|Sunday, 31 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 2 September 2014 Issue No: 4748
 "Government Council on Employment chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras"Unemployment is the most insidious and cruel enemy of society and undermines the dreams of the youth, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at the Government Council for Employment at its first meeting on Monday.
Samaras made clear that it (unemployment) should not be treated with wishful thinking and stated his determination for government action as the country is entering a recovery process.
"For the first time, the GDP is seen rising after 24 quarters while 770,000 new jobs are expected to have been added by 2020," Samaras stressed.
The prime minister called on the members of the governing council of employment to heed their recommendations in the next meeting, to be held in October, and to come up with a single proposal.
Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis presented the ministry's plans for a special large-scale action to prevent so-called "brain drain" and keep the country's best young minds in Greece. Vroutsis referred to the setting up of a special business register for consistent businesses. These businesses will have benefits such as less audits and possible reduced contributions.
He noted that the rate at which the country's best graduates left Greece had risen during the crisis and was now "a real danger for both its present and its future. It injures social cohesion and crucially undermines the country's long-term developmental momentum," he said.
His proposal for tackling the problem included a mix of incentives and financial facilities, chiefly using money from the European Social Fund, for the employment of the best graduates from Greek universities in the Greek labour market, with money directed at businesses, organisations but also at young people themselves. The action will be carried out in collaboration with the education ministry and the State Scholarships Foundation, which will help identify the top students and ensure they enter the productive process on better terms and promote a new, export-oriented and competitive developmental model for the economy.
The Labour minister also announced the creation within the next year of a permanent mechanism for identifying the real needs of the labour market in terms of skills and specialisation, linked to the Ergani system - the ministry's system linking employment statistics and agencies in real time - so that planning of actions is not "blind" but responds to real economic needs.
Another of the ministry's plans is the creation of a "White List" for businesses that have a consistent and proven record of good behaviour in terms of meeting their obligations toward their employees and the state, as part of the effort to stamp out undeclared 'black' labour and better focus the efforts of inspection services.
Vroutsis repeated the government's willingness to reduce social insurance contributions by one percent, provided there is confirmation that this will have a positive overall impact on pension fund finances and that the loss in revenues will be offset indirectly by an increase in employment.
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who also leads PASOK, the junior member of the ruling coalition, said the party had proposed the founding of the Council in order to deal with Greece's urgent problem of unemployment through emergency programmes and through the party's National Plan for Revival, presented in May in Thessaloniki.
Among his proposals are clauses in economic-growth-related programmes that provide new jobs and that give tax discounts to businesses hiring more people annually (including staff on farms). EU-funded programmes could also be included, he said.
"Greece is waging a great effort to leave the crisis behind and the results, as the economic indexes reflect, are very encouraging," he stressed.
 Prime Minister Samaras to inaugurate the 79th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on SaturdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras will be in Thessaloniki on Saturday, September 6 to inaugurate the 79th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
The formal opening of the trade fair will take place at 10:30 am on Saturday at the "Ioannis Vellidis" Congress Centre where the prime minister will deliver his address to the representatives of the country's production sector.
The congress centre was selected to host the inauguration ceremony instead of the International Exhibition & Convention Center's Corona Hall, that hosted the last two formal openings and was proved to be too small for the event. The much-larger "Ioannis Vellidis" Congress Centre was traditionally the venue that hosted the TIF inauguration ceremony and the prime ministers' addresses. This year it was chosen again to host the event so as to meet the increased interest in Prime Minister Samaras' address, given the expectations about its content.
New Democracy (ND) Political Committee secretary Andreas Papamimikos, who had meetings with party cadres in Thessaloniki in the context of preparations ahead of the prime minister's visit, underlined that in his address the prime minister will present "a specific road map that will include targeted burden reliefs, correction of injustices and a continuation of reforms."
In the meetings he had in Thessaloniki, Papamimikos had suggested that the prime minister's address should be delivered at "Ioannis Vellidis" and the local ND party cadres agreed with the opening to a larger audience. Papamimikos conveyed the proposal to the prime minister who agreed to the change of venue.
Soon after his address, Prime Minister Samaras will visit TIF pavilions and then he will meet with local organisations' representatives at the ministry of Macedonia-Thrace.
On Tuesday, the prime minister will meet in Athens with production sector representatives from northern Greece ahead of his visit to Thessaloniki and the TIF formal opening. Macedonia-Thrace Minister Giorgos Orfanos will also attend the meeting.
 Expectations have risen considerably, FinMin says after meeting with PM early on MondayThe bar has been raised in terms of expectations, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis commented on Monday as he left a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. The meeting focused on last-minute preparations for the start of talks in Paris the following day, between Greece and the EU-IMF troika representing the country's creditors.
Hardouvelis, who attended several meetings with the prime minister today, said that Athens would not be setting
any 'uncrossable lines' in the negotiation and that priority will be given to many structural reforms that will be mainly discussed in Paris.
The minister appeared confident about the outcome of the Paris talks, saying he was not worried, but made it clear that the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank officials were only empowered to discuss the memorandum agreements. This means that Athens does not expect any political decisions at the meeting, he stressed.
At a later meeting with Samaras on Monday involving only the top-level economic staff, Hardouvelis said that the meetings are preparatory of the negotiations to follow at the end of September, with the government's intent being to further build Greece's credibility.
The meeting will be "technical", he said, adding that the government will not raise the issue of reducting taxes unless it is raised by the troika - European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - representatives.
 SYRIZA: FinMin's statement 'reveals government's political nakedness'Responding to a statement made by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis earlier on Monday, who said that Greece would not be drawing any lines in the sand during talks with its creditors in Paris, main opposition SYRIZA said that the minister's admission revealed the government's "political nakedness".
Pointing to one of SYRIZA's previous announcements - saying that the only lines drawn in the negotiations were those of the EU-ECB-IMF troika - SYRIZA attacked the government and said that the finance minister's comment dismantled an operation to deceive Greek society that had been unfolding over the past few days. It revealed that the government was at the mercy of the creditors' demands and that the Greek people could expect nothing but more sacrifices, the party added.
 European Commission spokesman on the Paris meetingBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The purpose of the three-day meeting in Paris between the Greek government and Greece's lenders is to examine the progress made in certain of the issues that will be at the center of the next review of the Greek programme in the autumn, European Commission spokesman Simon O' Connor said here on Monday.
He underlined that the goal of the talks in Paris between the troika of Greece's lenders and Greek authorities is not to examine how Greece's financial needs will be met after 2014 or debt sustainability issues. He noted that these issues will be examined in the autumn in the context of the review, after a technical-level agreement is reached and in the context of what was agreed based on the Eurogroup statement on November 27, 2012.
 SYRIZA spokesman on negotiations with troika; presidential electionsThe political persons whose names have been heard for the Presidency of the Republic should be clear in their statements, main opposition SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday.
The issue is rather important and there is no room for double talk or postponements, he underlined.
Asked whether he referred to Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis, Skourletis said: "I refer to Kouvelis and all the political forces that need to prioritize. For us the challenge is to restore the actual relation of the Greek parliament with real correlations within the Greek society, apparently through elections, and then immediately to see the issue of the President of the Republic."
Regarding the negotiations with the troika in Paris, he said that "it is not the government that sets the 'red lines' but the troika. The government just follows them."
"I think that all the leaks, which are about tax cuts, new announcements, are absolutely misleading and in any case, if the government wanted to show a change of policy, it should have begun with the Real Estate Single Ownership Taxation (ENFIA)," Skourletis stressed.
The full interview of Skourletis is available at ANA-MPA website.
 Greece has entered the phase of fiscal adjustment and development policies, gov't spokesperson saysAfter six years of recession and great suffering for the Greek people, the climate in Europe has changed and Greece has entered the phase of political economy and the combination of fiscal adjustment and development policies, government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi told private SKAI TV on Monday.
Regarding the negotiations with the troika in Paris, she underlined that emphasis will be given on reforms, adding that unilateral actions lead to situations similar to Argentina.
"We avoided dramatic situations that we don't and can't even imagine. All figures are positive, a primary surplus exists, spreads have fallen, Greek bonds perform well, international rating agencies upgrade the Greek economy, tranches of economic aid are disbursed, all prior actions agreed in order to negotiate the debt have been met," Voultepsi added.
As for main opposition SYRIZA's pledges, the government spokesperson called on them to present their plans. "SYRIZA is vague, speaks with ambiguities, does not say clearly what it intends to tax, they talks about 'basic programmatic guidelines', 'basic axes' and 'key priorities'."
Regarding the President of the Republic, Voultepsi noted that the government is preoccupied with other important issues at the moment, and this will be discussed in time. She added, however, that each person who unites the nation is suitable for the position and that once someone is chosen for this position, his precedent political positions cease to exist.
 ENFIA real estate tax to be introduced in Parliament ThursdayThe Real Estate Single Ownership Tax (ENFIA) amendment including the official number of payment installments and corrective amounts for 4,000 communities are expected to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday, so they may be discussed by Friday, according to statements made to the press by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis after exiting the last of several meetings he attended under the leadership of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, on Monday evening.
According to reports, the question of whether real estate that is not currently inhabited and is not being supplied with electricity will get a tax discount, will be settled pending certain conditions. The tax reduction in such cases is expected to be no more than 20 percent on the assessed tax, they said.
Finance ministry sources said that Hardouvelis has requested of the General Secretariat for Public Revenue to examine alternatives for the loss of tax revenues to the state which amounts to 50 million euros. Deputies and coalition partner officials have asked for a reduction ranging from 25 percent to 30 percent, a rate considered too high in terms of the fiscal budget, as it would amount to a loss of 100 million euros to the state and is therefore prohibitive.
 Foreign ministry responds to Turkish President Erdogan's statements in occupied part of CyprusForeign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras on Monday stated, in response to journalists' questions regarding today's statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the occupied part of Cyprus, that "the newly elected president of Turkey made an illegal visit to the occupied part of Cyprus and disappointing comments that simply confirm Turkey's persistence in its aggressive policy toward the Republic of Cyprus, a UN member and a member of the EU, which Turkey also wants to join. Apart from that, Turkey's European course passes through the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and the normalization of its relations with it".
Koutras noted that "with his statements, Erdogan, among others, attempted to equate Greece's specific international obligations with Turkey's heavy responsibilities in the Cyprus issue. Any such attempt is historically and legally groundless and therefore politically unacceptable. Turkey bears the full and exclusive responsibility for the termination of the illegal military occupation, for the ongoing crime of settlements in Cyprus and for the restoration of the right of all Greek Cypriot refugees to return to their homes and property".
He concluded that "if Turkey wants, as it insists, to facilitate negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus issue, it should, without any further delay, make tangible goodwill moves, comply with all the decisions issued by the European Court of Human Rights and end any illegal and provocative action in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf".
 Deputy FM attends informal ministerial meeting on Moldova's EU accession processDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas represented Greece at the 9th Informal Ministerial Meeting of the Group for the European Action of the Republic of Moldova, taking place at the capital city of Chisinau.
The meeting reviewed the course and implementation of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, as well as at the latest regional developments.
Moldova, located between Romania and Ukraine, signed the Agreement during Greece's EU Presidency (in the first half of 2014) which lifted visa requirements within the EU.
The country has the lowest GDP in Europe. It will be holding parliamentary elections at the end of November. Several Greek companies operate in Moldova, while Greece will be providing it with technical help on European issues, it was noted.
 Deputy FM briefs SYRIZA's Valavani on conditions for ethnic Greeks in UkraineDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos, responsible for issues relating to Greeks abroad, on Monday briefed main opposition SYRIZA MP Nadia Valavani, in charge of foreign affairs for the party's parliamentary group, on conditions for ethnic Greeks in the Ukraine. The meeting was requested by Valavani.
Gerontopoulos said that he was briefed daily by Greek diplomatic missions in Ukraine on the situation around Mariupol and throughout the country, noting the recent removal of Greece's General Consulate from Mariupol to Dnipropetrovsk. He also told Valavani that no Greeks in the Ukraine have asked to be transferred to Greece, adding that the country was ready to assist in dealing with emergency situations if the need arose.
He also told Valavani about the relaunch this year, after a five-year break, of summer programmes hosting young ethnic Greeks and to train ethnic Greek teachers in the Greek language, including several from the Ukraine.
 Defence Minister receives outgoing Argentinian ambassadorNational Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday received outgoing Ambassador of Argentina Jorge Alejandro Mastropietro, who paid him a farewell call at the ministry.
 Tsipras unveils SYRIZA's positions on tourism in meeting with sector representativesMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday underlined that an increase in tourism must be adequately linked with the diffusion of tourism revenue in the real economy.
In his meeting with the board of the Greek Tourism Enterprises Association (SETE), Tsipras referred to the protection of labour relations, decent wages and the environment, as well as to the development of local production.
The meeting was held in the context of SYRIZA's consultations with professional organisations ahead of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next week.
The reorientation of the tourism model and the redesign of the tourism product through the promotion of special and alternative forms of tourism, while supporting innovative actions, is a priority in SYRIZA's strategic programme on tourism.
The small and medium-sized enterprises, offering upgraded services at affordable prices for average income citizens and families while respecting the natural, historical and cultural environment, will be the strategic programme's backbone. =
Tsipras also underlined his party's objection to the privatisation of regional airports.
 Admin.Reform Minister Mitsotakis to present reform agenda to the troika on WednesdayAdministrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday will present the reform agenda of his ministry to the troika of Greece's international lenders.
According to sources of the Administrative Reform Ministry, the agenda includes reforms that are being implemented and are aimed at enhancing the public sector, improving services for citizens, facilitating entrepreneurship and boosting recovery and sustainable management of human resources.
 Education Minister Loverdos on Koukoudimos' resignationEducation Minister Andreas Loverdos on Monday said the resignation of Deputy Education Minister Constantinos Koukoudimos was unexpected.
"It was unexpected, we had an excellent cooperation, especially in sports issues...President Papoulias had told him to pay special attention to school sports and we will miss him a lot," Loverdos said leaving Maximos Mansion where he participated in the government council for employment.
He also noted that he was not aware of the person that would replace him.
When asked about the reasons of his resignation and whether they had a good relationship, he said: "We did not have any problems. We had an excellent cooperation. I knew he had some personal problems, but I had not expected it."
 'No political reasons behind my resignation' Koukodimos saysConstantinos Koukodimos, who earlier on Monday resigned from Deputy Education Minister, told ANA-MPA that there was not some kind of dissatisfaction with the responsibilites he was assigned .
"The reasons are totally personal and the prime minister to whom I sent the letter showed understanding. Someone wrote that I resigned to focus on my businesses. This is not true of course," Koukodimos said adding that his relationship with Education Minister Andreas Loverdos was excellent.
 Single transport ticket aims at enhancing use of public transport, OASA head saysThe new reduced public transport fares signal a restructuring of the urban transport network around the metro as its central axis "so that citizens will substantially benefit and embrace the network," the president and managing director of the Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) Gregory Dimitriadis said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday.
The purpose of this restructuring, he said, was to better serve the public and attract more people.
"We have a single low price to encourage people use public transport instead of their car," Dimitriadis underlined. For this reason, he noted, a single flat fare was set for all means of public transport while the monthly travel card (which now costs 30 euros for unlimited use on the entire Athens public transport network) was more affordable and useful.
Dimitriadis also expressed his hope that the new tariff policy will attract more people and boost urban transport, while reducing the incentive to dodge fares.
 KKE sees 'concealed price hikes' in new fares for public transportThe fanfare surrounding the lowering of fares for public transport was "mocking" the working class and poorer income brackets since the new system amounted to a 50 pct increase for the vast majority of passengers that previously used only buses and trolleys, whose monthly travel card would now increase from 20 euros to 30 euros, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) pointed out on Monday.
At the same time, it added, the shorter duration of the ticket, from 90 minutes to just 70 minutes, combined with the shortages of staff, vehicles and long delays, would actually increase the cost of travel for passengers. The party noted that the government's policy for public transport, such as the abolition of bus services and repeated fare increases in recent years, created serious difficulties for poorer, working-class families.
It repeated a proposal for a 50 pct fare reduction and free travel for students, school children and the unemployed.
 Karamanlis is not interested to be candidate for President, Independent MP Kaklamanis saysCostas Karamanlis (former prime minister) authorised me to say in public that he is not interested in becoming President of Republic," said independent MP (and former Athens mayor) Nikitas Kaklamanis on Monday speaking to private radio VIMA.
"I met with Karamanlis before August 15 and he told me that if I was asked, I had to say that this (the presidency) is something that he was not interested in. This scenario does not exist," he claimed.
 Greece needs new leadership, Potami leader says in 'Der Spiegel' interviewBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
In an interview with 'Der Spiegel', the head of the Greek opposition party Potami Stavros Theodorakis outlined his thoughts on the party's role in Greek politics, saying it aimed to be part of a "benevolent conspiracy" that would lead to change, while stressing that he is not interested in becoming a minister.
"A country in crisis needs a new leadership. We can't have the politicians that were primarily responsible for putting us at risk now wanting to save us. Even if they regret their mistakes, this is unreliable," he said.
The career TV journalist, who emphasised that he had never had any ambition to become a politician, stressed that Potami was not a protest movement but a party that wanted to rule and change things, while he downplayed his party's lack of experience in government as having lesser importance:
"I know politicians that rule without having experience of life and that is much worse. We have members with administrative experience, business people, academics. In any case, we do not want to rule alone but to form an alliance, a 'benevolent conspiracy'," he pointed out.
He appeared adamantly opposed to all prospect of Greece leaving the European Union but clarified that this did not mean that Greece would "pay any price" to appease Brussels.
 Communist youth party (KNE) to hold congress in Athens Dec. 18-21The Communist Party of Greece-affiliated youth party (KNE) will hold its 11th Congress in Athens from December 18 (Thursday) to 21 (Sunday), its Central Council said.
Its agenda includes a review of its work since the last congress and the election of a new Council, among other things.
 Greek economy shrank by 0.3 pct in Q2The Greek economy shrank by 0.3 pct in the second quarter of 2014 and despite the fact that Hellenic Statistical Authority revised upwards its initial estimate of -0.2 pct, it is clear that the Greek economy is gradually exiting its six-year recession. Finance ministry officials said an estimate for a 0.6 pct GDP growth this year was realistic following a better-than-expected tourism trend.
The statistics service, in a report released on Monday, said that the country's Gross Domestic Product fell by 1.1 pct in the first quarter of 2014 for an average decline of 0.7 pct in the first six months of the year, after a 5.0 pct decline recorded in the corresponding period last year.
The statistics service said the revised figures were based on monthly (import-export figures for June) and quarterly (turnover index in the services sector and workforce) data.
Total consumption spending was unchanged in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2013. In private investments, gross capital formation fell by 4.1 pct in the second quarter, after an 18 pct drop in the same period last year, while gross fixed capital formation eased 0.8 pct (11.5 pct in 2013).
Export of goods and services rose 5.3 pct, while imports rose 4.6 pct in the second quarter. The country's GDP in current prices totaled 45.103 billion euros, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2005 (47.514 billion euros).
 Greek PMI rose to 50.1 points in AugustGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 50.1 points in August from 48.7 in July, rising to a three-month high and recorded the first monthly increase since April.
A new rise of production in the manufacturing sector was one of the factors behind this increase in the PMI index. The index has fallen in July for the first time in nine-months, but in August production rose steadily, with production of goods and investment goods rising in the month, while production of consumer goods remained unchanged.
New orders in Greek factors rose in August, ending a two-month period of decline, while new export orders rose slightly in August. However, this increase in production and new orders failed to create new job positions, with workforce in manufacturing companies falling for the third successive month. Pending works fell again in August, with the strongest rate since July 2013.
Inventories fell to the lowest levels in the last four months, while rising raw material prices pushed costs higher in August. On the other hand, factory prices continued falling in the month as companies cut prices to remain competitive on an international level.
The PMI index -compiled by Markit- measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Reading above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Finance Ministry forms committee to record "closed professions"The Finance Ministry formed a new 40-member committee with representatives from all the co-responsible ministries and secreteriat to record the so called "closed professions".
The establishment of the committee was held following a Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis decision.
The committee's mission is to record all the professions of the services sector, to evaluate whether these professions have been deregulated and to find out if there are any obstacles that prevent their deregulation and to finally propose, based on the international practice, a new round for the opening of these professions.
 Finance and development ministers to speak at UHCCI meeting in ThessalonikiFinance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and Development and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias are expected to attend the general meeting of the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UHCCI) that will be held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on September 5-6, coinciding with the start of the 79th Thessaloniki International Fair.
Hardouvelis will give a speech at a closed-door session on Friday and Dendias will talk during an open meeting on Saturday.
 Exports of Greek peaches increased despite the Russian embargoExports of Greek peaches have increased despite the Russian embargo, according to figures presented in the meeting of the coordinating committee for export promotion on Monday, chaired by Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis.
This year's peach exports have reached 141,000 tonnes compared with 112,000 tonnes last year, while only 1,000 tonnes have been included in the domestic consumption programme. However, the revenues of peach producers will be low because the Russian-Ukrainian crisis has intensified the pressure on prices since early 2014.
Seeking new export channels for Greek farm products, the ministries of development and foreign affairs will focus their efforts on signing contracts with countries like India, China and Korea before the end of 2014.
The rough draft of a bill aimed at further reducing red tape in exports was unveiled on Monday, while the electronic certificate for exports will go into effect next month.
Greek exports in general are expected to remain stable this year, compared with 2013, at 27 billion euros.
 EOPYY denies having 'black hole' in its financesThe National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) on Monday denied having a "black hole" in its finances, saying its 2013 budget closed without creating new deficits. It also said the claim was unfounded and "seen only by those who wish the organisation's return to an era of unlimited disbursements".
Regarding the budget for the current year, the head of EOPYY said that budgeted expenditure (6,768,879,635 euros) exceeded budgeted revenues (6,395,132,155 euros) by 373 million euros and was covered by EOPYY's cash reserves, which exceeded 400 million euros at the end of 2013.
EOPYY's overdue debts to third parties since its formation on January 1, 2012 came to 670,094,844.48 euros in July 2014, falling by 598,459,283.25 euros from the previous month (June 2014) when they were nearly 1.3 billion euros. In addition, the contributions collected by social insurance funds on EOPYY's behalf but not yet paid to the organisation came to 539,176,955 euros in July 2014, EOPYY's announcement said.
Citing these figures, EOPYY's leadership stressed that the organisation was ensuring adequate services for the citizens, keeping to its budget and not creating new deficits, while EOPYY and the health ministry will continue taking all measures needed to adhere to budgets using modern auditing methods, therapeutic and diagnostic protocols in accordance to guidelines.
"We will not return to a time when neither budgets nor year-end accounts worked. To the era of waste, artificially generated demand and deficits. To a time when social insurance funds paid 5.5 billion euros for pharmaceuticals (550 euros a year per person) and hundreds of millions for diagnostic tests and other forms of health services," the announcement concluded.
 Intralot USA announces the launch of the Wyoming LotteryThe North American subsidiary of Intralot Group on Monday announced the successful launch of the Wyoming Lottery (WyoLotto).
The Lottery released a Request for Proposal for Lottery Operations and Services back on December 3, 2013. The largest three vendors in the industry submitted proposals and after a thorough review of each proposal, the Wyoming Lottery awarded the contract to Intralot, which scored the highest points. Intralot signed a 5-year contract with the Lottery with three, 5-year extension options.
Under the terms of the contract, Intralot provides on-going services including the supply, installation, maintenance and support of the new lottery Central System and software platforms, terminal network and communications. In addition, Intralot provides a field sales staff that recruits and trains retailers and also works with them to enhance their sales.
 Greek stocks end flat on MondayGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday in thin trading conditions reflecting a holiday in Wall Street and investor reluctance to open new positions in the market ahead of a series of significant developments awaited this week. The composite index eased 0.22 pct to end at 1,159.20 points, after falling as much as 0.96 pct during the day. Turnover was a low 50.17 million euros.
The Large Cap index eased 0.12 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.01 pct higher. METKA (1.14 pct), MIG (1.0 pct), OPAP (0.91 pct), Jumbo (0.89 pct) and National Bank (0.77 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Motor Oil (3.05 pct), Terna Energy (1.90 pct), Titan (1.48 pct) and Piraeus Bank (1.33 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Insurance (1.50 pct), Travel (1.02 pct) and Telecoms (0.37 pct) sectors scored gains, while the Oil (2.21 pct), Constructions (1.09 pct) and Utilities (0.86 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 57 to 50 with another 19 issues unchanged. Pairis (29.87 pct), Kekrops (23.51 pct) and AEGEK (20 pct) were top gainers while PC Systems (19.66 pct), Pegasus (18.52 pct) and G.E. Demetriou (13.33 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +0.12%
Real Estate: -0.82%
Personal & Household: +0.27%
Food & Beverages: -0.23%
Raw Materials: -0.57%
Oil & Gas: -2.21%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Travel & Leisure: +1.02%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.66
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.97
Coca Cola HBC: 17.61
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.48
National Bank of Greece: 2.63
Eurobank Properties: 9.15
Piraeus Bank: 1.48
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 4.93 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 5.01 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.82 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.89 pct. Turnover was a moderate 17 million euros, of which 15 million were buy orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.428 pct from 0.434 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.341 pct from 0.346 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.259 pct from 0.264 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.159 pct from 0.163 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.066 pct from 0.067 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.05 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 2,633 contracts, with 46,145 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 10,033 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (2,429), followed by National Bank (2,307), Piraeus Bank (1,974), Alpha Bank (1,449), OTE (476), PPC (314), Mytilineos (226), MIG (217), Hellenic Exchanges (171), OPAP (105), Ellaktor (70), Frigoglass (33), Folli Follie (27) and Hellenic Petroleum (25).
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.313
Pound sterling 0.790
Danish kroner 7.449
Swedish kroner 9.192
Japanese yen 136.97
Swiss franc 1.207
Norwegian kroner 8.133
Canadian dollar 1.426
Australian dollar 1.405
 Ancient Messene suffers little damage from fire, which reveals more of city wallDamage to Ancient Messene's site from a fire last Monday that led to the evacuation of four villages was minimal, according to an on-site inspection carried out by the ministry of Culture on Sunday.
There are no damages, except for soot on stones fallen off the city wall, while Byzantine chapels nearby had minor damages. All will be addressed immediately by conservators, Culture Secretary General Lina Mendoni said as she led a group of officials, archaeologists and technical staff around the site.
The fire, the ministry said, actually revealed more ashlar blocks from the ancient defensive wall on either side of the Arcadian Gate when the brush around was burnt. A study on the wall's conservation and reconstruction will be prepared for future inclusion in a funding programme.
The abandoned chapel of Klissa-Porti (10th century) and the churches of Panagitsa in Monastiraki Zerbission (14th c.) and of Agios Nikolaos Zerbission (10th c.) suffered minor damages from the fire and will be studied and conserved. Further directions were given for the immediate support work to protect the Arcadian Gate and the cars going through it. Future plans of the area include sinking the road below the current level to preserve the monument.
 Culture minister to inaugurate 'Macedonian Treasures' exhibition at Pellas museum on FridayCulture and Sports Minister Costas Tasoulas is to inaugurate the exhibition "Macedonian Treasures" - featuring unique exhibits recovered from sumptuous graves in the Aiges and Archontiko necropolises - at the Pellas Archaeological Museum in northern Greece on Friday.
Many of the items go on public display in Greece for the first time and include gold wreaths, gold masks, weapons with gold trim, unique sculptures and vessels of alabaster, metal or pottery that were uncovered over 25 years of archaeological excavation at the two sites, the predecessors of Pellas in the Archaic era (7th-6th centuries B.C.).
Certain of the artifacts were loaned out for major temporary exhibitions held at Oxford's Ashmolean Museum and at the Louvre in Paris in 2011 and are returning now to their country of origin. The exhibition's aim is to present as full a picture as possible of the civilisation that formed in the heart of Macedonia during the Archaic and early Classical eras, at a time of fundamental change that laid the foundations for the later Macedonian kingdoms.
The last part will feature a series of symposium vessels dated to the 4th century B.C. from Aiges and Pellas that form a connecting link to the museum's permanent exhibits in the basement, which are dedicated to Pellas itself.
The exhibition will run for just over a year, until September 30, 2015.
 Presidential decree to make Vourkari wetland in Megara a regional parkA draft presidential decree making the Vourkari wetland in Megara, Attica a protected regional park was submitted to the Council of State for approval on Monday. The decree establishes zones of protection, terms and restrictions on building and outlines the protective measures to be taken.
The draft decree seeks to protect, preserve and upgrade the natural landscape around Megara and the Vourkari bay, providing effective protection of the wetland ecosystem between the Agia Triada peninsula and the Agios Athanassios monastery toward Perama.
It is divided into zones with varying degrees of protection, including high-level protection, protection of scenery, cultural heritage, agricultural use and residential etc. Plans include the construction of an environmental information building (60 square metres), canteens (30 square metres), kiosks (30 square metres), agricultural sheds (30 square metres) and houses (150 square metres), as well as infrastructure like roads, benches etc.
Activities banned within the park include camping, grazing, hunting, sand collection, new boreholes and water extraction (except for the needs of fire safety and protecting wildlife). The decree will allow work for the maintenance, repair and replacement of Hellenic Petroleum's underground oil pipelines.
 'Urban Act' graffiti group transform Piraeus port 'Silo' buildingThe graffiti artists 'Urban Act', coordinated by Kyriakos Iosifidis, on Monday transformed the 'Silo' building in the port of Piraeus, covering the walls of the historic landmark with large-scale outdoor murals. The event is partly aimed to transform the public's image of the building, which the culture ministry and Attica Region intend to convert into a unique museum of Marine Antiquities.
 Silimna fire on Mt. Menalon in Arcadia almost completely outA fire that broke out in Silimna, on Mt. Menalon in the Peloponnese, on Monday afternoon was brought under control by night.
The strong winds in the area, 6 km west of the city of Tripolis, brought a large force of firefighters out. There is no active burning front, but a Fire Brigade unit is standing by to put the fire out entirely and ensure there is no other flare up in the area.
 Rain, storms on TuesdayRain and storms and southerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Heavy rainfall and hail storm in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 16C-30C. Same weather in the western parts of the country with temperatures between 19C-28C. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in the eastern parts with temperatures ranging between 17C-30C. Clouds and rain over the islands, 22C-30C. Rain in the afternoon in Athens, 20C-30C. Storms in Thessaloniki, 18C-27C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The Presidency, the bluffs and the transactions.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Layoffs because 'I say so'.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pension before the age of 60 for 16 categories of insured.
ESTIA: Greece at crossroads.
ETHNOS: Personal file for every tax payer.
NAFTEMPORIKI: The heavy threat of the recession returns to the eurozone.
TA NEA: Reserve teachers list re-opens.
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