|Wednesday, 15 August 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-03-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 6 March 2013 Issue No: 4303
 FM Avramopoluolos to meet Cyprus counterpart Kasoulides on WednesdayGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will meet his visiting Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides in Athens on Wednesday morning, the foreign ministry announced.
After the meeting, the two ministers will make statements to the press and then have a working luncheon hosted by Avramopoulos for Kasoulides, who is on his first trip abroad as foreign minister of the Cyprus Republic's new government.
Meanwhile, speaking to AMNA in Nicosia on Tuesday, Kasoulides termed very important his first visit to Athens and his talks with his Greek counterpart.
The Cypriot minister said that the issue of Cyprus, bilateral relations and the preparation of the upcoming visit to Athens by new Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will be discussed. He also said that "one of the issues that I shall discuss with Mr. Avramopoulos is also the results of his recent contacts in Turkey".
The Cypriot minister mentions that what is important is for negotiations on the Cyprus issue to begin that will be well prepared and lead to a positive result. "The target is not a new failure in efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue," he stressed.
 EPP Group to meet in Athens Thursday, FridayThe European People's Party (EPP) group presidency and heads of delegation will hold a series of meetings in Athens on Thursday and Friday, focused on the EU's means to achieve economic growth.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will present the reforms Greece is undertaking to exit the crisis. Attendees will also include the head of the Greek group in EPP Eurodeputy Marietta Giannakou, secretary general of the parliamentary group of New Democracy MP Athanasios Bouras, high-level government officials and members of the European Commission.
Other issues to be discussed will include political and economic reforms, the security of the EU's external borders, and the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The first part of the proceedings, which will be open to the press, will wrap up with a press conference by EPP group chairman Joseph Daul.
The EPP currently includes 74 member-parties from 40 countries, the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, 15 EU and 6 non-EU heads of state and government, and 13 members of the European Commission; it is the largest Group in the European Parliament.
 Defence Minister: Greece and Turkey do not agree on EEZDefence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos stated on Tuesday, speaking to NET public TV station, that Greece's and Turkey's opinions on the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) issue do not coincide, but added that "this does not mean, however, that we should not discuss or agree on other issues"
Regarding the declaration of an EEZ, Panagiotopoulos said that it is Greece's inalienable right, under international law. Panagiotopoulos also said that during his talks with his Turkish counterpart Ismet Yilmaz on Monday, he put forward the issue of the violations of Greek national airspace and the infringement of the Athens FIR, as well as bizarre sailings' of Turkish vessels in the Aegean, underlining that they do not contribute, or do good, because they are indicative of intentions to dispute Greece's sovereign rights.
 Athens dismisses Turkish newspaper reports concerning terrorist 'training camps'Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Tuesday dismissed claims made by Turkish newspaper about the discussion that took place between the Greek and Turkish prime ministers on terrorism, during their meeting on Monday.
Replying to reporters' questions regarding the articles appearing in the Turkish dailies "Hurriyet" and "Haberturk", Delavekouras replied that their reports were "false and groundless."
"It appears that someone was irritated by the fact that the two prime ministers had a clear stance on terrorism," he said.
According to "Hurriyet," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had presented his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras with "names and photographs from the training of terrorists at a camp in Lavrio." It also claims that during a recent meeting between the two men in Qatar, Erdogan had demanded the dismantling of such camps and the extradition of terrorists to Turkey but the Greek side has denied their existence.
 Government spokesman says no question of reshuffleThe government on Tuesday categorically dismissed scenarios on a reshuffle.
"There is no question of a reshuffle," Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou emphatically stressed in a laconic statement.
 SYRIZA leader accuses government of dogmatism, subjugation to Memorandum policyMain opposition SYRIZA leader accused the government of dogmatism and subjugation to implementation of the Memorandum policy "which leads to a humanitarian crisis and social ruins", in a question addressed to the prime minister tabled in parliament on Tuesday.
The question, which will be discussed on Friday in the context of the weekly 'Hour of the Prime Minister' in parliament, is on the subjects of the minimum salary and the tax on heating oil.
Tsipras charges, in the question, that with the return of the Troika inspectors to Greece, the government's commitments arising from the third Memorandum also return to the forefront.
"Statements by European officials bring back to the public debate a new reduction of salaries and layoffs, measures that will not benefit any of the hard-hit sectors of society. At the same time, measures such as the hefty increase in the consumption tax on heating oil not only do not have positive fiscal results, not only condemn countless families to live in cold houses, but also have tragic consequences," Tsipras said in the question.
"Because the road of dogmatism, of religious devotion and subjugation, with which the government applies this Memorandum policy, leads to humanitarian crisis and social ruins," Tsipras asks the prime minister whether he will refuse to take new measures, that include more reductions to the minimum salary and layoffs of tens of thousands of civil servants, and whether he will immediately suspend the measure of equating the Special Consumption Tax on heating oil with that of vehicle oil.
 SYRIZA leader Tsipras: "Greece has the wrong government"Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday referred to the practices adopted by the EC-ECB-IMF troika and the government's stance, underlining that "Greece has the wrong government to protect the interests of the Greek people from the unthinkable persistence by certain individuals who obviously want to loot the country and do not care about settling the fiscal deficits of the Greek economy."
Commenting on the issue of layoffs in the public sector, he criticized the troika and the government. "What can you say when the same people who admit to their mistake not only insist on it but ask for a larger dosage," he noted.
Meanwhile, SYRIZA MP Alexis Mitropoulos categorically denied any disagreements between the various party organs, pointing out that the attacks launched on party cadres and its leadership do not undermine party unity.
 SYRIZA tax proposals 'unrealistic, vague, incomplete,' FinMinThe Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party's proposals on the economy are unrealistic, vague, and incomplete, the Finance Ministry charged on Tuesday, in response to comments by its leader Alexis Tsipras at a SYRIZA conference on tax reform Monday.
In a press release, the ministry questioned all of Tsipras' proposals and said that although he thought he could collect revenues from tax evaders, "but did not specify how much, how much will he get, when, and where?"
Tsipras "says he will tax corporations, and promotes the populist attitude 'We'll get it from the rich.' He either forgets or is unaware of the fact that today 3 pct of taxed individuals who own 15 pct of revenues are paying 35 pct of taxes," the announcement said. "The affluent, in other words, should be paying all taxes [in existence], according to SYRIZA."
Giving another example, the ministry said that the main opposition party also wanted to tax owners of buildings, land, farmland, art works, bank deposits and investment products. "How much tax is he going to put on bank deposits? How high will the real estate taxes be?" the ministry asked.
"SYRIZA presented a programme that - by their own official admittance - is not the final one, and refers to planned taxes that are not being revealed, hazy intentions and anti-development plans. The worse is that the funding vacuum their haphazard proposal encompasses will be covered by other measures - more taxes on salaries and pensions?" it concluded.
 SYRIZA, AN.EL party leaders meet Thrace delegation opposing gold mine plansMain opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday met a delegation of local government officials and activist groups opposing the government's plans for gold mining in the northern Greek region of Thrace. The same committee also held a meeting with opposition Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos.
The delegation included the head of the Macedonia-Thrace regional authority Aris Yiannakidis and Alexandroupolis Mayor Vaggelis Lambakis, as well as representatives of local party organisations and a regional committee agitating against plans to mine gold in the region.
Tsipras expressed solidarity with their cause and described Thrace as a "historic and sensitive" region that needed investments that would not "pillage" but promote growth. He called for investments that would highlight the region's comparative advantages rather than destroying its natural environment.
"We need productive investments, not piratical investments," he added.
Commenting on the results of his meetings with local officials and groups, Tsipras said he had found "all political and social forces fighting together and demanding future prospects for their area."
When a local community set aside its differences and joined forces behind a common goal, he added, then no one had a right to impose their own plans.
Kammenos, on his part, talked of a "huge crime spreading from Halkidiki to Thrace and especially in the Evros region," and also pledged his party's support for the delegation's demands, in Parliament and "at the side of the local community that united is refusing the destruction of its home".
"The gold-diggers, apart from the shops buying gold from the Greek people and banking on the crisis, have started to offer so-called investments that will leave only cyanide and arsenic in Greece's soil and a devastated area that can neither be cultivated nor exploited for tourism," he added.
 Amended contract on hydrocarbons exploitation ratified by ParliamentThe amended contract on hydrocarbon exploitation at the Prinos and North Kavala sites in northern Greece was ratified by Parliament's plenary session late Tuesday with 164 votes in favour, 110 against and three MPs stating "present".
The contract is between the Greek state and the Kavala Oil and Energean Oil companies.
During the roll call vote called for by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and the Independent Greeks, voting in favour were the three parties in the ruling coalition government, while all the opposition parties voted against.
 Co-exploitation of hydrocarbons in Aegean 'out of discussion'"Matters of co-exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Aegean are out of discussion," PASOK parliamentary group secretary Yannis Maniatis, a former deputy environment and energy minister, said on Tuesday, in an exclusive interview on AMNA web TV.
"We have the Law of the Sea (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) on our side. The mainland and island regions of our country have their own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is delineated on the basis of the principle of equal distances. It is what the Law of the Sea gives us and which we employ as a strong weapon in our negotiations with all our neighbors," Maniatis said.
On Greece's mineral wealth, Maniatis noted that "we must all believe that the nature of our geography has endowed us, as a country, with much wealth. Naturally there are the hydrocarbons, but there is also the rest of the mineral wealth in mainland Greece".
"Therefore, if we invest responsibly, seriously, steadfastly, and with inter-party agreement, in the hydrocarbons in both the marine and mainland areas, the Greek state can anticipate revenues which we had not even calculated on a few years ago," Maniatis added.
According to estimations, based on a the current mean price of 100 dollars per barrel of oil, Greece could anticipate some 150 billion euros in the next 30 years, Maniatis said in reply to a question on the financial aspect.
Maniatis said that PASOK has proposed a draft law be formulated -- which proposal has been accepted by the government -- that the above money not be used for state expenditures but instead go into a "Social Fund for Solidarity of the Generations" which, under the Norwegian model, will be used only for the sustainability of the country's social security system.
"We therefore consider it necessary that these monies be invested in the next generations, and perhaps a small percentage could be used to invest in research and technology, innovation, to boost science and knowledge, mainly among young people that cannot get scholarships or financial support from elsewhere. Consequently, the mineral wealth is a great opportunity to increase the state revenues, but this must be done with religious devotion to protection of the environment, sustainable growth and preservation of what nature has gifted to us," he stressed.
To another question, Maniatis said that Greece's mineral wealth, "which is indeed a big dowry for the present but also for the future generations, is an immense bequeathal for a future in which the country will not rely on borrowed money, but rather a future founded on our own powers, on our own comparative advantages, and can give us optimism that we can overcome the difficult circumstances we are facing today".
Asked if Turkey is putting forward an issue of co-exploitation of the hydrocarbon deposits in the Aegean, Maniatis said that "matters of co-exploitation are outside any discussion whatsoever", adding that Greece has the Law of the Sea on its side.
He noted that in August 2011 parliament passed Article 156, which says that the country's mainland and island regions have their own exclusive economic zone, which is delineated on the basis of the principle of equal distances. It is what the Law of the Sea gives us and which we employ as a strong weapon in our negotiations with all our neighbors".
 PASOK europarliant group leader resigns over exclusion of MEPs from new central committeeBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Spinthourakis)
PASOK MEP Marilena Koppa, on Tuesday tendered her resignation as head of the PASOK Europarliamentarian group in protest over the party's Constitutional Congress, which ended in Athens on Sunday, to exclude its Eurodeputies from the new central committee.
The 9th Constitutional Congress wound up on Sunday with the election of a new PASOK central committee. The Congress itself elected 130 members to the new central committee, who will be joined by however by emeritus members that include the 28 party MPs initially elected to parliament in the May elections but not re-elected in June's repeat elections, the former party leaders, and presidents of PASOK's tertiary organisations. The emeritus members do not include PASOK's Eurodeputies, according to a Congress decision.
Koppa tendered her resignation as head of PASOK's group of deputies in the European Parliament in protest over the Congress' decision to exclude its MEPs from the central committee, arguing that the MEPs have always participated de jure on the central committee, together with all other elected MPs.
In her letter of resignation addressed to PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, she noted that the Congress decision to adopt a relevant proposal during the vote on the party's new Constitution, and for the first time in the history of a Greek and European political party, its European Parliament members have been excluded from the party's central political organ.
The decision, she added, comes at a time when European policy is a fundamental component of national policy, and just before the European electoral campaign begins for the 2014 Euroelections, and at a time when the upcoming Greek presidency of the European Union is a national cause, and in which it is necessary to unite forces for the success of the presidency.
She said that the recommendation for the exclusion of the MEPs from the central committee is without cause and incomprehensible, noting that the PASOK Europarliament Group has since 2009 waged tough battles on all fronts, in the midst of the crisis: to safeguard the country's credibility when it was suffering attacks from every direction; to present to the Europarliament's socialist group but also the entire European Parliament, the great efforts and sacrifices of the Greek people; and to make clear the heavy responsibility shouldered by the country's socialist government in 2009 to keep the country standing on its feet in the eurozone.
All the MEPs, without exception, gave their best in this effort, Koppa said, charging that the Congress decision disdains this effort.
Koppa added that she remains a soldier in PASOK's ranks and an active member of the Europarliament's socialist group, stressing that "the national duty for defence of the country in these difficult moments is and must be the absolute priority for all".
 PASOK leader accepts Koppa's resignation as head of party's MEPsPASOK President Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday accepted the resignation of PASOK MEP Marilena Koppa as head of the party's group in the European Parliament. Koppa resigned as a protest against a decision taken at PASOK's recent Constitutional Congress for the 'ex officio' exclusion of its MEPs from the party's central committee.
Venizelos returned the letter of resignation unopened since its contents had already been published by several websites before he received it. He also noted that her resignation should have been tendered in a private meeting between them, accompanied with an account of her actions and work as head of PASOK EuroParliament group.
He further pointed out that Koppa could have raised the issue at the party's congress or have stood for election, while pointing out that the PASOK's current MEPs were selected in 2009 "under different circumstances" and "without contact with the party's grass roots voters".
"Selection for the high and responsible duties of an MEP does not mean automatic and constant selection for party organs, particularly ex officio participation in a new party organ set up by the Constitutional Congress," he added.
The 9th Constitutional Congress wound up on Sunday with the election of a new PASOK central committee. The Congress itself elected 130 members to the new central committee, who will be joined, however, by emeritus members that include the 28 party MPs initially elected to parliament in the May elections but were not re-elected in June's repeat elections, the former party leaders, and presidents of PASOK's tertiary organisations. The emeritus members will not include PASOK's Eurodeputies, according to a Congress decision.
 Development minister to hold meeting with German deputies on WednesdayDevelopment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis will meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday with German deputies, members of the Economic Committee visiting Greece.
At 12 noon the minister will meet with the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
 Deputy FM meets Greek-Australian community in PerthDeputy Foreign Minister Constantinos Tsiaras met members of the Greek-Australian community during his visit to Perth in Australia, the Greek foreign ministry announced on Tuesday.
The ministry said the meeting focused on setting up a new World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) as the agency representing the Greek diaspora. Tsiaras also referred to the support that expatriates can offer during the current difficult time, both through investments that can be carried out in Greece but also through an increase in the flow of tourism to the country.
 Health minister on cooperation with Turkey in health issuesHealth Minister Andreas Lykourentzos said on Tuesday, referring to the Greek delegation's visit to Turkey the previous day, that in health sector the two sides agreed on cooperation against communicable and non-communicable diseases, the enhancement of both countries' health systems, cooperation in dealing with natural disasters and phenomena as well as cooperation between the Children's Hospital "Aghia Sophia" in Athens and the Children's Hospital in Ankara, in an interview with public radio NET.
Moreover, Lykourentzos noted that "Turkey is a challenge for our country. It's a country that is developing and we can gain much in the growth sector", adding that the Business Forum of Greek and Turkish entrepreneurs held in Istanbul on Monday "contributed substantially towards this direction".
Regarding the differences between the two countries, Lykourentzos said that "Greece does not demand anything at Turkey's expense, what we demand is the implementation of international law and of the European acquis".
 Higher education reform plan "Athena" unveiled amidst student protestsThe discussion on the tertiary education reform plan "Athena," sponsored by the ministry of education, will be launched on Wednesday at the parliamentary Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs.
The proposed reform plan, which is the product of public debate, will be presented to MPs and all interested parties by Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos.
During the presentation, students will demonstrate outside the University of Athens administration building against the planned abolition and mergers of higher education schools and departments. According to students, the reforms will downgrade their studies and diplomas.
 Finance ministry to check wealth statements of 240 senior staffAt least 240 senior finance ministry employees in charge of inspections or heading departments having powers of inspection are to have their wealth statements thoroughly checked in 2013, based on an order issued by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.
This outlines the criteria and the procedure for checking the wealth statements of such senior staff, specifying that the sample of employees to be selected for inspection will include all those that hold or have held a managerial position in the last three years, as well as those serving as a tax inspector in regional tax agencies in the last two years.
 Labour minister to hold meeting with troika heads on WednesdayThe heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders will be visiting the Labour ministry on Wednesday and will be meeting Minister Yiannis Vroutsis at 2 in the afternoon.
On Tuesday, the technical delegation of the troika held a one-hour meeting of a preparatory nature with senior Labour ministry officials.
 Eco-Greens on economic crisisEcologists-Greens spokesman Thanassis Papathanassiou on Tuesday said that ?it is time for the three- party coalition government to leave behind the minced words and inform the citizens on how the repercussions of those (measures) it has agreed will be dealt with and how it will start a debate for a real plan to exit from the crisis".
"The government must put aside the planning of the past that contributed to today's impasse and which re-appear today as manna from heaven," he said.
Papathanassiou noted that the real economy is eating away at its own flesh, the vulnerable strata are growing, the tax evaders continue their 'party', while even the small steps towards green growth made in the past are cancelled directly or indirectly via the bureaucracy.
 Finance ministry extends deadline for tax returns justifying cash transfers abroadThe finance ministry on Tuesday announced that it may extend the March 20 deadline for submitting additional tax returns in order to justify cash transfers abroad, where such cash transfers are incompatible with a tax-payer's declared income.
According to a circular issued by Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis, tax-payers who are struggling to collect the necessary supporting documentation can apply for an extension of the deadline with the head of their local tax office.
 Development Minister Hatzidakis denies press reports on minimum wage cuts"Nobody said that the minimum wage should be cut," Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday said.
Speaking on an Athens radio station, Hatzidakis referred to press reports concerning his meeting with representatives of multinational companies, according to which, "a representative of a foreign multinational food company, specializing in pasta products" suggested that the minimum wage in Greece should be cut.
A statement issued by Barilla Hellas underlined that the company has never voiced views concerning wage cuts in Greece, adding that it is totally against such views.
The company also spoke about "irresponsible and false press reports that disorientate the efforts made to revive the country's economy".
 HRADF CEO Emiris in France's Les EchosPARIS (AMNA / O. Tsipira)
Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) CEO Ioannis Emiris gave a detailed picture of the course of privatizations in Greece in a lengthy interview in France's financial newspaper Les Echos on Tuesday. He also outlined the policy followed by the privatizations' agency, while noting the lukewarm interest expressed so far by French investors.
Explaining the reasons that delayed the launch of the privatizations' programme, he referred to the preparatory work that needed to be done, such as, the amendment or abolition of roughly 90 legislative acts and the registration of public property.
He said that the final offers for the OPAP betting company, the DEPA natural gas company and theAfantou region on the island of Rhodes, are expected in April, while the privatization process has been launched for Thessaloniki Water Supply and Sewerage (EYATH S.A.) and the Horse Race Betting Organization (ODIE).
The privatization of Hellenic Petroleum S.A., the Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company (EYDAP S.A.) and Public Power Corp. S.A. (PPC S.A.) will be launched in the second quarter of 2013, a development that will make the energy sector competitive and contribute to the country's economic growth, according to the HRADF CEO, who stressed that the exploitation of state-owned real estate is the most important and toughest of all projects.
He also referred to the privatization of 48 marinas, regional airports and motorways that will boost the country's tourism infrastructure, and to the exploitation of state-owned real estate abroad.
Emiris said that the exploitation of the region of Elliniko, in greater Athens, is important for the privatization agency and a definitive decision will be reached by the end of the year.
 Foreign ministry officials and 50 businessmen to visit to AzerbaijanFifty Greek businessmen under Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas are leaving for Azerbaijan on Wednesday, to discuss investing opportunities and tourism development.
Rapid development in the country that lies between western Asia and eastern Europe has attracted interest because of Azerbaijan's wealth of energy resources and construction activity, also expressed in the fact that Greek-based Aegean Airlines currently fly directly from Athens to capital city Baku twice a week, a schedule that may be continued past the coming summer.
Diplomatic sources mentioned that areas of interest include pharmaceuticals, fashion, consulting companies, and accounting services.
Kourkoulas will be accompanied by Foreign Secretary General Panagiotis Michalos. They are both scheduled to meet with the Azerbaijani ministers of development, industry and energy, tourism and the deputy foreign minister.
The Greek-Azerbaijani business forum is scheduled to open proceedings on Wednesday; it will continue on Thursday with company presentations and meetings which will wrap up with a press conference.
 Greek banks' deposit interest rates down in JanuaryA return of deposits to Greek banks during the last seven months is pressuring saving deposit interest rates, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. In a monthly report, the central bank said that in January 2013, the overall average interest rate on new deposits decreased, while the corresponding interest rate on new loans increased. The interest spread between loan and deposit rates increased by 16 basis points to 3.07 percentage points. More specifically, in January 2013, the average interest rates on overnight deposits from households and from non-financial corporations remained almost unchanged at 0.48% and 0.47% respectively. The average interest rate on deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to one year decreased by 11 basis points to 4.59%. The overall average interest rate on all new deposits decreased by 4 basis points to 2.81%. In the case of loans, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity remained almost unchanged, in January 2013, at 14.77%. On the other hand, the average interest rate on consumer loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year increased by 31 basis points to 7.91%.
The average interest rate on corporate loans without a defined maturity decreased by 6 basis points to 7.46%, while the corresponding rate on loans to sole proprietors remained unchanged at 10.03%. The average interest rates on corporate loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year increased by 28 basis points to 7.28% for loans up to 250,000 euros, increased by 18 basis points to 6.29% for loans above 250,000 euros and up to 1 million euros, and increased by 33 basis points to 6.40% for loans above 1 million euros. Finally, the average interest rate on housing loans at a floating rate or with an initial fixation period of up to one year decreased by 5 basis points to 2.99%. In January 2013, the average interest rate on all new loans to households and corporations increased further by 12 basis points to 5.88%.
In January 2013, the overall average interest rate on the outstanding amounts of all deposits increased, while the corresponding interest rate on loans remained almost unchanged. As a result, the spread between loans and deposits decreased by 8 basis points to 2.86 percentage. In January 2013, the overall average interest rate on all deposits (including overnight deposits) increased to 2.94%, while the one on loans remained almost unchanged at 5.80%.
 Greece sells six-month T-bills raising 1.1375 bln eurosGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue raising 1.1375 billion euros from the market at a slightly lower cost. The Public Debt Management Organization, in a statement, said the yield on the 26-week treasury bills was set at 4.25 pct, slightly down from 4.27 pct in the previous auction of same bills in February 5, 2013. Bids submitted totaled 1.438 billion euros, 1.64 times more than the asked sum. The auction was made with the market's primary dealers, while settlement date is Friday, 8 March. The organization will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by Thursday, 7 March.
 Greece-Qatar cooperation committee to convene on Wed.The Joint Greece-Qatar Cooperation Committee, co-chaired by Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis and Managing Director of Qatar Holdings Ahmad Al-Sayed, will convene on Wednesday at the Development Ministry in Athens.
The establishment of the committee was decided during Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' official visit to Doha in late January.
 Northern Greece businesses more optimisticNorthern Greece businessmen are slowly, but steadily, becoming more optimistic over economic developments in the country, a survey showed on Tuesday.
Northern Greece Business Index 500 (NGBI 500) rose to -27 in February, from -36 in January, -49 in December and -48 in February 2012. The index showed that a 13 pct of enterprises had a positive view of their situation, up from 10 pct in January, while a 38 pct said their situation was satisfactory and another 49 pct said their situation was bad (down from 57 pct in January).
In their forecasts for the next six months, Northern Greece businessmen said their situation will deteriorate (40 pct in February down from 41 pct in January), while a 38 pct said things will be the same and a 21 pct predicting an improvement. Dismissal intentions eased to 31 pct in February, form 34 pct in January, while only 8.0 pct said they planned to hire more workers. Forecasts over turnover developments showed that 55 pct of businessmen suffered a decline in February (down from 65 pct in January), while only 17 pct reported an increase in turnover.
The NGBI 500 index is based on information offered by a sample of 500 enterprises based in Northern Greece.
 Interamerican returns to profitability in 2012Interamerican on Tuesday said it returned to profitability in 2012, reporting after tax profits of 22.6 million euros and net repeat profits of 12.9 million euros, from 11.6 million euros in 2011.
The insurance company said all sectors with established activities were profitable last year. General insurance reported profits of 8.6 million euros, life insurance reported profits of 9.3 million and health insurance reported profits of 5.3 million euros.
Interamerican said its gross registered premium production fell 8.5 pct last year to 428.3 million euros, lower from a 10.7 pct decline recorded in the general insurance market, with general insurance premium production totaling 224.2 million euros, life contracts totaling 107 million euros and health contracts totaling 97.1 million euros. Based on these results, Interamerican maintained the second place in the Greek insurance market, raising slightly its market share to 9.9 pct.
George Kotsalos, chief executive of the group said Interamerican plans to invest around 20 million euros in new technologies with the aim to simplify, standardize and speed-up its services by 2015.
 Greek pharmaceuticals industry presenting powerful momentumThe focal significance of the local pharmaceuticals production, regarding its contribution to the Greek economy in GDP terms, employment and competitiveness was highlighted by a relevant study processed by the Economic and Industrial Research Foundation (IOBE) titled "Growth prospects of the Greek pharmaceutical industry".
In the face of evaluations setting the recession at about 4.5 percent for 2013 and bringing the country to having lost over 23 percent of its product as of 2008, the study highlights the momentum that the local pharmaceuticals industry has developed over the past years with the basic characteristics being competitiveness, extroversion and innovation.
The study recorded the leading position of the local pharmaceuticals industry in the processing sector, given that it presented the highest average annual increase in terms of Gross Added Value over the 2000-2010 period compared to the rest of the sectors of local processing. This increase is the biggest in EU member-states (in the corresponding sector) over the specific period of time. More specifically, over the past decade the sector's contribution to the local processing activity followed an upward trend reaching 10 percent (of the total processing production) in 2010. This share is the third highest in the EU following those of Slovenia and Denmark. For the same period of time in particular (2000-2011) the sector achieved the biggest production increase in local processing. This increase is the biggest in the EU for the period in question regarding the production of medicine. Moreover, it is noted that the exports of pharmaceutical products hold the fourth biggest share in the total exports of Greek processing.
An evaluation of the sector's multiplying effect on the Greek economy was also made in the framework of the study. Based on the results: The sector's contribution to the country's GDP is estimated at 2.8 billion euros.
 Coca Cola Hellenic says turnover down in 2012Coca Cola Hellenic on Tuesday reported a further decline of its turnover in Greece last year and said that its revenues from emerging markets surpassed those from developed markets for the first time in its history.
Turnover in the Greek market fell to 450.8 million euros in 2012, from 526.9 million in 2011 and 604.9 million euros in 2010, for a decline of 14.5 pct and 25.5 pct, respectively. Last year's sales accounted for 6.4 pct of total consolidated sales, totaling 7.04 billion euros, down from 7.7 pct and 8.9 pct in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
The parent company in Greece recorded a net loss of 33.3 million euros in 2012, down from a loss of 34.8 million euros in 2011, although figures were not comparable. Coca Cola Hellenic is currently undergoing a widespread restructuring of its activities.
The company said emerging markets contributed 45.3 pct of total income and 59.3 pct of total EBITDA in 2012, up from 41.4 pct and 43.2 pct in 2011 and 40.8 pct and 44.7 pct in 2010.
Developed markets contributed 38.4 pct of total income and 30.6 pct of total EBITDA last year, down from 41.5 pct and 40.3 pct in 2011 and 42.3 pct and 39.3 pct in 2010, respectively.
Developing markets contributed 16.3 pct of total income in 2012 and 10.1 pct of total EBITDA, from 17.1 pct and 16.5 pct in 2011 and 16.9 pct and 16 pct in 2010, respectively.
Sales in Russia jumped 21.6 pct to 1.46 billion euros, or 20.7 pct of total sales, up from 17.6 pct in 2011 and 16.8 pct in 2010. On the other hand, sales in Italy fell 3.0 pct in 2012 to 1.1 billion euros or 15.6 pct of total sales, down from 16.6 pct in 2011 and 16.8 pct in 2010.
Consolidated net profits fell by 28 pct to 190.4 million euros last year, from 264.4 million in 2011.
Coca Cola Hellenic expects this year's revenue to continue rising although at a growth rate lower than 2 pct achieved in 2012 and sees possibilities of further improving its operating performance along with new restructuring opportunities offering financial benefits of 65 million euros this year.
 2,000 gas stations went out of business during crisisRoughly 2,000 petrol stations throughout Greece went out of business in the period of the economic crisis, given that auto fuel sales slumped by 40 percent, and the heating oil by 75 percent, an event organised by the Federation of Liquid Fuel Station Owners
In Thessaloniki was told on Tuesday.
Public Works secretary general Stratos Simopoulos addressed the event.
 Kraft Food Hellas plans new investments in GreeceKraft Food Hellas plans to maintain its workforce, despite adverse economic conditions prevailing in the country and to continue investing in production facilities, human resources, research and development of products, Lefteris Haroulakos, the company's chief executive told reporters.
He said that company's aim was to send optimistic messages to its parent company Mondelez International and to prove that the Greek market has possibilities that can be exploited.
Haroulakos said that the company's workers, around 580, will receive wage increases of 1-2 pct, while he noted that Kraft Food Hellas did not pay any wage increases last year but offered higher bonuses. He categorically dismissed press reports that multinational companies asked for wage cuts during a meeting with Development minister last week.
Kraft Foods has established activities in more than two decades in the Greek market and has developed and maintains a significant activity of production and distribution of food products. The company plans investments worth 5.0 million euros for the next two years, mainly on its chocolate factory Pavlides, which has increased its production capacity by 30-35 pct.
 Henkel Hellas does not support wage cutsHenkel Hellas on Tuesday categorically dismissed press reports alleging that the company recommended a wage cut during a meeting last week between representatives of 11 multinational companies with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis.
In a statement, issued on Tuesday, Henkel Hellas said that: "Such measures do not represent the company since they will not contribute to the economic recovery of the country and a return to positive growth rates. Instead, the company's goal and commitment is - through a series of initiatives - to strengthen its presence in Greece, supporting productive activity, investments and employment".
"It is in this framework that Henkel Hellas recently announced the gradual return of a significant part of its production line of detergents and cleaning products to Greece, safeguarding 50-70 job positions and more investments in the country," the company said. Henkel Hellas has established activities in the Greek market for the last 50 years. Its investments total 15 million euros in the last five years.
 Charter flight from Israel to 'launch' 2013 toursim season on CreteThis year's tourism season will be launched on the south Aegean island of Crete with the arrival of a chartered flight from Israel at Iraklio's "N. Kazantzakis" International Airport on March 24.
Local tourism sector professionals say that based on early indications, tourist arrivals in 2013 will record a notable increase compared with the 2012 tourism season. Charter flight arrivals from Russia alone, are expected to increase 30 pct.
 Business Briefs-- Thrace Plastics on Tuesday announced the signing of a final contract to sell its 50 pct equity stake in Thrace Teknik -based in Istanbul- to the Turkish company for 810,000 euros.
 Greek stocks end slightly downGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as an early rebound quickly evaporated. The composite index of the market eased 0.29 pct to end at 967.15 points, after rising as much as 1.30 pct early in the day. Bank shares remained under pressure, although selective blue chips such as OPAP, PPC, Intralot and Metka offered support to the market. Turnover was a thin 46.904 million euros.
The Big Cap index eased 0.25 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.81 pct lower. The Travel (4.23 pct), Industrial Products (1.29 pct), Raw Materials (1.13 pct) and Utilities (1.11 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (3.14 pct), Technology (2.71 pct) and Food (1.73 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
OPAP (4.55 pct), Metka (3.51 pct), Intralot (2.29 pct) and Frigoglass (1.91 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (5.96 pct), Eurobank (4.65 pct), Cyprus Bank (3.69 pct) and Alpha Bank (3.63 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 75 to 63 with another 34 issues unchanged. PC Systems (19.64 pct), Attica Holding (14.94 pct) and Intertek (14.01 pct) were top gainers, while Fieratex (25 pct), Alpha Grissin (19.59 pct) and Ideal (18.92 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.03%
Personal & Household: +0.78%
Raw Materials: +1.13%
Travel & Leisure: +4.23%
Food & Beverages: -1.73%
Financial Services: -0.90%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, HBC Coca Cola, OPAP nad PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.88
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.02
HBC Coca Cola: 20.48
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.23
National Bank of Greece: 0.88
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.37
Bank of Piraeus: 0.22
 Greek bond market closingThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 9.56 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 9.76 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.0 pct and the German Bund 1.44 pct. Turnover was a thin 5.0 million euros, all buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were almost unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.54 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.43 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.32 pct, the three-month rate was 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 discount of 0.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising slightly to 27.039 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,591 contracts, worth 13.810 million euros, with 32,544 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 41,418 contracts worth 13.219 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (10,356), followed by Alpha Bank (5,104), Piraeus Bank (5,624), Cyprus Bank (1,177), MIG (1,280), OTE (3,183), PPC (1,875), OPAP (6,391), Mytilineos (498), Sidenor (272), GEK (1,102), Ellaktor (979), Intralot (744), Folli Follie (1,63) and Frigoglass (139).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.323
Pound sterling 0.872
Danish kroner 7.567
Swedish kroner 8.463
Japanese yen 123.27
Swiss franc 1.246
Norwegian kroner 7.551
Canadian dollar 1.358
Australian dollar 1.292
 Fifty Greek designers to inaugurate travelling exhibit in SmyrnaFifty of the best Greek visual communications designers will open an international exhibit in Smyrna, Turkey, on March 13 under the banner "Crisis is a Greek word," promoting creativity in a world of crisis and describing different aspects of Greece's particular case.
The 50 designers - with over 1,240 awards among them - are collaborating for the first time on a single project that will include works printed on cloth, videos on the Greek crisis by the Nomint groups, and algorythm and industrial design.
In Turkey the designers will hold a one-day meeting with Turkish designers that will include the collaborating Visual Design department of the Fine Arts and Design School of the Economic University of Smyrna.
A competition will be held for Turkish designers to produce a poster that will travel with the exhibit once it leaves Turkey on March 29.
The project was conceived and organised by the Susurrus group that includes mostly designers.
 Remains reveal strong Neolithic communityThe excavation of a low hill with archaeological remains - known as "magoula" by excavators of Greece - to the west of Volos in Fthiotida prefecture has yielded a prehistorian's dream: Neolithic clay figurines - lots of them and in different shapes.
Koutroulou Magoula, dug by a team of the Greek Archaeological Service headed by Nina Kyparissi and Southampton University professor Yannis Hamilakis, through the British School of Archaeology, has brought to light clay figurines 3 to 12 cm long depicting figurines and bird-like beings that are dated to the Middle Neolithic period, from about 5800 BC to 5300 BC.
"One can find figurines at other Neolithic sites in Anatolia and the Balkans," Hamilakis explains, "but both the number and variety of the types make Koutroulou Magoula stand out. Their interpretation is open and intriguing."
What makes the findings more unusual is the fact they were found in excavations rather than on the surface of the earth, as is often the case in fields dug up by plowing, while most of the figurines depicting human forms do not indicate sex. "These figurines could open new paths in the interpretation of similar objects, because they were many in number and varied and because they come from a systematic excavation rather than from surface collection," Hamilakis says.
The figurines were spread over the roughly 4 hectares of the magoula's site, which also yielded stone foundations of houses, a tumulus tomb from the Bronze Age, and even a young woman's burial from historical times, the 12th century AD.
Findings suggest that the inhabitants of the Neolithic settlement were farmers, raised animals, made tools from flint and obsidian, were in touch with other settlements in their area and had a sense of community, which can be seen from the scale of the projects that have left traces today.
"Wherever we have indications of large-scale projects, like low surrounding walls or ditches around house complexes, we wonder if there was a central authority to coordinate and direct all this effort," Hamilakis explains. "For the time being, there are no indications at Koutroulou Magoula that such a central authority existed."
The excavation project also serves as a learning site for other disciplines, with the help of Greek and foreign experts. Ongoing projects include ethnographic studies of present inhabitants and their relationship to the site, theatrical plays put up by students for locals based on issues related to their experience, and informative sessions keeping people in the area abreast of the site's importance and findings.
Findings will be published following studies of the material this year and next.
 Former local government officials to face trial over school bus contractFormer regional authority chief for Central Macedonia Georgios Tsiotras and three former Thessaloniki deputy mayors serving under the city's now jailed former mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, as well as three municipal employees, are to be tried for breach of duty before a Thessaloniki Criminal Appeals court, it was announced on Tuesday.
The charges relate to a contract worth 148,000 euro that was given to a specific coach company owner in 2008/2009 for school bus routes using coaches for children living in remote locations. The municipal committee in charge of assigning the contract, made up of the defendants on trial, is accused of blocking a rival coach company owner from bidding in the tender for the contract by repeatedly creating obstacles to his bid.
The coach company owner than appealed to the Central Macedonia Regional Authority but his appeal was rejected so that he filed a suit alleging that he had been improperly excluded from bidding.
 Albanian coach operators stage protest against Greek transport ministry decisionAlbanian coach transport operators on Tuesday blocked traffic at the Krystalopigi and Kakavia border crossings, on their country's side of the Greek-Albanian frontier. They were protesting against the abolition, as of midnight on March 4, of many international bus routes starting in Greek provincial towns. for roughly five hours on Monday
Their protest on Monday lasted for roughly five hours though a similar protest scheduled for Tuesday did not take place until late in the afternoon.
The Albanian drivers' protest was prompted by the implementation of an article in Law No 4070/2012, which stipulates that regular scheduled international bus routes to Albania can only set off or terminate from Athens and Thessaloniki and not from any other city in Greece, as it was the case until now.
Coach transport operators in both countries were notified of the decision by a Greek transport ministry document dated Feb. 28. The document forwarded to the Greek and Albanian embassies clarified that most bus routes will be abolished because no bilateral agreement was reached between Greece and Albania before the end of a relevant deadline.
According to the Feb. 28 document, the only bus routes that will not be abolished are the Tirana-Athens route (via Krystalopigi and Kakavia) and the Tirana-Thessaloniki route (via Kakavia). In response to strong reactions, a Greek transport ministry document dated March 4 clarified that the Thessaloniki-Tirana route will also be serviced via Krystalopigi. According to the latest transport ministry document, Greek and foreign coach operators will be able to service the Thessaloniki-Krystalopigi-Tirana route only if they declare their departure points and stopovers while on Greek territory.
Both Greek and Albanian coach operators are against the decision, alleging that passengers will have to pay more and sector-related jobs will be lost.
On its part, the Greek intercity bus operator KTEL says that Albanian coach routes link almost every Albanian village with Athens and in many cases they have replaced KTEL bus routes. KTEL also charged that Albanian coach operators active in various Greek cities do not observe finance ministry circulars and do not keep books or submit VAT returns.
 Thirteen people convicted for setting up dog fights in KateriniThirteen people in the northern city of Katerini were handed down prison sentences on Tuesday ranging from 2 to 8 months, with a three-year suspension and fines ranging between 2,000-5,000 euros, over setting up dog fights.
Four people who were arrested during the police raid were acquitted by the court.
The dog fights had been arranged in stables with horses, used by hunters as a meeting place, outside Katerini. The dog fights were watched by dozens of spectators, who fled on noticing the presence of police. A fight between two pitbulls, wounded in the process, was taking place at the time. Police found another seven dogs, including a dead one, in three cars.
The defendants denied that they were at the scene for the purpose of having dog fights, claiming that it was a meeting between hunters.
The court's verdict brought the reaction of animal-lovers' organisations in Katerini, who felt that the sentences should have been tougher.
 Riot at Nafplio Prison ends after non-violent intervention of riot policeA prison riot at Nafplio correctional facility, in southern Greece, ended quickly on Tuesday soon after riot police were called in by the prison administrators.
Mattresses were set on fire at the prison's A and C cell blocks, with the rioters demanding medical care while most of the inmates were in the exercise yard.
The fire set by the prisoners was extinguished by firemen called by the prison authorities and calm was restored soon after the peaceful intervention of riot police.
Inmates were protesting over the death of a 26-year-old Palestinian prisoner, who died of pathological causes at a local hospital shortly after he was admitted earlier on Tuesday.
 Prisoners protest living conditions in Patras jailA prosecutor was still negotiating as of late Tuesday with detainees at the Agios Stefanos jail in Patras who are refusing to return to their cells in protest of living conditions at the jail including lack of a doctor's services.
Sources said that the talks were being held in a good climate but that police from Patras were on call at the jail in case of incidents.
 Cloudy on WednesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 0C and 17C. Cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 4C and 16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 4C and 13C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: "Main opposition SYRIZA proposal for the new tax map: Tax-free ceiling at 12,000 euros, tax on real estate properties valued at over 300,000 euros".
DIMOKRATIA: "Germany wants private Tax Bureaus".
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Fairytale with two dragons".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Contractors disgruntled".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos sentenced to 8 years and residence seizure".
ESTIA: "Greece, Turkey: The 2003-2013 decade".
ETHNOS: "Tough bargaining on layoffs and reserve labour in public sector".
IMERISSIA: "Bank deposits return from abroad".
KATHIMERINI: "Difference of opinions over the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone)".
LOGOS: "The market collapsing".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Eurogroup sounds warning bell on structural changes".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Anti-popular Greek-Turkish agreements".
TA NEA: "The finalised 'Athena' plan for restructure of higher education".
VRADYNI: "The changes in social security contributions".
6 DAYS: "Second message from the judges".
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