|Monday, 17 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-11-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 13 November 2012 Issue No: 4220
 PM Samaras: 'It's now Europe's turn to make a move'Economic growth is the Greek government's top priority, following Parliament's ratification of the state budget for 2013 and the omnibus bill containing a series of tough austerity measures, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Monday after a lengthy meeting at the Development ministry with 'growth-related' ministers.
"The first phase of the process towards growth has finished with the ratification of the budget and the omnibus bill. We are now expecting Europe to make its own move. We have done all we had to do. I am certain that this is a very positive development... the question is now how much money we will be receiving to fund the recapitalisation of banks and paying off state debts to businesses," Samaras said referring to negotiations on the disbursement of the 31.5-billion-euro tranche from Greece's bailout loan.
He added that it was 'shameful' to see so many businesses closing down owing to unpaid state debts.
The prolonged meeting was attended by Minister of State Dimitris Stamatis, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, Environment Minister Evangelos Livieratos, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni, Shipping Minister Costis Mousouroulis, Agricultural Development Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris, alternate ministers and deputy ministers from all the ministries.
"We must be very coordinated in order to be able to turn a page and to fight bureaucracy, and for things to move quickly," the prime minister said, referring to the topic of the meeting that lasted six hours. He said that "the way public administration has been functioning is giving rise even to conflicts among ministries... but what we want is joint action, not rivalry, and I believe that Greece has the dynamic to achieve growth and create new jobs."
Samaras said the issues that ministries have set as priorities were discussed in detail and in ten days' time there will be a new meeting at the Development ministry, at which the issues discussed in Monday's agenda must have been resolved, including the arrangement of households' debts.
On the question of foreign investments, the prime minister said that "Greece has both a vision and plan for its rennaissance and the future of its people. The attraction of foreign investments and the creation of the modern Greek production development model has already begun".
Focusing on the meeting that took place, he said discussion centered on the country's growth potential, adding that "the target is one: to enter a new era called recovery-growth".
"This is the only way to give a smile and optimism to the Greeks again and for young people in Greece to find jobs - and this is the most important of all," Samaras concluded.
 Samaras in Brussels on Tuesday; meeting with Barroso, RompuyPrime Minister Antonis Samaras is to visit Brussels on Tuesday in order to attend an event organised by the Friends of Cohesion Group to discuss the 2014-2020 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), along with other European prime ministers.
The event is being held under the auspices of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who is due to meet Samaras when he visits the Belgian capital on Tuesday.
The Greek premier has asked for a revision of sums earmarked for Greece based on the country's 2008-2009 economic figures so as to take into account the massive recession that has hit the country since that time.
While in Brussels and in addition to his meeting with Barroso at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Samaras will also hold talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, discussing the latest developments in the EU debt crisis, issues concerning Greece and the disbursement of the next tranche of bailout loans worth 31.5 billion euro.
 Juncker: Timetable for disbursement of tranche should be agreed at Monday's Eurogroup meetingBRUSSELS (AMNA/V. Demiris)
Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker opined that Monday's meeting of the eurozone finance ministers should agree a specific timetable for the disbursement of an outstanding 31.5 billion euro tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan to Greece, in exclusive statements to AMNA.
Juncker stressed that "it would be wise for us to agree today on a specific timetable for the tranche" given that given "all the preliminary work that has been done, the disbursement of the tranche must be organized in the best possible way".
Juncker further said that he was "impressed" by Greece's recent performance with the passing of the omnibus bill and the budget, adding that Greece has fulfilled step-by-step all that was awaited of it regarding the obligations that had been set out.
"Today (Monday) we will evaluate the Troika's report, which just reached us, but there will be no decision on Greece today," he said.
 Praise but no promises for Greece as Eurogroup ministers gather in BrusselsBRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni, V. Demiris)
Continued concerns over the sustainability of Greek debt, mixed with praise for the tough austerity measures adopted by the Greek Parliament over the previous week, dominated statements by European finance ministers as they arrived for Monday's Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.
Among them was International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who stressed the IMF was in favour of a "real solution and not a quick solution" for Greece's problems. The IMF chief hailed the "immense efforts" made by Greece and said it was now time for the country's creditors to do what was necessary, adding that the IMF would play its part.
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, on his part, stressed that Monday's Eurogroup must sent a positive message for the country.
"Today's meeting must be neither negative nor neutral," he emphasised, adding that the French government wanted the Euro area countries to craft a political agreement that will contribute to the continuation of the Greek programme and restored confidence in the Eurozone.
He deemed it unlikely that there would be a final decision at Monday's meeting, however.
"We are now a few days before the decisions, which must be positive," he said.
According to Finland's Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen, the important thing was to get the Greek programme back on track and she stressed that the sustainability of Greece's debt would be an important factor for releasing the next tranche of financial aid.
She said that the Eurogroup ministers were waiting for the presentation of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF troika's report on the pace of Greece's reform programme, due to be unveiled at Monday's meeting, in order to take decisions that would probably be finalised at a later date.
Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said there will probably be a follow-up Eurogroup meeting within the week, either face-to-face or via teleconference, in order to take final decisions concerning Greece. He said that Greece had made important progress in recent days but stressed that Greece must meet the criteria of the Eurozone and the IMF, pointing out that the criteria set by each side were different.
 FinMin, labour minister to meet with members of relevant Euro-parliament com'tsFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis on Tuesday will meet in Brussels with members of the European Parliament's committees of finance and labour, in order to discuss the current condition and economic crisis in Greece, according to an announcement by the European Parliament bureau in Athens.
The meeting will begin at 15:30 (local time).
 European officials welcome Greece's approval of austerity budgetBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said the German government welcomed the Greek Parliament's approval of a tough austerity budget for 2013, adding that the chancellor "took it into account with great respect".
German government spokesman Georg Streiter said that the 2013 budget, together with the package of austerity cuts and structural reforms passed in the previous week "were a great effort that must be acknowledged but did not come too soon".
According to the spokesman, the next steps in the process will now be discussed by the Eurogroup finance ministers meeting later on Monday.
German finance ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe also conceded that Greece had made important progress but indicated that there were still issues that remained to be settled.
"Everyone is working under great pressure in order to settle the issues that remain open," she said, ruling out the prospect of a final decision on financial aid to Greece at Monday's Eurogroup meeting as unlikely, given that it must first be approved by the German Parliament.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the spokesman for European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn conveyed the Commission's satisfaction that the budget had gotten through the Greek Parliament. Simon O' Connor said that Sunday night's vote was one more step toward releasing financial aid to Greece.
"We'll still need to analyse in detail the final version of the bill. Nonetheless, it very clearly meets another key condition for moving closer to a disbursement of the next tranche of financial assistance for Greece," he said.
O' Connor said that Eurogroup finance ministers will also be presented with the troika's long-awaited report on the pace of Greek reforms, while the troika will also want to contribute to discussion on other outstanding issues, such as the sustainability of Greece's debt and Greece's future financing needs.
 SYRIZA calls for fresh election 'to stop gov't plans'The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Monday called for a new round of demonstrations and early elections that would "stop the government and EC/ECB/IMF troika's plans for a new set of tough austerity measures".
The main opposition party's secretariat, in a statement, accuses the government of "taking delight at selling off the country's public assets and tying Greece to the 'Merkel vehicle', while receiving continuous blows from her international political buddies."
 SYRIZA sees 'crushing defeat' for Samaras' policy in EuropeMain opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, saying that the adoption of the most extreme austerity and recessionary state budget to date "was accompanied by the crushing defeat of Samaras' strategy in Europe and the decision to hitch himself onto (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel's chariot."
A statement issued by SYRIZA pointed out that the voting of state budget also marked "the beginning of the end for the memorandum government".
According to SYRIZA, sustainability problems for Greece's debt will remain even if the bailout loan tranche is disbursed.
"The behind-the-scenes disagreements within the troika find Greece to be absolutely absent from the fermentations taking place in Europe, unable to present any proposal for a European solution to the debt issue that will not cause the country's destruction," SYRIZA concluded.
 SYRIZA MP: Growth will come at end of 2013 only if gov't finds 20-30 bln euros in investmentsThe government's position that growth will come at the end of 2013 will come true only if they find 20-30 billion euros in investments and channel them to the economy, main opposition SYRIZA MP Y. Stathakis said in state radio on Monday.
He predicted that a complication will arise on the part of Germany in the disbursement of the outstanding 31.5 billion euro tranche of the EU/IMF bailout loan to Greece, but added that the tranche will be approved, albeit with a delay, in the context of "other European decisions".
 Deputy expelled from ND parliamentary groupNew Democracy (ND) MP for Lefkada Theodoros Soldatos was expelled from the ND parliamentary group in the early hours of Monday by decision of Prime Minister and ND leader Antonis Samaras after failing to conform with the party line in the midnight vote in parliament of the 2013 state budget.
Soldatos voted yes for the budget, with the exception of the articles on the funding for the Development and Labor ministries, on which he cast a blank vote and simply declared himself 'present' during the roll-call vote.
 KKE refers to EU as 'prison for exploiting workers'Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday commented on the Eurogroup, the bailout loan tranche and rumours that a new "haircut" of Greek debt is imminent by underlining that "it becomes more and more clear that the European Union is an prison for exploiting workers, in which the prison guards/governments fight only for the interests of the plutocracy they represent."
"A basic precondition for the people to be saved and the country to follow a course of economic growth for the people's benefit is to break free from the shackles of the EU and the monopolies," KKE noted.
 Greece, Bulgaria, Romania support EU accession of Western Balkan countries, sign joint declarationSOFIA (AMNA / B. Borisov)
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and his counterparts from Bulgaria and Romania, Nikolay Mladenov and Titus Corlatean respectively, voiced support to the EU accession course of the Western Balkan countries during a trilateral meeting here on Monday.
In a joint press conference, the three ministers noted that all Western Balkan countries should meet the criteria set and implement the European principles and rules that are necessary preconditions for a successful accession course.
EU "enlargement will be the main issue in the agenda of Greece's six-month EU Presidency starting on Jan. 1, 2014," Avramopoulos said responding to a question by AMNA on the significance of the three countries' cooperation in shaping a common EU policy on the European prospect of Western Balkans.
A common goal for the three countries is to continue efforts for a better future of the greater region that can "become an oasis of friendship and stability" while ensuring a "European future for all", the Greek foreign minister added.
Responding to a question on developments in the fYRoM name issue, Avramopoulos noted that Athens is waiting for a substantive response to a recent proposal made to Skopje and reminded the numerous constructive initiatives undertaken by Greece in the past 20 years in a spirit of goodwill, aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable solution.
"We have received a letter from Skopje but we saw no response to our proposal," Avramopoulos said, responding to a question by AMNA.
A Joint Declaration, signed in the 8th Trilateral Ministerial Meeting of Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, noted that the speed at which the countries will move towards the EU accession depends on their own achievements and progress in meeting the accession conditions and requirements as set by the EU. They also "trust that the future of Southeast Europe lies within the EU and NATO".
They "welcome the efforts and achievements of all countries in the region on the path of reform, aiming at achieving compliance with common EU and NATO standards and norms, and pursuing reconciliation and regional cooperation".
The three foreign ministers agreed that they will "consider the stability of the euro area and its impact on all member states as a matter of priority in view of restoring the confidence and trust of the markets and investors and ensuring the welfare of European citizens".
They agreed to "coordinate efforts for diversification of energy supply routes and sources and for developing modern networks and infrastructures in energy, transport and telecommunications, consistent with the objectives of Trans-European Networks".
They underlined the need to "strengthen energy infrastructure to address structural imbalances across our continent and to thus promote a functional internal market; encourage development of cross-border energy projects, including natural gas interconnectors, while emphasizing the role of Energy Community in Southeastern Europe".
As regards Bulgaria's and Romania's accession into the Schengen area, they "expressed the expectation that the Justice and Home Affairs Council will comply with the commitment undertaken at the highest political level by the European Council and will adopt a decision regarding the timely accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area".
 Monti, Tajani express support for AthensGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Monday met with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, on the sidelines of the Med Forum in Milan, as the latter underlined his support for Greece in every way. Monti reportedly added that he is anxious to visit Athens, heeding an invitation by his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras.
Addressing the Italian chambers' forum -- attended by foreign leaders and EU officials -- European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, who holds the Industry and Entrepreneurship portfolio, noted that "Greece has done everything it should have" and that "austerity measures and fiscal adjustment are at their limits".
He also pointed out that the EU and Greece should cooperate on a number of measures, one aimed squarely at achieving economic growth.
 Papandreou reaction to sharp criticism in Simitis' new bookThe office of former premier George Papandreou on Monday issued a barbed response, replete certain insinuations, vis-a-vis the contents of a new book penned by Costas Simitis, the former's predecessor as both prime minister and PASOK party president.
According to the statement, which was issued in response to relevant press questions, Papandreou was outspoken both in the country and abroad as to what took place before and after PASOK was elected to power in 2009. The statement said Papandreou drew up and implemented a policy "he firmly believed that was a tough but a safe way for Greece" to avoid disaster and permanently change.
The statement termed as positive the fact that "now everybody can pass judgment, from the safety of the sideline, because the PASOK government did its national duty and together with the Greek people shouldered past burdens, including those of the Simitis government."
The statement also stressed that many of those who now appear to be critical had opted for the "fundamental political options" made by the Papandreou government, while others, who had flatly rejected those options, are now their strongest advocates.
Referring to the stance that should be adopted by the political sphere in Greece, the Papandreou statement underlined that "honoring the sacrifices made by the Greek people, we should be united and perform our national duty to bring change to the country by avoid polarisation, dead-end confrontations and efforts to place blame on others."
 Gov't unveils long-awaited bank recapitalisation planThe Greek government on Monday unveiled a long-awaited bank recapitalisation scheme envisaging the issuance of convertible bond loans (CoCos) of up to 33.3 pct of the banks' new capital structure, and coverage of the remaining sum through share capital increase plans.
The ministerial act also envisages that at least 6.0 pct of each bank's assets will be covered by basic supervisory capital, or common shares, with the remaining - necessary to raise a bank's Core Tier I to at least 9.0 pct - could be covered by convertible bond loans and preferred shares.
This provision will allow banks to raise the capital needed to boost their Core Tier I to at least 6.0 pct through share capital increase plans. This plan will allow banks to have positive equity capital, with a capital structure comprising of 66.7 pct from common shares and at least 33.3 pct from CoCos.
The ministerial decree amends an existing regulatory framework covering the operation of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.
Regarding financial institutions, listed in the Greek market, issuing price for the new shares should be equal or lower from the smaller of two share prices: a) up to 50 pct of the average market share price of the last 50 sessions and b) the closing price of the previous session.
 Deputy FM: Investments our top concern"The government's top concern is to have the least possible recession in 2013 and for this we must seek investments," deputy foreign minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said on Monday, noting that exports and imports will play a very important role in the effort for recovery.
In an interview to private SKAI television station, Kourkoulas underlined that Greece, following the required ratification of the new package of austerity measures and passing of the 2013 state budget, is entering the final stretch for an overall solution. However, political stability and social peace is a prerequisite, he added.
 Mini retirement 'frenzy' of Parliament employeesAs many as 45 Parliament employees -- mainly heads of department -- have applied for retirement over the past week, days after the government announced a decision to drastically cut many of the specific group's benefits.
According to reports, the trend began after a discussion of the omnibus bill, when Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the government will re-table an amendment cutting benefits and salary, which was later withdrawn after strong reactions by Parliament staff's union.
Sunday's statement by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that the government is determined to cut whatever benefits have been enacted in individual categories such as, for instance, the lumpsum of Parliamentary employees, led 18 employees on Monday alone filing an application for retirement.
 Greek budget deficit down significantly in Jan-OctGreece's central government cash deficit fell significantly to 6.8 billion euros in the January-October period, from 19.8 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Monday.
The central bank, in a report, said that the reduction of the deficit reflected a 23 pct drop in regular budget spending to 44.6 billion euros (57.9 billion euros in 2011) and a slight decline in budget revenues to 39.08 billion euros from 39.6 billion last year. The public investments program also recorded a significant decline in spending to 814 million euros, from 1.8 billion euros.
The state budget recorded a primary surplus of 585 million euros in the 10-month period, after a shortfall of 3.0 billion euros last year. Capital spending also dropped significantly to 6.5 billion euros, from 15.1 billion euros in 2011.
 Positive turn of international public opinion, says SETE chiefA substantial positive turn of the international public opinion on Greece has been ascertained by the Greek Touristic Enterprises Federation (SETE).
SETE president Andreas Andreadis ascertained this positive turn during his visit to the World Travel Market (WTM) exhibition.
According to Andreadis, the first data on reservations for Greece in 2013 are very encouraging and the target of 17 million tourist arrivals will be achieved, generating 11 billion euros in direct revenues and an additional 1.5 percent to the country's GDP.
"Following the ratification of the state budget, the political leadership of our EU partners should and must act accordingly, by proceeding immediately with the funding of the Greek economy and the effective confrontation of Greece's debt sustainability," Andreadis said.
 Titan reports lower 9-month resultsTitan Group on Monday said its net after minorities and tax provision earnings totaled 2.0 million euros in the January-September period this year, sharply down from 54 million euros in the same period in 2011.
Turnover rose 1.0 pct to 847 million euros, while EBITDA fell by 27 pc to 162.5 million euros in the nine-month period. Turnover grew for the second consecutive quarter as a recovery of building activity in the US market, a dynamism of markets in Eastern Mediterranean and higher exports from Greece counterbalanced a continuing collapse of the domestic market.
Titan Group said its nine-month turnover would have been 3.0 pct lower if foreign exchange rate were stable, while operating earnings would have been 28 pct down in the January-September period.
Parent turnover totaled 170 million euros, almost unchanged from 2011, while EBITDA fell 22.5 pct to 35.5 million euros. Net results showed a loss of 4.7 million euros in the nine-month period.
 Eurocontrol congratulates Greek air traffic controllersThe Eurocontrol Organisation congratulated Greek air traffic controllers for their excellent performance during the 2012 summer period.
"You achieved excellentg results that gave the airline community a memorable success, despite the difficult social and economic conditions in Greece," the Orgaisation said in a letter, adding that "in developing and implementing a series of operational solutions you succeeded in maximising benefits from the existing infrastructure and you encourage further future cooperation."
The Organisation concluded by saying "the challenge will be continuous and will do all that it can to support the Greek Air Traffic Controllers".
 Business Briefs-- Four separate calls for tender for the construction of a same number of waste treatment plants in the greater Athens region will be unveiled by the end of next month at the latest, Attica prefecture Regional Governor Yannis Sgouros said on Monday.
-- MLS Informatics on Monday reported lower profits and earnings in the January-September period, with turnover totaling 5.02 million euros, from 6.02 million euros in the same period last year for a decline of 17 pct.
-- Hellenic Exchanges on Monday said its net after tax earnings fell 60 pct to 8.8 million euros in the January-September period this year, from 21.8 million euros in the corresponding period in 2011.
 Stocks end sharply lowerStocks ended sharply lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as bank shares came under strong selling pressure following the release of a ministerial act determining bank recapitalisation terms.
Analysts said the terms were not favourable for the market, nor for existing shareholders, while they did little to encourage private participation in the banking sector.
The composite index dropped 3.63 pct to end at 772.85 points, off the day's lows of 760.08 points. The index was 1.8 pct higher early in the session on hopes that the Eurogroup will give a "green light" to a Greek demand for a two-year extension of its economic program.
Turnover was a moderate 74.316 million euros. The Big Cap index plunged 5.70 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.47 pct lower. The Raw Materials (0.98 pct) and Travel (0.56 pct) sectors were the only ones to move higher, while Banks (14.40 pct), Construction (5.14 pct) and Financial Services (5.01 pct) were top losers. Mytilineos (1.55 pct), Metka (1.46 pct) and OPAP (1.28 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (17.35 pct), Cyprus Bank (15.74 pct), National Bank (14.20 pct), Alpha Bank (13.81 pct) and Piraeus Bank (13.59 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 81 to 50 with another 16 issues unchanged. Kathimerini (30 pct), Nutriart (19.61 pct) and Pegasus (19.57 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farms (20 pct), Douros (19.91 pct) and Boutaris (18.99 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.35%
Personal & Household: -2.69%
Raw Materials: +0.98%
Travel & Leisure +0.56%
Food & Beverages: -0.60%
Financial Services: -5.01%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.56
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.12
HBC Coca Cola: 17.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.21
National Bank of Greece: 1.51
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.74
Bank of Piraeus: 0.38
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened significantly to 16.63 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 15.44 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 17.97 pct and the German Bund 1.34 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.58 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.36 pct, the three-month rate was 0.19 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.84 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 27.28 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,099 contracts worth 13.058 million euros, with 31,076 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 102,789 contracts worth 14.222 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (36,332), followed by Alpha Bank (14,914), Piraeus Bank (24,959), OTE (2,828), PPC (2,585), OPAP (3,272), Cyprus Popular Bank (1,153), Eurobank (905), Mytilineos (480), MIG (215), Intralot (570) and Ellaktor (154).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.292
Pound sterling 0.814
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 8.709
Japanese yen 102.65
Swiss franc 1.223
Norwegian kroner 7.412
Canadian dollar 1.291
Australian dollar 1.238
 Greek Rescue Team 'protector' of Mt. Olympus refugeThe Greek Rescue Team (EOD) has taken under its 'protection' the Petrostrouga refuge on Mt. Olympus. The refuge is situated in a forest of century-old beech trees at an altitude of 1,900 meters.
The refuge can host up to 60 persons at a time and offers a fully-equipped kitchen. EOD restored the building and maintains a helipad located at a close distance.
Due to its location, the refuge can be used as a base for winter excursions, Open all-year-round, in the summer visitors may enjoy rock climbing, while routes have also been cleared for trekking.
Olympus is Greece' most popular mountain and has nine shelters for mountaineers on all its slopes, while six more refuges exist on the mountain but do not provide facilities or staff and are used in emergencies.
 Inquiry into hospital infant deaths launchedThe head of the Thessaloniki public prosecutors' department Evangelos Mademlis on Monday order the start of a preliminary inquiry into the deaths of four infants at the city's "Papageorgiou" neonatal clinic.
Public prosecutor Lambros Tsigas has been put in charge of the case and a misdemeanours justice ordered to investigate whether the deaths resulted from negligence and whether doctors and nursing staff at the hospital might be held liable.
Four babies admitted to the hospital's neonatal clinic died last week, with their deaths initially attributed to an outbreak of the multiply-resistant hospital 'super-bug' Klebsiella. More recent findings of the National Centre for Health Operations, however, found that two of the four infants died as a result of serious health problems and had not been infected with Klebsiella at all, while the other two had been infected but did not die as a result of their exposure.
The neonatal clinic has since been thoroughly disinfected and is continuing to operate.
 Court of Audit, administrative justices' extend strike until Nov. 21Justices at the Court of Audit and Greece's administrative courts on Monday decided to extend an ongoing strike until November 21, while all unions of justices expressed deep concern and strong displeasure at recent government decisions for further cuts to their pay, which they said are so extreme as to cause problems on the level of institutions, the independence of justice and their ability to perform their duties.
Judges in Greece's criminal and civil courts have also extended strike action until November 21 in protest against the new round of cuts, which they say reduce their pre-crisis pay by as much as 60 percent, while public prosecutors are abstaining from duty until November 19.
Administrative court judges have also announced a decision to appeal against the cuts at a salary court.
In a joint announcement issued by unions of judges and prosecutors, justices stress that they will "use all means to defend their Constitutionally protected personal and operational independence and will continue to perform their duties with the means at their disposal without complaint, expending their powers to defend personal and social rights, to fight corruption and to clean up the political life of the country".
 Protesting local government workers seal up protocol offices, HR offices in municipalitiesProtesting local government workers on Monday morning sealed the entrance to personnel offices and protocol offices in a number of municipalities around the country, in a bid to prevent the processing of documents calling for staff dismissals.
Doors into the offices have been nailed shut with planks of wood to prevent documents regarding the dismissals from being received and so that lists of staff are not sent to central government.
The head of their union federation POE-OTA Themis Balassopoulos said that offices had so far been sealed in the Attica municipalities of Elliniko, Glyfada, Agios Demetrios, Nea Smyrni, Vyronas, Hymettus, Nea Ionia, Egaleo, Agia Paraskevi, Pallini and Spata.
 Hooded persons take-over univ. IT centre to prevent voteA group of hooded youths, reportedly self-styled anarchists, on Monday morning stormed the IT centre of the University of Athens at the Zografou campus, with the aim of obstructing the holding of an electronic vote for members of the university's administrative council.
According to reports, the group caused extensive damage to the equipment in the computer room and have staged a take-over of the computer room, and the polling committee is mulling extension of the voting hours. Voters who have transferred their personal access codes to their home PCs from the PCs in their offices in the university premises are able to vote, whereas those who must vote from their offices at the university cannot.
Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Federation of University Professors (POSDEP) on Monday asked for a meeting with the education minister and the relevant general and special secretaries to discuss the urgent issues of the academic functionaries and researchers arising from the Middle-Term Fiscal Programme and 2013 budget recently passed by parliament that contain spending cuts in the education sector and mergers of state bodies.
 Woman's body found on RhodesA woman's body in an advanced state of decomposition was found on Sunday afternoon in the Monolithos area on Rhodes island.
The body was found near a rural route by a hunter, who alerted the police.
The post-mortem examination is expected to shed light on the circumstances and the causes of the woman's death.
 Illicit drug gang busted on Samos islandPolice on the Northeastern Aegean island of Samos on Monday arrested 31 persons in connection with an illicit drug-supply and trafficking gang, the third one to be busted in recent months. Narcotics squad agents have been after the group for a number of months.
Police seized large quantities of narcotics, electronic scales, weapons and cartridges, large amounts of money, bank deposit receipts, cell phones and SIM cards, as well as various documents and items related to trafficking and selling illicit drugs. Also seized were a number of cars and motorbikes.
 Super League resultPanathinaikos Athens drew 0-0 away with Kerkyra in a game played for the Super League on Monday evening.
Standings after 10 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 28
2. PAOK 23
3. Panionios 18
4. Atromitos 17
5. Asteras 17
6. OFI 13
7. Panathinaikos 13
8. PAS Yiannina 12
9. Platanias 12
10. Kerkyra 11
11. Aris 10
12. Veria 9
13. Xanthi 9
14. Levadiakos 9
15. Panthrakikos 9
16. AEK 5
NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 5C and 23C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 11C and 22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 6C and 19C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe ratification of the 2013 State Budget in parliament, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras' departure to participate in Monday's Eurogroup meeting and the changes in the social security system, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The lenders hour has arrived".
DIMOKRATIA: "Mockery with the tranche and the debt".
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Beggars in lion skin".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Which women will be burdened with 2-5 additional years for retirement".
ESTIA: "State Budget of national salvation".
ETHNOS: "Parliament the catwalk of extreme phenomena".
IMERISSIA: "Strong message - Vote of confidence with 167 'yeses'."
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Greece goes to Eurogroup on Monday with strong support".
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