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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-11-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 25 November 2016 Issue No: 5297
 Kotzias reiterates Greece's support of Cyprus talks in call with EideForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias spoke with U.N. Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide on Thursday evening, to whom he reiterated Greece's support for the continuation of the negotiating process.
Kotzias said Greece seeks a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue and discussed with Eide the collapse of peace talks in Switzerland and the role of the U.N. in the process.
The foreign minister and the U.N. envoy agreed to meet after the latter's imminent return to Cyprus, a development for which Kotzias expressed the Greek government's satisfaction.
 Greek gov't determined to continue reforms, Stathakis saysA recovery trend of the economy is expected to be supported and enhanced through the inflow of investment funds and the Public Investment Program, improving liquidity conditions in the banking system and further restoring a climate of confidence, Environment and Energy Minister George Statha-kis said.
Addressing the first day of a two-day forum on energy, environment, entrepreneurship and innovation, organized by the Greek-French chamber of commerce and industry.
Stathakis said a smooth completion of a second review of the Greek program and implemeting agreed measures on debt relief were also significant and noted that the Greek side was determined to continue implementing a framework agreement and to promote the interventions and reforms needed by the economy.
"A Eurogroup meeting in December 5 is expected to discuss the immediate implementation of short-term measures on debt relief and to begin discussions on short-term interventions on Greek debt, thus paving the way for ECB to include Greek bonds in its QE program," the Greek minister said.
Stathakis said GDP data justified the most optimistic forecasts over the course of the Greek economy and noted that "GDP grew at the most significant rate recorded after the 2008 crisis on an annual basis". He stressed that behind a positive trend in the third quarter was a recovery in domestic demand, investments (up 7.0 pct) and exports which grew 16.6 pct in September. He added that applications in the framework of a new development law were expected to reach 1,000 by Christmas.
 'Everyone sees that Greece is recovering,' French Ambassador Chantepy tells ANAIn a hopeful note about the future prospects of the Greek economy, French Ambassador in Athens Christophe Chantepy on Thursday highlighted optimistic forecasts that economic recovery was around the corner, in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).
"Everyone sees that Greece is recovering. The government is implementing the prior actions under the third programme and the forecasts for Greece's recovery are especially good, with a growth rate of 2.7 pct in 2017 and 3.1 pct in 2018," he said. Chantepy was speaking on the sidelines of a forum on environment, energy, business and innovation organised by the French-Hellenic Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the French Institute of Greece.
Greece's fiscal targets will be achieved and lead to a "satisfactory" fiscal framework, Chantepy added.
"France has always supported Greece, from the start of the crisis, and especially in the summer of 2015, which was very crucial for the country," the ambassador noted, adding that French President Francois Hollande and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls had repeatedly expressed their support.
Chantepy also referred to relations between Greece and France and the need to develop closer cooperation in energy and innovation.
"France already invests signifcantly in Greece. More than 100 French firms are active in the country already and France is the second largest investor in Greece. We want this growth, since ...the environment and energy are sectors where there is huge growth potential, both for Greece and for France but also the rest of the world, as part of the creation of the new ecosystem that is arising as a result of the protection of the environment," he said.
The ambassador noted that the environment offered great opportunities for citizens and the economy to create new jobs, something that both Greece and France needed greatly.
Regarding the "innovation ecosystem" in Greece, the French ambassador said that this was among the best in Europe, even though few people were aware of this. "It is exceptionally important to develop relations between our countries in this field, since France puts emphasis on innovation, as does Greece," he added.
"We will try to get more than 80 representatives of the French innovation ecosystem in touch with their Greek equivalents, hoping to trigger a 'big bang' in the near future," Chantepy said.
On the future of the EU as a whole, the ambassador said there was every reason to be optimistic and again highlighted the young people, especially in France and Greece, involved in innovation, who should be helped to develop their ideas and projects.
"Year by year, Greece will recover and find a new path to growth, greatly reducing unemployment rates," he noted, while also pointing to the many opportunities for investment available for French businesses.
In opening remarks to the forum, Greece's Environment and Energy Minister George Stathakis said that Greece's goal was to attract investment plans with a positive environmental footprint. He underlined the Greek government's commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and its intention to undertake joint initiatives with France toward this goal.
Other joint actions now in the planning stage concerned water and waste management, Stathakis added, while the two sides were also promoting technical cooperation in the protection of coastal areas, forest management and the protection of national parks and protected areas.
A third area of joint cooperation between the two countries were investment plans for energy conservation and renewables, with emphasis on hybrid systems technology and storage for autonomous systems, the minister said. He noted that the goal was also to enhance collaboration between the research centres of the two countries, focusing on renewable energy.
Stathakis said the two countries were additionally working together on the production and transport of energy, with joint investment and business projects now maturing for the creation, extension and modernisation of energy networks, especially "smart networks" technology.
 'Juncker Plan' actions approved in Greece so far to lead to investments of 2.36 bln euros, European Commission saysBRUSSELS (ANA/ C. Vasilaki)
The projects approved by the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) in Greece so far are expected to lead to total investments of 2.36 billion euros, according to figures released on Thursday.
The European Investment Bank has so far approved nine projects as part of the Juncker Plan, for infrastructure development and agreements financing small and medium-sized businesses through intermediary organisations, with a total funding of 897 million euros. These projects are expected to yield total investments of 2.36 billion euros.
According to the European Commission, the EIB has approved six projects in Greece that include Creta Farms and Diorama Hellenic Growth Fund, who have received 824 million euros from the EFSI that are expected to result in investments of 1.9 billion euros.
The European Investment Fund has approved three agreements financing Greek SMEs with 73 million euros from the EFSI, which are expected to be leveraged to investments of 462 million euros and benefit 1,400 Greek businesses.
 Debate on 2017 State Budget starts at Parliament's Economic CommitteeThe debate on 2017 State Budget starts on Thursday at the Parliament's Standing Committee on Economic Affairs.
The state budget will be voted on Saturday, December 10, at the parliament plenum.
The State Budget will be discussed in four sessions while the debate in the plenum will start on Tuesday, December a6 nd will be concluded on Saturday with a roll-call vote.
 Budget execution depends on political will, parliamentary commission saysBudget execution and achieving its targets will depend on the will to implement reforms, Petros Kazakos, a member of the scientific commission of the Parliament's State Budget Office said on Thursday.
Speaking in Parliament, Kazakos said: "I have no doubt there is a clear political will, even through the budget, to successfully implement a third memorandum, the third adjustment program," adding that the successful execution of the budget will pave the way for an exit from the vicious circle of the past, a return to the markets, and a safeguard of liquidity for enterprises, "although we know that several of these actions envisaged in the budget could face hurdles".
Kazakos said that a forecast for a 27 pct growth rate was debatable and it depended on factors which were not certain that would be fulfilled, such as the completion of the second review that would pave the way for inclusion in the QE program, improving economic climate and lifting capital controls. "We hope that finally the second review will be completed and we will sail in calmer waters," he said.
Kazakos added that a 2.7 pct growth rate was based on an increase in private consumption, investments (expected to rise by 9.0 pct) and of course exports. "These forecasts are very favorable," he noted.
He also referred to external risks, such as the Brexit, heightening tension in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, and urged for a review of the tax policy mix. Commenting on a possible debt relief agreement, he said that such a deal could rapidly lift uncertainty.
 No planned meeting between Tsipras and Erdogan, government sources sayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras has not scheduled any meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, government sources said on Thursday, adding that the Greek government is examining the next steps.
"The Greek government is discussing and carefully examining the next steps. The issue is extremely delicate and requires extremely delicate handling. The priority is to continue the effort to resolve the problem through careful steps so that we have positive developments, which is what the Cypriot President is trying to do," the sources said, noting the government does not want to start a blame game.
The Cyprus issue is an international and not bilateral problem with Turkey, the sources continued, adding that the national strategy is to find a solution within the framework of UN resolutions, while considering Cyprus' status as an EU member state.
"The Greek government will not tolerate any historic and political revisionism. The Lausanne Treaty is not questioned by anyone in the international community," they said, noting there is no plan for a meeting with Erdogan.
 Parliamentary inquiry into party, media loans wraps up witness testimony, with SYRIZA votesThe Parliamentary committee conducting an inquiry into the legality of loans extended to political parties and media companies on Thursday voted to wrap up the hearings of witnesses and proceed to consider the Kaloudis report, despite objections from the opposition parties and ruling coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL). The vote was carried with the support of 11 MPs of the ruling coalition leader SYRIZA and 10 votes against.
Based on the vote, new witnesses will only be called up if there is sensational new evidence in the case.
SYRIZA MPs supported the motion, on the grounds that the examining committee had very tight deadlines and must deliver its report by Christmas, while the hundreds of thousands of pages of witness testimony already provided sufficient evidence to "easily draw conclusions".
The opposition parties and ANEL MP Dimitris Kammenos were against the decision and insisted that at least two more witnesses should be examined, in order for the committee to have a full picture of the issues that exist.
Kammenos noted that the need to call new witnesses will inevitably arise from the examination of the Kaloudis report alone, while there was evidence implicated five people of serious offences in relation to PASOK's finances.
Opposition parties had asked for the examination of a former "Eleftherotypia" publisher and his claims that banks had starved him of credit and forced him to shut down the newspaper and of journalist Aris Davakis, who claimed to have received funds from the minister of state to support SYRIZA in his website.
The ruling majority, which Kammenos agreed with, said that there would be an examination of the evidence that they would be asked to send to the committee in writing and, if it was judged necessary, they would be summoned to testify in person.
 Parliament approves legislation on alternative fuel, covering two prior actions of 2nd program reviewGreek parliament approved with a wide majority on Thursday a draft bill on alternative fuel which includes the first two prior actions of the second program review - simplifying the licensing of petrol stations, the imposition of fines and ensuring the professional rights of engineers.
The bill was voted by SYRIZA, New Democracy, Democratic Coalition, Potami, ANEL and the Centrists' Union and voted down by Golden Dawn and the Communist Party.
The legislation incorporates into national law the European directive on the development of alternative fuel infrastructure, making Greece the sixth country among the 27 to harmonize national and EU law, Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis said in parliament.
 Early elections is not in anyone's interest, says SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman XydakisEarly general elections are not good for anyone, "not even the lenders in a period with huge open fronts in Europe" said SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Nikos Xydakis speaking to Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Thursday.
"What is mandatory now is to see how we imagine the life, the society and the economy beyond that policy of the memoranda" he said referring to SYRIZA parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday.
Referring to the social 'face' of the State Budget he noted that "two facts leave margins for hope. In case of a primary surplus there will be a social excess that will be used for the citizens' relief and the second that there is a plan for the country to get on a growth course".
As soon as we have the first signs of recovery, we must make adjustments in order to keep the growth rate and at the same time give a breather to the citizens, to the labourers and to the professionals which are mostly affected.
Asked on the debate on Thursday at the European Parliament on the relations between EU and Turkey, Xydakis noted. "It is a crucial vote. I would not be against Turkey because as closer you keep Turkey the more you help the Turkish people. I'm afraid that this huge political and social transformation that is taking place in Turkey is towards an authoritarian directions that distances Turkey from Europe. The target should be to keep Turkey close for the benefit of the Turkish people" he said.
 EU Commissioner Moscovici in Athens on Nov 28-29BRUSSELS (ANA/Ch. Vassilaki)
EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici will be in Athens on November 28-29.
The French Commissioner will meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, at 17.00, at the Maximos Mansion. At 15.00 he will meet with Economy and Development Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou and at 18.15 with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
Moscovici will deliver a speech at a dinner organised within the framework of "THE GREEK ECONOMY CONFERENCE" at the Athenaeum Intercontinental hotel, at 20.30.
On Tuesday, the Commissioner will participate in a working breakfast with the president and the members of Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV). At 10.15, he will meet with Labour Minister Efi Achtsioglou.
A press conference will follow at 11.15, at the offices of the European representation in Greece.
 Migration Min on construction of indoor hotspots on the islandsMigration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas made a plea to the residents of the northern Aegean islands to contribute to the construction of reception centers for the migrants and refugees otherwise the agreement between EU and Turkey will be at stake. "We will not allow the agreement to fail," said Mouzalas speaking to SKAI private TV on Thursday.
He accused main opposition New Democracy of "triggering conditions and actions to prevent the construction of indoor centers on the islands" and reassured that the government's aim is to "set up indoor centers on Chios, Lesvos and Samos but in parallel seeks a broad consensus.
Mouzalas said that Turkey did not accept undocumented migrants that have been detained and transferred to Athens. He also underlined that the right for asylum is abused provided that 97 percent of the migrants and refugees that arrive in Greece apply for asylum while the number of migrants and refugees that sought asylum in the past was only 2 percent.
The minister also said that the staff for asylum requests has been tripled and explained that 70 percent of the migrants that arrive in Greece are undocumented.
Concluding, Mouzalas said that "we may make mistakes but we never lie."
 Unions and inhabitants of Chios ask for the cancellation of the construction of hotspotScientific and professional organisations of Chios and inhabitants appealed to the State Council to annul the decision for the operation of a hot spot in the premises of former VIAL factory .
"Whoever want to proceed with the construction of new refugees-migrants structures on the island of Chios, they would rather wait for the decision of the State Council," they said.
The request will be heard on February 7,2017.
 Cypriot president rejects press reports on rift with Greek foreign ministryNICOSIA (ANA/A. Viketos)
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades rejected on Thursday press reports which claimed there as a rift in the country's relations with the Greek foreign ministry, saying relations are excellent with everyone in the Greek government.
"It's not just the prime minister, it's the government of Greece," he said responding to questions during a press conference in Nicosia. "Those people who insinuate at such critical times that there's a possibility of a crisis in the relations between Cyprus and Greece should stop," he added.
"We have an excellent cooperation with the Greek government, the prime minister - who expresses the policies formed by the government team - and therefore I consider unjustified, at this particularly critical time, any speculation."
Separately, Alternate government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said "there is no problem with Mr. Kotzias".
 Parliament head criticizes Erdogan's ' provocative rhetoric'Parliament President Nikos Voutsis criticized the "provocative rhetoric" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, saying Greece is committed to peace and stability in the region.
"Greece's continuing and enduring commitment to the principles of international law and to ensuring peace and stability in the region is obviously the answer to the continuing, escalating and provocative rhetoric of [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, who lately appears as a 'revisionist' of the Lausanne Treaty," Voutsis said during his address at a conference titled "The political legacy of Eleftherios Venizelos - Continuities and Discontinuities" in parliament.
The conference is held on the occasion of the 80 years since the death of Venizelos.
 Every time the government negotiates, the Greeks are trembling, says ND spokesman KikiliasNewly appointed New Democracy (ND) spokesman Vassilis Kikilias sternly attacked the government on Thursday in an interview with private SKAI TV and reiterated his party's request for general elections.
"Every time the government negotiates, the people are trembling with fear. It is a matter of inadequacy, trust, efficiency and management. This country and its people deserve better than this," said Kikilias.
He also said that after the general elections and regardless of the result, ND will seek the larger possible social alliance.
He stressed the the only way to avoid further cuts in pensions and salaries, the insurance system to be saved and to boost labour is investments and reforms.
ND spokesman also commented government's actions on issues of foreign policy and particularly on the recent developments with Turkey and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements.
"The day government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that there is no such issue (Erdogan's statement), at the same time the Foreign Ministry gave a tough answer to Erdogan and Mr. Tsipras (Alexis, prime minister) was calling Erdogan and asked for a meeting. What is happening to this government," he asked and reiterated ND's request to hold a Foreign Policy Council.
 Constitution clear regarding judges' efforts to extend their term in office, Justice Minister Kontonis saysThe Constitution was absolutely clear about the length of a judge's term in office, Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis noted on Thursday, speaking on the radio station 'Alpha 989'. The minister had been asked to comment on suggestions made by of some senior justices striving to extend their term by two additional years.
"The judges, during the disagreement they may have, reasonable and valid in some points, must not forget their fundamental capacity: which is that they are judges. Also the fact that society endows them with a special trust and, if this trust is disrupted by behaviours or phenomena that are incompatible with their calling, that this will be greatly harmful for the rule of law and a democratic society that is based on the rule of law," he said.
The minister noted that it was not his place to interfere with the decision to found a new union for senior judges and prosecutors, as all Greeks had the right to form trade unions under the Constitution. This could not be restricted, either by other trade unions or by the state, he said.
He noted, however, that judges must keep in mind that whether delivering justice or involved in trade union activity, they remained judges and had an obligation to protect their role.
The minister also reiterated the government's determination to fight corruption, which he said was largely responsible for the country's current crisis. "What we are going through did not just fall out of the sky, it was not our bad luck. It was built up with careful consistency by the system of plutocracy and kleptocracy. Some have gotten rich over these years. Conversely, there were policies that reduced the great majority of the people to despair," he said.
 Greek, German army chiefs discuss tackling refugee flows in BerlinThe need to continue NATO and EU operations to halt migration and refugee flows in the Aegean and the Mediterranean were discussed in a meeting between Greek Chief of Defense, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis HN and his German counterpart General Volker Wieker at the Ministry of Defence in Berlin.
Apostolakis is paying an official two-day visit to Germany, following an invitation extended by his counterpart.
During the bilateral talks, they discussed about the present security environment and the existing constructive cooperation of the Armed Forces of the two countries. Both CHODs referred to the refugee crisis, emphasizing the need to put forward policies and practices that strengthen cross-border cooperation in order to enhance border surveillance.
On Friday, (Nov. 25) the HNDGS Chief will visit the Joint Forces Operations Command where he will be briefed on the organization, mission and role.
 Greek, Emirati armed forces sign military cooperation deal for 2017The armed forces of Greece and the United Arab Emirates signed on Wednesday a program of military cooperation in the fields of operational and individual training for 2017.
The deal was signed in Abu Dhabi by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff's head International relations, Brigadier Miltiadis Gryllakis, and the head of Administration and Human Resources in the Emirati MoD, Major General Salem Saeed Ghafan Al-Jabri.
 International Hellenic Associaton sends open letter to Turkey's President ErdoganThe International Hellenic Associaton sent an open letter to the President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his recent statements:
"Dear President Erdogan,
Recently, you have launched an often repeated and relentless campaign referring to "your heart's borders", as you perceive them, borders which are not identical to the present natural borders of Turkey. You have done so in order to include into these borders all your neo-Ottoman, expansionist aspirations. Indeed, quite often, we are informed that you are delivering to us all "history lessons".
But we know very well that these "history lessons", as you call them, are lessons of dangerous populism conveyed to those uninformed people who are ignorant of history and who naturally do not know what you ought to know yourself!
Every educated man, Turkish, Greek or of any other ethnicity, certainly takes it as a joke when he hears you refer to the Greek Aegean islands by claiming that "on these islands we have our history, our monuments, our mosques!"
All rudimentarily educated people throughout the world know that since the dawn of history, the Aegean Sea, was and has remained Greek. Occasional conquerors never were, nor ever will be able to change this in the future.
Let us remind you of the following: that for at least 3,000 years the Protohellenic peoples like the Ionians, Achaeans, Aeolians and others developed Asia Minor into a region of political and cultural Hellenism; that the fait accomplis of violence and genocide that were used by your ancestors and unfortunately by many of your contemporaries like you personally, cannot alter history.
If nowadays you are desperately looking for "evidence" to justify your blatant expansionism in mosques built by temporary occupants in just a few of the 6,000 islands and islets located in Greece, what should we say about the World Heritage Monument, the Church of Saint Sophia of God built in the City of Constantine ten whole centuries before the appearance of your ancestors as conquerors?
What should we say about the Byzantine Church of Saint Sophia in Nicaea of Bithynia where the first Ecumenical Council on 20 May 325 and the eighth Ecumenical Council in the year 787 were held or about the Church of Saint Sophia in Trebizond, which was built between 1238 and 1263 by Emperor Manuel adorned with invaluable and unique mosaics and sculpted adornments?
What should we say about the Monastery of Sumela, the religious symbol of Pontian Hellenism for nearly seventeen centuries, which was established by Athenian monks Barnabas and Sophronius in the inaccessible mountains of Pontus in 386 CE? What should we say about the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the ruins of which are admired today by crowds flocking from around the world, or about Cappadocia which was a center of Hellenism starting in the first century BCE?
Should we remember perhaps the ancient Nicomedia of Bithynia, which recorded its Greek presence in 712 BCE? Or Smyrna, one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean which was inhabited by Greek populations for thousands of years - until recently?
Do you remember Alikarnassos, Prusa, Ikonion or Eastern Thrace where the Greek myth of Iro and Leandros takes place in the ancient city of Sestos known for thousands of years?
What should we say about the tortured Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, pure Greek since the time of the Trojan War? What should we say about Imvros and Tenedos, currently with only 1% Greek population compared to over 90% when they were delivered to Turkey as a "gift" by the Treaty of Lausanne, a treaty you are not fond of today?
Dear President Erdogan,
You must finally understand that strewn across the entire modern day Turkey is irrefutable evidence that Greek civilization flourished thousands of years before conquerors started appearing in the region - your ancestors.
Which history exactly are you talking about Mr President? About the history of genocide, massacres, violence and greed for loot? Because this is exactly your authentic history!
Perhaps it would be useful for you to learn about the borders of our own heart.
But first try to understand, however difficult it may seem to you, that the boundaries of timeless Hellenism from antiquity until today, have absolutely no geographical limit. Because the Greek spirit embraces, and will always embrace every educated man, in every corner of our planet.
Regarding the geographical boundaries of today's Hellenism, if they give you the impression of an easy prey to blatant and manifest expansionism, well think again. Because you should know that the borders of the hearts of the Greeks will always be reaching for the Red Apple Tree, the places where you will find yourself someday, because as our traditions say: and again in times, with the seasons, they will again be ours!"
Written by Leonidas Koumakis, IHA Member, Hellas, Translated by Prof. Ellene Phufas-Jousma, IHA Member, USA
 Digital Policy Minister to provide free satellite access to Greek TV for Thrace Muslim minorityDigital Policy, Telecommunications and Media Minister Nikos Pappas on Thursday signed a decision that provides free satellite access to Greece's nationally broadcasting television stations to the minority populations in Thrace.
The new programme "Subsidised Satellite Access of Thrace Minority Populations to Greek Free Reception Television Stations" is expected to cover the needs of 120,000 Greek citizens that belong to Muslim minorities in Evros, Xanthi and Rodopi.
The programme will allow each beneficiary to select the provider and programme of his or her choosing, with the cost covered by the state.
This is expected to reach 3.72 million euros in total, with the subsidy covering the supply of the necessary equipment (satellite dish and decoder, cables and accessories) and, where necessary, its installation. The providers will also be obliged to provide the beneficiaries access to the all programmes provided by Greek television stations freely broadcast nationwide, without any charge or time restraint.
Pappas said the action will help familiarize minority populations with rapidly evolving satellite technologies and services and reduce the "digital gap" between Greek citizens in various parts of the country, enabling all citizens to equally partake in the information society.
He said it was a top priority action for the ministry, since the frequency maps drawn up by previous governments had left out large sections of the population in three prefectures and, as a result of these choices, they were denied free access to Greek television stations.
 Anastasiades signs book of condolence for StephanopoulosCypriot President Nicos Anastasiades signed on Thursday the book of condolence opened at the Greek embassy in Nicosia for the death of former president Kostis Stephanopoulos.
"I express my deepest sadness for the loss of the former president of the Greek Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, who served at Greece's highest state office in an exemplary and universally accepted manner," Anastasiades wrote.
 Hellinikon project is progressing, FinMin says"There is absolutely no reason for delaying an investment in Hellinikon. I am absolutely certain for this. The Finance ministry and other related ministries are working hard to complete this project on time," Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Thursday.
Speaking in Parliament, responding to a question by Democratic Coalition deputy Odysseas Konstantinopoulos, Tsakalotos also announced a new legislation covering out-of-court compromise on arrears and setting up cooperative banks based on the German model. The Finance Minister said the government is expected to table a strategic environmental study on the former international airport at Hellinikon soon, to be followed by a Presidential decree on the issue. He acknowledged there were delays in the project, but stressed that the government wanted to renegotiate the agreement and has managed to get more money for it and to agree on a larger investment on utility projects.
"The project is progressing. There is an agreement with the investor and there is a plan to move faster and to achieve targets," Tsakalotos said. He noted that a delay in approving the inclusion of a casino in the Hellinikon project was because the government wanted to include this to a wider strategy on casino operation in the country.
Tsakalotos said the government planned the set up of cooperative banks based on the German model of "sparkassen". "The government is convinced that a new wave of cooperative banks is a fundamental element of a growth policy," he said.
The Finance minister said the govenrment will expand a program to relocate public services, aimed to save more money.
 Greek budget shows 6.502 bln euros primary surplus in Jan-OctThe Greek state budget recorded a primary surplus of 6.502 billion euros in the January-October period, from a primary surplus of 4.532 billion in the corresponding period in 2015 and a budget target for a primary surplus of 3.572 billion, official figures showed on Thursday.
The general government surplus was 1.312 billion euros in the 10-month period, from a deficit of 793 million euros last year and a budget target for a deficit of 1.608 billion.
State budget net revenue amounted to 42.09 billion euros in the January-October period, up 2.2 pct from budget targets, while regular budget net revenue was 40.075 billion euros, up 2.4 pct from budget targets.
In the 10-month period, the following revenue categories recorded increases: income tax surpassed targets by 1.2 pct, corporate tax surpassed targets by 11.8 pct, other direct taxes were up 1.3 pct, VAT on tobacco surpassed targets by 3.2 pct, other VAT revenue was up 1.3 pct, special consumption taxes surpassed targets by 2.4 pct, indirect taxes were up 2.3 pct, other consumption taxes were up 4.7 pct and other non-tax revenue surpassed targets by 5.9 pct.
On the other hand, revenues fell short of budget targets in property taxes (down 0.9 pct) and energy product consumption taxes (-1.0 pct).
Tax returns totaled 2.386 billion euros, down 90 million from budget targets. Public Investment Programme revenues amounted to 2.734 billion euros, up 18 million from targets.
State budget spending amounted to 41.497 billion euros in the 10-month period, down 1.981 billion from budget targets, while regular budget spending totaled 38.507 billion euros, down 1.121 billion from targets. Regular budget spending was up 780 million euros compared with the same period last year. Public Investment Programme spending was 2.990 billion euros, down 860 million from budget targets.
In October, state budget net revenue was 4.985 billion euros, up 938 million from monthly targets, while regular budget net revenue surpassed monthly targets by 920 million to 4.827 million euros.
Tax returns totaled 237 million euros, down 90 million from monthly targets. Public Investment Programme revenue were 158 million euros, up 18 million from targets. State budget spending was 4.266 billion euros in October, down 112 million from monthly targets, while regular budget spending was 3.957 billion euros, up 119 million from monthly targets. Public Investment Programme spending was 309 million euros, down 231 million from monthly targets.
 PPC shareholdres approve sale of 24 pct ADMIE stake to China's State GridPower utility PPC's shareholders on Thursday approved the sale of a 24 percent stake in the country's power grid operator ADMIE to China's State Grid, which won the relevant tender offering 320 million euros.
A new shareholders' meeting is expected to be held at the start of 2017 to form the "Pubic Holding Company ADMIE", to which the operator's shares will be transferred. The new company will be listed on the Athens stock exchange in March, according to the rules set out in the bailout deal signed with Greece's creditors.
At the end of the process, the State will own 51 percent of ADMIE shares, State Grid 24 percent and other investors the remaining 25 percent.
 National Bank returns to profitabilityNational Bank Group returned to profitability in the January-September period, with after tax earnings totaling 26 million euros, from a loss of 1.7 billion in the corresponding period in 2015, reflecting positive trends in Greece and profitability in Southeastern Europe, where after tax earnings totaled 81 million euros from 43 million in 2015.
Consolidated revenue grew 5.0 pct on an annual basis, positively affected from a de-escalation of borrowing costs, while net interest margin improved by 11 basis points to 289 bps in the nine-month period.
Operating spending fell 2.7 pct in the January-September period, reflecting an 1.4 pct decline in personnel spending and a 6.9 pct decline in administrative spending. A forthcoming voluntary exit program is expected to further reduce spending in 2017.
Pre-provision earnings rose 17 pct on an annual basis, while the cost of credit risk was 191 bps in the third quarter of 2016 from 216 bps in the second quarter and 189 bps on a nin-month level, reflecting a smoothening of bad debt provisions in Greece.
Borrowing from ELA mechanism fell by 13.1 billion euros to just 4.5 billion in November, almost 1/3 of the exposure of the remaining systemic banks in Greece. The bank has the ability to further drain 10.2 billion euros from the Eurosystem, or 28 pct of deposits in Greece. Deposit inflows totaled 300 million euros in Greece, which combined with a further deleverage of loans led the loan/deposit rate to 89 pct in Greece, the lowest in the banking system.
CET 1 rate was 16.9 pct, excluding convertible CoCos and taking in mind the sale of Astir Palace Vouliagmeni Hotel which was completed at the end of October.
National Bank said its NPEs fell by 1.0 billion euros on a quarterly basis, for the second successive quarter, reflecting successful restructuring and write offs of loans.
Bad debt provision coverage was 56.8 pct in Greece and 56.3 pct in Group level, while the loans in delay of more than 90 days was 35.4 pct in Greece and 34.1 pct in Group level.
"National Bank of Greece's results demonstrate increasing balance sheet strength and improving operating performance. On the asset quality front, the Bank has managed to reduce the stock of NPEs by 2 billion euros since the beginning of the year, on the back of favorable curing trends, solid collection efforts and write offs on fully provided loans. In light of that performance, the Bank is frontloading its NPE reduction relative to its targets. On the liquidity side of the business, results have been equally impressive, as NBG has reduced ELA exposure by an impressive 13.1 billion since the imposition of capital controls to a level of 4.5 billion currently. Domestic deposit inflows of 0.3 billion euros in Q3 and the completion of the disposals of NBGI Private Equity and Astir Palace Hotel aided towards that accomplishment. As regards to operating results, Group pre-provision profit covered the cost of risk, yielding positive operating and net profitability. Our SEE operations remained profitable, growing almost 2x fold year-on-year. The Group's CET 1 ratio remained strong standing at 16.9 pct post the anticipated repayment of the CoCos and will be further enhanced through organic profitability, as well as through the continued successful implementation of the restructuring plan," Leonidas Fragkiadakis the bank's Chief Executive Officer, said.
 Greek banks will use various tools to reduce NPLs, says Piraeus Bank executiveThe goal to reduce the accumulated non-performing loans in Greek banks will be achieved through various debt policies, the General Manager of Piraeus Bank's Group Recovery Banking Unit, Evangelos Kavvalos said on Thursday, during a speech at a conference organized by the Hellenic Management Association (EEDE).
Kavvalos said NPLs will decrease 35-40 percent through debt adjustment schemes, 30 percent through debt sales, write offs, haircuts, 15 percent through foreclosure auctions, 10 percent through debt recovery and amortization and 5 percent through improvement of some loans.
According to the plans submitted to domestic and EU authorities, Greek banks have pledged to reduce their NPLs (mortgage, consumer and business loans) totaling 108 billion euros by about 40 percent by 2019.
The process will be monitored by the relevant regulators on a monthly basis he added.
 Cenergy Holdings seeks energy transfer projectsCenergy Holdings, the energy arm of Viohalco Group, plans to further exploit any opportunities in the dynamic and growing energy transfer sector, company officials told reporters.
The new company will be the result of a cross-border merger between Korinth Pipeworks Holding Company SA and Hellenic Cables Holding Company SA. Completion of legal procedures is expected by mid-December and the new company, Cenergy Holdings, listed in the Euronext market of Brussels and the Athens Stock Exchange, will offer international benchmark and credibility in international projects and access in international funding. Company officials said they expected the company to secure projects worth 1.5-2.0 billion euros in the coming future, in Europe and the US.
The two merging group turnover surpassed 700 million euros in 2015, while EBITDA was 63 million euros. The merger is expected to create synergies, not yet assessed. The aim of the new copany is to better exploite productive investments made by the two groups in the last few years.
Both Korinth Pipeworks and Hellenic Cables will remain Greek and will continue investing, having their productive activity in Greece, while profits will be taxed in Greece.
International surveys expect a huge increase in demand for electricity power, natural gas and renewable energy sources by 2050. The management aims to create a larger organization, more competitive, more extrovert, with easier access to funding.
Korinth Pipeworks is one of the largest and more advanced steel pipe producers for the oil and natural gas sector, with a global network and sales in more than 40 countries.
Hellenic Cables has a global sales network and established presenc in more than 50 countries.
 Chinese group interested in buying Athens Ledra HotelA Chinese group has expressed strong interest to buy the Athens Ledra Hotel ahead of an international tender, scheduled for December 7, the third attempt to sell the hotel.
Nikos Papageogriou, president of the Restaurant-Tourism and Attica Hotels Syndicate, told workers of the Athens Ledra Hotel -currently on a more than nine-month mobilization demanding payment of around 800,000 euros in unpaid work- that representatives of the Chinese group have already talked to Athens Ledra Hotel workers and have promised to preserve job positions and full payment of debt, if they succeeded in buying the hotel.
 Athens Boat Show 2016 opens on Nov 30The Athens Boat Show 2016 will be held between 30 November and 4 December at the the Olympic Fencing Center in Elliniko.
Visitors will have the opportunity to be informed on the latest developments in the maritime products and services and the new trends.
 Souroti Cooperative to sell its stake in Souroti on Dec 7Souroti Agricultural Cooperative, owner of a 4.5 pct equity stake -or 702,472 shares- in Souroti sparkling water bottler, on Thursday announced it was delaying a date for the sale procedure of its shares for December 7, a decision taken in order to offer to interested investors more than time to prepare the necessary paperwork.
The sale procedure will be held at the Cooperative's offices in Souroti, Thessaloniki, while bids will start at a price of 1.2 euros per share. A bidding procedure will follow while the signing of the sale contract will be made within 24 hours and delivery of shares will be made simultaneously with payment.
Ivan Savvidis Group (owner of a more than 40 pct equity stake in Souroti bought at a price of 1.05 euros per share) and Coca Cola HBC (owner of a 20 pct equity stake bought at a price of 1.0 euros per share), are the main candidates for the purchase of the Cooperative's stake.
 EZA has broken the barriers of micro-breweryEZA, a Greek brewer based in Atalanti, central Greece, has climbed to the third place in the domestic beer market and the top Greek-owned brewery, leading its shareholders to a decision to surpass the tight limits of legal and tax framework of a micro-brewery and to seek to play a bigger role in the domestic beer market.
Athanasios Syrianos, CEO of EZA, told reporters that beer production grew 50 pct in 2016 to 300,000 hectolitre -the tax limit of a micro-brewery is 200,000 hectolitre annually- while sales are expected to reach 30 million euros because of a government decision to double a special consumption tax this year. The company is currently implementing an investment program worth 30 million euros.
Sales amounted to 16.5 million euros in 2015 and were projected to reach 29-30 million euros this year, while EBITDA are projected to soar from 950,000 euros in 2015 to 2.5 million euros in 2016.
The company plans to invest around 30 million euros in the 2015-2019 period, of which the first phase of 6.5 million have been completed and a second phase of around 16 million are expected to be completed in May 2017.
EZA has already begun exporting, with exports around 1.5 million euros, and has a market share of around 7-8 pct. Damma, a fund owned by Dimitris Daskalopoulos, owns a 33.8 pct minority stake in the company.
 Greek stocks end lower on profit takingGreek stocks ended lower for the first time after a six-day rally which pushed the composite index of the market 9.40 pct up and the bank index 30.5 pct higher. Traders said investors took profits, particularly in bank shares, while turnover fell compared with previous sessions. The composite index fell 1.41 pct to end at 623.63 points, off the day's lows of 622.20 points. The Large Cap index ended 1.94 pct lower and the Mid Cap index rose 0.34 pct. Turnover was a thin 43.319 million euros in volume of 89,126,135 shares.
Jumbo (0.84 pct), Athens Water (0.37 pct) and Grivalia Properties (0.13 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (7.50 pct), Piraeus Bank (5.77 pct), Eurobank (5.61 pct), National Bank (5.26 pct) and Alpha Bank (4.79 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Personal Products (0.87 pct) and Chemicals (0.50 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (5.23 pct), Financial Services (2.03 pct) and Constructions (1.11 pct) suffered losses.
National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 65 to 32 with another 22 issues unchanged. Nikas (20 pct), Chatzikraniotis (19.71 pct) and Sidma (19.52 pct) were top gainers, while Athina (20 pct), Dionic (20 pct) and Pasal (19.79 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 6.73 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 6.675 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.98 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.25 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate fell to -0.079 pct from -0.078 pct, the nine-month rate was -0.136 pct, the six-month rate rose to -0.219 pct from -0.22 pct, the three-month rate was -0.314 pct and the one-month rate was -0.373 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,074 contracts with 9,354 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 96,386 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (41,700), followed by Alpha Bank (4,821), National Bank (33,531), Eurobank (10,376), MIG (3,400), OTE (543), PPC (720), OPAP (102), Mytilineos (411), Hellenic Petroleum (108), Ellaktor (416), Jumbo (67).
 Primary care the 'sick man' of Greece's state health systemPrimary care is where Greek health services most often fail in the eyes of Greeks insured with the state health system, with many finding they are forced to go privately because they are unable to get an appointment with the doctor or specialist they need through the Primary National Health Network (PEDY) and the state-run healthcare services provider EOPYY.
The 'ceiling' of 200 visits a month imposed on EOPYY contracted doctors and the lack of specialists working for EOPYY due to understaffing, as well as the delays in getting the new "family doctor" and "neighbourhood unit" programmes off the ground, mean that many are having to resort to hospital out-patient clinics or pay out of their own pockets for access to a doctor.
Based on the findings of an Alco poll commissioned by the Union of EOPYY doctors, 44 pct of patients are "somewhat to very" satisfied with their doctors but 24 pct are only a little satisifed and 19 pct are "not at all satisfied". A further 44 pct were unaware how the system with the 200 free visits works, while 24 pct did not know about the patient's share in the cost of medical actions.
Only 18 pct are 'somewhat or very satisfied' with the Primary National Health Network (PEDY) services to which EOPYY belongs.
The survey showed that 48 pct of those with state health insurance visited EOPYY doctors, 30 pct visited hospital out-patient clinics, 18 pct visited PEDY units and 23 pct preferred other healthcare structures in the private sector.
EOPYY doctors were also very dissatisfied with the functioning of primary care, citing long delays in payment and inadequate coverage of many areas by specialists, including 10 prefectures that lacked GPs, 19 without paediatricians and five without pathologists.
The health ministry is now in the process of planning a new primary care system that, according to the health ministry's alternate general secretary Stamatis Vardaros, will strive for full coverage of health needs, equal access to services and financial protection of citizens. At its core will be the local units and health centres and each area's PEDY units. In addition to new hiring and internal transfers where necessary, the new system will be complemented with EOPYY contracted doctors, with contracts opened to new doctors on the basis of health service needs.
 The summer continues for SantoriniThe tourist season on the island of Santorini begins in early March and ends just before Christmas. The number of tourists exceeds 2 million every year, while during the peak summer season 15,000 people get off the cruise ships every day. The mayor of the island Anastasios Nikolaos Zorzos spoke to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency about his efforts to curb the tourist saturation on the island and expressed his anxiety over the excessive construction that limits rural land.
Wednesday, November 16. Athens is in the heart of autumn and for most of the citizens of the capital summer is a lost memory.
On the same day, only 30 minutes by plane from the "Eleftherios Venizelos" international airport, on a small island of the Cyclades, the summer continues: Most shops are open as well as the boutiques with the latest fashion clothes that cannot be found even in Athens, stylish cafes and restaurants with Greek, Chinese and Indian cuisine, and jewelry shops that can be compared with those of the Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
The island of Santorini has won the bet of the tourist destination all-year-round, the mayor said stressing, however, the importance of taking measures in order to avoid any negative repercussions.
The services on the island have been upgraded offering from excursions to the volcano and the surrounding islands to helicopter flights over the caldera, renting luxurious vessels for a few hours, climbing, and diving to the seabed of Santorini.
Zorzos stressed the need to put a halt to the over-exploitation of the island due to tourism. "The building limits have already been surpassed at the expense of agricultural land," he stated adding that safeguards should be set.
"Further construction will affect quality tourism. Our aim is to attract high income visitors all year round," he said.
The mayor referred to the recent campaign promoting tourism throughout the year as well as the efforts made to promote Santorini as a thematic, alternative destination (cultural, gastronomic, architectural, educational etc).
 Cycling tour of Thision organized on SundayThe municipality of Athens invited people young and old to participate in a cycling expedition in the Thision on Sunday (Nov. 27) as part of the event "Cities to cycle".
Cyclists will kick off the event at 10:30, at the corner of Pireos avenue and Thessalonikis street. Cyclists will follow the path on Ermou (pedestrian), turn right in Apostolou Pavlou, right in Akamntos, left in Troon, left in Cyclopon, left in Atreos, right in Thessaloniki (under the bridge) and will continue until the end of the bicycle lane.
The event aims at introducing the daily use of bicycles in the neighbourhoods of Athens where traffic is lighter and drivers drive slower.
 Greek CAA assumes rotating presidency of CERGGreece's civil aviation authority is assuming the rotating presidency of the Central European Rotation Group-CERG from 2017 to 2019, the agency said on Thursday.
CERG is one of the four alternating groups which were created as part of the European Civil Aviation Conference-ECAC and is made up of nine member-states: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Greece (which joined in 2014).
Its member states assume the rotating presidency and every presiding country stands as a candidate for election to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, with the support of its team members and the rest of ECAC member states.
 Partly cloudy on FridayWet weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy with light rain in the afternoon in the northern and western parts of the country and temperatures ranging from 0C to 20C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 08C and 20C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 12C-20C. Partly cloudy in Athens, 09C-17C; the same for Thessaloniki, 09C-15C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Collective agreements on fire
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Who wants the fourth memorandum
ETHNOS: Part time jobs is a bomb to pensions
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: (Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras opened the door of elections
ESTIA: The state creates anti-labour conditions
KATHIMERINI: Commission: Greek education on a free fall
TO PONTIKI: Triple threat, elections in the background
IMERISSIA: Thriller over the debt
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