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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-01-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK leader in Berlin on Thursday
  • [02] Greece-Qatar Business Council established
  • [03] Athens hotels suffer from economic crisis
  • [04] Greece unveils plan to integrate state pension funds
  • [05] Astrophotography exhibition at Eugenides Foundation

  • [01] PASOK leader in Berlin on Thursday

    AMNA/ PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos flies to Berlin for a series of meetings on Thursday with leading members of the German social-democrat SPD party, a PASOK announcement said on Wednesday.

    Venizelos will meet with SPD candidate for the Chancellery Peer Steinbruck and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, while he will also have a working brunch with SPD parliamentary group chairman Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    Other meetings include SPD international relations secretary and PES secretary general Achim Post, parliamentary group deputy chairperson and parliamentary committee on Greek-German relations member Elke Ferner, parliamentary group deputy chairman and member of the parliamentary committee on economic relations Joachim Poss, and SPD special rapporteur for Greece Achim Barchman.

    The key event of Venizelos' visit will be a roundtable discussion organized by the SPD think-tank, the FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) on Greece, the economic and political developments, Europe and the euro.

    He will further meet with Greens party parliamentary group chairman Juergen Trittin.

    [02] Greece-Qatar Business Council established

    AMNA/ Arousing the interest of big foreign business groups in making investments in Greece was the key aim of an initiative to establish a Greece-Qatar Business Council, Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) official Thanassis Lavidas said on Wednesday.

    Lavidas, who heads SEV's Business Council for International Actions, had just signed the agreement with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce on behalf of SEV at a forum held in Doha, Qatar and attended by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the delegation of ministers that accompanied him on the trip.

    The Greek side of the new Council includes 22 companies occupying leading positions in the construction, energy, industry, building materials, IT, pharmaceuticals, clothing, finance and legal services and consultancy sectors.

    "Greece enterprises, in spite of the all the difficulties and challenges, through their presence here indicate their readiness to proceed with business plans that will yield real benefits, create work and new jobs and contribute to our country's and Greek society's growth," Lavidas said.

    He pointed out that the Greece-Qatar Business Council was the first to be established between Greece and one of the Persian Gulf states and was part of SEV's strategic plan to create a platform of contacts and networks outside Greece's borders in areas of primary importance to the Greek business community.

    Lavidas reported encouraging first signs and announced that SEV's Business Council for International Actions will organise talks by Qatar speakers in Greece in the coming months.

    [03] Athens hotels suffer from economic crisis

    AMNA/ A total of 41 hotels in Athens have closed down as a result of an economic crisis hitting the country, the Athens-Attica Hotel Association said on Wednesday.

    Presenting a GBR Consulting report for 2012, the association said that its members' financial results for the year added further to a negative trend followed by the sector since 2007. The association said that average room occupancy rates fell by 31.9 pct in 2012, with revenue per available room dropping by 39.9 pct over the same period. Average room occupancy rate did not surpass 55 pct in Athens, the association said.

    The report said that tourist arrivals in the Athens airport fell by 27 pct in 2012, compared with 2007, with Crete recording more arrivals than the country's capital. The report also noted that the average price per available room fell by 11.8 pct last year.

    Yiannis Retsos, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, speaking to AMNA said that the closing down of so many hotels was not mainly the result of an economic crisis but more of a depreciation of Athens as a travel destination in recent years because of a rise in criminality and other illegal behavior in the city centre.

    [04] Greece unveils plan to integrate state pension funds

    AMNA/ The Greek government has unveiled a plan to restructure the country's pension system through the financial integration of various sectors and by creating single set of rules and regulations for each pension organisation.

    Presenting the plan, Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said it envisaged the administrative and operational integration of 90 different pension registers and 60 different social insurance sectors which have been merged into the six main pension agencies of the country and continue to have "financial and accounting independence".

    The minister said that this situation has resulted in "bureaucracy, complexity, loss of revenue and problematic services to pensioners, increased administrative costs, inadequate statistics and undermined the ability to draft efficient policies".

    Ministry officials stressed that these changes should have been made years ago, but always stumbled on the fear of the "political cost", while they dismissed any possibility of further cuts in pensions because of these changes.

    According to the basic directions presented by the Labor minister, a coordinating commission will work on four axes: tracking down illegal pensions, collecting overdue debt and combating social contribution evasion through a single and simplified way of collecting debt and cutting administration costs.

    The commission will work under specific timetable and will convene at least once every month.

    Vroutsis described the country's pension system as a "mosaic of exceptions and special regimes built over the years of the basis of clientist attidents" and still remained "labyrinthine and fragmented".

    "We have no right to make the same mistakes again, leaving difficult decisions for tomorrow. We have no right to lose more opportunities," the minister told reporters, adding: "This is something that the next generations of Greeks will not forgive".

    Ministry sources said cuts made so far in basic and supplementary pensions saved around 1.4 billion euro

    [05] Astrophotography exhibition at Eugenides Foundation

    AMNA/ An exhibition of photography/astrophotography by Theofanis Matsopoulos, tiled "The Greece of Stars", opens at the Eugenides Foundation on Monday.

    The exhibition will run through February 28.

    The Eugenides Foundation was established in 1956 as a non-profit legal entity in private law. Its purpose was to implement the wishes expressed in the last testament of the late benefactor Eugenios Eugenides. Registered and based in Athens, its founding charter states that its objective is to contribute to the education of young Greeks in science and technology.

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