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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-11-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 27 November 2013 Issue No: 4522
 Greece ready for EU presidency Schulz says after meetings in AthensGreece is well prepared for its stint in the rotating European Council presidency, due to start on January 1, 2014, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said on Tuesday, after meetings with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Greek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis in Athens.
In Europe we don't have different category member-states," he said, "Greece is an equal partner. I know that the Greek government is well prepared for the presidency," he said in a press conference with the Greek premier, after attending a joint meeting of the Greek cabinet and the Conference of European Parliament presidents.
Schulz repeated this position after meeting Meimarakis, saying that he had come away from his meeting with Samaras and the Greek government with a positive feeling and a conviction that Greece is well prepared for the EU presidency, while adding that the country "for the first time has a realistic chance at economic recovery."
Samaras, on his part, stressed that Greece expects to complete negotiations with the EU-IMF troika of lenders within December and embark on its presidency without the burden of ongoing negotiations. "I believe that there will be no problem in this process," he added.
"We are exiting the crisis and we are ready for the EU presidency," the premier said, noting that the 'worst fears' raised by others had been proved false.
Greece aims to promote a less bureaucratic and more growth-oriented Europe, Samaras said of the Greek presidency's agenda. "Our aim is to complete the banking and fiscal union, bringing Europe closer to European citizens and dealing with their problems - a Europe of solidarity, which means a balance between fiscal adjustment and growth," he said. He also stressed that "we must reject the separation between North and South," referring to EU member-states.
Samaras said Greece's experience had proved that "Europe works", with the primary surplus achieved after six years of recession showing that "Europe can overcome its problems".
"Greece today is still part of the eurozone and meeting its targets - occasionally it is ahead of them," Samaras said, adding that within the six-month presidency there will be visible signs of economic recovery and a reduction of unemployment. This would be seen in April 2014, when the Eurogroup takes a sounding of the primary surplus, he predicted.
Samaras stressed that the government was fighting for growth in specific ways, by using EU structural funds, funneling liquidity to small and medium-sized entreprises to reduce unemployment and promoting exports and investments.
Schulz said the issues discussed duirng the meetings related to development, security, restructuring, and immigration issues, with the key focus on youth unemployment as the priority.
"We wish for Greece's development to be put on track with the help of the troika," he said and added that "the fiscal stability that required great sacrifices is being completed with solidarity and will come to completion with the attraction of investments. Greece is now being graded with an A plus."
"Greece will have a primary surplus in 2013 and then Europe will meet its promises. When Europe submits the data, we will spare no time to do so," he said.
In his meeting with Meimarakis, Schulz again underlined that the European Parliament "is determined to do everything in its power so that the crisis in Greece is overcome."
After a meeting at the Greek Parliament with the Conference of European Parliament Presidents, Schulz underlined that there might be different views within the EuroParliament but all are agreed that "=there have been enough sacrifices and now we need recovery and jobs for young people."
He also pointed again to encouraging signs, such as the primary budget surplus or recent A+ ratings given to the Greek economy for investors.
Concerning the role of the troika, Schulz noted that its mission was to help reform Greece and that for this to succeed, it must reinforce and not hold back positive trends. He also advised troika officials to be more cautious in making statements that had far-reaching repercussions, pointing to a recent IMF position disputing Greece's primary surplus that was later retracted.
Meimarakis stressed that Greece was now entering the final stage of a "painful process of fiscal adjustment" and starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The country now needed everyone's support to reach the end of the road and reap the fruits of the sacrifices made, he added.
"We need your support and that of all the political forces in the European Parliament," he stressed, noting that Greece's creditors sometimes insisted on things of minor importance in terms of fiscal impact but major importance in terms of their repercussions on Greek society, "thus jeopardising the entire effort made so far".
 EuroParliament President Schulz received by President PapouliasGreece has done its duty and now expects its partners to do theirs, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias told visiting European Parliament Parliament Martin Schulz during their meeting at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday.
"We have done our duty. We expect our partners to do theirs. Not only to respect their commitment to reduce Greece's debt but to also take initiatives for growth that will give respite to a suffocating market," Papoulias said while welcoming Schulz, who was accompanied by the EP's vice-presidents and the heads of EuroParliament political groups.
Europe must once again become attractive, the Greek president said and underlined: "This will arise only if the answer given in practice by those making decisions, is 'more and fairer Europe'."
He added that the European legacy of democracy, security and solidarity built after WWII should not be undermined and that "we should not yield to the disastrous results of economic stagnation and national egotisms."
On his part, Schulz said "we want a better Greece for a better Europe," adding that the European Parliament will support the six-month rotating Greek EU presidency, starting on January 1, 2014.
 PM Samaras chairs Admin Reform Council meeting on mobility schemeA meeting of the Administrative Reform Council chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, attended also by Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, was concluded at the Maximos Mansion on Tuesday evening.
According to reports, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis briefed the Council on the successful completion of the first round of the so-called mobility scheme regarding 12,500 public service employees.
The meeting decided that the reappointment of 2,858 municipal policemen will begin in 15 days, while also considered was the second round of mobility for an additional 12,500 employees, to be implemented in the first months of 2014.
The second mobility wave will regard employees with the National Health Services Provision Organisation (EOPYY), local administration bodies (OTA) and social security funds, while the evaluation of Legal entities of Private Law will also start immediately.
In addition, an instruction was given for pushing ahead with discussions on achieving the target of hiring over 10,000 employees in the areas of health, security and tax collection services.
 Venizelos optimistic over a deal on all pending issues in negotiations with the troikaGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos appeared optimistic over achieving a deal on pending issues in negotiations with the country's EC/ECB/IMF troika of lenders, speaking briefly to reporters after a meeting on Tuesday evening with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the Maximos Mansion, that followed a session of the Administrative Reform Council.
Asked about the pending issues of the Greek Defence Systems (EAS) and auctions, Venizelos said he had nothing to add to what the government has said. On the question of the possible opening of mass layoffs, he said there was no such question and reiterated that the government's positions still applied.
With regard to a proposal by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) for the setting up of a factfinding committee to look into the issue of the submarines, Venizelos said the matter was not discussed with the prime minister, but commented that "it has become comical".
 Deal with the troika feasible by Dec. 9, Finmin Stournaras saysThe government is making efforts to reach an agreement with the EC/CB/IMF troika of lenders by December 9, Finance minister Yannis Stournaras said after the end of a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday evening at the Maximos Mansion.
Stournaras stressed that the premier wishes that negotiations with the troika be concluded before the country takes up the EU's rotating presidency on January 1, 2014, expressing his conviction that this was feasible.
Asked by reporters about his statement on Monday that there was no over-taxation in Greece, Stournaras said that "the figures show that as a percentage of GDP, public revenues are two points lower than the European average."
"Everyone wants taxes to be cut," the minister said, rejecting that the troika exerted pressure for further tax hikes.
 Greek government confident of successful execution of 2014 state budgetGreek Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Tuesday expressed his confidence that the government will successfully execute the 2014 budget, addressing a Parliamentary budget committee meeting.
Our forecasts for this year' s recession and primary deficit have not been dismissed - and they were conservative. Our estimate was the product of a realistic analysis of data. Even a draft budget plan that we tabled a month ago was revised upwards and for that we did not hear anything from the main opposition," Staikouras said.
The alternate finance minister said that the economic recession was slowing down and acknowledged that budget revenues in 2013 were below 2012 levels but pointed out that this year's budget had been executed properly. Staikouras said that the state will repay overdue debt to the private sector worth 3.6 billion euros this year, up 9.0 pct from 2012, boosting liquidity in the real economy. Public Investment Program spending was 3.3 billion euros higher compared with 2012, although below budget targets for this year, he said, adding that this gap could be covered by the end of the year
Staikouras said that the government has not yet reached an agreement with the troika over the way to achieve a primary surplus, while he noted that an initial increase of VAT on the restaurant sector had led to 4,500 business closures, while the subsequent reduction had seen another 250 businesses closing down but also 400 new business start-ups in the restaurant sector. He said that net budget revenue for 2014 was expected to rise by 4.0 pct, with a new property tax expected to bring 2.65 billion euros to state coffers annually.
The minister defended the government reform policy, saying the country has the highest rate of reform among OECD member-states. He acknowledged that a fight against tax evasion has not been successful, but noted that there "early, visible results". He stressed that spending on servicing the country's public debt will total 19 billion euros this year, down from 36.7 billion in 2012, while spending on interest payments will fall to 6.1 billion euros from 12.2 billion euros last year.
 Parliamentary committee begins review of 2014 draft state budgetThe first step in the review of the draft state budget for 2014 was taken late on Monday with the opening of discussion at the Parliament's Economics Committee late on Monday night.
New Democracy rapporteur Stavros Kalogiannis focused on the government's fiscal achieveements of remaining in the euro despite opinions on the contrary and on the execution of the 2013 budget in the most efficient manner.
Kalogiannis said that the first signs of exiting the crisis were apparent, and the improvement would continue in 2014, when the draft budget assessed a surplus of around 3 billion euros, achieved through the reduction of expenditures compared to 2013, an increase in net revenues asisted by the settlement of delayed tax arrears of the previous years, a decrease of interest rate expenditures, and an increase, however small, of the Programme of Public Investments.
Main opposition SYRIZA rapporteur Stefanos Samoilis charged the government with "treating society as if it is invisible, completely bypassing it in its statistics." He said, "The richest 20 percent of Greeks are 7 times richer than the poorest 20 percent. Sixty-six percent of the unemployed have been looking for work for over a year. You are forecasting a reversal of investments from a 0.9 percent drop to a 5 percent rise, but only a 1 percent reduction in unemployment."
Samoilis added, "You are moving to fully subsidize employers, so they may hire young people who remain unpaid for five months and are finally paid with 300 euros, without collecting credits for pension. The now-profiting businesses, totalling 500, are showing in 2012 a nearly 45 percent rise in profits, from destroying wages and labor rights, in combination with turning over national assets to private capital."
PASOK rapporteur Filippos Sachinidis pointed out that the government should establish with the troika that the 2014 budget will not be revised, as "a positive rate of growth cannot be achieved with new fiscal measures." He also called on SYRIZA to provide an alternative to resolving the Greek banking system problems.
Independent Greeks (ANEL) rapporteur Notis Marias called the budget a "classic memorandum budget" and charged that "the budget continues the same policy on issues of recapitalizing banks, maintaining oligarchs at banks when the state is their major shareholder, and keeping silent on German war reparations and the loan provided by Greece" during World War II. "In 2014 you are taking measures worth an additional 5.5 billion euros more than in 2013 to achieve a 1 billion euro reduction of the debt."
Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) rapporteur Elias Panagiotaros charged the government with "talking about saving the state, not the Greek people, who are the ones making up the state" and said the draft budget bore no relation to reality.
Democratic Left (DIMAR) reapporteur Asimina Xirotiri made fun of "the miracle of the surplus" and questioned where it came from. She said that according to the draft budget, the new burden is 6 billion euros, to be collected through tax increases in small and medium-sized entreprises and mostly property. "How much money will we need for the maturing bonds and for interest to be paid?" she asked.
The review of the draft budget was expected to be continued Tuesday with the rapporteur of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) next taking to the floor.
 DIM.AR decides to vote down the state budget proposalA joint meeting of the Executive Committee and the Parliamentary group of opposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) on Tuesday decided to vote down the state budget proposal "because it favours social inequalities and overtaxing, offering not even a glimpse of future prospects and hope," a party announcement underlined.
DIM.AR also noted that the government budget lacks a plan aimed at facing important social and economic issues, such as recession and unemployment, while the economic growth aspect is absent, instead of being a dominant feature.
As regards the rider concerning medicines, DIM.AR said that it will vote in favour because the specific settlement is a step toward medicine price reduction for the benefit of the people.
On the proposal tabled by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) to set up a Parliamentary investigation committee on the submarines' issue, DIM.AR said that it will vote against. It noted, however, that it acknowledges the existence of political responsibility in the way the issue of the submarines and shipyards was handled.
The DIM.AR announcement underlined that the party does not opt for polarization practices and criminalization of political confrontation, which is being exploited by the enemies of the Parliamentary system.
 FinMin Stournaras: Greek fiscal gap has narrowed to 1 billion eurosFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras said in an interview on private television station Mega on Monday evening that Greece and its international lenders have narrowed their differences over the 2014 fiscal gap to 1 billion euros without taking more horizontal (across-the-board) measures such as salary and pension cuts.
Stournaras noted that representatives of the troika of Greece's lenders, who will visit Greece again on December 2, "has not yet agreed there is no need for further measures, but we have really strong arguments." However, he was really optimistic that after current negotiations with the troika, expected to have been completed before the Greek EU presidency, there will be a discussion on Greece's fiscal gap and debt relief.
According to the Finance Minister, there is no need for a new bailout. "With the current programme, we have money until 2016," as he said.
He added that 70 percent of the budget surplus (about 560 million euros) will be distributed to people in real need.
As for the troika, he said that even if it keeps coming, it will have a very limited ability to pressure, due to Greece's better bargaining position.
 Venizelos to meet OECD secretary-general on Nov. 27Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will meet with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary General Angel Gurria on Wednesday morning, according to a Foreign ministry announcement.
The meeting will take place at the Foreign ministry, at 10:30.
 Deputy FM participates in EU Commission's eventDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos is participating in the "European Days of Development" event, organised by the European Commission on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels.
Gerontopoulos will meet with European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs to discuss Greek presidency's priorities regarding growth issues. In addition to that, the Greek deputy minister will be meeting with Irish Trade and Development Minister Joe Costello.
 SYRIZA's reacts to Samaras' statements on EU presidencyThe Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) levelled harsh criticism at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' statements regarding Greek EU presidency on Tuesday, following a meeting with European Parliament Martin Schulz.
Responding to Samaras' statement that the country is exiting the crisis, is ready for the EU presidency and the
"worst fears of others were proven false," SYRIZA accused Samaras of paving the way for a presidency subordinated to the memoranda and austerity.
"Samaras has no other strategy for Europe and an exit from the crisis apart from an insistence on the same neoliberal policy of dismantling the welfare state and workers' rights," the announcement said.
SYRIZA underlined that the prime minister should understand that development and investments need a specific policy other than austerity measures and fiscal discipline, adding that the European Left will play a leading role in the struggles of EU member states and the submission of alternative proposals for the future of Europe.
 KKE says that Greek EU Presidency will continue implementing anti-popular policiesOpposition Communist Party (KKE) on Tuesday underlined that "the Greek people have paid too dearly for the visions of the EU to believe again in the salvation they have been promised by the government and the rest political parties that see Europe as a one-way street".
Commenting on a press conference given by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and European Parliament President Martin Schulz, KKE underlined that "the Greek EU Presidency will continue the implementation of anti-popular policies and lasting memorandums imposed, to the detriment of all European peoples, ahead of the European countries' supervision to be launched on January 1, 2014".
Those who promise a different, humane and pro-people EU, like SYRIZA and the Party of the European Left, are shamelessly mocking the peoples of Europe, the KKE announcement concluded.
 Gov't spokesman Kedikoglou challenges SYRIZA over pharmaceuticals issueThe government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will vote to reduce the prices on all medicines on Wednesday, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said in response to criticism from main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) on Tuesday.
"(SYRIZA leader Alexis) Mr. Tsipras will have until tomorrow to decide; is going to be with the people or with private interests?" Kedikoglou noted.
Strong criticism was also voiced by the government's junior coalition partner PASOK, which slammed SYRIZA during a meeting of its Parliamentary group and the party's decision not to support a law "that reduces the prices of 6,000 medicines" and "clearly serves the interests of citizens and social insurance funds," while hinting at links between the main opposition and big pharma.
 PASOK replies to SYRIZA on pharmaceuticals and shipyardsThe PASOK party strongly doubts whether the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) has the "moral advantage to be able to criticise others," while accusing SYRIZA of "playing with organised interests in cold blood".
An announcement by the party's Press Office concerning statements by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on pharmaceuticals and SYRIZA's announcement on the shipyards stressed that:
"Mr. Tsipras believes that he has a 'big moral advantage' and for this he can act in a demagogic way, sling mud and attack in a vulgar manner. He should have in mind however that the supposed moral advantage is not self-awarded but is gained daily. An when he plays in cold blood with the organised interests, it is easily lost. And there is no cure to handle it. For the rest a 'rendez-vous in Parliament'".
 Health Minister briefs the president on health sector problems; asks for a meeting with TsiprasHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis had a scheduled meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday to brief him on problems in the health sector, noting that "they will be resolved step-by-step".
"The meeting was arranged a week ago," Georgiadis said, thanking the president for receiving him and for his advice.
The health minister also said that he has asked for a meeting with main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras earlier on Tuesday morning, in order to brief him on the rider concerning medicines and to "prevent
SYRIZA from making a big mistake". He underlined that he is willing to visit SYRIZA's headquarters because it is likely that its leader has been misled by bad advice.
"The rider will be voted in parliament on Wednesday and, after that, the people will be able to purchase medication at Samaras' or Tsipras' prices," he said.
 Positive mood prevails in meeting between Education minister and university rectors' representativesA meeting lasting approximately one and a half hours on Tuesday evening between Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos and representatives of university rectors coordination committee, was held in a cordial and?amicable atmosphere, both sides have reported.
Arvanitopoulos described as especially important the fact that a five-point proposal on universities administrative overhaul he put forward on Monday was accepted as a basis for discussion.
The Education minister also said it was good that University of Athens (UoA) administrative staff were coming to the dialogue, as he is scheduled to meet with their representatives on Wednesday morning at 10.00. The meeting is also to be attended by UoA rector Theodosis Pelegrinis.
Arvanitopoulos once again stressed that it was imperative for universities to re-operate, setting the coming Monday as a deadline for "saving" the academic semester.
He also noted that all of the appeals filed against the staff suspension lists will be considered. However, to allow this, he said, the registrar offices of the educational institutions must be open to enable checking.
 Turkish Cypriot leader inflexible, negotiator on Cyprus issue saysNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu presented Cyprus Republic President Nicos Anastasiades with two drafts of a joint declaration that he knew were not acceptable, during their informal meeting on Monday, Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavrogiannis told ANA-MPA on Tuesday.
One of the two drafts refers to "two sovereign states" and the other to the beginning of talks without a prior joint statement of purpose.
Mavrogiannis noted that in Eroglu's draft plans "there was nothing at all meeting the concerns of the Greek Cypriot side in respect to a single sovereign state, a single identity and a single citizenship." He quoted Anastasiades as saying that without clarifying first what kind of a federated state was sought, then all disagreements would resurface again, adding that Eroglu refused to change his stance.
According to Eroglu's plan, Mavrogiannis said, the Turkish Cypriot side insists on "two states, each keeping its sovereignty and citizens, with some low-level jurisdictions handed over to a central authority." Anastasiades referred to long-term future plans, he said, and stressed that "one cannot discuss terms of a future 'divorce' before terms of Cyprus' unification."
He said that the Turkish side wanted talks to begin first, before a prior declaration, "but this is a ploy we have been seeing for many years now, that's why we insist that everthing must be clarified now. If not, there is no reason to enter into a futile negotiation."
 PASOK-ND 'historic compromise' has brought positive results, PASOK press spokesman tells ANA-MPAThe "historic compromise" between erstwhile rival political parties PASOK and New Democracy is bringing positive results "and this is a lesson for all of us," PASOK MP and press spokesman Odysseas Konstantinopoulos said in an interview with ANA-MPA webTV on Tuesday.
"We don't have the same ideology, we did not find common ideological ground, but we did find common ground. This is what the country needed at this time and this is what we did. In the coming period the country will not have these problems, and each side can proceed on the basis of its own ideological principles," he said.
Commenting on a proposal tabled by main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) for a Parliamentary probe into the submarines contracts at Hellenic Shipyards, he pointed out that the contract signed for Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramangas was exactly the same as that for the shipyard in Elefsina and he accused the main opposition of favourable treatment of the latter.
"For the Skaramangas shipyards, on the one hand, SYRIZA proposes an examination committee and has voted against it, while for the Elefsina shipyards it has voted 'present'. I ask what every Greek citizen asks: why for the same contract he is behaving toward one businessman in one way and to the other differently?" he said.
On the negotiations with Greece's creditors and the troika, Konstantinopoulos said that PASOK does not agree with mass dismissals and promised that no one would lose their home to a bank auction unless they were abusing the current legislation.
 AN.EL leader Kammenos on visit to the United StatesOpposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) leader Panos Kammenos arrived in Washington D.C, on Tuesday for a week-long visit.
Party sources told ANA-MPA that during his visit to the US capital, Kammenos will meet with members of the US Congress and Senate.
 KKE party on proposal for factfinding committee for case of submarinesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Tuesday, said that it was in favour of a Parliamentary probe into the suspect submarines contracts and privatisation agreements for the shipyards in Skaramangas. At the same time, KKE accused main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) that tabled the proposal of "shooting blanks" in its criticism of this and past governments.
"All these years, KKE has been condemning the policy of the privatisation, the downgrading and shrinking of the country's shipbuilding and repair sector, as well as of the defence industry," the announcement said.
KKE added that this policy was a typical example, revealing the anti-popular nature of the capitalist path for growth and EU strategies, as well as the responsibilities of PASOK and ND governments."
The announcement pointed out that KKE's conclusions after the factfinding committee set up in 2011 concerning the contracts for the submarines, as well as with a host of other statements, had attributed grave political responsibilities to ND, PASOK and their governments for the privatisation of the shipyards at Skaramangas and elsewhere and for the unacceptable and damaging contracts signed with German monopolies, the Abu Dhabi company and for the submarines.
Lastly, it said that KKE "is in favour of setting up of a factfinding committee in Parliament that will attribute political responsibilities and will investigate whether penal responsibilities also exist for the privatisations, the relevant contracts, the dissolution of the Skaramangas Shipyards, etc".
 NTUA administrative staff announce new strike; education ministry-sponsored settlement favouring the studentsThe administrative staff of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the University of Athens (UOA) will hold two 24-hour strikes on Wednesday and Thursday and set up a dialogue committee that will seek a meeting with Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos, it was announced on Tuesday.
The UOA administrative staff suggested setting up a joint committee comprised of university professors and administrative staff to meet with the minister and be briefed on the five-point proposal tabled and also receive assurances that no one will lose their job.
The future of the UOA administrative staff mobilizations will be decided in a meeting on Thursday.
To assist all higher education students at risk of missing their term exams, the ministry of education is promoting a settlement giving them the opportunity to take their term exams in February and June 2014, regardless of whether the courses on which they will be tested are taught during the winter or summer semester.
A relevant rider will be voted in Parliament on Wednesday and, according to ministry sources, represents a very significant action on behalf of the minister, which will greatly alleviate the repercussions of strike action underway in the country's universities over the past several weeks.
Deliberations of the university rectors' coordinating body are underway, ahead of a meeting with the minister of education.
 Interior Minister Mihelakis chairs meeting on Rhodes storm damageInterior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis on Tuesday chaired a meeting with local authorities on the south Aegean island of Rhodes aimed at coordinating efforts for the restoration of damage caused by flooding during last Friday's torrential rain that pounded the region.
Mihelakis announced that 310,000 euros have already been disbursed - 150,000 euros from the ministry of interior and 160,000 euros from the ministry of labour - to cover urgent needs in the restoration of damages, as well as, for infrastructure and anti-flood projects.
Earlier, Mihelakis visited the small island of Pserimos, which was hit by heavy rainfall on Monday night. The minister pledged immediate help of 90,000 euros for the restoration of damages caused to the island's infrastructure.
 Greek embassy in Washington, D.C. marks Hellenic Armed Forces DayNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
The contribution of the Greek armed forces on international level, in the context of NATO and as an ally of the United States, was underlined in a special event held at the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C. marking the Hellenic Armed Forces Day celebrated on November 21.
Greek Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos noted that "the armed forces are an integral part of the Greek people as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder both in rough and happy times".
Defence Attache colonel Evangelos Papadopoulos praised the contribution of the Greek-American military officers "who serve in the US Armed Forces inspired by the Greek principles, the US military officers who have trained and served in Greece and the US Defence Department personnel, for the excellent cooperation with the Greek military mission in Washington D.C.".
The event was attended by defence attaches and representatives of military missions at foreign embassies in the US capital.
 Japonica Partners says Greece has accomplished an A+ performancePARIS (ANA-MPA/Olympia Tsipira)
Japonica Partners, an entrepreneurial investment firm that makes concentrated investments in underperforming global special situations which recently completed a tender offer for the purchase of Greek state bonds, on Tuesday underlined the investment interest of Greece. In a full-page open letter in major publications around the world, the investment firm called policy makers in Athens, Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington DC to take actions towards upgrading the country rating.
The open letter states "that it is an irrefutable fact that Greece has accomplished one of history's most extraordinary sovereign fiscal rejuvenations, an A+ performance. Now is the time to progress beyond the current economically irrational and anachronistic accounting that obfuscates that Greece merits an A+ credit rating and government bond interest costs below 5%. Now is the time to recognize that this accounting is the single biggest and most easily removed obstacle to extraordinary growth in Greece. And, now is the time for public policy makers to expeditiously advocate accounting as well as presentation that reflects economic reality, improves decision-making, and increases accountability."
Greece has advanced to 1st place from last place in only five years on two of the most important fiscal performance indicators, an accomplishment that most believed was impossible. Greece is now ready to repeat its extraordinary performance with extraordinary growth. Greece is ranked 1st place among the European Union's 27 reporting members on the European Commission structural balance as a percent of GDP for 2013 from last place in 2009. To put this in perspective, Greece is moving ahead of world-class Sweden with a 2013 structural surplus of 1.2% of GDP compared to Sweden's 0.5% of GDP. Greece is also ranked 1st place among the world's 30 advanced economies on the International Monetary Fund primary balance (cyclically adjusted) as a percent of GDP for 2014 from last place in 2009. To put this in perspective, Greece is moving ahead of world-class Singapore with a 2014 primary surplus (cyclically adjusted) of 5.4% of GDP compared to Singapore's 3.3% of GDP.
 Environment Minister Maniatis meets with head of visiting Azerbaijani Parliamentary delegationThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Greece and the acquisition of the Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator S.A. (DESFA) by the Azerbaijani state-run company SOCAR were discussed in a meeting on Tuesday between Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Hadi Rajabli, the head of a visiting Azerbaijan-Greece Parliamentary Friendship Group delegation.
Maniatis underlined the very good bilateral cooperation on all levels and, as regards SOCAR's investment in Greece, it was underlined that it is a proof of the mutual confidence shared by the two countries.
In the meeting it was underlined that Greece is the first European country to sign an agreement for its supply with Azerbaijani natural gas and that its government works systematically to make the country a gateway for the export of Azerbaijani natural gas to Western Europe via Italy, allowing the creation of the Southern Corridor that can reinforce the geopolitical position of SE Mediterranean and Europe's energy sufficiency.
 Tourism Minister Kefalogianni to pay official visit to IstanbulTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni is leaving on Tuesday for on a two-day visit to Istanbul as of Wednesday to promote Greek tourism.
On Wednesday morning, she will meet with Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister Abdurrahman Arici, while a special event dedicated to Greek tourism - with an emphasis on gastronomy and the City Break tourism programme - will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
Kefalogianni's visit is taking place at the same time when the first Greek Tourism Organisation office in Turkey is inaugurated and an attache appointed, with a view to further developing bilateral tourism relations.
The minister will also visit the Fanar section of Istanbul, where she will be received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
On Thursday, she is scheduledand later meet with Turkish Minister of State for European Affairs Egemen Bagis.
During her stay, Kefalogianni will give interviews to television network NTV, newspaper Zaman, the Economist magazine and CNN Turk.
 Europe needs mechanisms to deal with widening north-south gap, Daskalopoulos saysEurope needs to create mechanisms to deal with a widening gap between north and south in order to have a fairer adjustment cost for all countries, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) said on Tuesday.
Presenting the positions of the Greek business community to European Union President Herman van Rompuy and to European Commission Vice-president Viviane Reding, ahead of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2014, Daskalopoulos said: "The Greek and European business community is concerned with the problems that the crisis has brought to the surface throughout Europe: a rise in euro-scepticism and the strengthening of political extremes in combination with a rise in unemployment and major blows to social cohesion. Although the European Union has taken the right steps toward dealing with these challenges, these are not adequate to tackle with them at their root," Daskalopoulos said. He added that Greece was not only paying for its lack of decisive action to deal with the crisis through promoting the necessary structural changes, but also paying the price of the mistakes made by its lenders.
 Development, Labour ministers attend Nokia R&D Centre opening near AthensDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Tuesday attended the opening of a Nokia Research and Development Centre set up within the Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) facility in Greece, about 14 kilometres along the Athens-Lamia highway.
Hatzidakis said that the opening, of which the government was first informed last April, will create an additional 150 jobs for Greek engineers and contribute to the development of innovative products and applications for one of the top telecoms firms in the world.
For Greece the investment had treble importance, he added, given that it was carried out in the midst of the crisis by a large international company and in a high-technology sector, acting as a vote of confidence in the country.
Vroutsis said that Nokia's decision was an "investment in the young people of our country" with great economic and social significance and a "vote of confidence in the potential and prospects of the Greek economy."
According to NSN spokeswoman Victoria Main, the company sees Greece as a safe refuge for investments. Finnish Ambassador to Greece Pekka Lintu said that the Greek government had taken significant steps toward improving the environment for work and investments, with NSN's investment acting as proof of this.
 Australian ambassador on strengthening economic and trade relations between Greece and AustraliaAustralian Ambassador to Greece Jenny Bloomfield, in a lecture on "Australia-Greece: Prospects and Lessons from the Successful Course of the Australian Economy," delivered at the Planning and Economic Research Centre (KEPE) on Tuesday, stressed that a further strengthening of economic and trade relations between Greece-Australia, utilising the considerable opportunities that exist, apart from the already close and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries in the shipping sector, constitutes a target for the two countries.
She said that as a successful economy in the rapidly developing Asian market, with a large diaspora, Australia can constitute an important market for Greek products, services and reciprocal investments for the benefit of the two countries.
Referering to the international environment, she stressed that it continues to be extremely difficult and demanding, with considerable challenges for Greece and Europe, as well as for Australia.
Bloomfield referred extensively to the Australian economy's course toward success, pointing out that it remains one of the few economies receiving the highest possible AAA evaluation from the three biggest international credit rating agencies.
Referring to her country's experience during the effort for reform, she said among the reforms were based on and supported by clearly set and honest targets and on the need for change, with substantiated arguments and data for public evaluation.
The address, made on the occasion of the Australian presidency of the G20, was attended by Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis, who presented Bloomfield and referred to the possibility of further strengthening bilateral economic relations between the two countries.
 EU report on Greek SMEsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
A European Commission annual report on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Union predicts a gradual improvement of SMEs in Greece as of 2013.
The report, published here on Tuesday, noted that in 2009, "there were more than 500 000 SMEs in Greece's private business sector, employing some 1.4 million workers and producing about 34 billion EUR in value added to the economy. They represent 99.9% of all businesses and account for 69% of the economic value-added and 84.8% of employment in the private non-financial sector."
"Greece is in its fifth year of deep recession. In a country where 85 % of private employment is concentrated in the SME sector and more than 50 % in micro enterprises (0-9 employees), the prolonged recession, aggravated by austerity measures and the delay of much-needed structural reforms, has affected SMEs disproportionately more than large companies. Moreover, many tax incentives and/or exemptions that SMEs used to enjoy have been abolished. These developments account for very negative trends registered for the SME sector since 2008," it added.
"In this context, the Greek government further fine-tuned the National Plan for Supporting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (2010-13) and to reinforce existing self-employment support programmes. On the one hand, more specific action has been taken to help micro enterprises, with the creation of a more flexible form of private limited company (IKE). On the other, efforts to promote self-employment have targeted specific groups such as young people, the unemployed or women (e.g. Women Entrepreneurship). Also, in the 2012-13 the Greek government launched a number of specialised and targeted initiatives for SMEs in line with basic SBA principles, notably in the areas of internationalisation and innovation," the report also said.
 TIF-Helexpo and Russsian EuroExpo sign memorandum of cooperationThessaloniki International Fair (TIF)-Helexpo and the Russian tourism fair organiser EuroExpo have signed a memorandum of cooperation, aimed at strengthening relations between the two entities through participation in exhibitions organized in Russia and Greece.
At a first stage, TIF-Helexpo will participate in two tourism fairs organized by EuroExpo in March and September 2014. The first one is the international trade fair for travel and tourism Intourmarket, taking place in Moscow in March, involving more than 1,300 exhibitors from 140 countries and all Russian regions. This exhibition attracts over 75,000 visitors and is considered one of the major international tourism fairs. The second exhibition is called Otdykh and takes place in September in Moscow, attracting around 62,000 visitors.
The memorandum was signed in Thessaloniki by TIF-Helexpo CEO Kyriakos Pozrikidis and EuroExpo CEO Kiril Anisimof in the presence of Russian Deputy Tourism Minister Evgeni Pisarevski and Macedonia and Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou.
 Manufacturing industry's production decline slows in 2013Two out of three sectors of the Greek manufacturing industry are reporting lower production this year, although production declined at a much slower rate compared with 2012, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The survey, based on figures released by Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), showed that 16 out of 24 manufacturing sectors reported lower production in the January-September period this year, with production levels falling by as much as 80 pct compared with 2005 levels. The remaining eight sectors, however, reported higher production levels.
Manufacturing production fell by 1.2 pct in the nine-month period, compared with the same period in 2012, to levels 27 pct lower compared with 2005. Manufacturing production was down 5.8 pct in the same period last year.
On a monthly basis, manufacturing production fell by 2.4 pct in January, it fell by 0.4 pct in February, it rose 1.1 pct in March, it declined by 0.6 pct in April and 1.8 pct in May, it rose by 4.2 pct in June, dropped 4.3 in July, fell by 3.8 pct in August and by 4.0 pct in September.
Intermediate goods production fell 3.4 pct in the nine-month period, capital goods production was down 12.8 pct, durable goods production dropped 15.4 pct and other consumer goods production fell by 2.1 pct in the January-September period.
Food production fell 5.4 pct to levels by 8.4 pct lower compared with 2005, beverage production eased 3.1 pct (down 14.9 pct compared with 2005), tobacco production rose 2.7 pct (down 22.2 pct from 2005), textiles fell 10.8 pct (77.2 pct down from 2005), clothing eased 1.3 pct (66.9 pct down from 2005), leather/footwear eased 0.4 pct (down 71.5 pct from 2005), printing fell 11.3 pct (down 60.1 pct from 2005), oil products rose 11.3 pct (up 24.3 pct from 2005), chemicals rose 2.5 pct) down 24.8 pct from 2005), pharmaceuticals increased 11.5 pct (up 58.3 pct from 2005), plastics rose 0.3 pct (down 27.2 pct from 2005), non-metal minerals eased 0.4 pct (down 67.8 pct), base metals fell 7.4 pct (down 13.3 pct), computer/optics rose 16.2 pct(down 73.9 pct), electrical equipment fell 9.3 pct (down 40.4 pct), machinery rose 5.5 pct (down 49.8 pct), transport equipment fell 12.5 pct (down 82.6 pct), furniture dropped 23 pct (down 73.8 pct).
 Greek pharma association urges gov't to reconsider drug pricing policyThe Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SfEE), in an announcement issued on Tuesday, appealed to the government to reconsider amendments on a new pricing policy for pharmaceuticals in Greece, "even at the last minute".
The Association demanded an immediate change to the relevant amendment and warned that it could have serious and unpredictable repercussions on the pharmaceutical treatment of Greeks.
One day before the relevant amendment is due to be voted on in the Greek Parliament, SfEE warned that the abolition of the minimum price based on the three lowest prices in Europe "jeopardises the security of pharmaceutical distribution in the Greek market".
"The abolition by Greece of the objective determination of pharmaceuticals based on the three lowest prices and the adoption of a method for the horizontal 50 pct reduction for off patent [drugs], is yet another new 'regulatory' innovation that will force mass withdrawals and the re-export of pharmaceuticals from the Greek market, while it will also provoke a drastic reduction in the prices of Greek generic drugs that support local industrial production, which is being driven to extermination by these tactics," the announcement said.
It also warned of immediate, negative knock-on effects on the pricing of pharmaceutical in Europe and other countries, without Greece benefiting in any way.
In order to achieve the "arbitrarily set target of 2.0 billion euros for public spending on pharmaceuticals in 2014," the state was imposing an additional rebate on original on-patent drugs reaching 11 pct and a volume rebate of 12 pct. This, in combination with the clawback, made the prices for off-patent drugs drop 30 pct or more, lower than the lowest prices in the entire EU, the association noted.
 Gov't raises age and income criteria for long-term unemployment allowanceLong-term unemployed between 20 and 66 years of age will as from January 1, 2014 be eligible to receive a monthly allowance of 200 euros, following a raise in the eligibility criteria announced in Parliament on Tuesday by deputy Labour minister Vasilis Kegeroglou.
The long-term unemployment allowance will apply for a period of 12 months, and would be paid to the jobless who do not any longer qualify for the regular unemployment benefit, provided their annual income is less than 10,000 euros, plus 586 euros for each child.
The previous long-term unemployment allowance programme applied for the ages between 45 and 65 and an annual income of up to 5,000 euros.
 Christmas flavours festival at Helexpo as of Nov.29More than 150 local producers will participate in the Christmas flavours festival to be held from November 29 to December 1, at the Exhibition Centre ?Helexpo Palace? on Kifissias Avenue in Maroussi, north of Athens.
The festival, aiming at gathering the best small producers from all over Greece, is organized for a second year by the magazine Athinorama.
"We discover excellent products from all over Greece and bring them to the Greek table," magazine's public relations manager Myrto Apalopoulou told ANA-MPA.
Guests will have the opportunity to taste cheese, meat, pasta, olives, spices, jams, beverages, and other flavours of fine quality, she added.
 PPC says turnover down 1.5 pct in Jan-SeptPublic Power Corporation (PPC) on Tuesday said its net profits totalled 6.7 million euros in in the January-September period, positively affected by a financial settlement with DEPA - Greece's natural gas distribution company - while a decision by the market's regulatory authority over electricity supply prices to Aluminium SA negatively affected results.
Turnover fell by 1.5 pct to 4.49 billion euros, while revenues from electricty sales were stable at 4.34 billion euros. PPC said demand by households fell 8.3 pct in the nine-month period, while industrial demand was down 7.1 pct over the same period. Demand fell further in the third quarter of the year (-17.1 pct by households and -9.9 pct by industrial companies).
Arthuros Zervos, PPC's chairman and chief executive, said commenting on the results that the company's EBITDA rose to 681 million euros in the January-September period, up from 630.6 million euros in the same period last year.
 Fourlis Holdings reports lower sales and losses in Jan-SeptFourlis Holdings on Tuesday reported lower sales and smaller losses in the January-September period. Consolidated turnover totaled 288.6 million euros, down 4.9 pct compared with the same period last year. EBITDA rose to 14.2 million euros, from 9.5 million euros in 2012, while pre-tax losses totaled 9.2 million euros, from a pre-tax loss of 12.4 million euros in the same period last year. Losses after tax and minorities totaled 8.8 million euros (11.4 million in 2012).
IKEA reported sales of 187.2 million euros in the nine-month period, down 7.8 pct, EBTIDA rose to 11.9 million euros and pre-tax losses totaled 3.3 million euros (from 6.7 million euros in 2012. IKEA operates a network of seven units, five in Greece, one in Cyprus and one in Sofia (Bulgaria).
Intersport reported a 2.7 pct increase in sales to 82 million euros. EBITDA rose to 4.5 million euros, while pre-tax losses rose to 2.5 million euros from 1.3 million euros last year. Fourlis operates a network of 89 Intersport units in Greece (41), Romania (24), Turkey (17), Bulgaria (4) and Cyprus (3).
The wholesale electrical appliance sector reported lower sales (16.8 million euros) and pre-tax losses of 1.2 million euros in the nine-month period.
 Korinth Pipeworks reports losses in Jan-SeptKorinth Pipeworks SA on Tuesday reported a loss 4.6 million euros (or 0.0368 euros per share) in its after tax and minorities results in the January-September period, after a profit of 9.0 million euros (0.0726 euros per share) in 2012.
The company attributed this development partly to an increase in corporate tax rates from 20 pct to 26 pct and changes in the evaluation of deferred taxes. Consolidated turnover totaled 123 million euros, down 37.4 pct from the same period last year, while gross earnings fell 50.3 pct to 20.1 million euros in the nine-month period, from 40.5 million euros in 2012. EBITDA dropped to 4.6 million euros from 19 million euros, while consolidated pre-tax losses totaled 1.0 million euros, from earnings of 11.5 million euros last year. Net bank borrowing totaled 44.6 millon euros, sharply up from 22.4 million euros in 2012.
 Seamen to discuss bill on the launch of "security ship"The Pan-Hellenic Seamen Federation's (PNO) executive committee is meeting on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in the sector and in particular the issues of unemployment, unpaid seamen, and a draft bill on the launch of a "security ship" on duty during strikes.
The legislative proposal on a security ship has caused strong reactions from trade unions that are seeking its withdrawal.
Shipping ministry sources have said that there is no such issue and that the implementation of this article safeguards the public interest and ensures the transfer of goods and drugs to the 1.5 million people living on islands. They also clarified that this proposal does not seek to annul the right of seamen to strike.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, trade union representatives, who have not ruled out the likelihood of further strikes in the coming months, said that the article uses undemocratic methods to abolish their right to strike.
 "New animal breeding" can help Greece exit the crisis, says SEKA national convention on animal breeding is being organised by the Greek Cattle Breeders Association (SEK) on Wednesday and Thursday with its main objective to look into the concept of a "new animal breeding."
This concept is seen as central to helping restructure Greece's economy and providing the means for development to help the country exit the crisis.
According to SEK, Greek cattle breeding is suffering a number of serious problems, such as a decrease in production, high production costs, lack of liquidity and the over-indebted animal breeding businesses.
SEK stresses the need for mapping out a national strategy and a specific multi-year plan on the development of all sectors of animal breeding, focusing on comparative advantages, Greece's needs and potential.
 Capital inflows total 1.9 billion euros in ASE so far this yearCapital inflows from international investment portfolios surpassed 1.5 billion euros in the Athens Stock Exchange in the last five months following the announcement by MSCI that Greece would be downgraded to an emerging market, Socrates Lazaridis, president of the Greek market said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Lazaridis said the composite index of the market has risen by 33 pct in the same period. He noted that 2013 will be the first year -after 2009- of significant net inflows in the Greek market (totaling 1.923 billion euros so far this year) and said that the right conditions currently prevailed in the market to attract capital from abroad following the recapitalization of Greek banks and a series of successful private placements in listed companies.
The Athens Stock Exchange has also created the necessary framework for the listing of private equity funds and venture capital funds and noted that foreign fund managers had a series of meetings with Greek listed enterprises over the last few months to examine equity participation agreements.
 Greek stocks end sharply lower in huge turnoverGreek stocks suffered heavy losses, while turnover reached 1.0 billion euros in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, the last session before the Greek market was officially included in the MSCI Emerging Market Index. Turnover was boosted by completion of a portfolio restructuring process in the framework of the market's downwgrading to an emerging market following 12 years of stay in the developed markets index. The composite index of the market dropped 3.85 pct to end at 1,151.66 points, reversing a three-day rally during which the index jumped 5.38 pct. Turnover was a huge 960.21 million euros.
The Large Cap index dropped 3.71 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 1.64 pct. Piraeus Bank (8.11 pct), Piraeus Port (5.14 pct), National Bank (5.02 pct), Alpha Bank (1.43 pct), Korinth Pipeworks (1.05 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (29.62 pct), Motor Oil (22.80 pct), Terna Energy (20 pct) and Eurobank Properties (14.12 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. The Banks sector was the only one to end higher (4.61 pct), while Financial Services (15.08 pct), Oil (11.59 pct), Commerce (8.73 pct) and Travel (8.38 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 91 to 38 with another 21 issues unchanged. Atti-kat (18.92 pct), Sidma (17.95 pct) and Attica Holdings (16.18 pct) were top gainers, while MIG (29.62 pct), Motor Oil (22.80 pct) and Spider (20.0 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -11.59%
Personal & Household: -3.48%
Raw Materials: -6.57%
Travel & Leisure: -8.38%
Food & Beverages: -1.66%
Financial Services: -15.08%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, Piraeus Bank and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.680
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.96
Coca Cola HBC: 21.28
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.84
National Bank of Greece: 4.60
Eurobank Properties : 7.60
Piraeus Bank: 1.60
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 7.07 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.76 pct and the German Bund 1.69 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, equally distributed among buy and sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.50 pct from 0.498 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.420 pct from 0.418 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.330 pct from 0.326 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.230 pct from 0.227 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.146 pct from 0.139 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.55 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 37.944 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,775 contracts worth 21.228 million euros, with 51,889 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 35,568 contracts worth 16.716 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (10,107), followed by National Bank (2,543), Alpha Bank (5,849), MIG (712), OTE (4,086), PPC (3,281), OPAP (4,113), Titan (967), Mytilineos (559), Hellenic Petroleum (813), Motor Oil (219), Jumbo (1,041) and Intralot (287).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.375
Pound sterling 0.850
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 9.027
Japanese yen 139.4
Swiss franc 1.249
Norwegian kroner 8.392
Canadian dollar 1.447
Australian dollar 1.508
 Academy of Athens to welcome new honorary member Mikis Theodorakis with special eventIt was announced on Tuesday that the Academy of Athens intends to welcome its new honorary member Mikis Theodorakis with a special event on December 3.
The event will begin at 19:00, with President of the Academy Spiros A. Evaggelatos addressing Mikis Theodorakis and then General Secretary Vassilios Petrakos talking about the composer's personality and work. The ceremony will end with Theodorakis' speech entitled "The only solution".
On Thursday, December 5th at 21.00, there will be a concert at the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus with the composer's music and songs from the theatre and cinema. Nena Venetsanou, Lakis Chalkias and the 10-member "Mikis Theodorakis Orchestra", will perform beloved cinematic and theatrical themes.
Among others, the concert's programme includes songs from the productions: Phaedra (1961, Jules Dassin), Electra (1961-62, Michalis Cacoyannis), Zorba (1964, Michalis Cacoyannis), Z (1969, Kostas Gavras), Serpico (1973, Sidney Lumet), The man with the carnation (1980, Nikos Tzimas) and the theatrical plays like The Hostage (1962, Brendan Behan), Beautiful City (1962, Michalis Cacoyannis), The Ballad of the dead brother (1962, Pelos Katselis) etc
During the concert, there will be screens playing scenes from beloved movies and excerpts from theatrical shows will be presented, so that they can be revived via the combination of music, speech and image.
 Children with Down syndrome will decorate Christmas tree in ThessalonikiA Christmas tree different from the rest, decorated with love and the smiles of children with Down's syndrome, will be put up on November 30 at the "Fix in art" performing arts venue in Thessaloniki, titled "Help me climb the stairs with you".
Children with Down's syndrome will get photographed during the event and their photographs, printed on the spot and hung on the three-metre-high tree as decorations.
During the event and as part of the organization, two songs dedicated to the Down Syndrome Association of Greece will be presented and, apart from music and songs, the programme will also include traditional dances, a fencing show, cookery, a nutrition lecture for children and handmade creations out of paper. The event will also have a bazaar and its earnings will go toward the Down Syndrome Association's reinforcement.
"Everyone can bring to the bazaar any used clothing, toys, books, and jewellery and donate it to the Down Syndrome Association. The objects and clothes donated will be used so that they can be sold in specially designed benches, inside the space, for people to shop at low prices. The entrance is free for all the festivities," said Vassiliki Papadopoulou, who will impersonate "The Wise Owl" for the nutrition lecture, to the ANA-MPA.
Those interested in donating objects to the charity bazaar can communicate with the performing arts venue, calling at 2310-500034, the Down Syndrome Association at 2310-925000 or the responsible for the programme, Vassiliki Papadopoulou at 6945704148.
 Fuel Traders group warns of effects of fireplaces on healthThe Panhellenic Federation of Fuel Traders is asking once again for the reduction of the special consumption tax on heating oil, citing the effects on public health of air pollution from fireplaces, which families use instead.
Speaking at the 4th Annual Conference on Public Health and
Social Medicine, fuel traders said that emissions from a fireplace in a day may be as high as 1,000 new technology cars travelling 30 kilometres.
According to the European study Escape, which was conducted in 13 countries including Greece, in a sample of 5,000 residents of Athens, someone who lives in a neighborhood with higher levels of pollution by 10mg/m3 has a 22 percent increased risk of having lung cancer.
 Benefits of Greek diet to be presented at US CongressNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
The benefits of the Greek diet for human health will be presented in a special event at the US Congress, highlighting one the most enduring quotes attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".
The author of the book "The Omega Diet" Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos and Greek-American celebrity Chef Cat Cora, along with a team of gastronomy experts, will present the secrets behind the rich flavours and good health promoted by the Mediterranean and, particularly, the Greek diet.
The event, scheduled for December 4, is organized by the Greek embassy in Washington D.C. in cooperation with US House Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
 Greek coast guard pursues, intercepts Albanian speedboat; two injuredThe Greek coast guard on Tuesday announced that it had intercepted and detained two Albanian nationals riding in an inflatable speedboat with twin 300-horsepower engines after a lengthy chase conducted on Monday night. The craft was finally immobilised at Plataria, off the coast of Thesprotia, northwestern Greece.
The two men in the Albanian-registered speed boat were taken to the Filiata Hospital with slight injuries.
The chase, conducted by the Corfu coast guard with the assistance of a coast guard vessel from nearby Igoumenitsa, began in the sea north of Corfu near the Diapontia region when a coast guard patrol boat spotted the speedboat, whose driver failed to comply with a signal to stop for inspection.
Instead, the driver picked up speed and tried to flee, on a course due west of the island. In spite of the poor weather conditions at the time, the coast guard vessel gave chase for more than 80 nautical miles and finally succeeded in immobilising the vessel, with the assistance of a coast guard patrol boat from Igoumenitsa.
A preliminary inquiry is being carried out by the Igoumenitsa Central Port Authority.
 Guilty verdicts for two coastguard officers accused of torturing migrantsTwo of three coast guard officers accused of subjecting illegal migrants in their custody to torture were found guilty by a Piraeus naval court martial, while the third was acquitted.
In a ruling on Monday, the court imposed prison sentences of three and six years, respectively, on the two officers found guilty of having seriously abused two Moroccan men held on the Aegean island of Chios in 2007 after illegally entering Greece. The sentences were suspended pending the ruling of a higher court, while the two were also stripped of their political rights.
The two coast guard officers have denied the charges against them, while one of the two Moroccans testifying in court described scenes of water torture and a faked execution.
The decision was hailed by lawyers defending migrant and refugee rights, saying the ruling would serve as a model for respect of human rights in all European states, since illegal repatriations of refugees that placed their lives at risk had been recorded throughout Europe in the framework of averting illegal migration.
Senior officers within the coast guard stressed in statements to the ANA-MPA that, irrespective of court decisions, allegations of misconduct by coast guard officers were always investigated internally and, in cases where there was firm evidence of wrongdoing, there was zero tolerance shown in the force.
 'Delphi' Lecture at Megaron Plus on December 3A lecture about Delphi, the "Navel of the Earth", the meeting point of the two eagles that Zeus sent from the edges of the universe, will take place on December 3 at 19.00 at the "Dimitris Mitropoulos" hall of the Athens Concert Hall or 'Megaron'.
The director of the French Archaeological School in Athens Alexandre Farnoux and the head of the 10th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Athanasia Psalti will be speaking at the event.
Prof. Farnoux in his speech entitled "The great excavation at Delphi: a cultural, scientific and diplomatic adventure", will refer to the important Delphi excavation, a space that was initially discovered by travelers and then by the French school's archaeologists. Referring to the history of the excavation - its scientific, diplomatic, political adventure - he will also talk about the numerous inscriptions, the majestic monuments that shed a new light on the ancient historical texts and the discovery of the Sanctuary of Apollo, which like the Delphic Festivals was very influential in Europe.
Psalti's speech on "Delphi: from gods to men" will try to collect the scattered historical fragments of Greece's most glorious past that were rescued by archaeological research.
The event is organized in collaboration with the DIAZOMA Association. The entrance is free for the public with priority tickets. The event will be broadcasted live from the Greek Research and Technology Network.
 Tempi Valley pass reopens after accident that claims one life, injures 14The Tempi Valley pass on the Athens-Thessaloniki national roadway reopened at 0240 on Tuesday morning following a pile-up accident that claimed the life of one person and sent another 14 to the hospital, four of them seriously injured.
The accident took place on the national road close to the old Tempi toll stations, when a private car tried to overtake a KTEL bus heading to Thessaloniki but slammed into a truck coming from the opposite direction. The force of the impact overturned the truck, which then hit the bus sideways.
Officials said the car was driven by a 45-year-old driver, pronounced dead, while his wife and two young daughters riding in the car were injured. Others injured include the truck driver and bus passengers.
The busy pass was shut down by police, while Special Forces for Catastrophes staff tried to free passengers trapped in the bus. The Fire Brigade and almost all of the ambulances of central Greek city of Larissa were also on the scene.
 Migrant-trafficking arrest near Volvi, northern GreeceAuthorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of a 52-year-old man, a suspected member of a migrant-trafficking ring, who was caught transporting 28 illegal migrants from Syria and Somalia on the Egnatia Highway, at the Vaiochori junction near Volvi.
Thessaloniki Aliens Department police had set up a road block at the junction for the van carrying the migrants, driven by the Greek suspected migrant trafficker.
Charges were drawn up against the van driver and four unknown accomplices belonging to the same trafficking ring. The migrants had entered Greece from the Evros River region and were heading for Athens.
 Two Syrian migrant traffickers arrested in OrestiadaTwo Syrian migrant traffickers, aged 24 and 16 years old, respectively, were arrested on the banks of the Evros River in Nea Vyssa, Orestiada as they were letting off five Syrian illegal migrants they had just illegally smuggled across the Greek-Turkish border into Greece, authorities announced on Tuesday.
The arrest was made by the Special Illegal Migration Squad, who at the same time prevented another 30 Syrian illegal immigrants that were waiting on the Turkish shore from entering the country.
The migrant traffickers attempted to resist arrest and escape and will be led before an Orestiada first-instance court public prosecutor, while the boat they used was confiscated.
 Young Afghan found fatally injured in IgoumenitsaA young Afghan died on Tuesday morning at the Filiata hospital, after he was found injured on the coastal road of Igoumenitsa. Police on patrol located the young man lying on the road and called an ambulance immediately. According to the policemen, the immigrant had tried to tell them what had happened by nodding and showing that he was beaten in the stomach and his back.
The forensic examination will determine the cause of death on Wednesday. Igoumenitsa's police station will conduct a preliminary inquiry and are looking into all possibilities concerning the case.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 2C and 18C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 9C and 15C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 5C and 9C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "The 8 lies of (Health Minister Adonis) Georgiadis" involving pharmaceuticals prices
DIMOKRATIA: "First homes under forfeiture threat: Safety ceilings per city and village" for home owners
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Take up your bed and walk, Lazarus!" in reference to hospital services cuts
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Thin margin of hope for university classes" (to resume)
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New package of 4,850 jobs opening in towns and regions" on short-term contracts
ESTIA: "Greek constitution at fault for state of universities" for not opening them to competition from private colleges
ETHNOS: "Getting a pension in 45 days" for business owners and independent contractors
IMERISSIA: "Euphoria at Athens Stock Exchange" as it officially enters emerging market status, per Morgan Stanley
KATHIMERINI: "Ministers playing with delays" in evaluating and providing lists of staff to be placed on mobility
LOGOS: "Light in the tunnel of education" with a positive response of the UofAthens senate to the Education minister's proposals
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Delays to stop, pending issues to be resolved" by order of the premier, ahead of the troika visit in early December
RIZOSPASTIS: "The people need strong, committed labor-popular opposition everywhere"
TA NEA: "Polarity in the red," with the government and main opposition SYRIZA polarised over submarine contracts, pharmaceuticals prices
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