|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 28 September 2011 Issue No: 3901
 PM Papandreou, German Chancellor Merkel make joint statementsPrime Minister George Papandreou expressed Greece's strong political will for the promotion of very serious reforms as well as the full implementation of the measures decided, speaking during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday evening, before the dinner hosted by Merkel for the Greek prime minister.
The prime minister also stressed his government's political will both for the tackling of the crisis and the creation of a competitive economy in Greece.
Papandreou further pointed out that the message of support by European partners to the Greek people, who are going through great sacrifices, is very important.
The prime minister termed as a very positive gesture the invitation to address the German industrialists on Tuesday morning, while regarding Greek-German relations he termed them "excellent", at both bilateral and European level.
On the question of aid by European partners, Papandreou said that Greece looks forward to cooperation in a series of sectors extending from the provision of know-how to investments, stressing that Greece needs the provision of know-how.
Terming as a very positive development the presence of a delegation for the provision of know-how on the part of the EU Commission in Greece, the prime minister said that Greece will use the best European practices.
Papandreou also said that Greece, apart from the handling of the crisis, will also promote its comparative advantages, both to stand on its own feet and to contribute to a strong Europe.
On her part, Merkel said that "we want a strong Greece," adding that Greece must fulfill its commitments, referring to an EC/ECB/IMF troika's impending report.
Replying to questions, the German chancellor acknowledged that the Greek people are experiencing sacrifices "for which maybe they are not directly to blame" and further said that an evaluation of developments in Greece is taking place by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund and mentioning that this evaluation will be the measure, she stressed that on the basis of this measure "we shall do all that we can to help Greece to respond to the specifications of its commitments".
On his part, the Greek prime minister referred to the "unprecedented situation we are experiencing" and underlined the "cacophony in Europe" from time to time, while stressing that the decisions of the July 21 Eurozone summit constitute a strong message. "We are all determined, each on his part for a strong Europe and a strong euro," he added.
Asked about Greece's targets, Papandreou said they are first of all the decrease of the deficit and as a continuation of this he expressed the hope that in the spring of 2012 the Greek economy will achieve a first stage surplus.
The Greek prime minister added that the conditions in which the Greek economy is functioning may be changing, such as the deepening of recession, beyond predictions, and stressed that the change in conditions might change the situation, but does not change the targets.
Lastly, on the question whether the EFSF will be strengthened further, the German chancellor expressed her conviction that the German government coalition will have ther majority to be able to respond to what is necessary.
 PM addresses BDI con'f in Berlin, invites German businesses to invest in GreeceBERLIN (AMNA/N. Drossos)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou issued an open invitation to German industrialists and entrepreneurs to invest in Greece, addressing the annual conference of the BDI, the umbrella federation of German industry and industry-related service providers on Tuesday.
Papandreou, in an address entitled "Looking to the Future: The Europe of Development and Solidarity", said that "investments in Greece are investments in the future" and outlined the significant steps that have been made over the last two years for transparency and to boost the competitiveness of the Greek economy.
The premier noted an increase in Greek exports, improvement in the performance of the tourism industry, and investment prospects via a privatisations programme, particularly in the fields of infrastructure (airports, ports) and energy, while he especially emphasised the renewable energy sector and the potential export of electricity to Germany.
"Greece can succeed," Papandreou said, adding that "I can guarantee that Greece will fulfil all its responsibilities".
On the crisis in the Eurozone, Papandreou warned that the 'cacophony' must stop and a "one voice" framework must exist, since no country can deal with the crisis on its own or develop on its own.
Papandreou further called for the creation of a "European IMF", noting that although significant decisions have been taken for dealing with the crisis, the end success depends both on the participation of the private sector and the banks -- which, he said, have been backed by the governments when they faced problems themselves -- and on the parliaments of the 17 Eurozone member countries, which he said are called on to ratify the significant decisions of July 21.
Specifically regarding Greece, Papandreou said the country will fulfil all its commitments. "We are determined to succeed," he said repeatedly throughout his address, noting that "when many ask me whether I have the (required social) support, I reply to them that the issue is for Greece to be saved and not whether they will vote for me again".
On the widespread criticism Greece is facing, the premier said "we are making substantive efforts to advance significant and painful changes in Greece ... We are making the system fairer, more efficient. This, however, means lower revenues for employees and pensioners. It means pain. The constant criticism is unpleasant. We are not asking of you to applaud us. What we are asking is that you respect our efforts," the Greek premier stressed.
 LAOS leader criticises PM's address to German industrialistsPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday strongly criticised prime minister George Papandreou over the latter's address earlier in the day to the BDI federation of German industries in Berlin, accusing Papandreou of going to Germany to beg for investments, whereas the German entrepreneurs were fully aware that "very soon, via BlackRock, they will be able to come and loot any (state) enterprise they want", and warning that "the Germans see us as easy prey, not as friends".
Karatzaferis further opined that Greece will receive the sixth tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, but on political, not economic, terms, and linked the funding to Greece with international geopolitical developments and a change in Greece's foreign policy.
The LAOS leader added that the US and Russian interest in Greece "is what gives us an outlet to the future", adding that "some people need to realise that the world is changing, and that we must adapt our country's foreign policy in such a way as to be able to benefit the maximum".
On a press conference by finance minister Evangelos Venizelos earlier in the day, Karatzaferis accused the minister of addressing himself in essence to the ruling PASOK parliamentary group. "Mr. Venizelos set up a press conference in order to be heard by the (PASOK) parliamentary group. In other words, to convince them to turn their roars into cackles. We shall see," he said.
 Troika to return to Athens this week, FinMin saysThe Greek government will send letters to the European Central Bank, the IMF and the European Commission explaining in detail all the new measures and political commitments taken by the government to achieve its goals, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after his return from Washington, the Greek minister stressed that troika officials will return to Greece this week and that an agreement over fiscal measures for 2011 and 2012 has been reached over the phone. Venizelos again rejected all speculation about a larger haircut of Greek bonds and an orderly default of the country, while commenting on the sixth tranche of a loan facility to Greece he said its release will be on time and said that figures over the participation of the private sector in the Greek state bond swap program "were optimistic and encouraging".
"The July 21st decisions are an 'institutional gospel' and we must strictly adhere to their implementation," Venizelos said, adding that "if we succeed the country will be saved. If we lose the war the country will suffer a disaster similar to a defeat in real war except of human losses".
The Greek minister said the country must make more efforts and the Greek Parliament must approve more austere measures. "A vicious cycle of deficits and recession cannot break if we move back and forth. Now that we have felt the consequences of recession we must make a big effort to achieve primary budget surpluses in 2012," he said. He expressed his confidence that PASOK deputies will approve a draft bill introducing a special tax on property, while he rejected scenarios of sharing government with the main opposition political party New Democracy.
The Greek minister announced that all new fiscal measures were expected to be voted in Parliament next month. This measures will include a retroactive implementation of a new lower tax-exempt level of 5,000 euros (excluding pensioners, youth up to 30 years of age and families with more than two children). This measure will save 0.6 pct of GDP. He also announced changes in the taxation of property and said that ministers will be responsible for drafting lists of labour reserve in the wider public sector. Venizelos said a new payroll system in the public sector and public sector enterprises will be implemented from November 1, saving around 20 pct of payroll cost.
The Greek minister announced that privatisation revenues were expected to come in at 4.0 billion euros this year, down from earlier estimates of 5.0 billion euros.
 Juncker: Troika to return to Greece within daysSTRASBOURG (AMNA - N. Roussis)
Eurogroup chair Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday said that troika inspectors should return to Greece within the next couple of days, saying that he could not see any reason why they should not return.
According to Juncker, the troika's representatives had been forced to stop negotiations with the Greek government because of disagreements over how the figures given by the Greek side should be interpreted.
The two sides had now managed to arrive at congruent views on this issue and there was therefore no reason for the troika not to return, he added.
Asked whether Greece will receive the 6th tranche of bailout loans, Juncker said this would depend on whether the troika's talks with the Greek side were successfully completed and whether the Greek side's assurances concerning the implementation of the new measures announced were accepted.
In answer to other questions, meanwhile, he said that Greece would definitely need administrative support from the other member-states in order to carry out the announced reforms and manage to collect the necessary taxes.
The head of the Eurogroup noted that a plan for administrative support toward Greece had been decided at the European Council of July 21 and was now heading toward full implementation.
 FM address World Affairs Council think tank in LANEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
Greek foreign minister Stavros Lambrinidis underlined the "immense effort" being made by the Greek people and the Athens government's "determination" to meet the targets that have been set for the country's exit from the crisis, in an address on Monday at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles.
Speaking at the Council, one of the most significant foreign policy think tanks on the US west coast, Lambrinidis outlined the "immense effort" being made by the Greek people to deal with the crisis and the "significant achievements" that have been made recently, as well as the Greek government's determination to fulfill the targets of its fiscal adjustment programme, and underlined the importance of the July 21 eurogroup decisions and need for their implementation.
Lambrinidis discussed with the think tank's members the reasons why despite the EU's important decisions and Greece's achievements the international markets continued to be reserved, noting that "the constant speculation of default and exit from the euro disregards the real facts and Europe's and Greece's political determination to deal permanently with the crisis and, conversely, makes its management more difficult.
The minister also paid tribute to the "wisdom and determination' of the Greek people, despite the measures that have caused "unbelievable pain", to tackle the crisis and remain in the single currency, adding that the "punishment rhetoric" must stop and the developmental proposals that have already been decided must be speedily advanced.
During his brief visit to LA, Lambrinidis had a 90-minute meeting with the publisher and editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, with the discussion focusing on the latest developments in the European and international economy, the major reforms in Greece and prospects for the country's exiting the crisis, as well as matters concerning stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
Lambrinidis further met with representatives of the local Greek community, whom he briefed on the developments in Greece and the fight being waged by the Greek people and government, as well as ways in which their cooperation, in their fields of activity, with corresponding agencies in Greece may be enhanced or cultivated.
 Austrian Chancellor: 'Greece will meet goals'VIENNA (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Tuesday expressed his certainty that Greece will meet its goals, speaking after the weekly Cabinet meeting here. He also stressed that Greece's exit from the Eurozone is an unlikely development for as long as the country meets its obligations.
He underlined that there can be no guarantees that the expansion of the Euro-zone's support mechanism for the financially troubled countries will fix everything or that it will be an easy step adding, however, that it will be the "first correct step".
 FinMin briefs US House of Representatives delegationGreek government vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with a visiting inter-party delegation of the US House of Representatives, which he briefed on the condition of and prospects for the Greek economy.
The Congressional delegation is headed by House Representative Dan Burton (R-Indiana), chairman of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia.
The meeting was also attended by US Ambassador to Greece Daniel Bennett-Smith.
 Parliament ratifies amendments on special real estate tax, Greek Statistical ServiceThe amendments on the special tax on real estate and the replacement of the members of the Greek Statistical Authority were ratified by the deputies of the ruling PASOK party, following a rollcall vote at the Parliament Plenum, on Tuesday evening.
The amendment on the special tax on real estate was also voted for by independent deputy Elsa Papadimitriou.
Consequently, the amendment on the special tax on real estate received 155 positive votes an 142 negative ones, while the amendment on the Greek Statistical Authority received 154 positive votes and 143 negative ones.
The rollcall vote on the special tax on real estate was requested by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the New Democracy (ND) party and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, while the rollcall vote on the Statistical Service was requested by the LAOS party.
 Poll indicates ND leadMain opposition New Democracy (ND) posted a 6.8 percent lead over ruling PASOK in a GPO opinion poll released late Monday on private MEGA television station, although ND was 7.7 percent behind the 'undecided' vote.
The poll was conducted between Thursday and Monday on a sampling of 1011 people throughout Greece.
More specifically, with respect to voters' intention, ND amassed 22.3 percent against 15.5 percent for PASOK, while the undecided vote among the respondents was 30 percent. These were followed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 9.8 percent and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) with 4.8 percent, while the Democratic Left (DIMAR), Democratic Alliance (DISI), Ecologists Greens and the Arma Politon (Citizens' Tank) did not amass the 3 percent threshold required for gaining a seat in parliament.
To a question on who is the most suitable for prime minister, ND leader Antonis Samaras was first with 22.5 percent, followed by current prime minister and ruling PASOK leader George Papandreou with 16.1 percent. Since February, Papandreou has suffered a major decline in the same poll, and Samaras has also posted a decline, although a very small one.
A majority of 52 percent of the respondents believe that early elections should not be called, against 45.6 percent who opt for snap elections. Also, 50 percent believe that early elections will be held, against 42 percent who believe that early elections will not be called.
The poll results also indicated that voters do not want a single-party government by any party. To a question on what government would be better able to deal with the crisis, 8.9 percent opted for a PASOK government under Papandreou and 14.7 percent opted for an ND government under Samaras, while 36.5 percent wanted co-governance by the two mainstream parties (PASOK and ND), and 38.1 percent said that no government is able to deal with the crisis.
 Bakoyannis favours gov't with 'broad parliamentary support'Democratic Alliance president Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday proposed setting up a council with the participation of political party leaders and former prime ministers chaired by Republic President Karolos Papoulias.
Bakoyannis clarified that the council will focus on forming a government that will enjoy broad parliamentary support and in the next two years will undertake to lead the country out of the crisis.
"There is no other option unless elections are held immediately and such a government is imposed by the people," she underlined.
Earlier in the morning, Bakoyannis met with the federation of secondary school teachers OL.ME board members, stressing that her party supports the single wage scale measure and disagrees with school building occupations by protesting students, pointing out that those who incite such actions should be accountable.
 New Turkish ambassador to GreeceKerim Uras, deputy director of the Turkish foreign ministry's directorate for Greece and Cyprus, has been named as Turkey's new ambassador to Greece.
The assignment was announced by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who is currently in New York with a ministry delegation.
Uras had been tagged in recent months as Turkey's prospective new ambassador to Israel.
 Germany to finance investments of German businessmen in GreeceGerman Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister of Economics and Technology Philipp Roesler announced that Germany will finance the investments of German businessmen in Greece for as long as Greece will not have access to the markets, in a meeting with Development, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis in Berlin on Tuesday.
During the meeting, held on the sidelines of the annual conference on "German Industry Day", that was organised by the Federation of German Industries (BDI), Roesler's visit to Athens next week was discussed. The German official will be heading a large business mission.
Roesler will be accompanied by German businessmen who are interested in investing mainly in the sectors of energy and refuse management.
The purpose of the visit will be the formulation of specific investment initiatives, while a Greek-German economic cooperation agreement will also be signed.
 Local authority staff planning labour action leading up to October 5The local authority staff union federation POE-OTA on Tuesday decided on a series of mobilisations and strikes leading up to October 5, in reaction to further wage cuts and the labour reserve measure imposed by the government.
Their action began with a protest motorcade in the centre of Athens on Tuesday, with the participation of motorbikes, garbage-collection trucks and other municipal vehicles.
POE-OTA's action is particularly focused on the labour reserve measure, with the union federation warning that it will immediately occupy the personnel office of any municipality asked to send a list of employees to be included in the labour reserve.
The union federation's position is to deny that any staff surplus exists and, on the contrary, that there is actually a shortage of staff to run services.
In the seven days leading up to October 3, POE-OTA has planned the occupation of all town halls from 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday until the end of the shift and blockades of central roads between 12:00-12:30 p.m. It will also burn tax office notices for the new property tax.
On Thursday, they will participate in a rally of public-sector trade unionists organised by the civil servants' union federation ADEDY at 3:00 p.m. at the Orpheus Theatre on Panepistimiou Street, after which they will hold a rally in Klafthmonos Square at 6:00 p.m. and march to Parliament.
On Friday there will be a 24-hour nationwide strike by staff in the 'Help at Home' programme and all overtime work over the weekend will be refused.
On October 3, the union will occupy all municipal parking garages and landfill sites until the start of a 24-hour strike declared by ADEDY on October 5, in which all public-sector workers have been called to participate.
 Lawyers, merchants discussing joint action against new taxesThe National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) on Tuesday announced that it was trying to arrange a meeting with the leadership of the Athens Bar Association in order to decide on joint action in protest against the tax policy announced by the government.
ESEE also urged its member federations and associations to work together with their local bar associations in the same way, in order to build a framework for tackling the range of measures that it says are sinking the Greek economy and society deep into recession.
ESEE said it had sent a draft statement of dissent to all its members that had paid the emergency contribution, the enterprise levy and the property tax imposed by the government, noting that submission of the statement would, in itself, be an act of collective action and protest with its own political significance.
 Geroulanos attends World Tourism Day events in EgyptCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Tuesday attended events marking World Tourism Day held at Aswan in Egypt, where he has been on a visit for the past few days.
While in Cairo, Geroulanos was received by his Egyptian counterpart Munir Fakhry Abdel Nour on Sunday and agreed to lay the foundations for stronger cooperation in tourism between Greece and Egypt.
The two countries aim to work together to attract visitors from rapidly growing tourism markets such as China, India and Latin America. Geroulanos emphasised that tourists from these countries place great emphasis on archaeological tourism and that in this area the two countries could join forces so that they were not competitors but partners.
To promote this effort, the two ministers decided to organise a forum for businesses involved in tourism, possibly from the current year.
Egypt is the third country in the region that Greece is seeking to cooperate with in tourism, after Turkey and Israel.
Geroulanos was also confident that Greece will be successful in its bid for the chair of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Europe.
 Furniture industry production down 19.2 pct in Jan-JulyThe Greek furniture industry suffered a 19.2 pct decline in its production volume in the first seven months of 2011, after shrinking by 14.3 pct in the same period last year, and was currently 48 pct down compared with production levels in 2005.
An analysis of data published by Hellenic Statistical Authority showed that production of furniture parts -excluding chairs- fell 30.3 pct, of metallic frame chairs by 36.2 pct, of wooden frame chairs by 25.1 pct and of kitchen furniture 21.4 pct in the January-July period this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2010.
Industry executives said this trend reflects a decline in domestic demand due to a deep economic recession in the country.
Production levels fell 10.1 pct in January, by 14.2 pct in February, 22.2 pct in March, it was down 16.2 pct in April, it fell 16.3 pct in May, by 20.8 pct in June and by 13.3 pct in July. Turnover on a monthly basis fell by 10.1 pct in January, by 16.7 pct in February, by 26.1 pct in March, by 16.9 pct in April, by 11.7 pct, it fell by 24.9 pct in June and by 18.6 pct in July.
Workforce in the sector fell by 2,356 in the seven-month period to 27,988, for a decline of 7.8 pct.
 Business Briefs-- The Greek economy will struggle with rising unemployment and a significant reduction of wages and pensions in the coming years, a report by the Labour Institute of GSEE - Greece's largest trade union umbrella group - stated on Tuesday.
-- The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. on Tuesday announced a five-year investment program worth 3.0 billion US dollars which will begin in 2012, the two companies said during the inauguration of a new Coca-Cola factory in Rostov, Russia.
-- Varagis ABEPE on Tuesday announced plans to expand its activities in Qatar through the establishment of a new company with an initial equity capital of 200,000 Qatari real, within the framework of a group strategy to further penetrate in the Gulf region.
-- The Jumbo Group on Tuesday announced a 19.39-pct increase in its net profits in the July 2010-June 2010 period to 94.60 million euros, up from 79.24 million euros in the corresponding previous 12 month period, while consolidated sales rose 0.54 pct to 489.97 million euros from 487.33 million euros.
 Greek stocks end moderately higherGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reversing a three-day decline of the market which pushed the composite index 8.33 pct lower. The index rose 0.83 pct to end at 791.19 points, following a strong recovery in other European markets. Turnover, however, remained a low 44.018 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 1.07 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.51 pct higher and the Small Cap index fell 0.25 pct. Alpha Bank (5.88 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.55 pct), National Bank (4.26 pct) and Mytilineos (3.80 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (3.85 pct), Hellenic Postbank (3.80 pct) and Ellaktor (3.42 pct) were top losers.
The Banks (3.04 pct) and Raw Materials (2.49 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (4.54 pct) and Financial Services (1.24 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 61 to 60 with another 55 issues unchanged. Intralot (11.11 pct), Kri-Kri (9.72 pct) and S&B (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Alapis (16.67 pct), Sciens (11.76 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farms (11.11 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.45%
Personal & Household: -0.35%
Raw Materials: +2.49%
Travel & Leisure: +0.83%
Food & Beverages: -0.46%
Financial Services: -1.24%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.26
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.87
HBC Coca Cola: 13.23
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.92
National Bank of Greece: 2.69
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.89
Bank of Piraeus: 0.46
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell slightly to 16 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 16.16 pct on Monday. There was no transaction in the market. The Greek bond yielded 17.94 pct and the German Bund 1.94 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.06 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 premium of 0.46 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to a low 15.101 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,920 contracts worth 11.198 million euros, with 22,686 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 27,501 contracts worth 3.903 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (10,803), followed by Eurobank (1,745), MIG (2,216), OTE (661), OPAP (374), National Bank (7,441), Alpha Bank (1,949), Hellenic Postbank (318), Marfin Popular Bank (378) and Intralot (414).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.378
Pound sterling 0.882
Danish kroner 7.552
Swedish kroner 9.315
Japanese yen 105.39
Swiss franc 1.241
Norwegian kroner 7.906
Canadian dollar 1.405
Australian dollar 1.389
 Mass transit strike in greater Athens on WednesdayCommuters in the greater Athens area will again be sorely tested on Wednesday, as unions representing employees in state-run mass transports have called another 24-hour strike, this time in protest against the labour reserve measure in their organisations.
Unions have claimed that hundreds of employees have already left their posts via transfers, pursuant to the public transport reform law.
The metro, the ISAP electric railway, buses, trolleys, the tram line, the Proastiakos suburban rail and OSE trains will not run for 24 hours.
Taxi owners also announced a 48-hour strike for Wednesday and Thursday, protesting against the deregulation of their sector.
Meanwhile, Infrastructures, Transport & Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis called on transport sector workers to display a "sense of responsibility" and make their decisions with the general interest in mind.
He also underlined that the public transport sector continues to generate deficits expected to reach 150 million euros in 2011, characterising the situation as "borderline".
 Public transport strikes prevent student assemblies, extend sit-insStudent assemblies to decide whether to continue sit-ins underway at several universities and university departments had to be postponed on Tuesday due to a public transport strike that brought Athens to a virtual standstill for those without cars.
Among the schools where sit-ins are continuing are the Athens Technical University (NTUA) and the Athens Economics University, where student assemblies have been postponed until Thursday.
Sit-ins are currently underway at 154 departments and universities, with a strong risk that the entire examination period and semester will be lost.
At the same time, sit-ins at highschools are multiplying. There are currently 405 schools occupied by school students, of which 174 are in the Attica area. The education ministry is concerned about the prospect of contagion of sit-ins to all schools within a few days.
 Metro workers' strike ruled illegalTuesday's strike by Athens metro workers was ruled illegal by a decision of an Athens court issued around the middle of the day, after the management STA.SY SA took legal action against the strike that was officially declared late on Monday.
Based on the court's ruling, the management is now calling the workforce to return to their posts and run the Athens metro. The employees, on their part, said that the union has not yet been officially notified of the court's decision and, even in the case that this happens, it will be extremely difficult to find sufficient workers at this time in order for the metro to run safely.
In the meantime, STA.SY has also asked courts to rule against a 24-hour strike declared by workers on the metro, tram and ISAP electric railway on Wednesday.
This case will be heard on Wednesday morning and a ruling is expected to be issued in the afternoon.
 Border and special guards hold protest rally outside ParliamentBorder guards and special guards held a protest rally in front of the entrance to Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
Uniformed people from all over the country protested, shouting slogans and holding banners, with their main demands being the lifting of deductions imposed on them and the "freezing" of salary promotions, while calling for "the determining of a minimum survival salary for the policeman" and the suspension of uniformed people's housing loan instalments, to the point that it will be considered safe for them.
 President Papoulias to attend Lingiades massacre memory eventAn event in memory of the Lingiades, northwestern Greece, massacre will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 1 and 2, in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. It will be organised by the Ipiros Region and the Ioannina Municipality in cooperation with the local community, the cultural and agricultural society of Lingiades.
The events will begin at 19:30 on October 1 with a torch procession and will heighten on the next day with an address by the local mayor, a rollcall for the dead and the laying of a wreath by President Papoulias.
 Economist con'f on corporate social responsibility"The people with disabilities are the first to lose their jobs and the last to be hired in the present circumstances the country is experiencing," National Confederation of Disabled People in Greece president Yiannis Vardakastanis on Tuesday underlined.
Speaking in the 3rd Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility entitled "People with disability and the right to inclusion: what is the role of anthropocentric companies?" organised by the Economist group, he stressed that the disabled are more vulnerable to unemployment compared with the rest of the population and it is far more difficult for them to achieve economic recovery.
Deputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos acknowledged that in a period of crisis the disabled are more likely to face poverty and social exclusion, adding that an effort is being made to deal with the problem of welfare benefit cuts and deteriorating social structures.
 Jail sentences for guardians of boys behind 11-year-old's disappearanceA Thessaloniki misdemeanours court on Tuesday handed down jail sentences ranging from three to 12 months, suspended for three years, to the parents and guardians of five boys involved in the disappearance and presumed murder of 11-year-old Alex Meschisvili in the town of Veria in February 2006.
Of the seven defendants on trial, only the mother of one boy was acquitted while the rest were found guilty of neglecting the supervision of a minor.
Each of the boys involved had individually confessed to killing Alex in statements to police and to burying his body in an abandoned building that was due to be demolished. Despite an extensive search, however, the missing boy's body was never found.
After the end of the hearing, Alex's mother Natela commented that her one concern was to find out what happened to her child. Her lawyer described the result as "moral vindication".
 Judicial council: Former football club owner should be jailed pending trialAn appellate-level Council of Magistrates on Tuesday ruled in favour of taking controversial football club executive Makis Psomiadis into custody for his alleged role in a massive match-fixing scheme.
The council convened following a disagreement between the examining magistrate and a prosecutor assigned the case on whether Psomiadis should be taken into custody after his testimony last week, or, released on bail.
 Coast guard officer discharged over migrant smuggling chargesA coast guard officer accused of facilitating seaborne migrant smuggling was discharged on Tuesday following a relevant order by the citizens protection ministry.
According to the coast guard headquarters, internal affairs officers arrested the man on Oct. 10, 2008 at the port of Piraeus, accusing him of bribing a coast guard patrol boat skipper -- who served in a sea border region -- to hand him a copy of the vessel's confidential night patrol itinerary. The latter was allegedly intended for a migrant smuggling ring.
A naval tribunal sentenced the cashiered officer to a 12-month suspended sentence. An appeals court later reduced the conviction to nine months.
 Two arrested in heroin bustFive kilos and 628 grams of heroin were found in the possession of two foreign nationals, of a 27-year-old Albanian and a 40-year-old Syrian who were arrested by police in the Athens suburb of Patissia on Monday.
An ensuing search of their home led to the discovery and confiscation of the heroin, as well as 400 euros, four mobile phones, a precision scale and a car that they used to transfer the drugs.
Another two Albanian nationals were arrested in Athens on Monday night and 212 grams of cocaine, a small quantity of unprocessed cannabis, money and a car were confiscated.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 30C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 5-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 26C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSpeculation of new austerity measures including more cutbacks in civil servants' salaries and pensions, new cuts in tax exemptions and reactions against the reserve labour measure, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Finance Ministry pays 3,115 euros per day for rent".
AVGHI: "Blank check for everything to troika".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Mutiny in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO) - They did not submit reserve labour lists".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos brings 20 percent cutbacks in salaries and pensions from USA".
ESTIA: "Two black years for Greece".
ETHNOS: "Shave on tax exemptions, too".
IMERISSIA: "Race for the collection of 11 billion euros - New 7 billion euros from additional measures and 4 billion from privatisations
KATHIMERINI: "Troika demands written preliminary agreement".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Grey zones and evaluation delay the new tranche of the loan".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone take to the streets - Uprising on Wednesday in Athens and throughout the country".
TA NEA: "Short circuit in reserve labour".
VRADYNI: "Labour Housing Organisation (OEK) loans to be activated".
 Downer: Controversy on hydrocarbons not to derail direct talksNICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)
UNSG's Special Adviser on the Cyprus problem, Alexander Downer, said on Tuesday that the controversy regarding drilling for hydrocarbons in Cyprus' EEZ should not derail the direct talks for the Cyprus problem.
He urged all sides to act with due restraint to ensure that "in no way this issue derails these talks".
Downer also said that the United Nations could consider a mediating role concerning this matter, provided that the two ask for its involvement.
Speaking to the press after Tuesday's meeting between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, which lasted 5 hours, Downer said that the hydrocarbons issue was not discussed in the direct talks, adding however that the two leaders had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the UNSG in New York last week.
"The SG has made it clear that it is important that restraint is exercised here and that we do what we can to try to make sure that these talks are successful, we do not want anything to happen that would derail the talks, so far that hasn't happened and we hope that this remains the case", Downer noted.
Downer said that the leaders touched upon the matter in the meeting they had right after the holiday break, however he stressed that "if they allow these meetings to be overwhelmed by this issue, it would be derailing the talks".
"They spent some time talking about it, I have obviously spoken to the sides about it on several occasions, as I have with the Turkish government and a number of other governments, so a good deal of talking has been going on about this issue", he added.
The UNSG Special Adviser also said that if the talks are successful, the new United Federal Cypriot government will have responsibility for resources issues, noting that "there was a convergence between the two sides, that in the event of an agreement, that is what will happen".
Once revenue starts flowing, that revenue will flow to the federal government, he explained.
"So it is really important to understand that. Both communities have an incentive, this is not the only one, but including this, to make sure to reach an agreement to the Cyprus problem and it underlines a simple point: that the stability of the region will be very much enhanced by an agreement here in these negotiations", he noted.
Asked what the UN could do to assist the situation regarding the hydrocarbons, he said that if the two sides request "some sort of a mediating role", the UN would consider the matter.
"If the two sides came to us and asked us to play some sort of mediating role, the SG would have a look at that, and we would discuss this and see what we could do, but the two sides would have to come to us, we are not trying to impose ourselves", he clarified.
He said that the UN had "private conversations" with the Greek Cypriots, the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots about the issue, as well as with a number of other countries and "what we say remains private and our focus is on the talks".
Invited to comment on the fact that the Turkish Cypriot leader has put forward some proposals to the UNSG on the matter, Downer said that the "UN has received a paper now from the Turkish side".
He said that President Christofias is aware of these proposals, as they have been made public, explaining however that "how the Greek Cypriots respond to this is a matter that I'll leave to them".
He repeated that "in terms of any role for the United Nations, that is something we would think about in the context of us being asked by the two sides to play a role".
Downer said that on Tuesday the leaders talked about European Union matters, describing this as "one of the less contentious chapters in the negotiations".
He announced that the leaders will meet again on Friday to discuss security issues, whereas their aides will meet on Thursday, at 10 o'clock in the morning.
The UN official said that negotiations will enter a new phase next week, because "we will have gone through all of the chapters by the end of this week".
He said that he will be talking with the leaders tomorrow about "how we're going to handle this new phase", adding that "this will be a phase that will lead us up to the meeting with the Secretary-General".
He clarified that no date has been confirmed on the meeting with the SG, however it's likely to be at the very end in October.
"How that meeting will go, as I have explained before, will depend very much on what's been achieved by then, we look forward to next week getting into a different phase of the negotiations and that will take us through to the last meeting, which is on the 21st of October", he added.
Turkey, whose troops occupy CyprusT northern part since they invaded in 1974, is the only country in the world, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its EEZ, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Drilling has already begun and is being carried out by Houston-based "Noble Energy", off Cyprus' south-eastern coast.
The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey's moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
UN-led talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus are currently underway in order to reach a negotiated settlement that would reunify the island.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus will meet with UNSG Ban Ki-moon in October in New York to review progress in the Cyprus talks.
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