|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 13 September 2011 Issue No: 3888
 PM calls for unwavering support from his ruling party MPsPrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday called on his ruling PASOK MPs and the Greek people to give an "overwhelming national response" to those who question the country and its Eurozone membership.
Addressing his party's Parliamentary group, Papandreou stressed that now is the time for Europe to prove that it exists and has the ability to defend the euro.
He said that abiding by the July 21 Euro-zone leaders' decisions is imperative and stressed that the efforts of the past two years should not go to waste, now that "we have entered the final stretch".
Papandreou repeated that implementation of those decisions and the implementation of reforms will produce a primary surplus in 2012, expressing certainty that PASOK's Parliamentary group 'will rise to the occasion'.
He said that in 2009 the primary deficit was more than 24 billion euros, while in 2010 it dropped to 11.2 billion. 'If the goals are met in 2011 it will be 1.8 billion euros, while in 2012, if we meet out commitments, we will have a primary surplus of 3 billion euros and debt will be lighter,' the prime minister said.
He stressed that the July decisions will have to be supported by all Eurozone countries, pointing out that Europe is faced with a systemic crisis while Euro-skepticism is on the rise.
"All obstacles will be overcome by our determination," he stressed, pointing out that "there are certain ones who want Greece out of the ?urozone and, at the same time, there many who bet on the country' s political and economic failure". He also said that "there are others who have taken their money out of the country and want its bankruptcy or exit from the Eurozone."
He said that there is no room for compromise in meeting the goals set, characterizing them as very ambitious.
Referring to the resistance with which the government is met, Papandreou stressed that other political forces have adopted a "populist stance", while trade unions also react and the public administration sector is not as quick as it should have.
The prime minister pointed out that speculation over Greece's exit from the Eurozone have affected banking institutions and investors, stressing that such an atmosphere would have had an impact on any country.
Finally, he called on his party's MPs not to allow anyone "of those waiting in the wings" to determine political developments in the country, repeating that elections will be held in 2013. He again criticised the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, saying its proposals "lead to the country' s exit from the Eurozone".
Invoking a remark by former Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, the prime minister said "even the security and safety of the country is at risk and this is a message that must pass to society."
He further said, in reference to a relevant agreement between Greece and Estonia, that there shall be interstate agreements for technical aid to Greece, in whatever sectors are necessary, with various countries.
"We are experiencing a transitional period and during this period we need the support of our partners, so as to be able to stand on our feet, Papandreou said, adding that "the troika, even if we have different beliefs or even world theories, wants us to succeed."
Referring to Sunday's decision by the Cabinet, on the contribution, through the PPC bills, the prime minister said "the measure that we are proposing to be ratified in Parliament, has all the guarantees of the biggest possible social justice."
 Greek, Italian FMs carry out joint visit to AlbaniaTIRANA (ANA-MPA - D. Katsimente)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis on Monday concluded a joint visit to Tirana with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, where they represented the European Union.
In meetings with Albania's state and political leadership, including the country's president, prime minister, foreign ministery and main opposition party leader, Frattini and Lambrinidis reaffirmed the support of the EU and their own countries for Albania's EU accession prospects.
They stressed the need to accelerate reforms in order for Albania to make progress in its accession course, adding that valuable time had already been lost.
The visit is taking place at a particularly critical time for Albania, which is awaiting for the European Commission's recommendation on its application to be given the status of an EU candidate-state.
Addressing reporters, the Greek Foreign Minister Lambrinidis said that "Greece has to play and is playing a strong role in the region of the Balkans."
Referring to the content of his meetings with Albania's political and state leadership, he stressed that both he and his Italian counterpart sent a double message, of support to the European prospects of the neighbouring country, as well as the need to speed up reforms, so that it can respond to the criteria set by the European Union.
As he said, during his contacts in Tirana, he ascertained the support of the two major Albanian parties for their country's European prospects, stressing that the cooperation of the political forces is in Albania's interest.
During the joint press conference with Frattini, following their meetings in the Albanian capital, the Greek Foreign minister underlined that the current visit took place in a very crucial period for Albania and stressed the interest of both the European partners and of Greece and Italy, as friends and neighbours, on developments in the country.
He also expressed the view that Albania has the possibilities to receive a status of a candidate country for accession to the EU, but intense reforms are necessary and cooperation by the political forces for the fulfilment of the European criteria.
He reminded, however, that the criteria for accession in the EU are the same for all candidate countries and noted that Albania will be judged by them as well, while making special reference to respect for human rigthts, as well as the rights of minorities living in the neighbouring country.
In parallel, he stressed that valuable time has been lost for Albania and underlined that Greece will stand by its side.
The joint visit to Tirana by Lambrinidis and Frattini and their contacts with President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha, alternate prime minister and Foreign Minister Edmond Haxhinasto, as well as main opposition party leader Edi Rama attracted the interest of the Albanian media in their entirety that gave extensive coverage to the meetings.
The visit by the two ministers was based on a relevant proposal submitted by Lambrinidis during the General Affairs Council last June and concerned the activation of the EU in the direction of assisting the lifting of the deadlock in Albania.
 Alternate FM attends General Affairs CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The preparation of the next European Council, in mid-October and the fiscal prospects of the 2014-2020 period were the main issues of the EU's General Affairs Council held here on Monday. Greece's positions were supported by Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou.
As regards the European Council and the discussion that will be held by the European leaders on the stability of the eurozone, Xenoyiannakopoulou stressed, during her intervention at the Council, that Europe must show effectiveness and determination on the issue of growth, particularly in a period where a great effort is being made by all countries, but in particular by the countries that must achieve fiscal adjustment.
The alternate Foreign minister also referred to the need for there to be a speedup and implementation of the decisions of the July 21 Eurozone Summit something that, as she said, is crucial not only for Greece but also for the countries having problems, as well as for the eurozone.
She also briefed her counterparts that the Greek government is proceeding with consistency with difficult decisions, as also appeared from the announcements of Thessaloniki, stressing however that there must also be determination at European level.
 Greek FinMin Venizelos has phone conversation with German counterpartGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Sch?uble had a long telephone conversation on Monday night, according to the Finance ministry.
According to the same officials, the content of the conversation, that will be repeated on Tuesday, were current developments in Greece, the eurozone and, in general, the European Union.
 Greek must fully comply with July 21 decisions, Van Rompuy stressesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
Greece must implement the programme agreed with the EU-IMF troika, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy underlined on Monday. He stressed that any deviation from the targets in the programme would have to be "corrected" as quickly and credibly as possible.
Van Rompuy, in statement after meeting in Brussels with the head of the European Council presidency Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, stressed that there must be full and immediate implementation of the decisions taken by EU leaders on July 21.
Concerning the emergency measures announced by the Greek government on Sunday, he said these were "positive and moving in the right direction".
The European Council president stressed that a decision on financing Greece will have to be taken after the end of negotiations with the EU-IMF troika.
 ND bashes gov't on property surtax, PPC federation on threat to block collection through electricity billsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) on Monday lashed out at the government over an extraordinary surtax on building properties it announced over the weekend, but also at the president of the Public Power Corporation employees' federation GENOP Nikos Fotopoulos, who said the federation would block collection of the surtax via electricity bills as intended by the government.
ND's position on the surtax on real estate is given, "we are categorically opposed", the party's press spokesman Yiannis Michelakis said, but added that no public organisation is anyone's private property "and no Fotopoulos can obstruct implementation of the laws".
Michelakis noted that the government over the weekend "announced the 6th surtax in 20 months", adding that the new surtax "confirms the government's resounding failure, belies its assurances that no additional collection measures will be taken, and dissolves the last remaining remnants of its credibility".
He charged that the government is a "captive in a wrong recipe and unable to attain the targets it sets out", and "insists on a tax raid that kills construction activity in which tens of professions are active", while at the same time "deepening the recession, freezing the market and increasing unemployment".
Michelakis reiterated that supporting construction activity is a fundamental tool for giving breath to the real economy and boosting employment, and reiterated steps in that direction that have been put forward by ND.
 PPC employees react against collection of extraordinary real estate surtax via electricity billsAs the finance ministry is preparing to finalise by Tuesday the method with which the extraordinary surtax on building properties via electricity bills announced over the weekend will be implemented, the Public Power Corporation employees' federation (GENOP) said Monday that it will not allow the PPC to be used as a "tax collection mechanism" and accused the government of "pitting the PPC against the Greek people".
"GENOP will in no instance allow the PPC to be used as a tax collection mechanism," federation president Nikos Fotopoulos told ANA-MPA.
He also clarified that the government must give assurance that the electricity of those who do not pay the special surtax will not be cut off, "otherwise, we will obstruct the issue of those bills and will not proceed with electricity cuts for the consumers that do not pay the surtax".
"They are pitting the PPC against the Greek people," Fotopoulos charged.
GENOP also released a statement on Monday saying that the state currently owes the PPC 135 million euros.
It released a list of ministries and public sector organisations that owe a total 135 million euros to the PPC, with the biggest debtor being the finance ministry with 46.63 million euros in money owed.
"Those who decided that the PPC should play the role of sheriff in order to loot the Greek people due to the policies they have been following for the past year and a half have themselves resoundingly failed to first pay their own debts to the PPC," GENOP said.
The federation further said that the cuts in electricity supply to tens of thousands of poor households since the beginning of the year have "exceeded all precedents".
Meanwhile speaking on private radio in the morning, minister of state and government spokesman Elias Mossialos clarified that the surtax will affect only the property owners and not the tenants.
On GENOP's reaction to the planned collection of the surtax via the PPC bills, Mossialos said that Greece is waging a "patriotic struggle" at this time and instead of 'I won't pay' movements emerging, movements against graft and non-issue of receipts be making their appearance.
 Minister lashes out at PPC unionEnvironment, Energy & Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou on Monday stressed that decisions for the operation of the state-run Public Power Corp. (PPC SA) are made by its management, characterizing as "unacceptable" an earlier statement by the union (GENOP) representing PPC employees.
GENOP stated that it will not allow PPC to be used as a "tax collection mechanism" in response to a government decision to impose an extraordinary surtax on properties via electricity bills.
 GSEE on new measuresThe General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Monday expressed its radical and strong disagreement with all the measures announced by the government and in particular the one on the special contribution for real estate and even of small real estate owners.
An announcement by the Confederation said the measures in their entirety "bring about great bloodletting by the meagre family income, as well as by the real economy which is in a great recession, resulting in the upsurge in unemployment."
"The government must realise that the continuing compression of the living standard of salary earners, pensioners, have nots and haves, is a dealocked and disastrous policy for society and the economy," the announcement said.
 Tsipras: Gov't has lost all credibilityThe Greek government has lost all its credibility, and the prime minister is unable to convince even himself that in a week from today he will not be forced to announce new, harsher, measures, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras said on Monday, commenting on prime minister George Papandreou's address and press conference over the weekend at the 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
"It is unconceivable for some sides to believe that an economy with a 7.5 percent recession and real unemployment nearing 30 percent can withstand more anti-popular measures," Tsipras said, adding that "the answer must be given by the Greek people, and that hour is approaching".
"This government must step down and the road of hope and prospect needs to open. This vicious circle of austerity and new measures must stop," Tsipras added.
 Commission: No issue of Greek default 'scenario'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission on Monday dismissed speculation that it was considering any scenario involving a Greek debt default.
Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, told reporters, here that the European Commission was not working on any such scenario. He also stressed that measures announced by the Greek government over the weekend were moving towards the right direction and that the EU executive's goal aims for the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika' to draft a positive assessment over the progress of the Greek economy for the release of the next instalment of bailout loans.
Altafaj also noted that the EU has begun a programme to offer technical assistance to Athens, while he stressed that a discussion of the Greek issue would be held in an informal finance ministers' council in Poland on Friday.
 Hahn: Aim is to boost Greece through high-quality investmentsEU Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn emphasised here on Monday that "our aim is to give a boost to Greece and a prospect to Greeks, through the promotion of direct and high-quality investments."
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with representatives of ministries managing Community funds, the Commissioner said:
"There's not a moment to lose and Greece does not have the luxury to lose any subsidy funds," he said, adding that the Commission was seeking to cooperate with the Greek government in overcoming chronic procedures.
Hahn said that "everyone's nerves are tense" and said that scenarios of a Greek debt default are the result of an extreme situation prevailing in the country, while he noted that the EU would insist on a policy agreed to with Greek authorities.
He noted that Germany has decided to contribute in a fundamental way, not only with money transfers but with a substantial involvement of German entrepreneurs.
A German delegation will visit Greece every week to examine investment opportunities, while vice-chancellor Philipp Roesler will visit Athens next month, in a good will gesture.
The EU Commission will visit Athens next week to attend a special seminal on lifting bureaucracy and agreeing on the priorities for every region of the country. Hahn said that Brussels has earmarked additional 500 million euros to support small- and medium-sized enterprises. He noted that the Commission was responding to an urgent call by Greece to raise EU funding up to 95 pct - for a period of time - to facilitate absorption of EU funds by Greece.
Speaking to reporters, Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis said the country "was living in war tense trends but there was a strong will to reach a new model in order to avoid being left on the sidelines of history".
 Commission: Public finances undermined by ongoing economic crisisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
An ongoing economic crisis is hitting the public finances of EU member-states, the European Commission said in a report published on Monday.
The report stressed that sustainability of public debt remained the main challenge in Europe.
The EU executive said that ensuring the viability of public finances was a precondition for economic growth and creating sustainable job positions in Europe, given the fact that member-states' debt remained at high levels and will continue rising. The Commission insisted on the need of gradual fiscal consolidation, while for member-states hit by market pressures, it underlined that they must continue efforts to achieve fiscal targets and to adopt additional measures if necessary.
Referring to Greece, the report said that after a dynamic start of a reform program in May 2010, Greek efforts slowed by the end of last year and in early 2011. The Commission reiterated that inadequate political consensus over the need to reform has affected implementation of the program. The report is based on the Commission's spring estimates which have not taken into account new measures announced by the Greek government. According the report, the fiscal deficit will end at 9.5 pct of GDP this year and to 9.3 pct in 2012.
The Commission will publish its autumn forecasts in the coming weeks.
 Delegation of German entrepreneurs in AthensRepresentatives of German industrial sectors and local entrepreneurs on Monday held a meeting at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) offices in Athens, in the presence of Development, Competitiveness & Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis.
The meeting focused on investment opportunities in Greece.
A second working meeting is scheduled to take place in Athens on Oct. 7 within the framework of the visit to Greece by German Economics and Technology Minister Phillipp Roesler.
 Delegation of Japanese bankers in AthensA delegation of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) executives on Monday visited the Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE) offices in Athens. The visiting Japanese delegation was briefed on the economic situation in Greece and the prospects for profit-making investments in the country.
 GSEE walks out of committee for upgrading Supreme Labour Council's roleThe General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union federation, on Monday announced its departure from a committee set up to upgrade the role and functioning of the Supreme Labour Council.
In a letter sent to Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis, GSEE said the two discussions of the committee that it had attended had shown its goal was only to "make legitimate" the further weakening of collective labour agreements and promote the proliferation of special agreements between individual employees and companies.
The committee was set up by Koutroumanis in July to discuss and submit proposals for the way the SLC should function.
In its announcement, GSEE also indicated its opposition to the measures announced by the government on Sunday, such as the emergency levy on all buildings, saying these would further bleed already meagre family incomes and suck funds from the real economy, leading to a further rise in unemployment.
 Greek budget deficit totals 18.1 bln euros in Jan-AugGreece's state budget deficit totalled 18.1 billion euros in the January-August period, down from 18.974 billion euros target envisaged by a Medium-term Fiscal Strategy Framework, but up compared with a deficit of 14.813 billion euros in the corresponding period last year.
The Finance ministry, in an announcement, said budget revenues exceeded targets by 110 million euros, while total spending were down by 762 million euros in the eight-month period.
Net regular budget revenues totalled 30.679 billion euros, for a growth rate of 5.3 pct in the January-August period, down from 6.4 pct in the January-July period. The ministry attributed this shortfall to a larger than expected economic recession in the country and non-repeat tax revenues.
The Public Investment Program's revenues grew by 43.4 pct or 568 million euros in the eight-month period, compared with the corresponding period in 2010.
The Ministry stressed that the implementation of new tax legislation included in a Medium-term program and the government's recent decisions were expected to boost budget revenues in the fourth quarter of the year.
Regular budget spending grew 8.1 pct in the January-August period, reflecting higher interest spending (by 2.067 bln euros), higher subsidies to pension funds (by 1.7 billion euros), higher payments to OAED to pay unemployment benefits (by 322 million euros) and higher payments to state hospitals (by 853 million euros).
Primary spending grew 4.5 pct, or by 1.452 billion euros. Spending by a Public Investment Program was down by 30.3 pct, or 1.416 billion euros.
 Greek budget deficit up 19% in Jan-Aug, BoGGreece's state budget deficit widened by 19 pct on a cash basis in the January-August period, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
The central bank, in a report, said this development reflected deviations both in the revenue and the spending legs. The budget deficit totaled 18.6 billion euros in the eight-month period, up from 15.7 billion euros in the same period last year. Budget revenues were down 5.0 pct to 31 billion euros, while spending rose 9.8 pct to 47.9 billion euros.
 NBG unveils restructuring for subsidiaries in SE EuropeNational Bank's (NBG) board on Monday approved a restructuring plan for its subsidiaries in Southeast Europe, envisaging the creation of a holding company, which will include all banks and other financial companies of the Group operating in the region.
The plan does not include Turkey-based Finansbank, which will continue its autonomous course in the booming Turkish market.
A bank announcement said National Bank has established a strong presence in SE Europe, both in the corporate and the retail banking, operating a branch network of 600 units, with a workforce of 8,000 and assets totaling more than 9.0 billion euros. Its activities expand to Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, fYRoM and Albania.
National Bank has also developed a network of companies offering a wide range of financial services, such as leasing, factoring, brokerage, asset management, insurance and bancassurance.
National Bank said the restructuring of its activities in the region aimed at enhancing its role in SE Europe. Shareholder restructuring will need approvals by all supervisory authorities.
 Import price index up 8.7 pct in JulyGreece's industrial import price index rose 8.7 pct in July, compared with the same month last year, after a 6.0 pct increase recorded in July 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development in the so-called imported inflation to an 1.8 pct rise in the import price index from Eurozone countries and a 15.2 pct increase in the import price index from other countries.
The index was up 1.2 pct in July from June.
 Business Briefs-- Household deposits to Greek banks rose in July for the first time after a several-month decline, while Greek banks significant cut their dependence from the European Central Bank helped by the release of a fifth tranche of a loan to Greece, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
 Stocks end sharply lowerStocks suffered heavy losses at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, amid a very negative climate prevailing in other European markets on worries over developments in a debt crisis in the Eurozone and speculation over a downgrade of French banks by Moody's due to their exposure to southern European debt.
The composite index fell to new lows, ending at 847.48 points, down 4.43 pct.
Turnover remained a low 56.913 million euros. The market's capitalisation fell by 1.35 billion euros compared with Friday's level.
The Big Cap index dropped 5.10 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 2.88 pct and the Small Cap index ended 4.58 pct. Ellaktor (1.21 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while Alpha Bank (10.17 pct), Eurobank (8.66 pct), National Bank (8.31 pct) and OPAP (5.66 pct).
The Bank (7.12 pct), Health (6.32 pct) and Commerce (5.44 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 120 to 26 with another 34 issues unchanged. Audiovisual (10 pct), Perseus (9.09 pct), Alsinco (8.16 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzioannou (16.67 pct), Vioter (15.38 pct) and NEL (14.29 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.25%
Personal & Household: -2.45%
Raw Materials: -2.09%
Travel & Leisure: -5.38%
Food & Beverages: -4.04%
Financial Services: -1.61%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.59
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.58
HBC Coca Cola: 13.45
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.60
National Bank of Greece: 2.87
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.16
Bank of Piraeus: 0.56
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to new record highs in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, reflecting worries over developments in the Eurozone debt crisis. The yield spread rose to 16.12 pct from 15.99 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 17.82 pct and the German Bund 1.70 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month rate was 2.06 pct, the six-month rate 1.73 pct, the three-month rate 1.52 pct and the one-month rate 1.34 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.22 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 54.596 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 26,169 contracts worth 44.841 million euros, with 24,702 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 39,982 contracts worth 9.755 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (13,973), followed by Eurobank (1,361), MIG (3,624), OTE (6,682), Piraeus Bank (1,206), Alpha Bank (2,792), Mytilineos (862), Cyprus Bank (687), Hellenic Postbank (870) and ATEbank (279).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.386
Pound sterling 0.873
Danish kroner 7.558
Swedish kroner 9.125
Japanese yen 106.9
Swiss franc 1.223
Norwegian kroner 7.704
Canadian dollar 1.387
Australian dollar 1.342
 New school year opens throughout Greece for 1.3 million pupilsThe new school year commenced on Monday throughout Greece with the traditional blessing ceremonies, as approximately 1.3 million primary and secondary school pupils put aside toys and rejoined friends and classmates in the school yards.
The pupils arrived at the schools in the morning donning sunny smiles, a few yawns, and brand new bookbags, but will return home with empty bookbags as the start of the 2011-2012 academic year is overshadowed by the lack of the set school textbooks, which for the first time in many years are not ready for distribution to pupils at the start of the year.
Several schools are expected to face major shortages as the books failed to be printed on time, after the process became mired in Greece's labyrinthine legal system.
Islands and remote regions near the borders are the areas expected to be best supplied with the required books, receiving 85 percent of the needed books, while the ministry hopes to cover the shortages for the main body of books within a few days in most areas.
In the meantime, pupils will be issued with DVDs containing all the information in the school textbooks that they can download on their PC and laptops, as well as photocopies in the first few days.
The ministry has blamed the delay on the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, which it said took 49 days longer than the time allowed by law to issue a decision concerning a tender for the purchase of paper. The final decision came out at the end of August, leaving insufficient time for the books to be printed.
The ministry has also invited pupils from previous years to return their old books so that these can be used by children in lower classes.
Education minister Anna Diamantopoulou, who attended the opening at the 1st public elementary school in the Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi, assured that the ministry has dealt with the vacancies in educational staff, who she said are all in their positions.
As for the lack of textbooks, she said that with the digital school and the cooperation of teachers, parents and related agencies the temporary shortage will be dealt with.
Monday also marked the opening of enrollment in the country's higher education schools of the students that passed the higher education examinations. Enrollment will run through September 30.
 Int'l public invitation for seismic surveys in western, southern GreeceAn international public invitation for participation in non-exclusive seismic surveys on the continental shelf of western and southern Greece - the Ionian Sea region and the sea region south of the island of Crete respectively - was published on Monday as announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou, within the framework of the 76th Thessaloniki's International Fair (TIF) on Sunday.
According to a decision signed by the deputy environment, energy & climate change, all interested companies will proceed with seismic surveys in the stated regions, and based on the timetable, an International Licensing Round of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Exploitation will be announced in 2012.
 Exhibition by Greek cartoonists at Benaki Museum this monthThe Greek Cartoonists Club will for the first time hold an exhibition in the Benaki Museum atrium on Pireos Street, starting on September 21.
The exhibition is entitled "With the cartoonists' M..penaki" (wordplay using the Greek word for pen and the museum's name) and will feature cartoons on current issues printed on large canvases.
On the last day of the exhibition on Sunday, October 2, the cartoonists themselves will be at the Benaki Museum atrium and mingle with the visitors on the last day, talk to them and execute sketches on the spot, either individually or in teams.
Participants include many of the country's best-known cartoonist in the press, such as Costas Vlachos, Panos Zaxaris or PANOS (To Pontiki), Yiannis Kyriakopoulos or KYR (To Vima), Vassilis Mitropoulos or BAS and Costas Mitropoulos (Ta Nea),Stathis Stathopoulos or Stathis (Eleftherotypia), Katerina Schina or SOLOUP and many many others.
 Greece beats Georgia 73-60 in EurobasketVILNIUS (ANA-MPA)
The Greek national basketball team beat Georgia 73-60 in a Group six game played for the Eurobasket competition in Lithuania on Monday, securing the third place in the group and qualifying for the quarterfinals where it will be playing against France. The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 12-13, 32-35, 51-47, 73-60.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe economy and the extraordinary two-year special tax on real estate decided by the Cabinet dominated the front-page headlines in Athens' dailies on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Additional surtax on homes of up to 10 euros per square meter".
AVRIANI: "You should go ahead with controlled default because you have failed in everything".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Surtaxes of desperation - The citizens are going bankrupt".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Monster-tax an admission of triple failure".
ESTIA: "New surtax on real estate".
ETHNOS: "New surtax on real estate for the 6th tranche".
IMERISSIA: "4 billion euros surtax raid - Two-year (2011-2012) surtax on real estate for the 6th tranche".
NAFTEMPORIKI:"New tax raid on real estate owners".
TA NEA: "Surtax - Supplication to the troika".
VRADYNI: "Rea estate surtax: Looting due to incompetence".
 Leaders exchange views on aliens, asylum, citizenship and immigrationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, exchanged views on the issue of aliens, asylum, citizenship and immigration, Lisa Buttenheim, Special Representative of the Secretary General in Cyprus, has said.
The meeting took place Monday at the residence of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Liza Buttenheim, in the UN-protected area in Nicosia, and lasted around five hours.
Speaking after the meeting, which took place in the context of UN-led intensified direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem, Buttenheim said that "the Leaders will meet again on Wednesday afternoon at 3.30 in light of the Council of Ministers meeting that Mr. Christofias must attend that morning. Meanwhile, the Leaders agreed that their Representatives will meet at 9.30 on Wednesday morning to continue the discussions of this issue", she added.
Asked if the leaders exchanged proposals, Buttenheim said that they exchanged views. "Basically on citizenship, but we also include aliens, asylum and immigration", she added.
Asked if they begun the discussions on their meeting with the UN Secretary General, that is planned to take place in New York next October, Buttenheim said that they did not discuss that issue.
 EAC, Noble and Delek ready to cooperate on natural gas fieldNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), Noble, and Delek companies have expressed their readiness for a potential cooperation in the natural gas field.
According to an announcement issued here Monday by EAC, a working meeting between EAC and the afore-mentioned companies took place on Monday at EAC central offices in Nicosia regarding the import of Natural Gas in Cyprus.
Monday's meeting was a continuation of previous contacts between EAC and the two companies operating in the field of drilling and commercial exploitation of natural gas.
Delek and Noble companies have the right to exploit Israel's "Leviathan" natural-gas deposits, whereas Noble Company soon will begin drilling exploration in Cyprus' plot ''Venus''.
Both EAC and the two companies Noble and Delek expressed their readiness for a possible cooperation in natural gas field.
The role of the EAC, it is added in the announcement, is considered by the two companies as very important, since EAC will be the most important and perhaps, at first, the only consumer of natural gas.
EAC has a particular interest in the earliest possible arrival of natural gas to Cyprus, which will be used by the two combined cycle power Unit No. 4 and No. 5 at Vasilikos power station, which according to EAC's estimates will be operational by next summer.
EAC stresses once again the imperative need for immediate decisions to be taken that will lead to the arrival of natural gas to Cyprus without further delay, the statement said.
It is added that at Monday's meeting which was held in a very good climate, various techniques and other aspects were examined in relation to the arrival of natural gas to Cyprus, so that both sides are better prepared in case of a possible cooperation.
The two sides declare fully satisfied with the results of Monday's working meeting, which they describe as very useful and productive and are committed to continue their contacts in order to clarify all aspects of this project, the announcement concludes.
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