|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-01-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 23 January 2013 Issue No: 4277
 Greek budget deficit fell to 8.1 pct of GDP in 2012Greece's primary budget deficit dropped by 46 pct to 3.5 billion euros (or 1.8 pct of GDP) in 2012, from 6.4 billion euros in 2011 (3.1 pct of GDP), the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the ministry said that the budget target for last year's primary deficit was 4.6 billion euros (2.4 pct of GDP).
The state budget deficit totaled 15.7 billion euros in 2012 (8.1 pct of GDP), down from 22.8 billion euros in the previous year (10.9 pct of GDP), for a decline of 31 pct. The budget target for last year's shortfall was 16.3 billion euros (8.4 pct of GDP).
The Public Investment Programme's spending rose to 6.1 billion euros in the January-December period last year, from 3.6 billion euros in the January-November period, reflecting improved liquidity conditions and higher capital inflows from the European Union. Net budget revenues, although down compared with 2011, reached budget targets with pre-return tax revenues, surpassing a budget target by 119 million euros.
Primary spending fell 8.6 pct to 47.1 billion euros in the 12-month period last year, from 51.6 billion euros in 2011, exceeding a budget target for a decline rate of 7.7 pct in 2012.
Commenting on the figures, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said, "Final budget execution figures show that the country achieved its fiscal targets in 2012, evidence that huge sacrifices made by Greek citizens are showing results. This huge adjustment is a necessary, but not the only, precondition to exiting the crisis. More efforts are needed in political and social consensus and cohesion to put the economy in a restarting process".
 Premier Antonis Samaras meets with US, Canadian business leadersPrime Minister Antonis Samaras met with US and Canadian business leaders at Maximos Mansion on Tuesday to discuss investments in Greece.
The premier briefed them on his targets for the economy and for boosting business. Also attending were the chiefs of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) and Invest in Greece.
 SYRIZA leader arrives in WashingtonWASHINGTON (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)
Main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras arrived in Washington on Tuesday, following his visit to San Francisco. In statements to the AMNA concerning his four-day trip to the United States, he said this would allow SYRIZA to "present its views and positions and our alternative proposal for an exit from the crisis".
"It is important to have the opportunity to present our opinion and proposals without intermediaries," he added, noting that the main aim of his visit was to "gain experiences in a country that plays a very important role in international affairs".
Commenting on the inaugural speech given on Monday by U.S. President Barack Obama, Tsipras noted that this was frankly progressive in its tone and focused on social justice. He also favourably compared the policy adopted by the U.S. to tackle the economic crisis with what he called a "catastrophic" insistence on austerity on the other side of the Atlantic.
"I believe there are shared concerns and shared interests, because at this time the policy being followed in Greece, the policy of recession - throughout Europe - creates dangers of instability for the global economy," Tsipras said.
SYRIZA's leader said his visit would include speeches at the Brookings Institute and the University of Columbia, an opportunity to address the Greek-American community, meetings with the leadership of the International Monetary Fund and with a representative of the U.S. State Department.
His first stop in Washington will be the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), followed by a speech at the Brookings Institute on "Greece and the economic challenges of the future". Later on, he will attend a dinner at the American-Hellenic Institute.
 Tsipras outlines SYRIZA's strategy to Washington's Brookings InstitutionWASHINGTON (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)
"Is there anything to fear by the left wing in Greece? In what way are we radical?," visiting leader of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras asked an audience at Brookings Institution, Washington, on Tuesday. And he answered: "Scaremongers will tell you that our party, if it comes to government, will scrap the loan agreement with the European Union and the IMF, will lead the country out of the euro zone, will interrupt Greece's ties with the civilized West, and that Greece will become a new North Korea."
Tsipras' speech was preceded by introductory remarks by Brookings Institution managing director William Antholis, while the discussion with questions from the audience was coordinated by Brookings' economic analyst Domenico Lombardi.
The event was attended by a number of ambassadors, including Greece's Christos Panagopoulos and Cyprus' Pavlos Anastasiadis, as well as by academics, analysts and journalists.
"When I was little," Tsipras said, "I remember my elders telling me that if America grabs a cold, Greece will get ill with pneumonia. Today, I hear that some of your politicians warn the U.S. government to listen to them if you do not want to be...Greece. One thing is clear: our countries can be very different in size and structure. We also know that there are shadows and problems of the past that we want to overcome. But there are strong ties which in a globalized landscape are becoming stronger. Because our own destruction affects you as well."
Presenting SYRIZA's positions for the future, Tsipras stressed that his party wanted to establish a mutually beneficial dialogue with progressive thinkers in the U.S. "We have to prove that humanity has become wiser by the destruction that has been through."
 FM: Crisis should not become an introversion alibi"The crisis must not become an alibi for introversion," noted Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos in statements after his meeting on Tuesday with PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
After the meeting, Avramopoulos said that, given PASOK's participation in the coalition government and the current conditions, it was a substantial discussion because "the highest level of agreement must be reached." The crisis, he added, is not an internal issue, and the building of alliances with partners throughout the world is mandatory.
On his part, Venizelos said that foreign policy should be leveraged to "take advantage of the country's turn out of the crisis." He underlined that "rallying to support the national strategy must extend beyond the limits of the three parties," and called on everyone's modern patriotic duty, which is the recovery of our national strength."
 FM discusses foreign policy with PASOK leaderForeign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met with PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday to discuss the "establishment of a national consensus".
Avramopoulos pointed out that it was mandatory that there is national agreement on issues of foreign policy, while Venizelos underlined the importance of the meeting.
Officials from government and PASOK, a junior member of the ruling coalition, also attended.
 ND names MPs for 'Lagarde list' preliminary investigation committeeNew Democracy (ND) announced on Tuesday the names of MPs who will participate in the preliminary investigation committee that will examine possible responsibilites of former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou in relation to his handling of the so-called Lagarde list.
Christos Markoyannakis, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, Adonis Georgiadis, Andreas Koutsoumbas and Giorgos Kalatzis are the five deputies that will represent ND on the 15-member committee.
 SYRIZA on the "Lagarde list" caseMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday repeated that ample light will be shed on the so-called "Lagarde list" case.
Speaking in a press conference with the three SYRIZA MPs, Zoi Constantopoulou, Thodoris Dritsas and Stavros Kontonis, who will participate in the preliminary investigation committee set up in parliament to examine former finance minister George Papaconstantinou's role in case, the party's parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis stressed that those criminally and politically responsible will be found.
MP Constantopoulou lashed out at PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, one of the three party leaders in the coalition government, accusing him of seeking political backing to avoid being judged for his actions. She stressed that Venizelos, who served as finance minister after succeeding Papaconstantinou, will be among the first witnesses to be called by SYRIZA to testify before the parliamentary investigation committee.
 Government spokesman on statements by SYRIZA deputyThe government wants justice to look into recent statements by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Vangelis Diamantopoulos, believing his words implicate him in a homemade bomb attack at Marousi's The Mall Athens.
"The self-declared anarchist and pro-terrorist Vangelis Diamantopoulos, who still remains a deputy of SYRIZA, targeted "The Mall Athens" in a speech, just four days before the terrorist strike, while he openly called on his comrades to take up arms. After this, we expect justice to step in immediately," said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou.
He also called on SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras "to take, at last, a clear stance," and Diamantopoulos "to clarify his relation with anomy and terrorism".
 SYRIZA replies to government spokesmanThe Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) press office, replying to a statement by the government spokesman referring to SYRIZA deputy Vangelis Diamantopoulos' pro-anarchist stance, spoke of "a wretched attack on the part of the government aimed at terrorising society".
SYRIZA added that "the plans of [Public Order minister Nikos] Dendias and of his likeminded are being revealed absolutely, which are now turning directly against democracy. The strategy of tension and civil dissension is being used to justify the destructive policy of the memorandum".
 Gov't spokesman: 'Citizens Protection minister doing a good job'The Citizens Protection minister has been attacked by both ends of the political spectrum, "therefore it is certain he is doing a good job," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Tuesday.
Responding to attacks of the minister by deputies and officials of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, Kedikoglou added, "In relation to SYRIZA's grievances, it should stop its own deputies from threatening political opponents with lynching and then talk about democratic processes."
 Health ministry takes measures to deal with medicine shortagesAlternate Health Minister Marios Salmas on Tuesday stressed that the government will take action to stop parallel exports of pharmaceuticals by wholesalers and pharmacists, which he said were largely to blame for recent shortages of medicine in Greece.
He clarified that the problem was caused by the reduced prices for pharmaceuticals in Greece, which led to a "vicious circle" in which wholesalers increased parallel exports and pharmaceutical companies then limited the supply to wholesalers and pharmacies in order to tackle the phenomenon.
In a meeting with National Organization for Medicines (EOF) officials, Salmas stated that pharmacies' transactions in 2012 will "go under the microscope" in response to allegations that certain of them illegally participate in the buying and selling of medicines in collaboration with legal or illegal medicine wholesalers, thus engaging in export activities, a practice which is unacceptable.
The alternate health minister stressed that parallel exports by wholesalers of pharmaceuticals that EOF deems to be in shortage will be banned for at least three months. In addition, wholesalers will have to abide by the law and the relevant EU directive and forward a list of their transactions to EOF, while medicine authenticity tags will be changed to make them resistant to falsification.
Salmas clarified that reduced medicine prices in Greece are largely to blame for the medicine shortages because they created a "vicious circle" by leading to increased parallel exports by medicine wholesalers which in turn led the pharmaceutical companies to offer limited medicine supply to wholesalers and pharmacies in order to tackle the phenomenon.
 KKE party on public transport employees' strikesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a comment on Tuesday on the continuing industrial action by some public transport employees, said that "the government's attacks on the strikes by employees in the Metro and other means of public transport, either by threatening with mobilisation, or slander... and a hypocritical understanding of 'the public's inconvenience,' is aimed at crushing the employees' very right to demand their rights".
KKE added that the working people and the working classes must respond in a united way to the divisionary attempts, and stage an unyielding and consistent struggle to repel the unified attack by the government-EU-plutocracy against all the working people.
 Defence minister promises top priority for inquiry into fitness of food sold to armed forcesNational Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Tuesday informed Parliament that he has sent an urgent letter to the Athens Court Martial Public Prosecutor, asking him to give top priority to an inquiry about an alleged ring of military veterinarians issuing false certificates for foodstuffs from companies supplying the armed forces, declaring them fit for consumption.
In a written statement sent to Parliament, Panagiotopoulos stressed his "non-negotiable" determination to ensure that the food supply to the armed forces complied with all national, Community and military rules.
"My first concern, above all, is to protect the health of those serving in the Armed Forces," he said.
The minister's statement to Parliament was sent in response to a question tabled by coalition government MPs, Democratic Left (DIMAR) MPs Maria Giannakaki, Vassilis Economou and Thomas Psyrras, who referred to concerns among the military about the fitness of meats fed to the armed forces.
 Greek ultra-right MP accreditation accepted by PACE committeeSTRASBOURG (AMNA / N. Roussis)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Institutional Affairs Committee on Tuesday announced that it will allow Greek ultra-right Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) MP Eleni Zaroulia and Hungarian MP Tamas Gaudi-Nagy to attend the PACE proceedings by accepting their accreditation.
The committee clarified that its decision concerning the two MPs, whose political parties have been characterized as fascist and racist, should not be interpreted even remotely as an expression of support or recognition of the actions, ideals, practices or political positions they advocate, which have been condemned by PACE ever since its founding 63 years ago.
 Henkel Hellas returns production line to GreeceHenkel Hellas has returned part of its production of detergents and other cleaning products to Greece, in cooperation with Rolco Vianyl, Henkel Hellas chairman Kostas Faltsetas announced at a press conference held at a central Athens hotel on Tuesday.
Its domestic production will include 50 product codes - related to the Dixan, Neomat and Bref brands - that currently account for 75 pct of Henkel's total turnover in the home detergents and cleaning products markets in Greece and Cyprus (by 7 million and 2.5 million items, respectively). At the same time, its production unit will cover the needs of the Cypriot market with production of around 50 codes of the Vernel, DerGeneral and Pril brands.
The company plans to increase its present production by 20 pct, by reintroducing its super-concentrated detergents and softeners, as well as industrial cleaners.
Faltsetas added that the cooperation with Rolco confirmed the company's intention to further expand its activities and invest in Greece. Henkel Hellas said its fixed investments in Greece surpassed 20 million euros in the last five years.
Henkel had produced detergents at a plant based in Atalanti, Fthiotida up until the year 2000. Production of detergents on Henkel's behalf was then transferred to Alapis until the latter's recent financial problems led to a termination of the agreement, after which production was transferred to Italy.
Faltsetas said that Henkel Hellas persuaded the parent company to return production to Greece through its cooperation with Rolco in mid 2012, in a bid to support the Greek economy.
Rolco Vianyl invested around 10 million euro to support the new production line, starting with the production of fabric softeners last July and expanding to detergents for the domestic market in September.
Faltsetas said that detergent prices fell steadily in the last few years, for a sharp drop of 50 pct only in 2012. The volume of sales fell by 6.0 pct during the same year. He said that the company's turnover fell 10 pct in 2012.
 Hatzidakis to meet Commissioner Hahn, in Brussels on WedEuropean Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn and Greece's Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis will give a joint press conference on Wednesday, after a scheduled meeting in Brussels.
The two officials will brief the Press on Greece's progress on the absorption of structural funds for growth and employment, as well as on the attainment of growth targets set at Hatzidakis' last visit to Brussels in November.
In February, Commissioner Hahn, in the context of his tour of 13 Greek Regions, is to visit two Regions with the aim to speed up and enhance the use of funds for growth and employment in Greece.
The press conference will be held at 15:30, Greek time, and will be broadcast live on satellite channel EbS+.
 Increased national participation in international trade fairsGreece will participate in roughly 50 international trade fairs in 2013 to be hosted in 25 countries, many of which are new target-markets for the Greek products, according to a Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) document forwarded to Parliament on Tuesday in response to a query by New Democracy (ND) MP Adonis Georgiadis on the efforts made to promote innovative and traditional Greek products abroad.
HEPO noted that actions have been launched aimed at promoting the Greek wines and olive oil to China, while proposals are being considered for the promotion of Greek products in promising markets, such as, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
A total of 13 business missions to Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Turkey and Russia, among others, will focus on the promotion of various Greek products.
 Greek authorities dismiss reports of Piraeus port salePiraeus Port Organization, COSCO and Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on Tuesday dismissed press reports alleging that the Chinese company has offered around 1.0 billion euros to buy 60 pct of the port. Piraeus Port chairman George Anomeritis, speaking to AMNA, said that if the government wished to proceed with the sale of the port's shares it would have to do so through an international tender.
Commenting on a 240-page "Poseidon" plan, he said it was a report commissioned by the Fund with five international companies and Piraeus Bank in October 2012, in order to record the market's views on the outlook of Greek ports. Sources said that investors' interest focused mainly on the activities of Piraeus Port, Thessaloniki Port and another seven Greek ports.
Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund officials told AMNA that no official proposal has been submitted so far by Greek or foreign groups for the privatization of Greek ports and marinas.
The Fund is examining ways to attract investors for the country's largest ports and marinas, as part of an ambitious government privatisation plan.
 FinMin strenuously denies 'golden boy' wage hikes in state enterprisesFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday strenuously denied press reports alleging that he had approved "golden boy" wage hikes in a specific state enterprise, slamming the reports as "sordid".
"No increase of any kind has been approved for any executive in any enterprise or other public-sector body," he underlined.
On the contrary, the minister added, the government's exclusive concern has been to distribute the burden of cuts fairly and without any exceptions for any professional group, something clearly demonstrated by its insistence that all employees participate in the common effort, even those that had so far been untouched.
"The so-called revelations by certain media obviously aim at different goals," he said in a statement.
 Deputy Dev't Minister attending Davos summitDeputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis will be attending the annual World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, between January 23 and 27, his office announced Tuesday.
 Foreign Trade Board to participate in construction trade show, DubaiThe Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE) will participate in the "Big 5" international trade show on construction materials in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, scheduled for November 25 to 28. In its 34th year, the show will be set up at the Dubai International Exhibit Centre.
 Eight candidates for waste management project in GrammatikoA total of eight companies or joint ventures submitted formal interests in a tender to build a waste management facility in Grammatiko, northeastern Attica, the Attica regional authority said in a statement on Monday.
The waste management facility will have to manage annual waste of around 127,500 tons, although the final annual quantity will be determined after a dialogue with interested companies. The contract will have a 27-year duration.
The eight candidates are:
TERNA Energy - PPC
ARCHIRODON Group NV - INTRAKAT - ENVITEC
METKA?' Chr.D. Konstantinidis
ERETBO - DOMOSPOR - EGNON
The waste management facility in Grammatiko is the first of four such projects, to be tendered in Attica, under a public/private sector partnership plan.
 Elefsina Shipyards workers start rolling 24h strikesElefsina Shipyard workers started rolling 24h strikes on Tuesday, to protest the owners' announcement that if the state does not pay off the construction of three navy vessels the shipyard will have to shut down.
According to the workers, the Shipyard administration is paying them portions of their wages from 2010.
Moreover, the group's chairman, Nikos Tavoularis, had warned Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos and Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis by letter that if the state's obligations towards the Shipyards were not fulfilled by the of 2012, the shipyards will close.
 New home building cost index down 0.1 pct in 2012Greece's new home building cost average index fell 0.1 pct in 2012, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service ELSTAT said in a report that the index fell 0.4 pct in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, after a 0.5 pct increase recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011. The index was down 0.4 pct in the fourth quarter, from the third quarter of 2012.
 Business Briefs-- National Insurance is entering a new era that demands new approaches with the implementation of the best and transparent practices, with the creation of new products and services adjusted to the current needs of the group's customers, Alexandros Tourkolias, chief executive of National Bank Group said on Tuesday.
-- Hygeia Group and Generali Hellas on Tuesday announced a cooperation agreement offering full healthcare services to Generali' s customers through a Medical Prime health insurance program.
 Greek stocks rally on TuesdayGreek stocks ended strongly higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market to the 1,000-point level once again. The index jumped 2.41 pct to end at 999.20 points, reflecting renewed buying interest for bank shares such as Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank and continued buying for other blue chip stocks such as OTE and OPAP. Turnover remained a moderate 63.535 million euros.
The Big Cap index jumped 2.85 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.92 pct higher. The Travel (4.9 pct), Banks (4.14 pct) and Telecoms (3.97 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (0.59 pct) and Personal Products (0.24 pct) suffered losses.
Alpha Bank (11.21 pct), Piraeus Bank (8.12 pct) and MIG (6.12 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Port (0.70 pct), Jumbo (0.63 pct) and Frigoglass (0.38 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 102 to 65 with another 22 issues unchanged. Progressive (29.57 pct), Intertek (22.92 pct) and Olympic Catering (20 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobrokers (19.29 pct), Boutaris (18.89 pct) and Hellenic Textiles (18.88 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.69%
Personal & Household: -0.24%
Raw Materials: +3.03%
Travel & Leisure: +4.90%
Food & Beverages: +1.42%
Financial Services: +3.79%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, Alpha Bank, OTE and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.29
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.90
HBC Coca Cola: 17.85
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.53
National Bank of Greece: 1.13
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.61
Bank of Piraeus: 0.29
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 8.92 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market for the first time in several months on Tuesday, from 9.34 pct on Monday. The Greek bond yielded 10.49 pct and the German Bund 1.57 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.58 pct, the six-month rate was 0.35 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 1.21 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 23.247 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,958 contracts worth 10.019 million euros, with 35,594 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 61,111 contracts worth 13.228 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (23,650), followed by National Bank (9,338), Piraeus Bank (8,134), MIG (3,231), Eurobank (1,534), OTE (3,449), PPC (3,066), OPAP (3,835), Intralot (1,072), Hellenic Exchanges (868), Cyprus Popular Bank (396), Ellaktor (681), GEK (344) and Mytilineos (608).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.351
Pound sterling 0.852
Danish kroner 7.575
Swedish kroner 8.821
Japanese yen 119.95
Swiss franc 1.256
Norwegian kroner 7.553
Canadian dollar 1.344
Australian dollar 1.280
 One dead and 26 injured in Egnatia double pile-upA 78-year-old woman was killed and another 26 people were injured in two pile-ups on the Egnatia national highway early on Tuesday morning, police announced. They said the two accidents near Kleidi, Imathia - involving 18 and nine vehicles, respectively - occurred at the 25th and 26th kilometre of the highway and were the result of thick fog and poor visibility on the road.
There was an immediate response by emergency services, with traffic police, fire brigade and the ambulance service crews from Thessaloniki and Imathia prefectures quickly arriving on the scene to pick up the injured and rush them to hospital. The road remained closed for some time as authorities cleared up the wreckage and vehicles from the roadway, with traffic diverted to the old national road at the Alexandria junction.
An inquiry into the causes of the accidents is being conducted by the Veria traffic police.
 Egnatia highway re-opens after double pile-upThe Egnatia highway was reopened to traffic shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, after authorities cleared away wreckage from two consecutive pile-ups near Kleidi, Imathia.
Authorities were earlier diverting traffic around the site of the accident involving 28 cars and trucks, in which one woman was killed and at least 20 people injured. The accident was the result of thick fog and poor visibility in the area.
 Public transport workers to coordinate action against government-imposed pay cutsMetro, electric railway and tram workers on Tuesday decided to form a "united front" against what they described as "arbitrary" government-imposed pay cuts that abolish collective labour contracts, as well as planned privatisations of fixed-rail transport networks.
In coordinated action, sector trade unionists and General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) representatives decided to call work stoppages for next Tuesday and a 24-hour strike the following Thursday, Jan. 31. They also condemned "the efforts made by the government to criminalise the public transport workers' struggle" in defence of their labour rights.
In the case of a government mandate ordering striking Athens metro workers back to work, the trade unionists decided that industrial action will be launched immediately in all mass transport means.
 Metro strike investigated for breach of contractA prosecutor is investigating the continuing strike of metro employees on Tuesday ordered a preliminary investigation on the continuing strike of metro employees on Tuesday, following newspaper reports that only a small percentage of staff is involved.
First Instance Court chief prosecutor Panagiota Fakou will be verifying whether metro employees are still being paid normally for the days they have gone on strike, by using vacation time or calling in sick. She will also be responsible for reviewing Monday's court decision terming the strike illegal, to decide whether continuing the strike contravenes a court decision.
 STASY determined to take action against striking transport staffThe board of rail transport organization STASY says it is determined to use its powers under the law to take action against transport employees, should they go ahead with their planned industrial action on Wednesday, in spite of such action being declared illegal by a fresh court ruling on Tuesday.
Metro employees on Tuesday decided to keep cars out of service for the entire day on Wednesday, for the seventh consecutive day, while tram and ISAP electric railway staff announced a work stoppage between 12:00 and 16:00.
Only urban (blue) buses and trolley-buses are to run as normal on Wednesday.
STASY board said in an announcement on Tuesday that it "has exhausted all options for dialogue" with employees, and since the strike action has been judged illegal, it will take all legitimate action. It added the law stipulates conscription and even layoffs for staff continuing to strike.
Meanwhile, urban bus staff have called a work stoppage on Thursday, between 11:00 and 17:00.
In addition, employees with all public transport means decided on Tuesday to stage work stoppages next Tuesday (29 Jan.) and a general 24-hour strike next Thursday (31 Jan.).
 1,124 arrested for owning a total of 1.5 bn to the state, Jan.-Sept. 2012Over a thousand people were arrested for debts to the state and unpaid taxes from January to September 2012, according to Greek police data forwarded to Parliament by Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday.
Replying to a deputy's question, Dendias said in writing that 1,124 people were arrested for debts totalling 1.5 billion euros. The Greek police, which is now responsible for financial and electronic crime, especially if it has the features of organised crime, also handled another 202 cases of debtors who settled their debts to the state that totalled a little over 60 million euros.
Dendias also said that the department of tax supervision has also been incorporated in the police. The inspecting body is responsible for tax or customs duties evasion, concealment or distortion of taxable material or data, and the non-issuing of receipts for services, sales and distribution of products.
 Baby dead from starvationA 30-month-baby boy who was transferred from Leros island on Tuesday to Heraklio University hospital on Crete suffering from starvation died later in the day.
The baby had been hospitalised in the ICU with multi-organ failure and symptoms of sepsis.
 Daniel Day-Lewis visits AcropolisOscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, most recently nominated for his role as president Lincoln in the film of the same name, on Tuesday paid a visit to the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The actor arrived at 1:45 p.m. accompanied by Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, members of his family and associates. He was given a tour of the museum, during which the television crews, photographers and journalists waiting outside were strictly banned from entering.
Museum archaeologist Iris Plaitaki described the actor as a "very charming and very sweet individual", whose most attractive feature was that he was an "extremely friendly and simple person".
Though "pressed for time", the actor stayed for exactly one hour and did an almost complete round of the museum, showing great interest in the archaic sculpture gallery, the Caryatids and the Parthenon sculptures on the top floor.
During his tour, he expressed an interest in visiting the Acropolis once more, noting that it had been several years since the last time. After the tour, he departed for lunch at a local restaurant.
 'Athena' education streamlining plan gets green lightAs an education ministry plan?on amalgamating and/or closing down some tertiary education faculties, known as "Athena" plan, is in its final stage, Education minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos met with prime minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday and got the green light to go ahead with the streamlining plan.
Only departments with minimal staff or small numbers of students are to be cut or merged with others, according to reports.
Arvanitopoulos is expected to meet with Democratic Left party leader, Fotis Kouvelis, on Wednesday.
 Police arrest three migrant traffickers in SerresPolice on Tuesday reported the arrest of three migrant traffickers at Promahonas in Serres as they attempted to help two illegal migrants to leave Greek territory for another country.
The three suspects in custody were a 43-year-old Bulgarian man, a 28-year-old Bulgarian woman and a 49-year-old German woman. The three were carrying the two illegal migrants in their car and trying to cross the border into another country.
An inquiry has been launched by the Promahonas police station and the suspects will be led before a Serres public prosecutor.
 Illegal immigrant drowns when boat overturns in Evros RiverA 16-year-old illegal immigrant lost his life when a boat he was using to cross the Evros River capsized mid-stream, in the region of Mandra in Didimotiho. The boy was with another eight foreign nationals trying to cross the river into Greek territory.
A child of about four and three women in the boat were also taken to a hospital in Alexandroupoli suffering from hypothermia.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 1C and 17C. Cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 8C and 16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 5C and 14C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "State property at bargain price".
DIMOKRATIA: "(Evangelos, PASOK leader) Venizelos ...the great"
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Distinction of powers"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "God help you if you get sick!"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They freezed Greece but the coffers did not fill"
ESTIA: "Economy does not wait"
ETHNOS: "Hot money to 500 professions from EU Structural Funds (ESPA)"
IMERISSIA: "Private auditors discover hidden tax- treasure"
KATHIMERINI: "Terrorists had a rocket launcher at the attack against New Democracy's (ND) headquarters"
LOGOS: "Halt in traffic means"
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras orders acceleration of privatisation"
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government promotes crumbs for pensions after 40 years of work"
TA NEA: "1.5 million hostages in Athens' streets"
VRADYNI: "Opportunity for loans' second arrangement"
6 DAYS: "WWII-like conditions in January"
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