|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 1 October 2015 Issue No: 5034
 Migration and Cyprus issues dominate PM Tsipras and UN sec gen Ban Ki-moon meetingThe Cyprus issue, the issue of migration as well as the negotiations between Greece and Skopje dominated a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.
According to a spokesman of the UN Secretary General, the Secretary General and the Prime Minister discussed the increased flow of refugees and migrants to Europe and the challenges Greece is facing in this regard.
"They also discussed the Cyprus issue and the secretary general welcomed the progress made. He underlined the importance of Greece's continued support in this context," he said.
Finally, they exchanged views on the prospects of resolving the issue with the name between Greece and FYROM.
 Greek, Turkish prime ministers meet in NY, agree to expand collaboration on refugees issueThe Prime Ministers of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, and Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, agreed to upgrade Greek-Turkish collaboration on the refugees issue, during a meeting they held on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, early on Wednesday morning (Greek time).
According to an official announcement, Tsipras underlined Greece's support to a just and viable solution on the Cyprus issue, based on United Nations resolutions, and called on Turkey to support talks in this direction, especially given the growing impetus on Cyprus towards a solution.
The two leaders also discussed the prospect of strengthening bilateral relations, especially in the sectors of the economy, culture and transportation.
Tsipras underlined that Greece supports open lines of communications at diplomatic level between both countries - including the talks for Confidence-Building Measures - and noted the need for respect of International Law.
 PM Tsipras stresses the importance of the Greek DiasporaPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras late on Tuesday had meetings with presidents and officials of several organisations of the Diaspora in a reception organized in honor of him in New York.
Tsipras called the expatriates the best ambassadors of Hellenism in the US, "a country which plays a very important role in the world and in all the important decisions that concern the future of our country."
The prime minister thanked on behalf of the Greek people the expats for their unrelenting efforts all these years, regarding the defense of national interests and the fact that they constitute the leading ambassador of those interests.
?Speaking about the economic crisis in Greece, Tsipras said that "the Greek people has been the victim of options that led to the gradual lifting of the country's sovereignty and led to the need of a loan which resulted in the implementation of policies which in recent years have weakened the production base and the economy of our country."
?On the refugee issue, he said: "We have showed the good, human, and true face of Europe, as poor people gave their savings to refugees."
 Full joint press release of trilateral meeting between Greece, Cyprus and EgyptA trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt was held on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. After the meeting, the following joint statement was issued:
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, H.E. Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Mr. Nikos Kotzias and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Sameh Shoukry, held a trilateral meeting today 29 September 2015 in New York. This meeting took place for the third consecutive year.
The Ministers have reaffirmed the mutual commitment of the three governments to this tripartite consultations mechanism and to an enduring partnership and cooperation at the service of peace, stability and prosperity of the eastern Mediterranean, as enshrined in the Joint Declarations issued following the High Level Trilateral Summits of Cairo of 8 November 2014 and Nicosia of 29 April 2015. In this context the Ministers re-affirmed their commitment to constantly work towards enhancing their tripartite consultation at all levels.
The Ministers reviewed the relationship between the European Union and Egypt, noting the mutually beneficial nature of this partnership. They welcomed the willingness of Egypt to engage in closer cooperation with the European Union in various political and economic areas. They agreed on the need for the European Union to recognize the real situation in Egypt, to support Egypt politically and economically and in its fight against terrorism and for further exchanges in the areas of trade, crisis management and on political consultations on regional issues, acknowledging Egypt's pivotal role for the security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region.
They reviewed developments in the field of fighting international terrorism through concerted, comprehensive and collective action by the international community. In this context they reaffirmed their commitment to the collective international effort to combat Da'esh as well as other terrorist groups and underscored the need to address shortages in the effort to end the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and the provision of financial and military support to terrorist groups.
They agreed on the urgent need to address the refuge crisis and the increased migratory flows as a result of the ongoing turmoil in our neighborhood. They further stressed the need for a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of the problem, especially the resolution of conflicts. The three countries affirmed their commitment to exert every effort at their disposal to address - as a matter of priority- the humanitarian aspect of the crisis by preventing further loss of life at sea in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, in order to combat the activities of smugglers. They expressed their readiness to contribute towards addressing the humanitarian aspects of the ongoing refugee crisis in cooperation with all countries concerned.
With regard to Syria, they expressed their support to the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy Stefan de Mistura to revive the political process. They also emphasized the need to continue supporting regional countries against spill-over effects of this crisis and extend their support to the Egyptian efforts to facilitate consensus among the Syrian opposition groups with a view of promoting a political solution in the Syrian crisis according to the Geneva Communiqu?.
On Libya, they expressed their support to the efforts of the UNSG Special Representative Bernardino Le?n and to the elected parliament and its affiliated government, until the eventual materialization of a holistic national unity government. They expressed deep concern over the security situation in Libya and called once again for the implementation of a counter-terrorist strategy in parallel to the political dialogue and reconciliation process and the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
They expressed their strong support for the legitimate government of Yemen and for the preservation of its unity and territorial integrity. UN-led efforts complemented by the Gulf Cooperation Council are the only way forward on the basis of the relevant Security Council Resolutions. It is imperative to combat extremist and terrorist groups, to ensure the protection of civilians and allow unrestricted access to humanitarian aid for the civilian population.
On Iraq they reaffirmed their support to the government of Iraq in its effort to achieve stability and its fight against terrorism and expressed their full support to the quest of the government and the people of Iraq towards political cohesion, tranquility and peace.
They welcomed the agreement reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran in Vienna on 14 July 2015 on the nuclear program of Iran, after more than two years of intense and vigorous negotiations which is an important development and stressed the need for its faithful and complete implementation. They expressed their hope that the agreement will be a step towards the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East.
They called for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace settlement in the Middle East based on the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, the establishment of a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state on the territories occupied since 4 June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, and living in peace and security with all its neighbors, in accordance with the positions and initiatives taken by the European Union and the Arab League. Such a settlement remains the only guarantee to avoid the recurrence of innocent civilian deaths, destruction and heightening tension. They expressed their support for the resumption of negotiations to achieve a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the two-state solution and they welcomed the intention of the International Quartet to work more closely with key Arab countries. In this context they call for the immediate end to the escalation at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and urge the international community to uphold its responsibilities to protect the holy sites in the occupied Palestinian territories.
They expressed their resolve to strengthen their cooperation so that the discovery of important hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can serve as a catalyst for regional cooperation and prosperity. They stressed that this cooperation is founded upon mutual adherence to well-established principles of International Law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They particularly underscored the importance of the recent discovery of the "Zohr" gas field in Egypt's Exclusive Economic Zone. They agreed to proceed expeditiously to negotiate the outstanding issues related to the delimitation of their adjacent maritime zones.
They reaffirmed their unwavering support to the ongoing negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem that will reunify the island in accordance with international law, and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Such a settlement would not only benefit the people of Cyprus as a whole, but would also significantly contribute to the stability and peace in the region.
They expressed concern with regard to the destruction and attacks against the cultural heritage of countries in the Middle East and the organized looting and illicit trafficking of cultural objects, which has a dramatic effect in the invaluable, historical heritage of the region. They shared the experiences of their own countries on this alarming phenomenon and underlined their commitment to continue working towards countering the destruction, looting and trafficking of cultural property. They concurred on the need for a robust UNSC Resolution that would apply universal limitations on the trade and transfer of artifacts originating from all conflict zones, with the obligation of proof of legitimate trade resting upon the traders, auction houses and buyers and not on the originating state.
Our three countries, convinced of the strategic nature of this trilateral cooperation, will continue working closely towards unleashing the full potential of their cooperation, to the benefit of their peoples and the wider region."
 'We care for the welfare of our people,' Foreign Min Kotzias saysA trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt was held on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
In his statements, the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said that the three ministers prepared the tripartite meeting to be held in Athens.
"We care for the welfare of our people, the stability and stabilization of the region, the fight against extremism, protecting the communities existing throughout the Middle East, both cultural and religious ones," Kotzias stressed and invited both of them to visit Athens on October 18-20 for the conference on the protection of the populations of the Middle East.
The Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukrik said that they discussed political, economic and social issues, relating to the strengthening of ties between their countries while addressing the challenges related to conflicts in the region.
On his part, the Cyprus' Foreign Minister Ioannis Kassoulides said: "We had a substantial discussion on issues concerning our region, the relations of Egypt with the EU, the issue of Syria, terrorism and refugees. We also discussed about Libya."
 IMF 'ready to work with Greece,' managing director Christine Lagarde tells Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis in Washington, DCThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) is prepared to work with the Greek government to promote its agenda of reforms, its managing director Christine Lagarde told Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis, according to government sources on Wednesday (Greek time).
Stathakis is accompanying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to New York, and travelled with him to Washington, DC on Tuesday in order to meet with Lagarde.
The meeting was the first contact Lagarde had with the new Greek government. According to sources, they discussed recent developments in the Greek economy, bank recapitalisation, the country's debt and the path to the economy's revival, while the Greek side reiterated the need to introduce measures for social cohesion.
The meeting, according to sources, was also attended by IMF European department director Poul Thomsen, Greek Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos and Greek representative to the IMF Michalis Psalidopoulos.
 Government's econ team meet new head of Commission's Structural Reform Support ServiceThe leadership of the government's economic affairs team, including Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis and Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis, on Wednesday met with the new head of the European Commission's Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) Maarten Verwey at the finance ministry.
The meeting was also attended by the general secretary for government coordination Dimitris Papagiannakos, standing in for Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris.
According to a finance ministry announcement said the meeting was held in the context of cooperation for the provision of technical assistance to Greece, both now and in the long term.
Verwey, who succeeded the head of the former EU Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach, had a series of meetings with members of the government on Wednesday in order to determine the type of technical assistance that Greece's public administration will need in the coming months.
They included meetings with Labour Minister George Katrougalos, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, Alternate Minister for Migration Yiannis Mouzalas and Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Christoforos Vernardakis.
 Third programme includes reforms to restore Greece's competitiviness, Schaeuble's spokesman saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
Specific reforms have been agreed between Greece and its creditors in the third economic support programme, German Finance ministry's spokesman Martin Jaeger said on Wednesday.
The aim of these reforms is to restore Greece's competitiviness so as to catch up with the rest of the eurozone.
"Greece needs to become competitive again so as to catch up with the rest of the eurozone. That is the reason why Greece has agreed jointly with its creditors a third programme of reforms. There are certain things that need to be done. These are very specific. They all serve a single target," Jaeger noted adding that "the Greek side needs to deliver a lot."
 Greek authorities warn refugee arrivals in Lesvos will reach new heights in OctoberGreek authorities warned on Wednesday that the arrivals of refugees and migrants in Lesvos, the island which has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis and where numbers reached new records in September, has still not peaked.
According to new data released by police, authorities in Lesvos recorded 73,179 arrivals in September alone, raising the total number from the start of the year to a whopping 186,720 - a number equivalent to almost three times the number of residents on the island.
About 300,000 people have crossed into Greece since the start of 2015 and Lesvos has accepted the majority of these arrivals, they said.
A senior Coast Guard official told local radio station Aegean that October is the month when most arrivals have been recorded in the past few years and data so far show this "rule" will be verified this year. The same official said the deterioration of the situation in Syria and Afghanistan means that the waves of migration will continue undeterred.
October, authorities say, is the last month when refugees and migrants can cross relatively safely the Aegean before winter sets in, which means that hundreds of people presently staying in camps and streets in coastal Turkey will attempt to travel now.
Other officials said that in the last few days, 3,000 people arrive daily mostly to the northern shores of the swamped island, even during the downpours, while last Friday, authorities recorded a record breaking 5,810 arrivals of refugees and migrants on the island in just 24 hours.
 Former military camp to be revamped to house refugees, says ministerThe inactive Liossi military camp located in the area of Ano Liosia, in western Athens, will be used as a temporary shelter for refugees, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas told ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
He said that after contacting the Defence ministry, it was agreed to use it as part of the ministry's plan to find temporary housing and decongest the city's central squares.
Similar initiatives resulted in the opening of the hockey stadium in Elliniko, he added.
Authorities have already started organizing the camp so that refugees residing in Viktorias square will be able to move in as soon as possible.
 EU General Court rejects cancellation of Greek citizen's onerous public debtBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vassilaki)
The General Court of the EU confirms that the initiative of a Greek citizen seeking to allow cancellation of the onerous public debt bacause Greece is in a state of necessity cannot be registered.
The subject matter of such an initiative does not have any basis in the Treaties, it said.
Alexios Anagnostakis, a Greek national, is behind the European citizens' initiative "One million signatures for a Europe of solidarity" which he submitted to the Commission on 13 July 2012. The objective of that initiative is to enshrine in EU legislation the 'the Principle of the "state of necessity" whereby when the financial and the political existence of a State is in danger because of the serving of the abhorrent debt the refusal of its payment is necessary and justifiable'. The initiative proposal cites the economic and monetary policy (Articles 119 to 144 TFEU) as the legal basis for its adoption.
By decision of 6 September 2012, the Commission refused to register Anagnostakis' proposal on the ground that it fell manifestly outside the framework of its powers. Anagnostakis then brought proceedings before the General Court to have the Commission's decision annulled.
By today's judgment, the General Court dismisses the action of Anagnostakis and confirms that the Commission is not empowered to propose to the EU legislature to enshrine the principle that it should be possible to cancel the onerous public debt of countries in a state of necessity.
 Main opposition criticises government for retroactive pension cutsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) accused the government of "political fraud" on Wednesday, arguing it planned retroactive pension cuts.
Pointing to a circular issued by the Deputy Minister for Social Insurance, Anastasios Petropoulos, the party said it reveals the government's plan to increase the retirement age to 67 and grant a reduced pension.
"Everything Mr. [Alexis] Tsipras and his partner Mr. [Panos] Kammenos said before the elections are crumbling," ND said, adding that it constitutes a "political fraud" which is revealed day by day and whose consequences will be paid by the Greek people.
 Parliament to convene on Saturday, elect new president on SundayThe Parliament elected on September 20 will convene for its first session this coming Saturday, when the MPs will be sworn in during a ceremony held at 11:00 on Saturday morning. The MPs will then return at 11:00 on Sunday in order to elect the new Parliament president, in a session to be chaired by Nikitas Kaklamanis, the most senior of the re-elected vice-presidents of the previous Parliament.
The new Parliament president will then read out his policy statement to the House and a session to elect the Parliament vice-presidents and other Parliamentary officials will be held on Sunday evening. The candidate proposed by the ruling SYRIZA-ANEL coalition is SYRIZA MP Nikos Voutsis, a former minister.
On Monday, Parliament will convene to hear the government's policy statements, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as sole speaker for the first day of the three-day process. The sessions will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday, with presentations by individual ministers and MPs, followed by the speeches of all the political party leaders in Parliament. The process will conclude with a vote of confidence in the government at midnight on Wednesday evening, to be conducted in a roll-call vote.
The election of the Parliament president requires an absolute majority of at least 151 votes in the 300-member Parliament, while that of a vice-president requires at least 75. For this reason, the candidate proposed by Golden Dawn for vice-president did not receive the required number of votes in the previous Parliament, so that the party was not represented in the previous parliamentary presidium.
 INTERVIEW-Russian ambassador Maslov underlines interest in strengthening economic relations with GreeceThe Russian ambassador in Athens Andrey Maslov in an interview with ANA-MPA confirmed Russia' constant interest in the strengthening of bilateral economic relations with Greece.
Regarding the Greek Stream pipeline work, Maslov estimated that consultations will resume soon adding that the first step should be the setting up of a special purpose joint venture that will undertake the construction of the project. He also noted that Greece can use the profits to meet its loan obligations.
The Russian Ambassador categorically denied reports that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had asked for economic help from the Russian government and cleared out that the discussion had to do with possible cooperation on the creation of a major profitable work.
Moreover, he proposed the development of theme tourism to boost tourist arrivals from Russia.
The Russian ambassador also proposed the creation of joint Greek-Russian manufacturing enterprises and the increase of Greek exports not subject to Moscow's countermeasures to the EU in order to counterbalance the reduction of Greek exports to Russia.
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Former Greek ministers attacked by members of far-right organisation in UkraineODESSA (ANA-MPA/ S. Papadopoulou)
A delegation of Greek left-wing politicians, including former ministers under the previous cabinet Nadia Valavani and Kostas Isichos, were attacked by members of a far-right organisation in Ukraine on Wednesday, while visiting Odessa for talks with the city's Greek community.
Speaking to the ANA-MPA, Valavani reported that the Greek delegation was followed and confronted by members of the far-right group, who demanded to know why they were in Ukraine. The delegation, which also included former MP Vassilis Hatzilambrou and journalist Aris Hatzistefanou, had to take refuge in a restaurant and seek the assistance of the consulate and Ukrainian police, she said.
"[They] said we were enemies of Ukraine," Valavani told ANA-MPA, adding that this was the first time that a foreign delegation had been confronted in this way by far-right elements in Odessa. She said the harassment prevented a planned meeting with members of the Greek community in Ukraine and that the former ministers will return to Greece on Thursday.
 Ministries pledge to speed up work of disciplinary councils for 460 pending cases of civil servantsGreece's Administrative Reform and Labour ministers announced on Wednesday they will speed up the work of disciplinary councils handling pending cases of hundreds of civil servants accused of crimes or misdemeanors, following a meeting earlier in the day.
Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Christoforos Vernardakis and his predecessor and current Labour Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said the councils could meet as soon as next week to clear a backlog of 460 cases which were delayed due to the general elections.
The cases are linked to a law drafted by Katrougalos during the previous SYRIZA-ANEL administration, according to which public sector employees cannot be laid off automatically if convicted by civil courts. Those employees whose cases are pending could return to their posts.
Vernardakis said the councils will receive an extension to process the cases before the suspension of those employees is recalled. He also said the biggest delays are found in the health sector so efforts will be made to examine those cases as a priority.
"The order which has been given ... is to speed up the convening of the disciplinary councils so as to proceed faster," the minister said, dismissing claims that the delays are an effort to cover up illegal actions or corruption in the civil service.
 Main opposition slams government over 'perjuring' civil servants lawMain opposition New Democracy harshly criticized the government on Wednesday for a law that will allow civil servants who had been removed from their posts to return to their jobs, in spite of the fact that they are accused of misdemeanors or even crimes and their case is pending in the disciplinary councils.
The party said the civil servants concerned, are exploiting a law passed by Labour Minister Giorgos Katrougalos when he served as Administrative Reform minister in the previous SYRIZA-ANEL administration, according to which public sector employees cannot be laid off automatically if convicted by civil courts.
"And this is because, on the one hand, Mr. Katrougalos abolished the mandatory holiday [of civil servants] and on the other hand made the establishment and operation of disciplinary councils difficult," New Democracy said. "We urge the government to understand that it can neither demolish civil servants, nor provoke citizens by rewarding perjurers," it added.
 Potami leader Theodorakis says he wants to discuss poor results in general electionsPotami leader Stavros Theodorakis said on Wednesday he wants to discuss the poor performance of the party in the last general elections but he doesn't want to participate in a self-flagellation of Potami.
Meeting with party members, officials and volunteers of Potami in Thessaloniki, Theodorakis said he's proud of the party's progress so far, noting that no other party has achieved so much in such a short period of time.
He admitted he made mistakes and that he's willing to accept harsh criticism, or question his leadership, but noted he doesn't want vague discussions that don't contribute to the issues at hand.
Theodorakis also said that what differentiates Potami from the other parties is that it doesn't believe in a partisan state.
 Israeli Ambassador to Greece makes courtesy visit to Shipping ministryIsrael's Ambassador to Greece, Irit Ben-Abba paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy on Wednesday where she held talks with the minister, Thodoris Dritsas.
The ambassador thanked Dritsas for the work done by the coast guard in keeping the south-eastern Mediterranean safe and informed him of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal interest in providing assistance for the maritime security organization, noting the issue has already been discussed in a phone call between Netanyahu and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras two days ago.
Ben-Abba also invited the minister to visit Israel in the near future.
On his side, the minister thanked the ambassador for Israel's willingness to help and show solidarity with the coast guard, stressing this adds further to the good relations between the good countries.
 Greece's bank recapitalization fund says lenders' capital requirements to be announced by end OctThe capital requirements of the Greek banking system will be announced by the end of October, after the completion of the European Central Bank's (ECB) stress tests, so that recapitalization can be completed by the end of the year, the CEO of the country's bank recapitalization fund, Aristides Xenofos, told journalists at a press conference with HFSF Chairman George Michelis on Wednesday.
Xenofos also said the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), working with the finance ministry, the Bank of Greece, Greece's creditors and the systemic banks, is mulling a series of measures that will attract private capital to limit state assistance and the extra burden that this places on Greek debt and Greek taxpayers.
He also said the government is expected to have drafted a new law governing the operation of the Fund that will reflect its expanded responsibilities and outline the framework for its staffing to ensure it will continue to offer efficient work.
The HFSF official noted that non-performing loans in Greek banks total about 100 billion euros and constitute a problem that needs to be resolved. HFSF, in cooperation with the Bank of Greece, will draft a report on existing difficulties towards developing a dynamic and flexible market of managing NPLs along with an action plan on the management of large corporate loans, he said.
Xenofos said that the fourth challenge that needs to be addressed was the new privatisation fund and the political agreement to set up a "super-fund" to manage all mobile and other state assets.
 Energy Min Skourletis discusses DESFA privatization and TAP pipeline with Azeri ambassador and SOCAR officialsThe privatization of DESFA and the issue of natural TAP gas pipeline were discussed at a meeting between Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and the ambassador of Azerbaijan in Greece Rahman Mustafayev, who was accompanied by the counselor of the president of state energy company of Azerbaijan SOCAR, Murat Haydarov, and CEO of SOCAR Energy Greece SA, Anar Mammadov.
According to the ministry, the issue of DESFA "seems to progress smoothly and in a manner to satisfy the responsible Directorate of the European Commission which had raised competition issues".
On TAP pipeline, there will be another meeting with the management of the consortium next week, to resolve issues that have to do with the pipeline route on Greek soil and the offsets from its operation.
 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Report: Greece ranks 81stGreece ranks 81st in the list of the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 released by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.
"Most advanced economies have recovered to their pre-crisis level of competitiveness. Yet some disparity remains, with some Eastern and Southern European countries occupying the lowest rankings in this group: most notable is Greece, which at 81st place is the least competitive economy of this group," according to the report.
The data, however, for Greece were collected before the new agreement between Athens and its international creditors this summer, the report noted.
Switzerland remains in the top of the list for the seventh consecutive year, with Singapore and the US following in second and third place.
The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 assesses the competitiveness landscape of 140 economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.
 Greek unemployment rate up in June, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
Greek unemployment rate rose slightly to 25.2 pct of the workforce in June, from 25 pct in May, Eurostat said on Wednesday.
In a report released here, the EU executive's statistics agency, said that unemployment in the Eurozone and the EU-28 remained unchanged at 11 pct and 9.5 pct respectively in August, compared with July, but fell from 11.5 pct and 10.1 pct respectively in August last year.
The number of unemployed people in the EU totaled 23 million and in the Eurozone 17.6 million in August. Greece (25.2 pct) and Spain (22.2 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates in the EU, while Germany (4.5 pct), Czech Republic (5.0 pct) and Malta (5.1 pct) recorded the lowest unemployment rates.
In Greece, the number of unemployed people totaled 1,205 million in June, with the unemployment rate among young people (aged below 25 years) fell to 48.3 pct from 51.4 pct in May.
 Greek securities regulator bans short-selling of bank sharesGreece's securities regulator, the Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC), announced on Wednesday it is banning short-selling of Greek bank shares to protect the lenders from additional pressure on their prices, ahead of their recapitalization.
The prohibition concerns the shares of the country's five lenders: National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank and Attica Bank.
"The Board of Directors ... taking into account the recent political developments not justifying the continuation of the general short selling prohibition and the fact that the re-capitalization procedure of the listed credit institutions is ongoing without any specific information on how and by whom the relevant capitals will be covered, has decided to prohibit only the short selling of shares of the credit institutions admitted to trading on the Athens Exchange and comprising the FTSE/Athex Banks Index," the HCMC said in a press release.
The measure will apply from October 1 until November 9, 2015, the announcement said.
 Greek PPI down 9.9 pct in AugGreece's Producer's Price Index in the industrial sector fell 9.9 pct in August this year compared with the same month last year, after a 0.6 pct decline recorded in the 2014-2013 period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to an 8.4 pct decline in the domestic market index and a 14.6 pct drop in the external market index in August. The producer's price index fell 3.7 pct in August from July, after a 0.2 pct decline recorded in the same period in 2014.
 Retail sales volume down 7.3 pct in JulyGreek retail sales volume fell 7.3 pct in July this year, hit by the imposition of capital controls in the country, with sales falling in all shop categories, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the volume of sales fell in furniture-electrical-home appliances (21.5 pct), department stores (12.8 pct), fuel/lubricants (11.9 pct), food/beverage/tobacco (7.3 pct), clothing/footwear (5.6 pct), pharmaceuticals/cosmetics (4.6 pct), bookstores (4.2 pct) and supermarkets (2.6 pct).
The volume of sales (turnover in fixed prices) fell 7.3 pct in July, compared with the same month last year, and it was down 5.3 pct compared with June 2015.
Turnover (current prices) fell 8.7 pct on an annual basis, and it was down 7.7 pct compared with June 2015.
The seasonally-adjusted volume index fell 6.4 pct in July, while the seasonally-adjusted turnover index was unchanged in the month.
 Domestic travels up in 2014Domestic travels made by Greek citizens in 2014 was mostly for personal reasons, while the number of travelers grew 15.9 pct from 2013 but spending rose by 7.2 pct in the year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.
In the first report on the quality characteristics of domestic tourists, the statistics service said that Greek citizens made a total of 6,334,275 travels in 2014, while the number of travelers totaled 3,644,262, up 13.4 pct and 15.9 pct from 2013. Overnight stays totaled 63,977,192 in 2014 and spending totaled 1,834,964,490 euros, up 8.8 pct and 7.2 pct, respectively.
From total travels, 94.3 pct were made for personal reasons and 5.7 pct were professional trips. Most personal travels were made by either road or sea. The 25-44 age group recorded the biggest percentage increase in personal travels, while the same age group recorded the biggest increase in overnight stays and travel spending.
 Greek stocks edge higherGreek stocks edged higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, ending a two-day decline which pushed the composite index of the market 3.68 pct lower. Bank shares remained under pressure, with the sector index falling more than 7.0 pct, but the market found support from buying interest in selected blue chips. The composite index rose 0.60 pct to end at 654.20 points, off the day's highs of 658.22 points. The index ended the month with a net gain of 4.81 pct, recovering from a 21.73 pct drop in August. The Large Cap index rose 0.15 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.21 pct higher. Turnover was a low 29.294 million euros.
Motor Oil (8.0 pct), Athens Water (3.45 pct) and Ellaktor (2.68 pct) scored big gains among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (11.29 pct), Piraeus Bank (7.14 pct) and Eurobank (4.35 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, Oil (5.61 pct), Commerce (2.23 pct) and Constructions (1.91 pct) scored gains, while Banks (7.54 pct), Health (2.38 pct) and Telecoms (1.64 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 40 to 39 with another 27 issues unchanged. Inform Lycos (28 pct), Kekrops (9.68 pct) and Audiovisual (8.25 pct) were top gainers, while Sidma (19.79 pct), Dromeas (19.57 pct) and Centric Holdings (14.81 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 7.71 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 7.60 pct the previous day. The Greek bond yielded 8.29 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.58 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.142 pct from 0.143 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.078 pct, the six-month rate was stable at 0.029 pct, the three-month rate rose to -0.040 pct from -0.041 pct and the one-month rate was -0.113 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.65 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,350 contracts with 10,501 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 56,503 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (20,592), followed by National Bank (15,827), Piraeus Bank (15,400), Eurobank (2,923), OTE (239), PPC (523), OPAP (319), Motor Oil (178), Hellenic Petroleum (78), Mytilineos (70) and Hellenic Exchanges (64).
 Science does not need a God-Creator to explain the universe, top Russian cosmologist Starobinski tells ANA-MPAThe particles of dark matter and the primordial gravitational waves will be the two most important discoveries of the next decade, the top Russian astrophysicist and cosmologist Alexei Starobinski said in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA.
Starobinski has been a chief scientist (Principal Research Scientist) in Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow since 1997.
In an exclusive interview ahead of his visit in Athens, he said that the goal of a unified "Theory of Everything" seems a distant dream. He did not rule out the existence of many universes parallel to ours, but he categorically rejected the need for a God-Creator of the universe. He also noted that political problems are not unresolved, but the solutions have been inadequate, if not foolish. He also called on the new Greek government to broaden its international partnerships in science.
Starobinski was born in 1948 and obtained a master's degree from Moscow's State University in 1972 and a doctorate from Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1975. From 1990 to 1997 he headed the Department of Gravitation Physics and Cosmology of the Institute and he was an assistant director from 1999 to 2003.
In 1970s, he developed important theories on the creation of particles in the early universe and the creation of radiation from black holes (1973), which was a forerunner of the theory of Hawking radiation. In 1979 he became widely known for his contributions to the theory of cosmic inflation, which explains the dramatic expansion of the universe immediately after the initial "Big Bang."
He is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the German National Academy of Sciences "Leopolntina", the New York Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
He has, among others, been honored with the awards "Friedman" of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1996), "Tomalla" (2009), "Oscar Klein" of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2010), "Amaldi "(2012), "Cosmology Gruber" (2013) and "Kavli Astrophysics" of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences (2014).
Starobinski will be one of the speakers at the "Symposium of the Seven Wise Men of Cosmology," to be held at the Athens Concert Hall, on Friday, October 2. In the evening he will be awarded - along with other eminent colleagues - by the President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
The exclusive interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Two year-old boy and 34 year-old woman drown after boat with migrants sinks near Lesvos islandThe bodies of a two-year old boy and a 34 year-old woman were found on Wednesday morning at the sea region north of Lesvos island. Both were on a dinghy that was spotted by a Turkish tourist vessel that informed the port authorities. Another Turkish vessel as well as a Coast Guard vessel rushed to the area and started collecting the people from the water.
Fourty-six migrants were rescued by the the coast guard along with the body of the little body that despite the rescuers efforts did not survive. The Turkish vessel rescued three persons and the body of the woman. A total of 48 persons, (11 children, 8 women and 29 men) survived.
"We did whatever possible," said the captain of the Turkish vessel Mehmet Ali to ANA -MPA. "The common effort of the crew and the passenger both Greek and Turkish to save as many as possible was very touching. I will never forget it in my whole life," he added.
Two more incidents were reported later on Wednesday off the coasts of Lesvos. A total of 193 persons were rescued and were transfered to the ports of Mytilene and Molyvos, Lesvos island.
 Arms cache with heavy weapons found at Marathonas hideout linked to PetrakakosAn arms cache containing rockets, Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and other heavy weaponry has been found at the Marathonas, Attica hideout that is possibly linked to the terror suspect Giorgos Petrakakos, in addition to the nine vehicles found earlier, the Greek Police reported on Wednesday.
Counter-terrorism squad officers examining the house have seen six cars, a truck and two motorcycles, as well as collections of weapons and ammunition, in the interior of the house and two very large basements. They have not been able to inspect them in detail, however, since the police forensics service is currently inside the house conducting a search for fingerprints and DNA evidence.
Once the search for forensic evidence is complete and they are free to enter, they will be able to inspect the sacks containing the weapons and ammunition in order to determine their exact number and type. According to a senior police officer, the evidence points to the arms cache of a terrorist organisation and police must now determine whether there are any links between the persons now held by the authorities, as well as whether these arms and vehicles have been used in terrorist or criminal actions.
Police said the Marathon hideout was leased a year earlier by someone using fake documents, while all evidence indicates that this person was a member of the so-called 'Distomo robbers' gang, of which the recently arrested terror suspect Giorgos Petrakakos was also a member.
The counter-terrorism squad was led to the hideout by following leads related to terrorist hits uncovered before Petrakakos' arrest.
 Heart: The mirror-tablet furniture that makes life easier"Heart" is the name of the first ecological and smart furniture. Heart does almost everything; the mirror turns into a screen-tablet but only for specific users in the house. It recognises the user from his face and reacts to a message as "hello". Its embedded motion sensors in several parts of the furniture reminds to the user where objects such as keys, hats, umbrellas and wallets are. The system has also been programmed to make suggestions in several occasions. For instance, if the weather is cold and if the user has forgotten his keys.
The smart furniture combines ecological materials according to the European standards with smart operation and is the final product of the research work "GSF (Green Smart Furniture).
The innovation was completed recently by a special team of researchers headed by Dr. Ioannis Papadopoulos, professor of the department of design and wood technology of the Technological Institute of Thessaly, within the framework of "Archimedes III" programme.
Professor Papadopoulos said to ANA-MPA that the system that composes the character of the 'smart furniture' is: an Android tablet, a PLC and motion sensors.
The creation of advanced furniture with an ecological approach upgrades the standard of living and is a huge support for the elderly.
The results of the research have been already presented at international conferences in New York, London, and in Italy, Portugal and Norway as well as in two science magazines.
 Partly cloudy on ThursdayClouds and northerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort. Partly cloudy in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 14C-27C. Light rain in the morning in the eastern parts with temperatures between 15C-24C. Partly cloudy with a chance of light rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 19C-25C. Cloudy in the morning in Athens, 18C-23C. Light rain in Thessaloniki, 16C-21C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: End to the asylum of the intertwined interests
DIMOKRATIA: Panic over vehicles' approval organisation KTEO
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Waiting to the queue for justice (referring to armaments procurement programme)
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 300 euro pension
ESTIA: Depression in New Democracy
ETHNOS: 4 burning issues in social security system
IMERISSIA: The first wave of taxes
KATHIMERINI: Confusion over low and early pensions
NAFTEMPORIKI: Warning for the pension system
RIZOSPASTIS: Disability pensions in the air
TO PONTIKI: Game of thrones over New Democracy's leadership
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