|Sunday, 31 May 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-09-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 30 September 2014 Issue No: 4772
 Greek FinMin: Negotitions with troika will be approached with seriousness, determinationGreece's Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said he is optimistic about the outcome of the country's negotiations with its interna-tional lenders starting on Tuesday, following a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at Maximos Mansion on Monday evening. Hardouvelis said the government will approach the nego-tiations with seriousness and determination and asked for an end to the rumours reported in the last few days. On Tuesday, at noon, the Greek premier will meet with Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos at Maximos Mansion.
 FinMin Finance Minister Hardouvelis concludes meetings with ministers, meets with PM SamarasThe successive meetings between Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and his colleagues in government, that focused on memorandum-related pending issues in the context of the 5th review of the Greek economy by the troika of the country's lenders, were completed on Monday afternoon.
Hardouvelis then went into a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at Maximos Mansion which is currently under way.
The Finance minister met with Development Minister Nikos Dendias, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Health Minister Makis Voridis.
The heads of the troika of Greece's lenders will have their first tete-a-tete with Hardouvelis at the ministry of finance at 11:30 on Tuesday morning and according to a leading Finance ministry official, "all the issues under negotiation will be laid on the table tomorrow".
Based on the existing itinerary, the representatives of the lenders will meet with the development minister at 11:30 hours on Wednesday and later on the same day, at 15:00 hours, they will meet with the minister of administrative reform.
On Thursday afternoon, they will have a meeting with Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and on Friday they will meet with the environment ministry leadership.
 Labour Minister Vroutsis to meet with the troika on Thursday and FridayLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis will have successive meetings with the representatives of the troika of the country's lenders on Thursday and Friday, it was announced on Monday.
The negotiations with the troika will focus on issues including, mass layoffs, trade union legislation, pensions and the deficits in the social insurance funds.
Vroutsis, who is under pressure coming from different sides, is currently in Geneva where tomorrow he and the social partners will meet with the International Labour Organization (ILO). The meeting, which is expected to last the whole day, will focus on the mass layoffs regime and the trade union legislation in relation with international and European standards.
According to labour ministry officials, a likely agreement by the social partners on those issues and ILO's support will reinforce the negotiating position of the Greek side in the coming meetings with the troika.
 FinMin-Mitsotakis meeting ends; admin. reform minister to meet troika on WednesdayA meeting between Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis and Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was concluded on Monday, covering all outstanding issues that are likely to be discussed during talks with the troika of Greece's international lenders starting on Tuesday.
Mitsotakis will be meeting with the heads of the troika mission next Wednesday at 15:00, sources said.
 FinMin to submit 2015 draft budget to Parliament on October 6The Parliament this week concludes its summer recess sessions and on Monday launches the new period for the Regular Plenary Session.
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis on Monday, October 6, will table the 2015 draft budget in Parliament, as according to the standing orders of the parliament, the draft budget is submitted for debate to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs the first Monday of October of each year.
This week, the third summer recess section will hold a debate and a vote on the bill concerning the legal status of religious communities and logistics.
The Parliament's summer recess sections during the past few months voted on significant bills and provisions, including the one on the "small Public Power Corp", the changes in the calculation of the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) and the public employees' evaluation.
 Gov't spokeswoman disputes 'Public issue' poll findings, rules out November electionsGovernment spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi on Monday openly disputed the findings of a 'Public Issue' opinion poll unveiled over the weekend, according to which main opposition SYRIZA had a strong lead and was very close to achieving a single-party majority government.
In statements on the private radio stations SKAI 100.3 and Real FM, Voultepsi stressed that "There is no possibility that the difference it gives exists. Opinion polls also exercise a type of propaganda. When you present such a big difference, people who are not in a position to know details might be influenced," she said.
"It is especially significant that there is such a large percentage of undecided [voters]. The elections will also be decided by the undecided voters and the citizens that will go to the poll at the last minute, in full alignment with whatever is happening in the country at the time of elections. Therefore, it mainly depends on the actions of the government also, which is determined to complete its policy," she added, while ruling out elections in November.
Regarding the talks with the troika starting on Tuesday, the spokeswoman said that everything was on the table, the government was doing its best but ruled out any head-on collision: "We have said from the start that we will not create a rift with those that are lending to us," she stressed.
The spokeswoman pointed out that, in addition to loans, Greece was also getting help through Community programmes, in which the country's national contribution was now just 5 pct. "We put it all onto a scale, weigh it up and we see what we gain and what we lose. The last thing that is in the interests of the country is to clash with those that lend us at low interest and give us Community programmes," she said.
The government would do what was necessary but without derailing the fiscal balance and creating new deficits, she stressed, while any measures included in the draft budget would be taken with the cooperation and in consultation with Greece's partners.
Commenting on the municipalities resisting a review to check the legality of contract conversions granting permanent jobs, Voultepsi noted that Greece had to finally "start separating legality from lawlessness," not just for crimes but also minor offences.
Regarding relations between the two parties in the coalition government, and in response to a statement by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, she stressed New Democracy and PASOK were currently collaborating - and doing it very well - in order to govern the country. "Neither party has 'married' the other and we do not have the same views. We are different parties and it is natural, on the level of parties, for statements to be made. But we are working together for the good of the country," Voultepsi stressed.
 Gov't spokeswoman calls poll 'propaganda' and rules out elections in NovemberGovernment spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi ruled out the idea of national elections in November, commenting that political clashes are always intense in Greece.
Asked to comment on a poll published at Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper on September 27 that gave the main opposition party SYRIZA an advantage of 11 points over the government, Voultepsi said in interviews to private radio stations Real and Skai the poll was "an attempt to impose propaganda" and said "it is significant that the percentage of undecided people queried was very high."
"I completely doubt this particular poll," she stressed. "When you present such a great difference [between parties], people who do not know the fine print may be influenced. This is an attempted attempt to impose propaganda, and it is especially significant that the percentage of undecided people is very high."
Asked to comment about negotiations with the troika of lenders, she said all the issues were "on the table and under discussion" and said the government wwas "doing the best but has said from the start it would not break from those that lend to Greece."
 EU General Affairs Council adopts EUSAIR; Dep. FM Kourkoulas commentsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The EU General Affairs Council on Monday adopted the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), in a meeting where Greece was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas.
"This is the result of long months of cooperation, with the ultimate goal of putting the Adriatic and Ionian Region onto the European map of Macroregions, along with those of the Danube and the Baltic. We worked intensively for this Strategy, together with Italy, the presidency following ours, Slovenia and Croatia, with the assistance of the European Commission, as well as with Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina," Kourkoulas stated afterward.
He said that the new strategy is designed to capitalise on and link the horizontal and individual EU policies in the sectors of blue growth, maritime security, protection of the environment, and promotion of tourism. More specifically, it is aimed at utilising the advantages provided by the EU's horizontal and sectoral policies to improve the region's competitiveness and flexibility, safeguard the natural environment, and boost employment through the creation of new jobs.
"To achieve this goal, we have funding in the amount of 50 billion euros at our disposal for the years 2014-2020, as was announced at the high-level Conference on EUSAIR, which we hosted in Athens, as the Presidency of the Council of the EU, in February 2014, together with the European Commission. The Athens Conference substantially promoted the adoption of the EUSAIR and brought us a step closer to today's decision. We will soon begin implementation of the Strategy, to which - in addition to the governments of the participating countries - Regions, local administration and other public, private and social agencies are called up to contribute," he added.
During the meeting, which was conducted on the basis of the Italian presidency's proposals on issues relating to growth, competitiveness and employment, Kourkoulas briefed his counterparts on Greece's positions: namely, that coordination of economic policies is a necessary tool but not enough to alleviate the negative social impacts.
"We consider that the banking union and the harmonisation of economic policies is important but, because structural changes yield results in the long term, more immediate measures are required for employment," he said.
The meeting also discussed climate change and energy security issues, which will be at the top of the agenda at the October EU summit.
EUSAIR is the third EU macroregion strategy after those of the Baltic and the Danube and the first macroregion that also includes such a large proportion of non-EU members (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) in addition to the four EU member-states Greece, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.
 Two-year settlement for non-performing business loans, senior development ministry official saysThe legislation on non-performing business loans will cover a period of two years, a senior development ministry official commented on Monday after the two-hour meeting between Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou and Development and Competitiveness Minister Nikos Dendias, held in preparation for the arrival of a troika review mission in Athens.
Development ministry sources commented that there is no distance of views with the troika, which accepts the draft bill on the reconstruction of businesses and the settlement of non-performing loans.
The development ministry leadership will have the first meeting of this cycle with the troika representing the country's lenders on Wednesday morning.
Specific figures, requested by the troika from the State General Accounting Office to quantify the impact the settlement will have on the economy, are expected to be released later today.
The settlement will apply to roughly 100,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the majority of which are regarded as viable by the ministry of development, and 10,000 large enterprises. In the case of the latter, the settlement provides for individualised debt settlement.
According to development ministry officials, the settlement for nonperforming loans will not affect the banks' capital adequacy but, on the contrary, they will benefit from future tax deductions, while capital of 20-22 billion euros that concern 'bad' loans predictions is expected to be released.
The settlement will also include the writing off of fines and surcharges for debts to social insurance funds and the state. "If just 18 pct of the businesses that cannot meet their obligations take advantage of the settlement and start paying their debts, it would be a net profit for the state and social insurance funds," development ministry officials commented.
 Foreign Ministry announcement on articles concerning Greece's stance on the name of FYROMThe Foreign Ministry on Monday issued an announcement on articles concerning Greece's stance on the name of FYROM.
"Because certain extreme circles are playing ignorant or surprised, as if they had just learned now - from the Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister's speech to the 69th UN General Assembly - of the country's stance on the FYROM name issue, it is useful to make the following reminder:
Greece's position in favor of a compound name, with a geographical qualifier before the word "Macedonia", and not before the word "Republic", to be used in relation to everyone (erga omnes), for all uses, domestic and international, has been thus formulated for many years now and has been stated repeatedly in the Hellenic Parliament as well as internationally, in multilateral and bilateral meetings. It is based on this position that the Greek representative participates in the UN process under Mr. Nimetz," the ministry said.
"We assume that it is obvious to everyone that the provisional name (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), under which our neighbouring country joined the UN in 1993, and with which it participates in a large number of international organizations, actions and meetings, is a compound name with qualifying modifiers before the word "Republic" and not before the word "Macedonia". This compound provisional name is not used in relation to everyone (erga omnes), but in the international organizations and in the meetings and actions that they organize bilaterally with a large number of countries, but unfortunately not domestically, not in passports, and not bilaterally with those countries that have recognized FYROM under its so-called constitutional name.
This is a state of affairs that violates international law and must change. The responsible and clear Greek stance is the only one that leads to the changing of this state of affairs," it added.
 Labour Minister Vroutsis to sign decree on retroactive audit of social security fundsLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis within the next few days is expected to sign a ministerial decree which provides for the retroactive audit of the finances of social security funds.
According to ministry officials, many social security funds did not prepare balance sheets for many years hindering the effective control and undermining transparency.
"If irregularities or violations are found, the political leadership of the Labour ministry is determined to take these cases to court," the same officials said.
The majority of cases regard the 2008-2012 period, but there are also some referring to previous years.
The Labour ministry estimates that, after completion of the audit, they will have a clear image of the financial situation of the funds and the economic management in the past, which will allow the drafting of the appropriate policies that will ensure the sustainability of the system in the future.
The project is funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).
 Administrative reform ministry provides clarifications on review of 'Pavlopoulos' contract conversionsThe administrative reform ministry on Monday released additional clarifications and details concerning a review process launched to recheck the validity of contract conversions carried out under the 'Pavlopoulos' decree of 2004, in which fixed-term temporary job contracts were turned into permanent positions of indefinite duration. Several of the municipalities chosen to launch the process have 'rebelled' against the measures, refusing to comply with inspectors.
The ministry noted that the 2004 presidential decree introducing the measures - through which Greece also complied with Community directives - resulted in 35,200 contract workers being given permanent jobs, out of a total of 75,000 that submitted applications. The majority of these employees fully met the terms and conditions for a permanent position, the ministry added, but a significant number exploited the opportunity to be given a permanent public-sector job to which they were not entitled.
According to the ministry, the review is taking place to uncover violations of legality during the process, since there are serious indications that some conversions were carried out with fake supporting documents. The ministry stressed, however, that the criteria used are exactly the same as those in the original presidential decree.
Regarding the choice of the 10 municipalities from which the review process started, the ministry said that these were selected because they had approved the largest number of contract conversions under the process, based on figures provided by the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP). It noted that the review will soon be extended to other organisations and agencies.
The decision on whether the conversion was legal and whether the employee involved was liable will be made by teams of inspectors from ASEP, which proposed the review process. Before submitting its report, teams are also required to summon the employees involved to offer additional explanations or information.
 Supreme Court says it is 'not authorised' to rule on issue of home raids of debtors to the stateThe Supreme Court's (Areios Pagos) administrative plenary session said on Monday that it does not have the authority to decide whether government raids on citizens' homes over debts to the state require the presence of a magistrate.
The Finance ministry had requested an opinion by the court in August after the State Legal Council had decided it was not necessary for a court official to be present during such a raid.
After announcing their conclusion, the plenary session members said they had also requested a non-binding opinion by Nikos Pantelis, Supreme Court deputy head prosecutor for financial crimes.
In statements made on August 12, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou had noted that "the admissibility of a house search conducted by tax agents will be judged in the context of the Constitution clauses" that guarantee the home is inviolable as a person's shelter.
"Whether a house search by tax agents is admissible will be studied and judged in the context of article 9 of the Constitution guaranteeing that the home is a sanctuary and any search in it can only be conducted in the presence of representatives of the judicial power. The same guarantee is included in article 8 paragraph 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights," Athanassiou stated. The Convention's relevant article states, "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."
On August 13, Athens Bar Association president and Greek Bar Associations Plenum chairman Vassilis Alexandris commented on the State Legal Council majority opinion called the controversial opinion unconstitutional and warned that individual rights are being restricted, reminding that according to existing legislation, the presence of a judicial officer is always necessary when conducting house search.
 Dep. Development Minister to visit USDeputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarachi on Monday and Tuesday will be in the US to represent the Greek government to the "Concordia 2014 Annual Summit", according to a ministry announcement.
On Wednesday, October 1, at 10:00, Mitarachi will visit the headquarters of the Archdiocese of America, where he will be received by Archbishop of America Demetrios. Afterwards, he will meet with representatives of the Greek Diaspora.
The Greek minister will also have a series of meeting with foreign investors and international rating agencies' representatives.
On Thursday, October 2, at 19:00, he will represent the government at the 2nd annual meeting of the "Hellenic Initiative."
 'Current government will not survive beyond March,' SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Kouroumplis saysThere is no way the current government can survive beyond March, SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Kouroumplis told ANA-MPA web TV.
"A government that cannot even negotiate the installments cannot be in charge of the critical negotiation for the public debt. It needs a government with a fresh parliamentary mandate and SYRIZA is capable of this," Kouroumplis said.
Asked whether a possible SYRIZA government would mean that European partners would exercise painful pressure, he noted: "This is a rationale diffused in Europe and is trying to terrorize the Greek people. We believe this is not the case. The Europeans cannot work on an accounting rationale against a people that is now submerged in the defeat of hope and lives in the constellation of melancholy. All that cannot be accepted by a patriotic government that is willing and able to defend the Greek people's dignity.
They have to realize that we will not sign off Greece's destruction to save the banking system of Europe. It should be understood that we will not succumb or give in; because the submission of a disciplined prisoner, which Greek governments demonstrated all those years, has led nowhere."
"SYRIZA is ready to govern," he said. "The country does not only need people that have been prepared but also honorable ones. SYRIZA will have a majority government as the showdown will be very tough and people will have to decide to put an end to submission, to the policy of a government that has offered nothing to the country but obeys the troika, demolishes the Greek people and tries to impose conditions similar to the ones in Bulgaria and Romania."
The full interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA web TV.
 Independent Greeks leader: We would cooperate with everyone apart from Samaras and VenizelosIndependent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos on Monday clarified that his party "does not negotiate its parliamentary seats."
"We have red lines," Kammenos said speaking to private ANT1 TV on the conditions and prerequisites for a possible cooperation with the government after the elections.
"We have an honest public proposal which we have presented from the first moment and which we reiterate now. We have some 'red lines' which mostly focus on our national issues. By no means will we participate in a government if they have not secured the protection of the name "Macedonia" regarding the Fyrom name issue, the protection of Thrace, that right now is targetted by the Turkish Consulate and the Turkish policy, as well as the Cyprus issue and the Greek-Turkish relations. These are issues that for us are 'red lines'," he noted.
Kammenos also said that he would cooperate with everyone in order to form a government of national unity apart from "Samaras' New Democracy and Venizelos' PASOK" who, as he said, will not exist after the elections.
 KKE on the government's talks with the troika"The people have a bad experience with the government's 'red lines' and 'tough negotiations,' which each time end up in a new round of anti-popular offensives," opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday underlined.
A party announcement on the talks between the government and the representatives of the troika of the country's lenders noted that "the government negotiates as the representative of Greek capital holders that call for a new blow to labour and social insurance rights as a prior action for their profitability".
 Russian interest in Greek privatisations may be obstructed by US pressure, RZD chief says in interviewMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
Russia retains an active interest in the privatisation Greek railway branches and the Port of Thessaloniki but a final agreement could be obstructed by the United States, according to statements made to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS by Vladimir Yakunin, CEO of Russia's state railway operation RZD on Monday.
Asked whether the EU sanctions on Russia would affect RZD's plans in Europe, Yakunin said, "We are still working in a normal regime but the final terms of a tender have not yet been announced. But we need to look at things realistically. The US is exerting the strongest pressure, and I don't rule out that our partners may change their mind."
As mentioned by the agency, there are eight companies and consortiums interested in a 67% stake of northern Greece's Port of Thessaloniki, including RZD, which is partnering with Greek-based GEK Terna: Deutsche Invest Equity Partners (Germany), Mitsui & Co (Japan), APM Terminals B.V. (Holland), International Container Terminal Services (Philippines), la Duferco Participation Holding (Luxembourg-based), P&O Steam Navigation Company/DP World (UK) and Yilport Holding (Turkish). They will present their binding offers in the second stage of tendering.
RZD is also participating in the second stage of tendering for the privatisation of Hellenic Railways' (OSE) operational arm TrainOSE and its maintenance/rolling stock branch, ROSCO.
Yakunin was in Greece from September 25 to 28 to attend a public forum he has founded, "The Dialogue of Civilisations", which has taken place annually for the last 14 years on the SE Aegean island of Rhodes.
"The mission of our traditional meetings is to let people negotiate and come to terms. However different and varied their views are. One should never forget: the Earth is small. In theory, there will be no winners in another world war, should it break out," he said, explaining the forum's purpose.
"From the standpoint of reconciling the interests of different civilizations and respect for their basic values, one should proceed from the fact that a different person is not an enemy. He or she is just different from you. Full stop! That's the way it should be, provided common humanitarian principles are not abused, of course," he added in the interview.
 Private sector union GSEE appeals to the Council of Europe on labour relations in GreecePrivate sector union GSEE said it appealed to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg against decisions made during the last four years by the Greek governments which determined labour relations in the country.
In its motion, GSEE claimed that "a large number of Greek employees' social rights, guaranteed by the European Social Charter, have been violated."
It added that the "measures implemented have led to the dismantling of labour relations, the abrupt reduction of wages and the demolition of the welfare state, a result which does not only concern the Greek workers, the unemployed and pensioners but has ramifications throughout Europe."
GSEE also said it was considering appealing to the European Court of Human Rights for the same reasons.
 DIMAR leader meets with Libyan ambassadorDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis met on Monday with the ambassador of Libya in Athens Ahmend Yagob Gzallal at the party's headquarters in Athens, according to a party announcement.
The two officials discussed the developments in the wider area of the middle East and the Libyan envoy briefed Kouvelis on the political developments in his country and the political initiatives of the legal government towards the country's democratisation.
A special reference was also made on the relations between Greece and Libya.
 Potami leader to meet separately with PM Samaras, SYRIZA leader Tsipras in near futurePrime Minister Antonis Samaras and main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras each accepted a request to meet with Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis, it was announced Monday.
No official dates for the two meetings have been released yet.
 Authorities have not found any 'Jihadists' in Greece, Public Order min saysAll relevant authorities are on alert to track down any suspect activities, while information on Jihad terrorists being in Greece have not so far been confirmed, Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias told the Parliament.
"The information regarding the presence of ISIS or ISIL members in our country has not so far been confirmed by the investigation of the relevant authorities," he said responding to a question by independent deputy Nikitas Kaklamanis.
He also gave clarifications on a website report which Kaklamanis referred to and which had photos of ISIS supporters holding Jihad black flags at Klafthmonos square.
According to Kikilias, "this photo was taken at a protest, held on August 31, 2012, initiated by the 'Community of Syrian Spring' association that organizes solidarity rallies for the people of Syria."
The ministry has been in close cooperation with other ministries and make use of the institutionalized channels of international cooperation to take any necessary and appropriate preventive or deterrent measure, he added.
 Greek state wins case against Athens International Airport; charges are 'outrageous', AIA respondsThe Athens Administrative Court of Appeals on Monday ruled in favour of the Greek state in its legal dispute with the "Athens International Airport (AIA)" company and the German company "Hochtief" which for 20 years was managing the construction and operation of the Eleftherios Venizelos Athens International Airport. The court ruled that AIA did not pay VAT to the Greek state for airport services.
At present, the total amount of the German company's debt to the Greek state is hard to be calculated, considering that the debts were suspended as a result of the legal action underway and the fact the Tax Bureau hasn't calculated yet the amounts owed until 2013. According to information, more court rulings are still pending for unpaid VAT concerning other years.
The Administrative Court of Appeals rejected the allegations made by the German company's legal representatives, that the Greek state violated "good faith" or the European law, and ruled that, based on the Greek Constitution, the international arbitration to which the German management sought recourse cannot write off the administrative fines imposed on the company.
In its response to press reports on the decision, the AIA said it had "kept to and continues to keep all of its legal obligations and therefore does not owe the Greek state outstanding debts, whether from VAT or other direct or indirect taxes, social security contributions and city taxes."
It also called references to outstanding obligations totalling 500-600 million euros "outrageously erroneous, products of imagination and unsubstantiated."
Among other things, in its announcement, it noted that it AIA is a fully Greek company with a 55-percent participation by the Greek state, levies VAT on all such sales transactions and always turns it over to the state on time. From 2001 to 2013, it said, it had turned over to the state VAT totalling 84 million euros.
 Supreme Court Prosecutor orders investigation into mayors refusing auditsSupreme Court Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani on Monday ordered a preliminary investigation into mayors allegedly refusing the checking of public sector employees' certificates whose contracts have been converted from fixed-term to indefinite.
More specifically, the prosecutor ordered a preliminary criminal investigation to find out whether these mayors have committed the offenses of breach of trust and misconduct.
Koutzamani also forwarded the related files sent last week by the Minister of Administrative Reform Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the heads of the prosecution authorities of Athens, Piraeus, Patras and Larissa.
 'Greece can become a wider business hub,' Foreign ministry's secretary general tells Hyundai Heavy Industries executivesForeign Ministry's Secretary General for International Economic Relations Panagiotis Mihalos, leading a business mission of the Hellenic Marine Equipment Manufacturers and Exporters (HEMEXPO) to Korea, on Sunday met with the president and CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Oi-Hyun KIM and the vice-president of the company Y.D. PAPK.
Mihalos noted the established cooperation between Korea and Greece in the shipping sector and the prospects of the further development of the business relations under the new conditions being created with the upgrade of Greece's geopolitical significance.
He underlined the importance of including the Greek marine equipment companies in the suppliers' list of Hyundai on the occasion of the participation of HEMEXPO member-companies in Marine Tech 2014 exhibition, which starts on September 29 in Changwon and where business meetings between the Korean shipyards and Greek exhibitors will be held.
He also referred to the possibilities of transferring part of the activities of the Hyundai shipyards to Greece, with joint ship building or repairing projects in Greek shipyards, noting that Greece could become a hub for such activities in the wider region.
Mihalos referred to the new conditions being created in Greece with the ongoing upgrading of Piraeus, which has become a global logistics hub and with other developments in the energy sector which upgrade its geopolitical importance, thanks to which Greece could become a wider business hub through which companies can promote their activities in Southeast Europe, Middle East and North Africa.
 Piraeus will make us proud in Europe, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs Damanaki saysPiraeus will make us proud in Europe, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said after a meeting with Piraeus mayor Yiannis Moralis on the occasion of the organisation of the 2015 European Maritime Day in May.
Damanaki noted that everything possible is being done so that the event leaves a positive legacy to Piraeus, such as opening jobs and boosting development.
"It is an opportunity for the city of Piraeus to prove that it can host major events and promote the city on the axis of sea and maritime," Moralis underlined.
 Port of Lavrio becomes attraction for shipping companiesThe port of Lavrio has become a major attraction for many companies as the completion of the new modern port station and the port works, the close distance from the Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" and the easy access to "Attiki Odos" along with the imminent extension of the urban railway have offered extrovertive characteristics aiming at the creation of additional facilities to the port and the economic development of the wider area.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, the President of Lavrio port Aristidis Vitsios noted that the redevelopment works and the maintenance of the existing facilities along with the completion of the master plan until the end of the year will allow the total utilisation and development of the land and sea facilities.
The delay of urban railway's arrival to Lavrio is the only obstacle for shipping companies to operate in the specific port, decongesting the traffic in Piraeus port, Vitsios said adding that 23 cruiseships docked at Lavrio carrying 23,448 tourists in 2014.
 GSEVEE, Italy's CNA sign bilateral cooperation agreementThe Greek and Italian associations representing small and middle-sized traders and manufacturers, the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) from Greece and the Confederation of Artisans and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (CNA) from Italy, on Monday signed a bilateral cooperation agreement.
The agreement was forged by delegations from the two sides meeting in Rome in order to coordinate action with organisations representing SMEs in the European south.
In an announcement, GSEVEE said they two sides agreed to coordinate their action on both a European and a bilateral level in policy areas of mutual interest, with the growth of SMEs in both countries as the primary goal. In particular, they will be coordinating steps taken in the framework of European policies for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, the Western Balkans, the COSME-HORIZON 2020 programme, as well as for the energy efficiency/green economy programmes and interstate business support services networks.
The two sides said they intend to extend the cooperation agreement to other organisations representing SMEs, while a public invitation will be made at the European Commission's SME Assembly in Naples on Oct. 2-3.
 Milk prices 5-10 pct lower since Sept. 22, dep. minister saysMilk prices were between 5-10 pct lower in all supermarkets after September 22, not including special officers and discounts, Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos said in a press conference on Monday.
According to the minister, both supermarkets and dairy companies had responded to the ministry's appeal that they show corporate social responsibility and had lowered prices.
He declined to comment on the effectiveness of measures extending milk shelf life, though leaving open the possibility that the measures will be reexamined in December.
The ministry's next target is the detergents market, he added, where Giakoumatos has commissioned a study and come into contact with representatives of the sector. Also to be enlisted in the battle for lower prices is the Competition Commission, which the deputy minister intends to visit on Tuesday.
At the press conference were representatives of the Athens Central Market, who announced a collaboration with the Hellenic Post (ELTA) for the delivery of groceries ordered over the Internet at home for just one euro.
 Greek hoteliers voice concern over the sustainability of their businessesMany Greek hotels are in dire straits despite increased arrivals as a result of high taxation, the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA), municipal taxes, tourist agencies' closing down and the freeze on bank lending which threaten the viability of businesses, according to Greek hoteliers and tourism operators.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, the president of the Cephalonia Hoteliers Association Spyros Galiatsatos expressed his indignation over the fact that authorities have not resolved issues arisen from the bankruptcy of a number of Russian tour operators such as money owed to Greek businesses. "We will be taxed for money that we have not received," Galiatsatos noted.
The president of the Crete Hoteliers Association Nikos Chalkiadakis, in a statement to the ANA-MPA, also referred to the difficult conditions affecting Greek hotels, saying that hoteliers have been burdened with high taxes.
 Hellenic Bank Association head supports gradual tax reductionThe head of Hellenic Bank Association on Monday said he supported a gradual withdrawal of all extraordinary tax burdens introduced during the crisis and a reduction of tax rates.
"The current conjucture finds us with high tax rates almost everywhere. There are, however, two exemptions which show the direction that tax rates should have to create a competitive and export-driven economic growth. During a stampede of rising taxes there were two taxes that fell to levels lower than even before the crisis. These are the VAT on travel packages and social insurance contributions. These kinds of tax reductions lead the economy to a rebalancing, which is necessary and has been successfully introduced to other countries. It is essential that all extraordinary tax burdens must be gradually removed, while at the same time it is necessary to continue the introduction of modern systems in tax administration to reach the era of fundamental reduction of tax rates," George Zanias, president of Hellenic Bank Association said, addressing a conference on the growth transformation of the Greek economy.
Zanias said that the Greek economy faces a full reform agenda, focusing on structural changes and noted that, despite progress made, a lot of interventions was still necessary towards improving the business environment in the country. He said that interventions were also necessary in market operation, while he stressed that privatisations could bring new capital to Greece, contributing to economic growth and improving efficiency.
 CPI SA reports improved resultsCPI SA on Monday reported improved 12-month results, as the company returned to profitability in the period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.
After tax results showed profits of 115,000 euros, from a loss of 232,000 euros last year, EBITDA jumped to 1.07 million euros, from 514,000 euros, while revenues rose slightly to 14.28 million euros from 14.26 million last year.
Gross profits totalled 3.61 million euros, from 3.35 million the previous year, for an increase of 8.0 pct, while gross profit margin rose to 25.3 pct from 23.5 pct.
 Air traffic controllers announce 48-hour strike on October 4-5Air traffic controllers nationwide will hold a 48-hour strike next weekend, October 4-5, in protest against a ministerial decision allowing the Public Debt Management Agency access to air navigation route charges accounts in order to cover immediate cash needs, it was announced on Monday.
The Greek Air Traffic Controllers' Association (GATCA) underlined that "this is the first time that an intervention is being made in the special accounts for purposes other than Civil Aviation Authority air navigation," adding that "now the reserves of special accounts could be used for public debt repayment purposes".
The air traffic controllers allege "blatant violation of Community law" and warn that, aside from the legal means they intend to use, they will also bring their case before the European Commission and will file a report with the European Parliament.
They also warned that the safety of flights and the national rights within Greek air space will be jeopardized as a result of insufficient investments.
 Greek stocks end 3.05 pct lowerGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by a deteriorating climate in the domestic bond market. The composite index of the market dropped 3.05 pct to end at 1,053.32 points, its lowest closing since August 8 (1,047.21 points). Analysts said that the market will seek technical support at the 1,040 level and the 930-point level and stressed that any reversal of the prevailing downward trend should lead the composite index of the market above the 1,170 level.
Turnover was a strong 109.17 million euros. The Large Cap index fell 3.02 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 4.58 pct lower. All blue chip stocks ended lower, with GEK Terna remaining unchanged. Athens Water (6.91 pct), Viohalco (6.39 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (5.90 pct), Alpha Bank (5.78 pct), PPC (5.74 pct), METKA (4.67 pct) and Piraeus Port (4.50 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Media (2.90 pct) and Health (0.78 pct) sectors were the only ones to move higher, while Utilities (5.70 pct), Industrial Products (4.89 pct), Financial Services (4.47 pct) and Technology (4.38 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 109 to 24, with another 16 issues unchanged. Tzirakian Profil (19.05 pct), Varvaresos (19.05 pct) and Kreka (11.36 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (17.78 pct), Spider (17.24 pct) and Sato (16.67 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services : -4.47%
Real Estate: -3.17%
Personal & Household :-2.11%
Food & Beverages: -0.89%
Raw Materials: -2.44%
Mass Media: +2.90%
Travel & Leisure: -3.61%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.52
Coca Cola HBC: 17.07
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 5.09
National Bank of Greece: 2.28
Eurobank Properties: 9.00
Piraeus Bank: 1.27
 Greek bond yields continue risingGreek state bond prices continued falling on Monday, extending last week' s decline, reflecting investors' concerns over a possible early Greek exit from a support mechanism.
The yield of the Greek 10-year benchmark bond rose to 6.34 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market in midday trading, up from a 5.56 pct low recorded in early August. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 5.38 pct from 5.16 pct at the end of last week. The five-year bond yielded 4.77 pct, from 4.28 pct a week ago.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 5.44 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 5.16 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.39 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.95 pct. Turnover was a moderate 49 million euros, of which 44 million were sell orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate fell to 0.339 pct from 0.341 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.253 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.184 pct from 0.183 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.083 pct from 0.082 pct and the one-month rate was stable at 0.007 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.04 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 11,927 contracts with 52,675 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 26,185 contracts, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (5,974), followed by Alpha Bank (4,936), National Bank (4,184), OTE (1,848), Hellenic Exchanges (1,744), Eurobank (1,397), GEK (1,300), PPC (1,208), MIG (694), Hellenic Petroleum (398), OPAP (381), Jumbo (328), Mytilineos (280), Titan (274), Athens Water (238), Ellaktor (238) and Sidenor (148).
 Foreign exchange rates - MondayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2701
Pound sterling 0.7827
Danish kroner 7.4432
Swedish kroner 9.2018
Japanese yen 138.97
Swiss franc 1.2071
Norwegian kroner 8.196
Canadian dollar 1.4172
Australian dollar 1.4555
 Amphipolis has an international appeal, the head of the Acropolis Museum saysThe ancient site of Amphipolis, in northern Greece, where ongoing excavations unearthed a massive tomb dating from the era of Alexander the Great, has an international appeal, the director of the Acropolis Museum said on Monday.
"I want to comment on the effect the discovery of this monument has had and how much it has aroused the interest of both Greeks and foreigners," Dimitris Pantermalis, who is also an archaeology professor, said during an event organised in his honour in Thessaloniki, Greece's second biggest city.
Pantermalis avoided making any guesses as to the outcome of the excavation, or about the disputes that have emerged among fellow archaeologists.
The event was organised by Pandermalis' high school at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
During his speech, Pantermalis discussed the modern method of digital technology used in the Acropolis Museum.
"We try to highlight all the features of the Acropolis Museum using modern methods and through digital technology we try to make the archaic and classical masterpieces more familiar to the people, without sacrificing anything from the uniqueness of the originals," he said.
 Fulbright Foundation presentation of American colleges and universitiesThe Fulbright Foundation will present its annual US University Fair on October 6, it was announced on Monday.
Representatives and alumni from U.S. colleges and universities will be available to offer information to students interested in studying in the U.S.
The annual event features institutions from all over the United States and aims to answer students' questions about American higher education in general, as well as inquiries about particular institutions and programs, an announcement by the US Embassy in Athens underlined.
The event will take place on Monday, October 6 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Athens with the participation of roughly 30 US colleges and universities.
For more information visit the Fulbright Foundation website: www.fulbright.gr.
 Football match clashes victim diesThe 47-year-old man who was seriously injured at clashes during a football match in Crete passed away earlier on Monday.
The man, injured at a football match between the Irodotos and Ethnikos clubs earlier this month, was being treated at the 401 military hospital in Athens.
The charges of attempted manslaughter and inflicting grievous bodily harm at a sports venue brought against four persons will now be changed to manslaughter.
 Potami radio to launch on WednesdayThe Potami party radio will make its debut on Wednesday on seven radio stations in Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, Hania, Corinth, Zakynthos and Serres, it was announced on Monday.
Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis will be on air to answer to questions by seven regional radio journalists.
According to a party announcement, Potami "is looking forward to this dialogue with regional media representatives".
 Local residents hold protest against road tolls near LamiaLocal residents expressed strong opposition to the operation of multiple road tolls around the city of Lamia, central Greece, in a protest rally held in a downtown square of the city on Monday. The demonstration was held while a new road toll is currently under construction between Lamia and Stylida on the Lamia-Larissa New National Motorway.
The protest was held at the initiative of the municipality, the local business community and the regional authority.
Greater region mayors were also present in the protest as the road tolls affect their municipalities as well.
According to the protesters, most of the private cars, including large trucks, prefer the Lamia-Athens old national network, that passes through populated areas, instead of the new national motorway in order to avoid paying tolls.
 Police arrest 72-year-old man for illicit antiquities tradeGreek police on Monday arrested a man for illicit antiquities trade and breaching the law on the protection of cultural heritage, after it was discovered he was hiding ancient artefacts in his house in the region of Imathia, northern Greece.
During a raid in his house, police found a large number of ancient coins and jewellery dating from several historic eras.
The coin collection includes about 1,000 copper and silver coins from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, as well as a large number of copper and stone jewellery - rings, bracelet and a cross - from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine era.
The 72-year-old man's stash also included several smaller copper items dating from the Hellenistic period until modern times.
Police also found a large number of weapons, including pistols of various calibres with eight rounds of ammunition, revolvers and hunting rifles with dozens of cartridges.
The man was also charged for illegal possession of firearms and embezzlement and appeared before a prosecutor to make his plea.
Authorities say the man had had run-ins with the law in the past relating to illicit antiquities trade.
The objects were examined by archaeologists, who determined their value.
 Bulgarian national brought in for questioning at border police station escapesA Bulgarian national escaped on Monday from a border police station where he had been brought in for an identity check because of an outstanding court decision against him.
The man tried to pass through passport control at the Greek town of Promahonas on the borders with Bulgaria. When it was found that a court decision had been issued against him, he was taken to the police station where the court decision's validity would be checked. By the time the process was over, he had managed to leave the building without being noticed by the guard on duty.
 Traffic accidents causing fatalities or injuries up in JulyRoad traffic accidents causing deaths and injuries rose by 2 percent in July 2014 relative to the same month in 2013, the Greek Statistical authority ELSTAT reported on Monday.
The total number of such accidents in the month came to 1,172 and resulted in 83 deaths (a 1.2 pct up relative to 2013), 135 serious injuries (5.6 percent down) and 1,316 lighter injuries (0.2 percent down).
 Greek minister cancels national teams events over weekend in memory of dead football fanGreece's deputy sports and culture minister cancelled all the official games of national team sports scheduled for the coming weekend, in memory of a football fan who died after being attacked during a game.
The 47-year-old man was injured during clashes at a?second league football match between Cretan team Irodotos and Piraeus-based Ethnikos on September 14.
Four men were arrested for the incident and are facing multiple counts of attempted murder and serious bodily harm. Three of the suspects have been jailed and?another has been conditionally released on bail?pending trial.
"As a small token of respect for the memory of Kostas Katsoulas who lost his life today as a victim of football violence, the Deputy Culture and Sports Minister Yiannis Andrianos decided to cancel all the official team matches for the next sports period," a statement from the ministry said.
The decision affects the sixth day of the Super League football games, one day in the 3rd football league, one day of the Greek Basketball Cup, the third day of men's handball championships and the first day of women's basketball game.
The ministry said the games will be rescheduled in due time.
 Fair weather on TuesdayMostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the northern and the western parts of the country with temperatures ranging between 10C-26C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 12C-26C. Scattered clouds over the islands, 17C-26C. Fair in Athens, 15C-26C; the same for Thessaloniki, 12C-25C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The middle class with SYRIZA, the interests with New Democracy (ND).
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Three major social security funds collapsing.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The conditions for reduced retirement age limits.
ESTIA: Fourth blackmail for the President.
ETHNOS: Double veto... to pensions and retirement age limits.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Government wants to set 'red lines' to troika's demands.
TA NEA: North winds brought (elections) campaign climate!
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