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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-02-22

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 Issue No: 4004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Eurogroup decision a great step of decisive importance for country, PM tells cabinet meeting
  • [02] PSI to be ratified in Parliament on Thursday, cabinet meeting decides
  • [03] PM: Agreement of 'historic importance'
  • [04] FinMin 'pleased' with agreement, says result better than expected
  • [05] Debt deal offers new opportunity for Greece, FinMin says
  • [06] Eurogroup finalises 130 bln euro second bailout package for Greece, 53.5 pct of GDP haircut of debt
  • [07] Eurogroup statement on deal for Greece
  • [08] Gov't welcomes Eurogroup decisions, says will establish 'security and stability'
  • [09] President Papoulias on Eurogroup decision
  • [10] Papandreou: Satisfaction on Eurogroup agreement
  • [11] Samaras: Eurogroup decision important and positive
  • [12] Papariga: Agreement for Greece's structured default, unstructured bankruptcy of Greek people
  • [13] New loan agreement 'disappointing', LAOS leader stresses
  • [14] LAOS party leader on implementing law
  • [15] Tsipras: 'Painful' agreement 'binding on those who sign it'
  • [16] Leftist leader lashes out at gov't policies in letter addressed to European leaders
  • [17] Bakoyannis: Delayed decision, but in right direction
  • [18] IMF's Lagarde welcomes Eurogroup deal on Greece
  • [19] IIF chief: Greek debt deal very significant to all parties
  • [20] Greek aid package not gift but loan, Austrian chancellor says
  • [21] New loan agreement needs 'immediate amendment', Athens Chamber president says
  • [22] PM Papademos to meet FM Dimas, UN envoy Nimetz on Wednesday
  • [23] PASOK party leader Papandreou to meet FM Dimas on Wednesday morning
  • [24] Justice minister announces changes in bankruptcy code
  • [25] LA.O.S leader queries PM on energy shortage risk
  • [26] Samaras visits Greek armed forces in Cyprus
  • [27] Libyan embassy turns over arms cache to counter-terrorism service in Athens
  • [28] Greece announces terms of PSI programme
  • [29] Entrepreneur Week con'f in Athens
  • [30] US$122 mln finance deal for 3 new vessels by Chinese shipyard
  • [31] Business Briefs
  • [32] Stocks end 3.47 pct down
  • [33] Greek bond market closing report
  • [34] ADEX closing report
  • [35] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [36] Petrol sellers protest over unfair Hephaestus fines
  • [37] Court rejects request by contract employees in Thessaloniki
  • [38] Social insurance system staff to hold three-hour strike on Wednesday
  • [39] Burglar injures 51-year-old woman in her home
  • [40] Man dies in fire
  • [41] Rainy on Wednesday
  • [42] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Eurogroup decision a great step of decisive importance for country, PM tells cabinet meeting

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, speaking during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, said that the Eurogroup's agreement and decisions are a "great step" of decisive importance for the country's future, adding that "the approval of the economic programme and the PSI agreement were the main target of economic policy and for this a great deal of work was done".

    The cabinet meeting focused on the Eurogroup decisions on Greece and approved the basic bill that will be tabled in parliament, under urgent procedures, containing "the central package of requisite actions" for implementation of the new economic programme for Greece agreed with the troika and finalised during a marathon Eurogroup meeting that lasted into the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday.

    Papademos also expressed his optimism that "if the programme is implemented effectively, in 2013 the problems will be overcome and growth will start gradually".

    The prime minister stressed that "many predicted obstacles and failure, but fortunately they did not come true", while he predicted that with the decisions taken confidence in the country will be strengthened.

    The prime minister, addressing the ministers, pointed out that by the end of March many things must be done and the immediate targets must be achieved without delays.

    The prime minister also explained that the reduction of the debt from 129 percent anticipated by relevant reports in 2020 will ultimately be decreased to 120.5 percent, with a contribution of 4.6 percent by the public sector of the member-states and 3.7 percent by the private sector.

    [02] PSI to be ratified in Parliament on Thursday, cabinet meeting decides

    A cabinet meeting decided on Tuesday evening, according to government sources, to have the bill on the PSI ratified at the Parliament Plenum on Thursday under urgent procedures.

    Moreover, the cabinet meeting also ratified the bill that will include all the "actions necessary in advance", issues concerning the fiscal measures, the fiscal and tax administration, pensioning and social security clauses and the additional budget, as well as amendments for the research institutions. The specific bill will be ratified on Tuesday under urgent procedures.

    The Health ministry's bill will be ratified by Wednesday.

    [03] PM: Agreement of 'historic importance'

    Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos on Tuesday welcomed the agreement for a 130 billion euros second bailout package for Greece and a 53.5 percent haircut of the Greek debt reached in the early morning hours at a marathon meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels as being of "historic importance" for the Greek economy.

    Tuesday is a "day of historic importance for the Greek economy", Papademos said after the 13-hour marathon deliberation among the finance ministers of the 17-country eurozone, which was also attended by the Greek prime minister.

    In a joint press conference with Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, Papademos said the Eurogroup decisions give Greece the ability to act in conditions of stability and limitation of the uncertainties that were inhibiting economic activity, so as to boost confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy.

    He said that the Eurogroup decisions are "a major step in the direction of ensuring the financing of the Greek economy with 130 billion euros over the next three years" and reduction of the Greek debt by some 100 billion euros.

    The premier stressed, however, that much more needs to be done for completion of the requisite actions for the conclusion of the loan agreement, which is anticipated in early March, and for materialisation of all the reforms contained in the new economic programme for Greece.

    [04] FinMin 'pleased' with agreement, says result better than expected

    Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday said he was pleased with the agreement on Greece finalised in the early morning hours at a marathon meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels, stressing that the accord was the outcome of an eight-month battle waged by the Greek government, but also the sacrifices, efforts and struggle of the entire Greek people.

    He also announced that the government will create a post of "secretary general for taxation and technical issues", which will be assumed by an individual of "broad acceptance".

    In a joint press conference with prime minister Lucas Papademos in Brussels, Venizelos said that the Eurogroup decisions raise "the level of security, certainty and stability" for Greece.

    "We reached a positive outcome, which was neither easy nor self-evident. Up until the last minute, we were negotiating at many levels...we reached a better result than we had planned," he said, adding that this is the first time that a government sheds burden by reducing its debt.

    Venizelos warned, however, that Greece had "very few days" before the February 29 EU Summit to "complete all the requisite actions".

    Briefly outlining the time-frame, Venizelos said that the Cabinet will meet on Tuesday to discuss and approve a bill containing the main package of the required actions as agreed with the EU/INF troika, which comprises the fiscal measures, fiscal and tax administration, pensions, amendment of the 2012 budget, and structural measures.

    He said the Cabinet will also approve legislation for the PSI, adding that the bond swaps process will be launched on Tuesday, with completion slated for the first week of April.

    "Eight months of hard struggle but also efforts by the entire Greek people were needed to reach today's result," Venizelos said, and called on "all those who agree but also those who disagree with the new programme to fight for the country's salvation and to consider where Greece would have gone were it not for today's decision".

    Venizelos said he was "pleased" with the "positive outcome", noting that tough negotiations at many levels had been necessary, and chiefly with the private sector.

    He welcomed the outcome of those negotiations, noting that for the first time in history a country was reducing its debt by such a large sum of 100 billion euros, stressing that Greece's main targets now are growth and improvement of competitiveness, together with slashing the country's debt to 120 percent of GDP by 2020.

    Many sides pose the question of whether Greece wants to and can be saved, he said, stressing that the success of the programme is the only national strategy that exists today.

    The government vice president and finance minister underlined that Greece must move at a very fast pace, and thus the Cabinet will quickly take all the required fiscal decisions.

    In that context, he said the Cabinet will convene on Tuessday to approve the bills concerning the various fiscal measures, tax regulations, pensions, amendment of the 2012 budget and structural measures, adding that all the required actions in the health sector and the restructuring of the auxiliary social security funds must be completed by February 29 (EU summit).

    On the PSI, Venizelos said that the agreement with the private sector, after first being approved by the Cabinet and ratified by parliament, must be completed by mid-March and be fully implemented by the first week of April.

    Venizelos further stressed the need for developmental initiatives, and issued a "national invitation" for the return of deposits to Greece, adding that the Eurogroup decisions have sent the message that Greece is and will remain a member of the euro.

    The finance minister also announced the government's decision to establish a post of "secretary general for taxation and technical issues", which will be assumed by an individual of "broad acceptance".

    He underlined that the uncertainty over the economic developments and lack of liquidity create particular problems with respect to the prospects of the Greek economy, adding that, with the Eurogroup decisions, "the situation will be remedied".

    Venizelos also stressed that, provided all that has been agreed is fulfilled, fiscal sovereignty and dignity will be restored in Greece, adding that the final results of the Eurogroup meeting were "better than those we had initially planned".

    [05] Debt deal offers new opportunity for Greece, FinMin says

    Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday afternoon said the government "has the clear commitment of its partners that they will continue supporting the country beyond Jan., 1 2015 until Greece can return to the markets".

    Speaking to reporters and in assessing the outcome of a 13-hour-long Eurogroup meeting, he said "it proved wrong all those who invested in the country's failure".

    "The deal was not easy, nor self-evident," Venizelos said, adding that the country has won final approval of a new programme worth 130 billion euros from early March this year until the end of 2014 and noted that all surveillance and support mechanisms were fully respected the country's institutional equality.

    "There is already a permanent representation of the Task Force and the IMF in the country, while another representation of the European Commission will be set up and a quarterly report on the economy will be delivered," he said. Commenting on the creation of a "special account" Venizelos said the account will be opened at the Bank of Greece with the responsibility of the government in cooperation with the troika. A possible constitutional provision may be decided after 2013, he added.

    Venizelos said a deal on a PSI programme was "more drastic and better compared with initial agreements" which combined with lower interest on the initial support loan, was leading the country's debt to a sustainable road by 2020, saving more than 3.0 billion euros on an annual basis.

    The Greek minister said the country's credit system was stable, credible and fully guaranteed and urged depositors to return their savings to domestic banks.

    Venizelos said it was possible that banks would not need all the money earmarked for their recapitalisation (estimated around 50 billion euros depending on a Black Rock report on Greek banks). He added that individual bondholders (around 11,000 of which 9,500 have Greek bonds up to 100,000 euros each) could be included in a haircut and said that support and protection would offered where necessary.

    The minister said Greece would not risk being placed in selective default status by credit rating firms as the debt deal offered a full mechanism covering any liquidity needs for the intermediate period.

    [06] Eurogroup finalises 130 bln euro second bailout package for Greece, 53.5 pct of GDP haircut of debt

    The Eurogroup, comprising the finance ministers of the 17-country eurozone, agreed a 130 billion euros second bailout loan to Greece in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday after marathon talks lasting nearly 13 hours, under which the Greek debt will be reduced to a sustainable 120.5 percent of GDP by 2020, paving the way for the launching of a bond-swap with private investors (PSI) that will reduce the Greek debt by some 100 billion euros, as private bondholders agreed to a 53.5 percent write-off of the nominal value of the Greek bonds they hold.

    The Greek debt is anticipated to be reduced to 120.5 percent of GDP by 2020, just marginally above the targeted 120 percent of GDP, while the haircut of 53.5 percent was slightly larger than the 50 percent target set by the EU summit in December 2011.

    The agreement was welcomed as being of historic importance for the Greek economy by the country's prime minister Lucas Papademos, in a statement in Brussels after the conclusion of the Eurogroup meeting, which he also attended.

    In a joint press conference with Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, Papademos said the Eurogroup decisions give Greece the ability to act in conditions of stability and limitation of the uncertainties that were inhibiting economic activity, so as to boost confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy.

    International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde welcomed the agreement, adding that "as soon as the prior actions agreed with the Greek authorities are implemented and adequate financial contribution from the private sector is secured, I intend to make a recommendation to our Executive Board regarding IMF financing to support a programme".

    She added that: "The success of this strategy crucially depends on full and timely policy implementation by Greece and long-term support by euro area member states. Recognizing the sacrifice involved for the Greek people, the strategy will also aim to minimize the impact on the poorest and most vulnerable."

    The eurozone finance ministers also welcomed "the agreement reached with the Greek government on a policy package that constitutes the basis for the successor programme", as well as t"he approval of the policy package by the Greek parliament, the identification of additional structural expenditure reductions of 325 million euros to close the fiscal gap in 2012 and the provision of assurances by the leaders of the two coalition parties regarding the implementation of the programme beyond the forthcoming general elections".

    The Eurogroup said that the new programme provides a "comprehensive blueprint for putting the public finances and the economy of Greece back on a sustainable footing and hence for safeguarding financial stability in Greece and in the euro area as a whole".

    The Eurogroup acknowledged the "significant efforts already made by the Greek citizens" but also "underlines that further major efforts by the Greek society are needed to return the economy to a sustainable growth path"

    [07] Eurogroup statement on deal for Greece

    The Eurogroup early Tuesday welcomed an agreement reached with the Greek government on a policy package "that constitutes the basis for the successor programme", and also a package of additional austerity measures passed recently by the Greek parliament.

    The Eurogroup acknowledged the "significant efforts already made by the Greek citizens", but also underlined that "further major efforts by the Greek society are needed to return the economy to a sustainable growth path".

    Noting that ensuring debt sustainability and restoring competitiveness are the main goals of the new programme, the Eurogroup stresses that the success of the programme "hinges critically on its thorough implementation by Greece", meaning that "Greece must achieve the ambitious but realistic fiscal consolidation targets so as to return to a primary surplus as from 2013, carry out fully the privatisation plans and implement the bold structural reform agenda, in both the labour market and product and services markets, in order to promote competitiveness, employment and sustainable growth".

    To this end, the Eurogroup said it deems essential a "further strengthening of Greece's institutional capacity", and therefore "invites" the European Commission "to significantly strengthen its Task Force for Greece" through an "enhanced and permanent presence on the ground in Greece in order to bolster" the Task Force's "capacity to provide and coordinate technical assistance", and pledged the eurozone member states' readiness to "provide experts to be integrated into the Task Force".

    The Eurogroup also welcomes "Greece's intention to put in place a mechanism that allows better tracing and monitoring of the official borrowing and internally-generated funds destined to service Greece's debt by, under monitoring of the troika, paying an amount corresponding to the coming quarter's debt service directly to a segregated account of Greece's paying agent".

    The Eurogroup further welcomed "the intention of the Greek authorities to introduce over the next two months in the Greek legal framework a provision ensuring that priority is granted to debt servicing payments. This provision will be introduced in the Greek constitution as soon as possible".

    Also, the Eurogroup acknowledged "the common under-standing that has been reached between the Greek authorities and the private sector on the general terms of the PSI exchange offer, covering all private sector bondholders", which provides for a nominal haircut amounting to 53.5%.

    The Eurogroup said that it "considers that this agreement constitutes an appropriate basis for launching the invitation for the exchange to holders of Greek government bonds (PSI)", noting that "a successful PSI operation is a necessary condition for a successor programme" and adding that it "looks forward to a high participation of private creditors in the debt exchange, which should deliver a significant positive contribution to Greece's debt sustainability".

    [08] Gov't welcomes Eurogroup decisions, says will establish 'security and stability'

    Greek government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Tuesday welcomed the decisions reached by Eurogroup ministers concerning the loans to Greece, though conceding that the terms of the deal imposed on the country were extremely tough.

    The spokesman underlined that the deal would be greatly helpful in establishing conditions of security and stability, whose absence had been extremely costly for Greece's economy in the past couple of years.

    "It is an agreement that allows us, on the one hand, to secure the financing of the economy over the next years with a very large sum - 130 billion euro - and, at the same time, to reduce the debt by an equivalent amount, larger than what we expected," he said during televised and radio interviews.

    At the same time, he admitted that the deal was tough for the country, since it demanded unrelenting austerity measures and extremely tight fiscal discipline.

    "We have accepted that during this time we must succeed in not having deficits any more, to pass to primary surpluses so that we are able to service our debts ourselves after a certain point. But do we really have any other choice? I don't think so," Kapsis said.

    He denied that Greece's future prospects were unending austerity, saying that the future prospect was a return to growth and the ability to create jobs after the country had carried out the necessary structural reforms to make its economy competitive.

    The spokesman also underlined that the debt itself would be sustainable, provided the necessary changes were carried out.

    [09] President Papoulias on Eurogroup decision

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, commenting on Tuesday on the Eurogroup's decision on the approval of Greece's new loan, said "we must take advantage of the opportunity being given to us and we must not delay. We must run and cover the negligences and the delay of the past years and for us to enter a course of growth for Greece to return to happy times for our people."

    The President spoke of a very important decision in the difficult period the country is passing and the strength that the people have to overcome it.

    [10] Papandreou: Satisfaction on Eurogroup agreement

    PASOK leader and former prime minister George Papandreou expressed satisfaction with the Eurogroup agreement on Greece.

    "I feel the need to express my satisfaction because, with the positive decision for our country, the immense efforts we made to convince our partners to reach the October 26-27 decisions have been vindicated," Papandreou said, adding that the Eurogroup decision, which is added to a series of other important decisions "once again comprises a necessary condition that can guarantee that the sacrifices of the Greek people will not have been in vain".

    He said the agreement was also of historic significance, given that Greece averts default and the road opens for the formulation of the necessary conditions for a new developmental effort with an economy standing on strong foundations that will no longer produce deficits and debts but rather added value, a surplus and jobs.

    Papandreou said that the agreement on the PSI, "beyond the immense reduction of the weight of the debt, also contributes to the saving of billions of euros each year due to the reduction of the annual requirements for servicing the country's obligations to its lenders", adding that "with those resources (saved) we can now build a developmental plan".

    He called on the Greek people to continue this battle, despite the great cost, and to not abandon the effort mid-stream.

    "We must build a developmental model that is founded on the country's comparative advantages: the Greek and his potential, the healthy productive and creative forces of the country, exploitation of the country's natural wealth," Papandreou said.

    [11] Samaras: Eurogroup decision important and positive

    New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras welcomed the Eurogroup decision on Greece as "important" and "positive", in a statement on Tuesday in Nicosia.

    Samaras, currently on a visit to Cyprus, said that the decision distances the risk of Greece's default, ensures the country's European presence and paves the way for general elections in the country.

    He added that ND's stance has been decisive regarding this decision.

    "The Eurogroup decision is important and positive because it distances the risk of the country's default and ensures its European prospect, gives the ability to make the debt sustainable and paves the way to elections," Samaras said in an initial reaction on the new loan programme for Greece.

    He also said that ND's contribution to this decision was decisive.

    "Without the party's positive vote, there would not have been either the ability for the haircut of the debt or reduction of the country's borrowing cost, or the conclusion of a new loan, decisions that point out the major differentiation, for us, between the first and second Memorandum and prove the correctness of our choices," Samaras added.

    He further said that "a circle of uncertainty, obscurity and back-tracking that PASOK opened up two years ago with its actions and omissions closes today".

    Samaras said that Greece is gaining time and a window of hope was opening up that the country will supplement its policies with measures to halt recession, rekindle the real economy and contain unemployment.

    He also opined that hope was being created and that Europe will turn away from policies of one-sided recession and will realise the major priority for the development of the country.

    "In a Greece that is hurting and with a people that is suffering, this is not the time for celebrations," he said, adding that ND will play a leading role in "this great battle for Greece's recovery that is just beginning".

    [12] Papariga: Agreement for Greece's structured default, unstructured bankruptcy of Greek people

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga charged on Tuesday that the deal on Greece finalised by the Eurogroup was an "agreement for a structured default of Greece, but an unstructured bankruptcy for the Greek people".

    Papariga told a press conference that the Eurogroup decision was yet again of a temporary nature, given that the crisis determines the developments in the eurozone and this crisis will deepen continuously, thus the problem in Greece will not be dealt with either.

    She said that the lenders were losing a very small part of the profits "that they have made in the multiple" whereas, conversely, the problem is very great for the social security funds which, she said, are losing some 24 billion euros "and, indeed, at a time when unemployment is rising and a large section of the country's population is living in total poverty".

    Even with the agreement, Papariga predicted that if the Greek government does not succeed in generating primary surpluses the country will be led to a default on payments and, essentially, again to bankruptcy.

    [13] New loan agreement 'disappointing', LAOS leader stresses

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday expressed "disappointment" with the agreement reached at Monday's Eurogroup meeting concerning the loans to Greece, saying that he had not expected his fears to be confirmed to such an extent.

    Karatzaferis, whose small right-wing party pulled out of a three-party coalition supporting the interim government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos at the last moment, refusing to approve the terms of the new loan agreement demanded by Greece's creditors, made the statement shortly before his party's Executive Secretariat was due to meet to discuss its stance toward the second bailout deal and the laws that will implement the agreements.

    "I am fully disappointed. I hope the Greek people can hold up," he said.

    In earlier statements to a Greek radio station, Karatzaferis said the deal was "expected" but would yield nothing from a social point of view.

    "There will be no reduction in unemployment, or the new poor and the homeless. It will be a hard life," he said and stressed that default was not necessarily the only other option that had been available to Greece.

    "Now, with this development and the agreement we have both humiliated ourselves internationally and we will be unable to borrow on international markets before 2020," he added, saying that the ministers that agreed to the deal and especially the tight oversight of Greek ministries should resign.

    [14] LAOS party leader on implementing law

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis said Tuesday his party decided to vote against the implementing bill of an greement with the troika and finalised during a marathon Eurogroup meeting that lasted into the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, "unless there are things that are included in the party's programme".

    He was speaking after Tuesday night's Executive Secretariat meeting where the issue was discussed.

    He expressed reservations on whether the present government can implement the agreement's predictions "not in a mistaken way", while criticising the government for its moves.

    Karatzaferis also expressed fears that (Prime Minister Lucas) "Mr. Papademos, (New Democracy party leader Antonis) Mr. Samaras and (PASOK party leader George) Mr. Papandreou were not able to secure anything from what a positive course for the country would secure tomorrow".

    [15] Tsipras: 'Painful' agreement 'binding on those who sign it'

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday blasted a deal on Greece agreed in the early hours of the day after a marathon Eurogroup session in Brussels, warning that the agreement does not render the Greek debt sustainable, but rather everything that would supposedly be averted will become reality.

    Tsipras said that "the agreement concerns and binds exclusively those who sign it", adding that "this time the jubilation will not last even three days".

    "Not only will the debt not be rendered sustainable, but everything they were telling us that we will avoid -- and were threatening us with terrorising announcements that we must avoid if the agreement is signed - - all these will become reality, if this government and this agreement survive," he warned.

    Tsipras described the agreement as "painful for the Greek society", predicting that "in the coming period salaries and pensions will shrink further, schools and hospitals will collapse", and "a major section of the population will not have access to staple consumer goods".

    He also spoke of "unprecedented and despicable" haste in proceeding to an escrow account "for the purpose of repayment exclusively of the debt to the loansharks, and not for the domestic social needs" which, he said, was a "rehearsal for constitutionalisation of neo-liberalism at Europe-wide level" that would lead Europe "on paths of disintegration".

    It is obvious, however, that this agreement concerns and binds exclusively those who sign it, he said, stressing that the Greek people "won't sign". It is being signed by a government that has no legitimisation by the people, and therefore binds only the members of the Cabinet. It is not binding on the Hellenic Republic, on the Greek society, and obviously on the Left, Tsipras said.

    [16] Leftist leader lashes out at gov't policies in letter addressed to European leaders

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday once again expressed strong reservations over the adherence and observation of the agreements that will be reached by the present government.

    In a letter addressed to the eurozone leaders, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament president Martin Schulz, Tsipras lashed out at the government's policies, actions and decisions.

    He stressed that "as soon as the Greek people's right to democratically express their will is restored and regain control of their country's democratic institutions, they will most likely reconsider the agreements the present government will reach." He said that "the Greek people will not accept losing their sovereignty, or tolerate external interventions, selling public companies, land or other assets."

    [17] Bakoyannis: Delayed decision, but in right direction

    Democratic Alliance leader and former ND foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Tuesday that the Eurogroup decision on Greece was in the right direction, although late in coming.

    "Europe, albeit delayed, did its duty yesterday," Bakoyannis said, adding that the Greek people, due to their sacrifices and efforts over the last two years, succeeded in averting an unstructured default by Greece and in the country having a substantial opportunity to remain in the euro.

    "We have a tough course ahead of us. Now, even deeper and speedier changes must be made in order to transform our state, first and foremost, and then the country, so that the Greek society may quickly and permanently exit the crisis," she said.

    Bakoyannis said that her party has been vindicated by the developments, because "all this time it has consistently followed a policy of reason, unity and, above all, the rationale that places the interests of the country above the party interests..."

    [18] IMF's Lagarde welcomes Eurogroup deal on Greece

    International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde welcomed the agreement on Greece reached in the early morning hours of Tuesday after a marathon Eurogroup meeting, announcing that "as soon as the prior actions agreed with the Greek authorities are implemented and adequate financial contribution from the private sector is secured, I intend to make a recommendation to our Executive Board regarding IMF financing to support a programme".

    She added that: "The success of this strategy crucially depends on full and timely policy implementation by Greece and long-term support by euro area member states. Recognizing the sacrifice involved for the Greek people, the strategy will also aim to minimize the impact on the poorest and most vulnerable."

    Lagarde's statement, issued in Brussels after the Eurogroup meeting, was released by the IMF headquarters in Washington.

    The full text of Lagarde's statement follows:

    "I welcome the proposed understandings reached today by the Euro Group to support Greece.

    The combination of ambitious and broad policy efforts by Greece, and substantial and long-term financial contributions by the official and private sectors, will create the space needed to secure improvements in debt sustainability and competitiveness. These actions, together with a significant strengthening of the financial sector, will pave the way for a gradual resumption of economic growth.

    The success of this strategy crucially depends on full and timely policy implementation by Greece and long-term support by euro area member states. Recognizing the sacrifice involved for the Greek people, the strategy will also aim to minimize the impact on the poorest and most vulnerable.

    As soon as the prior actions agreed with the Greek authorities are implemented and adequate financial contribution from the private sector is secured, I intend to make a recommendation to our Executive Board regarding IMF financing to support a program.

    I also welcome today's discussion on ensuring the adequacy of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which will help bolster the firewall against financial contagion, catalyze efforts to enhance IMF resources, and help secure global stability for the benefit of all."

    [19] IIF chief: Greek debt deal very significant to all parties

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/V.Demiris)

    A deal reached with Greek creditors, on a voluntary basis, is very strong for private creditors, fair for all parties participating in the deal and offering significant benefits to Greece, Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, during a news conference with Jean Lemierre, IIF crisis resolution official, Dallara emphasized that the PSI deal avoided a disorderly default of Greece, which could have very negative consequences to the country and expressed his confidence that a large number of Greek creditors would participate in the debt restructuring deal.

    Dallara welcomed a very positive stance showed by both the Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in working out a solution on PSI and stressed that there was a lack of determination from the Greek side which lead to a worsening of the situation after the initiatives taken by Nicola Sarkozy and Angela Merkel in Deauville in May 2010. He also criticized the inactivity of Eurozone authorities which caused even greater doubts for private investors. Dallara stressed that the idea of introducing CACs by the Greek government was not very attractive to the Institute, while Jean Lemierre noted that it was up to the Greek authorities to decide on the issue.

    Lemierre said that a 53.5 pct haircut on the nominal value of Greek bonds represented losses of more than 70 pct for private bondholders.

    [20] Greek aid package not gift but loan, Austrian chancellor says

    VIENNA (AMNA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Austrian Chancellor and Socialdemocrat party leader Chancellor Werner Feynman indicated that the new aid package to Greece is not a "gift" but a "loan" while speaking after Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting in Vienna, expressing his satisfaction at the same time over the results of the Eurogroup's session in Brussels.

    Feynman considers as considerable the fact that Greece did everything possible to fulfill the terms of the "troika" which, as he said, will have to be observed in the future as well and there shall be a discussion frequently on whether Greece is implementing its international commitments. However, with the current aid package a considerable step has been taken, but without all the problems being resolved.

    [21] New loan agreement needs 'immediate amendment', Athens Chamber president says

    The president of Athens' Chamber of Industry and Commerce Constantinos Michalos on Tuesday stressed that the new loan agreement signed by Greece with its EU partners and creditors was not the unqualified success that it was presented to be. He stressed that the deal would need immediate amendments.

    "The country has signed a leonine agreement with its partners and creditors that it is necessary to amend immediately, at least in terms of the part that concerns supporting the country not to pay off loans but to carry out investments," Michalos said.

    He noted that the Eurogroup decision for a new loan agreement and the bond swap gave Greece a "small breather" so that it could try to solve its long-term and acute economic problems.

    "Nevertheless, it cannot be taken as a decision that will finally and successfully resolve the country's fiscal issues and, chiefly, it will not give the Greek economy growth momentum," he added.

    Michalos pointed out that the deal pushed back the prospect of default in the medium-term but would not lead to fiscal reform, since based on the figures the public debt will be the same or higher after 10 years of harsh austerity. In fact, he added, keeping Greece's public debt at 120 percent of GDP involved measures that were punishing for both businesses and individuals and tended to make the recession even worse.

    [22] PM Papademos to meet FM Dimas, UN envoy Nimetz on Wednesday

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will meet with Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas at 12 noon on Wednesday.

    A few hours later, at 15:30, Papademos will meet the UN's special envoy Matthew Nimetz, coming from Skopje.

    At 18:30, the prime minister will meet the president and vice president of the European Investments Bank Werner Hoyer and Plutarchos Sakellaris.

    [23] PASOK party leader Papandreou to meet FM Dimas on Wednesday morning

    PASOK party leader George Papandreou will be holding a meeting with Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas in his office in Parliament at 10 on Wednesday morning.

    [24] Justice minister announces changes in bankruptcy code

    Justice minister Miltiadis Papaioannou on Tuesday announced that the government is considering amending article 99 of the Bankruptcy Code to become more effective.

    In a press conference, he pointed out that the implementation of the article in question has led so far to law violations with those liable managing to dodge obligations while avoiding to be brought to justice.

    He stated that the changes considered are aimed at ensuring the sustainability of enterprises while salvaging job positions. He underlined that roughly 7 bankruptcy applications were filed in 2005 under article 99, compared with more than 2,000 in 2011.

    The justice minister also unveiled a draft law on trading companies, underlining that it seeks to salvage and protect the small and medium sized companies by including, for the first time, a provision according to which, a company that goes bankrupt will not necessarily have to be dissolved.

    Referring to the demand for no salary reductions tabled by the associations of court justices, he said that he will not tolerate the threat made by the judiciary that they will not perform their duties in case their paychecks are smaller.

    On the nationwide strike called by the Bar Associations until Feb. 29, Papaioannou said that he sees no reason for the mobilization.

    [25] LA.O.S leader queries PM on energy shortage risk

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Kara-tzaferis on Tuesday tabled a question in Parliament directed to the prime minister underlining that Greece is faced with a direct risk of energy shortage as a result of the EU decision to impose an embargo on Iranian oil exports.

    Karatzaferis pointed out that "the Greek oil market depends largely on Iranian oil imports, on credit," adding that "seeking new suppliers could be very hard in the present conjuncture."

    The LA.O.S leader underlined that "the country's electricity supply network is on the verge of collapse and is in a state of alert as a result of the extreme weather conditions; the ban on electricity exports into effect in neighboring Balkan states and the problems in the supply of Greece with Azeri natural gas transported via Turkey".

    [26] Samaras visits Greek armed forces in Cyprus

    NICOSIA (AMNA / A. Viketos)

    "There is still hope and the right to be optimistic so long as everybody does their duty for the country," New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras said here on Tuesday, addressing the members of the Greek armed forces stationed in Cyprus (EL.DYK).

    Samaras, currently on a visit to Cyprus, lunched with EL.DYK officers, during which he praised their moral character, endurance and vigour.

    [27] Libyan embassy turns over arms cache to counter-terrorism service in Athens

    Acting on the orders of the current Libyan government, the Libyan Embassy in Athens has turned over an arms cache found on embassy grounds to Greece's counter-terrorism service. The arms cache, consisting of several fire-arms, explosives and ammunition dating back to the Gaddafi era, was turned over to Greek authorities on Monday morning.

    It includes 19 pistols of various types and calibres, 11 revolvers, two 9mm sub-machineguns with a folding shoulder stock, bullets, eight silencers, clips, 15 kilos of explosives, five detonators, two hand grenades, a detector for explosives and a device to check for phone taps.

    The weapons have been sent for ballistics testing to the Greek Police criminal laboratories and the counter-terrorism service has launched a preliminary investigation to the affair.

    Financial News

    [28] Greece announces terms of PSI programme

    The Hellenic Republic on Tuesday announced the key terms of a voluntary transaction in adherence with a 26 October 2011 Euro Summit Statement, known as the Private Sector Involvement, and in the context of its economic reform programme that has been agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The transaction is expected to include private sector holders of approximately 206 billion euros aggregate outstanding face amount of Greek bonds (excluding treasury bills).

    The transaction is expected to involve a consent solicitation and an invitation to private sector holders of certain Greek bonds to exchange their holdings of existing Greek bonds for new bonds to be issued by the Hellenic Republic having a face amount equal to 31.5% of the face amount of the debt exchanged and notes of the European Financial Stability Facility maturing within 24 months having a face amount equal to 15% of the face amount of the debt exchanged, each to be delivered by the Hellenic Republic at settlement. Each participating holder will also receive detachable GDP-linked securities of the Hellenic Republic with a notional amount equal to the face amount of the new bonds of the Hellenic Republic issued to that participating holder. The full terms of the transaction will be set out in the relevant invitation memoranda which are expected to be made available in the coming week.

    The Greek government will shortly submit to the Greek parliament a draft bill which, if passed, will introduce a collective action clause into eligible Greek law governed bonds of the Hellenic Republic as determined by the Council of Ministers of the Hellenic Republic. If passed, this law will be available to be used in the implementation of the PSI transaction if necessary to achieve participation at the levels anticipated by the 26 October 2011 Euro Summit Statement.

    "A successful PSI transaction is required to bring Greece's debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward path reaching 120.5% by 2020," said Mr. Evangelos Venizelos, Greece's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. "It is also a condition for the continued disbursements by the official sector, which are essential for the implementation by Greece of its economic reform programme. We have been consulting with our private sector creditors to design a transaction that is consistent with the Euro Summit Statement of 26 October 2011 and that will both enjoy broad support from investors and further the country's goal of achieving a sustainable debt profile."

    Summary Terms of the New Bonds to be issued by the Republic

    Co-Financing Agreement:: Holders of the New Bonds will be entitled to the benefit of, and will be bound by, a Co-Financing Agreement among, inter alios, the Republic, the New Bond Trustee and the European Financial Stability Facility (the "EFSF") linking the New Bonds to the Republic's loan from the EFSF of up to EUR30 billion in a variety of ways including the appointment of a common paying agent, the inclusion of a turnover covenant and the payment of principal and interest on the New Bonds and the EFSF loan on the same dates and on a pro rata basis.

    Final maturity: 2004

    Amortization: Commencing on the 11th anniversary of the issue date.

    Coupon: 2.0 percent per annum to payment date in 2015; 3.0 percent per annum to payment date in 2020; 4.3 percent per annum thereafter.

    Accrued Interest: Any accrued and unpaid interest (including additional amounts, if any) on the existing Greek bonds will be paid with 6-month securities issued by the EFSF.

    Negative Pledge: Yes

    Collective Action Clause: The New Bonds shall contain an aggregated collective action clause based on the latest draft collective action clause published by the EU Economic and Financial Committee's Sub-Committee on EU Sovereign Debt Markets.

    Form: Registered in the Book Entry System of the Bank of Greece.

    Listing: Application will be made to list the New Bonds on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Clearing: All New Bonds will clear through the Bank of Greece (BOGs) clearing system.

    Taxation: The Republic will gross up any payments that become subject to withholding for a tax imposed by the Republic, subject to exceptions.

    GDP-lined Securities: Each participating holder will also receive detachable GDP-linked Securities of the Republic with a notional amount equal to the face amount of the New Bonds of the Republic issued to that participating holder. The GDP-linked Securities will provide for annual payments beginning in 2015 of an amount of up to 1% of their notional amount in the event the Republic's nominal GDP exceeds a defined threshold and the Republic has positive GDP growth in real terms in excess of specified targets.

    Governing Law: English law

    [29] Entrepreneur Week con'f in Athens

    Investment opportunities, exchange of know-how on entrepreneurship issues and best practices, networking between business communities in the US and Greece with an emphasis on new and innovative entrepreneurship will dominate in the Entrepreneur Week Conference to be hosted in Athens.

    The conference, to take place on Feb. 23-25, is held under the auspices of the ministries of finance, development and education, organized by the Hellenic Start-up Association and the Entrepreneur Week with the support of YES - European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs.

    [30] US$122 mln finance deal for 3 new vessels by Chinese shipyard

    China Development Bank and the Chinese shipyards Dryships signed a deal worth 122.58 million US dollars for the partial financing of three new Greek-owned vessels (206,000 dwt capacity each), currently under construction in Shanghai Jiangnan-Changxing.

    The signing took place on Feb. 13, 2012 in Ningxia Province capital, Yinchuan.

    The Greek side was represented by XRTC Business Consultants Shipping Finance.

    The deal was part of the five-billion-dollar Sino-Greek shipping finance special scheme that was announced by the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during his visit in Greece in October 2010.

    [31] Business Briefs

    -- Business expectations in the tourism sector fell significantly in the fourth quarter of 2011, a survey conducted by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), in cooperation with the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), showed on Tuesday.

    -- Greece's new home building materials' price index rose 0.7 pct in January this year, compared with the same month last year, after a 3.9-pct increase in January 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Tuesday.

    [32] Stocks end 3.47 pct down

    Stocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as investors took profits - a normal reaction of the market after a Eurogroup meeting approved a new bailout package for Greece. Sentiment, however, was undermined by an IMF report on the sustainability of the Greek public debt, which claimed that Greece may need a third bailout package.

    Analysts added that completion of the new lending agreement paved the way for general elections in the country, a development which the market will begin assessing shortly. Bank shares were at the epicenter of selling, hit by a larger-than-expected burden envisaged by the terms of a PSI programme.

    The composite index of the market fell 3.47 pct to end at 797.13 points, with turnover a moderate 77.063 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 5.25 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 1.67 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.54 pct higher. Coca Cola 3E (0.41 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher. Piraeus Bank (13.80 pct), Eurobank (13.33 pct), Alpha Bank (12.15 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (11.41 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Chemicals (5.14 pct) and Food (0.32 pct) sectors were the only ones to move higher, while Banks (9.97 pct), Financial Services (6.16 pct) and Industrial Products (5.03 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 116 to 63 with another 19 issues unchanged. Unibios (29.79 pct), Mathios (24.61 pct) and Alapis (19.84 pct) were top gainers, while Edrasi (20 pct), PC Systems (20 pct) and Euroholdings (19.35 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -5.03%

    Commercial: -0.38%

    Construction: -1.01%

    Oil & Gas: -2.94%

    Personal & Household: -2.43%

    Raw Materials: -2.57%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.59%

    Technology: -2.59%

    Telecoms: -0.75%

    Banks: -9.97%

    Food & Beverages: +0.32%

    Health: -1.79%

    Utilities: -0.96%

    Chemicals: +5.14%

    Financial Services: -6.16%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and OPAP.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 1.59

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.97

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.86

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.03

    National Bank of Greece: 2.68

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.17

    OPAP: 6.89

    OTE: 2.63

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.56

    Titan: 14.70

    [33] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 27.56 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday from 27.72 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 29.51 pct and the German Bund 1.95 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.65 pct, the six-month rate was 1.32 pct, the three-month rate was 1.03 pct and the one-month rate 0.60 pct.

    [34] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.09 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining a low 28.551 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,115 contracts worth 17.031 million euros, with 31,076 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 52,580 contracts worth 11.520 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (22,545), followed by MIG (476), OTE (1,574), PPC (1,258), OPAP (1,008), GEK (200), National Bank (18,501), Piraeus Bak (3,215), Marfin Popular Bank (476), Mytilineos (629), Cyprus Bank (1,493), Hellenic Postbank (920) and Ellaktor (104).

    [35] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.342

    Pound sterling 0.848

    Danish kroner 7.547

    Swedish kroner 8.942

    Japanese yen 106.96

    Swiss franc 1.225

    Norwegian kroner 7.632

    Canadian dollar 1.337

    Australian dollar 1.257

    General News

    [36] Petrol sellers protest over unfair Hephaestus fines

    Roughly 100 petrol station owners demonstrated outside the finance ministry on Tuesday and blocked traffic on Karageorgi Servias Street in the city centre, in protest against exorbitant fines charged by the government for delays in updating entries of sales that they say were due to a glitch in the Hephaestus programme.

    The protest was organised by the Greek Petrol Sellers' Federation and continued until 1:30 p.m, after Alternate Finance Minister Pantelis Economou agreed to meet with them on Thursday at 1:00 p.m.

    Similar protests have been planned in other Greek cities by local unions of petrol sellers, who intended to blockade local authority and tax office buildings using tanker trucks.

    Petrol station owners and sellers were demanding that the government immediately enact legislation that suspends the fines imposed on thousands of their number for transactions that are not illegal fuel trading but mistakes of the Hephaestus system or honest procedural errors in using it. The fines currently amount to 380 million euro in total for the year 2011 and, according to petrol station owners, will lead many petrol stations to bankruptcy if the government insists on collecting them.

    [37] Court rejects request by contract employees in Thessaloniki

    A Thessaloniki First Instance Court on Tuesday rejected a petition filed by 147 municipal contract workers demanding the issuance of a temporary order that would have allowed them to remain at their posts until the injunction application they have filed is discussed in court on May 28.

    Among the contract workers that resorted to justice claiming that they should be allowed to keep their jobs because they are indispensable for the smooth operation of municipal services, are sanitation workers on 8-month contracts that expired recently, as well as, workers on 12-month contracts that are being renewed since the year 2000.

    [38] Social insurance system staff to hold three-hour strike on Wednesday

    Staff working in Greece's social insurance system, with the exception of the largest pension and healthcare fund IKA, will hold a three-hour strike on Wednesday between the hours of noon and 3:00 p.m.

    Participating in the strike are social insurance fund employees (except at IKA), the General Secretariat of Social Insurances, the Organisation for the Public Sector Workers' Care, the Workers' Housing Organisation (OEK) and the Workers' Benefits Organisation (OEE).

    The strike was called in protest against the government's decision to abolish OEK and OEE and to reduce the staff of the new supplementary pension funds agency by 30 percent.

    The federation of social insurance fund staff will also organise a rally outside OEK's offices at noon on Wednesday.

    The public-sector staff union federation ADEDY expressed its support for the strike and its aims in an announcement on Tuesday and urged all public-sector workers to participate in a rally organised by ADEDY and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector, at 4:00 p.m. in Syntagma.

    [39] Burglar injures 51-year-old woman in her home

    A 51-year-old woman had to be taken to hospital with serious bruising inflicted by a burglar that entered her home on the island of Salamina early on Tuesday morning in order to rob her.

    The woman had been asleep but woke up due to the disturbance caused by the burglar, who then tied her up and beat her savagely, demanding money.

    The woman was found later by a neighbour, while police have been unable to ascertain whether the robber came away with either money or valuables.

    [40] Man dies in fire

    A 50-year-old man died in a fire that broke out in his house at dawn Tuesday in Avlona, north of Athens.

    The causes of the fire are yet unknown.

    Four fire engines rushed at the scene, but when they put out the fire they found the man dead.

    Weather forecast

    [41] Rainy on Wednesday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 15C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 13C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 12C.

    [42] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The 12-hour negotiations at the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on the second bailout loan for Greece, and the cutbacks in salaries and pensions, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "All-night bargaining for the agreement".

    AVGHI: "Starvation salaries with ministerial decision".

    AVRIANI: "They're bankrupt Greece to pay the CDS (Credit Default Swaps)".

    DIMOKRATIA: "130 billion euros with chains".

    ESTIA: "Now the race begins".

    IMERISSIA: "Agreement with hurdles - All-night thriller over the loan and the PSI".

    KATHIMERINI: "Pressures for larger 'haircut'."

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Sustainability of the Greek debt uncertain".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Rallies on Wednesday against the new Memorandum's application law".

    VRADYNI: "Judicial 'upset' of reserve labour measure - Violations of laws, EU directives and Constitution pinpointed".

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