|Sunday, 11 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-11-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Issue No: 4521
 Greek budget records 2.590-bln-euro primary surplus in Jan-OctGreece on Monday reported a primary budget surplus of 2.590 billion euros in the January-October period, from a primary deficit of 1.139 billion euros in the same period last year and compared with a budget target for a primary deficit of 3.036 billion euros, official figures showed.
A Finance ministry report said that the state budget showed a cash deficit of 2.958 billion euros in the 10-month period, sharply down from a deficit of 12.258 billion euros in the corresponding period last year and a budget target for a shortfall of 8.726 billion euros.
Net state budget revenue totalled 42.95 billion euros in the January-October period, up 5.7 pct compared with a budget target for the period (40.640 billion euros). Net regular budget revenue totaled 38.937 billion euros, up 5.0 pct compared with a budget target in the same period.
Regular budget tax proceds totalled 35.573 billion euros, up 0.6 pct compared with a budget target. Tax proceeds grew significantly in October, overcoming a shortfall in the previous months. Direct tax proceeds totalled 2.225 billion euros, up 34.4 pct from a monthly target, individual income tax proceeds totalled 963 million euros, up 35 pct from budget targets, property tax proceeds totaled 388 million euros, up 63.6 pct from budget targets, while direct tax proceeds from past fiscal years totaled 201 million euros, up 15.4 pct from targets.
VAT proceeds (other products) totaled 1.245 billion euros, up 5.9 pct from targets, while VAT on oil products totaled 176 million euros, down 23.6 pct from budget targets. Proceeds from a special energy consumption tax fell 11.7 pct from targets to 345 million euros.
The Finance ministry, in a report, said that tax returns totaled 558 million euros in October, up 110.6 pct compared with a monthly target.
State budget spending totalled 45.908 billion euros, down by 3.458 billion euros compared with targets in the January-October period. Regular budget spending totalled 42.584 billion euros, down by 1.882 billion euros from targets, reflecting an 1.476 billion euros decline in primary spending.
Regular budget spending were down by 16.1 pct compared with the same period last year, reflecting a 6.7 pct decine in primary spending and a 50.1 pct drp in interest payments compared with the corresponding period in 2012.
 Foreign minister Venizelos unveils Greece's EU presidency logoGreece is coming to a turning point, "the time to exit from the memorandum and the crisis," government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos stressed on Monday as he unveiled the logo of Greece's presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2014.
Highlighting the major sacrifices made by the Greek people from 2010 until the present, Venizelos said the Greek EU presidency intended to send a strong message, highlighting the positive signals that the crisis was finally ending after a lengthy and difficult time of effort. Among such signs, he pointed to the country's primary surplus, which he said was the highest in the Eurozone at 6 pct of GDP.
"It is not easy. But it is important that Greece no longer appears to the European family and internationally as a country in crisis but as a country that is institutionally equal, as an old member-state of the EU and the Eurozone; a sovereign, independent and proud state that is experiencing the repercussions of the crisis but has the right to hope for the restoration of its normality," he said.
 Finmin: 'Solution in talks with troika will be found'In statements after emerging from a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held earlier on Monday, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters that a solution will be found in negotiations with the troika representing Greece's creditors.
"We will find a solution, this must be done," the minister said, stressing that this solution must be found before Greece takes over the rotating presidency of the European Council in January.
 PM Samaras to hold meeting with Government Vice President Venizelos on TuesdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice President and PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos will have a meeting at the Maximos Mansion on Tuesday.
According to PASOK party sources, the meeting will be taking place after the session of the Government Administrative Reform Council that has been scheduled for 18:00 on Tuesday.
 PM Samaras to meet Admin Reform minister on Tuesday, over mobility schemePreparing Tuesday's Reform Council has been the main subject of Monday's meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The Reform Council, to meet at 18:00, is expected to consider both the first and second waves of the so-called "mobility-labour reserve scheme" in the public service, as well as the progress in the evaluation of agencies and entities overseen by the ministries.
The second round of the labour reserve programme to include some 12,500 public servants would apply primarily in the Health sector, local government organisations and social security funds.
An additional 1300 civil servants would have to be laid off by the end to the year, in order to meet the 4,000 layoffs agreed with the EC/ECB/IMF troika of lenders, while a total of 11,000 public service staff would have to be discharged by the end of 2014.
The Administrative Reform ministry has repeatedly underlined that redundancies in the public service would have to take into account any defence industry employees and or contract workers like to be laid off.
According to government sources, ministers have been given instructions from the prime minister to push ahead with public organisation closures or mergers, including staff cuts in most of the bodies in the public service.
 'The Talented Mr. Samaras': Sueddeutsche Zeitung on PM's visit to BerlinBERLIN (ANA-MPA - F. Karaviti)
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was the focus of an article by Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily titled "The Talented Mr. Samaras" on Monday.
Samaras was invited to a conference organised by the German newspaper in Berlin, where he also met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, last week.
Saying the prime minister "charmed, with his visit to Berlin" and talked about Greece's impressive comeback, Sueddeutsche Zeitung pointed out that "important reforms have still not be implemented or implemented slowly," the newspaper adds.
According to the newspaper, "Samaras says he does not want to hear again the word Grexit, and he prefers to talk about recovery, but as this recovery has not yet been felt in Athens and Berlin, Samaras leverages the conference for a charm offensive."
Sueddeutsche Zeitung claimed that the premier's objective in meeting with Merkel was debt relief, "although he did not use this expression," the paper added, "but prefers to refer to the promise of its European counterparts in 2012, according to which eurozone countries will deal with the issue of Greek debt when Athens achieve a primary surplus."
The moment of truth will come in April 2014, the daily said, when Eurostat will publish the official 2013 data. "If it was up to Samaras, he would ask the same day for debt relief," the newspaper added.
 German FinMin official says need for further aid to Greece will be assessed in mid-2014BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
The decision on whether Greece needs a new bailout will be decided in mid-2014, German Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Kothaus said on Monday.
Kothaous said that the aid - if needed - will be "significantly lower" than predicted in previous bailouts, while he ruled out the possibility of a new "haircut".
The issue of whether Greece needs further financial aid is expected to be discussed after the end of the current programme, the spokesman noted. "That's why there are precise prerequisites; Greece must have achieved a primary surplus, implemented the programmes and still be in need for assistance," he added.
On Friday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told SWR radio station in Berlin "we are doing everything to help Greece on this particularly demanding path," while clarifying that the fulfillment of Greece's obligations undertaken in the framework of the assistance programmes was a precondition.
"Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is aware of this. He is aware that we are helping Greece on a bilateral level in every way we can. The (German government-owned development bank) KfW is also contributing to that, to help small and medium enterprises. But a condition is that Greece should deploy all efforts to achieve good progress," Schaeuble said.
 Gov't Vice President meets EPP chairmanGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday received the president of the European People's Party (EPP) Joseph Daul.
The two officials discussed the agenda of Greece's EU presidency in the first six months of 2014 and the prevailing climate ahead of the elections for the European Parliament.
The French eurodeputy has declared that he will not be candidate in the next elections for the European parliament.
 Presidents of Europarliament meeting in Athens on TuesdayGreek parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis and Europarliament president Martin Schulz will co-chair a meeting of the presidents of the European Parliament on Tuesday at 15.45 at the Senate Hall in the Greek parliament.
The session is held ahead of Greece's assumption of the six-month revolving EU presidency in January of 2014.
 Health Minister Georgiadis lashes out at SYRIZA over pharmaceuticals issueHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Monday lashed out at main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) in response to a news article alleging that the Greek pharmaceutical market is being opened to multinationals that produce generic drugs of questionable quality.
Speaking on MEGA private television station, Georgiadis referred to a news article, published in the newspaper "Avgi tis Kiriakis" and signed by a "special contributor", saying that it originated from the office of SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.
Georgiadis said that it was a slanderous report, alleging that it adopted the demands of the pharmaceutical industries. He also noted that it is not a coincidence that a newspaper supporting a specific political party on Saturday carried a front page article against him.
The health minister added that the prices of 12,000 drugs, on patent and generics, will be reduced through a rider to be voted in Parliament on Wednesday.
Georgiadis underlined that in case the main opposition party votes against the rider "the people should know that the cheap medication is the government's, whereas the expensive ones are Tsipras'".
The health minister said that pharmaceutical industries advertise on the radio station "Sto Kokkino" and called on SYRIZA to bring to Parliament the written agreement signed by the radio station and the pharmaceutical industries.
Referring to the evaluation of the health services provider EOPYY medical doctors, Georgiadis repeated his position that only in Greece are certain medical specialists part of primary healthcare.
 Education ministry hails decision to open universitiesEducation ministry officials welcomed on Monday the University of Athens Senate's decision to approve proposals made by Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos for restructuring the university's administration and open the University.
"We are proceeding with the restructuring of the university's human resources, after the implementation of the mobility programme. As long as the courses begin today, the semester will not be lost," education ministry officials said, commenting on the decision of the Senate of the University of Athens.
 Athens University Senate positive on gov't restructuring proposalsThe University of Athens Senate, during a meeting held on Monday, said that proposals for the administrative restructuring of universities put forward by the Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos were "positive" while repeating its position that the university reopen fully and all administrative staff return to work.
Among others, the senate called for the return of administrative staff to their places so that the university can fully operate in all areas, the revocation of disciplinary proceedings against the UoA staff that didn't take part in a census, a repeat assessment and awarding of points to the administrative staff by a Special Three-Member Service Council and arrangements for properly qualified administrative staff to take up positions of laboratory teaching staff.
It also called for provision allowing staff in the labour reserve pool to take up permanent positions in the new UoA organisation and, until the labour reserve issue is finally settled, to cover the university's needs through a special research funds account.
The Senate's decision was hailed by the education ministry, which said the semester will not be lost if the university reopens and classes resume at once.
A critical factor in this will be the decision reached by the university's administrative employees, who were in a meeting on Monday afternoon to decide whether to continue strikes declared for Monday and Tuesday. They have not yet adopted a position concerning the minister's proposals.
Arvanitopoulos on Monday met Thessaloniki Aristotelian University Rector Yiannis Mylopoulos, who afterwards left without making statements. Ministry sources said the meeting was conducted in a very good climate.
 Athens University admin staff gravitating toward new three-day strikeAthens University administrative staff are gearing up for a new three-day strike from Wednesday through Friday, based on recommendations given by their staff unions on Monday. The proposal will be discussed at a general assembly on Tuesday, which will also examine the education ministry's five-point proposal for the administrative restructuring of state universities.
A general assembly scheduled to take place on Monday was cancelled after the ministry filed a petition with the courts to have a university staff strike on Monday and Tuesday declared abusive and illegal.
A general meeting to decide on future labour action is also scheduled to be held on Tuesday by administrative staff at the National Technical University of Athens.
Administrative staff at both universities have been on long-term strike against plans to include them in the labour reserve/mobility scheme for reducing the size of the public sector and the prospective loss of their jobs.
 SYRIZA is the main force of change in Europe, Tsipras saysMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) is the main force of change in Europe and seeks to participate decisively in shaping developments in Europe, party leader Alexis Tsipras said on Monday in an interview with the European information website EurActiv.gr and EurActiv.com. The interview was given ahead of the European Left Party Congress in Madrid on December 13-15, which is to ratify his nomination for the European Commission Presidency.
SYRIZA wants the role of the determined protagonists and not the role of the indignant spectators, Tsipras said, adding that SYRIZA wants the Party of the European Left to be regarded as the only response and the only alternative government solution to neo-liberalism.
"We are the main force for change in Europe. We are the main hope against the risk of being trapped in a long recession-generating austerity with which the people are faced," he said, adding that his party is in favour of the immediate cancellation of the memorandums, the end of austerity and the coordinated revival of eurozone economies.
He also repeated his proposal for a collective, solidarity-based and definitive handling of the debt crisis in the eurozone, in the context of a European Debt Conference modeled after the London Debt Conference in 1953 for Germany's debt.
"We want to be the necessary political counterweight to the 'dark Europe' of the rising extreme right and fascism that grow on the ruins created by austerity, recession and poverty," he said.
Tsipras said that his nomination by the Party of the European Left for the presidency of the European Commission is an honor for him and Greece, noting that it is "an act of political solidarity, doing honour to the Greek people, as well as a act of moral, political and ideological vindication for SYRIZA".
Tsipras said that "it is a recognition of the unfair sacrifices made by the Greek people and symbolizes solidarity with all the peoples in the European south that experience the devastating social consequences of the memorandums of austerity and recession."
Referring to the Greek EU Presidency to be launched on January 1, 2014, he underlined that its political identity and the relevant legislative initiatives have not been defined yet.
 SYRIZA submits proposal for Fact-Finding Committee for submarinesThe Parliamentary Group of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) submitted a proposal in Parliament on the creation of a Fact-Finding Committee concerning the building of submarines by the Greek Shipyards, with its president Alexis Tsipras being the first to sign.
In its nine-page proposal, SYRIZA describes "the two contracts that had been signed between the Greek government and the German manufacturers as harmful for Greek interests." It also stresses that "the case of the procurement of type 209 and 214 submarines constitutes a continuous economic and political scandal that began with the decisions of KYSEA (the government Foreign Affairs and Defence Council) in March 1998."
It added that "in any case, an investigation is being carried out into all the facts that are related with the preparation and implementation of the above contracts and paved the way for the disastrous executing agreement of 2010."
In parallel, special emphasis is placed on law 3885/2010 with which, as SYRIZA stresses, "the Greek State waived whatever demand by it against the Germans."
SYRIZA also attributes responsibilities to the Samaras government as well, saying that "it is crucial to clarify the reasons for which the Greek government did not go ahead with a denunciation of the executing agreement when it laid the foundations for the corresponding right."
According to Parliament's regulation, for a Fact-Finding Committee to be created, the proposal must be voted for by the absolute majority of all deputies, not just those present, meaning by at least 151 deputies, since it concerns national defence issues.
 Russian DM Shoigu in Athens on Dec. 3National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos received on Monday Russian Federation Ambassador to Greece Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, with talks focusing on a December 3 visit to Athens by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Avramopoulos also received Ambassador Victor Tvircun, secretary general of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact.
 Hatzidakis, Mitarakis met with Lord Mayor of the City of LondonDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Deputy Minister Notis Mitarakis met with Lord Mayor of the City of London Fiona Woolf on Monday in London and discussed the progress Greece has made in improving its fiscal situation and regaining competitiveness as well as the ministry's plans for businesses and the economy, a ministry announcement said.
The Greek ministers also presented the priorities of the Greek Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2014, according to the announcement.
 Deputy FM Gerontopoulos concludes three-day visit to AlexandriaConcluding a three-day visit to Alexandria, Egypt, Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos', was awarded with the Supreme Taxiarch's medal and the delivery of the city's key. The medal was delivered to Gerontopoulos by Alexandria and All Africa Patriarch Theodoros II, after a religious ceremony held at the Aghios Savvas Church.
"It is the greatest honour that has been done to me in my life, and it is huge compared to the little that I have offered," Gerontopoulos said and thanked the Patriarch from the depths of his heart.
The deputy Foreign minister then met with Alexandria Governor General Tarek Al Mahdi, who delivered the city's key to him. A discussion between the two men earlier focused on a Greece-Egypt agreement on cooperation between the ports of Piraeus and Alexandria and agreement was reached on speeding up implementation procedures.
 Golden Dawn deputies receive extension to testifyGolden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) MPs Giorgos Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and Stathis Boukouras who were sent on Monday before the three appeals court investigating magistrates on charges of setting up and participating in a criminal organisation asked and received an extension for 7 December in order to prepare their testimonies.
It is reminded that the parliament, on 16 October, have voted to lift their immunity.
According to a protected witness testimony, Germenis has played a central role in the training of new recruits as well as in attacks against migrants. Similar testimonies involve Boukouras in a ring selling protection to stores in the wider area of Corinth prefecture, where he was elected on the Golden Dawn ticket.
Moreover, witnesses testified that Iliopoulos has a leading rank in the party and plays a main role in the organisation.
Approximately 150 supporters of Golden Dawn gathered outside the court buildings and were shouting support slongans, including "No jail for nationalists".
 Mantelis' trial over Siemens postponed, againThe trial of former minister Tassos Mantelis, who held the transport portfolio under past PASOK governments, began on Monday only to be posponed again for December 12.
Interrupted because of a strike by judges and court staff, the trial was postponed again after his defence lawyers claimed inability to attend. The court had just rejected requests for postponements filed on Mantelis' behalf.
The former minister is being tried on charges of money laundering and of taking kickbacks from Siemens in 1998 and 2000 from a contract awarded to the German system to digitise the Greek state telecom's systems. According to Mantelis, the money was a campaign contribution for PASOK.
On trial with Mantelis are the businessman Georgios Tsougranis, tax office employee Antonia Markou, former Siemens executive Ilias Georgiou and his associate Aristidis Mantas.
 Socialist International President George Papandreou hails Iran nuclear dealSocialist International President George Papandreou, a former Greek premier, on Sunday hailed the interim agreement reached by Iran and six world powers to curb the Iranian nuclear programme, saying it was a major step toward greater stability in the region.
"This crucial agreement, achieved after intensive negotiations in a climate of mutual respect, opens the way for a long-term and comprehensive solution. The successful implementation of this first agreement and the achievement of a comprehensive solution could be a reply to the concerns expressed by some countries in the region," he said.
Papandreou stressed that it was vital for the first mutual steps agreed by all sides to go ahead as foreseen in the common action plan over the next six months, while he emphasised the importance of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in this context.
The interim pact was agreed between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia earlier on Sunday and won the critical endorsement of Iranian clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
 EOPPY doctos to continue with strikes up to Dec.3Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis was accused of being intransingent by National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) doctors, who refused to come to a scheduled appointment with him set for Monday.
Doctors also decided to continue with 24-hour rolling strikes up to December 3 against the prospect of losing their jobs under the mobility scheme, which aims to cut down the size of the public sector and foresees that clinics will operate with skeleton staff.
"There is no point in having a dialogue with the minister after his statement, which leads to the dissolution of public clinics," doctors said in their announcement while promising to prevent the methodical attempt of the political leadership of the health ministry to dismantle public primary health care.
 'Wage and pension cuts in public utilities, banks are not on the table,' Labour Minister Vroutsis saysLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Monday ruled out the likelihood of wage and pension cuts in public utility companies and banks, which were allegedly among the demands of the troika representing Greece's creditors.
Vroutsis, who attended a government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday afternoon, said that "the issue of wage and pension cuts is not on the table."
He noted that the labour ministry, through a number of structural reforms tabled in Parliament, had covered a major part of the financing gap and that no new cutbacks will be necessary.
He also expressed certainty that a solution will be found to the negotiations with the troika before the Eurogroup meeting on December 9.
Meanwhile, a meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos will be held on Tuesday, sources told ANA-MPA.
 Uninsured labour shows signs of easingUninsured labour showed signs of easing in October as Greek authorities intensified their controls in the market to combat this thriving phenomenon in the country.
According to a report released by the special operation plan "Artemis", controls made in 3,931 enterprises in the period from September 15 to October 31 showed a total of 371 enterprises with undeclared labour workers (9.44 pct), while in the period from early summer when the new round of inspections began, a total of 583 undeclared workers have been found (3.07 pct), while fines imposed totaled 5,967,319 euros.
"We began in the summer an unprecedented campaign to combat this unacceptable phenomenon of undeclared and uninsured labour," Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said in a statement.
From the 583 uninsured workers, men accounted for 57.81 pct, while Greek citizens accounted for 86.95 pct of them.
 Finmin Stournaras to attend investor forum in New York, Dec. 17NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Finance minister Yannis Stournaras is expected to visit New York on December 17 to address the 15th annual Greek Investor Forum organised by Capital Link at Manhattan's Metropolitan Club.
According to the schedule, Stournaras will be the keynote speaker during the event's lunch.
The topic of this year's forum will be "An Era of Opportunity", and attendances would include officials from U.S. companies, banks, investment groups, as well as officials from the Greek business community.
A recorded message by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will be screened during the forum.
 Alternate FinMin at 'Economist': Greek people's sacrifices beginning to pay offNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, addressing an "Economist" conference held in Nicosia on Monday, said that the sacrifices of the Greek people "are beginning to pay off".
The Greek minister predicted that Greece will achieve a primary surplus of at least 812 million euros in 2013, for the first time after a decade, and that in 2014 the Greek economy is expected to emerge from a prolonged recession after six years.
He said that the unemployment rate will gradually begin to decrease and the primary surplus is expected to reach about 1.5 percent of GDP, while the fiscal deficit is expected to drop below 3 percent of GDP.
Staikouras said that the Greek economy was characterised by longstanding, mainly endogenous weaknesses and functioned for decades in conditions of unstable balance.
He added that developments in Greece would have been different "if Europe had promptly acquired response mechanisms for handling such a crisis," and suggested that Europe had dealt with the global crisis shortsightedly, since "it was late in realising that the crisis was and is systemic and was late in reaching a comprehensive and overall solution".
He also said that solutions such as those given in the case of Cyprus cannot constitute a model for the European fabric.
 Shipping minister holds meeting with Chinese Vice-minister of CommunicationsCOSCO was the focus of the meeting between Greek Shipping Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis and Chinese Vice-Minister for Communications Weng Mengyong on Monday. The meeting took place in London, on the sidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Plenum's 28th conference, where Varvitsiotis is representing Greece at the head of a Greek delegation.
Varvitsiotis emphasised the centuries-long cultural presence and contribution of Greece and China to the world and focused on strategic cooperation developed by the two countries over the past years, through COSCO's presence in the port of Piraeus.
The minister noted that, since its arrival in Greece, COSCO "has placed the country's biggest port on a new developmental dimension. On our part, only the day before yesterday, we succeeded in doubling this investment. We achieved an agreement with multiple benefits, for both Greek shipping and society, creating revenues and jobs during a very difficult period for the country."
"Our intention now is to enhance this strategic cooperation that we have developed with China", he added.
He also stressed that this cooperation proves that the climate is changing for Greece internationally, with Greece now seen as a pillar of investment stability.
Weng Mengyong said that he, on his part, views Cosco's investment in Piraeus very positively: "On the occasion of our meeting, I want to express our thanks to your person, Mr. Minister, for your valuable contribution, to enable the final agreement between COSCO and OLP (the Piraeus Port Authority) to take place. Every time that I visit Europe, in any case, I mention the specific investment as being the best example of successful Chinese presence in Europe", he said.
 Shipping minister says Greek shipping playing leading role on international shipping sceneGreek Shipping Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis, in an address during the opening Monday of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Plenum's 28th conference, taking place in London and attending as the head of the Greek delegation, stressed that "being Greece's Shipping and Aegean minister I am proud to be representing a country with a great tradition in shipping, that is considered today one of the biggest shipping countries of the world, with one of the biggest commercial fleets internationally".
The minister also said that "for Greece, shipping represents one of the most important sectors of the economy. Although my country has been hit harshly by the economic crisis, the sector of shipping remained healthy and maintained its international presence".
Varvitsiotis referred to the size and importance of Greek shipping, stressing that "it is playing a leading role on the international shipping scene, since it constitutes 15 percent of global shipping and 40 percent of the Europeans that it represents".
He added that "the Greek commercial fleet is counting 1,386 ships with a total registered capacity of 72.6 million DWT, holding 7th place, internationally, with almost 4.73 percent of global capacity".
 Gov't issues joint ministerial decision on medical tourism in GreeceHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis and Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Monday signed a joint ministerial decision (JMD) specifying the requirements for medical tourism services.
According to the JMD all public and private health-care institutions can be registered in a special Greek Tourism Organisation's (EOT) registry. This will ensure better promotion for their services, while each medical tourism services provider will receive sign showing they are approved by EOT.
Health-care providers engaging in medical tourism activities must be certified by international entities, specialized in certification of medical tourism services. In addition to that, doctors and facilities, not including public health-care providers, must be insured for issues regarding civil responsibility.
The ministry of health, in cooperation with EOT, is conducting market research survey abroad to assist efforts to attract international visitors for medical tourism in Greece. At the same time, various activities regarding the briefing of related institutions that aim to establish synergies between them, in order to make Greece a destination where medical services can be combined with holiday-making.
 Tourism Minister Kefalogianni meets with visiting Azerbaijani MPsBilateral cooperation on tourism issues dominated a meeting on Monday between Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and a five-member delegation of the Greece-Azerbaijan Parlia-mentary Friendship Group.
Addressing the visiting Azerbaijani MPs, Kefalogianni noted that the ministry of tourism can back vocational education and training programmes for Azerbaijani professionals. She also raised the issue of an Athens-Baku direct flight that will facilitate tourist flow between the two countries. An extensive discussion on visa issues was also held.
The tourism minister did not rule out the likelihood of visiting Baku before the end of the year to discuss the issues further.
On their part, the Azerbaijani MPs expressed their country's interest in investing in the tourism industry and noted that their country wants to establish closer cooperation with Greece and all the EU countries in the sector of tourism.
 Greek exports poised for new records in 2013Conditions prevailing in the domestic and international markets, unfortunately do not allow for celebrations in a historic record set by Greek exports, which surpassed the barrier of 20 billion euros in the first nine months of the year, Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Panhellenic Exporters' Association said on Monday.
Commenting on statistic figures of Greek trade transactions, Sakellaridi said that Greek exports were poised to reach level unprecedented in the country's modern history, but noted that persisting pressures on several sectors of the economy made estimates over the continuation of the upward trend unsafe, showing signs of fatigue both in production and promotion of Greek products abroad.
She noted it was necessary to boost liquidity in the market and to attract investments as part of a national strategy to boost exports.
 Endeavor Greece and Microsoft Hellas unite to support businessmen in technology issuesEndeavor Greece and Microsoft Hellas on Monday announced the start their partnership to support businessmen in technology issues and offer integrated support and effective cover of their needs in different fields.
According to the announcement, the cooperation between the two companies includes meetings and workshops that will offer guidance to company executives on trends in technology (Mobility, Cloud, Big Data and Social Media), as well as new business models and platforms.
In addition, these will offer specific instructions and suggestions for the specific requirements and functions of each businessman.
 Greek trade supports women's enterpreneurship, Korkidis saidThe president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) Vassilis Korkidis said on Monday that Greek trade supports female entrepreneurship and condemns all forms of violence against women.
Speaking on the occasion of the International Day for the eradication of violence against women, Korkidis referred to the new programme which aims to help women cope with the changing and complex economic environment. "It will help women understand the importance of joining trade unions and give clear solutions to problems that arise," he said.
Korkidis underlined that domestic violence is a serious social problem that affects everyone and has no social, economic or cultural constraints. "Violence is a criminal offense and the abuse of women is a crime punishable by law," he added.
 Hellenic Exchanges says net profits sharply up in Jan-SeptHellenic Exchanges on Monday said its consolidated net after tax profits totaled 40.5 million euros in the January-September period, sharply up from 8.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year, helped by a successful recapitalization of Greece's four systemic banks. Net earnings per share totaled 0.63 euros, up from 0.15 euros last year.
Turnover totaled 67.5 million euros in the nine-month period, up from 22.1 millin euros in 2012. Turnover was boosted by the clearing and settlement of warrants, a new financial tool introduced in the second quarter of 2013. Trading in warrants accounted for 10.4 pct of market turnover and 20.9 pct of market volume in the period until the end of third quarter.
The market's average capitalization jumped 70 pct in the nine-month period to 46.8 billion euros, from 27.5 billion euros last year, while average daily turnover rose 27 pct to 65.9 millin euros, from 51.9 million euros in 2012. Average daily volume of trading was 49.2 million euros.
 Greek trade deficit down in Jan-Sept, EurostatGreece's trade deficit shrank to 14.47 billion euros in the January-September period, from 16.74 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, Eurostat said on Monday.
The EU executive's statistics service said that Greek exports grew 5.0 pct in the nine-month period, while imports fell by 3.5 pct.
 Notifications to taxpayers with overdue debts to the stateTaxpayers who are overdue in their income tax installments or who have other unfulfilled obligations toward the tax service will be receiving notifications by General Secretary for Public Revenues Charis Theocharis advising them to settle their debts, it was announced on Monday.
The taxpayers will be warned that if they fail to respect the settlement deadlines they have reached with the tax office they will risk facing all measures necessary for the state to collect the overdue installments, including property confiscations.
 Jumbo says profits up 5.35 pct in Q1Jumbo Group on Monday said its net profits totaled 18.06 million euros in the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July 2013-June 2014), from 17.15 million euros in the same period last year, an increase of 5.35 pct. Group sales totaled 131.19 million euros, up 5.82 pct from 2012, reflecting a significant increase in sales in Bulgaria and Cyprus, combined with a stabilization of sales in the group's retail network in Greece. Jumbo launched two new hyper-markets, in Serres and Aghios Eleftherios (Athens).
Gross profit margin rose to 47.23 pct from 46.36 pct, while EBITDA rose 9.70 pct to 26.86 million euros. Jumbo Group operates a retail network of 66 units of which 52 in Greece, 4 in Cyprus, 8 in Bulgaria and 2 in Romania.
 Autohellas says turnover up, profits down in Jan-SeptAutohellas on Monday said its consolidated turnover totaled 117.5 million euros in the January-September period this year, from 116.5 million euros last year, while consolidated after tax and minorities earnings eased to 6.9 million euros from 8.6 million euros in the nine-month period in 2012.
Consolidated turnover grew 0.8 pct helped by stronger tourism trends, while consolidated pre-tax earnings grew 35.8 pct, compared with the same period last year, to 14.9 million euros. Short-term leasing grew 15 pct over the nine-month period despite increase in funding costs. A decline in consolidated after tax and minorities earnings was attributed to rise in tax factors and deferred taxes. EBITDA totaled 56.9 million euros. Autohellas said market authorities approved a cash return to its shareholders worth 7.8 million euros.
 Greek stocks end 2.47 pct upGreek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with investment interest focusing on Greek blue chips which will be included in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, starting Tuesday, 26 November.
The composite index of the market jumped 2.47 pct to end at 1,197.79 points, after rising to a new 2013-high of 1,202.27 points during the day. Turnover was a massive 179.75 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 2.29 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.09 pct lower. Jumbo (8.11 pct), OPAP (7.74 pct), Alpha Bank (4.69 pct) and OTE (3.53 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Hellenic Petroleum (3.26 pct), Korinth Pipeworks (1.54 pct) and Terna Energy (1.41 pct) were top losers.
The Travel (7.11 pct), Personal Products (6.46 pct) and Telecoms (3.53 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Oil (1.52 pct), Commerce (0.96 pct) and Raw Materials (0.68 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 77 to 58 with another 26 issues unchanged. HOL (20 pct), Crete Building (14.75 pct) and AEGEK (13.40 pct) were top gainers, while Ionian Hotels (20 pct), Pegasus (20 pct) and Sato (19.38 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.52%
Personal & Household: +6.36%
Raw Materials: -0.68%
Travel & Leisure: +7.11%
Food & Beverages: +0.07%
Financial Services: +2.01%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OTE, OPAP, National Bank and Jumbo.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.670
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.25
Coca Cola HBC: 21.64
Hellenic Petroleum: 9.19
National Bank of Greece: 4.38
Eurobank Properties : 8.85
Piraeus Bank: 1.48
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 7.07 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 7.02 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.70 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.73 pct. Turnover was a thin 8.0 million euros, of which 6.0 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 2.0 million buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.498 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.418 pct, the six-month rate increased to 0.326 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.227 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.139 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 30.833 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,409 contracts worth 20.737 million euros, with 51,948 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,247 contracts worth 10.096 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (3,195), followed by Alpha Bank (2,816), OTE (1,304), PPC (1,426), OPAP (1,111), Hellenic Petroleum (911), Motor Oil (642), GEK (395), Ellaktor (265), Intralot (448), Folli Follie (301) and MIG (521).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.371
Pound sterling 0.847
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 9.024
Japanese yen 139.63
Swiss franc 1.249
Norwegian kroner 8.399
Canadian dollar 1.448
Australian dollar 1.497
 Weather service warns of heavy rains, snow on Monday, TuesdayThe Hellenic National Meteorological Service on Monday warned that the weather is likely to deteriorate from Monday night, with heavy rains, storms and a drop in temperature.
Rain and storms are forecast to continue at intervals in the Ionian Sea, the western parts of the mainland, the western and southern Peloponnese, the islands of the Eastern Aegean, the Dodecanese and transiently in Crete and the Cyclades island group, mainly in western areas.
Temperatures will fall across the country from the north to the south. It will snow transiently in the central and northern highlands and, as from Monday evening, in hilly areas of western Macedonia as well, at an altitude of approximately 500 to 700 metres.
 Prosecutor orders preliminary investigation after Rhodes' deadly floodsThe search continued on Monday in the region of Kremasti on the island of Rhodes to locate a 53-year-old English-language teacher missing since last Friday afternoon when the car he was driving was swept away by flood waters caused by torrential rain.
Meanwhile, an urgent investigation was ordered by the Rhodes prosecutor's office into the drowning deaths of three people and the extensive material damage caused by the unprecedented rainfall that pounded the region.
It is currently raining again on Rhodes, but no additional problems have been reported. Local administration agencies are on heightened alert since last night following a meeting attended by Deputy Interior Minister Leonidas Grigorakos.
The damages caused by the flood waters to private businesses and households, estimated at millions of euros, are being recorded and assessed by Regional Authority of South Aegean and municipality of Rhodes teams of experts.
 2nd 'Handmade Dreams' exhibition at Technopolis starting November 30.A huge variety of handmade crafts will be on display at the City of Athen's "Technopolis" site, starting on November 30 and until December 1, as part of the "Handmade Dreams" exhibition.
The exhibition is organized for the second time at the "Neoi Fournoi"(D7) building, with free entrance for the public. The "Handmade Dreams" team is a creations and crafts' ensemble full of people who love handmade goods.
"Along with my friend and colleague Andreas Ioannidis we created the team because we ascertained that there isn't a notably organized action to promote crafts," said Despina Mbratsi, a communication manager of the exhibition, to the ANA-MPA.
"There are incredibly creative people who do wonderful work, who unfortunately are not known. What we dream is for our team to become a benchmark, as much for the creators as for people seeking handmade goods," added Mbratsi.
The exhibition's goal is to give the opportunity to people involved in handicrafts not only to present their original creations but also come together in order for individual creativity to turn into a coordinated collective effort for promoting handmade goods.
The exhibition includes different creations such as jewellery, clothing, accessories, baby and child products, personal care products like soaps and cosmetics, gifts, traditional products (jams, liqueur), as well as Christmas decorations.
 Protest march against Halkidiki gold mines held in AthensA protest rally at the Propylea on Panepistimiou Street, followed by a march to Syntagma Square, was held by local Halkidiki activists opposed to gold mining operations in the area on Monday afternoon.
Residents from the popular northern Greek tourist destination that oppose the mining operations gathered on Panepistimou Street at around 4:00 p.m. and then walked up to the Monument of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament, carrying banners and shouting slogans such as: "Against the looting, fight for the land and freedom".
The so-called "Solidarity Caravan" that came down to Athens from Halkidiki also made stops at the cities of Katerini, Larissa, Volos and Lamia in order to brief local residents on what it called the "catastrophic repercussions of gold-mining on Halkidiki and the penalisation of the struggles of all those opposed to it."
The protesting residents earlier held a press conference at the Athens journalists union ESIEA and sent a letter to the central offices of the mining company Hellas Gold SA, stressing that they will continue their struggle to protect Halkidiki's countryside.
According to Giorgos Zoumbas, speaking on behalf of the 'Caravan', "Greece is not fully informed on what is about to happen in Halkidiki" and he claimed that the massive mining operation would be disastrous for the region.
He also said that the government, while displaying excessive zeal in ensuring legality on the part of protestors, had not shown a matching zeal in ensuring that laws were upheld by the company "which has proceeded to commit proven violations".
The protestors were supported by main opposition SYRIZA Parliamentary spokesman Dimitris Papadimoulis and party MPs, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Spyros Halvatzis and EcoGreens member Mihalis Tremopoulos.
 Trial for carbon monoxide poisoning deaths at Thessaloniki hotel beginsThe trial of three individuals facing charges for the carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of two guests at a hotel in Thessaloniki's Panorama region four years ago, got underway in a Thessaloniki court on Monday.
The victims, two men aged 27 and 28, were found dead in their rooms on different floors over a period of 24 hours, on November 4 and 5 in 2009.
An investigation has showed that the carbon monoxide leak came from the hotel's faulty heating system.
The defendants in the case are the hotel's president/CEO and an expert, while a third defendant, a contractor, is not physically present in court and is represented by an attorney.
 Supreme Court calls for revised ruling on release of terror suspectsThe Supreme Court on Monday revoked a ruling of the Athens Appeals Justices Council, calling for a revision of the original decision on whether to extend detention on remand for two suspected members of the terror group "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire".
The appeals court judges plenum had originally judged that there were no grounds for extending detention on remand for the two suspects Olga Economou and Georgios Polydorou.
The two have been in custody since their arrest in March 2011 at Nea Ionia, Volos.
The Supreme Court returned the case to the appeals justices' council for a new judgement on whether the conditions for extending the period of detention exist.
Economou and Polydorou have been indicted on two separate sets of charges and their trial before an Athens Criminal Appeals Court has begun but not yet been concluded.
 High school teacher in gang of armed robbers broken up by Thessaloniki policeA 53-year-old secondary education teacher is suspected of being a member of the "gang with the Kalashnikovs," broken up by police after committing four robberies and an attempted robbery in the regions of Thessaloniki and Halkidiki over the past five months, it was announced on Monday.
Six of the nine members of the gang, three locals and three Albanian nationals, were arrested. Two are still wanted and one is already in custody, jailed in a correctional facility.
Among those arrested is a 23-year-old Albanian who was allegedly the gang leader. Last April, he had escaped from the Kassandra Farm Prison in Halkidiki, where he was doing time for robberies and drug violations. According to police, some of the gang members were related to each other and others had met in prison.
A search in the 23-year-old's house revealed two Kalashnikov assault weapons, while a small quantity of hashish was found in the house of another defendant.
A 22-year-old local woman was also arrested for providing shelter to the alleged gang leader.
 Sparta, Vladimir in central Russia plan twinningThe twinning of the municipality of Sparta in the Peloponnese and Vladimir prefecture in central Russia was discussed on Monday by Sparta Mayor Stavros Argitakos and Russian Deputy Tourism Minister Evgeny Pisarevsky, who is in Greece to attend the 29th international Philoxenia tourism exhibition by the TIF-Helexpo in Thessaloniki.
At the meeting at the Russian pavilion on the fair grounds - also attended by National Tourism Organisation of Greece office head in Russia Polykarpos Efstathiou - both sides decided to begin the collaboration with the sectors of trade and tourism. The Russian minister, who has been authorised by Vladimir's prefect to act on his behalf, said he will personally assume responsibility of the bureaucratic process to speed up the twinning process.
 Psychiatric hospital staff build up hospital entrance to protest of mobility schemeDromokaitio psychiatric hospital staff on Monday has built over the entrance of the hospital as a symbolic protest against the reserve labour measures that starts today in all psychiatric hospitals.
Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who was guest to a private MEGA TV news programme in a live debate with the protestors, called them "to remove the cinder blocks, because the hospital is not their home" adding that the "government is not managing the hospitals jointly with unionists".
Moreover, on Monday Dromokaitio and Dafni psychiatric hospitals unions, both in Athens, have called a work stoppage from 08:00 until 13.00 while a meeting with Deputy Health Minister Zetta Makri has been scheduled within the day at the Health Ministry.
After the meeting with Makri the hospital staff will convene to decide on the course of their mobilisations.
 Argolid mayor appeals for help over metal theftsThe Argos-Mycenae mayor on Monday called on the government, financial police and the Greek Police to intervene and stop the widespread theft of metal, sold for scrap, from the two Peloponnese towns.
Mayor Dimitris Kambosos said the towns in the Argolid were unable to deal with the rampant thefts of metal being resold for scrap which included oil lamps lit at graves by relatives and grills covering sewage holes on the streets, endangering cars and threatening people's lives.
He also said that a group of people was seen with an open truck removing grills on the Nea Kios-Nafplio road; the person who told him had notified the police.
The mayor called on state inspectors to intensify inspections, especially on scrap yards.
The chronic phenomenon has increased in recent years, and included the theft of copper wires from railway line systems.
 Drug dealers arrested for possesion of 35 kilos of hashishTwo Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) nationals were arrested on Monday in Polykastro, Kilkis, Central Macedonia, for possession of 35 kilos of hashish.
The arrested dealers, aged 22 and 31, were carrying the drugs hidden in their travel bags.
Police authorities had information regarding the drug dealers' activities, and the drugs were found in their vehicle after an operation conducted Sunday morning. According to police investigation, the two dealers carried the drugs through an unguarded crossing of the Greek-fYRoM border, while another person, currently wanted by the police, acted as intemediary in importing the drugs into Greece.
In the dealers' possession the police also found travel documents with fake visas, while the 31-year-old dealer was registered in the national registry of undesirable foreigners and he is deprived of driving licence. The two men where led before a misdemeanor prosecutor.
The preliminary investigation is being conducted by the Polykastro police department while investigations continue for the arrest of the third offender.
 Minor quake shakes Ierapetra, Crete, againA minor earthquake, the fourth in less than two days, jolted the city of Ierapetra, on the island of Crete, at 11.37 on Monday; it measured 3.3 on the Richter scale.
According to the Geodynamics Institute of the Athens Observatory the quake's epicenter was located 150 km south of Ierapetra.
Three quakes, measuring 4.3, 3.8 and 3.3 Richter were recorded in the same area on Sunday at 05.28, 13.05 and 13.12, respectively.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 6C and 20C. Local showers in Athens with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 10C and 17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 7C and 13C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: A puzzle from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras!
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Government restricts access to Church's finances with a scandalous amendment.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: 5 plus 8 fictitious (paid off) years of work in armed forces.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Ten loopholes to get pension from IKA (social security fund) before the age of 60.
ESTIA: Samaras' mountain of work.
ETHNOS: 8-pct cuts in public utilities and organisations and banks' pensions.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Tax evaders will be jailed, without sentence buy-off opportunity.
TA NEA: Deep breather before the uphill.
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