|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 2 October 2015 Issue No: 5035
 PM Tsipras at UN: 'The future of Europe cannot be built with walls of exclusion'Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described on Thursday the three crises facing Greece in the past few years - economic, refugee and security crises - during a speech at the United Nations' general assembly on Thursday which is meeting to discuss the refugee crisis.
Starting with the economic crisis, the prime minister said the bailout program signed by his government includes deep reforms and will allow the economy to stabilize by setting the foundations for a debt restructuring. He also said that Greece needs a growth agenda and not a new austerity agenda.
Continuing with the refugee crisis, he rejected the idea of building "protective" fences around Europe to stop the arrivals of refugees, saying "we don't have the luxury of making foreign policy choices without examining beforehand what will be the consequences."
"We don't believe that the future of Europe and our world can be constructed with increasingly higher walls of exclusion or with toddlers dying at our front door" he said during his speech, noting that our ancestors were refugees and migrants. "We are making every effort to manage the influx of refugees in our country," he added.
Tsipras also urged for the creation of structures within the UN for the relocation of refugees from Syria's neighbouring countries, for housing people who arrive in Europe and for the destruction of the trafficking routes. Continuing his speech, he said reception countries such as Greece must be assisted in their efforts to deal with the arrivals.
He then went on to describe the security crisis, noting that it affects the refugee crisis. Greece, he said, is in the centre of a triangle of destabilization, with Ukraine in the north and the conflict in Libya and the Middle East, to its South and East.
Commenting on Greek-Turkish relations, Tsipras said his government wants to improve relations with its neighbor, which must be based on respect for international law, noting that resolving the Cyprus issue would go a long way in accomplishing that. Focusing on Cyprus, the prime minister reiterated that the country remains divided 41 years after the Turkish invasion and argued for the need to reach a mutually accepted solution and agreement for both communities.
 Debt, migration dominate PM Tsipras' meeting with US Secretary of State KerryGreece's negotiations within the eurozone over the last months and the need for debt restructuring, as well as the issue of migrants, the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue, energy issues and the developments in Ukraine and Syria were discussed in a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
During the meeting on Wednesday, Kerry underlined the importance of the TAP and IGB pipelines for upgrading Greece as an energy hub, and reiterated US support for finding a solution to the Cyprus issue and the FYROM name issue.
Tsipras stressed the need for the US to support an upgrade of the UN mechanism for the resettlement of refugees, and to intensify US contacts with Turkey for the effective management of the refugee issue, as well as a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of UN resolutions.
Finally, Tsipras expressed the intention of the Greek government to resolve the name dispute by accepting a composite name with a geographical indication, as long as FYROM shows the same intention.
A statement issued by U.S. spokesperson John Kirby regarding Kerry's meeting with Tsipras and Kotzias said that Kerry had reaffirmed the "close bilateral relationship between the United States and Greece, a NATO ally and EU partner."
"He encouraged Greece to swiftly implement economic reforms that will allow its return to prosperity and growth within the Eurozone," the spokesperson added.
 PM Tsipras at summit for migratory flows in New York: 'No more hesitancy' in seeking foreign policy solutionsWestern countries must hesitate no longer in pursuing foreign policy that will help resolve conflicts in the countries creating massive flows of refugees, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday (local time) in New York.
Speaking at a high-level meeting on migration and refugee movements convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on the sidelines of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Tsipras said foreign policy choices must take into account the repercussions of those choices. "Many in Europe were surprised by this phenomenon" of massive waves of refugees entering Europe, he said, "but, honestly, they should not have been... Countries much poorer and with a lot smaller population are still facing even greater challenges for a greater length of time. What we need now is specific actions."
The Greek prime minister proposed a three-prong approach to resolving the issue of migrants and refugees arriving in Greece - most of whom originate from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, heading to northern European countries through the Greek islands.
First, he said, the United Nations and the global community must intensify their efforts to help resolve the conflicts in Syria and Lybia and face radical Islam, using diplomatic solutions to include all major parties in the area. Second, the UN Commissioner for Refugees must be supported and a generous and strong mechanism of resettlement for refugees from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan must be founded. Finally, he said, the neighbours of Syria should be supported to accept more migrants, in order to help break up human trafficking rings, among other things. "In the EU," he said, "we have taken a significant step to found a mechanism to distribute 160,000 refugees" among EU member-states, he noted, referring also to the actions Greece has taken at hotspots of the migrant flows.
Greece, in the last 25 years, has been in the centre of migratory flows with over 25 million people coming to the country or passing through, he noted, but this year the country saw over 300,000 people arriving through the borders with Turkey, being in the centre of three concurrent crises - economic, refugee and instability in the general area. "Over 80% of them are fleeing wars and conflicts," he said, "which we as a global community did not succeed in managing and resolving effectively."
 PM Tsipras meets Archbishop Demetrios of America in New YorkThe importance of the role of the Archdiocese for the Diaspora in the United States was noted by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a meeting with Archbishop Demetrios of America.
The two men discussed about the reconstruction of the historic Greek-Orthodox Saint Nicholas Church which was destroyed at the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as a symbolic project of hope for a more peaceful world.
Tsipras also congratulated the Archbishop for his humanitarian work and his initiatives to support Greece during the economic crisis.
 ForMin Kotzias meets with representatives of American-Jewish organizations in New YorkForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias met with representatives of the major American-Jewish organizations (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Committee, B'nai B'rith, World Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League and American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, on Thursday.
During the meeting Kotzias referred to the historical ties of friendship between the Greek and Jewish peoples and to the importance of continuing cooperation between the Greek and Jewish Diasporas, as well as between Greece and Israel.
 ForMin Kotzias discusses Palestine, refugee crisis with Jordanian counterpartThe Foreign Ministers of Greece and Jordan, Nikos Kotzias and Nasser S. Judeh, discussed developments in their region on Thursday, focusing on the Palestinian issue, the crisis in Syria and the resulting refugee crisis, on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.
They also looked at the prospects for strengthening bilateral relations on the political, economic and cultural levels, and it was decided that there will be an exchange of visits on the level of political directors, who will prepare the ground for further strengthening of bilateral cooperation.
 Greece will spare no effort for Cyprus solution, FM Kotzias says in letter to Cypriot counterpart.Greece will spare no effort until Cyprus has been vindicated, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Thursday in a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, congratulating him of the 55th anniversary since the Cyprus Republic's declaration of Independence.
"Respect for the independence of Cyprus and ongoing cooperation and coordination with the Cypriot government are cornerstones of Greece's policy. Our common strategic goals are the end of the Turkish occupation and settlement, the withdrawal of all Turkish forces and the abolition of the anachronistic guarantees system of 1960, within the framework of a comprehensive, just and viable solution based on the UN resolutions and the principles of the EU.
I would like to assure you once again that Greece will spare no effort or resolve until Cyprus's case has been vindicated," Kotzias said in the letter.
In the meanwhile, and until such time as the major international issue of Cyprus has been definitively resolved, Greece will continue to fulfil its historical, political and contractual obligations to the Republic of Cyprus, the letter concluded.
 Prior actions' list to 'lock' on Friday, senior EU official saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vassilaki)
The list of prior actions related to the disbursement of the 2 billion euro tranche is expected to be determined on Friday so as to be presented at the Eurogroup on October 5, a senior eurozone official said on Thursday adding that the first evaluation will start in middle October.
In addition, he said, the discussion on the second list of prior actions for the disbursement of the next 1.0 billion euro tranche will have started.
The first evaluation should have been completed by November 15 as it is a prior action for the disbursement of the additional 15 billion euros, provided in the July 12 agreement for banks, if it is considered necessary.
The same official noted that the social security reforms will probably be included in the first evaluation.
Monday's Eurogroup with the participation of Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis will focus on the new government's policy while the issue of the Greek debt will not be discussed.
 EU Commissioner Cretu to visit Greece on October 5-8The contribution of European funds to projects in Greece and of European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker's investment plan to growth and jobs will be the main issues examined during the visit of EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu to Greece on October 5-8.
"Only a strong relationship between the European Commission and the Greek authorities will help us to fully exploit the potential of cohesion policies in terms of growth and job creation. My visit to Greece from 5 to 8 October, will particularly focus on the joint efforts of the Commission and the Greek authorities to open the way for a future of prosperity in the country," Cretu said, adding she will visit projects that have received EU funds in Crete.
Her schedule during her visit is as follows (all times are local):
-Monday: Meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at noon at Maximos Mansion, with Economy, Development and Tourism Minister Giorgos Stathakis and Deputy Minister for NSRF Issues, Alexis Charitsis, at 15.00 and with Alternate Minister for Environment Yiannis Tsironis at 16.30.
-Tuesday: Meeting with Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis at 10.30, after which Cretu will fly to Heraklion, Crete, where she will meet in the evening with the island's Prefect Stavros Arnaoutakis.
-Wednesday: The Commissioner will visit the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH), where she will meet with Alternate Minister for Reasearch and Innovation, Costas Fotakis. Later, she will present a contribution to the Working Group Meeting of Experts on Research, Innovation and Policy Research on the "impact of smart specialization strategies in excellence clusters and regional development within the RIS Commission of the EU". In the afternoon, Cretu will be the keynote speaker in a regional conference on "Investments for Regional Development: National Strategic Reference Framework and the Juncker Investment Plan."
-Thursday: Cretu will visit projects in the area of Heraklion funded by the EU, accompanied by Crete's Prefect.
 Interior Minister Kouroumblis: 'Europe must show its humanity'Europe must show its humanity and understand that Greece's borders are Europe's borders, Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis said on Thursday during a meeting with Latvian counterpart Rihards Kozlovskis with whom he discussed the refugee crisis.
"Europe must put forth its humanity ... It must understand that Greek borders are European and that we all must show solidarity within the European family," he told Kozlovskis, who visited Samos island where Latvian border guards are participating in Frontex's unit and "guarding Greece's borders."
 ND's Meimarakis officially submits candidacy for party's leadershipMain opposition New Democracy's temporary president Vangelis Meimarakis on Thursday officially announced that he will be a candidate for the party's leadership in upcoming party elections, submitting his candidacy accompanied by the required 50 signatures.
"I believe in building, not tearing down. I look on ND with great respect for its history and contribution and with my gaze turned onto the governance programme for the future," he said, stressing his perennial loyalty to the party regardless of who was at the helm.
"Some are today ruling with SYRIZA. Others became apolitical because the party colours had faded. I have always served ND," he said, stressing that he had no ambition to represent a part or section of the party but bring all the tendencies together.
"I propose reconciliation, cohabitation with dialogue, rules, tolerance for the different point of view and not internal rifts," he added.
Regarding the timing of the elections, Meimarakis was in favour of these taking place sooner rather than later, given that the referendum was held in just five days and the general elections in 20.
Meanwhile, ND MP and former minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that he will officially submit his candidacy for ND's leadership at 11:00 on Friday morning, as will the current Central Macedonia Region governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas.
 Potami must not give government vote of confidence, Theodorakis saysAdopting a hardline stance against the government, opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Thursday urged his MPs not to cast a vote of confidence in favour of the government next week. Theodorakis was addressing a meeting of his party's Parliamentary group and party members.
He also underlined that Potami will not join a coalition government with SYRIZA but confine itself to the role of a tough, hard-hitting opposition, only casting its vote in favour of what was right, and "not new taxes".
In order to secure Potami's backing for SYRIZA candidate Nikos Voutsis as Parliament president, he added, the ruling coalition must first satisfy two terms: it must promise to change the current election law and to begin a revision of the Constitution, so that the next Parliament is empowered to make constitutional changes.
Theodorakis urged main opposition New Democracy and PASOK to adopt the same stance, while also ruling out the possibility of collaboration with PASOK.
In criticism of the current government, he said it had failed to learn from its mistakes and placed the same failed people in their previous roles, showing that cover-ups and corruption remained the order of the day.
 Ignoring science and technology is crazy, Nobel laureate in Physics David Gross tells ANA-MPA"If Greece wants to achieve growth, it first needs to persuade its scientists to remain in the country and not go abroad," Nobel laureate David Gross said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
"Ignoring science and technology is crazy," Gross, professor of Physics at the University of California, added.
?He considers, among others, the identification of the particles of dark matter as the most probable breakthrough of the future. He also said that he is atheist and humanist, an enemy of the theory of the multiuniverse and expressed his optimism over the future contribution of science to a better world.
Gross will speak at the "Symposium of the Seven Wise Men" for Cosmology at the Athens Concert Hall and he will be awarded, along with six other distinguished colleagues, by the President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
He was born in 1941 in Washington. He studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and received his doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley in 1966. He was professor of Mathematical Physics at Princeton University until 1997 and is currently Professor of Theoretical Physics - and former general director - at the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014 along with Franck Wilczek and David Politzer for the "discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of strong interactions." He has received other international distinctions such as the Sakurai, MacArthur, Dirac, Oscar Klein, Harvey, Particle Physics Prize and Grande Medaille d'Or.
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Academy of Indian and Chinese. In 2003, Gross was among the 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the "Humanist Manifesto".
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Interior minister announces legislation to stop law-breaking civil servants from returning to jobsThe government will soon introduce legislation to stop public-sector employees found guilty of serious transgressions or even criminal actions from returning to their jobs while their case is being processed, Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis told the radio station Real FM on Thursday.
Kouroumblis admitted that the affair did not create the best impressions, noting that it "higlights the administration's inability to act promptly and dependably."
"There is a time limit in which these disciplinary actions must be carried out and concluded. We cannot leave things like this," he said, adding that he had spoken with Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Christoforos Vernardakis and they agreed on the need to immediately pass legislation that will prevent such employees from returning to their work until the disciplinary proceedings against them were concluded.
He said that an ordinance will be tabled in Parliament as soon as sessions begin.
 Distinction must be made between public-sector staff facing disciplinary and criminal charges, minister saysA distinction must be made between public-sector staff up on disciplinary charges and those accused of criminal actions, Labour Minister George Katrougalos said on Thursday, speaking on the private television ANT1. He also highlighted the fact that the individuals involved were still only accused and not yet convicted.
"If someone is considered likely to be guilty, they are imprisoned on remand. The law says that when such cases exist, there is the measure of imprisonment on remand and they are placed on suspension," he said.
The law was designed so that someone facing serious charges would be suspended by his immediate superior, without the intervention of a disciplinary council, Katrougalos said. Disciplinary councils took charge in less serious cases, he added.
According to Katrougalos, the problem arose because the head of the disciplinary service retired and the work of the councils was interrupted, creating a backlog of 900 cases.
"The time would have been sufficient if the system was working normally but it was not working," he said.
The minister said that the change restored an ordinance that had previously been in force and was abolished in 2011.
He denied that the law was problematic, noting that it called for automatic suspension in the case of serious offences.
"The law was violated. It is the system that is at fault, not the legal concept," Katrougalos claimed, adding that the cases would have been processed if the administrative system was working.
 Shipping minister meets visiting Latvia Interior Minister Rihards KoslovskisShipping and Island Policy Minister Thodoris Dritsas on Thursday met visiting Latvian Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis, who was accompanied by the chief of Latvia's State Border Guard Gen. Normunds Garbars and the Latvian Ambassador in Athens Ivars Pundurs. The meeting was also attended by the head of the Greek coast guard Rear Admiral Athanasios Athanasopoulos.
They discussed issues of mutual interest, with Dritsas noting that their visit occurred at a crucial time for Greece, when there was an explosive increase in migration flows in the eastern Aegean, and praising Latvia's response in the framework of EU efforts for a collective management of the phenomenon. He noted Latvia's consistent assistance and said it was a model example to be followed by the whole of united Europe.
Kozlovskis noted the European dimensions of the refugee issue and said his country will continue to active support and show solidarity with Greece.
Rear Admiral Athansopoulos, on his part, asked the head of Latvia's State Border Guard to convey his thanks to the crews supplied by Latvia to the islands of Samos and Symi.
 U.S. Ambassador discusses tourism and investment in visit to SyrosAmerican investors and visitors are interested in the Cyclades, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, David Pearce, said during a visit to the island of Syros on Thursday.
"Cyclades and Syros are areas where interest is shown by both from American visitors and investors," he said after a meeting with the island's mayor Giorgos Marangos. He also expressed his belief that with the right planning and reforms a significant dynamic can be developed.
The ambassador was informed about the municipality's development strategy in areas such as culture, tourism and investment. They also disused the effects of the economic crisis, particularly in Syros, the VAT hike, health and the environment.
 Russian ambassador meets leadership of Justice ministryRussia's Ambassador to Greece, Andrey Maslov, met with Justice Minister and Nikos Paraskevopoulos and Alternate Minister for Corruption Issues Dimitris Papangelopoulos on Thursday, to discuss cooperation between the two countries.
According to a ministry press release, the issues discussed are included in the Joint Action Programme adopted by the two countries' leaders.
 Refugee trafficking: ANA-MPA investigates the traffickers' operations on Turkey's shoresThere is a whole section of Izmir's old city centre, the historic neighbourhood of Basmane, that Turks now call 'Damascus'. According to an investigative report by the ANA-MPA, this has become the heart of the refugee and migrant-trafficking operations daily coming out of Turkey, working literally under the nose or possibly with the tolerance of state and law enforcement authorities.
It is from here that migrants and refugees, depending on how much money they have, are led to the various areas from which they will embark, loaded onto flimsy plastic dinghies to make the sometimes fatal crossing to Lesvos. The region of Ayvacik on the Edremit coast north of Lesvos is considered the safest departure point, followed by Dikili to the east of the island.
The unseen 'owner' of the dock in Ayvacik is known as "Kenan", who guarantees both a safe departure and landing for those making the crossing. The points where they land are in north Lesvos, from Molyvos and Eftalou up to Sykamnia. His fee is pricey: those travelling with him pay between 1,800 to 2,000 dollars for all adults (over 12) and half (900 to 1,000) for every child.
The dock at Dikili is run by "Imam" who drops his charges off in the area near Mytilene airport and Haramida. He charges 1,500 dollars a head, half that for children under 12. Refugees that made the crossing from that point reported ruthless 'associates' that plundered mainly the Syrian refugees and especially the women, stripping them of gold jewellery and threatening the women with rape to keep the men in line before loading them onto boats at gunpoint.
According to locals living along the coast, the points from which the dinghies set out 'belong' are rented from owners of larger properties, who in turn answer to others. All together, they appear to form a large "mafia-style" pyramid that moves tens of thousands of Syrian refugees and migrants of all kinds toward Greece. The same sources claim that "Kenan" pays 100,000 dollars a day to those above him for use of the docks, or three million dollars a month. The amount is roughly what he charges the occupants of a single boat crossing to Lesvos, with 30 to 100 such boats crossing every day.
Locals suggest that authorities tolerate these activities because a major portion of the money ends up in the pockets of both locals and central representatives of the Turkish state, including members of the police, coast guard and even some politicians.
According to the accounts of refugees that have made the crossing, they pay half the fee up front via a company that makes electronic payments and board buses that start from Izmir train station the night before they set sail. The buses take them to the collection points, which for Kenan are in a village called Bademli. They hide in nearby woods and olive groves until they are given the 'green light' for departure, meaning that the second half of the electronic payment for their crossing has come through, and then walk to the beach from where they will sail. The boats set sail all along the coastline, from Bademli to ancient Assos, locals said. An almost identical process is followed by those sailing with "Imam".
Once on the beach, everyone inflates the plastic dinghies while low-ranking gang members show someone among the passengers how to use the outboard motor. They wear the life-jackets they have bought and set sail for Lesvos, never really knowing if they will ever arrive. Starting at dawn, one such dinghy with roughly 50 passengers set sail almost every half hour. Sometimes, according to locals, with the Turkish coast guard looking on. They joke that in the ancient port of Assos, especially, the coast guard actually "checks the number of those on board in case it sinks and they are forced to rescue them."
 Greek gov't to channel up to 4.5 bln euros to the economy by the end of 2015The Greek government will channel up to 4.5 billion euros to the economy by the end of the year, through funding a series of large infrastructure projects, Alexis Haritsis, Finance Deputy Minister said on Thursday.
Speaking during a meeting with representatives of contractor agencies, Haritsis said that the government planned to efficiently complete EU-funded projects from the period 2007-2013 and to smoothly begin projects included in the new period 2014-2020.
A ministry announcement issued later said that contractor agencies acknowledged the need to accelerate the implemen-tation of projects and the fact that payment flow has been largely restored, covering around 75 pct of demands. The Deputy minister briefed contractors over the interventions made in the previous months which achieved in boosting liquidity and dealing with problems, older and new arising from the imposition of capital controls in the country.
Liquidity was boosted largely after the European Investment Bank decided to disburse a 30 pct advance payment (instead of a usual 15 pct) from an 1.0 billion euros loan to Greece.
 Capital controls will have been lifted by early 2016, Katseli saysCapital controls will probably be lifted at the end of the current year or early 2016, the president of Hellenic Bank Association and National Bank governor Louka Katseli said late on Wednesday.
Katseli stressed the importance of returning money to the Greek banks adding that 118 billion euros fled the Greek banks from 2008 to 2015.
Regarding the recapitalization, she expressed optimism that banks will tap the markets and cover any possible "gap", and the rest will be covered by the Financial Stability Mechanism. Therefore, "provided that the conditions for political and economic stability are in place, this liquidity needs to be channeled to the real economy," she noted.
On the issue of non-performing loans, she said that today one in two loans is a 'bad' loan.
 Fourteen real estate assets on sale by Greek privatization agencyGreece's privatization agency is putting up for sale 14 new real estate assets that include seaside properties and listed buildings in Athens, Nafplio, Kalamata and Veria.
According to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), the assets will be sold through electronic tenders conducted through the state's e-austion platform and the website www.e-publicrealestate.gr.
The deadline for the submission of the required documents of the first phase in December 10 for the 9 first properties and December 17 for the rest, the agency said.
 Greek ports could attract significant funds from Juncker packageGreek ports could attract significant funds from Juncker package -totaling 35 billion euros in the period 2014-2021- offering a big respite to the Greek economy which remains in a recession, but needs to overcome bureaucracy in absorbing EU funds, Port Regulatory Authority officials told ANA-MPA on Thursday.
Costas Moutzouris, head of the Port Regulatory Authority and a professor of port projects in the Athens Polytechnic School, told ANA-MPA that Greek municipalities have several mature reports on port projects that could be included in the Juncker package, but at the same time several other port municipalities lacked the necessary master plan to seek additional funding for projects.
The Authority recommended that the Public Works Secretariat General would collect data from all port authorities around the country and then approve the needed projects. Moutzouris said that the Juncker package was possibly the last opportunity for port project works in the country but noted that Greek authorities must adopt a new approach towards the issue. He warned that emphasis must be given to projects with mature reports unless there was the risk of losing community funds. Moutzouris said that the Juncker package could offer around 150-200 million euros to port projects with mature reports and stressed that bureaucracy needed to be overcome to significantly reduce time delays.
 Greek economic sentiment index up in SeptThe Greek economic sentiment index grew to 83.1 points in September from 75.2 in August and 81.3 in July, as businesses gradually regained their confidence after a sharp deterioration of business expectations and of the consumer confidence in July and August after the imposition of capital controls in the country, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
IOBE, in a monthly report, said that consumer confidence continued retreating to its lowest levels in the last three years. The Institute noted that the September survey was conducted before the September 20 general elections and reflected largely the pre-election period during which enterprises were cautious ahead of election results.
More analytically, business expectations in the industrial sector improved markedly over production in the next few months, estimates over inventories were almost unchanged while expectations over orders and demand worsened slightly.
In the services sector, negative expectations over current demand and estimates over short-term trends improved in September, along with estimates over the current situation of enterprises.
In the retail sector, estimates over current sales deteriorated, while estimates over short-term trends improved and inventories fell.
In the construction sector, employment prospects were less pessimistic while estimates over work progress recovered slightly.
In consumer confidence, all basic indexes deteriorated significantly, such as expectations over households' finances, the country's finances in the next 12 months along with estimates over unemployment and saving intentions.
 Greek banks' interest rate spread up in AugThe interest rates spread between loan and deposit rates increased by 18 basis points to 4.12 pct in August, as the overall weighted average interest rate on new deposits decreased, while the corresponding rate on loans increased, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The overall weighted average interest rate on all new deposits decreased by 7 basis points from the previous month to 0.71 pct. In particular, the average interest rates on overnight deposits placed by households and by non-financial corporations remained unchanged at 0.15 pct and 0.25 pct, respectively. The average interest rate on deposits placed by households with an agreed maturity of up to one year decreased further by 12 basis points from the previous month to 1.19 pct.
The overall weighted average interest rate on all new loans to households and corporations increased by 11 basis points from the previous month to 4.83 pct. More specifically, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity increased by 9 basis points to 14.64 pct. The average interest rate on corporate loans without a defined maturity decreased by 10 basis points to 6.16 pct. Finally, the average interest rate on housing loans at a floating rate decreased by 33 basis points to 2.39 pct.
In August 2015, the overall weighted average interest rate on the outstanding amounts of all deposits decreased, while the corresponding rate of all loans remained almost unchanged. The spread between loan and deposit rates increased by 9 basis points to 4.26 percentage points.
 Losses from Hellenic Postbank scandal for Greek state estimated at 500 mln eurosThe total loss suffered by the State from the TT Hellenic Postbank scandal in the period 2006 to 2012, when its admministration issued bad loans before its liquidation in 2013, is estimated at 500 million euros, according to the data examined by authorities.
These non-performing loans were granted to prominent businessmen without securing the necessary guarantees. Five such cases are the most prominent and include loans to:
-BESTLINE company (of Kontominas Group) -> losses totaling 138,750,467 euros
-Kontominas Group (along with DEMKO Group) -> losses totaling 38,500,000 euros
-Kontominas Group -> money laundering totaling 12,500,000 euros
-Lavrendiadis Group -> losses totaling 105,384,605 (in personal bank accounts of Lavrediadis)
-Griveas Group -> losses totaling 17,641,000 euros for a loan of 170,000,000 euros
An Appeals Justices' Council on Tuesday ordered 35 people to stand trial for the case, with charges of fraud and breach of faith, aggravated by laws concerning embezzlement and money-laundering.
Greece's net liabilities towards Target 2 system down in August
Greece's net liabilities towards Eurozone's payment system Target 2 fell to 101.6 billion euros in August, from 106.1 billion in July, the European Central Bank said on Thursday.
The Target 2 system facilitates payments between banks in the Eurozone area, by channeling these payments through the account held by each national central bank with the European Central Bank. The latest data showed that payments by Greek banks to other Eurozone member-state banks surpassed payments the other way around. The country's net liabilities reached 107.7 billion euros at the end of last July -the highest level since the end of 2012- after the Greek government imposed capital controls on bank transactions.
 Greek PMI rose to 43.3 points in SeptGreece's Purchasing Manangers' Index (PMI) recovered to 43.3 points in September from 39.1 in August, but remained deep into recession.
Samuel Agass, a Markit economist responsible for the Greek index, commenting on the report said: "The September data showed that Greek manufacturers faced the hard consequences of continuing capital controls imposed by the government. The latest data showed a further contraction of production, with the number of workers falling on a monthly basis -beginning from April- while pending works fell again".
More analytically, manufacturing production fell for the ninth successive month in September, although at the slowest pace since June. Several companies attributed this development to the imposition of capital controls and reduced demand. The volume of new works in Greek manufacturers fell in September, continuing a trend which began in September 2014. Purchasing activity by the Greek manufacturers fell in September with supply inventories reducing rapidly, due to a lack of new orders.
The volume of pending works shrank in September, while the number of workers continued falling in the month for the sixth successive month. Inflow average prices grew in September along with outflow prices reflecting strong competition in the market.
The PMI index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Greek stocks end significantly lowerGreek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, hit by a new wave of aggressive selling on bank shares which pushed the sector index more than 9.0 pct lower. The composite index of the market fell 1.76 pct to end at 642.71 points, off the day's lows of 641.73 points. The Large Cap index fell 2.08 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.16 pct lower.
Turnover was a low 24.557 million euros with volume of 118,063,866. Grivalia Properties (2.39 pct), Aegean Airlines (1.34 pct) and Motor Oil (0.83 pct) scored big gains among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (12.15 pct), Eurobank (9.09 pct) and National Bank (9.09 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, Chemicals (4.43 pct), Real Estate (0.50 pct) and Food (0.11 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (9.83 pct), Financial Services (6.09 pct) and Telecoms (3.85 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 55 to 33 with another 14 issues unchanged. Dromeas (29.73 pct), Audiovisual (26.67 pct) and Sidma (19.55 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (19.05 pct), Alpha Bank (12.15 pct) and G.E.Demetriou (11.11 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 7.70 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.71 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.25 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.55 pct. Turnover was a thin 4.0 million euros, one buy order.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.140 pct from 0.142 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.077 pct from 0.078 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.027 pct from 0.029 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.043 pct from -0.040 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at -0.113 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe October contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.64 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,259 contracts with 10,366 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 56,438 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (15,993), followed by Alpha Bank (15,609), National Bank (15,708), Eurobank (7,096), OTE (423), PPC (469), OPAP (420), Motor Oil (172), GEK (140) and Hellenic Exchanges (68).
 Amphipolis monument was commissioned by Alexander the Great for HephaestionThe Amphipolis tomb was commissioned and financed by Alexander the Great in honour of his beloved friend Hephaestion. It was designed by architect Dinokrates or Stesikrates and was constructed at the end of the 4th century BC by Antigonus I Monophthalmus.
These are the conclusions of archaeologists and excavators of the monument that based on new finds decoded three inscriptions that were recently found at the area where the Lion of Amphipolis was found, a few kilometers south of the tomb.
The new evidence and finds were presented late Wednesday at an Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in an event entitled "Searching Kasta Hill in Amphipolis 2012-2014", the first open event in which the chief archeologist at Amphipolis excavations Katerina Peristeri spoke.
"The secret of the construction of the Amphipolis monument lies on the top of the monument where a wooden pole was placed to support the Lion, said architect responsible for the excavation Michalis Lefantzis.
The great inscriptions (approximately 25cm height) that bore the 'signature' ANT (A 'signature' found in all Antigonides and here is attributed to Antigonus I Monophthalmus) and the complex of letters form the name "Hephaestion" meaning "I, Antigonus received construction material for the erection of a monument in honour of Hephaestion...)
During her speech, chief excavator Peristeri presented in detail the up to date finds and insisted on her initial view that it is a memorial constructed at the end of the 4th century BC.
The amphitheatre of the university ceremony hall was packed however only a few archaeologists and university professors attended the event.
The yard and the entrance of the ceremony hall were full of leaflets saying "Amphipolis carcass stinks of nationalism..." The text signed by the "autonomous historian-archaeologist group of Thessaloniki University" also said "archaeology in Greece always served national interests as one of the state's ideological mechanisms".
 Weaponry found at Marathonas hideout cleanThe weapons found so far in an arms cache at Marathonas on Wednesday have not been used in a terrorist or other criminal act, according to a ballistic examination.
The police found rockets, Kalashnikov rifles, ammunition and other heavy weaponry that is possibly linked to the terror suspect Giorgos Petrakakos, in addition to the nine vehicles found earlier.
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.
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.
 Police release photographs, details of terror suspect Petrakakos and accomplicesActing on an order issued by a public prosecutor, the Greek police on Thursday released recent photographs and the details of 36-year-old terror suspect Giorgos Petrakakos, as well as his partner and one of his two accomplices from Agia Paraskevi in Athens.
The woman that he lived with, the mother of his two children, was identified as Maria Theophilou, born February 2, 1979, while the man arrested with him at a Volos hotel was Themistoklis Asimakopoulos, born January 25, 1988.
Asimakopoulos has been identified as the individual that rented the farm in Molos, Fthiotida where police found hidden weapons.
The charges against them include committing acts of terrorism, illegal weapons possession, repeated counts of robbery and lesser charges of forgery, making false statements, harbouring a criminal and the possession and use of drugs.
Police have also issued four photographs of Petrakakos used on fake police IDs and driving licences, inviting members of the public to come forward with any information concerning transactions that may have been carried out with the suspect, such as the hiring or a car, residence or other premises. Those with information can contact the police anonymously at the numbers secure phone lines 1014 and 10414.
Finally, police have released photographs of the weapons and cars found at a hideout in Marathonas, as well as that in the Molos farmhouse in Fthiotida.
 Seven Wise Men Symposium venue moved to Hotel Hilton due to strikeThe morning seminars of the 2nd Seven Wise Men of the World Symposium in Cosmology, which kicks off in Athens on Friday, have been moved to the city's Hotel Hilton due to a strike accounced by staff at the original venue, the 'Megaron' Athens Concert Hall.
The morning seminars will now be held at the 'Terpsichore' Hall in Hotel Hilton, starting at 9:00 and ending at 17:30.
The official award ceremony, with President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos presenting the awards, will be held at the Concert Hall as planned, starting at 20:30. Entrance is free of charge, with the issue of tickets starting at 17:30. It will be followed by a round-table discussion and questions from the audience, while questions will also be taken from the Internet.
The Symposium, held under the auspices of President Pavlopoulos, brings seven acclaimed scientists in the field of Cosmology, including three Nobel Laureates, to Athens to address life's fundamental questions, such as: how did the universe begin, where did we come from and what is our destiny.
The speakers will include:
James Cronin, Nobel Laureate 1980 - Professor Emeritus, Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago;
George Efstathiou - FRS, Professor of Astrophysics, University of Cambridge, Director, Kavli Institute for Cosmology;
David Gross, Nobel Laureate 2004 - Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara;
Eugene Parker - Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago and Enrico Femi Institute;
George Smoot, Nobel Laureate 2006 - University of California, Berkeley;
Alexei Starobinsky - Kavli Prize 2014 - Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow;
Gabriele Veneziano - Chair of Elementary Particles, Gravitation and Cosmology, Coll?ge de France, Paris.
The Symposium is designed to allow the participation of both experts, students and teachers and the general public and will be shown on webcast, including at at all cosmology centres worldwide.
On October 3, the scientists attending the symposium will visit the NEO Environmental Observatory at the Costa Navarino Resort in Messinia and visit ancient Messene on October 4, as well as an event organised by the Greek Union of Physicists in Kalamata.
 Harvard University Prof. Dani Rodrik to address event in Athens on FridayProfessor of International Politics of Harvard University Dani Rodrik will deliver a speech on Friday at the Athens Concert Hall on "Structural Reforms: Lessons from other lands."
The event is part of the programme Kapuscinski Development Lectures and is an initiative of the European Commission, the UN's development programme (UNDP), the Institute of Research and Political Strategy and the school of Economic Sciences of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. The programme is funded by the European Commission.
The event will start at 18:00 and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions after 19:30.
Dani Rodrik is Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was formerly the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of the Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
 Greek police investigate homicide of 66-year-old British man in CorfuGreek police is investigating the homicide of a 66-year-old British national who was holidaying in Corfu, following the findings of the coroner published on Wednesday.
Authorities said the man arrived on the island on September 26 and his body was found in his house on September 28.
"The death of the British man resulted from suffocation and heavy pressure on the throat," coroner Giannis Aivatidis told ANA-MPA. "All evidence suggests the incident was a homicide," he added.
This development will delay the repatriation of the man's body to England, while British forensic experts have also requested a copy of the findings to examine the case.
 German boy air-lifted from cruise ship to Kalamata hospitalAn 11-year-old German boy complaining of acute abdominal pain was on Thursday airlifted from the cruise ship "Amadea" to Kalamata air base, where he was picked up by an ambulance and taken to the local hospital.
The boy was taken off the cruise ship, which was travelling 65 nautical miles east of Kalamata at the time, by a Hellenic Air Force AB-205 helicopter. He was accompanied by his mother.
 Transfer of migrants from Victoria square to Galatsi stadiumThe transfer of refugees and migrants from Victoria square to the stadium of Galatsi was concluded earlier on Thursday.
It is estimated than more than 1,300 persons have been transferred. At the same time, workers of the Athens municipality were cleaning the square.
 International Kart Circuit in Patras at the weekendThe international Kart circuit will be held for 7th consecutive year in the streets of the historic center of the city of Patras on 3 and 4 October.
The organisers estimate 40,000 spectators will watch the 70 drivers that are expected to participate in the circuit.
During the two days, racing cars that will participate in the Rally Acropolis to start in a few days will parade from the circuit.
Finally, the spectators will have the opportunity to see the single-seater formula cars of the Universities of Patras, Thessaly and the Technological Institute of Piraeus as well as classic cars.
 Partly cloudy on FridayPartly cloudy and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 12C-21C. Scattered clouds in the western parts with temperatures between 16C-26C. Clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 13C-24C. Partly cloudy over the Aegean islands and Crete, 18C-26C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 18C-23C. Possibility of light rain in Thessaloniki, 16C-20C.
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