|Saturday, 18 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-11-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 30 November 2011 Issue No: 3944
 US vice-president Biden in Athens on December 5NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
US Vice President Joe Biden will be in Athens on December 5, during a visit to the region that also encompasses Ankara on December 2 and Istanbul for an international conference on entrepreneurship, before Greece.
Greek-American relations, issues of Greek interest such as the Cyprus problem, the FYROM name issue, religious freedoms and the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be on the agenda of Biden's discussions in Athens, as well as the economic crisis and problems in the wider region.
Biden will be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, while he will also meet separately with prime minister Lucas Papademos, PASOK leader and former prime minister George Papandreou, and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras.
Biden's national security advisor Tony Blinken spoke with the press during a teleconference on Monday night about Biden's visit.
Blinken noted that US president Barack Obama, when he called Greece's new prime minister Lucas Papademos on November 21 to congratulate him, reiterated that the US supports Greece's efforts to materialise the commitments it undertook with the EU-IMF programme, adding that Obama reaffirmed that the US will stand strongly at the side of Greece, a friend and ally, in these difficult times.
Biden will display this support and encourage the further implementation of the necessary steps, Blinken added.
Deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs Michael Froman, asked if Biden would carry to Athens a specific proposal for US economic assistance, said that the US acknowledges the sacrifices that have been made by the Greek people, as the process of reforms continues, and consider the fiscal changes agreed with Greece's European partners and the IMF to be crucial.
He also stressed that the US stands by Greece, of which it is a firm friend and ally, adding that the US will continue to support Greece in this period that is full of challenges, together and through the IMF, of which the US is the biggest contributor.
Froman also said, in reply to another question, that Biden will be supportive of the entire reform effort and package of measures set out by the European partners and the IMF, including substantial funding and other mechanisms in order to aid the support of Greece in this transitional period. That support will be towards the existing package of reform measures and the financial support provided to Greece, he added.
 FM Dimas at int'l congress in BerlinBERLIN (AMNA)
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas called for a rapid pace to deal with the current economic crisis, underlining the need for the institutional enhancement of the European Union with respect to institutional equality and the coherence of its member-states.
Dimas made the statements while addressing the international congress 'Berlin Foreign Policy Forum', jointly organised in Berlin by the German foreign ministry and the Koerber Foundation. The congress focused on the EU's foreign policy, the member-states' role in its elaboration and the idea that young people hold regarding the EU.
Meanwhile, in an earlier meeting here, Dimas met with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, given that Poland recently assumed the rotating EU presidency.
On his part, Sikorski reminded that Warsaw supports the reform efforts of the new Greek government, adding that Greece is "on the right course".
Sikorski said he and Dimas had an extensive and very constructive discussion, adding that the talks focused on the crisis and reform efforts.
 ND spokesman: Change of policy mandatory, elections date as scheduledMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yannis Mihelakis stressed on Tuesday that the need for change of policy is mandatory and direct, adding that the IMF has accepted regulations based on ND party leader Antonis Samaras' letter.
Mihelakis also noted that surplus budgets will exist and "the policy we will implement must be a policy that will switch on the engine and will produce wealth".
Referring to the date of the general elections he noted that "the date of the elections is connected with the completion of the PSI. However, February 19 was not a date selected from us by chance. It was decided in coordination with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his staff and the announcement has the Finance Ministry's signature. No delay is being observed in the PSI to justify any discussion for the change of the snap elections' date".
Concluding, Mihelakis said that ND's aim is a self sufficient government underlining that "a strong government must exist and Mr. Samaras, if elected by the people, must have a strong mandate in order to negotiate the the change of policy, omething that has not been done in the last two years and the country has paid dearly for it".
 PM Papademos receives leftist party leaderRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday expressed his party's absolute opposition to the policy implemented by the new transitional government, characterising it as dangerous.
Tsipras made the statement following a meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
He also repeated that general elections offer the only "democratic way out" of the crisis.
He underlined his party's firm opposition to the memorandum signed with the troika and questioned the democratic legalization of the present government.
Tsipras repeated that Greece should not enter a discussion on the implementation of the Oct. 26 EU decision, stressing that this decision has become obsolete as a result of the rapid developments.
 Polish EU presidency supports Greek reform effortsThe Polish EU presidency supports the reform efforts of the new Greek government, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Tuesday, after a meeting with Greek foreign minister Stavros Dimas in Berlin, adding that Greece is on the right course.
Sikorski said he and Dimas had an extensive and very constructive discussion, adding that the talks focused on the crisis and reform efforts.
The Polish EU president supports the reform efforts of the new Greek government, he said, adding that Greece needs those reforms and is on the right track.
 FYROM asks Greece's support for commencement of EU accession talksSKOPJE (AMNA/N. Frangopoulos)
FYROM prime minister Nikola Gruevski sent a letter to Greece's new transitional prime minister Nikola Gruevski on Monday on the possible commencement of accession negotiations between FYROM and the European Union, ahead of the upcoming European Council in December, Gruevski's office announced on Tuesday.
In his letter, Gruevski noted a need for EU enlargement with the countries of SE Europe and refers to the reforms advanced by his country, adding that on the basis of those reforms the European Commission, for the third consecutive year, proposes the start of FYROM's EU accession negotiations, according to the announcement.
Gruevski further underlines that Greece is the oldest SE European member of the EU and has undertaken the so-called "Agenda 2014" which is the basis of EU enlargement policy with the Balkans, the announcement said, adding that "in this context, Greece can contribute decisively to restart European procedures for the accession course of all countries of the region".
"Your support for the commencement of accession negotiations will contribute to strengthening the momentum in the accession process of the Balkan countries," Gruevski said in his letter to Papademos.
Gruevski, in retrospect, further said that the opening of accession negotiations can work positively to overcome what he calls the "bilateral differences" between an EU member country and a candidate country. "I am convinced that our two countries cam implement this positive model from the recent past," Gruevski said, according to the announcement, adding that such a development would "contribute decisively to building mutual confidence, which is necessary to solve bilateral differences remaining between the two countries, in the spirit of European cooperation".
He further suggested that FYROM begins accession negotiations with the EU alongside the continuation of negotiations for a solution to the name issue, the announcement continued.
"I appeal once more to your government, which enjoys broad support, to use this unique opportunity and back the commencement of accession negotiations, at the European Council in December, and to increase the benefits from the process of EU expansion to the entire Balkans region," the letter concluded.
 KKE: Further downgrading of standard of livingA further deterioration of people's standard of living is forthcoming, according to the Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, who spoke after a meeting on Monday with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
Papariga said the situation is getting more complex in Greece due to what she called the "capitalistic crisis" in the Eurozone, warning that "the masks have fallen".
"The issue is not the Euro or drachma. Whatever decision, whether expulsion from the Eurozone or EU, which seems to be inevitable, the issue is what this will mean for the people," she said, reiterating her communist party's demand for what she called "disengagement, socialisation and a write-off of the debt with popular authority".
 Transport Minister on reserve labour, taxi deregulationTransport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Makis Voridis on Tuesday explained that he was not seeking a total review of the overall reserve labour measure. "I have not put forward an issue vis-a-vis the reserve labour measure in general. I have put forward an issue (with reserve labour) in specific occupations in specific companies that cause a problem in the provision of their commuter services," said Voridis.
Referring to the deregulation of taxis, he said that the relevant draft law will be tabled in parliament by the end of 2011 but it will be based on specific criteria. "Within the next period and by the end of the year a legislative initiative will be made on this issue. It will be a specific legislative intervention. We will deregulate the market, but this deregulation will take place after specific commuter and environmental criteria have been considered. I do not know of a single European country in which such a policy exists that whoever and whenever he wants can take out a taxi licence," concluded Voridis.
 Dep. DM: Longer military service under considerationDeputy Defence Minister Costas Spiliopoulos on Tuesday left open the likelihood of a decision for a lengthier mandatory military service by conscripts.
Speaking tp a private radio station, he stressed that the reductions in the duration of the compulsory military service has caused significant problems for the armed forces, adding that the likelihood of increasing the military service should be considered by all political powers.
 AMNA work stoppages, strikes from Tuesday through SundayWork stoppages have been called at AMNA (ANA-MPA) on Tuesday, November 29 from 17:00 to midnight, and on Thursday, December 1, from 11:00 a.m. to 15:00 (3:00 p.m.), against the government's measures of reserve labour and uniform salary scale, which also affect the news agency.
Three 24-hour strikes have also been called at AMNA on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 2-4.
AMNA will also be participating in a 24-hour strike in all news media throughout Greece on Wednesday, November 30.
During the work stoppages and strikes, news items and information will not be broadcast by the Agency and the AMNA website will not be updated.
 ELSTAT chief summoned to testify as suspect on inflated 2009 revised deficit figures issueIndependent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) chief Andreas Georgiou has been summoned for testimony, as a suspect, by an Athens prosecutor investigating charges of a manufactured inflation of the revised deficit figures for 2009.
The investigation concerns charges made by former ELSTAT board member Zoe Georganta of deliberate inflation of the revised deficit figures, under the recommendation of the European statistical authority EUROSTAT, in order that additional and more adverse economic measures be imposed in Greece.
Georganta, a professor of econometrics, charges that "deliberately, and under pressure by the European Statistical Authority (EUROSTAT), ELSTAT inflated the revised deficit, with non-scientific methods, from approximately 12-13 percent to 15.4 percent, aimed at more and tougher fiscal measures being imposed in Greece".
Georganta's accusations, presented during a 6-hour testimony to the prosecutor, were corroborated by former ELSTAT vice-president Nikos Logothetis in his own testimony, according to sources.
Logothetis, in a deposition he submitted in January 2010 after being summoned to testify as a suspect on felony charges, said that the deficit figures had been falsified so as to appear as nearing 15.5 percent so that additional measures would be taken, whereas the deficit was much smaller. In his deposition, Logothetis rejected involvement and attributed his penal implication in the matter to his disagreement with the doctoring of the deficit figures.
 Gov't to launch waste management tender in two monthsThe Greek government will launch an international tender to find a manager for waste management in Attica, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou said in a letter sent to Parliament on Tuesday.
The minister was responding to deputy questions over the ministry's privatization program. In the letter, Papaconstantinou said the ministry has already completed negotiations with the European Commission over allowing access to third parties in the country's lignite market, while a process of privatizing DEPA and DESFA (the country's natural gas distribution and management companies) was underway along with a partial privatization of Public Power Corporation aimed at further deregulating the electricity market in Greece to the benefit of the consumer. Papaconstantinou said that a tender to find a manager for waste management in Attica would be launched in the next two months.
 Greek PPI up 8.1 pct in OctGreece's Producer's Price Index (a composite index measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew 8.1 pct in October 2011 compared with the same month in 2010, after an increase of 5.0 pct recorded in October 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the producer's price index was stable in October from September, after an increase of 0.1 pct recorded in the corresponding period last year. The average index in the 12-month period from November 2010 to October 2011 was up 7.8 pct, after an increase of 6.0 pct recorded in the previous 12-month period.
 Holiday shopping hours begin December 15Holiday shopping hours ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays go into effect on December 15, with shops hoping that the extended hours and holiday spirit will drum up much-desired sales and make up for some of the immense losses suffered throughout the year due to the crisis.
The Federation of Merchant Associations of Attica prefecture, Neighboring Prefectures and the Aegean Islands, in collaboration with other local associations, announced on Tuesday that the extended holiday shopping hours will begin on December 15, and revert back to normal shopping hours on Tuesday, January 3.
As of Thursday, December 15, shops will remain open on weekdays (Mon-Fri) from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night.
On Saturdays -- December 17, December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 31 (New Year's Eve) -- shops will be open from 9:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the afternoon.
On Sunday, December 18, shops will be open from 10:00 in the morning to 6:00 in the afternoon.
On Sunday, December 25 (Christmas Day), Monday, December 26 (Boxing Day), Sunday, January 1 (New Year's Day) and Monday, January 2, all shops will be closed. It is noted that shops are closed on the day after New Year's (Monday, January 2) as a day off in lieu of the Sunday (December 18) worked by shop employees during the holiday season.
 Online purchases by Greeks jump 30 percent in 2011On-line purchases by Greek consumers jumped by 30 percent so far this year against 2010, reaching 1.7 billion euros, according to an annual survey by the Athens Economic University's e-Business Research Center (ELTRUN) released on Tuesday.
According to the survey, 1.5 million Greek consumers make an average 15 purchases annually via the Internet, spending some 1.15 million euros, of which two-thirds are made on Greek websites.
The variety and frequency of online purchases increased substantially in 2011, with PCs, electronic goods, travel tickets, hotel bookings, household goods and books continuing to be the best-sellers.
However, the categories with the biggest rises in 2011 were prepared foods, cosmetics/personal care products, jewelry/watches and supermarket products.
There was also a substantial increase in the use and purchase from websites of daily special offers, which accounted for 20 percent of all online purchases in the first half of 2011.
 Business Briefs-- Viokarpet SA on Tuesday said its net after tax and minorities losses totaled 6.277 million euros in the nine-month period from January to September 2011, after losses of 4.394 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
-- Sfakianakis Group on Tuesday reported a 24 pct decline in its nine-month sales to 188.8 million euros, from 248.3 million euros in the same period last year. Parent sales fell 26.7 pct to 149.2 million euros.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.353
Pound sterling 0.866
Danish kroner 7.549
Swedish kroner 9.357
Japanese yen 105.38
Swiss franc 1.246
Norwegian kroner 7.967
Canadian dollar 1.392
Australian dollar 1.353
 Woody Allen tribute in AthensThe Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens will hold a short tribute to celebrated Hollywood actor and director Woody Allen, beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 7, it was announced on Tuesday.
The tribute will be held within the framework of the cinema club events to take place on Wednesdays in December. Admission is free.
 Sail boat with 84 illegal migrants aboard intercepted off LefkadaA sail boat loaded with 84 illegal migrants was located on Monday by the coast guard off the Ionian island of Lefkada.
The US-flagged vessel, which had no maritime documents, was reportedly headed for Italy to drop off the illegals.
Three crew-members accused of migrant smuggling, along with the illegals, were transported to the small western Greece harbour of Astakos.
 Arrests for confirmed debts continueAnother two individuals, one in the greater Athens area and another one on Dodecanese island of Rhodes, were added to the list of individuals arrested for confirmed debts to the state, police announced on Tuesday.
Economic police arrested a 56-year-old businessman in Athens' northern Dionyssos district. He is listed as the owner of a printing company that went bankrupt in early 2011 for debts to the state amounting to just over two million euros.
In the city of Rhodes, a 30-year-old man, the owner of one of the oldest dairy companies on the island, was arrested for debts to the state totaling more than half a million euros.
Both are scheduled to appear before a prosecutor.
 Counterfeiting arrestsThree individuals were arrested on counterfeiting charges on Monday after more than 50,000 euros in forged banknotes were found in their possession.
The suspects include a 50-year-old woman, an 18-year-old and a man, 34, all arrested in Piraeus working-class district of Korydallos.
 The history of National Bank of Greece presented in exhibition at Benaki MuseumThe most important landmarks in the history of the National Bank of Greece NBG), Greece's oldest bank with 170 years of continuous operation, will be presented in an exhibition that will be inaugurated on Wednesday evening at the Benaki Museum in Athens.
The National Bank of Greece's three centuries of operation run parallel with the history of the modern Greek state. The collections and the archives data presented in the exhibition derive from the cultural wealth that NBG rescued and which belong to the bank's historic archive and its art collection.
The exhibition follows NBG's course, starting from its founding a few years after Greece's liberation from Ottoman rule and continues with the enhancement of its operation in Greece and abroad, which grew in tandem with the expansion of the national borders.
 Fine weather, some wind on WednesdayFine weather is forecast throughout the country on Wednesday, with local cloud in the south and some wind.
Light cloud in Athens in the morning, with northeasterly winds of 4 beaufort velocity and temperatures ranging from 6C to 17C. The same in Thessaloniki, with winds of 3-4 beaufort velocity and temperatures ranging from 1C to 13C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe malfunctions in the public sector due to lack of specialised employees who left after the implementation of the reserve labour measure, the recession in the Greek economy in 2011 according to OECD data and the debt crisis in the eurozone, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Public sector scattered about!".
AVGHI: "Government is looting social security funds and cutting down the pensions".
AVRIANI: "Judges' manifesto on the operation of justice".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Reserve labour causes general dissolution in public sector".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Reserve labour causes a mess".
ESTIA: "Low euro rate is in Greece's favour".
ETHNOS: "Gangs of shame in student dormitories".
IMERISSIA: "New Treaty for the euro".
KATHIMERINI: "OECD warning for crash in Europe".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Europe gives green light for the disbursement of the sixth tranche of the bailout loan".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Disengagement from the European Union, deletion of debt with popular authority".
TA NEA: "The taxes hole - How billions of euros are lost for the state coffers".
VRADYNI: "Surtax on real estate is equal to payment of 'rent' to the state".
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