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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-08-05

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Tuesday, 5 August 2014 Issue No: 4726

CONTENTS

  • [01] Samaras-Juncker agree that Greece is exiting the crisis
  • [02] Prime Minister Samaras: Greece meets its goals
  • [03] Opposition parties comment on Juncker's visit
  • [04] No problems for Greek fruit exports to Russia, both sides assert
  • [05] Moscow reconsidering possible ban on Greek fruit imports
  • [06] Gov't funds for delinquent obligations to total 2.7 bln by end-year, alternate FinMin
  • [07] SYRIZA on uniform real estate ownership tax
  • [08] Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis meets with TI-Greece chaiman
  • [09] Development Minister to meet with Tourism Minister
  • [10] German 'Der Spiegel' sees increased tourism inflows to Greece
  • [11] Extrovert Policy Coordination Committee to discuss exports to Russia
  • [12] Tourism ministry on Russian tour operator Labirint bankruptcy
  • [13] Cretan tourism enterprises concerned about Russian tour operator Labirinth bankruptcy
  • [14] Ministerial decisions for hydrocarbon exploration tenders signed
  • [15] Greek economic sentiment index slightly down in July
  • [16] Greek stocks end 0.59 pct lower on Monday
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [19] Five ancient silver coins returned to Greek state by New York County DA
  • [20] Women hold symbolic protest outside Hellas Gold Skouries worksite
  • [21] Catarrhal fever spreads among sheep in the eastern Macedonia and Thrace
  • [22] Fire breaks out in eastern Attica region of Spata
  • [23] Mostly fair on Tuesday
  • [24] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Samaras-Juncker agree that Greece is exiting the crisis

    Greece is exiting a painful crisis thanks to the hard efforts and maturity of its people and the unprecedented European solidarity, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday underlined after meeting with visiting European Commission President-elect Jean Claude Juncker.

    Samaras referred to Juncker's decision to launch his tour of the European capitals from Athens, noting the special meaning of the gesture and spoke highly of him.

    On his part, Juncker expressed his love for Greece and thanked the Greek prime minister for his support to his candidacy for European Commission president.

    Prime Minister Samaras underlined that Greece meets all its goals, is exiting the recession and enters a new era with competitiveness and no problems.

    He said that the discussion with Juncker focused on the new era and on ways to stabilize the new situation and boost social cohesion in Greece and Europe. "Such a crisis should not be repeated," he said, "we should not return to deficits, we should turn hope into a visible prospect for all. Greece, as far as fiscal adjustment is concerned, has achieved something which is internationally unprecedented; it managed to have primary surpluses after 21 years and one year earlier than it was anticipated. As regards reforms, it went up 111 places in the international rankings and returned to the international markets a year earlier than expected."

    Samaras made a comparison with Argentina that still hasn't returned to the markets, noting that "Greece has avoided what Argentina was unable to avoid, and this happened when there were voices suggesting us to follow the example of disorderly default. This was possible because Greece stayed under the European umbrella thanks to Mr. Juncker's help as the president of the Eurogroup. Mistakes have been made on the way, but we have learned from them and we overcome them. Many predicted the worst for Greece and Europe but they were proven wrong. Staying under the umbrella of the Eurozone was what saved Greece."

    Referring to Juncker and his visit to Greece, the prime minister said that "it is an honor for us because Athens is the first stop of the European Commission president-elect's tour of Europe ahead of the presentation of the new European Commission members and the five-year agenda. Juncker is respected in Europe for his experience and his contribution to the European ideal. He displayed three great leadership virtues, namely, boldness in dealing with problems and expressing his opinion and also, insight and the ability to unite. In crucial times, he supported Greece and its presence in the European Union when many saw the country's exit. We don't forget this. Now that the crisis is over for the most part, this is recognized by everybody. It is important that Mr. Juncker was elected having as a priority the economic growth, employment, social cohesion and democratic reforms, while suggesting major reforms based on lessons learned from the Greek crisis. The European policy has to take social cohesion under consideration and not just numbers. In short, I want to say that Juncker's programme expresses many of our concerns, and those of the European south, focusing on economic growth, the immediate creation of jobs, competitiveness, support to SMEs, and measures tackling illegal migration and red tape".

    As regards the European Commission portfolio Greece will seek, he said that "the Greek positions on crucial points have been incorporated into Juncker's programme and the EU strategic priorities for the next five years; namely, employment, economic growth and migration. Smugglers should be persecuted relentlessly. We have talked about energy security. I believe that when Mr. Juncker makes his decision it will concern one of these portfolios. I have confidence in him and I would like to believe that he will make a decision that will satisfy the Greek side."

    Referring to the banking sector crisis in Portugal, the prime minister said that "the recapitalization of the Greek banks creates a protective shield over the Greek economic interests".

    On his part Juncker referred to the fight he gave for Greece's presence in the European Union. "I gave a big fight for Greece to remain in the European Union; I'm proud for doing everything I could for Greece and I was vindicated; Plato cannot play in the second division".

    He noted that he came to Greece for personal reasons. "In the past few years, I had the opportunity to forge brotherly ties with the Greek prime minister and I had a friendly relation with the foreign minister as well. I came to Greece not being yet the European Commission president. I am the European Commission president-elect and I came here to thank the Greek prime minister for his support," he underlined.

    On the progress made by Greece, he said that Greece aside from momentary difficulties it imposed its will for action thanks to an impressive collective effort. "I had to fight two battles; to persuade Greece and its government ministers to adopt a new direction and also, to convince the rest of the Europeans that Greece deserves their confidence," he said.

    Referring to his programme, he said that "the priority for the next five years will be the economic growth policies. There is a 300-billion-euro programme, 3 pct of the European budget that will be directed to economic growth. I'm not saying that fiscal strictness has come to an end. It will continue in all European countries."

    On migration, he noted that it is an issue of the EU as a whole, underlining that it is an issue of the countries of the North and of the South.

    Responding to a relevant question, he said that he will not express his opinion on the debt haircut, noting "I will take similar cases under consideration; however, it is not part of my thoughts".

    On the banking sector crisis in Portugal, he said that "we have come a long way but we have not reached the end of the crisis. We are not out of the tunnel completely but a huge progress has been made. Unforeseen events could emerge but if we are careful we will be prepared".

    As regards Greece and Argentina, he said that there can be no comparison, adding that "if Greece was not in the EU the consequences on the lives of the citizens would be dramatic and Greece would have become Argentina".

    [02] Prime Minister Samaras: Greece meets its goals

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and visiting European Commission president-elect Jean Claude Juncker on Monday focused on the new era for Greece and the entire Europe.

    The programme of the new president expresses our own concerns, and those of the entire European south, about economic growth, competitiveness, migration and youth employment, Prime Minister Samaras underlined in a joint press conference.

    After a longstanding recession and hard efforts, Greece is getting out of the crisis with the sacrifices and maturity of its people. The country meets its fiscal and reform goals, the prime minister underlined.

    [03] Opposition parties comment on Juncker's visit

    The opposition political parties on Monday commented on the visit of European Commission President-elect Jean Claude Juncker to Athens.

    In its announcement, the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) said that the prime minister's "fixation on the policy of talking about the so-called end of the crisis and the use of uneven comparisons" is only being done to continue the harsh memorandum policy of austerity that he follows and which is supported by the ruling circles in Europe.

    "This fixation however on this policy has led to and continues to lead society and the economy to a dead end," the party said, calling for the abolition of all memorandums and for radical changes in Europe, rather than rote repetitions of wishful thinking about growth and job openings.

    "He fought like a lion to save the German banks," Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said referring to Juncker and accused the government of trying to save the media owners.

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) noted that Juncker's visit should have been utilized to launch a substantive discussion on a new relation with the partners and the public debt, adding that, on the contrary, the Greek side said everything is going well when the Greek economy and society are suffering, while Juncker himself stated that austerity has not reached the end and will continue.

    "The European Commission president's support to the government, is support to its anti-popular policy and the monopolies, while the people go bankrupt every day because of the unbearable taxation and unemployment," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday underlined.

    "Meeting the fiscal and structural goals, which are the goals of monopolies, under no circumstances mean a return to the pre-crisis levels for the rights of the working class," KKE concluded.

    [04] No problems for Greek fruit exports to Russia, both sides assert

    The Rural Development & Food (RDF) ministry and the Foreign ministry on Monday confirmed that the Greek fruit exports to Russia will continue unhindered following relevant statements by the head of the Russian Federation Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance "Rosselkhoznadzor" Sergei Dankvert, who underlined that cooperation with the Greek authorities is constructive.

    By order of Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Foreign ministry secretary general for international economic relations Panagiotis Mihalos met on Friday (August 1) with Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrey Maslov to be briefed on the likelihood of a temporary ban on the imports of Greek agricultural products by Russia. Also, by order of the Foreign minister, Greece's ambassador to Moscow had relevant contacts with Russian officials.

    The RDF ministry underlined that contacts with the Russian side are continuous to quickly handle any problems that could arise.

    Speaking to Interfax news agency, the Rosselkhoznadzor chief has confirmed that "relations with the Phytosanitary Control Department of Greece are constructive," adding "there should be no fears as to our actions".

    According to Dankvert, the date of the talks between the Russian and the Greek side to discuss a more detailed inspection of the production exported to Russia is expected to be finalised this week.

    "Should the need arise, our experts can travel to Greece to conduct product inspections, before the products are shipped," he said.

    Dankvert and other Rosselkhoznadzor officials last week referred to a possible ban on Greek fruit imports and vegetable production from the EU, noting that a certain quarantine-linked parasite was found in Greek peaches and nectarines.

    In the mean time, the management of the Association of Greek Export and Consignment Enterprises for Fruit, Vegetables & Juices "Incofruit-Hellas" expressed content over Russia's apparent reconsideration of the ban.

    "(Chief of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Sergey) Dankvert's statements that he would deliberate with Greek authorities are to a positive direction. Greek authorities should be constantly in contact with the Russians and try to take all necessary measures so that exports can proceed unhindered," Incofruit-Hellas special advisor George Polychronakis told ANA-MPA.

    The Association estimates that some 40,000 tonnes of Greek peaches, apricots, plums and cherries were exported to Russia by July 31, compared to 16,000 tonnes last year and 36,000 tonnes in 2012.

    According to the Association, Greek fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Russia may exceed 170,000 tonnes this year, compared to 140,000 tonnes in 2013 and 160,000 in 2012.

    [05] Moscow reconsidering possible ban on Greek fruit imports

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th.Avgerinos)

    The Russian government seems to be reconsidering a possible a ban on Greek fruit imports, according to the chief of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) Sergey Dankvert.

    "We have very constructive relations with the Phytosanitary Control Department of Greece," Dankvert said according to Interfax news agency and added "there should be no fears as to our actions."

    According to Dankvert, the date of the talks between the Russian and the Greek side to discuss a more detailed inspection of the production exported to Russia is expected to be finalised this week.

    "Should the need arise, our experts can travel to Greece to conduct product inspections before they are loaded," he said.

    Dankvert and other Rosselkhoznadzor officials last week referred to a possible ban on Greek fruit imports and vegetable production from the EU, noting that a certain quarantine-linked parasite was found in Greek peaches and nectarines.

    [06] Gov't funds for delinquent obligations to total 2.7 bln by end-year, alternate FinMin

    The total funding allocated to pay off the state's delinquent obligations will reach 2.7 billion euros by end-year, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said on Monday.

    Speaking in Parliament's Economic Committee during the discussion on the Finance ministry's omnibus bill, Staikouras said that "by end-June, 275 million euros have been paid off from the special credit, and overdue obligations that have been paid off so far total 435 million."

    The medium-term fiscal programme, he noted, provided for the paying off of 503 million euros in obligations, but the ministry was planning the further allocation of 117 million euros from budget credits, raising the amount estimated to be paid out to 619 million euros. The transfer of the positive fallout of the improved execution of last year's budget in relation to targets is estimated to allow additional funding of 600 million euros, thus raising the total to 1.2 billion euros.

    Staikouras told deputies that additional funding would be provided from a cash balance from 2013's special credit (549 million), general government agencies' allocation for delinquent obligations from available credits (675 million) and ministries' available credits (275 million), bringing the total amount for payment of delinquent obligations to 2.7 billion euros.

    [07] SYRIZA on uniform real estate ownership tax

    Main opposition SYRIZA on Monday lashed out on the government over the uniform real estate ownership tax (ENFIA) saying that the payment reports sent to the citizens are "a clear proof of the barbaric and unjust tax policy of the government and the unjust, inefficient and ineffective tax policy of New Democracy and PASOK."

    In any other country, SYRIZA claims, any injustices, mistakes or omissions "would cause officials to resign but in our country those who are politically liable have yet to conclude...serious work" with favourable regulations and amendments that serve vested interests.

    SYRIZA pointed out that its own tax policy, which is the opposite of the government's pro-memorandum measures, includes among others shifting the tax burden from lower income earners to the wealthy and imposing tax on large property.

    [08] Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis meets with TI-Greece chaiman

    "The citizens' active participation is necessary in combating corruption," Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday underlined soon after his meeting with Transparency International-Greece chairman Costas Bakouris.

    Mitsotakis noted that TI-Greece offers important help to the Greek state and the ministry of administrative reform in the systematic effort made to limit corruption.

    Citizens should not be afraid to report corruption phenomena, the minister underlined, noting that such phenomena should be uprooted because they do not do justice to the Greek public administration and to the many honest civil servants, adding that the country's image is being damaged.

    During the meeting, Mitsotakis was briefed on the "Transparency Now" service and the hotline number 10190 operated by TI-Greece since September 2013 for citizens who wish to report corruption cases. Most of the 500 reports made so far concern instances of public sector ineffectiveness, undeclared labour and unjustified wealth gains, among others.

    [09] Development Minister to meet with Tourism Minister

    Development Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday will meet with Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, according to a ministry statement.

    The meeting will take place at 11.00 at the Development Ministry.

    Financial News

    [10] German 'Der Spiegel' sees increased tourism inflows to Greece

    ANA-MPA -- BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)

    2014 could be another record year as far as arrivals in Greece are concerned, the head of Munich's tour operator Attika Reisen Michael Karavas told Der Spiegel magazine.

    The magazine referred to the decline in tourism during the crisis as well as to the improved services offered in the country.

    Pictures of protests and clashes with the police and the German Foreign Ministry's travel warnings deterred tourists from visiting Greece.

    The magazine also made a special reference to the reports of German paper "Bild" which "fanned the flames" by describing Greeks as "bankrupt" and urging for the sale of islands.

    The recent past, however, seems to have been forgotten, the report said, as Greece has had a stable government for two years now and no strikes or demonstrations are planned. It also pointed out that there has been an improvement in services, while special packages were offered.

    The report also highlighted that prices have gone up at specific destinations like Mykonos and Santorini, where there has been an increase in tourism flows. The magazine also urged against easy-profit making practices; if those practices continue, the report said, they will "ultimately prove to be to the detriment of the Greek economy."

    [11] Extrovert Policy Coordination Committee to discuss exports to Russia

    Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi on Tuesday will chair a meeting of the Extrovert Policy Coordination Committee to discuss the country's exports and in particular the impact that EU trade sanctions against Russia will have on them.

    As ANA-MPA reported, the Russian government seems to be reconsidering a possible ban on Greek fruit imports while the two countries are expected to hold talks to discuss the inspection of fruits destined for the Russian market.

    In the mean time, the management of the Association of Greek Export and Consignment Enterprises for Fruit, Vegetables & Juices INCOFRUIT-HELLAS expressed content over Russia's apparent reconsidering of the ban. If Moscow had imposed an embargo, it would have severely hit the Greek exports of the sector, during a year that sets a new record for the Greek fruit and vegetables sales in Russia.

    "(Chief of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Sergey) Dankvert's statements that he would deliberate with Greek authorities are to a positive direction. Greek authorities should be constantly in contact with the Russian ones and try to take all necessary measures so that exports can proceed unhindered," INCOFRUIT-HELLAS special advisor George Polychronakis told ANA-MPA.

    The Association estimates that some 40,000 tons of Greek peaches, apricots, plums and cherries were exported to Russia by July 31, compared to 16,000 tons in the year-ago period and 36,000 tons in 2012.

    According to the Association, Greek fresh fruit and vegetables exports to Russia may exceed 170,000 tons this year, compared to 140,000 tons in 2013 and 160,000 in 2012.

    [12] Tourism ministry on Russian tour operator Labirint bankruptcy

    The Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) are closely monitoring all developments related to the bankruptcy of Russian tour operator Labirint.

    The Tourism and the Foreign ministry are in close cooperation with the Russian authorities, the Tourism ministry said in a statement. It added it was in contact with the Greek tourism organizations, while all involved parties were being constantly informed of the developments so as to coordinate their actions.

    Authorities make every possible effort to deal with the consequences of the incident, the ministry said and pointed out that Greece was a safe and hospitable tourism destination that respected its visitors.

    The bankruptcy of the Russian tour operator Labirint also prompted an announcement by the Greek Tourism Enterprises Association (SETE) underlining that tourism sector professionals will continue to offer their hospitality to their Russian guests.

    [13] Cretan tourism enterprises concerned about Russian tour operator Labirinth bankruptcy

    Cretan tourism enterprises are concerned about the bankruptcy of Russian tour operator Labirint.

    "It was unexpected," Nikos Halkiadakis, head of the Heraklion Hotel Association told ANA-MPA. "Up until last Friday, the Russia tour operator made 6 million euro payments."

    For Cretan businesses, the bankruptcy translates to losses of about 20,000 tourists for August and tourism entrepreneurs are highly concerned about the payments owed to them.

    [14] Ministerial decisions for hydrocarbon exploration tenders signed

    Companies that will undertake the offshore hydrocarbon exploration in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete, and explorations in three onshore regions (Arta, Aetoloakarnania, NW Peloponnese) whose tendering go-ahead has been signed by Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis, will pay to the state 4 pct of the hydrocarbons' value, 20 pct income tax and 5 pct regional tax.

    There will be no additional tax or fee, extraordinary or regular, or any other type of fee, accordign to the decision. The two relevant ministerial decisions signed on Monday will be published in the Government Gazette and afterward in the Official Journal of the European Union.

    The ministerial decisions concern the tender for the International Round of Concessions for the Rights to Exploration and Exploitation in 20 sea blocks in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete. According to the procedure, offers will be accepted within six months after the day the tender will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union, or roughly until March 2015.

    They also concern the international tender for the onshore regions in Western Greece "Arta-Preveza", "Aetoloakarnania" and "Northwest Peloponnese" for which ENEL company has expressed interest in mid April. According to existing legislation, investors are called to express interest and submit their offers within 90 days after the tender's publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

    The exploration stage will last up to 8 years with the option of extension, while the exploitation stage begins as soon as commercially exploitable hydrocarbon reserves are found and can last 25 years with the option of other two five-year extensions.

    Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis underlined that today's decisions are the result of the past three years' hard work.

    "We have pledged that tenders will be launched by mid 2014 and we kept the timetables. We have overcome the challenges and now we prove that Greece meets its commitments in the field of hydrocarbon exploration," he underlined.

    "We have come a long way. We created the necessary preconditions and the necessary attractive environment for investors, guaranteeing successful, effective and safe hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation on Greek territory by major international oil companies. With transparency, speed and respect to the environment, we utilize our country's natural resources and shape a new national production model," Maniatis concluded.

    [15] Greek economic sentiment index slightly down in July

    Greece's economic sentiment index fell slightly to 102.3 points in July, from 103.7 in June, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.

    In a monthly report, IOBE said although expectations in services, manufacturing and retail sectors improved slightly, the climate in construction deteriorated. Moreover, consumer confidence fell after four successive months of improvement.

    More analytically, business expectations in the manufacturing sector and estimates over the current level of orders and demand gained ground while the inventory index increased.

    Business expectations in the services sector showed a moderate decline in current activity and demand, while estimates over short-term demand have improved significantly.

    In the retail commerce sector, estimates over short-term outlook declined with the inventory index falling slightly.

    In the construction sector, estimates over work program improved slightly while the employment index deteriorated.

    In consumer confidence, estimates over the financial situation of households and the economy in the next 12 months deteriorated moderately, while intention to save money improved slightly.

    [16] Greek stocks end 0.59 pct lower on Monday

    Greek stocks ended lower for the sixth continuous session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, despite an initial positive reaction in the wake of Moody's upgrading of Greece's economy.

    The composite index of the market closed at 1,156.06, a 0.59 pct drop, after reaching 1,172.24 (+ 0.80 pct) earlier in the day. During the last six sessions of the ASE, the basic stock exchange index has registered losses totalling 4.82 pct.

    Turnover was at 92.30 million euros. The Large Cap index droppd by 0.59 pct, and the Mid Cap index ended 0.24 pct lower.

    Motor Oil (+5.81 pct), OPAP (+2.50), MIG (+1.34), EYDAP (+1.05), Athens Stock Exchanges (+0.94) and PPC (+0.91) were the top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Intralot (-3.83 pct), National Bank (-2.92 pct), Piraeus Bank (-2.58 pct), Jumbo (-1.85 pct), OLP (-1.66 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (-1.21 pct) an Cocal Cola HBC (-1.10 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Oil & Gas (+2.36 pct), Travel & Leisure (+1.83 pct) and Financial Services (+1.07 pct) sectors were the gop gainers, while Technology (-1.65 pct), Banks (-1.56 pct) and Food & Beverages (-1.09 pct) ended lower.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 64 to 30, with another 31 issues unchanged.

    HOL (+19.32), Altec (+14.29), Lavipharm, (+10.40), Voyatzoglou Systems (+10.00) and Ilyda (+9.85) were top gainers, while CPI (-28.04), Pegasus (-18.64), Alpha Astika Akinita (-14.60), Lazaridis (-10.00) and Foodlink (-9.04) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: +1.56%

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Financial Services: +1.07%

    Industrial Products: -0.58%

    Commercial: -0.95%

    Real Estate: -0.32%

    Personal & Household: -0.99%

    Food & Beverages: -1.09%

    Raw Materials: -1.00%

    Construction: -0.41%

    Oil: +2.36%

    Chemicals: -0.70%

    Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: +1.83%

    Technology: -1.65%

    Telecoms: Unchanged

    Utilities: +0.79%

    Health: +0.64%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.605

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.10

    Coca Cola HBC: 17.01

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.70

    National Bank of Greece: 2.33

    Eurobank Properties: 9.30

    OPAP: 12.30

    OTE: 10.14

    Piraeus Bank: 1.51

    Titan: 22.49

    [17] ADEX closing report

    The August contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a low premium of 0.27 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 2,086 contracts with 56,713 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 10,967, while the greatest investment interest focused on the futures contracts on National Bank contracts (2,880), followed by Alpha Bank (2,601), Pireaus Bank (1,990), OTE (832), PPC (826), Hellenic Petroleum (314), Eurobank (289), OPAP (228), Motor Oil (211), Mytilineos (150) and GEK (141).

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.342

    Pound sterling 0.797

    Danish kroner 7.455

    Swedish kroner 9.256

    Japanese yen 137.72

    Swiss franc 1.216

    Norwegian kroner 8.428

    Canadian dolla 1.466

    Australian dollar 1.440

    General News

    [19] Five ancient silver coins returned to Greek state by New York County DA

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Five ancient Greek coins confiscated by the New York County District Attorney were handed over by him to the Greek state during a formal ceremony at the DA's office in New York City on Monday.

    The five silver coins were found in the possession of a Rhode Island collector, medical doctor Arnold-Peter Weiss, 54, who was arrested for possession of stolen coins during a coin auction in Manhattan in January 2012. Weiss turned over to authorities a total of 20 coins as part of a plea bargain.

    The five silver coins are dated to between the 6th and 4th centuries BC and include four staters and a didrachm, as follows: three staters from Thrace (northeastern Greece), respectively dated to circa 515-480 BC (Hercules head on obverse, engraved square on the reverse), c. 405-395 BC (Dionysus head, Boeotian shield) and c. 395-338 BC (shield, krater vessel); a stater from Opuntian Locris (central Greece), dated to c. 369-338 BC, with a head of Demeter on one side and Opuntian Ajax on the other; and a silver didrachm from the island of Evia or Euboea (off the east coast of Attica), dated to c. 375-357 BC, with a head of a Euboean cow and the nymph Euboea on the other.

    County DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. presented the coins to Greece's representative, Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos, explaining the process of how the coins were found. Panagopoulos said the coins, which he said were "of notable beauty and incalculable archaeological value," would go on exhibit at the Numismatic Museum of Athens.

    [20] Women hold symbolic protest outside Hellas Gold Skouries worksite

    Twelve women on Monday morning held a symbolic protest outside the Hellas Gold worksite at Skouries, on the northern Greek peninsula of Halkidiki protesting against the Environment ministry's bill on forests.

    Four of the women chained themselves to the gate of the worksite, in a symbolic move demanding that the bill be withdrawn or voted against and that the Canadian company Eldorado Gold terminates its activities.

    Yiannis Verginis, member of the Coordinating Committee of Associations of Stageira-Akanthos, told ANA-MPA that Halkidiki residents would stage a new protest at Skouries on Tuesday, when the Parliament's summer session holds a vote on the bill.

    [21] Catarrhal fever spreads among sheep in the eastern Macedonia and Thrace

    Catarrhal fever disease has spread among sheep in eastern Macedonia and Thrace with dozens of flocks being infected, authorities announced on Monday.

    The virus spreads through an insect and does not affect humans.

    The director of the Region's Veterinary Service said that the problem is spreading at a fast pace and stressed that 50 cases had been found to be infected in the region until last Friday, a number that was expected to climb as inspections continued.

    [22] Fire breaks out in eastern Attica region of Spata

    A fire broke out earlier on Monday at Aghia Kyriaki, in the eastern Attica region of Spata. The fire is burning dried grass. Residencies and a Roma settlement are located in the area.

    Firefighters, assisted by helicopter and three aircrafts, have been deployed to put out the flames.

    Weather forecast

    [23] Mostly fair on Tuesday

    Mostly fair weather and mainly northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair weather in the northern parts of the country with scattered clouds and possibly local showers in the afternoon, temperatures ranging between 16C and 34C. Same weather in the central and the southern parts with temperatures between 18C and 36C. Fair weather over the islands, 24C-34C. Mostly fair weather in Athens with scattered clouds in the afternoon, 23C-36C; scattered clouds and local showers in the afternoon in Thessaloniki, 23C-33C.

    [24] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: Sky-high real estate tax

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Specials favours to media barons

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: More citizens are called to pay higher taxes

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Retirement options after 15 and 25 working years

    ESTIA: The way to boost the economy

    ETHNOS: Relief plan for real estate tax

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Expectations for relief package approval

    TA NEA: Costly mistakes in real estate tax reports

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