniki will become a base for one more of the company's aircraft and the company plans to increase the number of flights or the capacity towards Frankfurt, Larnaca, Paris, D?sseldorf, Heraklion, Rhodes, Mytilene, Santorini and Kos, between June-September.
Vassilakis added that 2013 is expected to end with a positive result for Aegean Air before taxes and a negative result for the recently acquired company "Olympic Air", but the final balance is estimated to be positive.
 Greek stocks end moderately upGreek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market rising 0.19 pct to end at 1,132.02 points, off the day's highs of 1,136.82 points. Turnover was a moderate 76.57 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.45 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.65 pct higher. Titan (5.26 pct), Korinth Pipeworks (3.72 pct), Frigoglass (3.0 pct) and Jumbo (2.47 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (22.12 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (4.02 pct) and Piraeus Bank (2.99 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. The Construction (3.55 pct) Personal Products (1.88 pct) and Food (1.80 pct) sectors scored gains, while Industrial Products (8.42 pct), Oil (2.29 pct) and Health (1.66 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 63 to 55 with another 35 issues unchanged. Parnassos (19.75 pct), Sidma (18.87 pct) and Haidemenos (9.97 pct) were top gainers, while Viohalco (22.12 pct), Compucon (20 pct) and Spider (19.67 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.29%
Personal & Household: +1.88%
Raw Materials: +1.34%
Travel & Leisure: +0.40%
Food & Beverages: +1.80%
Financial Services: -0.58%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OPAP, OTE, National Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.639
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.76
Coca Cola HBC: 20.96
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.83
National Bank of Greece: 4.15
Eurobank Properties : 8.57
Piraeus Bank: 1.30
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 6.79 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 6.58 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.52 pct and the German Bund 1.73 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.50 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.41 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.32 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.21 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a small premium of 0.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a strong 82.072 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 40,868 contracts worth 76.724 million euros, with 49,504 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,178 contracts worth 5.348 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (4,614), followed by National Bank (1,047), Alpha Bank (1,828), OTE (834), PPC (919), Mytilineos (983), GEK (696), MIG (356), Viohalco (643), Intralot (621), Athens Water (152) and Hellenic Petroleum (177).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.361
Pound sterling 0.852
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 9.127
Japanese yen 135.27
Swiss franc 1.250
Norwegian kroner 8.463
Canadian dollar 1.428
Australian dollar 1.462
 Greek authorities order seizure of cargo on Sierra Leone-flagged 'Nour-M'Greece's Authority Against the Legalisation of Income from Criminal Activity and Funding of Terrorism on Wednesday ordered the seizure of cargo on board the Sierra Leone-flagged freighter "Nour-M", currently being held by the coast guard on the Greek island of Rhodes.
According to information held by Greek authorities, the ship is carrying large quantities of arms and ammunition and its final destination is Libya, which was declared a war zone in 2011 and for which the UN Security Council has imposed an arms and fuel embargo.
In nine of the 59 containers on board the freighter, Greek authorities have found small-calibre bullets for Kalashnikov rifles and larger-calibre ammunition for anti-aircraft guns. Authorities have not ruled out the existence of yet more AK-47 rifles, as listed in the ship's bill of lading.
The unloading of the containers onto Rhodes port began on Wednesday morning, with 20 taken off the ship so far, and is expected to be completed by the evening. The rest of the containers will be searched in the presence of a public prosecutor, the Rhodes customs office director and three coast guard explosives experts, with a fire engine on standby.
The ship was intercepted last Friday near the islets of Imia and, according to coast guard officers that stopped the vessel, seemed to be making constant changes of course. Coast guard drugs' squad officers said that the "Nour-M" has also been involved in drug-trafficking cases in the past and has changed names several times.
Shipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and Coast Guard chief Vice-Adminal Dimitrios Bantias are being constantly kept up to date on developments in the case.
According to information later on Wednesday evening, the inspection by a special Rrodes Port Police team has found no arms on the ship, but only large quantities of bullets of various calibers.
 New suspect called to testify on Fyssas murder caseA new suspect, aside from the three ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) MPs already called to testify on charges of forming a criminal organization, has been summoned to appear before the Court of Appeals Special examining magistrates handling the case, sources said on Wednesday.
The three GD MPs, whose Parliamentary immunity was recently removed so they might be charged with setting up and joining a criminal organization, will testify on November 25 before special examining magistrates Ioanna Klappa and Maria Dimitropoulou.
The latest individual called to testify was identified via an investigation of the telephone records of those involved in the Pavlos Fyssas murder case and after crosschecking evidence collected from testimonies of witnesses.
The examining magistrates have received testimonies from eyewitnesses, local administration officials and political figures who were present during incidents under investigation, in which GD MPs or members were involved.
In this context, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis testified on Wednesday describing specific incidents in an attempt to prove GD's criminal activity.
More than 40 witnesses have already testified on GD actions, including private individuals, politicians and assault victims.
 Roman tomb with wall paintings found during Corinth-Patras road worksA well-preserved and ornately decorated underground Roman tomb, complete with vaults and wall paintings, was found in Corinth during during works to extend the Corinth-Patras national road, archaeologists said on Wednesday.
Calling the find an extremely important one, the Central Archaeological Council said it belongs to the same Roman cemetery overlying an Archaic one that had yielded a similar ornately decorated tomb in 2012. The tomb has been initially dated to between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, but may be earlier.
The monument is 3.30m by 2.63m, was entered from the south through a staircase decorated on either side with two ceramic tiles in deep relief, one showing a quadriga (four-horse chariot), and the other depicting a chariot pulled by dolphins next to a sea creature.
Inside, there were vaults over niches where ash urns were placed, and three larnaces (terracotta coffins) containing bones, oil lamps, bronze coins and pottery shards. One of the coffins was painted to depict bed covers. The interior of the tomb also contained very well-preserved wall paintings, depicting garlants, fruit and three figures, two men and a woman.
Archaeologist Anna Karapanagiotou, Council member, said that the tomb "may possibly be that of a Roman citizen, possibly an official or Romanized Greek, who had a close relationship to Rome."
The ancient cemetery has yielded other artefacts of importance, such as troughs for offerings between burials, which have so far only been found at the Kerameikos ancient cemetery in Athens. The richness of the finds at the site prompted the Central Archaeological Council to set up a seven-member committee to conduct an on-site inspection, which will also help in the decision to keep the monument in place or remove it.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to receive Bosporus University honourary doctorateISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
The Bosporus University will award Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos with an honourary doctorate, University rector Gulay Barbarosoglu announced in a visit she made to the Phanar on Wednesday.
The rector, accompanied by professors Dilek ?algan, the University Board secretary general, the president of the Environment Institute Orhan Yen1g?n, announced the Board's unanimous decision to the Patriarch, a decision that she termed a "milestone" in Turkey's academic annals.
The rector and the professors accompanying her delivered their profound and sincere respect to the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos. The decision was taken in the framework of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the University's founding.
The official awarding of the honourary distinction to the Ecumenical Patriarch will take place at a special ceremony at the University's Auditorium on December 19.
 Archaeologist and museum founder Stylianos Alexiou buried at IraklioArchaeologist Stylianos Alexiou, founder of the Museums of Chania and Agios Nikolaos on Crete and a scholar of international standing, was buried at Iraklio on Crete at 2:00 pm on Wednesday.
Stylianou, who died at 92, was also director of the Iraklio Museum and responsible for the construction of a new wing at the institution; he also contributed to the founding of the Historical Museum of Crete, of which he was the first curator, in Iraklio.
He was professor emeritus at the University of Crete, former ephor of antiquities on the island, corresponding member of the Academy of Athens, and member of many archaeological institutes, including the German. He held honorary doctorates from the Universities of Athens, Cyprus, and Padova and had published extensively, both in archaeology and in philology.
Statements about his passing were made by Crete's prefect, the mayor of Iraklio, and Iraklio MP for SYRIZA Maria Diakaki.
 TEDxAthens on Nov. 29-30 at the Onassis Cultural CentreThe 2013 TEDxAthens will take place at the Onassis Cultural Centre on November 29-30 under the title "Uncharted Waters".
The event, held for the fifth consecutive year, aims at "revealing opportunity behind the unknown" in two days full of lectures hosted at the Centre.
"This year we have chosen a subject that appeals to everyone," curator Dimitris Kalavros noted: "We have all heard stories that we find awesome, we all want to learn from the experiences of our speakers and try to explore what it is that make some people fulfill their dreams and what is it that makes the rest of us stop short."
Speakers include Pixar's art director Ricky Vega Nierva, Greek writer Evgenios Trivizas, film director Alexandros Avranas, who won the award of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and Dr. Athanasios Moulakis, who will speak to the public about how to build a university in Afghanistan.
Founded in California, TEDx (technology, entertainment, design) "showcases ideas that matter in any discipline," according to its site. It follows a fast-paced format with back-to-back lectures throughout the day and gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through local activities.
 Turkish smuggler arrested in OrestiadaA Turkish migrant trafficker caught smuggling 18 illegal immigrants from Syria into Greece in a truck was arrested by the Orestiada police on Wednesday on the Alexandroupolis-Ormeniou highway. Their destination was Thessaloniki. The police seized the truck, while the Turkish smuggler is expected to appear before the prosecutor of Orestiada.
 Rainy on ThursdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 9C and 21C. Rainy in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 14C and 19C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 12C and 17C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "Vested interests hit yellow pages" on what it called an attempt to defame SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras
DIMOKRATIA: "New missile to be fired against desperate owners" by the Finance Ministry
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Blackout!" on the number of homes with power cut because of overdue bills
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The joke's on property owners" by new government law to tax real estate
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Layoffs for 2,000 civil servants postponed to March"
ESTIA: "Populists push for home foreclosures"
ETHNOS: "Brussels (EU) blackmailing Greece with shady games"
IMERISSIA: "230-mln-euro investment" by China's Cosco for Piraeus
KATHIMERINI: "Chasm separates Athens and troika"
LOGOS: "Half of Greeks expect new memorandum"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU Commission: Long way before agreement with Greece"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Antipopular downhill unstoppable with Eurofocused governments"
TA NEA: "Troika war on nerves: provocative and obstructive"
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