|Sunday, 31 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 25 September 2014 Issue No: 4768
 Teleconference between Finance Ministry and troika officials concludedFinance Ministry leadership and troika officials concluded a teleconference session late on Wednesday, as part of their planning ahead of the troika representatives' visit to Athens and the conduct of Greece's fifth review.
As was agreed on Thursday, the first meeting between the Finance Ministry leadership and the heads of the troika mission discussing the fifth review of Greece will be held next Tuesday (30th of September).
Greece's fifth review is expected to be completed in two separate phases, the first of which will last for approximately ten days and will include the evaluation and hierarchization of all pending issues of the (bailout current) Memorandum, as well as the finalization of the new draft budget, scheduled to be tabled at the Parliament on Monday the 6th of October. The second phase will take place in Athens after the 13th of October, near the key announcement of the results of the banking stress tests (26th of October), as well as the beginning of the term of the new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Successful completion of the fifth review would release bailout funds worth 7.1 billion euros for Greece, paving the way to a final settlement of Greece's public debt sustainability issue.
 PM Samaras briefs FinMin Hardouvelis on his meeting with MerkelPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday met with Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis to brief him on his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and ahead of troika's arrival in Athens.
Finance ministry and troika officials on Wednesday will hold a teleconference. According to the agenda so far, the first meeting between Hardouvelis and the head of troika has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 30.
 Gov't spokeswoman Voultepsi on Samaras-Merkel meetingGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is "absolutely institutional and would not take any initiative on her own," government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi said on Wednesday commenting on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' meeting with Merkel.
"There is the troika in place, so Ms. Merkel would not commit to anything. Neither did we ask for it," Voultepsi told private ANT1 TV, stressing that Merkel spoke positively on Greece and for the first time the two officials shared identical views.
"Whatever they said in private, it was also said publicly," Voultepsi added.
 'Samaras came back empty-handed' SYRIZA spokesman says on PM's meeting with German ChancellorPrime Minister Antonis Samaras once more "fell short of expectations," SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis told ANT1 TV commenting on Samaras' meeting with German Chancellor Merkel.
"Sometimes, the devil is in the details and I think Merkel and Samaras were absolutely clear on one point. Merkel said that things would progress in such a way that would conclude the memorandum programme. Samaras, in slightly different words, said exactly the same thing; that we will move within the framework of the memorandum programme," he said.
"Consequently, I believe Samaras went and came back empty-handed. And on the crucial, strategic for Europe issue, which is the need to loosen the Stability Pact, namely the loosening of extreme austerity policies, he was left irreparably exposed," he noted.
 KKE on the Samaras-Merkel meetingOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday commented on the meeting of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"The Samaras-Merkel meeting confirmed what has been highlighted repeatedly by KKE all these years; namely that the anti-popular measures will continue even if the troika changes form, following the IMF's disengagement, and even if the memorandum ends, because this is what the EU and the capital holders want," the KKE statement underlined.
Foreign ministry announcement on Greece's participation in the international alliance against the 'Islamic State' (ISIS)
The Greek foreign ministry on Wednesday said that Greece welcomes the international alliance against ISIS, in which it participates politically, through the provision of humanitarian aid and on a military level - following a relevant recommendation of the Ministry of Defence and, more specifically, the National Defence General Staff - through the sending of ammunition to Kurdish forces.
 PM Samaras to meet on Thursday with U.S. Secretary of the ArmyThe Premier Antonis Samaras is scheduled to meet on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at the government headquarters Maximos Mansion with the U.S. Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh.
 Greek ForMin Venizelos meets counterparts on sidelines of UN general assembly meetingGreece's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Wednesday he had a series of meetings with foreign counterparts in New York, on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly meeting.
"Today I met with my counterparts from Algeria, Montenegro and Iran and will later meet with the Indian foreign minister,"?he told pubic broadcaster NERIT.
Venizelos said on Thursday he will have a planned meeting with Turkey's foreign minister and on Friday a trilateral meeting between Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, followed by a bilateral meeting with Egypt.
"We review all issues, not just on a bilateral, but also on a regional and international level and we have, at the moment, information and evaluations from different view points, which allow us to form not just our national choices, but also to contribute to the stance formed by the EU," he said.
Venizelos said he will be attending the Euro-Atlantic dinner on Wednesday night.
 Government is 'open' to non-political candidates for President of the Republic, FM Venizelos saysGreece's coalition government may propose a non-political figure for President of the Republic in March to seek consensus and avoid snap elections that could derail its economic progress, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos told Reuters on Tuesday.
Although the Greek president's role is largely ceremonial, Reuters said, failure by parliament to elect one would force early national elections with no likely outright winner. Such a development, Reuters noted, would plunge Greece into a political crisis a few years after narrowly avoiding default.
Venizelos said that the government was open to candidates who may not be politicians but in the field of academics or even culture, breaking with a decades-long tradition.
"The list for president is very limited," Venizelos said in New York where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly. He did not disclose names for candidates to replace incumbent Karolos Papoulias whose five-year term ends in March. "We have some scenarios but we are absolutely open."
If parliament elects a non-politician, it would be the first time since 1985, when the late socialist Prime Minister Andrea Papandreou proposed a Supreme Court judge for the job, Reuters commented.
On whether the 180 votes needed to elect a president, Venizelos appeared optimistic.
"I'm optimistic because public opinion ... is against the idea of premature elections. The large majority of public opinion understands very well the need to protect the political, governmental stability," he said.
Reuters noted that opinion polls show that no party could win outright if elections are held now.
"It's not possible to form a one-party government. It's absolutely vital to prepare a coalition," Venizelos said.
He also stressed the need for the president's election process to begin in early February. "The nationally right option is to protect the stability and to elect the new president as a result of a consensual process," Venizelos said.
 Finance ministry tables amendment on lower heating oil special consumption taxThe Finance ministry on Tuesday tabled an amendment in Parliament that provides for the reduction of the special consumption tax on heating oil and kerosene from 330 euros per 1,000 litres to 230 euros per 1,000 litres.
According to the explanatory memorandum of the amendment, "the reduction of special consumption tax rates by 30 percent aims at heating oil and kerosene consumers' tax relief with a view to increasing the consumption of these products and address the environmental pollution due to the use of substitute products that affect the atmosphere."
The amendment is attached to the bill on the legal status of religious communities in Greece.
 Special consumption tax, VAT on heating oil and natural gas should be abolished, KKE saysThe government amendment on the reduction of the special consumption tax on heating oil is a mockery to the people, communist KKE party said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The tax has increased considerably since 2010, resulting in the sky-rocketing of the oil price and the freezing out of thousands of families; however the government with its amendment reduces its price by 11 cents per litre," KKE said.
"The only solution for the people is KKE's proposal for the immediate abolishment of the Special Consumption Tax and the VAT on heating oil and natural gas for household use," it added.
 Admin.Reform Minister Mitsotakis on evaluations of municipalities' staffAdministrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday told Mega TV that all cases of municipalities that refuse to submit to an evaluation of documents used to convert the jobs of contract staff to permanent positions will be handed over to the Supreme Court Prosecution.
Referring to Attica region governor Rena Dourou, who objects to the evaluation of the staff in her region and the legality control of their contracts, which were converted from fixed-term to indefinite ones, Mitsotakis wondered "what kind of legitimacy is she referring to, when she refuses to implement the voted law?"
Mitsotakis added that her decision was ratified at the regional council by main opposition SYRIZA, ANTARSYA, Independent Greeks (ANEL), communist party (KKE) and Golden Dawn.
"Legality is not a la carte. Legality is to apply the laws voted in parliament," he underlined noting that when someone is elected to a position of responsibility, he/she shall assume the responsibilities of his/her office.
Mitsotakis also claimed that he has been informed by Public Administration auditors that many of the 33,000 contractors whose contracts have been converted into indefinite ones have submitted fake certificates.
In a vote held on Tuesday, the Attica Regional Council adopted Dourou's proposal that the Attica Region should not comply with a law on staff evaluations, including an article relating to the conversion of jobs with fixed-term contracts to permanent positions based on the 'Pavlopoulos' presidential decree.
Responding to criticism that she was flouting the law, Dourou replied: "It is the evaluation and quota that is illegal and unconstitutional, and I explained this with evidence to the Council of State and the Supreme Court...It is you who are illegal and the most legal thing I have done in my 40 years is to give the order not to carry out the evaluation in the Attica Region."
 Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis meets with President PapouliasAdministrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday met with President Karolos Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion.
The minister referred to public administration reform, noting that the goal is to implement a well-structured reform plan which is already giving fruit. He said that cooperation is being sought and noting, at the same time, that the law must be implemented.
On the crosschecking of the validity of certificates submitted by public sector employees, Mitsotakis underlined that he has an obligation by law to convey to the Supreme Court Prosecutor relevant findings presented by the Inspectors-Controllers Body for Public Administration proving that inspectors were not allowed to check the conversion of labour contracts in five out of 10 municipalities under inspection.
Mitsotakis said that as of October 29 all government ministries will operate with tighter organisational structures "to gradually have a 21st century public administration at the service of citizens and companies".
 PASOK parliamentary group secretary Panagiotis Rigas' interviewPASOK parliamentary group secretary Panagiotis Rigas on Wednesday underlined that the rough draft of the state budget to be tabled in parliament on October 6 will include unilateral decisions made by the government that have already been announced.
In an interview with ANA-MPA, Rigas noted that this means that the government is determined to solve issues that did not go as anticipated, adding that "this does not mean that we will not meet our commitments".
Referring to the Samaras-Merkel meeting, he said that "the outcome was positive". He noted that the prime minister raised the framework decided in a meeting with government vice-president and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos - one of the partners in the two-party coalition government - concerning the country's decision on the completion of the review and its exit from the memorandum.
On the opposition reactions, he said that the "extreme expressions used mainly by SYRIZA show that this party is completely irresponsible and dangerous in a crucial moment for the country".
He did not rule out the likelihood of a cooperation with SYRIZA in the future if the party regains touch with reality.
 Draft bill on logistics tabled in parliamentThe development & competitiveness ministry-sponsored draft bill regulating logistics issues was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.
A ministry announcement underlined that logistics can contribute to economic growth and the creation of new jobs, being an export-oriented sector that reinforces the country's international position and competitiveness and creates direct and indirect jobs.
Greece's geographic position presents an advantage for the sector's development considering that Mediterranean seaports are the gateway to north Europe for 52 pct of transit cargo transported via the Suez Canal.
 Municipalities not submitting to inspection a matter for justice, Dep. Min. Christofilopoulou saysThe cases of municipalities that did not allow inspectors to carry out inspections were a matter for justice, Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou said on Wednesday, referring to the issue of rechecking the paperwork used in the conversion of temporary public-sector contract positions to permanent posts.
"We are not carrying out the inspections in order to carry out dismissals but to clear the public sector from illegality," she clarified.
She attacked Attica Region governor Rena Dourou for her defiance of the measures, stressing that everyone has an obligation to operate in accordance with the law and that the inspections will be carried out.
On the issue of a two-year 'trial' period of newly hired staff in the public sector, the deputy minister said that this law exists in the employee code but is not implemented in practice. She said the ministry's goal was to implement the measures in practice as well, through special measures to be taken.
 Draft bill on open data promotes transparency in the finances of NGOs, non profit organizationsTransparency, in the until-recently opaque regime governing the finances of NGOs and other non profit organisations, is being introduced by the ministry of administrative reform through a regulation included in a draft bill on Open Data in the Public Sector tabled in parliament on Wednesday.
Non profit civil partnerships, associations, institutions, social cooperatives, NGOs and other non profit organisations financed by the general government with more than 3,000 euros will have to post their financial figures on the transparency-promoting "Diavgeia" government website in order to continue to receive state funding.
The draft bill also includes articles for upholding legality in public-sector hirings and for checking the validity of degrees, qualifications and other supporting documents affecting hirings and promotions.
 Communist party leader meets ACCI president, discusses labour issuesCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Wednesday met with the head of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) Constantinos Mihalos at the party's headquarters, for talks focusing chiefly on labour issues and lost entitlements.
A KKE announcement said Koutsoumbas stressed the need for immediate tax relief of wage-earners and the self-employed, with more tax paid by capital and large monopolies. He also called for action to eradicate undeclared 'black' labour and to abolish both legal and illegal elastic forms of labour.
He said KKE was striving for measures to relieve and provide social insurance coverage to the self-employed and small businesses, regardless of debts, and lower insurance contributions in these categories. He also suggested the write-down of debts owed by these groups, with repayments made interest-free and not exceed 10 pct of income.
 Culture minister on EU ministers' council in Rome, return of ancient coins by ItalyROME (ANA-MPA/ T. Andreadis)
Greece's Culture Minister Constantine Tasoulas stressed the significance of the informal EU culture ministers' meeting held in Turin in statements to the ANA-MPA here on Wednesday, as well as a ceremony in which Italy returned 80 ancient coins to Greece.
"The importance of today's informal culture ministers' meeting in Turin was not determined only by the daily agenda but also by the emphasis given by all the colleagues - including Greece - to the Italian EU presidency's proposal, which continues implementing an idea of the Greek presidency that preceded it. The idea that culture could be considered in the EU as a source from which growth and jobs may arise," he said.
He stressed that this aspect of culture had been overlooked and was absent from the agenda for revising the Europe 2020 strategy.
Tasoulas said he referred at length to this issue, presenting a study commission by the Greek culture ministry that demonstrated, with numbers, the social and economic impact of investment in culture. This showed that the multiplier in the case of a cultural investment was 3.4, meaning any investment would yield 3.4 times the same amount in revenues. As an example, he said the culture ministry's investments in recent years, amounting to 512 million euros, had yielded an economic and social result of 1.6 billion euros.
Earlier, the minister reported, the Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini had presented him with 80 coins - 79 silver and one copper - that had been confiscated in Venice in 2008 as items illegally exported from Greece. This was the first time the EU directive 93/7 had been implemented, as revised during the Greek presidency, which facilitates the handling of illegal movement of cultural goods.
He said the Italian government had accepted the request from Greek authorities and through the cooperation of the two culture ministries and the Italian police, the cache of coins dating from the 5th to 2nd centuries B.C. - most of them from the Halkidiki area - was now returning to Greece.
 'Greece's future restarts from a tomb,' Italian paper La Stampa says citing Greek Culture Minister's statementsROME (ANA-MPA/ Th. Andreadis -Syggelakis)
"Greece's future restarts from a tomb" Italian newspaper La Stampa said on Wednesday, in a story on the excavations at the archaeological site of Amphipolis.
"The archaeological team, led by Ekaterini Peristeri, implements the scientific ethics and keeps Greeks and the international audience updated on the progress of the excavation," Culture Minister Constantinos Tassoulas told the paper, while urging for patience.
Regarding the importance of culture for the wider economic and social life of the country, Tassoulas stressed that "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras gives great emphasis on Greece's further cultural development."
A recent study showed that 1-million-euro investments in culture have 3.4 million euros of knock-on economic effects, he added.
The paper underlined that Tassoulas and his Italian counterpart Dario Franceschini agree on the significance of culture as a main factor in the European growth strategies.
"Our ministry currently has 140 programmes across the country, of total budget of 740 million euros, party thanks to the European regional programmes," the minister said.
He noted that "Europe has three bases: the art and the beauty of Greece, the Roman law and the Christian religion" and for this reason, he said, "when we say that Europe and its institutions must be rendered available to the services of people, we are not talking about something abstract, but we mean the man shaped by the Greek-Roman culture and influenced by Christianity."
Franceschini on Wednesday will hand 80 ancient coins over to Tassoulas in a special ceremony after the conclusion of the Informal meeting of the European Culture Ministers in Turin. The coins, 79 silver and one copper, dated between the 5th and the 2nd century BC are from the area of Macedonia and specifically from Halkidiki, and were confiscated by the Italian authorities in 2008.
"This ceremony has been made possible thanks to the excellent cooperation of our ministries, of the Italian police with Greece's embassy in Rome and of course thanks to the implementation of a 1993 EU directive, which was amended this year during Greece's EU presidency. A directive which refers to the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State," he added.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the metropolises of the "New Lands"The Metropolises of the "New Lands" "are an integral part of the spiritual and canonical jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Wednesday underlined in Xanthi, northeast Greece, wrapping up his four-day visit to the four metropolises in the three prefectures within the region of Thrace.
The Ecumenical Patriarch thanked Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, the Metropolitans, the local authorities and the faithful for their hospitality and noted that the Metropolitans of the New Lands are hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and participate in the administration of the Church of Greece.
Speaking earlier before young students, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to his school years on the island of Imvros and his studies at the Theological School of Halki saying that its shutdown is an "injustice" to Hellenism.
 Deputy Foreign Minister Gerontopoulos attends event marking the Armenian independence anniversaryDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Wednesday attended an event hosted by the Armenian Embassy in Athens marking the 23rd anniversary of the independence of Armenia.
Gerontopoulos was welcomed by Armenian Ambassador Gagik Ghalatchian and their discussion focused on the prospects for closer bilateral political and economic relations, as well as, on the formal visit to Armenia by Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Monday.
The Armenian ambassador thanked Gerontopoulos for his contribution as an MEP to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the European Parliament in 1988.
 New BoG dep. governor sworn inThe newly appointed deputy governor of the Bank of Greece (BoG) Ioannis Mourmouras sworn in on Wednesday in the presence of President of Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and BoG governor Yannis Stournaras attended the ceremony.
 Greek Chief of General Staff receives visiting Georgian counterpartGreek Chief of General Staff general Mikhail Kostarakos received on Wednesday the Chief of the General Staff of Georgia major general Vakhtang Kapanadze who is paying an official visit to Greece following Kostarakos' invitation.
The heads of the two armies discussed issues of bilateral interest.
 Development ministry seeks changes in agreement with EIB to boost liquidityThe Development ministry will seek to review the agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB), aiming at reduced collateral requirements for the funds allocated to the Greek market by the EIB through the Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
According to ministry officials, such a change would provide the funds for the subsidy of performing loans' interest rates.
The issue was discussed on Wednesday at a meeting between Development Minister Nikos Dendias and Horst Reichenbach, head of the European Commission's Task Force for Greece. The minister stressed that the main issue of the meeting was to discuss the increase of liquidity to SMEs through EU funds and the best use of funding tools.
Regarding the agreement with the EIB, Reichenbach said: "It is true that I have never been satisfied with the EIB-Greece agreement. But the truth is that it was a difficult period for Greece and the negotiation it made. Now, the climate is much better and there is grounds for better renegotiation on increasing liquidity, without additional collateral, as Greece's rating has improved. I expect that there will be assistance to Greece."
 Greek State pledges to defray the deferred taxes of loss-making banks over a 30-year periodA bill tabled on Wednesday at the Greek Parliament provides State guarantees that it will undertake to defray the Greek banks' deferred taxes, in case the latter do not manage to stay profitable in a period of 30 years.
This pledge will have a welcome estimated 3 billion euros "capital relief" repercussion on the banks involved, especially valuable in the framework of the forthcoming banking stress tests, to be conducted by the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB - under its supervisory role - will thus be allowed to identify that much added supervisory capital to affected Greek banks.
It is noted, that the tax treatment of the banks, themselves, is not affected in any way by the specific bill. Additionally, it is not certain that taxpayers in Greece will actually be called to pay for the banks' deferred taxes, as this would only happen in case they consistently operated at a loss.
In case the Greek State were to actually defray such deferred taxation costs, it would do so through offering a bond to the banks involved, whose value it would exchange for banks' shares.
 Athens hosts international economic conference in Athens on economic crisisThe Greek capital will host the international "2014 Multinational Finance Society Winter Conference" between December 14-16, titled "Global Financial and Economic Crisis: Challenges and Prospects".
The conference is jointly organized by the Center of Planning of Economic Research (CPER) and the Multinational Finance Society.
The aim of the conference is to conduct an open debate between politicians, academics, researchers, doctoral candidates and professionals from several international organizations on current economic issues and empirical findings which relate to the recent Eurozone crisis.
Keynote speakers include Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and Bank of Greece Governor, Yannis Stournaras.
During the conference, there will be roundtable debate titled: "Crisis in the Eurozone: The case of Cyprus and Greece."?
The invitation to the conference will be sent to 9,000 university professors from around the world.
The debate will include the following speakers:
-Dimitris Vayanos, Professor of Finance and Director of the Paul Woolley Centre for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality at the London School of Economics
-Notis Mitarakis, Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister
-Philippos Sachinidis, member of Parliament (and lawmaker with PASOK).
-Georgios Stathakis, member of Parliament (lawmaker with PASOK) and professor of Political Economy
-Christos Staikouras, Deputy Finance Minister
-Christis Hassapis, president of the Board of Directors in the Bank of Cyprus and deputy professor in the University of Cyprus
 National Pangaea begins public tender offer to buy MIG Real EstateA public tender offer by National Pangaea REIC to acquire the remaining common nominal shares of MIG Real Estate at a price of 3.10 euros per share in cash, began on Wednesday and will end in October 22.
In August 12, 2014, MIG Holdings transferred to National Pangaea through a block trade a total of 4,920,000 shares, or 34.96 pct of its equity capital in MIG Real Estate at a price of 2.5 euros per share.
On the same day, National Pangaea signed an agreement with Medscope Holdings Ltd and acquired another 6,734,011 shares, or 47.85 pct in MIG Real Estate raising its majority stake in the company to 82.81 pct. Following this development, National Pangaea was obliged to proceed with a public tender offer for the purchase of the remaining shares of MIG Real Estate.
National Pangaea's main goal is to list its shares in the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Deputy Labour Minister Plakiotakis on the long-term unemployedMore than one million jobs were lost since the beginning of the crisis, Deputy Labour Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis on Wednesday told an audience in a seminar on co-financed programmes.
A total of 1,061,900 jobs were lost between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2014, while in the same period the number of unemployed increased by 865,600 to 1,342,300, Plakiotakis said.
The crisis impacted on all groups of employees but the worst-hit were the young, women and older employees, he noted.
The unemployment rate for young people, aged 15-24, was 58.3 pct on 2013, he said, adding that youth unemployment in Greece was always high, showing that deep structural problems existed before the crisis.
Since mid-2013 the situation in the job market has stabilised, he said, underlining that the labour ministry's policy is based on two key points, namely, the consistent implementation of the new Development Plan and the direct support of the unemployed, especially the long-term unemployed, through targeted actions aimed at boosting employment and enhancing skills.
 Gas station owners express reservations over reduced special consumption tax on heating oilThe Federation of Greek Gas Station Owners (OBE) expressed its reservations over the efficiency of the reduction of special consumption tax on heating oil from 330 to 230 euros per 1,000 litres, claiming that consumption would remain at low levels.
OBE estimated that the amendment - tabled in Parliament on Tuesday- would result in a 12 cent reduction of the heating oil price, meaning its average price would amount to 1.13 to 1.15 per litre.
"If we take into consideration the fact that since 2011, when the special consumption tax was at the lowest rate, the households' income has dramatically dropped while all taxes have increased, the current price per litre appears unaffordable," the federation said in a statement, demanding the tax is reinstated to April 2011 levels of 21 euros per 1,000 litres.
 Dutch embassy in Athens celebrates one year of Orange GroveThe Dutch embassy in Athens on Wednesday celebrated one year since the launch of Orange Grove, an initiative to assist start ups of new companies and give them the conditions to grow.
"We did it because youth unemployment is a big challenge for Europe and especially for Greece, where we have also observed a large wave of migration. It's our small contribution to the growth of the Greek economy," Dutch Ambassador Jan Versteeg said at a press conference, celebrating the first birthday of Orange Grove.
"Everyone is looking for investments. There's a lot of competition there. However, we start by utilising good ideas in Greece, to benefit the country itself," he added.
Summing up the facilitations provided by the Dutch embassy to startups, he said "we provide the workplace, the network of connections we have as an embassy with Greek and foreign companies, organisations and universities, having already a good experience in Amsterdam with innovative companies."
"We work aiming to provide a commercial aspect to innovation, to utilise the talent of young people and company employees and to bring a closer connection with the market, startups and universities," he said.
"Talent in Greece is undervalued," Versteeg said. The ambassador has a personal interest in Orange Grove and has been congratulated in his country for exercising modern diplomacy through these actions.
At the moment, Orange Grove is assisting 34 new companies, mainly in the field of agricultural products, tourism, health and sports. About half of those are one-person companies and one third are run by women.
"Our purpose is to bring more young people to Orange Grove," Versteeg said, referring on the prospects of the project, adding "to widen our connections worldwide and to support economically the more mature members through an award process."
The greatest part of communication is through the internet and social media and those interested can get more information at http://startupmanifesto.gr
 Greek exports to Australia up 27 pct in H1Greek exports to Australia rose 27 pct in the first half of 2014, compared with the corresponding period last year, totaling 100 million Australian dollars, from 80 million in 2013.
According to figures released by the Australian statistics office, around 50 pct of Greek exports were food and beverage products, while 85 pct of exported products to Australia were made by family-owned businesses.
 Athens Airport 'highly commended' at World Routes 2014Athens International Airport 'Eleftherios Venizelos' was among the airports that airlines voted as "Highly Commended" in the 4-20 million passenger (pax) category at the World Routes 2014 marketing awards held in Chicago on September 20-23.
The awards were held during the 20th World Route Development Forum attended by 300 airlines and 800 airports. AIA has received 13 top commendations at World Routes in the last 10 years, making it the airport with the most awards internationally.
 Telecoms Commission EETT approves HOL takeover by VodafoneThe Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) on Wednesday gave its approval to the acquisition of full control of the telecoms company HOL by Vodafone, finding that it does not restrict competition in the Greek market.
 Greek stocks end slightly higherGreek stocks ended slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, in a what traders described as a technical rebound of the market following a two-day sharp decline which pushed the composite index of the market 3.91 pct down. The index rose 0.21 pct to end at 1,105.99 points, off the day's highs of 1,115.55 points. Turnover remained a moderate 79.33 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.09 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.21 pct lower. Eurobank Properties (4.97 pct), Folli Follie (2.85 pct), Titan (2.77 pct) and National Bank (2.60 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (2.66 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (2.63 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.26 pct) and MIG (1.64 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, Commerce (2.86 pct), Insurance (2.84 pct) and Constructions (1.85 pct) were top gainers, while Financial Services (2.29 pct), Technology (1.77 pct) and Travel (1.26 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 50 with another 20 issues unchanged. Yalco (19.44 pct), Ekter (13.78 pct) and Kreka (10.92 pct) were top gainers, while Nakas (10 pct), CPI (9.60 pct) and Boutaris (9.30 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Service: -2.29%
Real Estate: +3.85%
Personal & Household: -0.76%
Food & Beverages: +0.70%
Raw Materials: +0.71%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Travel & Leisure: -1.26%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Eurobank, and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.62
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.46
Coca Cola HBC: 17.16
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.36
National Bank of Greece: 2.37
Piraeus Bank: 1.30
Eurobank Properties: 9.30
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 5.18 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 5.01 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.17 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.99 pct. Turnover was a strong 108 million euros, of which 39 million were buy orders and the remaining 69 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.344 pct from 0.343 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.257 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.186 pct from 0.185 pct, the three-month rate was 0.082 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.007 pct from 0.005 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.23 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,695 contracts with 50,245 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 20,799 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (4,668), followed by Alpha Bank (3,909), National Bank (3,253), Eurobank (3,717), OTE (1,072), PPC (959), MIG (259), OPAP (339), Hellenic Exchanges (294), Titan (253), Mytilineos (308), Hellenic Petroleum (463), Motor Oil (130), Athens Water (99), GEK (436), Ellaktor (85) and Terna Energy (200).
 Foreign exchange rates - WednesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2826
Pound sterling 0.783
Danish kroner 7.4436
Swedish kroner 9.1825
Japanese yen 139.5
Swiss franc 1.2077
Norwegian kroner 8.179
Canadian dollar 1.4207
Australian dollar 1.446
 Six arrests for illicit antiquities, explosives and contraband tobacco on ElafonissosAncient artifacts, explosives, contraband tobacco and a number of cartridges were found during police raids on the island of Elafonissos, southern Greece. Six individuals were arrested on charges of illicitly trading in antiquities and illegal possession of guns and explosives, it was announced on Wednesday.
Police raided private homes and other locations on Elafonissos and arrested four men aged 45, 50, 52 and 78 and two women, 45 and 52.
Explosives and cartridges were found in the homes of three of the men and the 45-year-old woman. In the homes of two of the suspects, a man and a woman, both 52, police found fragments of ancient vessels and the heads of two clay statuettes. They also found roughly three kilos of contraband tobacco.
 Foretaste of Animation Festival "animasyros" at Benaki museumThe 7th International Festival and Forum of Animation "animasyros" will open on October 2 in Ermoupolis, Syros island.
Visitors will have the opportunity to have a foretaste of animasyros at the first pre-festival event that will be held on Monday at 19:00 at the Benaki Museum in Athens.
 Greek police dismantles gang responsible for series of armed robberiesGreek police announced on Wednesday they dismantled a gang that had fired with Kalashnikovs against policemen last July in Oinofyta, a village north of Athens.
The gang has also committed a series of armed robberies in houses, stores and companies around Greece.
The gang consists of six Albanians, aged 20, 24 and 26, three of which have been arrested, while the other three are still at large.
On July 2nd, 2014, the gang committed two consecutive armed robberies against a food manufacturer and a scrap company in the area of Thiva, in central Greece.
They were spotted by a crime prevention police unit and tried to escape by shooting seven times with Kalashnikovs against policemen, without injuring anyone.
While still on the run, the gang stormed into another company in the area and stole a car which they used to escape.
Five days later, the same men robbed two jewelry stores in the area of Tyrnavos, in Thessaly, central Greece, wearing hoods and wielding Kalashnikovs. They removed jewelry and other objects of great value.
From April to September 2014, the gang also committed four armed robberies in houses in the Athenian suburb of Nea Smyrni, in the seaside resort of Porto Germeno and Halkoutsi and in the region of Thesprotia, in western Greece.
Police investigation revealed they were also behind a series of house robberies and car thefts in other parts of Greece.
There is also a pending arrest warrant for the 24-year-old by the prosecutor of Chios Island, in eastern Greece.
All three men were sent to the prosecutor in Athens while police continue to investigate their possible involvement in other similar punishable acts.
 Hellenic Seaways' 'Nissos Mykonos' to temporarily take over Kavala-Samos ferry routeShipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on Wednesday signed an order awarding the return ferry service between Kavala and the island of Samos, with stops at the islands of Limnos and Lesvos, to the shipping line Hellenic Seaways. The route will be served by the car-passenger ferry "Nissos Mykonos".
A ministry announcement said the decision restored the smooth operation of ferry links in the northern Aegean, which had been erratic in the immediately preceding months.
The minister's decision was made following consultation of the Coastal Shipping Services Council and a tender inviting shipping firms to bid for the route.
The contract calls for the "Nissos Mykonos" to carry out the route twice a week for a fee of 93,825 euros per trip. It has a maximum duration of three months and will expire upon either: the start of regular services, the signing of a contract for exclusive service, or the proclamation of a lowest-bid tender.
Hellenic Seaways has also promised to provide a service to the island Psarra once a week, without a subsidy, with the ferry boat "Ariadne" on the Piraeus-Chios-Lesvos route.
 Body found near bin in AegaleoThe body of an unknown man was found accidentally early Wednesday in a garbage bag next to a bin at western Attica suburb of Aegaleo.
In its attempt to put out a fire at a garbage bin, the Fire Brigade found the body, half burned, next to the bin.
Police estimate that the victim was murdered and then it was taken to the spot where they set fire to the bin to cover their traces.
 Ten tons of hazardous waste dumped at Attiki Odos side-roadOfficers from the Attica Police Environmental Protection Division on Tuesday found 10 pallet tanks full of waste at Attiki Odos side-road. The pallet tanks of 10 tons containment capacity, which unknown perpetrators had dumped on the roadside, were full of oily, black tar.
Special Environment Inspectors said the material was hazardous and caused environmental pollution.
Authorities have started the hazardous waste collection and disposal procedures, while the Prosecutor for Environment was informed of the case and the Attica Police Environmental Protection Division have launched a preliminary investigation.
 LAOS offices targetedUnknown individuals early Wednesday broke the glass door and threw paint on the walls of Popular Orthodox Party (LAOS) offices in the Athens district of Patissia.
Police are conducting an investigation.
 Baby trade case uncovered in Trikala; seven arrestsSeven persons, among them a lawyer, a notary and a doctor, were arrested on Wednesday in Trikala alleged to be involved in a baby trade.
The baby belongs to a young woman from Bulgaria that had agreed to sell her baby to a childless couple.
Trikala police will give the details of the case at a press conference on Wednesday noon.
 Greek Air Force helicopter crew rescues missing pilotThe pilot of a single-engine aircraft that went missing earlier in the day in the sea region off Ierissos in Halkidiki, northern Greece, was safely picked up by a Greek Air Force Super Puma helicopter, the Coastguard announced on Wednesday.
The Super Puma, which took part in search and rescue operation, took off from the eastern Aegean island of Limnos.
The rescued pilot, a foreign national, is in a good health and was taken to Thessaloniki.
 Halt to stolen cellphones marketThe National Telecommunications Committee on Friday will put an end to the problem of stolen cellphones given that all mobile phone companies deactivate via IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code all the cellphones declared stolen.
From now on, stolen mobile phones will be useless as they will not be reactivated with a new SIM card, giving an end to mobile phones black market.
 Clouds, rain on Thursday:Clouds, rain and winds from variable directions are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 10C-25C. Rain in the western parts with temperatures between 17C-28C. Scattered clouds in the morning and rain during the night in the central and the eastern parts, 16C-30C. Clouds over the islands, 20C -28C. Partly cloudy in Athens with possibility of rain during the night, 17C-29C. Clouds and rain in Thessaloniki, 16C-25C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Lasting memorandum without haircut to debt.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: The troika returns.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Pompous words with empty piggy bank.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Express checks to certificates for hirings, transfers and pensions.
ESTIA: The Prime Minister (Antonis Samaras) promotes the country.
ETHNOS: The good news and Merkel's messages.
IMERISSIA: Positive message from Merkel (Angela, German Chancellor).
KATHIMERINI: With open cards to Merkel.
LOGOS: 1 of 2 Greeks can't pay their taxes.
NAFTEMPORIKI: He (Samaras) ruled out a third memorandum and pressed for tax reliefs.
RIZOSPASTIS: They (Samaras, Merkel) negotiate for the capital and not for the people.
TA NEA: White smoke.
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