|Saturday, 16 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-11-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 8 November 2016 Issue No: 5284
 Dijsselbloem: Progress being made in Greece's second program reviewBRUSSELS (ANA/M. Aroni)
Talks between the Greek government and the institutions are continuing in Athens as part of the second program review and progress is being made, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after a Eurogroup meeting on Monday.
"The second review is ongoing. Cooperation between the institutions and the Greek authorities is reported to be fruitful, progress is being made. It is in everyone's interest to finalize the second review as soon as possible," he told journalists during a joint press conference with European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Pierre Moscovici and Klaus Regling, Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
He said the next Eurogroup on the Dec. 5 will hear more from the ESM on possible short-term debt relief measures and the important reforms that are part of it - labour market and social system reforms, as well as the fiscal trajectory for the coming years (2017, 2018).
All this must take place before the end of the year, he continued, when the IMF's board is expected to meet to decide on Greece, adding that Poul Thomsen, Director of the IMF's European Department, reconfirmed this.
On his side, Moscovici said the institutions' mission chiefs will return to Athens next week to continue the negotiations with the Greek government on issues relating to the business environment and the modernization of public administration.
"We don't want to minimize the complexity of what remains on the table but I'm quite confident that a good agreement can be found relatively quickly," he said, adding he will visit Athens at the end of November.
"If we do that, it sends a strong signal of stability and confidence for the next year which is when growth will recover in Greece as our coming forecasts we expect will confirm," he said.
 Monday's Eurogroup confirmed agreed timetable on review, debt, say ministry sourcesMonday's Eurogroup was completed in a good climate for Greece and reconfirmed the agreed timetable on the completion of the second program review and the search for a solution to the country's debt in December, so that Greece may find the new path is seeks, finance ministry sources said, adding that different views were also expressed at the meeting.
 ESM's Regling: We can find solutions that will have positive impact on debt sustainabilityBRUSSELS (ANA/C. Vasilaki)
The short-term measures on Greece's debt that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is preparing will be presented at December's Eurogroup, ESM's Managing Director Klaus Regling said after the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Regling said there's been progress in preparing those measures but have not been completed yet and added that once they are implemented, they will have a positive result on Greek debt sustainability.
"It's too early to talk about any details but we've made good progress," he said. "It's important to say that some of these measures means there could be additional cost upfront before one can have benefits later on ... but then there should be savings in the longer-term. I'm optimistic that overall we can find solutions that will really have a visible, positive impact on Greek debt sustainability," he added.
 Sapin says Eurozone must fulfill its commitments towards Greece on its debtBRUSSELS (ANA/M. Spinthourakis) - The Eurozone must take "balanced decisions" on the issue of Greece's public debt, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said as he left the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Sapin said Greece has promoted to a large extend the reforms in pledged to complete and therefore the Eurozone must fulfill its commitments concerning the debt.
Asked about the recent government reshuffle in Greece, the French official said it was seen as a sign of Greece's political will to promote the reforms needed.
 Moscovici announces visit to Athens, urges 'comprehensive agreement' including Greek debtBRUSSELS (ANA/ C. Vasilaki)
Arriving for a Eurogroup meeting on Monday, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici announced that he will visit Athens before the end of November, in order to "ensure that we have success in our collective discussions" to conclude the second review of the Greek bailout programme.
Moscovici went on to express hope that the Eurogroup will arrive at a comprehensive agreement that includes decisions on the sustainability of Greece debt before the end of the year, in addition to the second review.
The Commissioner said that he will brief Monday's Eurogroup on the progress of the talks in Athens following the first round of talks between Greek authorities and the missions from the institutions. He noted that there was significant progress, which was encouraging for a quick conclusion of the second review.
"Now that the Greek authorities are undertaking their responsibilities, it is important that Greece's partners do the same," the Commissioner added. He pointed out that the Eurogroup's decision last May included a commitment to discuss the Greek debt before the end of the year. This could be done at the Eurogroup meeting in December, he said.
"We need a comprehensive agreement that will include the reforms that are already being implemented, the recovery that is on the way and the debt. I hope that all this will be discussed before the end of the year," he added.
Questioned about the recent government reshuffle in Greece, Moscovici said he was happy that Euclid Tsakalotos remained in the finance ministry, saying he was a "very credible and positive interlocutor". He said he will meet the new members of the Greek government in Athens, expressing his conviction that the good cooperation will continue.
 Dijsselbloem: 'Specific clarity' on medium-term measures for Greek debt not possible nowBRUSSELS (ANA/ M. Aroni)
Greece needs to make as much progress as possible on reforms so that the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) participation in the programme can be decided before the end of the year, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said as he arrived for Monday's Eurogroup meeting in Brussels. He also noted that medium-term measures for Greece's debt could not be made specific at present, adding that this was a conversation that could be picked up after the next Eurogroup on December 5.
"For the 5th of December I think it is important to make as much progress as possible so that the IMF has as much clarity as possible on a number of reforms, on the fiscal trajectory for the coming years. And, of course, the next step will be for the IMF to go to their board before the end of the year. That is my purpose for the 5th of December," he said.
The IMF had promised to go to its board within the current year as part of the agreement reached last May, when the Eurogroup had indicated its readiness to do more in terms of debt relief for Greece and listed a number of options, Dijsselbloem noted. "On that basis the IMF said they are prepared to go to the board before the end of the year," he added.
At the same time, he ruled out any further commitment on possible medium-term measures for Greek debt for the present. The May agreement had listed a number of possible measures for the medium term but the extent to which they will be necessary was impossible to determine right now, he said.
"It depends what happens between now and the second half of 2018 in terms of economic growth, inflation, and of course the commitment from the Greek government. So that kind of specific clarity on what is actually in the medium-term package is impossible to give. And that was also understood by the IMF in May, when we said that we can only put a figure on it when we are in the second half of 2018," Dijsselbloem said.
Asked whether an agreement on Greece can be ready by the next Eurogroup meeting, he declined to give a firm reply, noting that the institutions had yet to brief the Eurogroup on the progress made so far.
"As you know, they are in the second review; a number of reforms are part of that second review, so I will hear today how much progress there is and then - maybe - I will be able to answer your question about whether we will be ready on the 5th," he said.
 Second review of Greek programme 'broadly on track,' EC Vice President Dombrovskis saysBRUSSELS (ANA/M. Aroni)
The second review of Greece's programme was "broadly on track," European Commission Vice President in charge of the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis said in a doorstep statement, as he arrived for a Eurogroup meeting on Monday.
"As regards Greece's fiscal performance, we see that they are likely to meet this year's fiscal targets and also the preparation for next year's budget shows that the primary surplus target as outlined in the MoU, or 1.75 pct of GDP, is within reach," he said.
Asked about the possibility of a commitment on medium-term debt relief for Greece before the end of the year, Dombrovskis confirmed that there will be a discussion on debt measures but concentrated primarily on short-term measures.
"Already in May, the Eurogroup discussed medium- and long-term measures but there, I would emphasise once again, the European Commission is not Greece's creditor. It is other Euro area countries, so it is for them to decide on those measures," he said, adding that the European Commission will seek to facilitate this agreement.
Dombrovskis said the Eurogroup meeting will also discuss the technical assistance that European structural reform support services have provided Greece, which covers almost all areas in the bailout memorandum, including the energy sector and improved tax collection.
 Dragasakis discusses second review, debt relief with U.S. ambassadorDevelopments in the ongoing negotiations with the institutions and Greece's debt was discussed during a meeting between Government vice-president Yiannis Dragasakis and the U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt on Monday, eight days before a scheduled visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Athens.
According to Dragasakis, the Greek government aims to conclude the second program review within the official timeframe, initiate measures that will alleviate public debt and add Greece's bonds in the European Central Bank's (ECB) quantitative easing program, so that it could hope to tap the markets in 2017.
He also noted other government priorities such as economic development, boosting employment and attracting investments.
 No time to waste, says newly appointed Interior Min. SkourletisThere is not time to waste...our government struggles with the problems, we have told the truth to the Greek people, said new Interior Minister Panos Skourletis during the handing over ceremony at the Interior Ministry on Monday.
Referring to the local administration he said that it should be a popular autonomous participatory institution with more democracy which should liberate the social forces, said Skourletis.
"We are called to solve the difficult equation, the security bodies to do their job and to respect the citizens' rights".
On his part former Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis referred to the ministry's legislative initiatives with aim the gradual fiscal restoration of the local authorities "We hand you over eight draft laws and a USB" he said and made a special reference to the Interior Ministry's efforts and the deliberations with all the mayors of the country adding over 300 million euros were secured for the municipalities overdue debts.
 We won the battle for ADMIE public networks, says outgoing Energy Min SkourletisWe have done a very serious job in the last 13 months but some really important issues were not promoted by the media. We were attacked by forces from inside and outside the country, stated Panos Skourletis handing over the Energy and Environment Ministry to George Stathakis.
We managed, although we did not implement a policy that was not ours, to put our own mark, said Skourletis adding that "We were consistent to our 2015 programme engagements. I believe we won one of the largest political battles. The battle for the public networks of Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) which is now a point of reference in all Europe."
We remained stable to what we said. "We cancelled the plan for a small PPC and secured 1 bln euros of extraordinary liquidity for PPC in 2017, said Skourletis and asked 17 pct of PPC to not be sold.
On his part, the new Energy Minister said "my job is easier because my predecessor is Panos Skourletis" adding that the solid bases are a strong legacy to continue adding that "energy is an extremely important issue for the Greek economy."
 Communications sector can become the engine of growth, State Min Pappas saysThe communications sector can become the engine of growth, the newly appointed Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Minister Nikos Pappas said on Monday.
"The previous governments did not take advantage of the country's comparative advantage, its geographical position and its impressive human resources," Pappas underlined.
"Greece can become a hub of trade and communications," he stressed and added "we are ready to give a battle. I think that the country needs to get on track for technological revolution."
 New Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas takes over Telecoms and Post portfolioThe head of the newly-formed Ministry of Digital Policy, Media and Telecommunications, Nikos Pappas, on Monday took over the Telecommunications and Post portfolio from fellow cabinet minister Christos Spirtzis, who retains the Infrastructure and Transport portfolios.
Spirtzis noted that the transfer of the telecommunications and post secretariat "will mark the transition from the recessionary period we are experiencing to times of growth."
Pappas said it was crucial to make a fundamental change, giving priority to the coordination and unification of digital and telecommunications policy, "which we believe will be the driver of new growth, which will make the country a leading player and more democratic."
If Greece was able to overcome the obstacles, he added, it would open up the information "superhighway" for all Greeks, since everyone had a right to equal and unobstructed access to information. He also criticised previous governments for failing to exploit the comparative advantages offered by Greece's geographic location and its "enviable human resources". Greece was capable of becoming a trade and telecommunications hub, he added, but needed modern, reliable and extensive networks to achieve this.
Commenting on the recent reshuffle, Pappas rejected opposition criticism as self-contradictory "but fully compatible with the opposition parties' discredited theory that it was pointless and impossible to negotiate [with the creditors]. This theory was also the policy they followed, for as long as they governed the country during the years of crisis."
"We have a government that can lead the country in the next steps and, as the prime minister said, it is now time for the other side in the negotiations to do what they must on the basis of the commitments they have undertaken." Disagreements between the creditors should not be allowed to delay Greece's absolutely attainable and necessary leap forward to growth, he added.
 Top priority to tax evasion and illegal trade, new Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou saysTaking over from former Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis on Monday, newly appointed Deputy Finance Minister Katerina Papanatsiou said her priorities will be action against tax evasion and illegal trade, legislation to promote electronic over cash transactions and voluntary disclosure of income.
According to the new deputy minister, her main goal will be the implementation of policies that improve people's daily lives.
She praised the work of her predecessor and said she will continue to build upon it in the above areas.
Alexiadis, referring to his time at the ministry, particularly focused on the success in generating public revenues that were higher than the 2016 budget targets by 2.3 billion euros, noting that this was a feat unprecedented in the ministry's chronicles.
 Gerovassiili stresses importance of administrative reforms that will serve the citizensThe government has a targeted policy, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said on Monday taking over the Administrative Reforms Ministry.
She also referred to the mistakes of the past and the policies followed that caused a bureaucratic public sector far from serving the citizen. She stresed the importance of administrative reform with employees that will stand next to the citizen. The new minister reiterated her respect to the public sector employees adding that she will proceed to any changes with meritocracy and transparency.
 We have a three-year plan, says new Education Minister GavroglouThere is a very complicated issue that we must discuss with the institutions in order to see what will happen with the teachers' appointments and the increase of the funding for Education, said newly appointed Education Minister Costas Gavroglou speaking to Athens Macedonian News Agency "Praktoreio 104.9FM" on Monday.
"We have a three-year plan; I had the opportunity to participate in the negotiations with the institutions on education issues from last October, and we are well on course towards the drawing of the a three-year plan on which we will proceed and clarified that the specific plan will be issued in approximately 10 days.
Referring to every day problems in education he underlined: "Our first priority is to support the special education, to upgrade that last two years of high schools which are very problematic and to support the all-day school in order to facilitate the families and to make the young people to love school and what it represents."
 When the Church asks and achieves the removal of a minister then things are difficult, says outgoing Education Min FilisThe question for my removal bothers every democratic citizen, stated outgoing Education Minister Nikos Filis during the handing over ceremony at the Education Minister. He said that the prime minister did not point out any problems in the operation of the Education Ministry, however "the excellent mark in one and half month was turned into a non-passing grade" he said adding that "these questions do not have a convincing explanation and the proposal for change of environment can't be accepted".
We worked hard in the last 13 months and now its time to leave...in a few months, despite the harsh austerity, we proceed to the school of quality," he added and urged the new authority to embrace the ministry's programme for the children refugees.
"Filis accused the opposition parties that they instigated his removal adding that when the church asks and achieves the removal of a minister then things are very difficult". He noted that the church's stance against him is indicative of the need to redefine the relations between the church and the state ahead of the constitiution review.
Filis accused the leadership of Church of Greece for a change of stance in a series of matters and the adoption of an agenda that sends the country to the past and calls into question the political system.
 Handing-over ceremony at the Justice MinistryThe ministry's work as I perceived it refers to the production of legislation, justice and human rights, noted outgoing Nikos Paraskevopoulos during the handing over ceremony at the Justice Ministry on Monday.
"The ministry does not intervene in justice. Whatever slight intervention is that provided by the Constitution," said Paraskevopoulos noting that "Justice is extremely important on matters of economic growth and recession and presented in detail the legislative initiatives and his work in the ministry.
"It is very important and a huge responsibility to receive the Justice Ministry from Nikos Paraskevopoulos," stated newly appointed minister Stavros Kontonis noting that he will continue his predecessor's work.
Kontonis thanked prime minister Alexis Tsipras for the confidence in him and noted: "According to the prime minister's orders we must complete the second review of the Greek programme" adding that "the Justice Ministry was a very productive ministry, and after closing the second review, the ministry will focus on the acceleration of the court decisions and thanked the Greek judges we can't talk about social peace when a large number of cases are still pending."
 The aim is enforcement of legality in labour market, new Labour Min Achtsioglou saysThe big wager is the enforcement of legality in the labour market, the newly appointed Labour Minister Efi Achtsioglou said on Monday.
She also underlined that the social security issue closed in the first review.
 New culture minister notes need to link culture with 'education, tourism and gentler forms of productivity'Greece's new Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou took over from outgoing minister Aristidis Baltas on Monday, in a handover ceremony at the culture ministry.
"After the great work done here I will short, since it is best if one speaks with actions rather than words," the new minister said after her predecessor had outlined the achievements of his term at the ministry.
She said that all sides must rally together at this crucial time for the country, noting a need to link culture with education, tourism and gentler forms of productivity.
"We must encourage productivity, the first-rate products and capabilities of our country, through a healthy entrepreneurship and a philosophy of sustainable growth, because the memory and unique beauty of this country must be preserved," Koniordou said.
She promised that the doors of the ministry will always be open to archaeologists, artists, writers and other persons of the arts and letters, helping them to bring their work to the world.
 'My departure is not voluntary,' outgoing shipping minister Thodoris Dritsas saysThe new Shipping and Island Policy Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis on Monday took over from his predecessor Thodoris Dritsas in an emotionally-charged handover ceremony at the ministry building in Piraeus, following the government reshuffle late on Friday.
"My departure is not voluntary, as some press reports wrote, though I knew every moment that I worked at this ministry that could be the last," Dritsas said, confining his speech to pending issues that still remained to be completed.
The new minister called for a "democratic patriotism, free of chauvinism and nationalism" and urged the leadership of the coast guard, shipping unions and seamens to work together to enhance transparency and meritocracy.
The new deputy minister Nektarios Sandorinios praised the hallmarks of "realistic governance" of the outgoing minister and said he will try to move along the same lines, while highlighting the special requirements of the ministry and the need for action to alleviate the negative repercussions of islandness.
 Tsironis, Kokkalis take up posts at Rural Development and Foods ministryProtecting the environment pays and giving Greek agricultural activity this hallmark will make the country's unique, high-quality products famous throughout the world, the new Alternate Rural Development and Foods Minister Yiannis Tsironis said on Monday, at the handover ceremony from his predecessor Markos Bolaris at the Rural Development and Foods Ministry.
A good ecological footprint could help Greek agriculture take off, he said.
The new deputy minister Vassilis Kokkalis, on his part, promised to continue the good work carried out by Bolaris and the minister, Vangelis Apostolou, who is staying on at the ministry's helm.
"When young people return to the land, it will mean we have exited the crisis," he said.
 New government spokesman's first press briefing to take place on TuesdayThe new government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos will conduct the first press briefing for accredited journalists on Tuesday at 12:30, at the Secretariat General for Information and Communication.
 Technical-level talks to continue on issues relating to the health ministry on WednesdayGovernment officials and the technical teams of the institutions will discuss issues relating to the Health ministry during their meeting in Athens on Wednesday, at 15:00.
Talks between the two sides are continuing on a technical level as the mission chiefs are expected to return to Athens on November 14.
 Special secretary of Labour Inspectorate resignsThe Labour Inspectorate's special secretary Yiannis Soukos submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday saying he could no longer stay in his post given the "emerging conditions at the labour ministry".
"Our work has won the favourable comments of the International Labour Organisation and the respect for institutions, which have slowly started to realize that the problem of undeclared work cannot be solved with witch hunts, heavy fines and legislative intimidation and threats," Soukos said of his time at the Labour Inspectorate.
"However, with the emerging conditions at the labour ministry I believe, being fully self-aware, that my time is now over," he added.
Soukos was appointed special secretary on August 2015.
 Nothing will change with the new government, ND spokesman Koumoutsakos tells ANA"Nothing will change with the new government," main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos on Monday said to statements to Athens-Macedonian News Agency's radio station Praktorio 104.9 FM.
"When someone talks about investments in a country that is struggling to remain in the eurozone [...], he should clarify whether he thinks or does not think or has renounced everything he said about the possibility of a parallel currency," Koumoutsakos said commenting on the statements of the newly appointed Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou.
"Papadimitriou has to prove a lot because in the past he said things similar to Varoufakis," he added.
Referring to the appointment of Nikos Pappas to the Ministry of Digital Policy, he said that contrary to his depreciation in the public opinion, he is rewarded with a ministry and increased responsibilities."
"What it remains to be seen is whether the minister can listen to the society and how committed he is towards certain people," he noted.
On the TV licences, he stressed that the position of New Democracy is clear and will not change.
 ND accuses government of tolerating lawlessness after rioting outside the PolytechnicNew Democracy accused the government of "tolerating violence and lawlessness" after the riots that took place in the streets outside and near the Athens Polytechnic University which had been closed for several hours.
"All that is taking place with the 'known-unknown' individuals outside the Polytechnic reveal the government's tolerance for violence and lawlessness," the party said.
"The -euphemistically called - civil protection minister must take responsibility before it is too late. Respect of the laws, which will be an immediate priority for the future government of New Democracy, cannot be scorned by anyone," it added.
 Rapid completion of second review means firm and without delay implementation of antipopular reforms, says KKEThe target of the rapid completion of the second review of the Greek programme set by Prime minister Alexis Tsipras and the new Cabinet means the firm and without delay implementation of all the antipopular reforms and reversals in the labour rights that are provided for by the third memorandum" says Communist Party (KKE) in an announcement on Monday.
"This goal with which main opposition New Democracy agrees and the other parties-partners of the 3rd memorandum is not the people's but the capital's aim which will be the only that will benefit by whatever growth and whatever investments advertises the government" concludes KKE.
 FM Kotzias to visit Lebanon with Cypriot and Bulgarian counterparts on TuesdayForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias is due in Beirut on Tuesday, where he will carry out a two-day joint visit with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov. The visit by the three ministers is intended to convey a message of European solidarity with Lebanon at a crucial time for the country, which marks the end of a serious institutional crisis lasting more than two years.
The recent election of Lebanese President Michel Aoun now creates the right conditions for the start of constructive dialogue and stability in Lebanon, a country that Kotzias has always stressed is a key to stability for the Middle East. The Greek minister has said that Lebanon, like Jordan, must be supported financially to help it cope with the burden of refugees, noting that Lebanon hosts the highest percentage of refugees as a proportion of its population and serves as a model for plurality.
The decision for a joint visit by the three ministers was made at the Rhodes Conference on Security and Stability in September.
 EU Commission supports negotiations on Cyprus, its spokesman Schinas saysBRUSSELS (ANA/Ch. Vassilaki)
The European Commission fully supports the negotiations on the Cyprus issue that start on Monday in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, its spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
The negotiations will take place between Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
"The European Commission supports the negotiations at political and technical level and welcomes the progress and the efforts made within that framework," Schinas said.
Referring to the negotiations in Switzerland, he said that the Commission is "ready" to practically contribute to the discussions if need be.
Asked on the developments in Turkey, Schinas said that the College of Commissioners will convene on Wednesday to adopt the annual reports of the Commission for EU enlargement, including the one concerning Turkey.
 U.S. ambassador speaks of the 'privilege to vote' during tour at Athenian StoaU.S. Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, noted the importance of voting in a democratic society and Greece's resilience through the centuries during a visit at the Athenian Stoa in the center of Ancient Athens, one day before the American elections.
"The experience of Greece over the last few years has a lesson for all of us. Greece has faced enormous challenges, but the democratic institutions of this country have functioned without interruption. And that's something that's worth remembering. To me, this shows both the remarkable resilience of the Greek people, but it also demonstrates the enduring power of democracy," Pyatt said, according to a press release by the U.S. embassy.
The ambassador received a tour of the Ancient Agora site by Dr. Kevin Daly of the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (ASCSA). Dr. Daly briefed the Ambassador on the role of the ancient Athenian Agora, the center of the ancient city, where citizens would assemble to cast their ballots for elections on many issues.
"As we exercise our right and privilege as American citizens to vote, we remember that participating in an election is a tremendous opportunity that should not be taken for granted," he said and continued, "although it might seem like a simple process - dropping a bronze ballot or a piece of paper in a box - it is critically important. It is inspiring to be standing at one of the original ballot boxes where the world's earliest votes were cast."
 Attracting investments tops the agenda of Economy ministryAttracting investments from Greece and abroad tops the agenda of the new political leadership of the Economy ministry.
Following Friday's government reshuffle, new Economy Minister is Dimitris Papadimitriou, Alternate Economy Minister Alexis Charitsis and Deputy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas.
"We will focus on attracting investments in the framework of the euro and the confidence in the European institutions," Papadimitriou underlined adding that "Greece, as a eurozone member, offers to potential investors monetary stability, security of democratic institutions and a high scientific potential level."
"We are ready to start the hard work," he stressed adding that this work will be based on solid foundations set during former Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis' tenure.
The minister also referred to other sectors that Greece can offer competitive advantages to prospective investors, for example the pharmaceutical industry, energy, rural tourism, medical and cultural tourism and others.
 OECD unveils tools for Greek economic growthLifting many of the regulations stifling business competition in Greece would benefit both consumers, through lower prices, and firms, via higher turnover, according to the OECD.
In its Competition Assessment of Greece, released on Monday, the OECD estimates that easing restrictions identified in a number of sectors would have a positive impact on the Greek economy of around 414 million euros.
Barriers to competition can discourage new firms from entering markets, hampering innovation and efficiency. They result in high prices in the shops, low investment and fewer jobs.
"Enhancing competition is critical to Greece's prosperity," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr?a says in his introduction to the report. "Implementing its recommendations would help reform efforts aimed at getting the economy back on to a sustainable growth path."
The report is the culmination of the Competition Assessment Project, an independent study requested by the Greek government and supported by the European Commission and Hellenic Competition Commission. The latest assessment is the third undertaken by the OECD and covers five sectors: e-commerce; construction; media; wholesale trade and a number of manufacturing sub-sectors such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Together they represent 11.2 pct of Greece's GDP and 16.7 pct of Greek employment.
The report identifies 356 regulatory barriers, including those the government has already started to repeal. Among the OECD's recommendations are the following:
Abolish barriers to entry such as those included in the strict licensing requirements in the wholesale trade of fuel. Encourage more competition among wholesalers by reviewing regulation of exclusive contracts between fuel wholesalers and retailers to ensure their duration cannot be extended beyond their legal terms.
Bidders should be able to tender irrespective of their classification within the registries, provided they satisfy the criteria described in the call for tenders.
Simplifying, streamlining and codifying consumer-protection legislation will remove legal uncertainty and compliance costs; better serve e-commerce providers, who rely on automated and standardised processes; level the playing field with foreign providers; and boost consumer confidence in making online purchases - and so remove impediments to growth in the sector.
The regulations governing radio stations should be clarified while more flexibility should be introduced with regard to licence fees, corporate structure and cross-ownership rules governing Pay TV. The definition of independent audio-visual producers should be reviewed in line with the relevant EU Directive.
Rules should be amended to ensure generics can be even cheaper than under current rules. This would allow more room for competition and further market penetration by generic drugs.
The report says OECD studies have shown that industries in which there is greater competition generally experience faster productivity growth. The benefits of competition include lower consumer prices, greater consumer choice, a higher quality of products and services, more job creation and greater investment in innovation.
Improving business competition is one of a number of areas where the OECD is cooperating with the Greek government in the design and implementation of reforms to boost inclusive growth and improve well-being. The work follows the cooperation agreement signed in March 2015 by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr?a.
Greek government economic team officials told ANA that 10 pct of OECD recommendations referred to antiquated regulations, not valid any more, causing legal uncertainty and stressed that the government has adopted around one-third of the new recommendations.
The officials said this adjustment included five measures to protect consumers (two-year warranty for each purchase, clarifying consumers' rights, modernizing a regulatory framework in commerce, allowing the operation of more than one wholesale markets and maintaining a 15 pct cut on maximum discount on generic medicines.
The government has also adopted five measures to support producers and investors, such as opening up petrol supplies in petrol stations, further deregulating wholesale trade in fuel, reducing bureaucracy in opening coffee/restaurant shops, easier transformation of companies and modernizing a regulatory framework for trade fairs.
 SEV proposals to facilitate entrepreneurshipThe Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) asked the Finance ministry for a reduction in transaction times between enterprises and the state, a further automation of procedures and creating additional support structures
The meeting, between secretary-general of Commerce and Consumer Protection, Antonis Papaderakis and SEV representatives, reaffirmed a wide consensus over the tools to be used to facilitate healthy enterpreneurship and competiti-veness.
Papaderakis stressed that the political leadership's permanent goal was to facilitate enterprises in their transactions with the state, e-services and accelerating procedures to promote new structures.
SEV representatives presented the Federation's positions on the need for further simplify procedures related with the life cycle of an enterprises (set up, operation, termination), the role of the business world in improving economic environment and hurdles still remaining.
 HFSF fails to elect new NBG chairman; new meeting on TuesdayA meeting of the general council of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) on the election of a new president for the National Bank of Greece (NBG) was completed on Monday evening without reaching a result.
HFSF will meet again on Tuesday to discuss the same issue.
 Greek Travel Show to be held on May 19-21The Greek Travel Show will be held for the first time, from May 19 to May 21, 2017, at Helexpo Maroussi.
The aim of the Greek Travel Show is to give the opportunity to tourism businesses and operators to showcase their products and services, make direct sales, but also to inform potential travelers, shortly before the start of the tourist season, on tourist packages and attractive price offers. Another target of TIF-Helexpo is to get together all 13 regions of the Greek territory. The Greek Travel Show will be accompanied by a rich entertainment programme. Visitors will also have the chance to win air tickets, free hotel accommodation and many other gifts.
Among the exhibitors will be tourist offices, hotels, municipalities, regions, state tourism organizations, airlines, shipping companies, publishing houses, tourism schools, campings, businesses, apartment rental business , car rentals, excursion clubs, touring clubs, companies and passenger ships associations, ministries and agencies, banks, museums, caves, casinos, spas, ski resorts, tourist guides associations, online booking companies and others.
 Greece can play leading role in provision of services2017 will be the year during which growth will be gradually achieved through the promotion and better interconnection of tourism with other sectors of the Greek economy, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Andreas Andreadis said on the occasion of thee World Travel Market 2016 held in London.
"Greek tourism can affect the primary sector, manufacture, construction and industry, further increasing the benefits for local economies, societies, and employment. Based on Greek tourism, Greece can play a leading role internationally in the provision of services," he underlined.
As regards the first available data for bookings from Britain in 2017, Andreadis said that they are single-digit positive adding that this represents a small only sample of the British market.
"It is imperative to find the right balance for the immediate restoration of the competitiveness of the Greek tourism product through the reduction of overtaxation, the regulation of short-term lease market, boosting investment interest, finding a solution for the management of non-performing loans and restoring liquidity at a reasonable cost," he said.
 WTM: The present and the future of tourist industryThe World Travel Market opened its doors on on Sunday in London.
More than 80 conference seminars take place throughout the three days, covering all key sectors, including aviation, hotels, sports, tourism, responsible tourism, blogging, social media, and travel technology. More than 18,000 attendees are expected at the conference sessions, including 9,000 unique delegates, and more than 38 travel industry sectors represented at WTM London.
Special emphasis will be given on the summit of Tourism Ministers to be held on Wednesday. The summit will focus on the new trends of travelling at a global level.
The region of southern Aegean participates with it own pavilion at the International Tourist Exhibition World Travel Market.
 27th 'Greek Economy' conference to be held on Nov. 28-29The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual "The Greek Economy" conference titled "Greece and the Global Disruptive Environment: A look into the future" on November 28-29, at the Intercontinental Hotel.
This year's conference will discuss Greece's debt, economic performance, growth and jobs, banking and financial services, digital disruption, tourism, energy, public administration and entrepreneurship.
Ministers, members of parliament, CEO's, managers, opinion leaders and other distinguished guest speakers are expected to present their views at the event. According to the Chamber, this year's event is part of its wider framework of actions relating to the proclamation of the year 2016 as the year of "Development and Employment".
 National Bank sign agreement with China Union PayNational Bank on Monday announced the signing of an agreement with China Union Pay (CUP) in the framework of a strategy to expand and strengthen acceptance and clearing services in payment cards.
The partnership agreement will allow, in a short period of time, card holders of the international brand China Union Pay to make transactions in the network of traders associated with National Bank and use the bank's ATM network in Greece.
The agreement was signed by Mr ShiWenchao, chairman of China Union Pay and Leonidas Fragiadakis, chief executive of National Bank.
China Union Pay cards are currently accepted in 160 countries around the world with more than 36 million enterprises and 2.0 million ATMs.
 Piraeus Bank receives environmental awardPiraeus Bank was named on of the four best enterprises in the "Management" category among 180 organizations in the European Enterprise Awards on Environment.
The award ceremony was held in Talinn, Estonia, October 27, and the award was received by Prokopis Gavriil, Environmental Management Manager in Piraeus Bank Group.
With the project "The Expandability of a Robust Certified EMS - the Case of Piraeus Bank" for the developoment, structure and operation of a Environmental Management System, Piraeus Bank ranked among the top four organizations in Europe.
Vrasidas Zavras, managing director, commenting on the award said: "Piraeus Bank's commitment in reducing its environ-mental print is timeless. Thanks to a Environmental Management System we have reduced since 2008 consumption of electricity energy and CO2 emissions by 30 pct per workers, saving at least 5.0 million euros in operating expenses annually".
 SAP launches its first global data science delivery hub in AthensA decision by SAP to set up its first global data science delivery hub in Athens is a vote of confidence in the country's high-added-value human resources in the IT sector, Andreas Xirokostas, SAP's country manager for Greece, Cyprus and Malta said on Monday.
Xirokostas said the role of the new hub will not cover just the domestic and wider geographical region and that he was optimistic that this move would be the start of a further expansion of SAP's activities in Greece.
The benefits from transforming data into value were not confined to large enterprises but also extended to smaller companies and state agencies as well, Xirokostas said, adding that domestic investments in exploiting such possibilities were smaller compared with other countries in the developed world. He highlighted the great value of data exploitation and stressed that these technologies could bring immediate results in efforts to combat tax evasion.
SAP's new hub in Athens has an open line with Greek universities to examine ways of cooperating in the research and practice sectors and has already been incorporated into two large pilot projects in Europe.
The Big Data sector is one of the main trends in digital technology worldwide.
 Aegean Oil signs supply contract with SPIECAPAG-AKTORAegean Oil signed a partnership agreement with the SPIECAPAG-AKTOR consortium for the supply with fuel the Trans Adriatic Pipeline - TAP project.
Under the agreement, Aegean Oil will supply fuel for the next two years all work sites and vehicles to be used in the construction of the pipeline project undertaken by the SPIECAPAG-AKTOR consortium.
During the signing ceremony, held in Alexandroupolis, Jean-Paul Chauvin, SPIECAPAG manager, and Antonis Papadakis, deputy CEO in Aegean Oil, expressed their mutual satisfaction over the two companies' partnership.
 Conference on invention in agriculture and food sectorsThe Organization for Industrial Ownership (OBI) in cooperation with the European Patent Academy (EPO), will organize a conference on "Invention in the fields of Agriculture and Food: The road to the market" in Athens, November 10-11.
Experts will address the conference on all aspects covering strategies of industrial ownership by European and Greek enterprises in the sector of agricultural products and foods on a global level.
The conference will offer information on patent preconditions and will present the latest research results over intellectual ownership in agriculture and food sectors and protection of innovation in these sectors.
 Media Strom launches new product seriesMedia Strom, the number one mattress and sleep product company in Greece, begins a new era, full of renewal and fresh image. The company introduces a new corporate brand, new ad campaign and new series of mattresses, focusing on innovation and quality, credibility and modernity.
The upgrading of corporate branding was implemented by Brandexcel. Through its new communication strategy, Media Strom focuses on the importance of good sleep and to its benefits in health, beauty and wellness.
Design and production of new Media Strom's new product series was implemented through exclusive cooperation with international firms in Europe and the US based on scientific research results.
 Foreign investors raise participation in ASE cap in OctoberForeign investors raised their participation in the capitalisation of the Athens Stock Exchange in October to 60.5 pct - including the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund - from 59.5 pct a month earlier. Excluding the participation of HFSF, their share grew to 62.7 pct from 61.8 pct in September. Foreign investors' participation in October 2015 was 51.8 pct (56.8 pct excluding HFSF).
Greek investors held 39.5 pct of the market's capitalisation. Foreign investors were net buyers with capital inflows of 299.57 million euros.
Foreign investors accounted for 48.8 pct of market transactions in October, down from 62.3 pct in September and 58.6 pct in October 2015.
The value of transactions totaled 911.59 million euros in October, up 10.4 pct from September and up 16.5 pct from October last year. Average daily turnover was 45.58 million euros, up from 37.54 million in September and 37.25 million in October 2015.
The number of active investor codes was 12,217 in October, from 12,844 in September and 16,715 in October last year. The market's capitalisation was 36.09 billion euros at the end of October, up from 34.38 billion in September and 33 billion euros in October last year.
 Greek stocks end 1.16 pct higherGreek stocks rebounded in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, after last week's decline which pushed the composite index of the market 2.91 pct lower. Bank shares were at the focus of buying interest. The composite index rose 1.16 pct to end at 580.57 points, off the day's highs of 584.80 points. The Large Cap index rose 1.40 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 1.16 pct. Turnover was an improved 39.986 million euros in volume of 60,851,283 shares.
Piraeus Bank (6.47 pct), Alpha Bank (4.79 pct) and Jumbo (3.74 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Coca Cola HBC (0.82 pct), Metka (0.78 pct) and Titan (0.71 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Chemicals (5.71 pct), Banks (3.96 pct) and Personal Products (3.37 pct) scored big gains, while Food (0.82 pct) and Raw Materials (0.20 pct) suffered losses.
National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 56 to 34 with another 25 issues unchanged. Elinoil (29.68 pct), Athina (17.65 pct) and Boutaris (15.79 pct) were top gainers, while ANEK (9.84 pct), Mermeren (8.33 pct) and Papoutsanis (6.98 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond yields fall significantlyGreek state bond yields shrank significantly on Monday as market sentiment improved further after a government reshuffle on Friday and the prime minister's comments about a swift completion of a second review of the Greek programme, Reuters said.
The two-year bond yield fell to a record low of 4.76 pct, according to figures released by Tradeweb, with the 10-year Greek bond yield falling 36 basis points to 7.625 pct, the lowest level in five months, while five-year bond yields fell around 40 basis points.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds continued shrinking in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, falling to 7.42 pct from 7.66 pct on Friday. The Greek bond yielded 7.56 pct and the German Bund yielded 0.14 pct. Turnover was a strong 8.0 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly up. The 12-month rate rose to -0.070 pct from -0.072 pct, the nine-month rate rose to -0.130 pct from -0.132 pct, the six-month rate rose to -0.211 pct from -0.214 pct, the three-month rate was -0.312 pct and the one-month rate rose to -0.373 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.06 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,709 contracts with 7,225 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 56,559 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (17,257), followed by Alpha Bank (5,575), National Bank (15,124), Eurobank (8,613), MIG (7,806), OTE (347), PPC (700), OPAP (520), Mytilineos (198), Ellaktor (86), Viohalco (81), Intralot (43), GEK Terna (45) and Metka (28).
 34rd Athens Marathon on November 13The Athens Marathon will be held on Sunday November 13, 2016.
Apart from the authentic Marathon race (42,195 m.), the event also includes a 5 and 10km Road Race. This year approximately 50,000 runners from 100 countries are expected to participate.
Several parallel events organised by SEGAS will be held four days prior to the Athens Marathon, the most important among them being the Marathon Expo and the Marathon Flame Ceremony in the archaeological site of the Marathon Tomb.
"It showcases the strength of human will; it is a fountain of values, of social liability, environmental sensitivity, friendship and solidarity," Kostas Panagopoulos, SEGAS President, said.
"In 2016, we are celebrating the 34th anniversary of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic Marathon, and we hope that our strong efforts along with your presence and participation in the race will turn this year's event into a milestone for the years to come," he added.
 Condemned leader of 17N says group members are still at largeCondemned as leader of the terror group 17 November Alekos Giotopoulos claims that there are still members of the terror group that remain at large. In a letter that appears in the newspaper Ethnos he claims that important evidence that existed in two safehouses of the group dissappeared.
In his letter, Giotopoulos says that in July 2002 when the safehouses with weapons in the Athens discrits of Patissia and Vyronas were found, the gun-mark which burnt, as he claims, a specific person was not found. He also said that manuscripts which indicated the involvement of eight person that belonged to the operational core of 17N also dissappeared.
Finally, Giotopoulos claims that he decided to write this letter expecting three more months an answer to his second application for release which he submitted in March 2016.
 Migrants and refugees on Greek islands exceed 12,000Migrants and refugees that are hosted on the northern Aegean islands exceeded, for the first time, 12,000 on Monday.
5,499 persons were recorded on Lesvos, 4,210 on Chios and 2,316 on Samos totalling 12,025.
45 refugees and migrants arrived on Lesvos in the last 48 hours, 56 on Chios while no arrivals were recorded on Samos.
 Police reopen Patission avenue following riots outside the Athens PolytechnicPolice reopened Patission Avenue near the Athens Polytechnic University which had been closed for several hours due to riots caused by youths earlier on Monday.
The rioters set rubbish bins on fire, ripped road signs, smashed traffic lights and threw stones, petrol bombs and other objects against the riot police deployed in the area to try to push them back.
 Rain on TuesdayRain and southerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Heavy rain in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 13C to 24C. Clouds and rain in the eastern parts with temperatures between 15C and 26C. Clouds with a chance of rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 17C-26C. Clouds and rain in Athens, 17C-25C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 15C-24C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Bow the head
ETNOS: Unarrested core of November 17
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Tsipras' panic over troika and SYRIZA
ESTIA: The cycle of deception closes
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Emergency landing in everyday life
KONTRA NEWS: Red loans on first homes to be cut
NAFTEMPORIKI: Double review
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 210 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 210 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: MICHALIS PSILOS