|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-09-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 10 September 2013 Issue No: 4456
 Avramopoulos meets Belgian counterpart, stresses role of smaller defence industry firmsGreek Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday underlined the important role of small and medium-sized defence industry firms on a national and European level, stressing after his meeting with visiting Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Pieter de Crem that they should not be allowed to become wiped out.
Asked about Greece's defence industry specifically, the minister said he had "stated his views, the talks are continuing and our positions are clear and unambiguous".
"In order to carry out European policies in the areas of defence and security it is as necessary as ever to create a common European infrastructure and support the European defence industry, especially the small and medium-sized firms that are its backbone," he emphasised.
"We cannot and must not let them be wiped out," he added, noting that their expertise and specialisation could be utilised in an effort to promote the European defence industry as a global player.
The European defence industry and the common European defence and security policy will be key issues on the agenda at the December European Council.
De Crem, who is on an official visit to Greece, said discussions are now underway to prepare for the December summit and the discussion on Europe's defence industry, in order to put together an overall, comprehensive proposal.
Avramopoulos also referred to events in Syria, noting that the priorities at this difficult moment are the same: "With absolute respect and observing our international and allied obligations, with protection of human rights as a main concern, we note the need to find a lasting political solution for the major problem in Syria."
The Greek minister said that an informal EU defence ministers' meeting in Vilnius had also stressed the need for a political solution, with hopes for a normalisation of affairs in the Arab world that will stop the crisis spreading.
Regarding Greece's upcoming EU presidency in the first half of 2014, Avramopoulos said this was an "important frame of reference for promoting basic Community policies on which we are working and cooperating."
He also expressed his thanks for Belgium's support at a difficult time for Greece, while de Crem noted that, for the first time, there were hopeful signs for the Greek economy.
 Venizelos meets with visiting Belgian deputy prime minister and defence ministerDeputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday met with visiting Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Pieter De Crem.
The meeting focused on developments in the greater region, with an emphasis on Syria, and on EU Common Security and Defence Policy issues.
 Prime Minister Samaras to visit Brussels on September 17Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is to visit Brussels on Tuesday, September 17, where he will meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, sources said on Monday.
The prime minister will be accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas, who is responsible for Greek EU Presidency issues, and will consult with top level EU bodies to prepare for the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.
 EC President Barroso praises Greek government efforts; warns terms should be metVIENNA (ANA- MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praised the Greek government's efforts and, at the same time, warned that the agreed terms should be met in an interview to the weekly Austrian news magazine Profil on Monday.
"The implementation of the present aid programme in Greece is on the right track. Despite the difficult circumstances, the Greek government has made substantive progress in achieving fiscal stability and boosting the competitiveness of the economy - the Greek government's reform efforts were praised in July by the Eurogroup, while the next evaluation of the programme will take place in autumn," Barroso said in the interview.
Responding to a question on the necessity of a new aid package for Greece, Barroso cited the November 27, 2012 Eurogroup decision according to which, any additional aid measures - if they are deemed to be necessary - will only be considered if Greece achieves an annual budget surplus and if all terms included in the programme are met, noting that therefore, he prefers to refrain from making any guesses at this point.
Responding to a question on whether he can rule out the likelihood of a Greek exit from the Eurozone or any other member-state's, he pointed out that two years ago, this was not being ruled out. However, as it turned out, no Eurozone member has left and, in fact, Latvia will also join as of January 1, 2014, he said.
This is a proof that the EU's resilience is greater than what certain analysts, mostly outside Europe, had predicted, the European Commission president underlined.
 No new measures necessary, gov't spokesman assertsNew measures will not be necessary, "as under the (fiscal) programme being followed, the country doesn't need more loans," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told private Antenna TV on Monday.
"Greece is applying what it has committed to," he said, "and we are putting our house in order." The spokesman admitted that "some decisions were not fair" but added that "main pensions would not be touched in the future" and that "the government is prepared to provide solutions without taking new measures."
The next battle that must be won is market liquidity and unemployment reduction, Kedikoglou noted, while he promised that when the economic conditions allow, all injustices perpetrated in financially sensitive sectors of society will be reversed.
 Venizelos meets with UN envoy Nimetz in AthensGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday held a meeting with the UN Secretary General's special envoy in the talks between Greece and FYROM on the name issue, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz. Afterwards, Nimetz described his meeting with Venizelos at the foreign ministry in Athens as "very productive".
Nimetz said that Venizelos clearly outlined the Greek government position on the name issue and on the latest proposal that was presented to the negotiators of the two countries last April. Responding to a question on whether Foreign Minister Venizelos had given his response in writing, Ambassador Nimetz said that it was verbal and "very clear".
Responding to a relevant question, he said that a high-level meeting between the two sides could be possible at the right time and under specific circumstances. However, he clarified that such a meeting is not part of his mission, adding that based on personal experience he is aware of the fact that the two prime ministers handle the issue differently. He underlined that, in any case, the recent letters of the two prime ministers speak for themselves and do not need to be commented on.
The UN envoy observed that it is a very difficult negotiation and underlined that each side should understand the position of the other.
He also said that the continuation of dialogue between the two sides is very important in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.
On whether the forthcoming Greek EU Presidency can give a boost to the solution of the name issue, Nimetz appeared hesitant, saying that the issue is deeply national in nature for both sides and its solution does not depend on a rotating institution, such as the EU Presidency.
On Tuesday, the UN envoy will be in Skopje to continue his contacts in FYROM in the context of the UN negotiating process for the solution on the country's name issue.
 Main opposition leader Tsipras on three-day visit to ThessalonikiMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras will will speak at an open rally in the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrgos) square in Thessaloniki on Friday at 7.30 pm.
Tsipras will pay a three-day visit to Thessaloniki in the framework of Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
On Saturday, Tsipras will meet with TIF's management, tour TIF's pavillions and later meet with the city's production sector. On Sunday he will give a press conference.
 SYRIZA on PM's TIF address, government spokesman repliesThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on Monday accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of attempting to deceive the citizens again at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and provided specific data which, according to SYRIZA, "reveal the lies the prime minister told in Thessaloniki."
SYRIZA further said that the prime minister, avoiding reporters at the TIF again, "celebrated over a supposed success that even deputies of his doubt."
SYRIZA also said that Samaras "celebrated at the TIF for the same memorandum recession and austerity policy for which a few years ago he, in the same place, declared 'I shall not consent to the mistake'".
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, responding to the announcement, accused SYRIZA of being "sad because Greece is achieving a primary stage surplus".
"Apart from its usual insults, it is recruiting every kind of unspeakable allegations now. It will be saddened even more," the government spokesman said.
 Independent Greeks leader Kammenos calls for early electionsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras' speech at the inauguration of the 78th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) "was the speech of another prime minister from another country," Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said on Monday.
"He gave hope to the Greeks, who have to survive without any financial resources until 2021 and without jobs, only to execute the troika's orders," he charged from Thessaloniki, where he will remain until Thursday.
Kammenos called on Greeks to rise up and oust this government, and he asked for early elections.
The party leader will give a press conference on Tuesday at 12 noon at the Vellidis Congress Centre and will later visit the offices of the former state broadcaster ERT and the premises of TIF.
 Finance Minister Stournaras meets North Rhine-Westphalia ministerThe progress of the reform programme, as well as political, social and economic developments in Greece ahead of the forthcoming German elections, dominated a meeting on Monday between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and visiting North Rhine-Westphalia European Affairs Minister Dr. Angelica Schwall-D?ren.
The German minister, who is a member of the Federal Council that coveys the German states' positions to the German federal government, praised the Greek people for the progress made in the country and underlined the need for bilateral cooperation on economic growth initiatives, the creation of new jobs and the reinforcement of SMEs, according to a finance ministry announcement.
On his part, Stournaras referred to Greece's achievement of a primary budget surplus and improved GDP figures.
 Interior minister holds talks with German ministerInterior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis held talks on Monday with North Rhine-Westphalia European Affairs Minister Dr. Angelica Schwall-D?ren focusing on reforms taking place in Greece and in particular reforms in local administration.
Speaking after the meeting, Mihelakis said "it is important to be realised in the difficult reality that we are experiencing that local administration, the first pylon of administration for the citizen, must strengthen welfare structures for the citizens needing them".
The intention was stressed on the German side for contacts to be intensified between the two sides and Greek exports to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to be boosted.
 DIM.AR leader Kouvelis meets visiting German ministerOpposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Monday met with visiting North Rhine-Westphalia European Affairs and Media Minister Dr. Angelica Schwall-D?ren.
Their discussion focused on political developments, reforms, the debt problem and DIM.AR's positions as regards the political situation in the country and in Europe.
Kouvelis referred to the debt issue, pointing out that restructuring coupled with economic growth are necessary and that the big sacrifices made by the Greek people should have results. He also expressed discontent about the way the Greek issue has become part of the pre-election dialogue in Germany characterized by "many populist elements and negative stereotypes".
On her part, the visiting German minister underlined the need for European solidarity, noting that no EU state can prosper when other member-states suffer.
 Greek gov't formulates final proposal on ELVO, EAS and LarcoThe Greek government began a new round of meetings over the fate of two of the the country's defence industry firms - Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELVO) and Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS) - and Larco, following the troika's demand to close down these enterprises "with workers' compensation not exceeding the legal limits" as it clearly stated in an e-mail sent to the finance ministry last week.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras chaired consecutive meetings with defence ministry staff to discuss possible solutions for ELVO, followed by a meeting with Alternate National Defence Minister Fofi Gennimata to discuss solutions for EAS. A meeting with Deputy Environment Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou followed to discuss the future of Larco.
According to a senior finance ministry official, the government has formulated a final proposal that includes the split up of EAS and ELBO conserving only the military sector and the speeding up of LARKO's privatisation.
More specifically the Greek proposal envisages the following: Split up of EAS into a military and a political sector. The military sector is the only one that will be conserved to respond to the country's defence expenses, while the political sector will be liquidated while in operation.
Following the meeting between Stournaras and Gennimata, a senior defence ministry official said that there was a "common line" between the defence and finance ministries on EAS, while the European Commission's reply to the government was expected by Friday.
 SYRIZA MPs demand answers concerning EAS and ELVOIn a question tabled in Parliament on Monday, four main opposition SYRIZA MPs asked National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras to clarify the government's intentions concerning the state defence industry firms Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELVO) and Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS), after proposals for their overhaul were rejected by the troika.
"The government, at the dictates of the troika, is dismantling the defence industry and handing the country's defence armaments to private interests, throwing hundreds of highly skilled workers onto the street," according to the preamble of their question.
The MPs note that the troika's demand for the immediate closure and liquidation of EAS and ELVO highlights the previous years' mismanagement of the two firms by managements appointed by alternating New Democracy and PASOK governments. It also slams privatisation plans for the defence sector as serving the sole purpose of boosting the profits of foreign and domestic monopolies in the defence industry, while undermining the country's defensive independence and capacity.
They also demand to know when unpaid EAS and ELVO staff will receive several months of back pay that is owed to them and why the government does not take steps to collaborate with the workforce in order to protect public control of the defence industry and calls for a developmental plan to expand state defence industry activities for the benefit of national defence, the economy and to protect thousands of jobs.
The question was signed by the MPs Dimitris Stratoulis, Theodoros Dritsas, Yiannis Stathas and Vasilis Hatzilambrou.
 KKE on primary surplus, SYRIZAOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday underlined that "the primary surplus goal mentioned repeatedly by the government, as well as the (main opposition Radical Left Coalition) SYRIZA-sponsored goal of renegotiation with a new "haircut", lead to new anti-popular measures without an expiration date".
KKE added that "the day after for the people will not unchange, regardless of which recipe is administered, the government's or the main opposition's".
 Parliament debate on new high school curriculum, exam system beginsA debate on radical changes to the curriculum and exam system for the upper high school or 'lykeio' began in the summer Parliament plenum on Monday evening.
A vote on the education ministry's draft bill, which has come under intense scrutiny and is strongly criticised by the opposition parties, will take place on Tuesday.
 Interior Ministry to meet with Schoolteachers FederationInterior Minister Yannis Mihelakis will meet on Monday at 5.30 pm with the board of the Primary Schoolteachers Federation at the Interior Ministry.
 University of Athens to remain closed for a week to protest "mobility scheme"The University of Athens will suspend its operation for a week in protest against the public sector employee "mobility scheme" affecting its administrative staff, the institution's rectory announced on Monday.
In a press conference, Rector Theodossis Pelegrinis said that he will seek a meeting with Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos, noting that the University of Athens is in the top 1 pct of universities worldwide despite the fact that it lags behind in terms of faculty and administrative staff numbers.
The University of Athens cannot afford to lose personnel but, on the contrary, it needs to be reinforced to be able to compete internationally, the rector underlined.
The university's administrative staff staged a work-stoppage on Monday, while two 48-hour strikes will be held this week and a 5-day strike has been been called for next week amidst the student registration period.
 State hospital doctors to strike Sept. 17-19State hospital doctors will strike on September 17-19 to protest unmet demands and what their union called "meaningless meetings with the Health Ministers".
Among their demands are "respectful work and wage conditions, professional training, and a fundamental state health system with equal and free quality services to all, including tourists". The Federation of Hospital Doctor Unions (OENGE) said their strike will coincide with the Sept. 18-19 strike called nationally by the civil servants umbrella union ADEDY.
 Public hospital employees to hold work stoppage on ThursdayPublic hospital employees, following doctors, announced mobilisation in response to the change in the use of hospitals and the measure of employee mobility.
The Panhellenic Federation at Public Hospitals (POEDIN) has decided a 4-hour nationwide work stoppage on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a protest rally at the Health ministry at 12 noon.
It also decided to participate in the 48-hour strike called by the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on September 18-19, while leaving open the possibility of escalating labour action.
 Justice Minister urges speeding up of Lawyers' Code bill proceduresThe new Lawyers' Code, bringing changes to legal practice, will improve and be pushed through Parliament under emergency procedures, Justice Minsiter Charalambos Athanassiou asserted on Monday, as opposition parties expressed their disagreement.
During a discussion of the draft law in the relevant parliamentary committee, Athanassiou requested that procedures be speeded up so that the first and second readings of the bill be completed by the committee by Thursday so the bill can make its way by next week to the Parliament's summer plenary session to be voted on.
Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MPs Nikos Voutsis and Zoi Konstantopoulou expressed their disagreement with the shortening of procedures, accusing the ministry of succumbing to blackmail by the troika of Greece's creditors. There is no blackmail, Athanassiou countered, and stressed that the content of the code belongs exclusively to the jurisdiction of Parliament.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also disagreed, as did other parties, while KKE deputy Liana Kanelli said the content of the bill was more important than the procedure.
 Transcendental meditation research programme strictly scientific, Athens University tells ParliamentResponding to a query raised in Parliament, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens on Monday said an EU-funded research programme on using transcendental meditation (TM) to treat hypertension was based on sound science and the evidence of clinical trials.
In a lengthy report sent to Parliament, the university's rector Theodosios Pelegrinis included explanations provided by Prof. Georgios Chrousos, head of the programme that received 636,265 euros from National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds. Chrousos cited recent instructions given by the American Heart Association in a well-respected medical journal on April 22, 2013 that recommended TM as one of the most effective techniques for lowering high blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
"In the academic medical community, as scientists we always operate under the scientific and Hippocratic principles of evidence-based medicine and the instructions of international scientific bodies," Chrousos stressed. He also cited World Health Organisation recommendations on the use of meditation among techniques to lower hypertension and noted that there was good evidence indicating that a mechanism other than the placebo effect was involved in the phenomenon.
Chrousos further clarified that the technique will form only a small part of the NSRF-funded research programme, which investigates the effect of broader lifestyle changes in selected patients that will be asked to give their written consent. The full cost for the section involving TM will be 1,355.65 euros for 16 man-months and will investigate possible benefits from the use of the techniques unrelated to any religion or ideology, he added.
The issue was raised in Parliament by independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos, who tabled a question for the education and religions ministry concerning the hiring of a certified transcendental meditation instructor as part of the programme researching drug-free treatment of hypertension.
 Minister of Macedonia and Thrace holds talks with Victoria state Parliamentary delegationMinister of Macedonia and Thrace Theodoros Karaoglou and the Parliamentary delegation of the Australia state of Victoria, which is visiting Thessaloniki on the occasion of Australia's participation in the 78th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), held talks on Monday focusing on considerable prospects of cooperation and the promotion of trade and business relations beween Greece and Australia.
Welcoming the members of Victoria's state Parliament, who were accompanied by Australiam ambassador to Greece Jenny Bloomfield, Karaoglou stressed that their presence in Thessaloniki reflects the "sincere relation of friendship and the strong bonds between the two peoples" and opens new paths for businesses of Macedonia and Thrace to network in one of the world's most powerfiul economies and in a market with very important prospects for cooperation.
"It is worth you investing in Northern Greece. It is worth your believing in the Greek economy. Trust us, Greece has changed," the minister said.
 Greece-Azerbaijan Friendship Association founded in ThessalonikiThe inaugural meeting on Tuesday of the newly-founded Thessaloniki-based Greece-Azerbaijan Friendship and Cooperation Association will be addressed by Azerbaijani Ambassador Rahman Mustafayev, who was received on Monday by Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris.
Their meeting focused on closer bilateral business sector cooperation following the recent founding of a Greece-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and Economy, as well as, on the likelihood of Thessaloniki's twinning with a city in Azerbaijan.
 Not so high on the happiness scale: Report places Greece near averageGreece is slightly above average in the global happiness rating, or 70th out of 156 countries, according to the World Happiness Report 2013, conducted for the United Nations ahead of its general assembly meeting in two weeks' time.
According to the report by Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which accounts for the period 2010-2012, Greece follows Egypt in the greatest drop of happiness compared to the pre-economic crisis years (2005-2007). Spain registered the sixth greatest drop, Italy the eighth, and Portugal the 12th.
At 5.4, Greece placed slightly higher than the average global happiness index of 5.1 (out of a perfect score of 10). The happiest country in the world is Denmark (7.7), followed by Norway, Switzerland, Holland and Sweden. Of Greece's neighbours, Cyprus placed 34th, Albania 62nd, and Turkey 77th.
The annual report, the second such to be published, showed a much higher than expected impact of an objective economic crisis (especially unemployment) on the subjective emotional state of people.
SDSN's report included the contributions of psychologists, economists, statistical analysts and other professionals, and was chaired by Professor Lord Richard Layard (London School of Economics), Professor Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University), and Professor John Helliwell (University of British Columbia).
The authors of the report called on governments to establish happiness as an indicator of economic and social growth, instead of relying entirely on quantitative parameters like the GDP. They said that globally there is an increasing demand for having government policies agree with what is truly important for people and their happiness, such as real GDP per capita, healthy life span expectation, emotional support by nearby people, freedom of choice, absence of corruption, and the practice of generosity.
They did observe, they said, a general trend of a rising happiness in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and a lower index for the more affluent industrial countries. Globally, between 2007 and 2012, happiness grew slightly by 0.5 percent.
 Friedrich Ebert Foundation, ELIAMEP hold joint eventThe Friedrich Ebert Foundation and ELIAMEP jointly organised an event Monday evening on the theme "Is it all only a vision? A social and democratic Europe of citizens", concluding that the main characteristics that laid the foundations for its unification, thatis social justice and democracy, cannot be absent from Europe's course.
The speakers were North Rhine-Westphalia European Affairs Minister Dr. Angelica Schwall-D?ren, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas and university professors Tassos Yiannitsis and George Pagoulatos.
The German minister stressed the importance of the existence of the social state and said she is "convinced that there must be a European social pact that will secure the social protection of European citizens, as well as a social aid fund for those harmed by poverty and cannot be helped by a national social state that cannot cope due to economic crisis."
Referring to Greece, Schwall-D?ren said that the representatives of the EC/ECB/IMF troika must change course and not impose tougher measures against citizens but against tax evasion and pointed out that the issue of democratic legality must not be ignored, national parliaments not to be degraded by the taking of decisions from outside, since governments must have the possibility to interpret and implement the will of the citizens.
"The Euroelections of 2014 constitute a challenge and an ideal opportunity for the citizen's confidence in the social edifice to be renewed. We must not let the European Social Model that supports all of the EU's fundamental values to collapse," said Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas.
Kourkoulas referred in his address to the need for strengthening the European Social Model as a privileged field for linking the present political act with the best values of the European Union and explained that this constitutes the only safe exit corridor from the crisis, stressing that the vision of a socially cohesive Europe is interracted with a strong democratic Europe.
He said next year's Euroelections constitute an ideal opportunity for the citizens of the EU to express their opinion and their concerns regarding the proposals being shaped for a Europe with even stronger political and economic cooperation and stressed that the great wager and the joint target must be to regain the trust of the EU's citizens in the European edifice.
 Greece will need around 10-11 bln euros in 2014-15, FinMin saysGreece could cover its funding gap for the period 2014-2015 either by exiting to capital markets or through a new financial support by its partners, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said.
He estimated that a funding gap for 2014 would be around 4.5 billion euros, plus another 5.5-6.5 billion euros for 2015.
Commenting on an announcement by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras over a debt writeoff, Stournaras wondered whether the main opposition political party would proceed with a unilateral action. "If something like this happened, Greece would be placed in the corner of the eurozone in the next 10 seconds," Stournaras said, adding that the country's debt has fallen significantly and that according to the Eurogroup's decision of November 2012, when Greece has achieved primary surplus there will be a new debt reduction.
The Finance Minister stressed that there would be no new dismissals in the public sector, except for an "obligatory departure" of 15,000 workers by the end of 2014 who will be replaced by the hiring of 15,000 new employees, with the aim to improve the quality of the public sector.
Stournaras clearly stated that there was no issue of relocating the base of Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) and of the privatisation programe abroad. He also underlined there was no plans of a "sudden death" for Hellenic Railways.
 FinMin: There will be no more fiscal measuresThere will be no new fiscal measures in the case of signing a new memorandum, Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras said on Monday.
In a radio interview, Stournaras said that in the case of a third programe and the signing of a new memorandum the government will introduce new fiscal measures but will continue implementing the existing programe of structural reforms. The Finance Minister said the economic developments were justifying the government's forecasts over growth and noted that structural measures will enhance the economy's growth dynamic, and brought as a example the lifting of cabotage which helped boosting tourism revenues this year.
Commenting on the defense industry he said that state subsidies considered as illegal by the European Union could be offered as supplementary pension to citizens in need, noting he was still awaiting for the proposals of the Defense ministry before submitting the government's final plan for the future of the defense industry to the troika.
 Greek economic recession to be less than 4.0 pct this year, Finance ministry officialEconomic recession could be less than 4.0 pct this year, instead of an initial estimate for 4.2 pct decline in the country's Gross Domestic Product, a top official in the Finance ministry told ANA-MPA on Monday.
Commenting on a recent report by the statistics service, which revised upwards GDP figures for the second quarter of 2013, the official said that based on evidence so far "a recession this year could be below 4.0 pct".
He supported this forecast on the fact that "the revised figures were based on the early data from tourism," and noted that an increase tourism trend will continue having a positive impact on the country's economy.
The official categorically dismissed the possibility of taking new additional measures this year and in 2014 and said that the troika heads will return to Athens in September 22.
 Greek exports up 6.7 pct in JulyGreek exports grew by 6.7 pct in July this year, compared with the same month in 2012, with the value of export-deliveries totaled 2.371 billion euros, from 2.223 billion euros in July 2012, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Monday.
In a report over the country's merchandise trade, the statistics service said that the value of export-deliveries grew 12 pct in the 12-month period from August 2012 to July 2013, compared with the previous 12-month period.
Imports grew 2.2 pct to 3.899 billion euros in July, from 3.817 billion euros in July last year, while in the 12-month period from August 2012 to July 2013, the value of imports fell 1.0 pct.
 Industrial production down 8.1 pct in JulyIndustrial production dropped 8.1 pct in July this year, with manufacturing production falling by 4.3 pct in the month, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the industrial production composite index fell 8.1 pctin July, after a 3.9 pct decline recorded in July 2012. It attributed this decline to a 5.2 pct fall in the mining production index, a 4.3 pct fall in manufacturing production (beverage -18.7 pct, non-metal minerals -20.1 pct, electrical equipment -11.5 pct, food -3.0 pct, textiles -8.5 pct, clothing -26.5 pct and wood -38.7 pct), a 19.6 pct drop in electricity production and a 5.4 pct fall in water production.
 Greek inflation at -1.3 pct in AugustGreek inflation continued moving into negative territory in August, with the consumer price index at -1.3 pct, compared with the same month in 2012, after falling by 0.7 pct in July, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that on a monthly basis the inflation rate fell 1.6 pct in August from July, after a decline of 1.0 pct recorded in the same period last year.
The statistics service, however, noted that despite a negative inflation rate in August, there were significant increases in products included in a so-called "housewife's basket", burdening the cost of living for Greek households. For example, fresh potato prices jumped 29.2 pct, fresh fruit prices rose 5.8 pct and meat prices rose 1.2 pct, while electricity rates jumped 18.7 pct and heating oil prices rose 25.1 pct.
The statistics service attributed the -1.3 pct inflation rate in August to: a 0.2 pct decline in food/beverage prices, a 5.7 pct drop in durable goods and services, a 3.5 pct fall in health prices, a 3.8 pct decline in transportation prices, a 4.3 pct fall in communications, a 3.1 pct decline in leisure prices, a 4.0 pct fall in education, a 3.0 pct decline in hotel/coffee/restaurants and a 5.4 pct decine in other goods and services prices.
On the other hand, prices rose by 3.5 pct in alcohol/tobacco, increased by 0.1 pct in clothing/footwear and by 7.5 pct in housing prices.
Greece's harmonized inflation rate was -1.0 pct in August, after a -0.5 pct rate in July and 1.2 pct rate in August last year. On a monthly basis, the harmonized inflation rate was -1.7 pct in August, from -1.2 pct in the same period last year.
 Average monthly pension 921.15 euros, reportThe average monthly income from pensions totaled 921.15 euros (pre-tax and healthcare contributions), while the majority of pension was around 500-1,000 euros in September, according to a report by "Helios", the Single System of Pension Control and Payment.
The report said that the number of pensioners totaled 2,706,924 in September, while the number of paid pensions was 4,455,847 and the total monthly spending on pensions in August was 2,303,432,953 euros.
"The operation of Helios is directly connected with the Ariadni system," Yiannis Vroutsis, Labor, Social Security and Welfare Minister said, presenting the report, adding "We enriched the report with a detailed list including the age distribution of pensioners and we will continue adding more details. Always, under the light of Helios".
Women pensioners totaled 1,416,063, while men pensioners were 1,280,282. A large number of aged pensioners (766,966) have a monthly income ranging from 500 to 1,000 euros, while around an equal number has a monthly income ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 euros.
A total of 1,408,318 pensioners receive only one pension, 929,888 receive two pensions and 303,702 three pensions, while 258 pensioners receive more than seven pensions.
A 58 pct of pensioners are aged more than 70 years, a 26 pct are aged between 61-69 and only 1.0 pct are aged below 25 years. The biggest number of pensions is paid in the Attica region (1,710,506), followed by Central Macedonia (733,079), Thessaly (308,713) and Western Greece (260,900.
Pensions paid in September totaled 4,455,847, of which 2,897,195 were basic and 1,553,159 supplementary. Pension funds paid a total of 2,303,432,953 euros in the month.
 Greek banks are lowering deposit, loan interest ratesA declining trend in deposit interest rates accelerated, following completion of a recapitalisation process and the completion of a new round of mergers and acquisitions which led to the creation of large systemic banks in the country, banking officials said on Monday.
The officials said that following the stabilisation of the Greek economy and particularly after the country fended off the scenarios of leaving from the euro - an environment that kept deposit rates at 5-6 percent, and even higher for time deposits of more than 50,000 euros - Greek banks gradually began lowering their deposit interest rates towards 2.5 pct.
They noted that a reduction of deposit interest rates will allow banks to move with a cut in lending rates, particularly for business loans, which are currently at high levels.
Greek banks are also battling to attract a part of deposits which are currently outside the domestic banking system. Bank deposits fell 0.2 pct in July to 162.3 billion euros, from 162.6 billion in June. Bank analysts estimate that a sum of more than 70 billion euros still remained in deposits with other financial means in markets abroad. Private deposits, however, grew 5.5 pct in July, on an annual basis, after falling by 7.3 pct in December 2012 and 17.8 pct in July 2012.
In the period from June 2012 to the end of July 2013, banks have recorded a return in deposits of 15.5 billion euros.
 Greece launches tender for exploitation of four spa assetsGreek authorities on Monday announced the launch of an international tender for the exploitation of four spa real estate assets.
Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund in a statement said that the four real estate assets are:
-Ypati springs property,
-Thermopylae springs property,
-Kamena Vourla Koniavitis springs property and
-Kamena Vourla Loutropolis springs property.
Alpha Bank acts as financial advisor to the tender. Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund said the exploitation of these real estate property assets will bring new investments in infrastructure and services contributing to the enhance of the tourist product of the wider region, along with the creation of a significant number of job positions.
 New era for 'Geo Routes' in GreeceThe Geo Routes Eco Tourism and Cultural Heritage Journeys Institute (www.geo-routes.com) will take charge of the Geo & Aegean Routes under the auspices of the Greek National Committee for UNESCO, saying the support of the European Commission representation in Greece and the start of collaboration with the Greek foreign ministry marked the launch of the new era for the non-governmental body.
Geo Routes seeks to play a creative role in promoting and enhancing Greece's image abroad, highlighting its cultural heritage in order to attract visitors to lesser-known but captivating Greek regions and contributing to the sustainable growth of local communities through the slogan "Our Greece Globally Yours".
The organisation's aim is to plan and carry out theme-based trips, events and actions of a cultural, environmental, scientific and educational nature in order to promote the less well advertised regions of Greece and their cultural heritage and to strengthen dialogue between cultures.
They have already created 10 original routes in Athens, Attica, mainland and island Greece, while another five are now in development.
Participation in Geo Routes journeys takes place through a flexible system providing three alternative options to prospective travellers, for a fully organised trip using either their own vehicle at specific dates, in private groups of two to six people using Geo Routes vehicles at dates of their own choosing and with larger groups travelling by coach.
From the end of 2014 and every two years, at the Geo Routes Cultural Heritage Festival, there will be an exhibition of activities carried out in the previous period using digital material and exhibits.
 Car registrations down 6.5 pct in AugCar registrations fell 6.5 pct in August this year, totaling 4,854 units, from 5,189 in the corresponding period last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that car registrations were down 44.1 pct in August 2012.
In the January-August period, car registrations totaled 54,010 vehicles (new and used ones), from 55,678 in the same period last year, for a decline of 3.0 pct. Car registrations were down 40.7 pct in the eight-month period in 2012.
Motorcycle registrations totaled 2,676 in August, down 19.8 pct from the same month last year and after a 28.6 pct decline recorded in August 2012. In the eight-month period, motorcycle registrations totaled 23,165, down 8.9 pct the same period in 2012.
 Greek stocks jump 4.05 pct on MondayGreek stocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday while turnover rose strongly. Traders said the market reacted with enthusiasm to the positive climate created during the 8th Roadshow in London -which attracted strong interest by foreign investment funds for Greek-listed companies and particularly banks. The composite index ended higher for the fifth consecutive session to end at its highest level since June 7. The index jumped 4.05 pct to end at 977.34 points, for a net gain of 8.69 pct in the last five sessions. Turnover rose to 95.15 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 3.96 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.45 pct higher. Piraeus Bank (11.76 pct), Alpha Bank (8.99 pct), National Bank (7.74 pct) and Mytilineos (5.91 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks. The Banks (9.19 pct), Raw Materials (5.32 pct), Financial Services (4.57 pct) and Personal Products (3.97 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 101 to 29 with another 20 issues unchanged. Boutaris (20 pct), Alsinco (18.75 pct) and Pegasus (18.35 pct) were top gainers, while PC Systems (18.56 pct), Atti-kat (18.18 pct) and NEL (18.18 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.11%
Personal & Household: +2.11%
Raw Materials: +5.32%
Travel & Leisure: +1.74%
Food & Beverages: +2.35%
Financial Services: +4.57%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.57
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.68
Coca Cola HBC: 22.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.50
National Bank of Greece: 3.20
Eurobank Properties : 7.00
Piraeus Bank: 1.33
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was almost unchanged at 8.55 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 8.53 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.50 pct and the German Bund 1.95 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.55 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.45 pct, the six-month rate was 0.34 pct, the three-month rate was 0.225 pct and the one-month rate was 0.129 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.88 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising slightly to 13.752 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,943 contracts worth 8.235 million euros, with 48,937 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,579 contracts worth 5.517 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (5,525), followed by National Bank (3,131), Piraeus Bank (5,009), Eurobank (465), OTE (1,160), PPC (1,010), OPAP (265), Hellenic Exchanges (205), Titan (102), Mytilineos (681), Sidenor (147), GEK (218), Ellaktor (398), Intralot (177) and MIG (165).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.339
Pound sterling 0.853
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 8.880
Japanese yen 133.27
Swiss franc 1.253
Norwegian kroner 8.142
Canadian dollar 1.390
Australian dollar 1.455
 Mycenean palace and Linear B tablets discovered in Sparta areaA new excavation in the Xirokambi area of Aghios Vassilios west of Sparta, in the Peloponnese, has revealed a richness of Mycenean artefacts in the area, including the remains of a palace, Linear B tablets, fragments of wall paintings, and several bronze swords.
The excavation, led by emeritus ephor of antiquities Adamantia Vassilogrambrou, was presented publicly at the biennial Shanghai Archaeology Forum at the end of August as one of 11 sites showcased from different parts of the world.
The Aghios Vassilios excavation began in 2010, after Linear B tablets were found in the area in 2008, pointing to the existence of a powerful central authority and distribution system. The deciphered texts were devoted to perfume and cloth production, the trade of which was controlled by a palace administration in the Mycenean era.
Evidence of a central palace administration was confirmed also by the architecture, which is dated to the 14th century BC, while contact with Crete was confirmed by the finding of a double axe, a feature of the island's palace culture.
Artefacts found include seals, a multitude of ceramic and bronze vessels, and 21 bronze swords. According to the evidence, a sudden fire that broke out either at the end of the 14th century or the beginning of the 13th destroyed the three buildings on the site which were never rebuilt at the same location.
 Austrian Red Cross donates ambulance to 'Elpis' hospital in AthensThe Austrian Red Cross has donated an ambulance to 'Elpis' General Hospital in Athens, which was delivered on Monday and accepted by Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis.
The minister thanked the Red Cross and journalists from Austria, noting that they had given a helping hand at a time when Greece needs it and praised the staff at the hospital for their tireless efforts and great sensitivity "to help the weaker of our fellow citizens".
 Exhibition on Byzantium in Washington DC and Los AngelesNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
The exhibition "Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections," which will be on display at the National Gallery in Washington DC (October 6, 2013 - March 2, 2014) is regarded as a major cultural event in the US capital.
The exhibition is the product of collaboration between the Greek culture ministry, the Benaki Museum in Athens and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where it will be on display from April to August 2014.
It features mosaics, icons, manuscripts, jewelry and ceramics that reflect the rich and multi-faceted Byzantine civilization. They are artifacts that belong to public and private Greek collections, as well as findings dated to the period 330-1453 AD unearthed during recent excavations.
The exhibition will comprise five sections tentatively entitled "From the Ancient to the Byzantine World", "The Christian World", "The Intellectuals", "The Joys of Life" and "Byzantium at a Crossroads".
 Police release facial reconstruction images of unidentified murdered womanGreek police on Monday released two images generated via computer-aided facial reconstruction of a murdered woman found on August 23, appealing to the public for help in identifying the victim. The woman's body was found in pieces, at the junction of Stefopoulos and Prasinos Lofos streets in the seaside resort of Rafina.
Based on information from the autopsy, the victim was a white woman around 70 years old, about 1.60 metres in height, quite plump and had short, dyed red-brown hair. All her teeth were missing and she had also undergone a complete hysterectomy at some point in the past.
Police have asked the public to come forward with any information pertinent to the case or if they think they recognise any person from the facial reconstructions, calling the numbers 210 6411111, 210 6443374 or 210 6449200 at Attica police headquarters.
The photographic images released by police are attached.
 German tourists in Halkidiki arrested over hotel theft; Kilkis duo, over metal theftTwo young German tourists were arrested in the early hours of Sunday in Kallithea, the first leg of the northern Halkidiki Peninsula, for stealing hotel objects during a state of inebriation.
The two young men, 22 and 25 years old, entered a hotel in Kallithea on Sunday morning and removed from a room a mirror, a television set, a picture frame and a stool. The objects were found in the room they were renting and returned to their owner, while the two are being led before the misdemeanours court of Polygyros.
Meanwhile, another two young men, 19 and 25, were accused of stealing a lightning rod form a school in Kilkis, north of Thessaloniki. After their arrest police also found in their possession a ten-metre copper wire, two kilograms of aluminium, a six-metre iron rod and a metal cutter.
 Mafia-style attack in downtown VolosA 37-year-old store owner in downtown Volos, central Greece, was hospitalized in critical condition on Monday after being shot in a midday "mafia-style" hit-and-run attack carried out by two assailants who were arrested soon afterward, police announced.
The victim, a former bodybuilding athlete and current owner of a gym equipment and bodybuilding dietary supplements store, was rushed to a hospital where he underwent surgery.
The unprecedented incident took place shortly after noon on a downtown street in Volos. The culprits, who had their faces covered with hoods, were waiting for the victim outside his store and confronted him when he arrived. During the altercation, one of them took out a gun and shot the victim four times. Both assailants fled the scene but were arrested soon after.
 Second earthquake jolts ZakynthosA light earthquake measuring 4 on the Richter scale jolted the Ionian island of Zakynthos at 2 pm on Monday.
According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre and the Athens Geodynamic Institute, the quake's epicentre was located in the sea region northwest of the island.
A second quake occurred at 20:37 on Monday measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale. Its epicentre was located 259 klm west of Athens.
No damages or injuries were reported in both quakes.
 3.3R quake jolts ThessalonikiA minor earthquake measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale was recorded at 5.17 am on Monday with its epicenter 30km north-northwest of Thessaloniki.
According to Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Geophysics Laboratory, the quake had the same epicentre as the 3.5R quake that shook the area on Sunday at 1:33 pm.
The seimologists said that these quakes should not raise worries.
 Wildfire on SamosA wildfire that has broke out on Monday at 8:00 am on the island of Samos is currently still burning in the the area of Aghios Nektarios.
Two firefighting aircraft along with all firefighting forces of Samos are currently in the area battling the blaze.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 14C and 34C. Fair in Athens with variable 2-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 19C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 16C and 30C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Prime Minister Antonis Samaras: No more austerity measures!
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Government devastates the social state.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Pensions with six fictitious years bonus and without age limit.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pension at the age of 50 for 700,000 parents.
ESTIA: Samaras: Yes, I'm optimistic.
ETHNOS: Zero hour for military intervention in Syria.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Troika (EC, ECB, and IMF) will 'ratify' 4 billion euros measures for the next two years.
TA NEA: First lesson at schools: Strike.
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