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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-03-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 Issue No: 4309


  • [01] FinMin: 'A lot of issues still pending' in talks with troika
  • [02] PM Samaras' meeting with troika team postponed to Wednesday
  • [03] Finance ministry officials meet with troika representatives
  • [04] KKE on gov't-troika talks
  • [05] PM meets CEO of Russia's Gazprom, discusses privatisations
  • [06] PASOK leader unveils plan to halt spiraling unemployment
  • [07] SYRIZA leader in Alexandroupolis
  • [08] Gov't reacts to SYRIZA leader's speech, accuses him of targeting investors
  • [09] Explosions at three political offices in Thessaloniki
  • [10] Government spokesman says acts of terrorism do not daunt government
  • [11] PM to address youth event against extremism
  • [12] New PASOK central committee to convene Thursday
  • [13] Information SecGen: Gov't guarantees autonomy of AMNA
  • [14] Dev. minister meets president, sees breakthrough on major highway projects by April
  • [15] Hatzidakis meets with 11 German company reps
  • [16] Finmin meets potential participants in Athens airport tender
  • [17] Tourism minister meets Japanese officials in bid to boost tourist arrivals from Japan
  • [18] Development minister holds talks with IATA representatives
  • [19] Greek banks cut borrowing from ECB, ELA in Jan
  • [20] Greek GDP fell 6.4 pct in 2012
  • [21] Greek industrial production down 4.8 pct in Jan
  • [22] No deal at ferry line owners meeting with seamen's union
  • [23] Building activity dropped 30.6 pct in 2012
  • [24] Business Briefs
  • [25] Greek stocks recover on Tuesday
  • [26] Greek bond market closing report
  • [27] ADEX closing report
  • [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [29] Interview of EJC President Moshe Kantor
  • [30] Israeli professor on developments in Eastern Mediterranean
  • [31] State General Accounting Office WWI, WWII archives project completed
  • [32] Counter-Terrorism squad finds Kalashnikov weapons and grenades in Exarchia
  • [33] Nafplio mayor holds meeting with Turkish general consul
  • [34] Museums and archaeological sites closed until March 19
  • [35] Man arrested at Athens airport with 3.4 kilos of heroin
  • [36] Agios Antonios station to shut early on Wednesday
  • [37] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [38] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] FinMin: 'A lot of issues still pending' in talks with troika

    A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at government head-quarters, Maximos Mansion, to review negotiations with the representatives of the troika of lenders (EU, IMF and ECB), ended late Tuesday.

    Asked about its focus, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said that, "We found it useful to devote an extra day to discussion, as the technical experts are continuing their talks on technical details."

    The meeting included Minister of Development and Transport Kostis Hatzidakis, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Labour and Social Security Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and Administration Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis.

    In statements made to the press following the meeting, Stournaras said that he didn't think agreement would be reached on all issues, "but that's what we are working towards, so we reach agreement on as many as possible."

    Declining to enumerate outstanding issues, he said instead that "There are a lot of pending issues" and "we certainly hope to have reached agreement on certain issues."

    He also confirmed that the premier would be meeting with the troika repre-sentatives at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

    [02] PM Samaras' meeting with troika team postponed to Wednesday

    The meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the EC-ECB-IMF troika representatives scheduled to take place on Tuesday was postponed until Wednesday, March 13 at 19:00 p.m. due to a delay in the completion of the work of the troika experts.

    The Maximos Mansion, Greek government headquarters, clarified that the delay is not due to any deadlock in the talks but rather to procedural issues.

    [03] Finance ministry officials meet with troika representatives

    Finance ministry officials and EC-ECB-IMF troika representatives had a new four-hour meeting on Tuesday ahead of the creditors' representatives meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

    The meeting focused on the three major "thorns" in the negotiations, namely, the settlement of overdue debts owed to tax bureaus and social insurance funds, the extraordinary property surtax collected via electricity bills and downsizing the public sector.

    [04] KKE on gov't-troika talks

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) called on Greek citizens on Tuesday to "reject the annihilation measures being prepared against them by the government, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and to not bow before the mockery that the Greek government reacts to the demands of the (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) troika."

    A statement by the party's press office also stressed that working people "should organise their struggle for the people's immediate survival, for collective labour agreements, against the burdens of taxation, the survival of the unemployed, the poor farmers and the self-employed."

    [05] PM meets CEO of Russia's Gazprom, discusses privatisations

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday held a meeting with the Deputy Board Chairman and CEO of the Russian energy company Gazprom, Alexey Miller, at his offices in the Maximos Mansion in Athens.

    After the meeting, Miller said the Russian energy giant is interested in carrying out investments in Greece and also in planned privatisations, as his company will participate in a tender for the privatisation of the Public Gas Corporation and Natural Gas Transmission System Operator (DEPA-DESFA).

    Sources within the government noted that Samaras is showing personal interest in the progress of privatisations, while stressing that there will be full transparency in all cases.

    According to a Gazprom statement, a meeting with Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis was also held, focusing on Greek energy market's present and future activities.

    The final tenders for the privatization of DEPA are expected to be submitted by mid April.

    The shortlisted bidders are Gazprom for DEPA, M7M GasCo for DEPA, Negusneft (Sintez Group) for DEPA and DESFA, PPF & GEK TERNA for DESFA and Socar for DESFA.

    [06] PASOK leader unveils plan to halt spiraling unemployment

    "The top issue for Greek society is halting unemployment, dealing first with absolute unemployment," PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos underlined on Tuesday, unveiling his party's integrated plan to put a halt to spiraling unemployment in Greece.

    "It is an ambitious programme to halt unemployment" which was forwarded to the Troika as had been agreed at their meeting on Thursday, Venizelos said.

    Noting that there are 400,000 households without a single working member and without other sources of income, Venizelos said PASOK's programme concerns 700,000 jobs.

    More specifically, the programme concerns support of 500,000 jobs "at risk" as well as 200,000 new jobs, of which 100,000 in local governments, self-directed employment and social work, 20,000 jobs in cooperative social economy companies and 80,000 jobs "for the acquisition of work experience by young people who need to enter the job market with credentials".

    Venizelos said the overall budget of the programme, "which we have counted euro by euro" is 1.3 billion euros, of which 750 million euro will come from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, which will have to be transferred from other programmes to the Social Fund, 400 million euro which are available from the Professional Orientation of Workers in Small Businesses (LAEK) programme, and 150 million euro that can be generated from the joint account of IKA (the state social security fund) and OAED (the state manpower employment organisation).

    "This is a scheme that generates the required funds and enables us to proceed to supporting employment and giving security to families whose main concern is unemployment," Venizelos said.

    [07] SYRIZA leader in Alexandroupolis

    Development does not goes through memorandums and EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones) or the destruction of the natural environment, said main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday in the northeastern Greek city of Alexandroupolis during the presentation of SYRIZA's national growth plan and the party's positions on the productive restructure of the country.

    Referring to the goldmines investment, Tsipras said that a correct growth model was not followed, and charged the government that it operates for the benefit of collusion.

    On the VAT rate, SYRIZA leader said that a 23 percent VAT rate on restaurants is outrageous and referred to the need for the small and medium sized enterprises to be supported, as well as for the implementation of a more just tax system.

    He also underlined that the three axes of the country's economic development are shipping, tourism and exports.

    [08] Gov't reacts to SYRIZA leader's speech, accuses him of targeting investors

    The government reacted to statements made by main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' SYRIZA-EKM leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday, accusing him of "persecuting" investors and seeking a return to the drachma.

    "Mr. Tsipras' world is ruled by the super-state and the death of the private individual," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.

    "Cheerfully, Mr. Tsipras says he will make a revolutionary-style government with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), ANTARSYA and the Alavanos party: all three fanatic supporters of the drachma," the spokesman added, noting that Tsipras himself had admitted that his views might bring destruction.

    "On this last point, no one can disagree with him," Kedikoglou said.

    Speaking earlier in the northeastern Greek city of Alexandroupolis, Tsipras had presented his party's plan for economic growth and restructuring production in Greece, opposing investments such as goldmines that are deeply unpopular with many local inhabitants and urging a fairer taxation system with greater support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

    [09] Explosions at three political offices in Thessaloniki

    Explosions occurred in downtown Thessaloniki on Tuesday evening at the political offices of Alternate Environment Minister Stavros Kalafatis and New Democracy party deputies Costas Gioulekas and George Orfanos.

    The attacks caused only material damage Five employees left the offices in time, while the causes for the attacks remain unspecified.

    The unidentified attackers placed the explosive devices (possibly composed of gas cannisters) at the entrances of the three offices and the explosions occurred almost simultaneously shortly before 8 in the evening.

    Gioulekas said that at the time of the explosion a female emloyee was in the office who went on to the balcony and was then removed by firemen. According to reports, another two employees were removed in time from Kalafatis's office and an equal number from the office of Orfanos. The three explosions did not injure anyone.

    The worst damage was caused at Kalafatis's office, which is located on the last floor of an apartment building in Katouni street where an extensive fire broke out. Firemen discontinued the supply of electric power in the entire apartment building where only offices operate and then extinguished the blaze.

    Speaking after the attack, Gioulekas said that "democracy cannot be terrorised, it is not stood up at a distance of six metres. Those who did this must feel ashamed, a person was put in danger".

    On his part, New Democracy party Political Committee Secretary and Iraklio deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis made the following statement on the attacks: "We unequivocally condemn tonight's arson attacks against the offices of the party's deputies in Thessaloniki, Mr. Stavros Kalafatis, Mr. Constantine Gioulekas and Mr. George Orfanos. These attacks harm democracy. The coordinated attempt to terrorise the political world will fail".

    [10] Government spokesman says acts of terrorism do not daunt government

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, commenting on the attacks at offices of New Democracy party officials in Thessaloniki, said Tuesday evening that "acts of terrorism do not daunt the government. On the contrary they confirm that we are on the right path".

    "In democracy it is not the hooded bomber who decides, but the people with their vote and their representatives in Parliament," Kedikoglou added.

    [11] PM to address youth event against extremism

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will address a greeting at the International Youth Conference against violence of the extremes on Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Acropolis Museum amphitheatre.

    The event is organised by ONNED (New Democracy youth organisation) under the auspices of the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU).

    [12] New PASOK central committee to convene Thursday

    The newly-elected PASOK central political committee will convene at noon Thursday, chaired by party leader Evangelos Venizelos, to elect the secretary of the new PASOK Political Council.

    The central committee will also elect the new Constitutional Committee and the Financial Monitoring Committee.

    [13] Information SecGen: Gov't guarantees autonomy of AMNA

    The General Secretariat for Information and Communication intends to proceed with a revamping of the state media it supervises (AMNA news agency and ERT state broadcasting corporation) after the completion of its own restructure, Information secretary general Ioannis Panagiotopoulos told AMNA staff on Tuesday at the traditional cutting of the New Year pie.

    Panagiotopoulos assured AMNA staff that the government guarantees the autonomy of the national news agency, stressing that the government's support is a given fact.

    "We are in the final stretch of the restructure of the General Secretariat, and soon we will go on to the revamping of AMNA and ERT," he said.

    "Two different organisations, two different organisational charts, which will not aim to limit the personnel but to better operation, which means conservation of resources and better results," Panagiotopoulos explained.

    He further said that the General Secretariat will enhance the AMNA technical infrastructure via the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, aiming at rendering the news agency a capable organisation able to meet the needs of the future.

    AMNA director general Antonis Skyllakos wished the staff health, labor peace and smooth collaboration.

    Financial News

    [14] Dev. minister meets president, sees breakthrough on major highway projects by April

    In a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Trans-port and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis appeared confident that negotiations with the European Commission on major motorway construction projects may resume in April.

    "We have reached a framework agreement with the conces-sionaires. We are now negotiating with the banks. There are still some details [to settle] but, on general lines, we are on a good path," Hatzidakis said. The minister noted that the projects will create roughly 25,000 new jobs and help revive the Greek economy.

    Papoulias asked to be informed about the stance of the European Investment Bank and the development minister explained the difficulties involved and the complexity of the problem.

    "The European Bank will help but, at the same time, the European Commission must also approve the amended contracts. And there are four European Commission directorates-general involved in this affair, the European Invesment Bank, 43 Greek, European and international banks and a host of lawyers. However, we cannot do anything other than complete this effort successfully so that the bulldozers can start work without delay," Hatzidakis said.

    The minister also noted that efforts were being made to deal with the liquidity problems faced by public works using funds from the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).

    [15] Hatzidakis meets with 11 German company reps

    German Ambassador to Greece Wolfgang Dold hosted a meeting between Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and representatives of eleven German trade and industry businesses with branches in Greece, at his residence on Tuesday.

    Companies included Bayer, Bosch, BASF, Jungheinrich, Paul Hartmann, Lidl, Giesecke & Devrient, Bundesdruckerei, Wurth, Praktiker ??? Lowenbrau, while also attending were the vice-president of the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry Athanasios Syrianos and Federation of German Industry representative Daniel Stahl.

    Detailed mention was made of the obstacles companies faced in carrying on investments, in securing licences, and in negative repercussions from matured debts.

    Chatzidakis outlined the government's efforts to a more business-friendly environment.

    There are over 150 German businesses in Greece currently, responsible for over 35,000 jobs and 11 million euros in turnover for 2011.

    [16] Finmin meets potential participants in Athens airport tender

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday had a meeting with representatives of the Chinese investment fund Shenzhen Airport and Fredmann Pacific Asset Management, which was also attended by the leadership of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) in charge of Greece's privatisations drive.

    The meeting was held to discuss participation in a tender for Athens International Airport, in which the Chinese investors have expressed interest.

    [17] Tourism minister meets Japanese officials in bid to boost tourist arrivals from Japan

    Promoting Greece as a tourism destination in Japan and ways of increasing the flow of Japanese visitors to Greece dominated talks between Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Japanese government officials held in Tokyo on Tuesday.

    Kefalogianni met Japan's Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi and Senior Vice-Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Yosuke Tsuruho, discussing ways to boost ties in tourism, finance and trade between the two countries.

    During the meeting with Kiuchi, they reaffirmed the close cooperation, mutual respect and good relations between the two countries and discussed bilateral and international issues. With Tsuruho, Kefalogianni discussed ways in which Greece and Japan could cooperate in tourism and ways of promoting Greece on the Japanese market, agreeing to combine their efforts in order to boost tourist arrivals in both directions.

    Tsuruho promised to take action to promote Greece while Kefalogianni outlined the major structural changes recently carried out in the country, which she said had transformed it into an attractive tourism destination for foreign visitors. She also announced that Greece is prepared to host Japanese reporters, so that they can see for themselves what the country has to offer.

    Another issue discussed was the possibility of establishing direct flights from Athens to Tokyo, which will greatly boost bilateral tourism and benefit both countries.

    In statements to the press, Kefalogianni appeared confident that Greece will soon see an increase in arrivals from Japan, while she stressed that Japanese tourists were of "high quality" and greatly interested Greece in its efforts to upgrade its tourism.

    [18] Development minister holds talks with IATA representatives

    Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and representatives of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) discussed the economic situation in Europe and Greece regarding air transport, the pricing policy of Greek airports for airline companies and the programme of the government and the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) on the utilisation of regional airports.

    The Development Minister briefed them on the government's initiatives on supporting the airline sector and on the plan of utilising regional airports. IATA expressed its satisfaction on the government's proposals concerning the pricing policies of regional airports.

    [19] Greek banks cut borrowing from ECB, ELA in Jan

    Greek banks cut their dependence in funding from the European Central Bank and the Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism (ELA) in January, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank, in its monthly report, said the funding of Greek banks from the European Central Bank totaled 76.22 billion euros in January, from 19.35 billion euros in December 2012, while funding from ELA totaled 31.43 billion euros in January from 101.85 billion euros in December 2012. Overall, Greek bank's funding from both mechanisms fell to 107.65 billion euros from 121.2 billion euros at the end of 2012. This development reflects a return of deposits to the Greek banking system and Greek banks' "exit" to the interbank market.

    [20] Greek GDP fell 6.4 pct in 2012

    Greece's Gross Domestic Product fell by 6.4 pct last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service said that the country's GDP (fixed 2005 prices) totaled 168.5 billion euros in 2012, from 180 billion euros in 2011 and attributed the 6.4 pct fall in the country's economic output to a 17.6 pct drop in private investments and an 8.2 pct decline in total consumption spending.

    An improving trade balance, however, helped in partly counterbalancing a decline in GDP. In nominal terms, the GDP totaled 193.7 billion euros last year, from 208.5 billion in 2011, a decline of 7.1 pct. The statistics service will release its second estimate for the GDP, using updated figures, in October.

    [21] Greek industrial production down 4.8 pct in Jan

    Greece's industrial production fell 4.8 pct in January, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. The statistics service, in a report, said that the industrial production composite index fell 4.8 pct in January, compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 6.8 pct recorded in January 2012. The statistics service attributed this decline to a 13.9 pct drop in mining production, a 2.4 pct fall in manufacturing production (base metals -12.2 pct, machinery equipment -19.7 pct, furniture -21.2 pct, food production -1.1 pct and tobacco production -6.4 pct), a 9.3 pct drop in electricity production and a 0.4 pct fall in water production in the month.

    [22] No deal at ferry line owners meeting with seamen's union

    A second meeting between representatives of ferry line owners and the seamen's union PNO on Tuesday ended without agreement on collective labour contracts.

    The seamen's union demanded the signing of collective labour contracts with a wage raise to be determined by the two sides and noted that they will accept no wage cuts.

    As regards special benefits, the seamen representatives agreed the two sides should set up a joint committee to study the issue.

    On their part, the members of the coastal shipping companies' association SEEN suggested a 10 pct wage reduction for seamen, regardless of the ship type, and reconsideration of the special benefits they receive.

    All issues raised by PNO will be discussed at a new SEEN board meeting, the coastal shipping companies' association announced.

    [23] Building activity dropped 30.6 pct in 2012

    Building activity in the private sector (measured in volume) dropped by an average 30.6 pct last year, after falling by 32.5 pct in December 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that building permits fell by 36.9 pct last year, a sign that activity in the sector will remain subdued in 2013. Building activity totaled 1,775 permits in December, down 40.2 pct from the same month in 2011. In the January-December 2012 period, building activity in the private sector dropped 36.9 pct in permits and by 30.6 pct in volume, compared with the previous 12-month period.

    [24] Business Briefs

    -- Viohalco on Tuesday reported a 13 pct decline in sales in Greece and other EU member-states last year, but said its sales grew significantly in other European markets (22 pct) and in the US (34 pct).

    [25] Greek stocks recover on Tuesday

    Greek stocks recovered in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, covering almost half of the ground lost on Monday. Buying activity focused on blue chip stocks such as Coca Cola Hellenic, Motor Oil and Hellenic Petroleum, while the shares of National Bank, Alpha Bank and OPAP remained under pressure. The composite index of the market rose 1.23 pct to end at 941.17 points, off the day's highs of 946.43 points. Turnover rose to 58.135 million euros. The Big Cap index ended 0.53 pct higher and the Mid Cap index rose 2.17 pct. The Technology (5.48 pct), Health (4.76 pct) and Oil (3.96 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (1.57 pct), Banks (1.56 pct) and Telecoms (1.24 pct) suffered losses. Ellaktor (4.32 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (4.23 pct) and Viohalco (4.16 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Frigoglass (7.25 pct), National Bak (2.91 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.64 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 85 to 57 with another 23 issues unchanged. Varvaresos (17.95 pct), Mihaniki (15 pct) and Sidma (13.58 pct) were top gainers, while Pegasus (20 pct), Alsinco (20 pct) and Teletypos (19.89 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +0.96%

    Commercial: +1.80%

    Construction: +0.44%

    Oil & Gas: +3.96%

    Personal & Household: +1.07%

    Raw Materials: +1.42%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.57%

    Technology: +5.48%

    Telecoms: -1.24%

    Banks: -1.58%

    Food & Beverages: +3.87%

    Health: +4.76% Utilities: -1.69%

    Financial Services: -0.02%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were HBC Coca Cola and PPC, OTE, OPAP, PPC and National Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.85

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.35

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.14

    National Bank of Greece: 0.80

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.32

    OPAP: 6.50

    OTE: 5.56

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.20

    Titan: 14.32

    [26] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 9.21 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.68 pct and the German Bund 1.47 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates remained largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.54 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.43 pct, the six-month rate was 0.32 pct, the three-month rate 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.

    [27] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.28 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining an improved 39.689 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 14,287 contracts worth 21.933 million euros, with 31,308 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 98,959 contracts worth 17.756 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (18,272), followed by Alpha Bank (7,847), Piraeus Bank (16,366), Cyprus Bank (6,044), MIG (8,005), OTE (10,602), PPC (2,401), OPAP (2,656), Hellenic Exchanges (1,002), Cyprus Popular Bank (8,903), Mytilineos (2,020), Ellaktor (2,943), Intralot (1,406), Sidenor (909), Viohalco (253), Jumbo (327) and Frigoglass (190).

    [28] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.324

    Pound sterling 0.889

    Danish kroner 7.569

    Swedish kroner 8.443

    Japanese yen 127.13

    Swiss franc 1.252

    Norwegian kroner 7.557

    Canadian dollar 1.359

    Australian dollar 1.282

    General News

    [29] Interview of EJC President Moshe Kantor

    European Jewish Congress (EJC) president Moshe Kantor referred to the alarming rise of anti-Semitism and racism in Europe, noting during an interview with AMNA on Tuesday that such phenomena have found a "powerful political home in the Golden Dawn party" in Greece.

    The EJC president will be in Thessaloniki at the end of the week to attend the annual World Jewish Congress and memorial events for the WWII Holocaust victims.

    Speaking to AMNA, he noted that: "almost everywhere in Europe, anti-Semitism is on the rise. This is deeply disturbing to me and the Jewish community. In some places, like Malmo, Sweden, the Jewish community feels that the authorities have abandoned them or are not doing enough. These phenomena must be combated with greater education, tougher legislation and law enforcement."

    Referring to Greece, Kantor pointed out that "anti-Semitism and racism in Greece have a powerful political home in the Golden Dawn party" and underlined that "for the first time in well over six decades, a party which requires members to be of 'Aryan descent', has a full armed and open-fisted salute and has a logo which distinctly resembles a Swastika has attained significant power in a European Parliament. Let us not be mistaken, the Golden Dawn party in Greece is not a far-right represents a neo-Nazi vision that many assumed was isolated in basement parlor meetings or remote countryside retreats."

    He said that "this is a party which read the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in Parliament, denies the Holocaust and most recently threatened to turn immigrants into soap and put them in ovens. All lines have been crossed and we are returning to a very dark time where minorities are openly beaten up in the streets and late-night torch marches take place in city centers. Golden Dawn has evoked almost every Nazi emblem, strategy and policy. At the moment it is mostly rhetoric, but how long can we tolerate such things. They need to be censured immediately by the Greek government and the European Union."

    The EJC president said that the economic crisis demands vigilance and noted that it should not be used as an excuse for the rise of violence and racism.

    "We cannot only deal with issues of racism and tolerance when our economies are good. While economies will always be repaired, our national souls may not," he said.

    Commenting on recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Zionism, he said that "while before Erdogan's statements used to be confined to criticising a particular Israeli policy, which is legitimate, now they have crossed a red line into assaulting the very basis for the State of Israel, which is absolutely illegitimate. This type of rhetoric is pushing Turkey further away from the West and Europe and closer to Iran."

    The EJC president also said that Turkey should return to serving as "a bridge for peace in the Middle East, a role they can regain only by changing their rhetoric."

    As regards the issue of Hezbollah, he said that "the European Jewish Congress once again calls for the European Union to immediately and unequivocally add Hezbollah to the list of proscribed terrorist organizations."

    [30] Israeli professor on developments in Eastern Mediterranean

    Efraim Inbar, Political Sciences professor at the Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat Strategic Studies Centre, speaking in an interview with AMNA's internet television Tuesday, said that after the visit by U.S. President Barak Obama to Israel in the coming days, during which the issue of Iran's nuclear programme is expected to be at the focus of talks, Israel will be taking its decisions.

    Referring to developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, professor Inbar ascertains on the one hand the upsurge of the political Islam and on the other the discovery of energy resources in the region, that could lead to a tripartite cooperation between Cyprus, Israel and Greece for the benefit of all three and resulting in Europe's lesser energy dependence.

    As regards relations between Greece and Israel, he says that they are independent from the course of Israeli-Turkish relations, stressing that Israel had pursued cooperation with Greece when its relations with Turkey were at their highest point.

    [31] State General Accounting Office WWI, WWII archives project completed

    The major task of going through State General Accounting Office WWI and WWII archives was completed by a special working group set up specifically for this purpose and the completed project was delivered to Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, it was announced.

    The relevant report, focusing on the collection and codification, as well as the recording, registration, sorting and protection of the large State General Accounting Office historical archive, was completed on schedule and delivered to the alternate finance minister on March 8, who in turn, following proper procedure, handed it over to the foreign ministry.

    The archive material was gathered in the State General Accounting Office building where it will be kept separately, while its files are divided into special categories. The registered archive material, comprising 761 volumes, has undergone digital imaging.

    [32] Counter-Terrorism squad finds Kalashnikov weapons and grenades in Exarchia

    An ongoing probe by the Counter-Terrorism squad in the Athens district of Exarchia has revealed an entire arsenal so far.

    Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Service squad were searching an apartment in Skylitsi street in Exarchia on Tuesday evening, the area has been sealed off and a Riot Police unit was on standby. Searches are also taking place in an apartment in Piraeus, while earlier a private parking lot in Exarchia was also combed.

    A rented car was in the parkling area in whose trunk the following items were found and confiscated: two backpacks containing two Kalashnikov military rifles wirth sawn-off butts, four grenades of the F1 defence type, three loaded magazines, two for 20 cartridges and one for six cartidges, two big sealed boxes containing 720 cartidges, each of a 7.62 mm calibre, and a pair of cloth gloves.

    According to reports, the apartments and the garage were detected in the framework of the Counter-Terrorism squad's investigation for the group that carried out the armed robberies in Velvento in Kozani, as well as for the rest of the terrorist actions that have taken place recently.

    [33] Nafplio mayor holds meeting with Turkish general consul

    Issues related to Nafplio, eastern Peloponnese, and the surrounding region, tourism, local products and their promotion, were discussed during a meeting between the city's mayor Dimitris Kostouros and Turkey's General Consul in Athens Nurdan Altuntas, who made a visit to the town hall on Tuesday morning, escorted by Turkish Airlines representative Gulay Ozturk.

    Kostouros made it clear that the municipality desires to cooperate for the better promotion of tourism. On her part, the foreign diplomat also expressed the desire for cooperation in the sectors of culture and tourism.

    [34] Museums and archaeological sites closed until March 19

    Museums and archaeological sites will remain closed until Tuesday March 19, as union staff initially employed under the former Culture Ministry, now merged with the Education Ministry, are escalating their mobilisations, demanding an the ministry's independence and withdrawal of a draft plan by the Culture General Secretariat.

    At a general assembly meeting on Tuesday, union members decided to hold rolling 24-hour strikes, daily gatherings at 8:00 a.m. and assemblies at the central building of the former Culture Ministry, on Boumboulinas Street, to enable the employees themselves to determine the course of the struggle.

    On Wednesday the strikers will meet to evaluate the draft plan, if it will have been made public by then, and a gathering will follow at the National Archaeological Museum at 11:30 a.m., after which union members will participate in a rally by ADEDY, the umbrella union for civil servants, at 3:30 p.m.

    [35] Man arrested at Athens airport with 3.4 kilos of heroin

    A 35-year-old Romanian national was arrested on Monday at Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" charged with attempting to smuggle 3.4 kilos of heroin into Greece.

    Drugs Squad police said that the suspect arrived from Uganda via Qatar and had hidden in his luggage five packets of heroin.

    The suspect was sent before Athens prosecutor.

    [36] Agios Antonios station to shut early on Wednesday

    The 'Agios Antonios' metro station at the end of line 2 on the Athens metro system is scheduled to shut early on Wednesday night, closing its doors after 10:00 p.m. in the evening. All subsequent train journeys up to the end of the shift will terminate at the 'Sepolia' station on the line.

    The station will remain shut for works that need to be carried out to prepare for the start of operation of two new metro stations on the same line, the Peristeri and Anthoupolis stations.

    Passengers using line 2 can continue their journey using the number 12 trolley bus from Zappio to Peristeri (Agios Ierotheos), which will connect the Agios Antonios station with Metaxourgio station via the bus stop 'Metaxourgio' on Achilleos Road or the 'Plateia Metaxourgio' stop on Lenorman Street, as well as the bus line A13 from Omonia-Kipoupoli, which can be caught at the 'Plateia Metaxourgio' station on Lenorman Street.

    Weather forecast

    [37] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 7C and 21C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with southerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 11C and 19C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 8C and 17C.

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

    AVGHI: "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' last throw of the dice".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Attica Police Headquarters (GADA building) for sale".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "The tender for OPAP's (Greek football prognostics, numerical lottery and sports betting games operator) sale proved to be full of holes".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Games with the installments and the surtaxes".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tough bargaining over the 'arrangements' of red loans".

    ESTIA: "Disastrous main opposition".

    ETHNOS: "The corruption era continues".

    IMERISSIA: "Close to agreement - Final decision at the (Troika's) crucial meeting with the prime minister".

    KATHIMERINI: "Outstanding issues (referred) to Maximos Mansion (premier's office)

    LOGOS: "Surtax (extraordinary property tax collected via electricity bills) brings electroshock".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "40 bln euros 'disappeared' from the GDP".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Negotiations with the troika an alibi for a new attack".

    TA NEA: "A package for the troika".

    VRADYNI: "Layoffs: Who, how many, how and when they will leave (the public sector)".

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