|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 27 September 2011 Issue No: 3900
 Greek, Turkish PMs hold telephone discussionGreek prime minister George Papandreou called for self-restraint and calm with respect to security issues in the Middle East, adding that Cyprus, as a sovereign state, has the right to decide on its actions and stressing that unilateral actions that could create problems in the region should be avoided, in a telephone contact on Monday with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos.
The spokesman, during an informal press briefing, said that the Papandreou-Erdogan discussion had not been impromptu but took place in view of the meeting the two premiers had been scheduled to have in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The two premiers discussed, inter alia, the efforts for a Cyprus solution under the condition that there are undisturbed and constructive talks.
Papandreou and Erdogan further discussed the prospect of bilateral Greece-Turkey meetings, given the existence of the High Level interministerial council, Mossialos said, adding that the two premiers agreed that the council will be activated in late October or early November.
The council had initially been scheduled to take place in June, but was postponed due to elections in Turkey.
What Greece always aspires to is a functional relationship with Turkey, and hopes that the situation in end-October or early November will be such as to allow planning to go to Turkey for such a meeting, Mossialos added.
The two premiers further discussed economic relations between their countries, with the focus on exports, tourism and health.
 FinMin: Government's measures have created 'very positive impression'NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said late Sunday that the measures taken by the Greek government have created a "very positive impression" and noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already issued an announcement on the return of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF troika to Greece in the next few days, in a statement after meeting in Washington earlier in the day with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet.
Venizelos said that "the difficult and tough measures we have taken, the measures were decided by the government and are backed by the (ruling) PASOK parliamentary group, have created a very positive impression, because everyone has been convinced that Greece perceives the situation, wants to protect itself, wants to break the vicious circle, and wants to exit from this condition of reduced fiscal sovereignty that hurts the pride of the Greeks".
"This, therefore, helps us very much in our contacts and negotiations. That was also the basis of the discussions I had with Ms. Lagarde at the IMF and with Mr. Trichet. In fact, we had the opportunity to meet the three of us together, without assistants, for a discussion that was very interesting and very significant. What is important, then, is that we are moving ahead normally," Venizelos said.
"Already, the IMF has issued an announcement on the return of the troika in the following days. The issue, namely how we will meet the 2011 and 2012 fiscal targets, has already been discussed in substance. We are also completing the discussion for the following two years -- 2013 and 2014. These are of very great importance for the full implementation of the programme so that the country will return as an equal once again to the European international market," the Greek finance minister added.
"If I didn't have on my mind the sacrifices the Greek people are called on to make, the hardships faced by households and businesses, if I didn't have on my mind the very heavy climate that exists in Greece because we are going through a very big national crisis and are in a delicate and dangerous phase, I could say that I am optimistic, that a climate was formulated here that is clearly better than the climate that existed in Poland (informal eurogroup meeting) a few days ago," Venizelos continued, adding that "all the major factors of the international economy -- the United States, the European Union, but also representatives of other countries with whom I have discussed such as, for example, the finance minister of India or the Governor of the Bank of China -- realise who necessary it is that we all act in a coordinated fashion -- and Greece, as a member of the eurozone, also plays a role in the international economy -- that we take initiatives so as to halt the recycling of the crisis, which has already been going on for our whole years".
"Therefore, the Greek people should know that their very big sacrifices can safeguard the country and protect incomes, properties and prospects, in other words that we will not lose more and that in a visible time frame we will repair the damage that the country has suffered due to our own responsibility, and naturally the political responsibilities being first in line," the finance minister added.
Venizelos stressed that it is of very great importance that "we proceed firmly, and this concerns both the public sector -- the official sector, as we call our institutional partners -- and the private sector, the participation of the banks and the other holders of Greek bonds".
"That is why of great importance were the series of contacts I had with the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the annual membership meeting of which I addressed at noon (Sunday), and with many heads of individual banking foundations and credit organisations that want and are able to help in this cause, to their own benefit but also, of great importance, to our own benefit too, the benefit of the Greek banking system, the Greek social security funds, the Greek national economy," he added.
 FinMin at IIF: Greece will win this warWASHINGTON (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece is not the scapegoat of the eurozone or the global economic crisis, Greek government vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Sunday, in his keynote address to the luncheon of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Annual Membership Meeting, adding that the Greek people are making immense sacrifices to save the country and pledging that Greece's fiscal deficit will be reduced regardless of the political cost.
He added that it is Greece's irreversible decision to do everything necessary to meet its obligations to its partners, to the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and stressed: "We will win this war".
In his address, titled "Breaking the vicious circle", Venizelos outlined in detail the causes and the key points in the Greek, European and international economic crisis, noting that in the case of the eurozone it is now obvious that the crisis is something more than an economic or taxation problem but, rather, a "political and institutional crisis".
Venizelos stressed the need for "quick and decisive" actions to convince the markets, adding that, in the current international and European framework "the Greek problem" is indisputably significant -- above all for the Greeks themselves -- but it is not the eurozone's core problem, nor could it be a catalyst for a new phase of the global economic crisis. "The size of the Greek economy does not allow it such a role," he underscored.
The Greek minister underlined that the debt problem in the eurozone is of "vital importance", as was the fact that three of the 17 eurozone member countries have taken recourse to the support mechanism provided by the eurozone and the IMF, and this indicates that "very significant steps" have been taken in the direction of dealing with the problem.
Those three countries (Greece, Ireland and Portugal) represent just 6 percent of the eurozone's total debt, while Greece on itself accounts for approximately 3 percent of the eurozone's total debt, bit could cause a domino effect at a European-wide dimension, he continued.
Venizelos also outlined Greece's potential, noting that, based on its historical, cultural, tourist and shipping dimensions and despite the crisis of the last three years, Greece remains among the 30 largest economies worldwide although it has a population of must 11 million.
Outlining the causes that led to the current situation, Venizelos said that Greece has a "large scale" black economy, extensive tax evasion, a large current accounts deficit and an equally large deficit in competitiveness.
The minister set out the events leading to Greece's recourse to the support mechanism, noting inter alia that in March 2011 it was ascertained that the parameters of the programme were excessively strict and thus the European Council decided that the initial terms of the loan to Greece needed to be substantially improved both with respect to the repayment period and to the interest rate.
"We have done many difficult things in these past 15 months of implementation of the programme," he said, adding that "we achieved a speedy reduction of the fiscal deficit by 5 percentage points of GDP in the first year of implementation of the programme". He also noted a series of "significant reforms" made during that same period and others that are on the way to implementation, which "are absolutely necessary for the future of our nation".
Venizelos further referred to the "fundamental decision" of July 21, noting that since then and up to the end of August there have been no new problems. "What we did have were the same, known difficulties, including the particularities of the Greek political system, the lack of broader political consensus on the need for full and speedy implementation of the programme, contrary to what is taking place in Portugal and Ireland," he said, adding however that despite all that, "there are certain positive indications of political consensus, such as in the case of the privatisations".
"I don't think that you can find many examples at international level of such an immense and speedy effort for fiscal adjustment. That is important for us, to bring to an end the vicious circle that has entrapped us," he added.
"Greece is not the scapegoat of the eurozone or the international economy. Greece is a historic and proud country, whose citizens are making many sacrifices in order for the crisis to be overcome," Venizelos stressed, noting that "Greece's decision to do everything needed to fulfill its obligations to its partners, to the eurozone and the IMF, is final and irrevocable".
"There is so much that has been done over the last 15 months. It is not everything, but it is a lot. But the limelight always alls on the delays and divergences, and not on the greater picture of the achievements," Venizelos noted.
Outlining the "new supplementary measures" taken by the government, Venizelos stressed that "Greece is and will always be a member of the EU, of the eurozone, and will always respect and implement the decisions of the European Council".
He further stressed that "it is only reasonable and fair that we receive an institutional and political shield, not only for Greece, but for the eurozone as a whole and for the international economy in general".
 Finmin again denies reports of 'orderly default'Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday renewed his categoric denial of press reports that Greece was discussing an "orderly default".
"Such reports are then used as material to recycle speculation in the global media and fuel the comments of political, journalism and academic circles that express neither the Eurozone, nor the European Commission, nor the European Central Bank nor the International Monetary Fund," he said.
He emphasised that in his one-on-one talks with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde or ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet "there was not nor could there be any discussion" on orderly default.
The minister accused the Greek media of being too ready to reproduce idle and groundless speculation, including reports on what was said during a private meeting where himself, Lagarde and Trichet were the only people present.
 Gov't spokesman : No more austerity measuresMinister of State and government spokesman Ilias Mossialos on Monday reassured that there won't be any more austerity measures, speaking to private radio station VIMA, following Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos' meeting with IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Washington on Sunday.
Mossialos spoke of "tough negotiations with the (EC, ECB, IMF) troika", but appeared optimistic on their outcome, adding that "we are in a very good stage".
Referring to Venizelos' meetings in Washington, the government spokesman noted announcements by both the Greek Finance Ministers and the IMF on the troika delegation's return to Athens.
 Thousands of public-sector jobs to soon be scrapped entirely, minister revealsThe government is planning to soon abolish of thousands of organisational positions in the public sector, Administrative Reform and e-Governance minister Dimitrs Reppas said in an interview published on Monday. The minister said that the scrapping of permanent public-sector positions was "in the wings" while 30,000 employees from the boarder public sector will immediately go to labour reserve status, staying home and receiving only 60 percent of their normal pay.
In the interview published by the newspaper 'Ta Nea', Reppas said that abolishing state-sector organisational positions would not require any change in the Constitution, only a restructuring of the organisational chart of the state organisations involved.
On the abolition of tenure for civil servants, Reppas said that this was also being raised as a possibility after 2013, when Parliament was able to revise the Constitution.
"Our final aim is for ministries to retain their executive duties, while implementation is gradually transferred to decentralised local government or the appropriate bodies in each place. All of this is included in the major reform for the state that we are promoting and for which we are now, based on a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, conducting the necessary preparation," he added.
At the same time, the minister said the government was seeking ways to set up social employment programmes using funds for the European Social Fund, in order to support those placed in the labour reserve programme during the transitional period.
In the interview, Reppas also indulged in criticism of his predecessor at the ministry Yiannis Ragoussis, accusing him of having failed to do any preparatory work to pave the way for the uniform public-sector pay scale, even though this had been included in the government's policy platform since 2009, so that the draft bill had to be prepared from scratch after July 2011.
 ND points to 'renegotiation' of labour reserve measure; promises no layoffsA renegotiation of the labour reserve measure will be an immediate priority to ensure that it will assume the form suggested by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, ND labour sector head Nikos Nikolopoulos on Monday said.
Addressing employees of organizations where the labour reserve measure will be implemented, he underlined that the ND position is that those on labour reserve have an active labour relation and will not be fired, reminding that either way there will be no layoffs for a year based on the labour reserve measure's present form.
 Gov't spokesman on vote for property surtaxGovernment spokesman Ilias Mossialos on Monday expressed the government's confidence in its ruling PASOK party Parliamentary group, ahead of Tuesday's vote in Parliament for a controversial surtax on real estate.
Mossialos referred to what he called "PASOK MPs' high sense of duty".
Referring to press reports alleging high-profile disagreements between Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas and Transport Minister Yiannis Ragoussis over preparation of a draft law for a unified pay scale in the public sector, Mossialos said necessary explanations have been offered and that government considers the issue closed. He also called for "self restraint" all.
 ND will vote against the surtax on real estateMain opposition New Democracy (ND) shadow alternate minister Yannis Vroutsis on Monday called the government's 'national tax reform' a disorderly assault, underlining that after the government's financial staff destroyed the tax collection mechanism, today it calls on the Greek people to pay for the delay, inefficiency and incompetence with heavy surtaxes.
In a statement, Vroutsis accused the government of cultivating panic and fear in the Greek society and of acting with callousness and without a plan.
Referring to the extraordinary surtax on real estate, Vroutsis clarified that ND will vote against the measure during the roll call vote in parliament on Tuesday, because it believes the measure is unconstitutional and violates the principal of proportionality, and is counter-developmental.
 KKE leader on capitalist crisisCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking to state-run NET television on Monday, reiterated her position that the country's bankruptcy "is unavoidable".
Papariga said that the exit from the capitalist crisis cannot take place without bankruptcy and added that there is already the bankruptcy of the people, which is the golden opportunity for capital.
"Bankruptcy is the exit from the capitalist crisis on the part of capital. The crisis was created because we have an overaccumulation of capital and stagnant capital - therefore the capital must be 'given a haircut'," she said.
 Tsipras: 'Send government, troika into reserve labor'Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday called on the Greek people to "send the government and the troika into reserve labor before they bankrupt Greece for good", addressing a protest rally against reserve labor organised by the Thessaloniki Labor Center in the northern Greek capital.
"Either the working people and the youths will find themselves in the labor reserve, or the government and the troika will find themselves in the labor reserve. Everyone must reply to this quandary. Will we let them put our lives, our dreams into reserve, or will we show them the way to reserve once and for all?" he asked.
Tsipras further urged the civil services and state organisations (DEKO) affected by the measure to refuse to comply with the government's demand that they send in lists of supernumerary personnel and instead turn in lists with the vacant organic positions and tens of vacancies that need to be filled immediately.
The supernumerary personnel are in the Cabinet, in prime minister George Papandreou's government, he added.
 Papoutsis rejects election option as 'nightmare scenario'"In the present circumstances, the Greek people could not consider the option of general elections even in their worst nightmares," Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Monday, stressed after meeting with a visiting European official.
He said that this is a crucial week considering that the financial support package for Greece will be ratified in European parliaments.
"The obligation and commitment undertaken by the government is to lead the country out of the crisis," he said, adding that "determination, speedy implementation of the policies approved by the Greek Parliament and consistency in meeting our commitments and goals are a prerequisite."
 Archbishop Ieronymos on Church taxationArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos, speaking to reporters on arrival at the Mets indoor stadium, central Athens, where the archdiocese's clerical and popular assembly took place, underlined the humanitarian work of the Church.
Ieronymos reiterated that the Church "is taxed and probably more than the others" and added that it is not requesting to be excluded from the real estate that yields revenues. He reminded that the churches, even in the other religions and doctrines, are not taxed and termed "imaginary" all that is being said about large ecclesiastical property.
 Citizen's Protection minister on immigrants reception centreCitizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis attributed the fire burning five buildings in the Evros region to arson, so as not to become an immigrants' initial reception centre.
The minister added that procedures for the building of a fence in the region of the land borders between Greece and Turkey are proceeding with speedy rates.
Speaking after meeting the executive director of the European Asylum Support Service, Robert Wisser, Papoutsis stressed that the time limit for the tabling of offers by companies for the fence's construction ends on October 4 and the money required is coming from the public investments programme.
In parallel, he expressed satisfaction over the speedier rate of the procedures for the examination of asylum applications, that from 0.5 percent at this time last year have reached 12.5 percent this year.
 Mossialos on attempts by students to 'hijack' state television news programmeThe government will not allow any specific group to impose its opinion on the state media, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos said on Monday concerning an attempt by a group of students to interrupt a state television news programme in order to broadcast their own message on Sunday night.
"The state media present all views in a balanced way and we will do the same in every similar case," the spokesman said, praising the quick reaction of journalists and technicians during the incident.
Mossialos said the government will not tolerate movements of the 'I won't pay' type and all those involved in undermining the country's course, urging the political parties to clearly state their position on such phenomena.
 KKE, SYN on EAM anniversaryThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (SYN) issued announcements on the 70th anniversary, on September 27, of the National Liberation Front's (EAM) founding, in 1941.
An announcement by KKE's Political Bureau stresses that it is proud that it was the soul, the guider and the main bloodprovider of EAM and added that "although seriously wounded by the persecutions of the Metaxas dictatorship KKE, with the Central Committee secretary Nikos Zahariadis and hundreds of its leading members delivered by the bourgeoisie governments to the Occupation forces, found the strength to sound the reveille of popular resistance recovery and to shape with its action the terms for popular resistance to rise, to take on flesh and bones."
SYN's Central Political Committee stressed on the occasion of the anniversary that EAM constitutes "one of the most splendid pages of Greek and European history and of the struggles against fascism" and added that the 70th anniversary of its founding "reminds the younger generations of the huge possibilities of the people to determine their future themselves, through united and collective action."
 Gov't gives figures on WWII resistance era, Civil War era disability pensionsA total of 5,091 people still receive disability pensions for which they qualified after they became disabled during participation in the WWII-era resistance (1941-1944) against Axis occupation, and in the subsequent Greek Civil War (1946-1949), it was announced on Monday.
The figures, dated Aug. 2011, are included in a document signed by Alternate Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis, which was forwarded to Parliament in response to a relevant question by three opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) MPs.
 Greece to announce privatization actions this weekThe Greek government is expected to announce as early as this week three significant concession contracts as part of an ambitious privatization program for the year, George Christodoulakis, secretary-general of privatizations, said on Monday.
In a radio interview, Christodoulakis said the government has pledged to raise around 5.0 billion euros by the end of the year from privatizations and that in this framework the ministry has scheduled a series of transactions -of very high quality- which are not based on the business cycle, such as renewing a concession contract for the Athens international airport, renewing a concession contract for OPAP's older games and selling licenses for video lottery terminals.
He underlined that the government has scheduled the privatizations of DEPA, Hellenic Petroleum, OPAP, selling new generation mobile telephony frequency licenses and a sale-and-lease back program for several state buildings.
Christodoulakis acknowledged, however, that prices would be lower because of global financial crisis, saying "it is impossible to sell at 2008 prices, although the Greek state is making moves aimed at securing benefits".
Commenting on the sale of Hellinikon -the former Athens airport site- he said that ministry authorities have accelerated procedures to appointing financial advisors to the sale.
 'Troika' reps to return to Athens soon, Commission spokesmanBRUSSELS (AMNA / V. Demiris)
EC-ECB-IMF "troika" officials will return to Athens soon, Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said here on Monday, adding that final decisions over the release of a sixth tranche of a loan to Greece will not be taken in a Eurogroup meeting next Monday in Luxembourg.
Altafaj said a delay is necessary to complete technical work based on a report by the "troika" representatives. The EU spokesman said the Eurogroup has repeatedly proved it was flexible and capable of taking decisions "at any time and in various compositions".
He stressed that a "significant progress" was made in talks between the Greek government and the troika and noted that the main challenges ahead were fiscal deviation for 2011 and 2012, implementing structural reforms such as opening up closed professions and privatizations. Altafaj said that agreed fiscal targets have not changed and a strict implementation of recently announced measures was necessary.
He stressed that the Commission was open to recommendations over strengthening the measures aimed at ensuring stability in the Eurozone, underlining however that the EU executive will not participate in any premature scenarios.
 Gov't to cut tax relief from 2011 incomesThe government will abolish a series of tax relief measures, saving 0.6 percent of GDP or upward of one billion euro in tax relief, while the new rules will also apply to income earned in 2011, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Monday.
Venizelos was keynote speaker at the annual meeting of international bankers in Washington, where he outlined the measures that the government intends to take in order to meet targets for reducing the deficit in 2011 and 2012.
The minister said that the application of new rules on tax relief, outlined in a draft bill reforming the taxation system that is soon to be tabled in Parliament, will be backdated to January 1, 2011.
The ministry's goals is to establish income levels above which a tax payer will no longer be eligible for tax relief. Among the types of tax relief to be scrapped are the amounts paid in interest on housing loans and medical fees, which will continue to apply for low incomes but not high incomes.
 Former EL.STAT board member testifies in 2009 deficit furorFormer Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) board member Zoi Georganta on Monday testified for six hours before two prosecutors within the framework of an investigation into allegations that Greece's state deficit for 2009 was intentionally inflated.
Georganta, professor of econometrics, appeared before First Instant Court Prosecutor Popi Papandreou in the presence of Financial Prosecutor Grigoris Peponis, who is investigating the case to establish whether her allegations are standing and to determine if criminal violations were committed.
The entire EL.STAT board, sans its chairman but including Georganta, was ordered to resign by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in a surprise decision earlier in the month.
According to reports, Georganta testified that the upward revision was made possible by including expenditures from public utilities in the general government spending, stressing that some of those public utilities companies are now included in the personnel redundancy programme applied via the labour reserve measure.
Georganta maintained that this method is in conflict with the Eurostat practices considering that studies and statistical calculations that are deemed as imperative and should have taken place in advance were never held in the controversial wider public sector companies.
Former EL.STAT vice-president Nikos Logothetis will also be summoned to testify. Logothetis has made similar accusations as regards the 2009 deficit via a memo he had forwarded to the prosecutor's office. He is also facing felony charges for violation of personal data protection after EL.STAT President Andreas Georgiou accused him of hacking into his email account.
 Cooperation between China, Greece in research, innovationCooperation between Greece and China in the sectors of research and innovation, as well as, future prospects dominated in a meeting held on Monday between Deputy Education Minister Evi Christofilopoulou and visiting Chinese Vice Minister of Science and Technology Wang Weizhong.
Bilateral cooperation has entered a new phase focusing on private sector companies and partnerships between universities, private companies and research centers aimed at associating science and research with economy and the job market.
 Austrian FinMin on Greek economyVIENNA (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Austrian Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner announced Monday the existence, since September 15, of a Greek government letter requesting from the Austrian side the provision of know-how for the Greek economy's recovery, to which there has already been an immediate positive response from himself.
The Austrian minister will send to Athens soon a group of experts who are the associates of three organisations (that are subject to the Finance Ministry and aiming at the improvement of the economic intersection, Austria) and who will participate with their advisory capacity in the effort to strengthen the Greek economy's competitiveness.
Mitterlehner said the strengthening of the Greek economy is, in his view, more important than the "all the more new austerity programmes" and that the focus of discussions must move from the austerity efforts to the warming of growth.
 Gov't: Strikes deteriorate 'borderline' situation in mass transit; releases lossesThe government on Monday called on public transport employees to display "a sense of responsibility", commenting on the mobilisations they have announced this week, namely, strikes.
Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis said employees of state-run mass transit networks should decide on their stance taking under consideration the country's and the citizens' interest and respect the sacrifices made by everybody including themselves.
Ragoussis unveiled official figures according to which the cost of operation of public transport companies in 2011 will be 249 million euros for Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA), which runs the buses, and 191 million euros for Hellenic Railways (OSE) and Trainose, the rail operator. He underlined that based on the figures, the 2011 budget forecasts are likely will be overshot and deficits will be larger by roughly 150 million euros.
The minister underlined that each day of strike action translates into a dramatic deterioration of the current borderline situation the public transport is in and dangerously multiplies the painful measures that will have to be taken for the sector's survival.
He lashed out at the trade union leaders stressing that through "social automatism" they try to pressure the organisations' managements and the government to put off a number of structural reforms.
 Employment minister on professional insurance prospectsEmployment and Social Solidarity Minister George Koutrou-manis, addressing a conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on Monday evening, referred to the prospects of professional insurance in the modern-day labour environment, and said that "professional security must play a supplementary role in social securities."
The minister acknowledged that "the structure of the Greek social insurance system until today did not favour the development of supplementary systems" and attributed the causes to the different treatment and the different status that could secure strong groups in the public system itself, very often in an unorthodox way and at the expense of less organised groups and usually weak.
Koutroumanis also expressed his support for the need for professional groups to discuss ways of covering health expenditure or pensioning needs that the social insurance system cannot cover.
 Thessaloniki metro main line delayed by 3 yearsThe under-construction Thessaloniki metro's main line will be ready for commuters in 2015 instead of Oct. 2012, which was the original deadline for the project, it was announced on Monday.
Thessaloniki Metro S.A. project director Giorgos Konstantinidis referred to the course of construction for the long-delayed project, stressing that archaeological excavations taking place alongside construction sites are the most extensive ever made in the northern Greece metropolis.
The project plans also include the construction of three parking facilities, two of them at the Aristotle University, as well as five extensions to the districts of Kalamaria, Toumba and Macedonia Airport to the east, as well as to Stavroupolis and Evosmos to the west.
 Greek trade balance down 29.5pct in Jan-July 2011Greece's trade balance deficit fell a further 29.5 percent in the first seven months of the year, according to provisional figures released on Monday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), resulting from a continuing increase in exports of products and services and decrease in imports due to a drastic reduction in domestic consumer demand.
According to ELSTAT, the deficit of the Trade Balance, excluding oil products, for the 7-month period from January to July 2011 amounted to 9989.8 million euros (13918.1 million dollars) in comparison with 14176.8 million euros (18669.0 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010, recording a drop, in euros, of 29.5%.
The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, in July 2011 amounted to 2557.2 million euros (3636.5 million dollars) in comparison with 2909.2 million euros (3704.0 million dollars) in July 2010, recording a drop, in euros, of 12.1%.
The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, in July 2011 amounted to 1386.7 million euros (1984.2 million dollars) in comparison with 1236.0 million euros (1582.9 million dollars) in July 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 12.2%.
The deficit of the trade balance, excluding oil products, in July 2011 amounted to 1170.5 million euros (1652.3 million dollars) in comparison with 1673.2 million euros (2121.1 million dollars) in July 2010, recording a drop, in euros, of 30.0%.
The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, for the 7-month period from January to July 2011 amounted to 19071.9 million euros (26749.8 million dollars) in comparison with 22284.6 million euros (29369.2 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010 recording a drop, in euros, of 14.4%.
The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, for the 7-month period from January to July 2011 amounted to 9082.1 million euros (12831.7 million dollars) in comparison with 8107.8 million euros (10700.2 million dollars) for the corresponding period of the year 2010, recording an increase, in euros, of 12.0%.
 Crete at "Seatrade Europe" tourism exhibition in GermanyThe island of Crete will have a single pavilion at the international tourism exhibition "Seatrade Europe" which will be held in Hamburg from 27-29 September.
Visitors will have the opportunity to become acquainted with all the Cretan ports. The pavilion's slogan will be "Dream Crete".
The island of Crete, with this action, materialises its plan for a joint and coordinated promotion of the island as a tourist destination and specifically of cruise tourism.
 Business Briefs-- The Greek government is examining a plan to downsize the Public Power Corp. (PPC) by selling off power production units using a mixed cycle, with the latter offered for sale in tandem with a liberalisation of the domestic power market, Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou said on Monday.
-- Greek motorists paid the second highest price for unleaded and diesel petrol in Europe in September, a report by EL.PA - the Hellenic Motorists Association - announced on Monday.
 Stocks fall to 18-year lowsStocks fell to their lowest levels since September 17, 1993, at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by waves of selling pressure on Greek bank shares as the market discounted a larger haircut on Greek state bonds.
Market sentiment remained negative pending developments in negotiations with the troika over the release of a sixth tranche of a loan to Greece.
The composite index of the market fell 1.67 pct to end at 784.65 points, although it rose by 1.06 pct during the day. Turnover was a low 46.950 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 2.60 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 3.23 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 2.21 pct.
Folli Follie (2.81 pct), OPAP (2.50 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (1.53 pct) and PPC (0.51 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Hellenic Postbank (14.13 pct), Piraeus Bank (12 pct), Alpha Bank (8.46 pct), National Bank (6.52 pct) and Eurobank (6.38 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Commerce (2.72 pct), Travel (1.77 pct) and Chemicals (1.51 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (6.27 pct), Technology (5.99 pct) and Financial Services (4.56 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 100 to 43 with another 42 issues unchanged. Maillis (10 pct), Vioter (9.09 pct) and SIDMA (8.93 pct) were top gainers, while Lambrakis Press (20 pct), Aloumil (17.95 pct) and Imperio (1429 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.89%
Personal & Household: -2.69%
Raw Materials: -3.41%
Travel & Leisure: +1.77%
Food & Beverages: +1.49%
Financial Services: -4.56%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.19
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.88
HBC Coca Cola: 13.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.80
National Bank of Greece: 2.58
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.88
Bank of Piraeus: 0.44
 Greek bond market closing reportThe Greek electronic secondary bond market remained inactive for one more session on Monday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds falling slightly to 16.16 pct from 16.20 pct on Friday. The Greek bond yielded 17.94 pct and the German Bund 1.78 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.05 pct, the six-month rate 1.73 pct, the three-month rate 1.53 pct and the one-month rate 1.34 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.33 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to a low 12.923 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,252 contracts worth 8.545 million euros, with 22,202 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,110 contracts worth 4.377 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,568), followed by Eurobank (2,140), MIG (1,679), OTE (1,383), OPAP (763), Piraeus Bank (3,356), Alpha Bank (2,848), Marfin Popular Bank (513), Ellaktor (423), Mytilineos (335), Cyprus Bank (488), Hellenic Postbank (474) and PPC (324).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.370
Pound sterling 0.882
Danish kroner 7.554
Swedish kroner 9.386
Japanese yen 104.6
Swiss franc 1.238
Norwegian kroner 7.943
Canadian dollar 1.409
Australian dollar 1.400
 Public transport strikes to continue in the weekMore public transport strikes announced on Monday will make the coming week especially difficult for commuters, as workers step up labour action in protest against the labour reserve measure announced by the government.
At general assemblies held during a work stoppage on Monday, workers on Athens buses and trolleys decided to follow up the work stoppage with a 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Taxi owners, in the meantime, have decided to modify their strike schedule and have moved a 48-hour strike planned on Tuesday and Wednesday to take place on Wednesday and Thursday.
Their federation accused the transport ministry of making absolutely no move to continue dialogue promised them in July, even though they tabled their own proposals several days ago.
The Electric Railway (ISAP) and the Tram will be operating as normal on Tuesday, but the Metro will not be running since the employees have decided a new 24-hour strike.
As regards Wednesday, according to reports, there will bo no public transport since buses and trolleys will be immobilised for 48 hours, while fixed line public transport, meaning the Metro, Tram, Electric Railway and Suburban Railway will be immobilised for 24 hours.
 Police guards protest against pay cutsGreek Police (ELAS) special guards held a protest against pay cuts at Lycabettus Hill on Monday morning.
The uniformed officers hung a banner with the slogan "ELAS mourns - Payday, day of mourning", before departing the Hill shortly before noon.
 Air Traffic Controllers' work-stoppage on Wednesday ruled illegalAn Athens court on Monday ruled as illegal a new four-hour work stoppage called by Air Traffic Controllers for Wednesday.
The ruling came after the Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) filed a relevant petition in court asking that the four-hour stoppage -- from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday -- be declared illegal.
 Woman to stand trial for throwing egg at ministerA 33-year-old woman accused of throwing an egg at Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Manolis Othonas, breaking it on the back of his head, is to stand trial on October 10 after the minister sued her for insulting behaviour. The incident occurred at an event attended by the minister in Rethymno, on the island of Crete.
Othonas, who is a key witness of the incident, was not present when the woman was taken before a police court on Monday so that the court, at the request of the defendant's counsel, decided that the case will be tried on October 10 so that the minister might attend.
 Explosive device outside PASOK prefectural committee offices in RhodesAn makeshift explosive device was detonated at the PASOK party's Southern Dodecannese prefectural committee offices in the city of Rhodes at dawn on Monday.
The device was placed at the building's main entrance and caused material damage, which was not very extensive. The perpetrators left behind a handwritten proclamation explaining the reasons for their action, which is in the hands of the police together with the remnants of the device.
PASOK's offices in Rhodes have been the target of similar actions by unknown perpetrators three times in the past months.
 Cinematic 'Zorba House' on Crete turned into cultural centreThe house at the Stavros Akrotiri site on Crete, associated with the film "Zorba the Greek" (1964), which was based on Nikos Kazantzakis' book "Life and Adventures of Alexis Zorbas", will be turned into a cultural centre, the Hania City Hall decided on Monday.
The issue was discussed in the presence of representatives of the International Society of Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis.
A special event entitled "Kazantzakis and Zorba" will be held in Hania in 2012.
 Ten migrants and migrant-trafficker arrestedPolice on Monday announced the arrest of a 28-year-old Bulgarian man that was caught transporting 10 illegal migrants in his car, following a police pursuit on the old national road from Komotini to Xanthi.
Border police had flagged down the vehicle with Bulgarian number plates to stop for a routine inspection. Instead of stopping, however, the driver picked up speed and attempted to escape, prompting police to follow.
He was arrested shortly afterward, with 10 illegal migrants from Iraq in the car that he had arranged to drop off in Thessaloniki.
The car was confiscated and the trafficker will be led before a Rodopi public prosecutor.
 Police intercept van transporting 17 illegal migrantsFthiotida police on Monday pursued and confiscated a van that failed to stop for a routine inspection near the Agios Konstantinos tunnel, finding it abandoned four kilometres later with 17 illegal migrants in the vehicle. Nine of the migrants were Iranian nationals and seven Afghans.
The driver and a second man had abandoned the vehicle and disappeared before the police arrived but were also picked up about an hour later, when strong police forces gathered in the area to locate and arrest them. Both were Iranian nationals.
All the suspects arrested are being held at the Fthiotida police headquarters and will be led before a Lamia public prosecutor. Police also hope that the arrested migrants and traffickers will give them valuable information about the organised migrant-trafficking ring that they suspect was responsible for bringing the migrants to Greece.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 30C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 5-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 29C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 26C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceFinance Minister Evangelos Venizelos' series of meetings in Washington and his pledge for implementation of the programme to the letter, the Troika's (EC,ECB,IMF) return to Athens, the strikes in public transport on Monday, and the reserve labour measure in the public sector, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Strike storm on Monday!".
AVRIANI: "Greece can directly receive 700 billion euros from the capitalisation of future revenues from oil and natural gas drilling and exploitation rights in the Aegean and the Ionian Seas".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Venizelos, troika agreement for a new tax package".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Up to 50 percent haircut on bonds and people".
ESTIA: "Bankruptcy rescue plan".
ETHNOS: "Five criteria for reserve labour in public sector".
IMERISSIA: "Crucial week - Troika will return to Greece under conditions - They demand written commitment for the measures".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "IMF opened the way for troika's return to Greece".
TA NEA: "Bargaining and tight-rope walking.....outside the barber shop".
VRADYNI: "How to settle loans and credit cards".
 President briefs Greek Premier on contacts in New YorkNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has briefed Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on his contacts in New York in the framework of the UN General Assembly.
According to a press release, in a 35-minute telephone conversation with Papandreou, Christofias briefed the Greek PM on his meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his lunch with the Representatives of the Permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as the separate meetings he has had with heads of state and government, whom he briefed on the Cyprus problem and on Cyprus' exploratory drilling in the Republic's Exclusive Economic Zone.
Christofias and Papandreou also discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, as well as the Turkish threats over the exploratory drilling in the Cypriot EEZ.
Turkey, whose troops occupy CyprusT northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf.
Drilling has already begun and is being carried out by Houston-based "Noble Energy", off Cyprus' south-eastern coast.
 Archbishop:Turkey destroys religious heritage in occupied CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II has indicted Turkey for the destruction of holy sites in the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island, calling on the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, Elias, to assist in any way possible and to exert pressure on the matter in the international arena.
The Archbishop, who paid an official visit to the Orthodox Church of Georgia, at the invitation of Patriarch Elias, was speaking at a concelebrating ceremony on Sunday in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi.
He said that more than 500 Orthodox churches and monasteries in the occupied areas are in a miserable condition.
"Some of these churches and monasteries have been destroyed, others have been transformed into mosques, night clubs, army camps even stables. Our holy icons and other religious items have been sold to Europe and America", he noted.
He said that the Church of Cyprus has been long demanding a permit from the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in order to repair these churches and monasteries, however there has been no response so far.
The Archbishop also referred to the Cyprus problem, noting that Turkey illegally invaded Cyprus in 1974, occupying 37% of the country, adding that it wants to take over the occupied areas and the rest of Cyprus.
Turkey, he pointed out, is implementing "ethnic cleansing" tactics in Cyprus, by driving away all Christian Orthodox from their homeland and bringing Muslim settlers from Anatolia, changing the demographics of the whole of Cyprus.
He spoke of the very good relations between the Church of Cyprus and the Orthodox Church of Georgia, noting that a great number of Georgians today reside and work in Cyprus.
Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, hundreds of valuable artifacts have been stolen from the northern Turkish occupied areas of the island and found their way into the black market overseas.
More than 500 churches have been pillaged, destroyed or turned into museum, inns or silos. Many archaeological sites and other places belonging to the country's 9,000 year old cultural heritage have been abandoned to the elements.
The Church of Cyprus has, at different times, managed to secure the return of stolen religious items, illegally stolen and sold on the black market abroad.
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