|Thursday, 22 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-04-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 19 April 2012 Issue No: 4049
 Papademos seeks European Commission's support for policies to boost employment, growthIn a letter sent to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, details of which were released on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos asked that the Commission support Greece's efforts to implement policies designed to boost growth and employment. Papademos sent the letter on Tuesday, ahead of the Commission's report on the Greek economy due out on Wednesday.
Papademos listed ways in which the Commission might assist Greece in terms of the Greek government's six main priorities, including financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, assisting the progress of major infrastructure projects, reducing youth unemployment, the privatisations programme, energy-sector policies and efficiency in using financing available from EU structural funds.
The prime minister especially emphasised the need to continue the inflow of Community funds into Greece between 2014-2020, saying that these will help Greece fight the extended recession and implement a second economic adjustment programme in order to return to sustainable growth in coming years.
He also asked for effective solutions for EU countries in crisis in this framework, pointed out that Greece was up against a sudden and significant loss of Community funding due to the change of regime in several regions of the country and stressed that there must not be an abrupt interruption in funding for Greek agriculture in the framework of EU agricultural policy.
The Greek premier said that measure have already been taken in Greece to accelerate absorption of EU funds from the 2007-2013 period, which had led to significant results at the end of 2011. Additional measures were now being implemented, due to be completed between April and September 2012 to further enhance the flow of available Community funding into the economy. The implementation of these measures is expected to lead to an acceleration of payments for programmes costing 2.3 billion euro, for which contracts have already exist.
 Lagarde calls for deep reforms, continued austerity in GreeceBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expected the Greek government to carry out deep structural reforms and also persevere with a programme of austerity measures, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in an interview published by the German paper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on Tuesday.
In an interview that pivoted on whether Spain might find itself at the centre of a new European crisis, Lagarde said the IMF might be unpopular but defended its policies and said a "significant arsenal" of measures had been taken to avert such contagion, including insistence on tough austerity measures in Greece, Italy and Spain to strengthen the Eurozone 'firewall'.
 PASOK's Venizelos presents party plans for boosting liquidityPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday presented the party's proposals for boosting liquidity on the Greek market, stressing that this was the most crucial issue for the growth of the Greek economy.
"Everyone talks about growth but growth is not just worlds, it is specific interventions that demand liquidity, the possibility to inject money into the market," he said.
According to Venizelos, there were three channels for injecting cash into the market, which were the banking system, financial tools not offered by banks and the state.
For the banking system, in particular, PASOK had four proposals that could be carried out immediately and included bank recapitalisation with the 50 billion euro available to the Greek state to dispense for this purpose, action to encourage the return of Greek capital that had taken flight abroad or had been withdrawn from banks, ensuring that banks gradually reduced the interest rate for loans to businesses and maintained funding levels to reliable businesses faced with cash flow problems and lastly, changing the rules for inclusion in the black list of the market watchdog Teiresias.
Concerning the non-bank financial tools, Venizelos said all available funds would be channeled into a single fund for supporting small and medium-sized businesses, whose main goal would be to meet needs for working capital.
In terms of action taken by the state, PASOK's leader promised that an immediate first step would be the payment of the state's outstanding financial obligations to private businesses, amounting to an estimated 6.3 billion euro, under the new loan agreement signed with Greece's partners.
Venizelos said the Greek government would push for the front-loaded disbursement of funds for this purpose, which were included in the 130 billion euro of the new loan agreement.
He also promised an automated mechanism for VAT returns, without any human intervention, starting with the return of 900 million euro in cleared VAT returns.
A third measure would be to reduce the Greek state's borrowing through T-bills, which tied up some 10 billion euro in bank funds that would gradually become available to direct into the market at the rate of two billion every three months. A fourth and crucial measure would be to free the major investment projects funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework from the shackles of Community bureaucracy.
 Samos island shocked by news of PASOK candidate's sudden deathThe local community on the Aegean island of Samos was shocked by news that one of the candidates fielded by PASOK in their constituency, 36-year-old Dimitris Thanou, had unexpectedly died on Wednesday afternoon. Thanou was the son of the local mayor and his candidacy had been announced just the day before.
The other two candidates on PASOK's ticket are the former MP Pythagoras Vardikos and Karlovasi deputy mayor Petros Parianos.
An autopsy will be carried out to determine the precise cause of death.
 Samaras: We want to change everythingNew Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing an event at the offices of the party's affiliated youth group ONNED on Wednesday, said that "Greece can succeed and shall succeed, it is our message to the Greek people."
Outlining his basic election policy, he said that "we want to change everything and this is our big difference with the others.
We are the party of growth and social cohesion. ND guarantees recovery, the European identity, social cohesion and political stability." He referred again to the issues of security and the handling of illegal immigration, stressing that "we are the first to have said that we must retake our cities."
He once again placed majority rule as the target and called for a clear mandate from the Greek people, saying "we are asking for our hands to be freed for us to rule the country and change it."
He referred to the Tsohatzopoulos case and criticised "those politicians who were telling us that we must apologise to Akis Tsohatzopoulos", and wondered "what do they have to tell us now with the development of the case."
He further said that on May 6 ND will put an end to this statist rule.
Samaras concluded his address saying that "Greeks do not like misery, fatalism and defeatism, we are telling the truth and we are offering hope. Greece will succeed."
In another development, a presentation of ND's economic programme at the Zappion Hall in central Athens on Thursday has been postponed for Sunday, due to the strike by television technicians.
 Communist head says party will 'stop layoffs'Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday forecast what she called a rapid increase of unemployment, stressing that a solution to the problem is yet another reason for the voters to favour her communist party.
Speaking at a press conference, Papariga commented on Tuesday's announcements by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and underlined that his pledge for job positions constitutes "provocative mockery aimed one million unemployed". She stressed that unemployment will rise even if hirings are made or projects announced are completed, pointing out that the specific problem is not purely Greek but systemic in nature, and observed across Europe.
Outlining her party's positions, she said hirings in "social infrastructure", public works and healthcare are necessary and assured that KKE will fight to stop the layoffs of 150,000 public sector employees.
Papariga again rejected a proposal by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras for post-election cooperation, saying that it "is not a serious proposal considering that the two parties have nothing in common in terms of positions and strategy".
 Kouvelis criticises European 'obsession' with austerityIt had now become clear throughout the European Union that the obsession with extended austerity was strangling economies and leading their populations to despair, Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis said in statements on Wednesday.
Kouvelis pointed out that even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report called for an immediate shift to policies designed to bolster growth and active intervention by the European Central Bank to provide the Eurozone with liquidity, stressing the need to abandon the policies imposed by Merkel and Sarkozy.
He also criticised proposals made by European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso as "cowardly" and said he was wasting energy on trying to manage the communications angle of the need for a shift toward growth.
 Bakoyannis calls on voters to put her party in ParliamentDemocratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday gave a press conference ahead of the May 6 elections, characterising the parties of PASOK and New Democracy (ND) as being "incurable".
Referring to the rest of the parties running in the election, she said several propose "crazy things" and "play tough while being on the safe side". Bakoyannis, a longtime MP and minister with New Democracy before losing a leadership election, voting for the first Memorandum and subsequently being expelled, called on voters put her newly formed party in Parliament.
Responding to a question on the Barroso Report, which suggests more wage cuts in the private sector, she said the European Commission president makes a mistake "because if he was right then Bulgaria would be drowning in investments".
 Ex-PASOK MP defends collaboration with new, rightist partyCitizens' Chariot head and MP Yannis Dimaras, who left PASOK in 2010, on Wednesday stressed that "we had reached an agreement with (Radical Left Coalition parliamentary leader Alexis) Tsipras but this was rejected by his party".
Speaking to a private radio, he elaborated on a recently reached cooperation with the newly formed Independent Greeks party, saying that talks with Tsipras were long before the party, comprised mostly of disgruntled ND MPs who left that party, was formed.
Dimaras downplayed reactions in his party in response to collaboration with Panos Kammenos' Independent Greeks party, saying that its ballots will include 40 Chariot candidates.
 Poll sees 10-party parliamentA new opinion poll indicates that 10 political parties will gain seats in parliament in the May 6 general elections.
The poll, conducted by MARC and presented on private television on Tuesday night, indicated that New Democracy (ND) amassed 22.3 percent of the voter intent among the respondents and 110 seats in the 300-member parliament, with PASOK coming in second with 17.8 percent and 48 seats.
The two mainstream parties are followed by the Independent Greeks with 9.9 percent, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) with 9.8 percent and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 9.7 percent, and 26 seats each.
Following are the Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 8.6 percent and 23 seats, the ultra-right Chryssi Avghi with 5.7 percent and 15 seats, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party with 3.9 percent and 10 seats, the Ecologists-Greens with 3.1 percent and 8 seats, and Democratic Alliance with 3.0 percent and 8 seats.
A further 6.2 percent of the respondents said that they will vote for some other party.
Also, 44 percent of the respondents described their vote as one of "protest and punishment", whereas 43.4 percent described their vote as one of "backing of proposals".
 Opinion poll gives 'mainstream' parties less than 30 pct combinedThe 'mainstream' PASOK and New Democracy parties combined, together command less than 30 percent of the vote according to a Pulse RC opinion poll published by the Greek newspaper 'To Pontiki' on Wednesday. According to the findings of the poll, the upcoming elections might even result in a 10-party Parliament, with eight parties in the poll clearing the 3 percent 'minimum' required for a seat and two collecting 2.5 percent.
ND led the pack with 17.5 percent of the vote, with PASOK a distant second at 12 percent. The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) came in third at 9 percent, followed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 8.5 percent, the right-wing Independent Greeks party at 8 percent, Democratic Left with 7 percent, ultra-right-wing nationalists Golden Dawn at 4.5 percent, Ecologists-Greens with 3 percent, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) at 2.5 percent and the Democratic Alliance at 2.5 percent.
Those saying they would abstain or cast a blank vote in the elections amounted to 11 percent, with 8.5 percent undecided.
The opinion poll was conducted using a sample of 1,209 participants throughout Greece.
 Ministerial decision on election air timeThe cross-party elections committee on Wednesday convened for the first time ahead of the May 6 elections, focusing on the broadcast time to be allocated to political parties on public-run radio and television. The air time in private media will be determined by the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV).
Interior Minister Tassos Yannitsis said the election air time will be allocated to political parties represented in the national parliament and the European Parliament, based on their current seats. A relevant ministerial decision will be issued shortly.
In the last election, the two major political parties (PASOK, New Democracy) were allocated a total of 75 pct of the broadcast time with the remaining 25 pct reserved for the smaller political parties.
 Tsohatzopoulos, co-defendants testify before examining magistrateFormer PASOK minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos denied, in testimony before an examining magistrate on Wednesday, that he received any bribes or kickbacks during his political career. The jailed ex-minister testified in a money laundering case related with defence ministry armaments' programmes.
"I have received no gifts or engaged in quid pro quo practices throughout my political career," Tsohatzopoulos said in his testimony and rejected accusations of money laundering aimed at concealing bribes he allegedly received for armaments programmes while he was in the ministry of defence. He also rejected accusations that he was involved in offshore firms.
The examining magistrate repeatedly underlined to the former minister that a number of people close to him appear in the controversial offshore firms and are involved in transactions of real estate purchased by members of his family, a pattern characterised as a series of "coincidences" by the defendant.
Nikos Zigras, a cousin of Tsohatzopoulos and one of the defendants in custody pending trial, invoked his right to refrain from testifying by saying that he did not have enough time to prepare his testimony.
Accountant Efrosini Lambropoulou testified that Zigras never had companies in his possession despite Tsohatzopoulos' allegations to the contrary.
Asterios Economidis, owner of a construction company that renovated real estate property that ended up in the possession of Tsohatzopoulos and also sold a house to his daughter, maintained in his testimony that it was impossible for him to know about the charges against the former minister.
Entrepreneur Giorgos Sahpatzidis, who bought the Kifissias Avenue real estate from TORCASO and subsequently sold it to the Vatopedi Monastery, said that did not know that Zigras or Tsohatzopoulos could be behind the offshore firm which was involved in the transaction.
An indictment claims that the longtime PASOK cadre received kickbacks for the Russian-made Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missile system and the German-made 214-type submarines from the shipbuilder HDW.
 New fraud case in insurance fundA new fraud case has come to light in an insurance fund, this time with the Farmers Pension Fund (OGA). As was revealed by OGA's leadership, involved in the case are insured persons, tour agencies and hotels participating in the social tourism programmes.
Speaking to a television news programme on Wednesday morning, the head of OGA said that during a sample check of 30 hotels participating in the programme, 25 closed units appear as hosting beneficiaries insured by OGA.
According to OGA, beneficiaries did not go on holidays but illegally sold the "ticket" for a certain fee to tour agencies, which in turn forwarded them to these specific hotels and appeared falsely as hosting insured persons.
 NATO FMs, DMs con'f in BrusselsBELGIUM (AMNA - V. Demiris)
The developments and prospects of the Atlantic Alliance's operation in Afghanistan, as well as the process of the revision of NATO's deterrence and defence provision were the focus of a joint conference of NATO's Foreign Affairs and Defence ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.
Athens' positions were presented by the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers, Stavros Dimas and Dimitris Avramopoulos, respectively.
The foreign minister cited Greece's contribution to the Alliance's joint efforts in Afghanistan.
 FinMin: No commitment on salariesFinance minister Filippos Sahinidis warned on Wednesday that the government cannot make any commitments on salaries and pensions, noting: "No one can make any commitment, not because the will does not exist, but because what is truly needed and what we must insist on is that our country needs to abide by the commitments it has undertaken".
He added that if Greece is consistent with the commitments it has undertaken with respect to materialisation of its program, "then yes, the country has no obligation to proceed to further cuts that will lead the salary earners to an even worse situation".
Sahinidis also stressed the need for reduction of the deficit, speaking on private Real radio station, adding that the new measures will be "the major decision that will be taken from the government that will emerge from the elections" on May 6.
The minister further said that Greece is included among the countries where a lot of money is paid for public services and benefits, but its citizens are not satisfied, adding that the structures and services need to be re-evaluated, noting that "some of them shouldn't even exist".
 Fund Energy to challenge exclusion from DEPA privatisation tender in courtFund Energy intends to challenge a decision for its exclusion from a tender for the privatisation of Greece's Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) in court, lawyers representing the firm announced in Athens on Wednesday.
Fund Energy is asking the courts to either cancel the tender entirely or to reverse a decision for its exclusion by the Fund for the Exploitation of State Private Property as illegal and unjustified.
Fund Energy claims a lack of transparency in the procedures for the tender and failure to protect the public interest, asking that its bid be evaluated on an equal footing as that of other bidders.
Among others, it claims that it promptly and legally supplied letters of guarantee for 400 million euro from the banks Credit Suisse and Hyposuisse, proving its financial ability to support the investment and expressed a desire to carry out long-term and strategic investments in Greece.
 Eurobank to boost capital base by one billion euroEurobank on Wednesday announced that the sale of shares in two subsidiaries and a buyback of outstanding debt would help boost its capital base by approximately one billion euro and increase its liquidity.
These include the sale by the end of the month of 70 percent of Polbank to the Austrian bank Raiffeisen, approved by Polish authorities on Tuesday, to be accompanied by a merger between Polbank and Raiffeisen (RBI Poland) in which Eurobank will retain a 13 percent share and the option to sell at any time.
Also agreed is the sale of Eurobank Tekfen to Kuwait's Burgan Bank, to be completed in the third quarter of the year, while the bank has recently successfully completed a buyback of outstanding debt securities.
Combined, the three moves are expected to increase Eurobank's Core Tier 1 capital ratio by 210 bps and increase the bank's liquidity by 3.6 billion euro, while in total they are equivalent to a capital boost of more than one billion euro, reducing the bank's need for new capital in the framework of a recapitalisation of the Greek banking system.
 Ammouliani isle signs on with German tour agencyTwelve hotels on the small island of Ammouliani, the only inhabited isle off verdant Halkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece, are focusing on the German tourist market by signing a cooperation deal with "Smart Apart", an online booking agency.
The islet's hotels are also included in the German agency's "ABC Griechenland" catalogues, while a similar deal is likely with tourist enterprises in Ouranoupolis, Olympiada and Pirgadikia.
The 4.5-square-kilometer island of Ammouliani is located off the Mount Athos Bay, some 120 km east of Thessaloniki.
 Sluggish market up marginallyVolume and turnover remained at extremely low levels on Wednesday at the Athens Stock Exchange, with the general index of market closing at 726.65 points, up 0.79 pct.
Trading volume reached only 25 million euros, with 62 shares declining, 50 up and 163 remaining unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.79%
Personal & Household: +0.09%
Raw Materials: -1.99%
Travel & Leisure: +0.60%
Food & Beverages: +4.33%
Financial Services: -0.26%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.17
Public Power Corp (PPC): 2.86
HBC Coca Cola: 14.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.71
National Bank of Greece: 1.86
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.70
Bank of Piraeus: 0.30
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.328
Pound sterling 0.831
Danish kroner 7.550
Swedish kroner 8.982
Japanese yen 108.24
Swiss franc 1.221
Norwegian kroner 7.665
Canadian dollar 1.316
Australian dollar 1.281
 Record auction bid for first Marathon silver cupThe silver cup kept for more than a century by the winner of the first marathon at the inaugural modern Olympics of Athens in 1896 was purchased on Wednesday for a record 541,250 pounds (651,000 euros) by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, during a Christie's auction in London.
The cup was put on auction by the family of Spyros Louis, the legendary Maroussi water-bearer who finished first at the 1896 Games, earning himself a prominent place in the modern Greek sports pantheon.
The silver cup, named for French philologist Michel Breal, the inspiration behind the holding of the first marathon, stands only six inches tall.
The Niarchos Foundation, founded via the will of late shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, reportedly plans to put the cup on display at a state-of-the-art exhibition centre in southern coastal Athens (the Faliro Delta site), scheduled for completion in 2015.
"Breal's silver cup will be shared with the public and serve as a reminder of our (Greek) history, heritage and resilient spirit," foundation co-chair Andreas Dracopoulos said shortly afterwards.
"Our hope is that the cup inspires and rekindles Greek pride, just as Louis' victory did on the last day of what would become the modern Olympic Games."
In Athens, Hellenic Olympic Committee (EOE) president Spyros Kapralos praised the purchase by the Niarchos Foundation.
"The specific trophy has a heightened symbolic significance not only for the Olympic ideal and athletics but also for Greece itself."
 Three dead, 7 injured in two road accidentsThree people were killed and seven were injured in two traffic accidents on Crete and in Thessaloniki.
Two people were killed and four were injured in a road accident in Iraklion, Crete, late Tuesday night. The accident occurred when the 36-year-old driver of the car lost control of the vehicle, which then rammed into a protective bar on the Iraklio-Messara stretch of the national highway.
A 71-year-old woman passenger died instantly while another 68-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries a few hours later.
Injured in the accident were the 36-year-old driver and his three children -- an 11-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy and an infant, who were hospitalised and are reported to be in a non-life threatening condition.
In a second accident in Serres, northern Greece, on Tuesday night, a woman was killed and three people were injured, one of them seriously, in a head-on collision between two cars.
A 61-year-old front-seat passenger was killed while her husband, who was driving the car, suffered light injuries and a 56-year-old woman passenger was seriously injured. The driver of the second car was also lightly injured, while the two other passengers were unscathed.
Police are investigating the circumstances under which both accidents occurred.
 Hospital financial mismanagement case to justice after 6-year delayA case involving the wasteful use of orthopedic supplies that set back Edessa's Hospital by an estimated 1.8 million euro was finally referred to a public prosecutor on Wednesday, after a delay of roughly six years. The Health and Welfare Services' Inspectors' Corps report on the case was sent to the Edessa public prosecutor and internal disciplinary action taken against the hospital staff involved, while civil suits are to be filed against both the staff and the companies in order to return the lost funds to the hospital.
The inspectors' investigation was carried out after the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) refused to cover the cost of the supplies. It showed that the procurement was done at the legal price but the hospital suffered financial damage as a result of over-use of the supplies bought in ways that did not enhance patient health.
In spite of the findings, there was a delay in referring the case to justice because the term of the investigative team's leader ended in the midst of the investigation.
 Super League resultsOlympiacos Piraeus beat PAS Yiannina 4-0 away in games played for the Super League on Wednesday, while Panathinaikos Athens beat Asteras Tripoli 2-0 away and AEK Athens drew 0-0 at home with Atromitos Athens.
In other action:
Panionios Athens - Xanthi 1-1
Ergotelis Crete - Levadiakos Livadia 0-1
Panetolikos Agrinio - Aris Thessaloniki 5-1
PAOK Thessaloniki - Doxa Drama 2-0
Kerkyra - OFI Crete 4-1
Standings after 29 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 70 points
2. Panathinaikos 63
3. PAOK 50
4. Atromitos 50
5. AEK 47
6. Asteras 42
7. OFI 37
8. Aris 36
9. Levadiakos 36
10. PAS Yiannina 35
11. Xanthi 33
12. Panionios 33
13. Kerkyra 31
14. Ergotelis 29
15. Panetolikos 28
16. Doxa 16
NOTE: Panathinaikos and Aris have each had three points deducted.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 4-7 beauforte. Temperatures between 5C and 23C. Fair in Athens with southerly 4-6 beauforte winds and temperatures between 12C and 22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 8C and 19C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe political fluidity, the candidate lists for the May 6 parliamentary elections announced by the political parties, the IMF report on the European economy, and the remand in custody pending trial of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his close associates were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Samaras: Untie my hands so that I may government".
AVGHI: "PASOK-ND are the scandal".
AVRIANI: "Those who gave kickbacks to Akis (Tsohatzopoulos) should be arrested and jailed".
DIMOKRATIA: "ND's lists of candidates".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "On to the elections battle with 'old' and new names".
ESTIA: "How the electoral law works".
ETHNOS: "Parliament 'Babel' - Ten parties, and end to self-sufficiency".
IMERISSIA: "Lagarde (IMF chief) against Merkel (German chancellor) - IMF recommends abandonment of 'Merkel line' and adoption of more development-friendly policy financed by Euro-bonds and further relaxation by European Central Bank".
KATHIMERINI: "Tsohatzopoulos in Korydallos prison".
LOGOS: "Austerity until 2030
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Perpetuating austerity and new measures of 24 billion euro for Greece".
NIKI: "What is changing for the over-indebted households and the unemployed".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The KKE candidate lists".
TA NEA: "The salaries of 700,000 (private sector) employees on the negotiations table".
VRADYNI: "Government abolishing social benefits of 120,000 beneficiaries".
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