|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-10-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 22 October 2015 Issue No: 5049
 PM Tsipras, French President Hollande to sign Greek-French declaration during visitThe signing of the Greek-French Declaration by French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras which will form the future relations between the two countries is being prepared, government sources said on Wednesday.
The agenda of the visit on Thursday and Friday focuses on upgrading Greek-French relations in key areas such as:
-Providing know-how to Greece in the sectors of public administration, taxation and reforms.
-Strengthening bilateral foreign trade
-The investment cooperation in areas such as new technologies, the digital economy, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, processing of agricultural products etc.
-Cooperation in the areas of education and culture. Promoting each other's languages in the respective national education system and cooperation in education and research.
It is also expected that the refugee crisis will also be mentioned in the declaration in the framework of the unified policy formulated by the European Union.
 PM Tsipras: 'Greece needs a viable, equitable social security system'Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ranked the three main issues which the government and SYRIZA will be called to tackle in the immediate future - the social security system, the refugee crisis and the restructuring of SYRIZA - during his speech at the party's political secretariat on Wednesday.
"We are aware of the difficulties and aware of the target, which is no other than the country's exit from the crisis, by protect the weaker social strata," he said.
Commenting on labour reforms, the prime minister noted the need for a viable and equitable social security system, saying that "even if we didn't have the limitations of the country's agreement, we'd still have to tackle the problem of the system's viability which is urgent, due to the plundering of their reserves and the high unemployment rates caused by the policies pursued in recent years."
On the ongoing refugee crisis, Tsipras noted the importance of international contacts in the forthcoming period, as well as SYRIZA's initiatives in relation to this issue.
 Meeting between Greek economic staff and institutions' representatives concludedA meeting between Greece's economic staff and the representatives of the institutions on the implementation of the prior actions for the disbursement of the 2 billion euro sub-tranche was completed.
On the Greek side, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and State Minister Alekos Flambouraris participated in the meeting.
"I do not think that the postponement of the EuroWorking Group is related to the negotiation," Flambouraris said upon his arrival.
Alternate Finance Ministers Giorgos Chouliarakis and Tryfon Alexiadis will take part in the afternoon meeting.
 Labour minister holds first meeting with representatives of institutionsA meeting between Labour, Social Insurance and Social Solidarity Minister George Katrougalos with the representatives of the institutions concluded on Wednesday evening, during which the two sides discussed broadly on the imminent social security system overhaul.
On Friday, the two sides will meet again to discuss the reforms in more details.
 Economy minister to present to institutions counter-proposals on legislation on NPLsEconomy Minister Giorgos Stathakis will discuss the issue of non-performing loans and indebted households in a meeting with the representatives of the three institutions on Thursday, who are currently in Athens to discuss the progress in the implementation of the Greek program.
According to information, the country's lenders will request that, in order for an individual to qualify for the NPL legislation, the tax authority's assessed value of the person's home must not exceed 120,000 euros and that the household income is near the poverty line.
The Greek government will counter this proposal by insisting that the assessed value of the house is 300,000 euros and the annual income at 35,000 euros, while total debt must not exceed 250,000 euros.
The government believes this proposal will over 88 pct of over indebted households which could potentially be included in the so-called "Katseli law", or have already been included in it.
 Nuland says US supports Greece's efforts for reforms, investmentThe United States strongly supports the Greek government's efforts to implement a programme of economic reforms and improve the business and investment climate, especially in terms of American companies eager to come back to Greece and how to attract more of them, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said in Athens on Wednesday, after talks with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
Nuland said Washington was pleased to see a big package of measures recently passed by Greece's Parliament and said things appeared to be on track but that a lot of work still needed to be done.
"The Prime Minister [Alexis Tsipras] made clear that there is a strong commitment on behalf of the government to complete that work and to move on to the debt consultations. And we have been Greece's partner throughout this process, and we will continue to be a strong partner," she said.
Nuland noted that her talks with Kotzias had covered the refugee and migrant issue, adding that the US had been impressed by Greece's generosity and openness.
"It's obviously a very difficult challenge that you have. And we support you and we support the European Union," she said, noting that the United States was the largest donor to the UNHCR and by extension some of the underway in Greece in this area.
Referring to energy security and the TAP pipeline, Nuland said that the US was "very bullish, very enthusiastic" about the role that Greece can play in European energy security.
"We think that there are enormous opportunities here to spur growth throughout Europe and in Greece as well, with these investment opportunities," she said.
Nuland said her talks with Kotzias had covered investment opportunities and regional issues, such as the Cyprus, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Libya, noting that these were all "challenges that we work on together".
Asked whether the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was part of the discussion, Nuland said she had talked about "our shared hope that we can find a solution that is acceptable so that we can move on," with both Tsipras and Kotzias.
Finally, she noted that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was "looking forward" to visiting Athens before the end of the year and that his visit will likely "demonstrate our strong investment and support for this bilateral relationship."
 Kotzias, Mitov discuss strategic relations between Greece, BulgariaMeeting in Athens on Wednesday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Bulgarian counterpart Daniel Mitov discussed the strategic character of relations between Greece and Bulgaria.
In a press conference after a meeting between delegations of the Greek and Bulgarian foreign ministries, Kotzias and Mitov said that energy-sector cooperation will spearhead bilateral ties, and especially the natural gas vertical corridor that will link Greece with Bulgaria and Romania to the north and with western Europe via Serbia to the west.
The ministers said that it was a project was of huge importance for both countries, which will secure cheaper natural gas originating from several sources and thus reducing dependence on any single one, providing energy security and competitiveness to both countries, as well as promoting the interests of Europe.
They also emphasised the issue of a political resolution in Syria as a way of solving the refugee issue, on which they agreed on the need for joint action as two 'gateway' countries for refugees.
 President Pavlopoulos, Bulgarian FM Mitov confirm mutual will to further strengthen bilateral relationsThe further strengthening of the relations between Greece and Bulgaria and their cooperation on the refugee issue dominated President Prokopis Pavlopoulos' meeting with visiting Foreign Minister of Bulgaria Daniel Mitov at the Presidential Mansion on Wednesday.
Pavlopoulos stressed that the already very good relations between the two countries can become even better adding that we always believed that the peoples of the Balkans have a position in the European Union because the Balkan peninsula is part of Europe.
Referring to the refugees issue, Pavlopoulos noted that in this crucial period we can face the problem together because we have the same sensitivities and we will deal with it on conditions that are consistent with the culture of our countries. The refugees are human beings that need protection. The Mediterranean is not a sea that bodies should be washed ashore, particularly bodies of small children, said Pavlopoulos.
He also underlined the need for the two countries to cooperate in order the conflict in the Middle East and particularly in Syria to stop because, as long as this war continues the refugees inflow will continue.
Concluding, Pavlopoulos noted that in this crucial period we must show to our European partners that, despite the difficulties were are facing, we have the European conscience and the European orientation that will help Europe to return to its Principles and the Values.
On his part, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister also referred to the traditionally excellent relations between the two countries adding that they should be further strengthened and to develop into a dynamically developing geopolitical environment in which we should be together and coordinate our action.
Mitov conveyed Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev regards adding that they are getting prepared for Pavlopoulos' official visit to Sofia in the following weeks.
 PM Tsipras meets Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America DemetriosPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday held a meeting with Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios, who is currently in Greece after attending an international conference organised by the foreign ministry.
"Inter-religious dialogue marks the need to find solutions through discussion and mutual understanding. And when representatives of different religions give the example, they allow no room for those seeking to exploit people's faith in order to spread discord, disputes and warlike conflicts," Tsipras noted.
The archbishop congratulated Tsipras on the organisation of the international conference held in Athens.
 PM Tsipras meets with Assistant Sec. of State NulandPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras met on Wednesday with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.
The two officials discussed in brief the Cyprus issue and the regional developments.
 EU Commission president Juncker calls an emergency meeting on refugees issueEuropean Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called on the leaders of the Balkans and Central Europe for an emergency meeting on the refugees issue amid intensification of the problem and increased pressure at the borders of certain countries.
The meeting is to be held on Sunday in Brussels.
Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos is visiting Slovenia on Thursday.
 'Coordination' on Greek-Turkish sea border not about joint patrols, Seibert saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
Returning to the issue of cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday clarified that the call for coordination on the Greek-Turkish sea-border was not about joint patrols. Berlin was aware of Greek sensitivities on this issue, he added.
Referring to an informal summit meeting called by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday, Seibert said this should also consider ways to implement the decisions of the full European Council.
"In this, the borders of Greece and Turkey - two member-states of NATO - in the Aegean play a major role. Coordination is, I believe, what we should be striving for there. We are, of course, aware of the sensitivities in Greece but coordination must be striven for along the length of the EU's external borders with a partner in NATO, such as Turkey. This does not mean joint patrols, that is something else," he said.
He declined to elaborate in detail on what such coordination in the Aegean might entail, noting only that the goal "is in all our interests."
 EU invests 118 million euros to boost transnational cooperation in the Adriatic-Ionian regionThe European Commission adopted the new transnational cooperation program "Interreg V B Adriatic-Ionian (ADRION)" totaling 118 million euros that will boost the region's capacity to protect its natural assets.
The program aims to benefit the Adriatic and Ionian area from a more integrated transport and mobility system. The four EU countries affected are Greece, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, while Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia are also participating.
The program received more than 83.4 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and almost 16 million euros from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II).
"This program has been designed to directly contribute to the successful implementation of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region, exploiting and protecting the rich natural, cultural and human potential of the region. It will have a tangible and positive impact on the regional economy, with a special focus on enhanced innovation and research capacities," Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said.
 Heavy security measures planned for Hollande visit to AthensApproximately 2,500 police officers will be deployed from Thursday for the security operation in Athens, during a two-day visit by French President Francois Hollande.
The roads along which the French president will pass will be closed several hours beforehand and all points along the route will be thoroughly searched by bomb squad personnel. Police in civilian clothing will be stationed at all the areas that Hollande will visit, while police helicopters will be constantly flying overhead.
Stringent security measures will also be imposed in Parliament on Friday when the French president makes his address to the country's state and political leadership.
 Draft 2016 budget full of 'snags and uncertainties', FinMin Tsakalotos admits in ParliamentPresenting the draft budget for 2016 to Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos admitted that there were many "snags and uncertainties," since the government could not predict how much of a boost the economy will get from liberating currently repressed demand. He also underlined the government's determination to conclude the first review of Greece's economic programme so that a discussion on restructuring Greece's debt can begin.
"The numbers in the 2016 budget are very uncertain because we do not know how great an impetus there may be for the economy in 2016. What impetus can be given by the repressed demand that exists due to the fear [of consumers and depositors reluctant to return their money and help bank liquidity and investors wary of investing]. This boost will act as a devaluation. That is the phase we are at. We cannot carry out a devaluation but if this repressed demand is liberated then we will have the time to unfold the government's growth prospect, which we must tabled by March 2016," he said.
He said he was considerably more confident that the recapitalisation of Greece's banks will be completed successfully, given the readiness for such an outcome by all sides involved. He noted that a more organised coordination effort had taken place, and that this had been acknowledged by the institutions as well.
Draft legislation for the recapitalisation of the banks will soon be tabled in Parliament, so that the first review can be completed, he added.
Tsakalotos forecast that concluding the review will liberate this "repressed demand" in the economy but admitted that the draft budget contained several grey areas and that the strategy for an exit from the crisis was "full of snags and uncertainties" that were exacerbated by the state of Europe's economy.
According to the minister, the impact of capital controls had not been as severe as expected and he linked their gradual lifting with an improved economic performance that had led to a revision for the better of estimated recession in 2015 and 2016.
He also confirmed an earlier prediction by Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis that capital controls will be fully lifted well before the second half of 2016.
 Alternate FinMin Chouliarakis optimistic over 2016 budgetAlternate Finance Minister Giorgos Chouliarakis, speaking in Parliament on the 2016 draft budget, expressed optimism that fiscal data will be improved and will give the government the chance to redistribute funds on social measures.
According to Chouliarakis, 2015 recession is seen at -1.4 percent compared to a previous forecast of -2.3 percent and 2016 recession is estimated at -1.3 percent from -1.5 percent initially forecast.
 The government seeks transparency in broadcasting stations, gov't spokeswoman saysThe bill on the licencing of broadcasting frequencies is a government pledge as well as a prior action, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Wednesday said in an interview with Praktorio 104.9 radio station.
Gerovassili underlined that the government does not wish to silence the TV channels, but to restore transparency terms and proper management.
"Obviously some may not like the government's commitment to restore clarity and transparency in the management of TV channel frequencies, which is a public good," Gerovassili noted.
 Draft bill on broadcast media not seeking to 'silence' private television channels, Gerovasili saysThe draft bill to regulate the broadcast media does not aim to "silence" the private television channels but restore transparency and proper management of frequencies, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said on Wednesday, talking to the ANA-MPA. She noted that the new law was a promise made by the government but also a term included in the list of prior actions by Greece's creditors.
"Obviously some people might not like this; through this bill the government is turning into action its promise to restore a clear, transparent and clean landscape in the management of television frequencies, which are a public good," Gerovasili told the agency's radio station 'Praktorio 104.9 FM'.
The spokeswoman said there was no issue with the disbursement of a two-billion-euro tranche by the creditors, pointing out that meetings with representatives of the institutions begin on Wednesday and that any delays relating to the prior actions can be overcome through use of ministerial decisions and circulars.
 Greek delegation of New Democracy votes against EPP's draft on migrant issueThe Greek delegation voted against the draft document on the refugee crisis prepared at the conference of the European People's Party group (EPP Group) in Madrid on Wednesday, noting that it includes criticism towards Greece which the main opposition party, New Democracy, couldn't accept.
According to ND officials, despite the changes made to the document after strong opposition from the Greek delegation and party leader Vangelis Meimarakis, the Greek side was not satisfied and voted against it. Discussions on the document will continue on Thursday when it will be presented at the EPP's plenum, they added.
Speaking before the start of the conference, Meimarakis said the party wants a better Europe. "We want a better Europe, more Europe that will satisfy its citizens with solidarity."
"Here we discuss all the major issues facing Europe. We intervene on growth issues, on issues of unemployment, on the refugee issue and on all those issues that currently concern the citizens of Europe."
Commenting on New Democracy, the president of the European People's Party Joseph Daul, said the party had succeeded in bringing growth to Greece until SYRIZA took over. "Greece had entered the path of growth when SYRIZA took power and destroyed everything New Democracy had achieved."
The Secretary General of the EPP, Antonio Lopez-Isturiz, said: "Despite the bad situation, ND stood on its feet in the recent elections and the next elections it will be back in government."
 Potami strongly criticises education minister's statements on school fees VATThe opposition Potami party on Wednesday strongly criticised statements regarding the imposition of VAT on private schooling made by Education Minister Nikos Filis, who had earlier dismissed the extra financial burden imposed on families by the VAT charge on school fees as "small change".
"It is clear that the government of leftist millionaires has lost all sense of proportion," Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said after a meeting with the private schools' teacher union federation and private-school parent association committee.
"The government today essentially admitted that the 23 pct tax on private education was its own proposal," he noted, after hearing the concerns of parents and teachers regarding the problems that the new tax regime will bring
Following a meeting on Tuesday, the government announced that it was revising a decision to raise VAT on all private education from 0 pct to 23 pct and would impose 6 pct VAT on extra private tuition, such as frontistiria and language schools, and 13 pct VAT on private schools.
 Greek economy to contract by 1.3 pct in 2016, KEPEAn expected contraction of the Greek economy this year and in 2016 could be smaller than official estimates, the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) said on Wednesday.
KEPE, in a report, said that an economic recession next year could reach 1.3 pct although it stressed that further analysis of data was necessary to reach a safer estimate because of the particularities of developments that affected the Greek economy in 2015.
KEPE said that the Greek economy was currently in an adjustment phase, adapting the data of the third bailout programme, and stressed that the latest estimates on the Greek economy in 2015 have improved. The new data significantly lifted uncertainty over economic policy and the promotion of necessary structural reforms, but at the same time put greater pressure and burdens on households and enterprises. KEPE said that managing a refugee and immigration crisis, which clearly exceeded the capacity of the domestic economic and social reality was a big challenge for the country.
 Greek public debt highest in the EU in 2014, EurostatThe Greek fiscal deficit totaled 3.6 pct of GDP and the country' s public debt rose to 178.6 pct of GDP in 2014, Eurostat said in its revised figures for fiscal deficits and public debt in EU member-states.
In a report, the EU executive's statistics agency said that the Greek fiscal deficit was 3.6 pct of GDP in 2014, from 12.4 pct in 2013 and 8.8 pct in 2012. The country's public debt rose to 178.6 pct of GDP (317.12 billion euros) from 177 pct of GDP in 2013 and 159.4 pct of GDP in 2012.
Eurozone's fiscal deficit was 2.6 pct of GDP in 2014 and 3.0 pct of GDP in the EU-28. Public debt stood at 92.1 pct of GDP in the Eurozone and 86.8 pct in the EU-28 in 2014.
Denmark, Luxembourg, Estonia and Germany recorded fiscal surpluses in 2014, while 13 member-states reported a fiscal deficit above the 3.0 pct threshold (Cyprus 8.9 pct, Portugal 7.2 pct, Spain 5.9 pct, Bulgaria 5.8 pct, UK 5.7 pct, Croatia 5.6 pct, Slovenia 5.0 pct, Ireland and France 3.9 pct each, Greece 3.6 pct, Poland and Finland 3.3 pct each, Belgium 3.1 pct and Italy 3.0 pct).
Estonia (10.4 pct), Luxembourg (23 pct), Bulgaria (27 pct) and Romania (40 pct) recorded the lowest public debt levels (as a percentage of GDP), while Greece (178.6 pct), Italy (132.3 pct), Portugal (130.2 pct) and Cyprus (108.2 pct) the highest rates.
 We are trying to soften the impact on farmers, Rural Development Min Apostolou says"We have concrete proposals and we are trying to soften the impact on farmers," Rural Development Minister Evangelos Apostolou said in a press conference on Wednesday, adding that the discussions with the partners on the taxation of the farmers will have been completed by the end of the month.
He explained that a key tool in the negotiation will be the fact that some of the prior actions impinge on the development strategy of the sector, which also is one of the prior actions.
The discussions will focus on farmers whose main income comes from agriculture with the view to keeping tax rate at low levels, he added. The ministry will also seek not to impose taxes on EU financing.
 Greek current account balance shows surplus in Jan-AugGreece's current account balance showed a surplus of 2.1 billion euros in August, up 232 million compared with the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report, attributed this development to a decline in the deficits of the balance of goods and the primary income account, which offset the fall observed in the surplus of the services balance. The deficit of the balance of goods shrank by 268 million euros year-on-year, mainly because of a drop in imports, which was largely due to the imposition of capital controls. Exports also declined, albeit to a lesser extent. It should be noted that in August the value of goods exports excluding oil and ships fell by a mere 2.8 pct.
The surplus of the services balance declined by 142 million, as a result of lower net transport (mainly sea transport) and other services receipts. By contrast, the travel balance improved. The surplus of the travel balance rose by 212 million euros.
As a result, imports of goods and services registered a decline of 17.4 pct, which is fairly higher than the drop in the corresponding exports (9.8 pct), leading to an increase of 125 million euros in the surplus of the balance of goods and services. In August 2015, the primary income account showed a deficit which was lower by 109 million year-on-year.
In the January-August 2015 period, the current account improved by 1.5 billion euros and showed a surplus of 936 million, against a deficit of 557 million euros in the corresponding period of 2014. This reflects the improved balance of goods and services, which registered a surplus of 1.3 billion euros, against a deficit of 1.5 billion in the same period of 2014. Overall, receipts from exports of goods and services fell by 4.7 pct in the January-August 2015 period, but the corresponding import bill decreased at a faster pace of 11.2 pct. In August 2015, no remarkable transactions were recorded under direct investment.
In the January-August 2015 period, residents' net assets from direct investment abroad rose by 265 million euros, while the corresponding liabilities that represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece dropped by 175 million.
Under portfolio investment, a net decrease of 3.2 billion in residents' external assets was mainly due to a drop of 10.4 billion in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills, which was partly offset by a rise of 7.0 billion in residents' investment in shares of foreign firms. Lastly, under other investment, a net increase in residents' external assets and liabilities mainly reflects the statistical adjustment associated with the issuance of banknotes.
At the end of August 2015, Greece's reserve assets stood at 5.0 billion euros, almost unchanged from end-August 2014.
 National Bank reports improved Q2 resultsNational Bank Group on Wednesday said its pre-provision profits totaled 421 million euros in the second quarter of 2015, up 18 pct from the previous quarter.
Net interest revenue eased 3.7 pct to 750 million euros over the same period, while net interest revenue in Turkey grew 8.3 pct in local currency and by 2.2 pct in euro currency terms.
Group revenue, boosted by financial transactions results, totaled 972 million euros in the April-June period, up 10.3 pct from the previous quarter.
Operating expenses totaled 552 million euros, up 5.2 pct from the previous quarter (in Greece operating expenses grew 1.7 pct on a quarterly basis to 256 million euros) while payroll spending fell 0.7 pct.
National Bank said new loans in delay of more than 90 days fell significantly to 133 million euros in the second quarter from 477 million in the first quarter (in Greece new loans in delay fell to 41 million from 336 million euros over the same period respectively). In group level, the rate of delayed loans rose to 24.6 pct from 24.3 pct in the first quarter.
Deposits in group level fell 7.8 pct to 55.7 billion euros reflecting a continuing outflow of capital in the Greek banking system during the second quarter of the year, however, domestic outflow of deposits slowed to 3.6 billion euros from 4.8 billion in the first quarter. Following the imposition of capital controls, this trend was reversed leading to a positive flow of capital in the third quarter.
Funding through the Eurosystem grew to 27.6 billion euros at the end of June (ELA: 17.6 bln), from 23.6 billion in March. At the end of the third quarter, funding through the Eurosystem fell to 25.6 billion euros (ELA: 15.6 bln) while National Bank maintained a reserve of collaterals accepted by the ELA mechanism worth around 8 billion euros.
National Bank said its loan portfolio eased 0.9 pct to 73.3 billion euros reflecting a depreciation of the Turkish lira. Loans in Greece were unchanged at 45.8 billion euros, while lending in Turkey grew 4.3 pct in the second quarter.
 Greek stocks continue moving higherGreek stocks continued moving higher for the second successive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market closer to the 700-point level. The index ended 0.84 pct higher at 698.93 points, off the day's highs of 703.42 points. The Large Cap index ended 0.93 pct up and the Mid Cap index rose 0.60 pct. Turnover was an improved 40.062 million euros, with volume at 193,050,094.
Eurobank (26.09 pct), Piraeus Bank (13.58 pct), PPC (3.88 pct) and National Bank (3.50 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Hellenic Petroleum (1.28 pct), Jumbo (0.97 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (0.96 pct) suffered heaviest losses.
Among market sectors, Banks (6.04 pct), Health (2.31 pct) and Chemicals (2.23 pct) scored big gains, while Personal Products (0.65 pct) and Financial Services (0.58 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 50 to 46 with another 16 issues unchanged. Eurobank (26.09 pct), Altec (20 pct) and Kathimerini (19.82 pct) were top gainers, while Vioter (19.86 pct), Tzirakian (19.70 pct) and Boutaris (19.09 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 7.03 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 7.04 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 7.61 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.58 pct. Turnover totaled 4.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate rose to 0.130 pct from 0.129 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.066 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.019 pct from 0.018 pct, the three-month rate was -0.053 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.118 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,944 contracts with 11,856 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,237 contracts with investment interest focusing on PPC's contracts (1,540), followed by MIG (1,525), OTE (697), OPAP (469), Mytilineos (159), Frigoglass (219), Hellenic Exchanges (65), Titan (60), Viohalco (84), Hellenic Petroleum (47), Motor Oil (42), Athens Water (32), GEK (132) and Ellaktor (51).
 Jutta Stroszeck in an exclusive interview to ANA-MPA on the "Oracle of Athens"The "Oracle of Athens" was recently discovered at the archaeological site of Kerameikos by the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.
Jutta Stroszeck, who leads the group of archaeologists, stressed in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA the importance of this finding.
Stroszeck has studied Classical and Christian archeology at Goettingen, Berlin and Erlangen. She has been working at Kerameikos site since 2012.
The "Oracle of Athens", the only oracle found in the Greek capital, offers significant information about the Greek (ancient) religion, the oracles, the divination practice and the cult of Apollo and Artemis, she noted.
Stroszeck will present her findings in an event to be held at the German Archaeological Institute on November 4.
The full interview of Jutta Stroszeck is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Mario Merz: The expression of the living worldTo Mario Merz, an outstanding figure of both Italian and international Art in the second half of the 20th Century, is dedicated the exhibition at the Cycladic Museum in Athens.
With reference some of his most emblematic works, borrowed from many private collections in Greece by the curator Paolo Colombo, the exhibition introduces to the public the variegated creations of, who always excelled in inspiration, ideas and originality since his first appearance as a painter in 1954 and continued throughout the revolutionary experience of Arte Povera and culminated in his famous 'Fibonacci' works .
Merz himself was a passionate man, feeling totally absorbed to the things he undertook, studied and created. His whole theory of life, his personal "Weltanshaung", both in the theoretical and practical plane, was concerned in the meaning of the expression of form, in which he had chosen to invest the things of the world around him. Because, Mario Merze's primal preoccupation was to produce a vibrant and profound vision of the reality. Towards art, he always maintained the candid eye of a self-made man?he was initially studying medicine when he dropped out to join the Resistance forces during the WWII?and the verve of an 'apasionado'.
Thus his interests were not merely focused on the artistic issues, nor his creations were purely formalistic representations of a personal approach. On the contrary, Merze's eye was drawn towards the expression of the human's inner need to communicate his mind and the craving of shaping his destiny. His credo was that man conceives the World both through the senses and the practical transformation of his 'habitat'. This view was vociferously depicted in the works of the first period, with the nightmarish and ferocious animals, the Arte Povera phase (during which were 'resurrected' useless materials and tools to a new and 'functional' form, like his 'Simca 100' and his 'motorcycles') and, mostly, in the 'Igloo' phase. This phase was marked by a series of groundbreaking creations, where the cosmic element was fused with the human 'habitat'. The dome of the igloo house was seen as a metaphor, or a reduction to a human scale, of the dome of the universe?to the same scale the word 'space' expresses both an area and the vastness of the infinite. At the same time, this humble igloo construction is seen as the refuge of men against the hardships of an insidious environment, which provides warmth and pure satisfaction, as Immanuel Kant defines it like another aspect of the 'Sublime', the junction of awesomeness and relief.
His everlasting interest in science and his belief that artistic sense and scientific spirit possesses the same characteristics?as the quest of harmony in the law-like shaping and representation of the word, and as a continuous path of consequent discoveries and additions of improvements-were expressed in the internationally acclaimed series of works inspired by the famous sequences of the Medieval mathematician Fibonacci (in which each number is equal with the sum of the previous two).
In the works of Mario Merz everything is linked and nothing acts separately; politics, science, ethics, language, art and all the images they produce and 'hunt' the human experience and existence, are real things in life, an ontological view of the mental representations of men and their practical materialization, to only one scope: to make life and earth, the human existence in general, a hospitable place for the bearers of the high values that not only art and science, but man himself as a creative agent gives to his life.
The exhibition will run from October 22, 2015 to January 31, 2016. -George -Byron Davos
 Irish author Richard Pine: 'Loving and mourning of modern Greece goes together'When Irish author Richard Pine was asked to make a book after his regular "Greece Letter" column in the Irish Times, he knew it wouldn't be an "I love Greece" book.
Not because he doesn't like the country - quite the contrary. Pine, who has lived in Corfu for the past 15 years, has developed a deep and moving relationship with the country which is evident in the way he describes his experiences, observations and aspirations for Greece.
"Loving and mourning of modern Greece goes together," he told journalists at his book presentation in Athens on Wednesday. Asked why he wrote his book, "Greece through Irish Eyes", he said it's because of the "enormous similarities of a psychic kind between the two countries [Greece and Ireland]". He describes visiting the ancient theatre of Epidavros as a teenager and feeling emotional as fellow students recited ancient plays in the same venue where the words were first heard thousands of years ago.
Pine worked for the Irish national broadcaster RT? Raidi? Teilif?s ?ireann before moving to Greece in 2001 to found the Durrell School of Corfu, a center that hosted seminars on literature and the protection of the environment. He directed until 2010.
Writing his book, Pine says he realized he couldn't avoid delving into the country's ongoing crisis and its dire consequences for its people, noting that one of the main reasons behind Greece's struggle with its creditors is their "lack of empathy and appreciation" for its different culture and their demand that Greeks "think the way we do". This failure to understand that Greece is at a cultural crossroads and not simply "West" is at the root of the EU's stance during the economic crisis, he argues.
Discussing the rise of SYRIZA in power in January 2015, he said it was necessary for the country to move forward. "Whatever your political views, the change that happened in January 2015 was necessary for two reasons: It made possible to put aside the political dynasties, the system put in place by PASOK and New Democracy and showed the country was capable of electing what is ostensibly a left-wing government."
Pine pulls no punches when he presents his view of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' efforts during his first seven months in office to renegotiate in Brussels. "Tsipras was an idealist who went into Europe thinking he could change the world. They [EU leaders] hit them very hard and told them they have to play the game to be with the big boys."
He also noted the destructive effects of the country's brain drain and the need for a complete restructuring of secondary school and university systems that will allow smart young Greeks to find jobs in the country. "I continue to be devastated by young people accepting that going abroad is the only solution," he said.
When explaining what he believes may help Greece overcome its difficulties, he says the solutions are always inside us, not outside.
Opening the event, Ireland's Ambassador to Greece, Noel Kilkenny, noted that Irish people are aware and very interested in Greece's current affairs and not just the ancient cultural tradition.
The author's book, "Greece through Irish Eyes", is published by Liffey Press and can be found on its website (http://www.theliffeypress.com/greece-through-irish-eyes-by-richard-pine.html).
 Russian billionaire heiress Rybolovleva holds wedding ceremony on SkorpiosRussian heiress Ekaterina Rybolovleva and her partner Juan Sartori were on Wednesday joined in matrimony in a religious ceremony held on the island of Skorpios - the private island near Lefkas that Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought for his daughter from fellow-heiress Athina Onassis two and half years ago.
The ceremony, with some 50 hand-picked guests attending, started at 18:00 in the island's small chapel of Panagitsa where Jackie Onassis had married shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis 47 years earlier. A reception on the cruise ship O'MEGA will follow.
Officiating at the wedding were the Metropolitan of Lefkas and Ithaca Theophilos and the Archbishop of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain Markos, who is a personal friend of the Russia tycoon. The couple were joined in a civil marriage in Geneva on October 14 but wanted to have a religious ceremony as well.
Stringent security has been imposed around Skorpios for the marriage, while the local coast guard has also been asked to assist. According to locals from Lefkas, the town of Nydri opposite Skorpios has been literally inundated by press and photojournalists.
 Three ferries carrying 6,000 refugees dock at Piraeus portThree ferries with approximately 6,000 refugees on board from Chios and Mytilene arrived early on Wednesday at Piraeus port.
"Blue Star Patmos" carried 1,997 refugees, "Eleftherios Venizelos" another 2,457 and "Ariadni" 1,503.
Meanwhile, 873 migrants have been rescued by the Coast Guard in 15 incidents over the last 24 hours in the sea region off Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi and Kos.
 4,076 refugees arrive at Piraeus portThe ferry "TERA JET" carrying 1,740 refugees from Mytilene docked at Piraeus port late on Tuesday.
Another two ferries "Blue Star 1" and "Nisos Rhodos" with 2,336 passengers on board arrived earlier in the day.
 Port employees to hold 24-hour strike on ThursdayPort employees will hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday against the privatisation of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
A rally is scheduled for 11:00 at Karaiskaki square on Thursday and a march to the Shipping ministry will follow.
Employees at the town halls of Keratsini, Drapetsona and Perama will also participate in the strike.
 Heavy rain on ThursdayHeavy rainfall and northerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Thunderstorms in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 10C-16C. Heavy rainfall in the western parts with temperatures between 17C-23C. Rain and thunderstorms in the eastern parts and temperatures between 15C-23C. Storms over the Aegean islands and Crete, 19C-26C. Rain and thunderstorms in Athens, 17C-22C; the same for Thessaloniki, 12C-16C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: 'Red card' to the creditors for first home foreclosures
DIMOKRATIA: The explosion of public debt
ETHNOS: Point system for bad loans
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pension cuts from the unification of main and supplementary ones
ESTIA: (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble: Greece is not a state
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The government keeps distance from the wise men's report
IMERISSIA: Suspension of payments
KATHIMERINI: Vertigo from the open fronts
NAFTEMPORIKI: The measures strangled households and markets
RIZOSPASTIS: End to supplementary pensions
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