|Friday, 23 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-03-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 5 March 2013 Issue No: 4302
 Samaras meets Erdogan, discussion covers 'all issues'ISTANBUL (AMNA/S. Goutzanis)
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Monday, for talks covering the full range of bilateral issues between Greece and Turkey. Earlier, during the second Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, the two sides had signed 25 separate bilateral agreements. Summarising the results during joint statements with the Turkish premier, Samaras said it had been "a good day for relations between the two countries".
During this joint press conference, Erdogan reported that they had shared a "common conviction based on the principles of a win-win solution," that there should be "steps for an Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean." Samaras, however, stated that this was "not the time to go into details" on this issue and that Greece "reserved the rights arising from international law."
The Greek prime minister stressed that Greece, in spite of the crisis, remained a stable factor for peace and security in the region, adding that the meetings aimed to build up good neighbour relations and attempt to resolve differences. On the issue of the continental shelf, he said this was a subject of exploratory talks between the two sides and emphasised Greece's commitment to international law and international treaties.
The two premiers also discussed economic relations, boosting tourism, respect and protection for cultural heritage and tackling illegal migration. Samaras noted that their talks had focused on several "day-to-day" policy issues that would improve the lives of ordinary people, as well as ways of boosting economic growth and generating jobs.
"We are building up trust, creating mutual interests, bringing the citizens of the two countries closer together," he added.
The Greek premier referred to the troubled history between the two countries, noting that some differences extended to the present day, but stressed that there was an obligation to improve and enhance relations for the benefit of the entire region.
"We are establishing relations of mutual respect. The golden rule for a good relationship is mutual respect, national sovereignty and respect for international law," Samaras underlined.
Concerning minorities, the Greek premier said that in all states where the rule of law applied, all citizens had to enjoy equal protection before the law and the state and that their rights were guaranteed based on international law.
He went on to express Greece's support for Turkey's full accession to the European Union, stressing that this was a "fixed point of reference" but one requiring that Turkey fully comply with all the obligations of an EU candidate state. He said that Greece wanted a solution to the Cyprus problem that respected European rules and regulations, international law and the decisions of the UN Security Council.
Noting that more than 20 ministers had attended the Greece-Turkey Cooperation Council, while business people participating in the Greek-Turkish forum were striving for mutually beneficial partnerships, Samaras expressed a desire for such meetings to be more frequent.
"The aim is to build trust and improve relations without big talk but with actions and steady steps. Through the contacts of politicians and businessmen we want to bring the two peoples closer. We are putting growth at the service of peace," he said.
Erdogan also described Monday's meetings as "very useful" and stressed that the number of agreements signed, as well as the 22 agreements signed in 2010, "are indicative of the progress we have made in areas of cooperation".
"Greece and Turkey are neighbouring countries and are fulfilling their obligations. Neighbourhood has obligations," he said, adding that the meeting had served to "examine the issues that have been realised and those that can be realised."
He noted that the volume of trade transactions had risen by nearly a third since 2010 and that the target was to double this, while Greek investments in Turkey amounted to 6.6 billion dollars and more than one million Turks and Greeks had travelled between the two countries since 2010.
"The contacts will improve the level of cooperation of the two countries; the minorities can be a bridge for the two countries to come closer and they deserve to live in peace and prosperity," he added.
Concerning the differences between Greece and Turkey, Erdogan noted: "We have some differences, which will be overcome through dialogue. On Cyprus we are guarantor powers and we are obliged to negotiate. The Cyprus issue must become a historical past. We are willing to proceed toward results."
Erdogan also especially noted the support offered by Greece to Turkey's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, while both sides indicated their desire to minimise the phenomenon of terrorism.
Agreements signed on Monday related to tourism, justice, culture, health, migration, shipping, agriculture and sports and Greece's support for Turkey's bid to host the Olympics.
 Greece pushing past worst of recession, PM tells Greek-Turkish business forumISTANBUL (AMNA - S. Goutzanis)
Greece is now traversing the deepest point of the recession and starting to stabilise, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said here on Monday. The Greek premier was addressing a Greek-Turkish business forum held in Istanbul, alongside the second meeting of the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council.
"This is the right time for us to cooperate even more, for the benefit of bilateral business, with the aim of creating new jobs in both countries," he emphasised. The Greek premier also underlined that the business climate in Greece was improving rapidly, making steady and dynamic progress.
"We are proceeding decisively, carrying out reforms over the entire spectrum of the Greek economy. This determination and effort is now being recognised worldwide. Similarly, our friend Turkey is modernising," he said.
Citing figures, Samaras noted that Turkey had ranked 10th among the suppliers of goods to the Greek market in 2012 and was 6th among countries receiving Greek exports.
"In addition, in the last six years, we can see a noteworthy increase of Greek investments in Turkey. As neighbours, we can transport at reduced cost and have greater direct contact and, at the same time, create personal ties between business people. Similarly, Turkey's proximity with the countries of the Caucasus and central Asia has given and gives the potential for collaborations of both a commercial and investment nature."
The prime minister further underlined the potential for businesses in the two countries to work together in order to penetrate third-country markets: "Undertaking joint business initiatives in the Balkans, the countries of in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation area and the countries of central Asia will bring, in addition, growth and promote trade and economic relations, both on a bilateral and a multilateral level."
He called for further bilateral cooperation in investments, especially in setting up consortiums in various areas of joint interest in countries of the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Samaras emphasised the need to develop tourism between the two countries, noting that the Greek government had for this reason introduced and extended "on-the-spot" visa issue at selected Turkish ports for visits to the Greek islands, in collaboration with the European Union and Schengen Treaty countries.
"Relations between countries become stronger only through a stable political framework. On our side, it is Greece's steadfast goal to normalise Greek-Turkish relations. And Turkey also has stated that it desires a friendly and peaceful resolution of our differences. Nevertheless, if there is to be substantial progress in our relations, they must always be governed by an active respect for international law and international treaties.
The forum was also addressed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said that Turkey must contribute to Greece's economic stabilisation. He noted that "Greece's problems are also our problems," pointing out that business and economic ties had not yet attained the "anticipated level." On the political front, he noted that Greece's support for Turkey's European Union prospects will continue.
 PM Samaras meets with Ecumenical Patriarch BartholomewISTANBUL (AMNA/A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his conviction on Monday that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will succeed in untying the "Gordian knot" of the Greek economy's problems.
"Difficult things are for the brave and because he is brave he will succeed," the patriarch said after his meeting at the Phanar, where the Ecumenical Patriarchate is, with the Greek prime minister. "He shall untie the Gordian knot; that is my wish and a wholehearted prayer of mine," he added.
Bartholomew added that he has known the Greek prime minister for many years - "since he was foreign minister, very young, and I was the metropolitan of Halkidona and Patriarch Dimitrios was sending me to Athens to work with him on issues of the Patriarchate."
The patriarch also praised the prime minister's initiative to visit Turkey and work with his Turkish counterpart on promoting cooperation between Greece and Turkey.
The prime minister concluded his visit to the Phanar by paying his respects to the patriarchal church of Saint George.
 SYRIZA on meeting between Greek, Turkish PMsThe main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), in an announcement on Monday's meeting between the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey, stressed that it took place "in the framework of a neoliberal environment, and not only, that governs the two countries, since the Greek government also informed that the main issues in the discussions are the economic relations of the two countries".
SYRIZA expresses its objections over the way with which Greek-Turkish relations are being built, pointing out that "unfortunately these relations are not determined by interstate agreements that lay the foundations for the beneficial and mutual support of the two peoples, on the contrary, big business groups as well as multinational companies are examining the transformation of big regions in the two countries (coast of Turkey and islands of the Aegean) into zones of special economic exploitation on the basis of tourist 'growth'."
 Independent Greeks party on PM's visit to TurkeyIndependent Greeks party spokesman Notis Marias, referring to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's visit to Turkey, spoke of the disputing of Greek sovereign rights on the part of Turkey and claimed that "at a time when Turkey disputes sovereign rights of our country, in relation to the continental shelf of the islands, the 12 miles in the Aegean and the Greek Exclusive Economic Zone, Mr. Samaras is continuing carefreely to enjoy the serial of Greek-Turkish rapprochement on low policy issues".
Marias referred to the meetings of government officials with the troika, whose representatives he termed "petty employees of the creditors".
 KKE party on meeting between Greek, Turkish PMsThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Monday, stressed that the discussions between Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan "and the signing of economic agreements, on behalf of the business groups of Greece and Turkey, are paving the way for the more substantive agreements on the joint exploitation of energy deposits in the Aegean, in the framework of NATO and the EU, and for negotiations on the sovereign rights on the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone".
The announcement added that "these agreements will be against the Greek and Turkish people, since the only beneficiaries will be the monopolies of the two countries and international groups that are competing for the sharing of the deposits and the energy paths. Any negotiating that takes place is carried out on the basis of securing these interests".
 Eurogroup satisfied over fulfilment of necessary actions by Greece in FebruaryBRUSSELS (AMNA-V. Demiris/M. Aroni) -
Eurogroup, in a statement issued on Monday evening on Greece, expresses satisfaction over the fulfilment of the "necessary milestones" in February, calling on the Greek authorities in parallel to fully implement what has been agreed for the approval of the March tranche, amounting to 2.8 billion euros.
Following the conclusion of the Eurogroup's sessions, Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn referred to the economic predictions that the Commission adopted recently, according to which growth will return to Greece gradually in early 2014.
As regards the withdrawals from the public sector, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said that "the purpose is for us to have a smaller and more effective public sector". He also said that the shrinkage of the pubic sector is already being achieved since data so far on withdrawals in 2011 and 2012 show that the target for the 2010-2015 period will be exceeded.
Asked about what the necessary actions are for the approval of the March tranche, Stournaras replied that they are two: the reduction of the prices of medicines and the reforming of public administration.
Eurogroup statement on Greece
The Eurogroup notes with satisfaction that the MoU milestone for February, agreed between Greece and the Troika, has been achieved. In particular, the medium term fiscal strategy has been updated, introducing 3-year expenditure ceilings for lineministries and the health sector.
Moreover, the Eurogroup welcomes that, going beyond the requirements of the milestone, Greece also prepared monthly targets for the largest state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with a view to later extending them to all SOEs. This step further safeguards the delivery of fiscal commitments and represents a sign of strong programme ownership.
Against this background, the Eurogroup welcomes the disbursement by the EFSF of EUR 2.8 bn under the second economic adjustment programme that has taken place on that basis.
The Eurogroup calls on the Greek authorities to keep the reform momentum and, in particular, to fully implement the agreed milestones for March, as a precondition for the disbursement of a further sub-tranche of EUR 2.8 bn under the second instalment.
 No restructuring of debt in 2013, FinMin tells BildThere will be no restructuring of the Greek debt within 2013, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told German daily Bild, in an interview to be published in Tuesday's edition.
According to a preview by German Bourse's MNI site, Stournaras explained that statements of his about a possible new restructuring of the Greek debt had been misinterpreted and was quoted as confirming, "Once again, I repeat we will not have bad news from Greece this year."
Asked to comment about Cyprus' economic difficulties, the minister was adamantly against the opinion the island republic would declare bankruptcy. "A Cypriot bankruptcy should not even be under discussion - the domino effect on Greece and the whole eurozone would be incalculable. I am sure that Cyprus can be saved," he is quoted as saying.
 SYRIZA leader on tax policy, government spokesman repliesMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing Monday a party conference on the radical reform of the tax system, spoke of a tax system focusing on growth, the redistribution of wealth and the serving of social needs.
Referring to the question of why Greece has reached this point, Tsipras said that "the steadfast and longstanding partiality of the tax policy in favour of the economically powerful constituted one of the most importantg factors of the present crisis".
The SYRIZA leader went on to say that "at the root of the tax problem certain unmoved selfish professionals are not to be found, but a system of legal tax evasion or even of tax exemption, set deliberatley for the economically powerful".
Tsipras stressed that "on the nucleus of SYRIZA's counterproposal a simple tax system, workable, stable, more effective and above all fairer, is to be found".
Gov't spokesman reaction
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, replying to Tsipras, said that "in attempting to conceal how mistaken and contradictory, not only with common sense, but with simple arithmetic as well, SYRIZA's tax proposal is, Mr. Tsipras made the same shameful mistake. Speaking out of text, during the presentation of the proposal, Mr. Tsipras attempted to exploit in a partisan way the tragic accident of the two young people in Larissa, that shocked all the Greeks. We had stressed only two days ago what a regrettable political fall such a practice is. Unfortunately, Mr. Tsipras repeated it."
 Troika meets with Reform Ministry to review progressThe troika is not calling for civil servant layoffs for the time being, Administrative Reform Ministry officials said Monday following a review of changes in the public sector by the visiting troika of lenders.
Issues examined and of high priority include the new organisational charts of ministries, pinpointing staff surpluses, and the quarterly targets for civil servant mobility, reserve labour and layoffs up to the end of 2014.
Minister Antonis Manitakis met with Matthias Morse (European Commission), Klaus Masuch (European Central Bank) and Mark Flanagan (IMF, European Department), who represents IMF mission chief for Greece Poul Thomsen, expected in Athens on Tuesday.
Ministry sources said the meeting was "productive" and confirmed that reforms in the public sector are progressing within the parameters set by the medium-term agreement.
The troika has repeatedly raised the issue of reductions in the number of public sector employees. So far, 1,891 employees at state agencies have been temporarily suspended pending transfer to different services, another 890 who committed perjury have been suspended and will be laid off, and the government has agreed to suspend another 25,000 by the end of 2013 (12,500 of these by June).
Ministry sources said however that 75,000 personnel have voluntarily left the state within the last 15 months, which leads the government to believe that by 2015 the second memorandum's demand for dismissal of 150,000 employees will have been met naturally by attrition.
Besides the staffing issue, the review and drawing up of new organisational structures for the remaining ministries will have been completed by Wednesday and approved by the prime minister and the cabinet committee on reform by the end of the week.
 Israeli source cites Greek, Israeli contacts over Mideast situationSources in Israel last week cited deliberations by Greek and Israeli foreign ministry officials over the fluid situation in the Middle East, while contacts also reportedly touched on a handful of Eastern Orthodox Churches in the region, particularly in Lebanon and neighbouring war-torn Syria.
Moreover, one top Israeli analyst forecast that Syria is heading for a "Balkanisation", a reference to the ominous 19th century political term then associated with southeast Europe, which was euphemistically known as the "powder keg of Europe" at the time.
Pressed on what Israel considers should be that country's position vis-a-vis the conflict in Syria, an Israeli expert for Arab affairs cited "two schools of thought" within the Israeli government.
"The first (line of thinking) is to break the Shiite axis, ranging from Hezbollah (in southern Lebanon), the Assad regime and Iran ... the other school of thinking considers that you don't know what 'devil' will arise, maybe al-Qaeda on the Golan Heights.
"Whatever we think, we have no control over it," the analyst added, while citing Israel's concern of not being able to influence matters or make accurate predictions. He also said he was not convinced of the term "Arab spring", but quickly added that there is no better description now available.
In terms of other regional consequences of the ongoing Syria conflict, Israeli sources referred a more-or-less absolute closure of Syria to Jordanian traffic, with the Israeli port of Haifa increasingly used to export Jordanian goods.
Finally, the Israeli analyst referred to the stance of the Erdogan government regarding Syria as shifting from its initial reaction to one "taking a very careful approach".
 Former minister Tsochatzopoulos gets eight-year sentence; Areopagitou Street property seizedAn Athens Criminal Court of Appeals on Monday sentenced former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to eight years in jail, as well as fining him 520,000 euros and ordering the confiscation of his house on Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street, one of the most expensive and prestigious streets in central Athens.
The former minister, who is currently in jail awaiting trial on charges relating to illegal payments for defence ministry armament programmes, was on Monday sentenced on the separate charge of filing inaccurate "source of income" declarations. The court, in delivering its ruling, did not admit any extenuating circumstances in his favour and also ruled that the sentence cannot be appealed.
Tsohatzopoulos faced felony charges for failing to include his two-storey neo-classical residence on Dionissiou Areopagitou, which directly faces the south side of the Acropolis in central Athens, in his "source of income" declaration filed in 2010 and a lesser charge for inaccurate declarations concerning smaller amounts in previous years.
Addressing the court, Tsohatzopoulos appeared visibly upset and attributed a political dimension to the case, asserting that he was brought to justice for political reasons and alleging the involvement of his former party PASOK. He also maintained that he had not intended to conceal but simply neglected to declare his house on Areopagitis Street.
 KKE's Papariga meets with Primary Teachers' FederationOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday called on parents' associations and teachers' unions to form a united front opposing "the presidential decree dubbed as 'evaluation,' which aims to make educators subservient to the system, to intimidate them and stop them from contributing to the struggle for the children's social education rights.
Papariga made the comment after meeting with Primary Teachers Federation (DOE) representatives.
 Golden Dawn MP trial to start on ThursdayThe trial of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party deputy Ilias Kasidiaris, who is involved in a case of assault against a citizen in 2007 by unidentified perpetrators who reportedly fled with his car, is expected to begin on Thursday.
The deputry is accused of complicity in robbery carried out by five unidentified perpetrators against a postgraduate student in 2007 in the Panepistimioupolis area. The perpetrators struck the student with clubs, stabbed him and took his identity card before escaping by car. Eyewitness testimony led to the identification of the car as belonging to Kasidiaris.
The defendant denies any involvement in the case and stresses that on the day and time in question, prior to being elected to Parliament, he had driven in his car to a private clinic as a pharmaceutical representative. Kasidiaris' parliamentary immunity has been lifted at his own request to enable the case to be judged by justice.
 ERT managing director resignsGreek broadcasting corporation ERT managing director Nikos Simos tendered his resignation from the post on Monday morning, in protest over the placement of an ERT retiree as the director of the national television and radio broadcasting foundation's recreation division.
"In a difficult period in which unemployment is rampant, it is at the least a shame that ERT brings back one of its pensioners (George Bramou), for the strategic post at a time when there are worthy, and unemployed, people in the field," Simos said in his resignation letter.
 Greek banks' deposits up 2.0 billion euros in FebGreek banks recorded a 2.0 billion euros inflow in deposits in February, for a total deposits return of 16.17 billion euros since June 2012, George Provopoulos, Bank of Greece's governor said on Monday during a visit to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
The central banker sounded cautiously optimistic saying there existed some positive messages, although he added that the situation remained difficult as the country still had to cover another 30 pct of a marathon road. Provopoulos expressed his confidence that efforts would be continued until the end of the programe to safeguard the sacrifices made by the Greek people.
Deposits by Greek enterprises and households totaled 160.97 billion euros at the end of January. Provopoulos said that Greek financial institutions were currently moving on positive trend and added that Greek banks were expected to return to markets in the next few months in their effort to boost the capital base, while he noted that the Greek banking market needed three large and a few smaller banks.
Commenting on the country's economy, the central banker said the current account deficit fell to 2.9 pct of GDP last year from 15 pct in 2008.
 National Bank says integration process with Eurobank in full swingAn operational integration process between National Bank and Eurobank is in full swing, only days after National Bank formally acquired Eurobank. The two banks' clients are able to use both banks' ATM netword around Greece for cash withdrawals using their credit/debit cards without any transaction fee, while from March 11 they will be able to make any money transactions between the two banks without any transaction fee.
A National Bank statement, issued on Monday said that new products and services are not yet available for their clients, until an operating merger was completed.
 Greek commerce to suffer 15.8 pct decline in its 2013 turnover, surveyGreek commerce is expected to suffer a 15.8 pct decline in its average wholesale and retail turnover this year, for an accumulated decline in turnover of around 37 pct since 2009, a report by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce said on Monday.
The report, based on a sample of small- and medium-sized enterprises on a quarterly basis, said that the retail commerce has suffered a 54.6 pct drop in its turnover since 2009, while the average turnover this year will fall to 120,000 euros. Average profits is projects at around 12,600 euros for 2012 and less than 7,000 euros for 2013, while for very small enterprises the estimated turnover will fall dramatically to 2,160.26 euros. Profitability in the commerce sector has fallen by 85.6 pct since 2009, for an average profit of 11,750 euros. Average employment in the commerce sector has fallen to 2.76 per enterprise, from 2.88, with 69 pct of respondent enterprises expecting a recession in the sector to deteriorate this year, while only 10 pct expect signs of improvement in the near future.
 Greek public sector debt to private sector down in JanGreek public sector's overdue debt to the private sector fell to 7.921 billion euros in January, from 8.045 billion euros in December, the Finance ministry said on Monday.
In a report on the general government's figures, the ministry said that local authorities' overdue debt fell to 846 million euros in January, from 950 million euros in December.
The Finance ministry said that the decline in overdue debt to the private sector reflected a gradual repayment of debt by the Greek state.
 Minister calls for collaborative effort, at event for SMEsAll, state and people, must work to overturn the decades-long state of decline and work together to set up a new development model based on creating wealth rather than consuming with borrowed money, Deputy Development Minister Thanasis Skordas said on Monday at the Professional Chamber of Athens.
At an event on "SMEs Facing the Crisis: Opportunities and Prospects," Skordas said that "the crisis should be seen as an expression of wrongful structures on which we built the modern Greek society," and he called on everyone and small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to "focus on self-knowledge, becoming aware of and admitting our mistakes" in order to avoid repeating them.
"At these times, everyone must rally around their patriotic duty to bring Greece back to the group of the truly developed countries, those that create and distribute wealth and safeguard social cohesion and solidarity."
 DETROP, OENOS international exhibitions open in Thessaloniki on March 7The 22nd DETROP International Exhibition of Food, Beverages, Equipment & Machinery and the 4th OENOS International Wine Fair open at Thessaloniki's international exhibition centre on March 7 hosted by HELEXPO commercial exhibition organiser.
Both events aspire to promote the dynamism and extroversion of quality domestic production of food and beverages, sectors that can help the country exit the recession through the creation of new jobs.
In a press conference on Monday, HELEXPO president Theodoros Soubassis underlined that DETROP is the only Greek exhibition of its kind and to highlight the importance of the exhibited products he noted that the food sector's share in the Greek exports reached 19.3 pct last year recording an increase of 9.3 pct.
Parallel events include the 13th International Wine Competition and the 8th International Culinary Competition of SE Europe.
The DETROP & OENOS exhibitions will be open until March 10.
 New bill affects farmers renting out rooms to touristsSmall-scale owners renting out rooms to tourists will be exempted from paying into the freelancer fund insurance (OAEE), according to a special regulation forwarded by the Labour and Social Insurance Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Monday.
The regulation, under article 58 of a labour bill expected to be discussed in Parliament within the week, gives owners of fewer than 10 rental rooms who are registered in the farm registry the choice between two insurance options, either coming under the farmers' pension fund (OGA) or remaining under their current insurance fund.
The exemption from paying into OAEE will affect about 20,000 owners of rentals who are also farmers.
 Barilla Hellas says fully opposes wage cuts in GreeceBarilla Hellas on Tuesday categorically dismissed recent press reports alleging that its chief executive asked for a further cut in wages in Greece.
In a statement released by the company, Barillas Hellas said: "The company states that it has never expressed views related with wage cuts in Greece and categorically declares that it was fully opposed to such views". Barillas Hellas said it officially disagreed with any recommendation or action towards wage cuts and said that such a measure was counterproductive in an effort to boost growth, while it raised hurdles in safeguarding prosperity and living quality in Greece.
The company said it has not cut wages, but it continues operating under existing sector labor contracts and has scheduled investments totaling 5.0 million euros aimed at boosting its activity and cooperation with its workforce of more than 200 and thousands of Greek wheat producers.
 Business Briefs-- Titan Group on Monday said its 2012 turnover rose 3.6 pct to 1.131 billion euros, compared with 2011, but its EBITDA fell 19.8 pct to 196 million euros and after tax provisions and minorities results showed a loss of 24.5 million euros last year, after earnings of 11 million euros in 2011.
 Greek stocks end 2.06 pct lowerGreek stocks came under strong selling pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with bank shares falling to nine-month lows. The composite index of the market dropped 2.06 pct to end at 969.97 points, off the day's lows of 958.15 points, with turnover remaining a low 51.87 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 2.09 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.38 pct lower. The Travel sector was the only one to end higher (0.20 pct), while Financial Services (4.47 pct), Personal Products (4.29 pct), Utilities (4.28 pct) and Banks (4.16 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Eurobank Properties (1.72 pct), (OPAP (0.76 pct) and Titan (0.07 pct) were top gainers, while Viohalco (7.18 pct), Alpha Bank (7.14 pct), Ellaktor (6.06 pct) and Piraeus Bank (6.0 pct) were top losers among blue chip stocks. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 122 to 32 with another 10 issues unchanged. Unibios (28.87 pct), NEL (16.25 pct) and Atti-kat (12.5 pct) were top gainers, while Varvaresos (20 pct), PC Systems (20 pct) and HOL (19.52 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.46%
Personal & Household: -4.29%
Raw Materials: -3.08%
Travel & Leisure: +0.20%
Food & Beverages: -0.34%
Financial Services: -4.47%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, PPC, National Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.91
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.93
HBC Coca Cola: 20.84
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.15
National Bank of Greece: 0.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.39
Bank of Piraeus: 0.24
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 9.76 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 9.03 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.17 pct and the German Bund 1.47 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved significantly lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.54 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.43 pct, the three-month rate dropped to 0.32 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.69 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover at 23.327 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,101 contracts worth 11.396 million euros, with 32,764 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 51,617 contracts worth 11.946 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (11,567), followed by Alpha Bank (7,658), Cyprus Bank (4,786), Piraeus Bank (6,790), MIG (2,993), OTE (2,812), PPC (2,705), OPAP (6,171), Mytilineos (888), GEK (1,644), Ellaktor (923), Intralot (1,059), Viohalco (227), Sidenor (207), Hellenic Exchanges (308) and Folli Follie (109).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.320
Pound sterling 0.876
Danish kroner 7.567
Swedish kroner 8.505
Japanese yen 123.5
Swiss franc 1.244
Norwegian kroner 7.557
Canadian dollar 1.358
Australian dollar 1.301
 Psomiades brothers face felony charges for defrauding the stateThe First Instance Court Prosecutor's office in Thessaloniki filed additional charges against Panagiotis Psomiades, the convicted former governor of Central Macedonia and his brother Dionissis Psomiades, for their alleged involvement in the so-called "45s case", concerning public works projects directly assigned to contractors by the Thessaloniki Prefecture after sketchy competitions.
The charges were filed by First Instance Court Prosecutor Ioanna Katsi after receiving the findings of an investigation conducted by the Financial Inspector's Office into a total of 456 projects in the period 2006-2011 that caused damages of 4.1 million euros to the Greek state.
The Psomiades brothers face felony charges for moral instigation to breach of faith and for false certification. The charges cover the period during which Panagiotis Psomiades was the prefect of Thessaloniki and his brother was deputy prefect for public works.
Similar charges have been filed against the former general director of the prefecture Dimitris Lefkopoulos and a number of prefecture employees, members of the prefectural committee and local contractors.
The first charges in relation to the case were filed last March and concerned roughly 30 individuals. The two case files will be studied together and new testimonies will be given by the suspects.
The case concerns pubic works with a total budget of 45,000 euros that were directly assigned to contractors after sketchy competitions.
 Taking scissors to the mayor's tie, in Kozani customAbout 15 women dressed in traditional German and Austrian costumes will visit the mayor of Kozani, in northern Greece, to cut his tie up and remove the key of his office on March 7, the movable feast of "Tsiknopempti", a day of meat feasting in preparation of the start of Lent in the Orthodox calendar.
As Dimitris Vouharas, the city's public relations manager explains, the custom was initiated by the local association of Greek-German friendship, named after the Austrian composer Herbert von Karajan and founded in Kozani eight years ago by Germans and Austrians who had married into Greek families. Although some of the couples returned to Germany and Austria during the crisis, the custom continues.
The women, after leaving Mayor Lazaros Maloutas' office with his key, will march through the city with music and holding pairs of scissors.
The custom fits in with the local "women's day" celebrated annually in northern Greece, when men stay at home to do housework and women take over the town management and frequent the cafes.
 Four makeshift bombs found following callPolice found four backpacks with explosive material in different spots in Attica prefecture following a warning call at 9:30 a.m. by an unidentified man to daily Eleftherotypia.
The man said the makeshift bombs would explode at 11:00 a.m., but police said they were not connected and could not go off.
They were found near state TV and radio agency ERT on Messoghion, outside the state telecoms agency OTE in Gerakas on Marathonos Ave., outside the Psychiko tax office on Kifisias Ave. and outside the Volkswagen store on Messoghion Ave in Aghia Paraskevi.
 Truck carrying 400 kg of hashish detected in PatraPatra port officials found more than 400 kilos of hashish, following a check they carried out with the assistance of a specially trained dog, in a truck carrying cotton seed. The officials noted that the truck had a double floor and continuing their check they found 372 packages that contained plant extracts of indian cannabis having a total weight of 401 kilos.
According to reports, the cargo of hashish had set out from a region in northern Greece and was destined for Italy. The truck's foreign driver was arrested while investigations are under way to locate the exact region where the quantity of hashish was loaded, as well as other persons involved in the case.
 Large shipment of contraband cigarettes confiscatedPort authorities in the western city of Patras confiscated nearly 10,000 boxes of contraband cigarettes in a truck that according to sources was being driven from Athens to Italy on Monday. The 71-year-old driver, who had hidden the cigarettes in a shipment of baby care products, was arrested.
 Man found dead at Kakavia was jailbreakerThe man found dead last Thursday afternoon a few metres away from the Drinos River bed, near the Kakavia border checkpoint, was a jailbreaker from the Nafplio prison. He was a 40-year-old Albanian who had escaped on August 20m 2012, with the assistance of armed accomplices of his from the Nafplio hospital where he had been taken for tests.
A police investigation and examination of the location ruled out foul play.
 Super League resultVeria beat Aris Thessaloniki 3-1 at home in a game played for the Super League on Monday evening.
Standings after 24 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 63
2. Asteras 47
3. PAOK 46
4. Atromitos 41
5. PAS Yiannina 32
6. Panathinaikos 32
7. Xanthi 31
8. Levadiakos 29
9. Panionios 28
10. Platanias 27
11. OFI 26
12. Panthrakikos 26
13. AEK 26
14. Veria 26
15. Aris 22
16. Kerkyra 20
NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 1C and 17C. Cloudy in Athens with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 6C and 14C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 5C and 12C.
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