|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-11-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 3 November 2016 Issue No: 5281
 Russian FM Lavrov and PM Tsipras confirm dynamics of friendship and mutual respect"I have just met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and we confirmed the dynamics of mutual friendship and respect between the two countries," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in the presence of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, while addressing the Greek-Russian Energy Conference, held within the framework of the 4th Greek-Russian Social Forum, at Zappeion.
Lavrov referred to the current international situation, which he described as difficult, he welcomed the actions of social diplomacy and stressed the need for the existence of the Greek-Russian Social Forum. He also underlined that it is a good step for the existence of international contacts and dialogue adding that it has significantly contributed to the development of bilateral relations. He stressed the intellectual contact between the two peoples which exists despite the political choices and circumstances.
On the occasion of the 190-year anniversary (2017) of the Battle of Navarino, the Russian minister stressed that "we should work together to honour this important anniversary."
Referring to World War II, he noted: "We both fought against fascism."
Finally, Lavrov expressed confidence that the current 4th Greek-Russian Social Forum will be an important step in strengthening and widening the Greek-Russian relations.
 PM Tsipras discuss wide range of issues with Russian FM LavrovA wide range of issues were covered during Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to a prime minister's office announcement on Wednesday.
Tsipras and Lavrov discussed the relations between the European Union and Russia as well as the regional develop-ments particularly regarding the eastern Mediterrenean, Syria and Ukraine.
Moreover they exchanged views on the importance of a fair, viable and comprehensive solution for Cyprus based on the UN Security Council resolutions.
The bilateral cooperation with focus on the investment and tourism sector was also touched.
Finally, the two officials referred to the Greek - Russian cultural relations with springboard the success of Greece -Russia year 2016.
 PM Tsipras stresses importance of Russian FM Lavrov's visit to AthensPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday underlined that his visit marks the common belief in the need to maintain close cooperation and dialogue relations if we want to move in the direction of peace and stability in the region.
We also aim at the continuation of the economic cooperation in the fields of investments and tourism, Tsipras added in a message posted on Twitter.
 Greece, Russia want political dialogue based on mutual trust, Kotzias and Lavrov sayRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Wednesday expressed their mutual intention to promote deeper bilateral relations and political dialogue based on mutual trust between Greece and Russia, during a joint press conference in Athens. The two ministers had earlier signed a Consultations Programme between their respective ministries for the years 2017-2019, which they said acted as long-term confirmation of their intentions.
Kotzias and Lavrov said their discussion had covered all pending issues, while they agreed on the immediate necessity to restore calm by ending the violence in Syria, and more generally on the need for stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa. Kotzias noted that Greece promotes stability in the region through initiatives in the Mediterranean, Middle East and the Balkans.
The two men also noted their agreement on the Cyprus issue. UN resolutions must be implemented, Lavrov said, as the only settlement framework leading to a solution that is stable and acceptable to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The Greek foreign minister publicly thanked Lavrov for Russia's steadfast support of the Cyprus Republic.
Kotzias also stressed the need to keep channels open between NATO and Russia, adding that Europe's security architecture must include Russia, not set it apart. Lavrov praised Greece's stance with respect to Russia's relations with the EU and NATO, noting that Athens was always in favour of dialogue and seeking solutions, rather than confrontation.
Asked to comment on recent statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding the "borders of Turkey's heart" that seemed to dispute the Lausanne Treaty, the Greek minister replied that the borders of the "heart" and international law were not the same thing.
"The history of Greece's heart reaches as far as India. But the borders of our heart are not the borders of international law. Respect for borders is obligatory," Kotzias commented. The Greek minister noted that history "must be a school, not a prison" and treated with respect, "not with a mythology created after the fact."
Lavrov, on his part, said that the answer to the issue was extremely simple: "In all matters, there must be respect for international law arising from international treaties."
The Russian minister said the talks with Kotzias had also examined the potential for boosting cooperation in the energy sector and that a Greek-Russian ministerial meeting on Thursday will examine possible ways to overcome "negative trends in economic relations".
 Russian FM Lavrov inaugurates Greek-Russian Energy CongressRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in the presence of his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias and Greek Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, inaugurated on Wednesday the Hellenic-Russian Energy Congress that is held at the Zappeion in Athens within the context of the 4th Greek-Russian Forum.
The first part of the congress focus on geostrategic and energy issues.
In its second part, the congress will examine the energy cooperation between Greece and Russia based on the long and mutually beneficial relation between the two countries. The Greek-Russian cooperation and perspectives in the areas of electricity, natural gas and geostrategic correlations in the wider region will be thoroughly examined.
The congress aim to present an overview of the Greek-Russian relations with focus on the energy sector as well as the future perspective of the relations between the two countries.
 South European Pipeline project 'viable', says DEPA CEOThe South European Pipeline project that will transfer Russian natural gas through Turkey, across Greece, and come ashore in Italy is "viable", the CEO of state natural gas company DEPA, Thodoros Kitsakos, said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Greek-Russian Forum, Kitsakos said he believed the project can start very soon, within 2017, provided that it respects the principles of the European Union. He also said it's possible to include other companies in the project for which DEPA has signed a MoU with Gazprom and Italy's Edison.
He also invited private investors to participate in the project to supply large islands with natural gas.
 Syria, Cyprus and Greek-Russian cooperation dominates President Pavlopoulos meeting with Russian FM LavrovWe support Russia, US and EU cooperation to stop the war in Syria, stated President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov whom he received at the presidential mansion on Wednesday.
The cooperation proves that the three major forces are the guarantee for the world, said Pavlopoulos.
President Pavlopoulos addressing Lavrov said that the war in Syria and the refugees issue should stop immediately on humanitarian conditions and noted that it is a situation that affects the whole world because it has global repercussions. Referring to terrorism his said that we should behave to them as they deserve, namely as members of criminal organisations that commit crimes against humanity.
He made a special reference to the issue of cooperation among Russia, US and EU, which, as he said, must be effective because this will send the message that in major and important issues that refer to the global peace these three powers guarantee the peace.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, Pavlopoulos thanked Lavrov for Russia's support for solution which he called imperative. He reminded that the solution proposed by the Greek-Cypriot part and President Anastasiades is according to the European law and the European institutional acquis, he said adding that we will not accept reductions on sovereignty issues and it is not possible to accept guarantees as well as occupations troops on the island. The meaning of sovereignty in the European law and in the European countries is clear and unambiguous.
On his part the head of the Russian diplomacy thanked President Pavlopoulos for the warm welcome and conveyed President Putin's warm regards and expressed Russia's satisfaction over the rich programme of Greece-Russia and Russia-Greece year 2016 that is still in progress.
Referring to the conditions in Syria, Lavrov reminded Russia's stance at the start of the so-called Arab Spring noting that "we made a plea for no changes in regimes but for a political dialogue among all the nations and all the religions in Egypt, Libya and Syria and we are pleased that in Egypt, not of course without problems, the situation is stabilised and we support this course.
He said that there is almost no state in Libya. We must re-create it and the UN is taking care of it and Russia supports this procedures because Russia can accept that Libya will be a 'black hole' through which many migrants from Africa to Europe pass.
On Syria, Lavrov expressed the hope that "our partners will reach the right conclusions in Syria and all of us aim to a fair cooperation and wish for political procedure with the participation of the government, the opposition forces and the people of Syria will decide for their own fate.
Referring to UN Security Council's resolution that describes the approaches towards the solution of Syria's issue, Lavrov underlined that whoever wants to be part of this settlement should cut every relation with terrorists and reminded his US counterpart John Kerry's reference to the specific issue underlining that "a year has passed and we are still waiting for these words to become a reality". He also noted that some 'sabotage' the political solution against UN Security Council's resolutions and expressed his certainty that if the UN resolutions were fairly implemented then the conditions could change and become much better.
On the Cyprus issue, Lavrov said that and in this case we can't find a solution because there are some that do not want this kind of settlement adding that we do not accept external pressure to set deadlines.
He also underlined that "undoubtedly the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots must agree", adding that the UN has set the framework of this agreement regarding the sovereignty, the issues of guarantees and property.
In this context, he said, we will contribute according to the UN Security Council's resolutions and safeguard that there will not be any derogations on this course within the framework of the resolutions.
 ND leader meets Russia's Lavrov, discusses Turkey, Syria, economyNew Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Athens on Thursday, to whom he expressed his concern about the recent statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the Treaty of Lausanne.
During the meeting, the two sides agreed on the need to respect international law and international treaties, the party said in a press release after the meeting. They also discussed the current situation in Syria and other regional issues and Mitsotakis briefed Lavrov on issues concerning Greece's economic reality and domestic politics.
 PM, Celik discuss EU-Turkey affairs and refugee issuePrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday met Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs ?mer ?elik, the country's chief negotiator in Turkey's EU accession talks, at the Maximos Mansion in Athens. Their talks focused on Turkey's EU accession prospects, the refugee issue and the EU-Turkey Agreement.
 Alt. FM Xydakis to meet Turkey's ?elik on ThursdayAlternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis will meet with Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs ?mer ?elik at the foreign ministry on Thursday.
The meeting is scheduled at 13:15.
 Meeting on Chios' problems with migration to be held at Maximos MansionA meeting on the problems facing Chios due to migration will be held at Maximos Mansion on November 8, at 10:30. The meeting will be attended by the SYRIZA's and New Democracy's MPs for Chios, Andreas Mihailidis and Notis Mitarakis respectively, along with deputy prefect Stamatis Karmatzis and Chios mayor Manolis Vournous.
The meeting was expected to be held last Monday but was cancelled due to political developments.
 Tsipras to give opening speech at 'EU-Arab World Summit' on ThursdayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will make a keynote address at the "EU-Arab World Summit: Partners for Growth and Development", which will be held in Athens on 3-4 November, at the Athens Concert Hall.
Tsipras' speech is scheduled to start at 10:00.
 FM Kotzias to meet Polish counterpart in Athens on ThursdayForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias will meet Polish counterpart Witold Waszczykowski in his office on Thursday, at 11:30. After their meeting the two ministers will speak to the press, the foreign ministry said.
 Dijsselbloem's spokesman clarifies that 'social security measures' concern minimum guaranteed incomeBRUSSELS (ANA/ M. Aroni)
Michel Reijns, spokesman of Eurogroup's chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, cleared out on Wednesday that the statement regarding "social security measures" does not concern pension reforms, but the minimum guaranteed income.
Dijsselbloem had informed the Dutch lawmakers on Tuesday that measures concerning both the pension system and labour market reforms are expected to be the focus of talks during the second review of Greece's programme, in the customary document sent by the Dutch finance minister prior to each Eurogroup.
Dijsselbloem had also noted that the second review of Greece's programme, which is now underway, will be on the agenda of the next Eurogroup on November 7. He said the Dutch government considers the rapid completion of this review important, while adding that it included a broad range of measures.
 Greek and Indonesian Defence Ministers sign memorandum of cooperation in JakartaGreek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos and his Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu decided on Wednesday to sign a memorandum on defence technical cooperation during their meeting in Jakarta.
Both officials expressed their pleasure over the existing cooperation between Greek and Indonesian companies in the defence sector and the prospects for further development.
 ND insists abolition of TV licensing law is precondition for agreeing on NCRTVNew Democracy (ND) reiterated its intent to only agree to the formation of the National Council for Radio and Television's (NCRTV) board if the government abolishes the TV licensing law submitted by State Minister Nikos Pappas and all powers are returned to the independent watchdog.
"If Pappas' law is not abolished along with its articles, and all powers are not returned to the NCRTV, New Democracy will not agree to the setting up of the NCRTV," a party source told journalists.
"We will not agree to Pappas' fraud and Tsipras' illusions. They must return the powers grabbed by Pappas to the NCRTV which should decide both on the number of TV licenses and of employees," it added.
Commenting on the last meeting of Parliament Presidents where no agreement was achieved, the source said ND voted "present" to allow the government to disengage from the stalemate it created.
 ND leader Mitsotakis meets with US Ambassador to Greece PyattMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday met with US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt.
According to ND sources, they discussed the prospects of the Greek-US bilateral relations as well as the imminent visit of US President Barack Obama.
They also discussed the course of the intercommunal talks to solve the Cyprus problem and developments in important regional issues.
Finally, there was an exchange of views on issues of current political and economic affairs in Greece.
 Communist Party leader disusses regional developments with PavlopoulosCommunist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas discussed regional conflicts with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos during a meeting at the Presidential Mansion on Wednesday.
"I briefed the President on developments in the region and the positions of the Communist Party," Koutsoumbas told journalists after the meeting.
"The sharpening of contrasts, the antagonisms, military conflicts and the accumulation of military weapons and forces throughout the region, from Central and Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea to the Middle East, do not portend positive developments and issues for the people and mainly for the Greek people," he added.
 Greens' Ska Keller urges greater solidarity with Greece, talking to ANABRUSSELS (ANA/ M. Spinthourakis)
There must be greater EU solidarity with Greece, both with regard to the refugee crisis and in issues concerning the Greek economy, Greens MEP Ska Keller told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday, ahead of her arrival in Athens.
The German MEP noted that Greece's EU partners "despite the fact that they had undertaken certain commitments to provide assistance, receiving refugees but also sending experts, have yet to respond..."
While acknowledging that there were still shortcomings in the way Greek authorities were handling the refugee crisis, Keller also pointed out that Greece was unable to cope with such a great problem without European help.
On the economic front, she noted that this was the time for Greece's partners in the Eurozone to show their solidarity. She also pointed out that the objections on Germany's side were anything but helpful and that workers' rights must be respected. This should be a fundamental element in the talks between Greek authorities and the institutions, she said.
Keller is due in the Greek capital on Thursday, accompanied by the European Parliament Greens group General Secretary Vula Tsetsi.
 Conference of parliament presidents to convene on MondayThe conference of parliament presidents will convene again on Monday, at 3 pm, in an effort to form the new National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV).
 GSEE umbrella trade union announces nationwide general strike on Dec. 8The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) umbrella trade union organisation - the largest representing Greece's private and public-sector workers - on Wednesday announced its decision to call a 24-hour nationwide general strike on December 8. GSEE is also planning central rallies on the same day, and decided on regional meetings to organise protest action in collaboration with union federations, labour centres and other social groups, in order to send a broader message of social dissatisfaction.
GSEE's leadership also plans to convene the union's General Council to plan further action against austerity measures, noting that GSEE "will use all the weapons in its arsenal to put an final end of the criminal measures that are being implemented and those that are planned."
 Finance ministry sets up new centre linking public sector electronic servicesThe General Secretariat for Information System and Admini-strative Support on Wednesday launched the finance ministry's interoperability centre, which aims to link all electronic services run by Greece's public administration.
A finance ministry announcement said that the new system will create a single environment for the installation and use of internet services and the exchange of data between the finance ministry and other public-sector organisations. The web services will be offered to the participating public-sector bodies and agencies on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week.
It will provide the means for uninterrupted operational and productive functioning and high-quality transfer and management of information, using the latest security standards. GSIS will also offer the necessary technical and operational support to link up the various public-sector services with the new centre.
This new centre features an Interoperability Requests Management app, a Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) web services management and support platform, a joint web services implementation guide and a policy for the correct use of web services.
The ministry has invited any public-sector agency wishing to use the centre's web services to visit its web-page http://www.gsis.gr/gsis/info/gsis_site/Services/DimosiaDioikisi/ked or send an e-mail to email@example.com
 Significant cash injection to Greek SMEsA series of funding agreements signed between domestic banks, the European Investment Bank and other international credit institutions recently will offer a cash injection to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the country, in a period when there is an absolute need for new capital.
National Bank signed a 300-million-euro funding agreement with European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Fund, for the support of Greek enterprises. The agreement is based on the securitization of corporate liabilities made by National Bank two months ago, safeguarding a significantly lower cost for draining capital.
Jonathan Taylor, vice-president of European Investment Bank, and in charge of the bank's operations in Greece, said EIB was showing strong interest in medium-sized enterprises, the back bone of the Greek economy and the core of EIB's efforts in Greece. The transaction, he said, was the first step to help National Bank in its return to the markets.
National Bank's CEO, Leonidas Fragiadakis, said the agreement will allow the bank to offer new funding products to small- and medium-sized enterprises and medium capitalization enterprises with favorable terms. The program is expected to benefit around 300 enterprises, boosting employment with the creation of more than 200 job positions particularly for young people aged below 25 years old.
Eurobank also signed a funding agreement worth 230 milion euros with the European Investment Fund, improving Greek SMEs' access to funding. These agreements are supported by the European Strategic Investments Fund, a basic pylon of a Juncker Plan for Europe. The COSME program will channel 130 million euros to more than 1,000 SMEs in Greek over a period of three years. Eurobank, through an InnovFin program will channel funds to innovative SMEs for the next two years worth 100 million euros.
Pier Luigi Gilibert, European Investment Fund CEO, commenting on the agreement said it confirmed the fund's commitment to Greek entrepreneurs.
Eurobank's CEO, Fokion Karavias, said funding of Greek SMEs was a crucial challenge for the Greek economy and its efforts to recover.
 Government has set aside about 1.5 bln euros in NSRF funds for digital economyThe government has earmarked about 1.5 billion euros in EU funds to support programs for the digital economy, as part of its efforts to stem Greece's brain-drain, Deputy Economy Minister for NSRF Issues Alexis Charitsis said on Wednesday at the first Facebook "Boost your Business" event in Athens.
"Funds of up to about 1.5 billion euros have been earmarked in the new NSRF programs for the digital economy," he said. "Any talk concerning growth and transforming the economy, restructuring the productive base and redistributing wealth, has in its core the urgent need to deal with this issue," he added.
Charitsis said all activities are electable in the new programs, either they concern supporting start-ups, new researchers and research in Greece, or the reforming of the public sector.
 Prime office prices up 0.2 pct in H1, Bank of Greece reportNominal prime office prices in Greece marginally increased by 0.2 pct in the first half of 2016, compared with the second half of 2015, according to provisional figures released by the Bank of Greece on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report, said that a marginal positive trend in prime office prices was recorded in the third semester in a row (2015 H1: 0.2 pct and 2015 H2: 0.1 pct). More specifically, in the first half of 2016 nominal prime office prices declined by 0.5 pct in the greater Athens area compared with the second half of 2015, whereas in Thessaloniki and in the rest of Greece prices increased by 1.4 pct and 0.8 pct respectively.
In 2015 as a whole, the average rate of change in nominal prime office prices is estimated at -0.1 pct for the entire country compared with 2014, whereas the corresponding average annual rates were -0.2 pct for Athens, -5.2 pct for Thessaloniki and 1.2 pct for the rest of Greece (revised data).
In the first half of 2016, office rents for the country as a whole increased by 0.7 pct (provisional data) compared with the second half of 2015, against a decrease of 0.1 pct in the first half of 2015 and 1.2 pct in the second half of 2015.
According to provisional data, in the first half of 2016 prime retail prices decreased by 0.8 pct in nominal terms compared with the second half of 2015.
In the first half of 2016, retail rents for the country as a whole marginally declined by 0.3 pct (provisional data) compared with the second half of 2015, a rate of decline significantly weaker than the corresponding rates in the previous half-years (2015 H1:-2.3 pct and 2015 H2: -3.0 pct).
 Storytelling can boost tourist enterprises' competitiveness"Telling interesting stories can boost the competitiveness of a tourist company," according to Dr Christina Bonarou, Department of Communication, Media and Culture of Panteion University.
Speaking to "www.praktoreio-tourism.gr" on how storytelling can be a competitive advantage for a business, Bonarou noted: If a story about a tourist company, a service or a destination is compelling, real and original, it will appeal to people and attract more customers."
In a research carried out on winemaking businesses in France, it was reported that these businesses could sell their products in higher prices as people were affected by stories related to them.
In order for companies to achieve that, they should first be aware of their target groups in order to adapt their storytelling and be efficient. "A good storytelling can appeal to all target groups," Bonarou underlined.
For instance, a hotel can relate its storytelling with ecology, or even a film production, she explained adding that "each company can write its own story."
Bonarou stressed the businesses that want to adopt storytelling, they first need to diagnose what is it that makes them unique, what stories could be connected with them, and then share these stores with their customers on social networks.
 Greece's spending on research in 2015 reached historic high of 0.96 pct of GDPGreece spent a record amount on research and development as a percentage of its economy in 2015, reaching the historic high of 0.96 pct of GDP, according to official provisional figures sent to Eurostat on Wednesday.
According to the National Documentation Centre at the National Hellenic Research Foundation, R&D spending in Greece has been growing steadily in recent years, both in absolute terms and as expressed in GDP. Spending on R&D came to 1.64 billion euros in 2015, up from 1.49 billion euros in 2014 and 1.39 euros in 2011. The "R&D Intensity" index, expressed as a percentage of GDP, has also risen steadily, from 0.67 pct in 2011 to 0.84 pct in 2014 and 0.96 pct in 2015.
This significant increase has helped greatly improve Greece's ranking among EU member-states for R&D Intensity, bringing it from 20th to 16th place.
The biggest contribution to the increase was made by tertiary and post-secondary educational institutions, which spent 643.8 million euros or 0.37 pct of GDP. Business accounted for another 561.4 million euros (0.32 pct of GDP) and the state sector for 465.5 million euros (0.26 pct of GDP). Private non-profit foundations contributed the smallest percentage at 13.2 million euros or 0.01 pct of GDP.
 Piraeus Bank appoints George Handjinicolaou as new chairmanPiraeus Bank's Board of Directors elected Messrs George Handjinicolaou, Solomon Berahas and Enrico Tommaso Cucchiani as new non executive members of the board to replace members previously resigned. The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Mr George Handjinicolaou as its new Chairman. Mr Handjinicolaou starts his role immediately.
Mr Handjinicolaou is a highly experienced international business leader in the financial services sector. His career spans 33 years, the vast majority of which was spent at global financial institutions based in London and New York and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) in London. Mr Handjinicolaou was most recently Deputy CEO of ISDA, where he was a member of the Board of Directors. He previously held senior management positions in the derivatives and fixed income markets at several global financial institutions including Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS in London and New York. Mr Handjinicolaou started his career at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Mr Handjinicolaou also has leadership experience in Greece from his roles as CEO of TBANK and as Vice Chairman of the Greek Capital Market Commission.Mr Handjinicolaou's extensive international leadership experience, deep understanding of global capital markets combined with experience in restructuring within the Greek banking sector will be of significant value to Piraeus Bank's Board of Directors. Mr. Handjinicolaou received his PhD in Finance from the graduate school of business at New York University, where he also earned his MBA. He holds a BS degree from the Law School at the University of Athens in Athens, Greece.
Piraeus Bank's appointment of Mr Handjinicolaou marks another major step in the strengthening of the Bank's Board of Directors and its corporate governance, which builds on significant progress made during 2016. During the course of this year the Board has added international leadership experience and technical expertise, in particular in restructurings and problem loan reduction, combining this with deep local market experience.
Mr George Handjinicolaou, newly appointed Chairman of Piraeus Bank, commented: "I am excited by the opportunity to use the experience and expertise that I have accumulated during my career to contribute to the turnaround of Piraeus Bank. Greece is currently at a critical juncture, and itis an honour to lead Greece's largest bank. Also, having benefited from Greece's public education system, this role provides me with an opportunity to give back to my country.Piraeus Bank has responded effectively to an extremely challenging operating environment and I believe that there are significant opportunities for the Bank to build upon our trusted and valued customer brand, to support economic recovery in Greece and to deliver value for our shareholders over the medium term. I look forward to being part of Piraeus Bank's success, alongside a strengthened Board, a reinvigorated executive team and all of our loyal and committed employees."
 PPC chief invites Russian firms to cooperate in joint Balkan projectsPower utility PPC chairman and CEO Manolis Panagiotakis invited Russian firms to cooperate with the company in joint projects in the Balkans during a speech at the Greek-Russian Forum, held in Athens on Wednesday.
"We have the opportunity to play a leading role in the integration of the Balkan market as a key participant," Panagiotakis said.
"There's plenty of hydrodynamic and lignite, and also the potential to generate electricity from natural gas, as well as very large prospects in the context of policies to address climate change, with renewable resources and distribution networks. We will develop our presence in these countries in all fields. We seek partnerships with local, Greek and Russian companies. It would be our pleasure to develop cooperation in business and investments," he added.
 OPAP to restart plans for VLTs in GreeceOPAP SA on Wednesday announced that, following the introduction of a new VLTs regulation by the Hellenic Gaming Commission, the company's Board of Directors has decided that all of the appropriate conditions are now in place to allow OPAP to restart plans for the operation of VLT products in Greece.
The new regulation decided by the Hellenic Gaming Commission establishes a comprehensive institutional framework that secures public interest and public revenues and at the same time allows the economic viability of the VLT business for OPAP and its partners, OPAP said in an announcement.
The new regulatory framework for VLTs takes advantage of the latest gaming technology and wholly leverages all available restrictive measures in order to protect players, in line with international best practices for responsible gaming. Moreover, OPAP will accordingly adjust its current claim against the Greek State before the London Court of International Arbitration.
Damian Cope, OPAP CEO, commented: "Bearing in mind that the new approved regulation is among the strictest on international level, the HGC's decision will now enable the legal development of VLTs and its fully regulated operation can create a new landscape in the gaming market in Greece. It will deliver benefits to the overall economy and contribute to tackling illegal gaming activity, bringing significant financial and social benefits for the state. Having remained absolutely focused on the VLTs project, OPAP will now enter the implementation phase of this investment and intensively work for the full deployment of the VLTs, which is a company priority for 2017".
 P&G supports medical research with sponsorshipsProcter & Gamble celebrated 22 years from the launch of a research sponsorship program to support medical research in Greece in the fields where P&G has established activities with products such as Always, Pampers, Oral B. Sponsorship to dentistry (Koulouridis sponsorship), gynecology (Papanikolaou sponsorship) and pediatric (Child & Research sponsorship) have supported more than 80 research groups in Greek universities with more than 1.0 million euros in funds.
Eleni Papademetriou, communications manager in P&G said the sponsorship institution approaches the innovation sector, a compass, strategic choice and mission for P&G in Greece. "We seek and invest on innovation through our products and services to bring value to modern consumers and we support innovation in other significant sectors related with health/hygiene. We also support domestic talent in medical research, helping in the professional development of top scientists, a capital for the future," she said.
"Scientific research in medicine needs the help of everyone and the support of the private sector and enterprises is necessary. Initiatives like P&G's to support gynecology research with sponsorships help the research work of University clinics and support our excellent scientific resources," George Kreatas, professor of gynecology at the Athens University said.
 Eighty-nine percent of Greece's Facebook users are linked to at least one SMEEighty-nine percent of Facebook users in Greece are linked with the business page of at least one small or medium-sized business, according to statistics presented at the first "SMB - Boost Your Business" event organized by Facebook and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Athens on Wednesday.
"This is a process of marketing democratization for small businesses, providing them with the same tools to develop easily and effectively, regardless of size, location, the industry to which they belong or the level of their skills," the Chamber noted in a press release.
"There are over 60 million small and medium-sized businesses that actively use Facebook's pages because they're free, are easy to use and function well on mobile phones. Generally, business owners are discovering Facebook for their business because they already know how to use it for personal reasons; the creation of a page is just as easy as setting up a profile. Furthermore, all customers are already in Facebook," Facebook SMB Director Stefanos Loukakos said in the event's main speech.
According to European Union data, the use of digital tools by Greek small and medium-sized businesses remains below the European average. Despite the social media dynamic in the country, which is in line with the European average (18 percent for both Greece and the EU), online sales of services and products lag behind (6.1 percent in Greece and an average of 16 percent in the EU).
 Greece sells six-month Treasury billsGreece on Wednesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue draining 1.137 billion euros from the market. The interest rate of the issue was set at 2.97 pct, unchanged from the previous auction of same issue last month. Bids submitted surpassed the offered sum of 875 million euros by 1.3 times the finance ministry said.
 Greek state arrears to private sector down in SeptGreek state arrears to the private sector fell to 4.779 billion euros at the end of September, from 4.935 billion a month earlier, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
In a report on general government figures, the ministry said that pending tax returns rose to 1.439 billion euros in September from 1.341 billion in August. The EuroWorking Group approved the disbursement of a 1.7 billion euros sub-tranche to Greece based on Greek government figures showing that the state repaid arrears to the private sector.
 Olympic Air takes over three remote domestic air routesOlympic Air will take over, without any financial compensation, the operation of three remote flight destinations for a period of four years, starting April 1, 2017.
The remote flight destinations are Athens-Milos, Athens-Naxos and Athens-Sitia.
The agreement raises the number of remote flight destinations to be operated without any financial compensation to 14, out of a total of 28 such destinations in the country, leaving only seven remote destinations pending (Thessaloniki-Corfu, Thessaloniki-Skyros, Alexandroupolis-Sitia, Aktio-Sitia, Corfu-Aktio-Cephalonia-Zakynthos, Limnos-Mytilene-Chios-Samos-Rhodes, Rhodes-Kos-Kalymnos-Leros-Astypalea).
Civil Aviation Authority is expected to launch another tender, probably in December 19, for the exploitation of these pending routes, covering the period from April 2017 until March 2021.
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 Convert Group presents eRetail Audit projectConvert Group, a Greek consultant company on e-commerce and digital transformation, announced a global exclusivity presenting an eRetail Audit project which measures market shares for consumer products sold in e-commerce.
The project was presented on Wednesday in Athens, by a group of computer programmers and specialized data analysts headed by Elena Chalaizopoulou, Convert Group partner.
It is the first time that consumer goods companies are able to learn their market shares in e-commerce channels, a field of intense competition for multinational and local brands worldwide.
Measuring of market shares is made in real time, safeguarding the credibility of the data. The methodology also offers the ability to collect marketing data for a period of two years for each computer used for an online purchase.
Panagiotis Gezerlis, CEO and Head of Consulting, and Elena Chailazopoulou, Head of eRetail Audit, said: "We are proud that a Greek company achieved a global exclusivity in the area of market research and e-commerce. Our goal is to establish the project as a European market share measuring model for online purchases in various sectors".
eRetail Audit is already implemented in the online pharmacy sector, one of the most competitive sectors in the Greek market with an expected turnover of 90 million euros in 2016.
 Greek stocks edge lowerGreek stocks edged lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday in a session dominated by a sharp rise in OPAP's share price (+7.24 pct) after the lottery organisation said it would restart plans for VLTs operations in Greece.
The composite index of the market eased 0.19 pct to end at 581.56 points, off the day's lows of 580.40 points. The Large Cap index eased 0.23 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.45 pct lower. Turnover was an improved 55.525 million euros, of which 17.2 million were block traders. Volume was 34,830,540 shares.
OPAP (7.24 pct), Motor Oil (1.38 pct) and Lamda Development (1.02 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (3.25 pct), PPC (3.07 pct) and Titan (1.88 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, Travel (6.41 pct) and Oil (0.76 pct) scored big gains, while Constructions (1.80 pct), Telecoms (1.23 pct) and Utilities (1.19 pct) suffered losses. National Bank and Eurobank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 57 to 38 with another 26 issues unchanged. Hatzikraniotis (20 pct), Ekter (15.68 pct) and Leventeris (13.6 pct) were top gainers, while Mermeren (15.31 pct), Alumil (11.87 pct) and Livanis Publications (10.53 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell below 8.0 pct for the first time since last July, as the market enjoyed improved turnover for the second successive session in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday. The yield spread fell to 7.93 pct from 8.13 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.06 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.12 pct. Turnover was an improved 7.0 million euros, all buy orders. Traders attributed this development to a positive climate prevailing in European state bond markets, which benefit from increased uncertainty ahead of the Presidential elections in the US.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate was -0.071 pct, the nine-month rate rose to -0.131 pct from -0.133 pct, the six-month rate rose to -0.213 pct from -0.214 pct, the three-month rate was -0.313 pct and the one-month rate was -0.373 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.08 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,540 contracts with 7,121 open positions in the market, while volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,039 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,279), followed by Alpha Bank (4,082), Piraeus Bank (3,242), Eurobank (6,045), MIG (884), OTE (601), PPC (1,080), OPAP (2,310), Viohalco (55), Mytilineos (151), Ellaktor (111), Jumbo (26), Intralot (25) and Hellenic Petroleum (28).
 Visibility in Athens dropped 2.8 klm every decade since interwar period, study showsAn Athenian of the interwar period could see on average up to 20 kilometers further afar than an Athenian today, according to a new study which uses data covering a period of 80 years, in the first comprehensive research on air pollution in the Greek capital.
According to the study, conducted by the Institute of Environment Research and Sustainable Growth of the Athens Observatory, visibility in Athens is reduced by about 2.8 kilometers every ten years, or by 280 meters per year.
In the 1930s and the 1940s, Athens had a good visibility (seeing further than 20 klm) about one in three days. On these days, Athenians could even make out the houses in nearby Aegina Island. Since then, visibility in Athens has been decreasing continuously, reaching critical levels in the 1950s when the swelling of the city's population, urbanization, the construction of buildings and the increase in the number of vehicles led to a jump in air pollution.
The frequency of the good visibility enjoyed in the 1930s decreased to just 2 percent in the period 2004-2013. In fact, after 2004, more than half the days of the year visibility in Athens is below four kilometers.
The anti-pollution measures taken in Europe during the 1980s led to a reduction in emissions and thus a marginal stabilization or even improvement of visibility in many parts of Europe and Greece, after 1990. The economic crisis in Eastern Europe in the same period also contributed.
In Athens, the deterioration of visibility continued until the beginning of 2000. After 2004, however, air pollution stabilized or even marginally improved. This is due to the improvement of transport infrastructure after the 2004 Olympics (metro, tram, Attiki Odos), and in part may also be due to the fact that, due to the economic downturn, the emission of pollutants has further been reduced, with the exception of the periodic burning of wood in fireplaces.
The study also showed that visibility changes through the seasons, with the clearer skies recorded during the hot and dry months, although seasonality is becoming less clear in recent years. The month with the worst visibility is March due to the high humidity levels in the atmosphere, combined with increased concentrations of particles and the transfer of dust and pollen.
The study, headed by Dr. Dimitra Founda, was published in the scientific magazine "Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics" of the European Union of Geoscientists and was based on a series of data collected from 1931 to 2013 by the National Observatory of Athens (NOA). It is also possibly the longest series of continuous observations on visibility collected in the Eastern Mediterranean.
 Tilos island hosts intercultural conference on IslamThe municipality of the island of Tilos with the participation of the local residents and the refugees that are hosted on the island organise an intercultural conference on 5 and 6 November.
The principles, the characteristics and the practices of Islam so that the people understand its particularities and the existing problems will be discussed in the first day of the conference. The municipality of Tilos in an announcement said "our aim is to offer the best possible services to the hosted refugees and in parallel to safeguard the smooth co-existence with the locals."
Key speaker will be professor of social anthropology of Panteion University of Athens Gerasimos Makris who will explain the cultural differences and special characteristics of the Islam.
 Partly cloudy on ThursdayPartly cloudy and winds from variable directions are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 03C to 19C. Rain in the western parts with temperatures between 09C and 20C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 10C and 22C. Chance of light rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 13C-20C. Mostly fair in Athens, 09C-22C; the same for Thessalo-niki, 06C-19C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceETHNOS: Special benefits on the target of the creditors
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Cuts on benefits and uniformed personnel salaries
ESTIA: New Democracy's statement on cuts on supplementary pensions
AVGHI: Bubble over New Democracy's loans
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: From Venezuela with love
KATHIMERINI: Turkey's procurement sprint
RIZOSPASTIS: Fighting with the view to disorientate the people
TA NEA: Government divided into three
KONTRA NEWS: Measures on debt in December and return to the markets
IMERISSIA: Horror scenarios for 1.8 bln euro benefits
NAFTEMPORIKI: Changes in social benefits
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