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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 1 September 2011 Issue No: 3878
 PM addresses Cabinet, calls for end to political speculationPrime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, noted that "(political) convergences are necessary, on the one hand, but scenarios must come to an end ... because we have a great deal of work ahead of us. It will also be criminal for us to enter such speculation, either about elections or co-governments."
The prime minister praised the ratification of a bill on higher education by ND and other political forces, expressing a wish that a similar stance will also be observed on other bills, adding that "the ball is now in their court, as we have shown every disposition, and we show it on every opportunity, to create national understandings."
Papandreou said that PASOK held this view before the 2009 elections.
"In any case, we have shown, in the opposition as well, but with this government also, our will and determination. Let us see, however, if it also exists on the other side as well."
Papandreou, in his address, underlined the necessity for the implementation of the laws, stressing that the country has weak institutions, a fact which, as he said, "over time is disruptive for rule of law, as well as for the feeling of justice, since it creates the feeling for citizens that the laws ratified are not implemented automatically, or they are not implemented in general, or they are implemented partially in favour of the one and not the other and so forth."
The prime minister attributed the phenomenon to "a clientele-state perception, which is diffusive" and to the fact that there are numerous conflicting laws, which renders their implementation difficult.
As regards developments in Libya, Papandreou said "we want to support the democratic transition of Libya and, of course, stability and economic growth and our relations with this country, as with the other countries of North Africa and the Middle East, one which are experiencing the so-called 'Arab spring'."
 PM confers with BoG chiefPrime minister George Papandreou conferred on Wednesday with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos.
Greeting the central bank chief on arrival at the premier's office in Parliament, Papandreou welcomed the recently-announced merger deal between the Athens-listed Eurobank and Alpha Bank, the country's second and third largest banking institutions respectively, as "very positive".
Provopoulos agreed with the premier's sentiment, and opined that the development portends more changes that will improve the image and position of Greece's credit system.
 PM: Dealing with debt, deficits, is the primary battlePrime minister George Papandreou said that his ruling PASOK party over the past two years has been facing very tough battles at all levels, both inside and outside Greece, with the issue of dealing with the country's debt and deficits being the primary battle, while he also warned that efforts to bring back to the forefront an issue of setting up a government of personalities were disorienting at this time, during a meeting he chaired Tuesday evening of the PASOK political council.
Papandreou said that the efforts 'of those who are now trying to bring back the rationale of governments of personalities" are "disorienting", adding that his government and he personally had made an effort vis-a-vis main opposition New Democracy (ND) for the prospect of a "genuine intention for national consensus", but the "only feeling I got from this entire effort is that their (ND) policy is exceptionally short-sighted and very circumstantial".
"This, I believe, has unfortunately not changed, despite the importance of seeking convergences, as we correctly sought in the field of education but also in other sectors, because the wider the consensus is, the more that these changes are cemented institutionally and have a much greater time span," Papandreou said, adding that "the conviction is also created in the Greek society that we are acting institutionally and not opportunistically or simply sensationally."
"On our part, we have proven that we are seeking this and, naturally, we will continue," the premier stressed.
Papandreou further said that ND has opted for "a very clear -- as we see it -- tactic, not a good one, but I would say a clear one with respect to expediency...It wants us to fail, it is betting on our failure, or at least our decline", and that was why "it has aggravated and will continue to aggravate its criticism and will continue to reproduce the danger-mongering whenever it sees that there are problems ahead of us, in the hope that it will not be possible to reverse the current economic situation or, if it is reversed, that our party will have such a decline that we will be credited only with the negative aspects".
The prime minister said that PASOK, over the past two years, has been faced with very tough battles at all levels, both at hope and abroad, with the first being that of dealing with the problems of the debt and deficits and the country's lack of credibility "due to the very many problems we inherited" from the preceding ND government.
"It was our patriotic duty to fight, to negotiate and to regain our voice and our credibility. And, as you have seen, step-by-step in some instances and with leaps and bounds in other instances, we are dealing with this matter, convincing everyone of the better management of these issues, such as the debt," he continued.
He said the July 21 eurozone summit decision was a "historic decision first of all for Europe, but definitely for us as well, without this meaning that Europe's problems have been solved", warning that "as Europe, we have been left behind the events and are constantly remaining behind", but also stressing on the other hand that "we have succeeded however, with our moves, to increasingly safeguard our country, for facilitation of the country and for new prospects opening up".
This, however, "does not mean that do not have more battles ahead of us", the premier added.
The second largest battle, Papandreou continued, is that of the "major structural changes" which, if they had been made earlier, things would have been different and milder and with more systematic negotiation, citing the example of the reform in the education system.
"Changes, such as those in education, such as the opening of the (closed) professions, the changes in the social security system in public administration, are changes that should have already been made," Papandreou said, adding of those and many more things had been done earlier "we would not have had the issue of the debt, or at least we would have been in a much better situation".
He noted that it was not by chance that Ireland, for example, not having the same problem but having a much more organised public sector system and institutions that function, will return to the markets much sooner than Greece.
The third battle, the premier continued, was that of development in the midst of recession.
Growth, however, could not be founded on glass legs, nor on parasitic forces or statism or a clientelistic perception, Papandreou warned, stressing that "it is also our duty to create all the potential so that we will have a more competitive economy and take advantage of the new opportunities our country has".
He said that it was also not by chance that "at this time Germany is seriously interested -- as (German finance minister Wolfgang) Schauble has said -- in Greece selling sun and wind (solar and aeolic energy), so that we will be able to develop all these prospects that we have, which is very important for jump-starting the economy and for its sustainability".
"It is not simply a re-starting, we are not turning back, it is also a start on firm foundations," the premier added.
Papandreou further said that a sense of justice needs to be restored among the people, adding that a battle was also being waged for a real just state "which has never been correctly organised in our country", adding that this battle was at this time particularly being waged with respect to supporting the unemployed.
On Greece's international position, the prime minister said that PASOK's positions have been "vindicated, on all that we have been saying for some time now" and, referring particularly to the euro-bond, he said that "it is a necessary institution, but behind such an initiative something else is hidden: whether the European Union's political volition truly exists for moving forward, leaving behind the narrow ethnicism, formalism, populism and even the racism that we unfortunately see continuing with unbelievable irresponsibility".
Papandreou called for a governance "that will regulate the markets", control the derivatives, the speculators, the tax havens, the credit system and the rating firms, in tandem with a "strengthening of the autonomy of the local societies and greater self-sufficiency of the economies, in order that they may be more flexible, more prepared and stronger in the face of the many developments we have globally".
The role of the state is very significant in that, but it is changing, just as the role of the country is changing, because every country and state alone is weak, despite its size. "Even if it is the US or China, the countries cannot solve the global problems, or even their own problems, on their own. All the more so a country such as Greece," he said.
 Meeting between FinMin, troika heads comes to an endThe meeting between government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the heads of the troika was concluded on Wednesday evening. The meeting lasted for about 2.5 hours and may be repeated on Thursday.
The talks focused mainly on government action in the sector of curbing expenditures and promoting privatisations and reforms (such as the unified salary scale in the public sector, mergers and abolitions of organisations, etc). In the revenues sector, the Finance ministry expects the full performance by the end of the year of the special tax measures, that will restrict the budget's deviations, while special weight is being placed on reducing tax evasion and receiving debts due to the state.
 ND leader Samaras meets with 'troika' repsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Wednesday met with the three high-ranking representatives of the EC-ECB-IMF "troika", who arrived in Athens this week for another round of talks focusing on the state of the Greek economy and pending reforms.
The meeting, which lasted for nearly an hour and a half, was held at ND's main office. No official statements were made by the "troika" inspectors -- Poul Thomsen of the IMF, the ECB's Klaus Masuch and EC representative Mattias Mors -- or by ND officials.
Nevertheless, according to sources from within the main opposition party, ND cadres at the meeting reiterated the party's positions that the current Memorandum -- signed by the Greek government and the EC-ECB-IMF lenders -- merely prolongs the ongoing recession in the country, while bumping up tax rates will have negative repercussions on the "real economy" without achieving a hoped-for hike in state revenues.
"In total, the applied policy (by the Greek government) will increase and not decrease the budget deficit and external debt," an unnamed ND source stressed.
Party officials reiterated ND's standing position of support for the stated goals of reducing the deficit and debt, but via a different "economic mix", one aiming for a quicker exit from the vicious cycle of recession and international supervision, as they said.
Troika officials were reportedly quoted as saying that their contacts with the Greek government have not been concluded, therefore, they have not as yet ascertained a complete picture of the financial situation.
 SEV study on Greek economyThe study by the McKinsey firm on the development of the Greek economy, prepared at the initiative of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) and the Greek Banks Union, was presented to representatives of the troika on Wednesday by federation president Dimitris Daskalopoulos.
 FM pledges support for Greek businesses active in LibyaGreek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis pledged the ministry's firm support for Greek businesses active in Libya, during a meeting with representatives of the businesses on Wednesday.
Greeting representatives of businesses active in Libya, chiefly in the energy and construction sectors, Lambrinidis said that "the foreign ministry will seek to support your presence in Libya".
Lambrinidis noted that the restructuring of the Libyan economy is necessary both for the growth and democratisation of that country and for stability in the wider region, and made it clear that Greece must and will have a dynamic presence in the formulation of the so-called "day after".
"In the sector of growth, your contribution is decisive. You represent companies that have been in Libya for some time. You have worked there, and with your activity, from here on, you can become vehicles of growth for Libya but also for supporting the Greek presence there, and active proof of the Greek people's close ties with the Libyan people," the foreign minister said.
He also noted that Greece is one of the first countries to have established diplomatic contact with Benghazi, with the presence over the past months of Greek diplomats who are in contact with the National Transitional Council.
Greece, the foreign minister stressed, is ready to reopen its embassy in Tripoli when the conditions allow.
On Thursday's meeting in Paris of the Contact Group on Libya, which will be attended by Greek prime minister George Papandreou, Lambrinidis said that formulating the 'next day' in Libya is of exceptional importance, adding that Greece will "seek our own protagonistic participation in humanitarian issues but also issues of growth".
 FM Lambrinidis to tour Balkan capitalsBilateral cooperation, the European prospects of the Balkans and the promotion of the Agenda 2014 for the European accession of the western Balkan states, will be the focus visits by Foreign
Minister Stavros Lambrinidis in early September, as he will visit Zagreb, Belgrade and Pristina.
As foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stated, an itinerary has not been completed as yet.
Asked about a visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) as well, he replied that there is nothing relevant in the foreign minister's schedule.
Concerning recent statements by the neighbouring country's prime minister that he would desire a meeting with the Greek premier in New York City, Delavekouras reminded that Athens and the Greek prime minister have contributed decisively to an improvement of the climate between the two countries, but stressed that a corresponding attitude is required from the other side as well.
"The Greek prime minister is always available to meet his fYRoM counterpart, as he has done and shall continue to do so, but it must be understood that a corresponding attitude from our neighbour is also required," Delavekouras said.
 Gov't on decision regarding minority properties in TurkeyForeign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras termed a decision by the Turkish government on the return to religious minorities' charitable institutions a "positive step on a long path" and noted that it must be evaluated by its application clauses and the results it will produce.
Called on to comment on the Turkish government's recent decision, the spokesman stressed that it is a process of changes and reforms that the Turkish government has undertaken, both in the framework of its European prospects and in the framework of its obligations towards its own citizens.
He further said that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself has said that previous Turkish governments followed unfair policies towards minorities.
Delavekouras added that "we believe that it is a historic obligation of Turkey, as the Turkish leadership itself has stated as well, to 'cure', to the degree possible... these injustices."
Called on to comment on a report in the Turkish newspaper "Vatan", which reports Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has raised an issue of reciprocity regarding the return of property, Delavekouras clarified that there is no question of reciprocity regarding human rights, and in any case Greece does not discuss issues concerning its citizens with third countries.
 BoG chief: More bank mergers will followBank of Greece (BoG) Gov. George Provopoulos appeared certain that more bank mergers in the domestic sector will follow, during a meeting on Wednesday with President Karolos Papoulias.
"The merging of forces and alliances with foreign strategic investors appear to constitute a solution for joint actions, capital strength, international competitiveness, and of course, they constitute a condition for strengthening the liquidity that the Greek economy needs," Provopoulos said.
 Retail trade volume down 11.4pct in JuneThe volume of retail trade in Greece fell 11.4 percent in June this year against the same month in 2010, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.
ELSTAT, in a report, said that according to provisional results, the turnover index in retail trade at current prices, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 8.2% in June 2011 compared with June 2010. The Index in June 2010 recorded a decrease of 2.8% compared with June 2009.
The turnover index in retail trade, including automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 8.3% in June 2011 compared with June 2010. The Index in June 2010 recorded an increase of 1.1% compared with June 2009.
The volume of retail trade (i.e. turnover in retail trade at constant prices), excluding automotive fuel, decreased by 9.9% in June 2011, compared with June 2010. The Index in June 2010 recorded a decrease of 5.0% compared with June 2009.
The retail trade volume index, including automotive fuel, decreased by 11.4% in June 2011 compared with June 2010. The Index in June 2010 recorded a decrease of 4.5% compared with June 2009.
 Committee set up to draft 'Business-Friendly Greece' legislationA law-drafting committee has been set up at the development, competitiveness and shipping ministry to draft a bill for a "Business-Friendly Greece".
The bill will contain regulations to improve the conditions for the growth of entrepreneurship based on the Action Plan for a "Business-Friendly Greece".
The ministry's secretary general for industry Alexandros Fourlas will chair the committee, while ministry secretary general Yiannis Drimousis will assist the committee's effort, as chairman of the Business-Friendly Greece Action Plan.
The bill aims to improve the conditions for the development of entrepreneurship, the creation of a business-friendly environment in Greece and better services to the public through the elimination of administrative obstacles and of bureaucracy.
 ASE losses 23.93% in Aug. 2011The Athens Stock Exchange's general price index recorded a slide of 23.93 pct in August 2011, with only four out of the month's 22 sessions posting a positive closing.
The last day of the month on Wednesday was no exception, with the bourse falling 4.40 pct to close at 915.98 points, as fallout from the announcement of a major bank merger on Monday (Alpha Bank-Eurobank) failed to carry over into subsequent sessions.
Turnover was a declining 73.77 million euros.
The Big Cap index posted a decrease of 5.11 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 5.09 pct lower and the Small Cap index was down 5.87 pct.
Only the Telecoms (2.38 pct) and Commerce (1.18) posted gains, while Banks (-8.86) Chemicals (-7.70 pct) and Raw Materials (-6.59) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers trailed decliners by 32 to 127 with another 28 issues remained unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.24%
Personal & Household: -3.09%
Raw Materials: -6.59%
Travel & Leisure: -2.79%
Food & Beverages: -2.57%
Financial Services: -5.26%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Coca Cola 3E.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 2.26
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.00
HBC Coca Cola: 14.29
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.58
National Bank of Greece: 3.09
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.60
Bank of Piraeus: 0.65
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.466
Pound sterling 0.898
Danish kroner 7.563
Swedish kroner 9.301
Japanese yen 112.21
Swiss franc 1.184
Norwegian kroner 7.855
Canadian dollar 1.435
Australian dollar 1.373
 Man arrested in Drama with child porn materialA 37-year-old man was arrested in Drama on Wednesday after more than 1,500 files containing child pornography were discovered in a hard disc drive in his residence.
Thessaloniki electronic crimes squad police traced the man's IP address and found that he was using a specialised internet child pornography file sharing programme.
A search of his residence in Drama turned up a hard disc drive with more than 1,500 files containing photographs and videos of children and adolescents in sexual acts.
The hard disc drive and a laptop found in the residence were confiscated
The 37-year-old will be led before a local prosecutor.
 One man killed, another injured in industrial accidentsA fatality and another worker seriously injured was the outcome of two separate industrial accidents on Wednesday at Public Power Corp. (PPC) installations, in Patras and Ptolemaida, respectively.
In the late morning, a PPC-contracted truck driver was killed when his vehicle was crushed by building materials.
Earlier, during work at the Patras III substation, a technician sustained serious burns during an explosion at the site.
 Car burglar drowns in attempt to evade arrestA 28-year-old Libyan national jumped into the sea and drowned early Wednesday in an attempt to flee motorcycle policemen after he burgled a car in the eastern Athens seaside suburb of Voula.
The Libyan, together with a 17-year-old Moroccan man, burgled a car in Voula at dawn Wednesday but the car's owner spotted them and alerted police.
A DIAS motorcycle police squad was immediately dispatched to the scene, and the two burglars fled as soon as they saw them.
Police arrested the Moroccan teenager a short distance away, but the Libyan man dove into the sea and disappeared.
Police alerted the Coast Guard, which found and retrieved the body of the Libyan from the sea.
The Moroccan man will appear before a prosecutor later Wednesday.
 Grevena mushrooms, a sweet treatFor decades, a unique form of 'hunt' has been taking place on the slopes surrounding the Valia Kalda valley in the prefecture of Grevena, northwestern Greece. The so-called "mushroom hunting", or wild mushroom picking, is a trade that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The region is known for the more than 2,600 species of wild mushrooms that grow there, many of them edible, and for the plethora of local dishes featuring them, as well as an annual Mushroom Festival.
A Mushroom Society has also been set up, which informs the public about the area's mushrooms and how to cook them.
Whether a hobby or profession, mushroom picking is part of the daily life of Grevena. Indeed, wild mushrooms are an important source of revenue for Grevena, with many locals involved in the trade, while there is even a specialised local taverna that features dishes with more than 100 wild species throughout the year.
Considered a select delicacy, some of the local wild mushrooms have a market value well above that of black caviar.
Mushrooms are widely known for their use in a plethora of recipes, as main dishes or side dishes.
Grevena residents, however, have developed innovative recipes for the use of mushrooms as sweet treats. Mushroom liqueur, mushroom loukoumi and mushroom spoon sweet are just three representative alternatives.
Mushroom Festivals are frequently held in Grevena, with visitors running in the tens of thousands.
The next one, the 9th Panhellenic Mushroom Festival, will take place in the village of Ziaka on November 4-5, with professional chefs from abroad planning to take part.
Approximately 5,000-6,000 varieties of mushrooms grow in Greece.
 Greece downs Bosnia 76-67 in EurobasketGreece's national basketball team beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 76-67 in its first game played for the Eurobasket Group C competition in Lithuania on Wednesday evening. The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 15-17, 31-34, 55-49, 76-67.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 34C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 22C to 34C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 33C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe extension of the civil service uniform salary scale to public utilities and organisations (DEKO) and the EU-IMF 'troika' review of the Greek economy were the main front-page item in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Venizelos (finance minister) once again pressed Samaras (main opposition New Democracy leader) for consensus".
AVGHI: "ASEP (civil service hiring examinations board) slap against government on non-governmental organisations (NGOs)".
AVRIANI: "Judicial bomb that will cause tremors in Greek-US relations ready to explode - Members of US Embassy and team serving in CIA from 2004-2006 to be prosecuted for espionage".
DIMOKRATIA: "Days reminiscent of 1981 - Dismissals in public sector on political party criteria".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government caught red-handed with the NGOs and the reserve labor".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Snowballing takeovers of higher education institutions (AEI) by students in protest of new higher education reform law".
ESTIA: "The Gordian Knot of taxation".
ETHNOS: "Burning salary scale in all DEKO".
IMERISSIA: "National Bank (NBG) 'weighing' its moves".
KATHIMERINI: "Tourist arrivals at record high".
LOGOS: "Government falling apart".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika inspectors ascertain changes only 'on paper'."
NIKI: "Remuneration in DEKO to be reduced by 40 percent".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Hostile block against the people".
TA NEA: "Professions and...ministers in chaos".
VRADYNI: "ASEP against government over 55,000 'political favor' hirings".
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