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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-03-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 29 March 2013 Issue No: 4321

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek FM Avramopoulos rejects Turkish proposal for quadripartite conference on Cyprus
  • [02] Finance ministry meeting chaired by PM Samaras concluded
  • [03] Kedikoglou: Greece has secured its banking system
  • [04] Political parties on Turkish FM's Cyprus statements
  • [05] SYRIZA-EKM: Davutoglu statements on Cyprus 'continue policy of provocations'
  • [06] KKE party on Turkish FM's Cyprus statements
  • [07] New Democracy derides 'inconsistency' in main opposition SYRIZA-EKM
  • [08] SYRIZA-EKM: Cyprus events reveal gov't 'obsession' with austerity policies
  • [09] Archbishop Demetrios expresses support, solidarity with Cyprus
  • [10] Parliament VP Nakos dies in hospital from complications following heart surgery
  • [11] Zeta Makri assumes post of parliamentary 2nd VP after Nakos death
  • [12] Greek, Turkish health ministers announce bilateral committees on cooperation
  • [13] Former EYP chief Bikas tells inquiry committee he never spoke with G. Papandreou about the content of the Lagarde list
  • [14] Licence for operation of Greek Orthodox elementary school on Imvros
  • [15] KKE party leader addresses Peristeri rally
  • [16] Zois: Nea Me.Ra says 'yes to euro, but not at all costs'
  • [17] Greece, Germany sign pact for developing Renewable Energy Sources
  • [18] Legal merger between National Bank, Eurobank to be completed in June
  • [19] Piraeus Bank reports 513 mln euros loss in 2012
  • [20] Deposits in Greek banks rise steadily
  • [21] Greek bank deposits up 2.0 pct in Feb, ECB report
  • [22] Bank credit to private sector remained negative in Feb
  • [23] Greek trade deficit down 1.3 pct in Jan
  • [24] Taxpayers' overdue debt grew by 1.3 bln euros in Jan
  • [25] Tax proceeds up 1.8 pct in Jan-Feb
  • [26] Figures show unemployment levelling off, Labour Minister Vroutsis says
  • [27] ALBA survey: 1 in 5 firms hiring, 1 in 4 firing staff
  • [28] Health ministry pledges payment of back salaries to striking public hospital doctors
  • [29] E-governance agenda promoted by the administrative reform ministry
  • [30] Motor Oil says growth plan focusing on exports
  • [31] Intralot Group reports improved 2012 results
  • [32] Santorini top European island, 5th in world, says TripAdvisor
  • [33] Ministry to back planned tourism portal for northern Greece
  • [34] OLP holds reception event for cruise ship
  • [35] Turkish Airlines announce plan for direct flights between Crete and Istanbul
  • [36] Natural gas consumption dropped in Athens due to mild winter
  • [37] EYDAP to drop water cost
  • [38] Business briefs
  • [39] Greek stocks up 2.3 pct in technical recovery
  • [40] Greek bond market closing report
  • [41] ADEX closing report
  • [42] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [43] Culture Ministry SecGen discusses projection of Ancient Greek in exhibitions in US Museums
  • [44] Education Minister: Free meals for all Cypriot students
  • [45] Ministry approves transfer of Labour Day to May 7
  • [46] Twenty indicted in Hellenic Gold arson attack
  • [47] Three Golden Dawn members arrested for ATM arson attack in Volos
  • [48] Suicide attempt at Corinth Detention Center for migrants thwarted
  • [49] Rainy on Friday
  • [50] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek FM Avramopoulos rejects Turkish proposal for quadripartite conference on Cyprus

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday rejected a proposal by his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu for a quadripartite conference on the protracted Cyprus problem "because such a proposal contravenes the fundamental and inalienable principle of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus."

    The rejection is contained in a reply letter by Avramopoulos to Davutoglu sent on Thursday, according to a Greek foreign ministry announcement.

    Replying to all points raised by Davutoglu in his own letter, Avramopoulos further called on his Turkish counterpart to "demonstrate respect for and implement the UN Resolutions, which call for the enabling of the return of all displaced Cypriots to their ancestral homes and the immediate withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and the cessation of all foreign interference in Cypriot affairs," adding that "it is certainly wrong to take the ephemeral economic weak-ness of Cyprus or of anybody else for that matter as a policy criterion, for no one is in a position to know whether and when the current economic crisis is going to knock the door of some other country."

    The full text of the Greek foreign minister's reply letter reads as follow:

    "I thank you for your letter, expressing some thoughts on ways to solve a major problem which has been keeping Cyprus divided for forty years, a drama whose perpetuation in our times contravenes the core values of our civilization and fundamental provisions of international law.

    The history of the problem is well known and has been much discussed. Responsibilities certainly exist. However, we must not remain forever prisoners of the past.

    Your reference to the Agreements of 1959 and 1960 surprised me, since they concerned the establishment of a new bicommunal, sovereign State, which today is a member of the United Nations and the European Union. The outcome of a series of events, diplomatic consultations and initiatives of that time, was the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, as a new state, whose independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty and constitutional order were guaranteed by our two countries along with Britain and reaffirmed by successive United Nations Resolutions, beginning with UNSC Resolution 186 of March 1964.

    In 1974, a military coup served as the pretext for a military invasion which continued after the failure of the coup and led to the occupation of 37% of the Republic of Cyprus by the Turkish Armed Forces. This illegal invasion and occupation contravened the UN Charter and has been repeatedly condemned by the world community and the United Nations.

    And yet, today, we are still witnessing the perpetuation of this unacceptable situation for the people of Cyprus, contrary to all the principles and values of humanity.

    However, the Republic of Cyprus has succeeded to stand on its feet, to consolidate its international position, demonstrating in deeds as well as in words its eagerness to reintegrate those of its people who are currently living in its occupied part.

    Your idea to establish a new state of affairs in Cyprus, should first and foremost be acceptable to the Cypriots themselves. It should also safeguard the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus as established by the 1960 Agreements.

    In any case, we must all demonstrate respect for and implement the UN Resolutions, which call for the enabling of the return of all displaced Cypriots to their ancestral homes and the immediate withdrawal of all foreign armed forces and the cessation of all foreign interference in Cypriot affairs. And we need to encourage both communities to cross out all dividing lines which have been imposed upon them for decades.

    But for us, to interfere today under the pretext of guarantor powers in a sovereign state and a sovereign people, is neither fair nor acceptable and is in any case an anachronism.

    I understand that your proposal is triggered by your willingness to solve the Cyprus issue, and indeed in the current conditions of the economic crisis in Cyprus and the prospect of hydrocarbon drilling in the wider area, where Cyprus, as well as Greece, enjoy sovereign rights deriving from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Customary International Law.

    In my view, it is certainly wrong to take the ephemeral economic weakness of Cyprus or of anybody else for that matter as a policy criterion, for no one is in a position to know whether and when the current economic crisis is going to knock the door of some other country. I am afraid that your decision to stop cooperating with energy companies on the grounds of the latter's cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus is erroneous.

    Cyprus has a history of almost four thousand years, maintaining its identity and resisting to successive invasions. It will continue to stand strong, regaining her dynamism, with an economy and society that will thrive again.

    This is a future which Greek and Turkish Cypriots can and must enjoy again together.

    They can do this only in a reunited Cyprus, in accordance with the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements and consequent UNSC Resolutions which call for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single international personality, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship, safeguarded democratic rights for all its citizens and political equality for its two communities, as defined in UN Resolutions. Any insinuation of partition should be out of anyone's mind.

    Only a reunited Cyprus can ensure the common interests of its people as well as regional stability and security. It goes without saying that in a reunified Cyprus, the exploitation of natural resources will be to the benefit of all its citizens. This is the widely held common belief in Greece, shared by the Government, political parties and public opinion.

    However, dear Ahmet, as long as the current state of affairs continues and as long as the Security Council Resolutions are not being implemented, the deadlock cannot be resolved to the benefit of all concerned, both in the island and in the wider region.

    I believe that your letter expresses a sincere intention to solve the Cyprus issue and reflects a new perspective, which the current government of Turkey and its Prime Minister strive to create. But, the way you approach the Cyprus issue in your letter, does not open this new perspective.

    In the recent High Level Cooperation Council in Istanbul, we created a new atmosphere between our two countries. This achievement should lead to new paths of good neighbourliness and friendship and cooperation among our two peoples who wish to live and progress in an environment of security, peace and stability.

    We must strongly encourage Greek and Turkish Cypriots to continue with their dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, which, as you know, was interrupted by the Turkish Cypriot leader.

    We do not agree with your proposal for a quadripartite conference, chiefly because such a proposal contravenes the fundamental and inalienable principle of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Moreover, past experience indicates that such negotiating formats have had no positive effect, but on the contrary resulted in new friction and conflict. The Greek and Turkish Cypriots no longer need protectors. They can find solutions for themselves and our two countries must encourage and facilitate this worthy effort.

    Let us, therefore, leave the door open and approach this major international issue in sincerity, self-reflection, courage and decisiveness. Its resolution will herald a new dynamic era of development and deepening of relations between our two countries and peoples. It will be a catalyst for stability and peace in our region.

    Allow me once again to point out that the decision rests with Cyprus and Cypriots themselves. We can certainly positively influence developments, by declaring our readiness to encourage them, so that negotiations can resume and lead to an honorable, just, viable and agreed settlement."

    [02] Finance ministry meeting chaired by PM Samaras concluded

    A four-and-a-half hour broad meeting at the Ministry of Finance under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras concluded late Thursday evening, with the participation of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, alternate finance minister Christos Staikouras, deputy finance minister George Mavraganis and general secretary for State Revenues Haris Theocharis.

    Also attending the gathering was Labour Minister John Vroutsis, who left the meeting earlier.

    The meeting was held in view of the next visit to Athens by the EC-ECB-IMF troika of Greece's international lenders, on April 3, and focused primarily on the execution of the 2013 state budget and the settlement of state debts owed to the private sector.

    A government source appeared optimistic that all pending issues in negotiations with the troika will be settled by April 12, one day before Eurogroup's Ireland meeting.

    Replying to a question regarding latest developments in Cyprus, the same source said "it is too early to assess repercussions... Surely, there is an overall negative psychology, but this applies for the whole of Europe."

    Other issues examined during the meeting included a reliable plan to be submitted to the troika regarding the mobility of public servants and the "compulsory exit" of a specific number of state employees.

    The abolition of the special tax on properties (EETHDE) is still an open issue, the source said. Discussion also centered on funding to social security funds and setting the amount of basic salary.

    Officials said that the government still insists on its major demands, such as reducing VAT on food and restaurant services from 23 percent to 13 percent, and a reduction in the special consumption tax on heating oil.

    [03] Kedikoglou: Greece has secured its banking system

    "The government has done everything possible to safeguard our banking system and our economy," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Thursday, speaking to private radio "To Vima'.

    "I must clarify that the issue of another haircut of bank deposits in other European countries does not exist. The issue has been closed," stressed Kedikoglou, and underlined that the country has received the cash for the banks' recapitalisation, noting that the problem in Greece is a fiscal and not a banking issue.

    "Mr. Dijsselbloem (new Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem) took a position and then retracted it. He afterwards wanted to restore his honour. The substance, however, is that we in Greece have already received the money required for the banks' recapitalisation and we have secured our banking system, which was not at the core of the Greek problem. Greece's problem was fiscal problem," he concluded.

    [04] Political parties on Turkish FM's Cyprus statements

    Political parties reacted sharply on Thursday to statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the explo-itation of Cypriot hydrocarbons.

    -- The PASOK party said that "unfortunately, the economic crisis in Cyprus is being used by Turkey as a pretext and lever for the return, supposedly in a diplomatic way, of the strategy of partition," adding that "the economic crisis in Cyprus does not alter the facts of international law. The framework of the solution to the Cyprus issue is always the resolutions of the UN's Security Council".

    -- The Independent Greeks party stressed in a similar statement that "the slack (the term is lenient) diplomatic and secret foreign policies of the coalition government in Athens, combined with the ruthless 'pro-merkel' attack in Cyprus, permit Ankara to run as well now to loot the island republic's economic body".

    -- The Democratic Left party said that "the statements by the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, on the island's partition and joint exploitation of the energy sources of Cyprus are unacceptable. The Democratic Left reiterates that the only acceptable solution for Cyprus is on the basis of the resolutions of the UN's Security Council and of international law. No other option can be accepted".

    -- The Golden Dawn party pointed out that "the only reply suitable for the provocative anti-Greek Davutoglu emanates from the triptych: national unanimity, powerful armed forces, aggressive foreign policy: Attila out of Cyprus, immediate exploitation of the energy deposits of the Greek and Cypriot exclusive economic zone for the benefit of the Greek people".

    [05] SYRIZA-EKM: Davutoglu statements on Cyprus 'continue policy of provocations'

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's latest statements on the Cyprus issue and the island's hydrocarbon reserves "continued Turkey's policy of provocations," main opposition SYRIZA-EKM MP Rena Dourou said on Thursday.

    Turkey's diplomatic manoeuvres and long-winded arguments did not change the essence of the issue, which was that a part of Cyprus was under illegal Turkish occupation and that Turkey has signed an agreement lacking legality with the illegal regime of the occupied territories for surveys within Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone, underlined Dourou, who holds the SYRIZA-EKM foreign affairs portfolio.

    She also stressed that the only solution to the Cyprus problem in accordance with international law and the decisions of the United Nations was that of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, one state with a single sovereignty, single nationality and a single international identity. She noted that this ruled out all ideas of division or secession or any form of union between Cyprus or part of Cyprus with any other country.

    In this framework, Dourou added, the island's hydrocarbon reserves might help in finding a just, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, so that the island's two communities might benefit from them, without attempts at blackmail and to present supposed "faits accomplis" from the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot sides.

    In an interview with the Turkish newspaper "Haberturk" on Thursday, Davutoglu called for the resumption of negotiations for a Cyprus solution at the United Nations, suggesting that the issue of exploiting the island's hydrocarbon reserves will lead either to a "single, partnership state between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots" for the joint exploitation of these reserves or to a "division and the creation of two separate states".

    [06] KKE party on Turkish FM's Cyprus statements

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a statement on Thursday on statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Cyprus, stressed that "the provocative and at the same time revealing statements by Davutoglu on Cyprus confirm the correctness of KKE's assessments that the participation of Cyprus in the EU and the concession of its natural wealth to multinationals, apart from the barbaric attack on popular rights, will also have as a result the return of the 'Annan Plan' in an even worse version".

    KKE calls on the people at the same time "not to have any trust in the Greek government that as a guarantor power will contribute to the prevention of partition and of the legalisation of the Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus".

    Lastly, KKE pointed out that "the stance of Greek governments so far shows this, as well as the in essence acceptance by the government of grey zones, as well as the delivery of the hydrocarbons to the multinationals for their joint exploitation in the Aegean".

    In an interview with the Turkish newspaper "Haberturk" on Thursday, Davutoglu called for the resumption of negotiations for a Cyprus solution at the United Nations, suggesting that the issue of exploiting the island's hydrocarbon reserves will lead either to a "single, partnership state between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots" for the joint exploitation of these reserves or to a "division and the creation of two separate states".

    [07] New Democracy derides 'inconsistency' in main opposition SYRIZA-EKM

    In a deeply sarcastic announcement issued on Thursday, the New Democracy party derided statements made by members of main opposition SYRIZA-EKM, accusing them of glaring inconsistency. ND is the dominant party in Greece's three-party coalition government.

    In its announcement, ND ranged conflicting statements by the same party members as follows:

    "Panagiotis Lafazanis until yesterday: 'Of course SYRIZA's position regarding the Eurozone but also the European Union needs to be re-examined.'

    Panagiotis Lafazanis today: 'At no time did SYRIZA have a position for Greece's exit from the Eurozone..."

    Panos Skourletis until yesterday: 'No one from SYRIZA supports our exiting the euro...'

    Panos Skourletis today: 'We are for nothing at all costs. Obviously, not for the euro as well...'"

    The announcement ends with the quip: "What don't you understand? Have you ever seen more steadfast opinions?"

    SYRIZA-EKM reply

    Responding to the ND press office statement, SYRIZA-EKM issued the following announcement:

    "We do not want to believe that the IQ of the staff in ND's press office does not enable them to carry out secondary thinking and understand complex, comprehensive political proposals."

    [08] SYRIZA-EKM: Cyprus events reveal gov't 'obsession' with austerity policies

    In an announcement commenting on recent developments in Cyprus, the main opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' SYRIZA-EKM party on Thursday said the decision for Cyprus had demonstrated not only the "strategic impasse of the dominant forces in Europe" but also the Greek government's "dangerous obsession with the implementation of the most extreme Memorandum policies".

    The party accused the coalition of government of attempting a communications "salvage operation" on the domestic front by once again presenting the Greek people with extortionist dilemmas. It noted that the government, instead of apologising for "its submissive stance toward the troika and its blackmail," or for the repercussions of austerity policies on the majority of Greeks and its broken pre-election promises, was instead "daring to wag its finger at all those proposing a change of policy in Greece and Europe as the only way to reverse the disastrous course".

    [09] Archbishop Demetrios expresses support, solidarity with Cyprus

    NEW YORK (AMNA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, to whom he expressed "the vigilance, support and solidarity of the Omogeneia (Greek community in the US) during this very difficult crisis in Cyprus", an announcement by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of American said.

    "President Anastasiades said that even though the crisis is tragic, Cyprus will fight and overcome the difficulties and thanked the Archbishop and the Omogeneia for the expressions of solidarity," the announcement added.

    It also said that Archbishop Demetrios "will convene a meeting of people in leadership roles of the various Greek-American and Cypriot American organizations in order to share and coordinate ideas and initiatives for the benefit of the People of the Republic of Cyprus". The meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 3 at 3:00 p.m. at the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in Manhattan, and personal invitations will be extended via email.

    Further, the Archbishop will have a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, whom he will brief on the developments in Greece and Cyprus and seek further support from Washington, on the sidelines of the 27th annual White House reception commemorating the March 25 Greek Independence Day, which will be held on April 18 this year.

    [10] Parliament VP Nakos dies in hospital from complications following heart surgery

    Parliamentary 2nd vice-president Athanassios Nakos (New Democracy) died in hospital shortly after noon on Thursday from complications following recent heart surgery.

    Nakos, 63, was an MP for Magnesia prefecture, elected on the New Democracy (ND) ticket.

    Nakos was born in Volos in January 1950, studied at the Athens Metsovion Polytechnic University's School of Civil Engineering. He worked initially in Athens in the field of developmental and hydraulic projects studies, and later in Volos in building and industrial construction.

    He was elected as a Municipal Councilor in Volos for the first time in 1986, while he was elected to parliament for the first time in 1993, on the ND ticket, and re-elected in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2009.

    He served as Deputy Interior Minister in the Costas Karamanlis government from 2004 to 2009, and was elected 2nd vice-president of Parliament in June 2012.

    PM offers condolences

    Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras extended his condolences to the family of Parliament 2nd vice-president Athanassios Nakos, who passed away earlier on Thursday at the age of 63.

    "Athanassios Nakos, a dear friend, a valuable partner, is no longer among us. He identified with our country, honored Parliament and worked for our party selflessly, displaying integrity and dignity. But above all, his contribution honored his birthplace, Magnesia, and returned the love of his people," Samaras underlined.

    Nakos, an ND deputy for Magnesia prefecture, died in a private hospital in Athens shortly after noon on Thursday, were he was in intensive care due to complications from recent heart surgery.

    Political parties' condolences

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras offered his condolences to the family of Athanassios Nakos, underlining that he was an "experienced politician and parliamentarian, who had won the trust of his constituents and the respect of all political parties."

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, a member of the coalition government, said that the deceased was "true to his ideas, a fighter, with a distinguished serious presence in the country's public life".

    Democratic Left (DIM.AR), one of the junior partners in the coalition government, noted that voters in Magnesia elected him to parliament eight times in the last two decades. "He respected democratic institutions and pluralism," DIM.AR underlined.

    Opposition Independent Greeks (ANEL) party extended its condolences to the family of the deceased.

    In his condolences, former prime minister Costas Karamanlis said that Athanassios Nakos was a "moderate politician with a vision and sensitivities, who always served the country's interest and progress."

    [11] Zeta Makri assumes post of parliamentary 2nd VP after Nakos death

    New Democracy MP Zeta Makri will assume the post of parliamentary 2nd vice president following the death of 63-year-old Athanassios Nakos earlier in the day, it was announced on Thursday.

    Nakos, an ND deputy for Magnesia prefecture, died in a private hospital in Athens shortly after noon on Thursday, were he was in intensive care due to complications from recent heart surgery.

    [12] Greek, Turkish health ministers announce bilateral committees on cooperation

    The health ministers of Greece and Turkey on Thursday announced the establishment of bilateral committees assigned with the implementation of protocols of cooperation signed on March 4 in Istanbul in the 2nd High Level Cooperation Council held by the two countries.

    The four activated protocols of cooperation concern infectious and non infectious diseases and exchange of know-how on disaster management situations.

    Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, the first minister of the neighboring country to visit Greece after the signing of the protocols of cooperation, met with his Greek counterpart Andreas Lykourentzos at the National Health Operations Center (EKEPY).

    After the meeting, the Turkish minister noted that he is closely watching the positive developments in efforts for rapprochement between the two countries and underlined that cooperation in the sector of health should be further reinforced for the benefit of both peoples. "The Greek and the Turkish people will only benefit from cooperation," he stressed.

    On his part, Lykourentzos said that the cooperation committees will comprise representatives of government ministries and, in collaboration with the two countries' ambassadors, will agree on a timetable and the implementation of specific actions. Lykourentzos underlined that "cooperation in the sector of health strengthens the friendship between the two peoples and the understanding between their governments."

    Muezzinoglu visited the "Marianna V. Vardinoyanni - Elpida" Children's Oncology Unit.

    [13] Former EYP chief Bikas tells inquiry committee he never spoke with G. Papandreou about the content of the Lagarde list

    ?

    A testimony by former head of the National Intelligence Service Constantinos Bikas before the Inquiry Committee looking into the handing of the so-called Lagarde list affair, was on Thursday evening adjourned for Friday noon.

    A testimony by former chief of the Economic Crime Squad (SDOE) Ioannis Diotis will also resume on Monday.

    According to reports, Bikas told the committee that "if I spoke with former prime minister George Papandreou, it was not about the contents of the Lagarde list, but about the handing of the case."

    The controversial list contains the names of some 2,000 domestic depositors to the Geneva branch of HSBC.

    [14] Licence for operation of Greek Orthodox elementary school on Imvros

    ANKARA (AMNA/A. Ambatzis)

    Turkish Education Minister Nabi Avci announced that the licence for the operation of the Greek Orthodox elementary school on the island Imvros has been approved.

    In a statement to the Turkish news agency "Anadolu", Avci said that the school had begun to operate in 1951 and closed in 1964 following a relevant request by the school's founder.

    It is noteworthy however that the schools on Imvros closed in 1964, after the Turkish government had previously prohibited the teaching of the Greek language at these schools.

    [15] KKE party leader addresses Peristeri rally

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga, addressing a rally at the Citizens Theatre in the Athens district of Peristeri on Thursday evening, stressed that KKE, with the positions of its 19th congress, proposes a "breakthrough that begins from the daily struggle fronts up to the creation of a popular alliance that will bring the movement into a counter-attack and the demand for a change in power."

    "The KKE's alliance policy begins from society," Papariga said, pointing out that socialist power is a class power and not a party power.

    Referring to the popular alliance, Papariga said that it is an alliance of the working class and the intermediate classes allied with it against the bourgeoisie class and its allies, in which she included the labour aristocracy as well, while stressing that the struggle against the monopolies unites.

    [16] Zois: Nea Me.Ra says 'yes to euro, but not at all costs'

    The head of the recently formed Nea Me.Ra party Christos Zois on Thursday presented its key positions during a press conference at a central Athens hotel, summing these up as: "Yes to the euro, but not at all costs".

    Zois said his goal was to mobilise and give expression to "the wise now standing by, silent and inactive," announcing that he would on Friday request a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, the president of Parliament and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.

    He said his intention to make the new party a force to be taken into account, at the very least, in which the grass-roots would have the final say.

    Concerning the eurozone, Zois said the new party would not support European unification in which one country was dominant and that developments in Cyprus "make us all Cypriots." He warned against allowing fear of failure to lead to resignation that ensured defeat.

    A former Independent Greeks MP, Zois had announced the formation of the New Reformative Radical Reconstruction (Nea Me.Ra) party a week earlier. The acronym 'Nea Me.Ra' reads as "new day" in Greek.The new party will hold it first congress in June, and until that time will be led as Zois as president, Michalis Yiannakis as secretary general and a 21-member political secretariat.

    Financial News

    [17] Greece, Germany sign pact for developing Renewable Energy Sources

    BERLIN (AMNA/F. Karaviti)

    German deputy environment minister Juergen Becker underlined Germany's support for Greece in the development of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), during the signing in Berlin on Wednesday of a Joint Declaration of Intent with Greece's Environment, Energy and Climate change ministry and the European Commission's Task Force for Greece, headed by Horst Reichenbach.

    The aim of the pact is the development of RES in Greece where, Becker said, although there is much more sunlight than in Germany, the cost per KWH (kilowatt hour) from solar energy remains higher.

    On the economic prospects from the development of RES,

    Becker noted that in 2011 alone Germany saved 25 billion euro from mining product imports avoided, and pointed to the Greek islands as ideal for the development of sustainable alternative energy sources.

    "This helps the overall European energy policy and creates new markets for all the enterprises dealing in this specific sector," he said.

    In the context of the trilateral cooperation, the Task Force will undertake the provision of technical assistance for investments, while the German environment ministry will serve as coordinator and co-finance the first stage of the programme with the European Commission.

    [18] Legal merger between National Bank, Eurobank to be completed in June

    A legal merger between National Bank and Eurobank was progressing rapidly, within timetables set, and it will be completed in June, Alexandros Tourkolias, National Bank's chief executive said on Thursday.

    Addressing a meeting of around 200 executives of the two banks, Tourkolias reiterated that the driving force behind efforts to select human resources for the new group's executive positions will be "the best of two", while he underlined that the intention was to safeguarding job positions and inclusion of both banks' employees to the new group in a smooth way, ensuring that there will be no two-speed employees. "Everyone will have the same rights, obligations, equal opportunities, equal pay, based on performance and duties, regardless of their origin". Tourkolias also met with chief executives of both banks' subsidiaries in Greece and abroad. The meeting focused on the need to achieve a unification of pricing policy soon.

    [19] Piraeus Bank reports 513 mln euros loss in 2012

    Piraeus Bank Group on Thursday reported losses totaling 513 million euros in 2012 and noted that consolidated assets rose to 70.4 billion euros at the end of December 2012, after the integration of the healthy part of ATEbank and the absorption of Geniki Bank.

    The Group said pre-provision loans totaled 50.6 billion euros, of which business loans were 64 pct, mortgage 26 pct and consumer loans 10 pct. Deposits totaled 37 billion euros, of which 46 pct were saving and option deposits, up from 32 pct in 2011. The accumulated provision index for bad debt was 11.8 pct. Piraeus Bank said its capital adequacy index was 12.2 pct. Following the acquisition of the three Cypriot banks' networks in Greece, Piraeus Bank's pro-form pre-provision loans rose to 74.4 billion euros, deposits were 51.9 billion and its loans/deposits index to 119 pct.

    Mihalis Sallas, the bank's chairman, commenting on the results said that Piraeus Bank was actively participating in a restructuring and consolidation of the Greek banking system contributing in efforts towards the reconstruction of the Greek economy.

    Piraeus Bank, following the acquisition of ATEbank, Geniki Bank and the branch networks of Cyprus Bank, Cyprus Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank, raised its assets to 98 billion euros, and has a branch network of 1,650 units with around 24,000 employees.

    [20] Deposits in Greek banks rise steadily

    Deposits in Greek banks grew in February, continuing a return which began in July 2012 after the termination of a period of political uncertainty in the country. The Bank of Greece said that deposits of enterprises and households in Greek banks totaled 164 billion euros at the end of February, from 161 billion euros a month earlier. The central bank said that a return of deposits since last July totaled 14 billion euros, helping Greek banks to reduce their funding gap and their dependence from liquidity mechanisms offered by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece.

    Earlier, the European Central Bank, in a monthly report, said that private deposits in Greek banks grew by 2.0 pct in February totaling 171 billion euros.

    [21] Greek bank deposits up 2.0 pct in Feb, ECB report

    Private deposits in Greek banks grew by 2.0 pct in February totaling 171 billion euros, the European Central Bank said on Thursday. In a monthly report on bank deposits, the ECB said that private deposits in Cypriot banks fell by 2.2 pct to 46.4 billion euros, hit by worries over the outcome of negotiations on a bailout programe for Cyprus. Deposits were down with the same rate of decline in January in Cyprus.

    [22] Bank credit to private sector remained negative in Feb

    The annual growth rate of total credit extended to the domestic private sector remained negative at -3.9% in February 2013, slowing down slightly compared with a -4.0% rate in the previous month, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said that the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative, amounting to 949 million euros (February 2012: negative net flow of 1,188 million euros). The net flow of credit to enterprises, in February 2013, was negative, amounting to 439 million euros (February 2012: negative net flow of 695 million), and the annual growth rate of credit stood at -4.3% compared with -4.4% in the previous month. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial corporations stood at -2.7% from -2.6% in the previous month, while the net flow of credit was negative and equal to 518 million euros (February 2012: negative net flow of 438 million). The annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries was less negative at -22.9% in February 2013, from -25.9% in January 2013. The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to 29 million euros (February 2012: negative net flow of 109 million) and its annual rate of change was less negative at -1.9%, from -2.4% in January 2013. In February 2013, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 481 million euros (February 2012: negative net flow of 383 million), and its annual growth rate stood at -3.8%, compared with -3.7% in January 2013.

    [23] Greek trade deficit down 1.3 pct in Jan

    Greece's trade deficit shrank by 1.3 pct in January, compared with the same month last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 4.093 billion euros in January, from 3.843 billion euros in January 2012, for an increase of 6.5 pct). Excluding oils, the value of imports grew 2.3 pct over the same period.

    The value of export-deliveries totaled 2.193 billion euros in January, from 1.918 billion euros in January last year, for an increase of 14.3 pct (excluding oils the value grew by 3.5 pct).

    The country's trade deficit totaled 1.9 billion euros in January, from 1.926 billion euros in January 2012, a decline of 1.3 pct (excluding oils the trade deficit grew by 1.0 pct).

    Imports of goods grew 1.5 pct last year, while exports of goods jumped 13.4 pct over the same period.

    [24] Taxpayers' overdue debt grew by 1.3 bln euros in Jan

    Taxpayers' overdue debt to the state grew by 1.3 billion euros in the January-February period, totaling 55.307 billion euros, official showed on Wednesday. This development reflects largely the inability of taxpayers to meet increased tax obligations to the state.

    Meanwhile, Haris Theoharis, secretary general for state revenues, ordered the immediate -and within 20 days- return of VAT to all eligible taxpayers, in a move aimed at supporting liquidity in the market. The state's overdue debt to taxpayers, through VAT returns, is estimated at around 1.1 billion euros.

    [25] Tax proceeds up 1.8 pct in Jan-Feb

    Tax proceeds totaled 2.91 billion euros in the first two months of 2013, surpassing a budget target of 2.86 billion euros - an increase of 1.8 pct - official figures showed on Thursday.

    Tax proceeds rose to 1.67 billion euros in February, from a budget target of 1.55 billion euros, an increase of 7.8 pct. The finance ministry, in a statement, expressed its satisfaction with progress made in tax collection and noted that proceeds from older overdue tax debt totaled 432 million euros in the two-month period, surpassing a budget target by 37 pct. The ministry said that the growth rate of collecting new overdue tax debt, however, was currently at 4.0 pct, down from a budget target for a growth rate of 14 pct, totaling 56 million euros. New overdue tax debt totaled 1.315 billion euros in January, from 1,320,222 individual taxpayers and 36,243 companies (570 million euros and 745 million euros respectively).

    [26] Figures show unemployment levelling off, Labour Minister Vroutsis says

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Thursday told Parliament that Greece had a positive employment balance in March.

    He clarified that layoffs reached 22,856 whereas hirings rose to 37,826, based on the available figures provided by the recently introduced electronic monitoring system of employment in Greece.

    "We had a positive balance of 14,970 hirings," the minister said, noting that "this is an optimistic conclusion showing that unemployment is levelling off".

    [27] ALBA survey: 1 in 5 firms hiring, 1 in 4 firing staff

    Roughly one in every five firms is considering hiring new staff but one in four will be firing employees before June, according to the results of an ALBA Graduate Business School survey unveiled on Thursday. Another one third of firms has plans to reduce wages.

    The survey, carried out by the Applied Research and Innovation Department at ALBA, showed that the Labour Market Trends Index for the first half of 2013 continues to be below 100 (90.9); indicating stagnation in activity for attracting and choosing new personnel. However, it is now at roughly the same levels as in the first half of 2009, having risen 10 points relative to the previous six months.

    While some firms may be considering hiring new staff, they are not offering the same wages as in 2009 and roughly one third (32.6) intend to reduce staff wages and a further 19.6 percent are considering such a move.

    In contrast to the general economic climate, businesses appear optimistic and only 8 percent are pessimistic.

    The increase in staff recruitment and selection activity is 45 percent of the services and tourism sectors, 35 percent in the telecommunications/IT sectors and almost zero in transport/logistics, construction and education.

    [28] Health ministry pledges payment of back salaries to striking public hospital doctors

    Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos on Thursday assured public hospital doctors that back salaries will be paid and asked for their understanding and patience, noting that the problem had been solved in cooperation with Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.

    Protesting doctors from public hospitals in Athens and Piraeus rallied outside the health ministry building within the framework of their 24-hour strike on Thursday demanding payment of back salaries. They also called attention to personnel shortages in public hospitals, noting that 150 Intensive Care Units (ICU) remain closed, and that this was "risking human lives".

    Medical residents in a number of public hospitals in the greater Athens region are on strike demanding payment of back salaries including the hospitals "Tzanio", "Kratiko Nikaias", "Metaxa", and "Agii Anargyroi".

    [29] E-governance agenda promoted by the administrative reform ministry

    Deputy Administrative Reform Minister Manoussos Voloudakis on Thursday referred to the initiatives undertaken and the active participation of civil servants in the efforts for the successful implementation of the e-governance strategy.

    Addressing a conference on "Innovative Workshop" at the National Center for Public Administration and Local Government (EKDDA) that focused on the electronic document publication and transfer, Voloudakis said that "we are preparing for a new age in e-governance," adding that "all available options are being considered including, digital signature and the electronic document transfer in all government ministries by June 2013".

    He said that a total of 1,741 employees have been trained to use the system, adding that the electronic documents plan will be widely used "to rid citizens and civil servants of the tyranny of paperwork".

    [30] Motor Oil says growth plan focusing on exports

    Motor Oil plans to boost its export activity -which accounted for more than 70 pct of its production volume in 2012- to compensate for losses suffering in the domestic market due to falling demand.

    "Our volume of sales is developing satisfactorily the current year," an official told AMNA on Thursday, over trends in the first quarter of 2013, adding that "the company is in a position to counterbalance fully its losses in the domestic market with exports".

    Motor Oil is steadily raising its export volumes in the last few years, reaching European markets, Eastern Mediterranean markets and other international destinations. Exports to Turkey accounted for 8.0 pct of its sales last year, an increase of 50 pct in three years. The Turkish market is one of the most significant markets in the international market, Motor Oil said, adding that it was strengthening its commercial activities in Turkey. The company said its investment programe offered more competitive advantages allowing it to penetrate foreign markets successfully. Motor Oil said the volume of sales abroad grew by 13.3 pct last year.

    The company also plans to raise its share in the domestic market of oil products, taking advantage of its strong commercial network, despite a decline in demand. The company said its share in the domestic market rose to 33.4 pct in 2012, from 29.5 pct in 2011, 26.6 pct in 2010, 25.4 pct in 2009 and 25.9 pct in 2008.

    [31] Intralot Group reports improved 2012 results

    Intralot Group on Thursday said its consolidated turnover totaled 1.374 billion euros last year, up 14.3 pct from 2011. EBITDA rose 15.4 pct to 177.5 million euros, while pre-tax earnings rose by 2.4 pct to 58.4 million euros.

    After tax and minorities earnings, however, fell to 6.1 million euros, from 17.7 million euros in 2011, while adjusted after tax and minorities earnings eased to 16.5 million euros last year, from 23.6 million in 2011. Operating cash flow jumped 39 pct last year to 114 million euros.

    Intralot said consolidated turnover grew 7.9 pct in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 373.1 million euros, while EBITDA rose 45.3 pct to 60.5 million euros and pre-tax earnings rose 7.5 pct to 25.9 million euros.

    Parent turnover grew 6.0 pct in 2012 to 139.6 million euros, EBITDA totaled 21.9 pct, up 13 pct from 2011, while after tax earnings jumped 85 pct to 3.0 million euros.

    [32] Santorini top European island, 5th in world, says TripAdvisor

    Santorini has been named the top European island destination and the fifth internationally, according to TripAdvisor tour operator's annual list. The Greek island with the black volcanic sand and the whitewashed houses, combined with the spectacular view of the sea and the volcano received the highest score among the millions of tourists' opinions submitted to the TripAdvisor website in 2012.

    The largest island of Belize, the Ambergris Key, made the highest score and was placed first in the Top 10 list of tourist destinations internationally, with Santorini placing fifth.

    Three more Greek islands, Cephalonia, Naxos and Zakynthos were also high in the tourists' preferences, and also made the Top 10 list of European islands.

    [33] Ministry to back planned tourism portal for northern Greece

    Plans for a tourism portal for northern Greece, backed by the Macedonia-Thrace ministry, were unveiled during a forum for tourism held at the ministry on Thursday, with the participation of Macedonia-Thrace Minister Thodoros Karaoglou.

    The portal will give access to a data base of information relating to tourism and help promote specialised forms of theme tourism - such as eco-tourism, gastro-tourism, agro-tourism, cultural tourism, religious tourism, sports tourism or conference and educational tourism - in each area of northern Greece.

    The site will be designed and developed with the collaboration of the Thessaloniki Prefecture Development agency, the

    International Hellenic University and the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises.

    In statements to AMNA at the forum, Karaoglou said the ministry is planning a series of initiatives to upgrade the Promahonas and Evzones customs posts, the two main entry points into the country by road.

    [34] OLP holds reception event for cruise ship

    Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) president George Anomeritis said "2013 will be an upbeat year for the cruise sector," speaking during welcoming events held by OLP for the cruise ship Costa Magica, honouring in this way the 65-year operation of the ship-owning company Costa Crociere, a steadfast associate of OLP.

    Costa Crociere is an Italian company of British and American interests, headquartered in Genoa, and is currently under the control of Carnival Corporation.

    The board of OLP welcomed the Costa Magica's 3,750 passengers, the captain and the crew with Easter wishes, since the Western Church is celebrating Easter on March 31.

    The cruise ship Costa Magica, 102,687 tons, has a length of 271 metres, 13 floors and 1,027 crewmembers. It was built in 2004.

    [35] Turkish Airlines announce plan for direct flights between Crete and Istanbul

    Turkish Airlines plan to introduce four direct flights a week between the island of Crete and Istanbul beginning in June, Gulay Ozturk, the airline's general director in Greece, announced on Thursday in a meeting with Regional Governor of Crete Stavros Arnaoutakis.

    According to Arnaoutakis, the tourism sector on Crete will benefit greatly from the development, adding that the meeting was held to brief sector representatives.

    Ozturk also announced that major Turkish tour operators will be flown by Turkish Airlines to Crete in early June.

    Roughly one million Turkish tourists visited Greece in 2012.

    [36] Natural gas consumption dropped in Athens due to mild winter

    Natural gas consumption for heating purposes dropped 17 pct in 2012 in the greater Athens region, a fact attributed to the mild winter, based on figures provided by Attiki Gas Supply Company (EPA Attikis) on Thursday.

    The decline in the consumption of natural gas was recorded despite the fact that gas is considerably less expensive compared to heating oil and electricity rates, by 38 pct and 50 pct respectively.

    EPA Attikis reported profits of 20.7 million euros in 2012 compared with 30.6 million euros in 2011.

    [37] EYDAP to drop water cost

    A proposal to lower the cost of water was on Thursday unanimously approved by the board of the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company (EYDAP). A recommendation will be made to the ministries responsible, and if approved, a joint ministerial decision will be issued.

    EYDAP stressed in an announcement that it took the decision to lower water rates in order to provide some relief to households under pressure, especially those living in small and very small apartments, while also helping businesses cope under the current difficult circumstances.

    The cost of an average monthly consumption of up to 10 cubic metres will be lowered by 1.6 percent, while monthly consumption of up to 5 cubic metres will be cheaper by 2.4 percent.

    A drop of up to 21 percent in EYDAP rates will apply in islands and for local councils and the public sector.

    [38] Business briefs

    -- Papastratos, a Greek tobacco company, on Thursday announced plans to boost its export activity to more than 20 countries, which could raise its export volumes by 50 pct.

    -- Folli Follie on Thursday reported increased sales and pre-tax profits for 2012.

    [39] Greek stocks up 2.3 pct in technical recovery

    Greek stocks ended strongly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday in what traders described as a technical recovery of the market following Wednesday's massive sell off.

    Buying interest focused on blue chip stocks such as OTE and PPC. The composite index of the market rose 2.30 pct to end at 869.19 points, off the day's highs of 874.03 points. The index ended March with a loss of 13.77 pct. The market will remain closed on Friday and Monday following the Easter holidays of the Catholic Church. Turnover shrank to 55.761 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 2.27 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.58 pct higher. The Telecoms (8.51 pct), Utilities (5.88 pct) and Personal Products (4.42 pct) sectors were major gainers, while Travel (2.15 pct), Banks (1.47 pct) and Commerce (0.36 pct) suffered losses.

    Terna Energy (8.55 pct), OTE (8.51 pct), Metka (8.19 pct) and MIG (7.60 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (7.58 pct), OPAP (2.69 pct), National Bank (1.78 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (1.75 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 95 to 44 with another 20 issues unchanged. G.E. Demetriou (27.27 pct), Ideal (25.93 pct) and Kordellou Bros (22.5 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farms (20 pct), Dias Fish Farms (19.3 pct) and Sato (19.18 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +4.10%

    Commercial: -0.36%

    Construction: +1.38%

    Oil & Gas: +2.46%

    Personal & Household: +4.42%

    Raw Materials: +1.21%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.15%

    Technology: +2.52%

    Telecoms: +8.51%

    Banks: -1.47%

    Food & Beverages: +2.69%

    Health: +2.35%

    Utilities: +5.88%

    Financial Services: +2.22%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, OPAP, PPC and Coca Cola 3E.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.71

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.56

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.49

    National Bank of Greece: 0.66

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.25

    OPAP: 6.16

    OTE: 4.72

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.20

    Titan: 13.00

    [40] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 11.67 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 11.28 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.94 pct and the German Bund 1.27 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, all buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate eased to 0.54 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.44 pct, the six-month rate was 0.33 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.21 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.

    [41] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 3.10 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 14.444 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,691 contracts worth 7.754 million euros, with 27,259 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 27,145 contracts worth 6.690 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (6,030), followed by National Bank's contracts (2,825), Piraeus Bank (4,255), MIG(1,095), OTE (4,975), PPC (2,680), OPAP (1,062), Mytilineos (1,346), Ellaktor (528), GEK (460), Intralot (484), Eurobank (122), Motor Oil (118), Hellenic Petroleum (158) and Metka (186).

    [42] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.299

    Pound sterling 0.858

    Danish kroner 7.567

    Swedish kroner 8.480

    Japanese yen 122.68

    Swiss franc 1.237

    Norwegian kroner 7.624

    Canadian dollar 1.321

    Australian dollar 1.249

    General News

    [43] Culture Ministry SecGen discusses projection of Ancient Greek in exhibitions in US Museums

    Greece's participation in a major exhibition of bronze artifacts that will be held at the J. Paul Getty Museum in the US in 2015 and Greece's projection through a series of events at museums, such as symposiums and lectures by Greek byzantinologists in the context of the "Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, which travels to the US in the autumn, were at the focus of discussions held by Culture Ministry secretary general during a recent trip to the U.S.

    Mendoni told AMNA that the above issues "were on a good road", as her contacts with the Getty Museum focused on the major exhibition on Byzantium, which will run at the Getty from August to April 2014, but also activation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Culture Ministry and the Getty in September 2011.

    She explained that the MoU foresees a series of collaborations in preservation of artwork, such as the example of the Charioteer of Mozia (Iniochos of Motya) which was recently restored at the Getty Museum's workshop, which is considered the best in the world, where the elegant 470-450 BC masterpiece of Greek Sicily also acquired an anti-seismic base. The statue, one of the best examples of Ancient Greek sculpture, was discovered in 1976 in ancient Mozia, on an islet west of Sicily. In 2004 it had traveled to Greece for an exhibition on athleticism and Olympism in the periphery of the Hellenic world held at the Cycladic Art Museum in the context of the cultural events programme of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The statue was also exhibited at the British Museum in the context of the London 2012 Olympic Games, while it will also be on show from April 3 to August 19 in the context of the "Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome" exhibition at the Getty which will present 150 ancient artifacts from museums and foundations in Sicily.

    In April to August 2014, the "Heaven and Earth Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections" will be on show at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, organised by the Culture Ministry's general directorate for Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in collaboration with the Benaki Museum in Athens.

    Earlier, the exhibition will be on show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, from October 2013 to March 2014.

    The exhibition, which contains some 300 masterpieces from Greek museums, public and private collections and monasteries as well as finds from recent excavations, aims to familiarize the American public with the Hellenic civilization throughout the Byzantine era, and thus will cover all periods of Byzantine history, from 330 AD to 1453 AD.

    The exhibition will comprise five unities, tentatively titled "From the Ancient to the Byzantine World", "The Christian World", "The Intellectuals", "The Joys of Life" and "Byzantium at a Crossroads".

    The exhibition is budgeted at 3.2 million euros, of which 2.5 million are in insurance premiums.

    This event will be enhanced by a second, equally significant, exhibition being prepared in tandem by the ministry in collaboration with National Geographic magazine, which will pertain to the Ancient Greeks throughout the ages, from pre-historic times to the beginning of the Hellenistic Period.

    The aim is for the second exhibition to coincide with the Byzantium exhibition.

    In September 2011, the Greek culture and tourism ministry and the J. Paul Getty Museum signed a landmark agreement creating a long-term partnership between Greece and the Getty, formalising the latter's commitment to help conserve and present Greek cultural heritage and the commitment of the two sides to deterring illicit antiquities trafficking.

    The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that "ensures a clear framework for cooperation between Greece and the Getty Trust and builds on principles already established between the Getty and the Greek ministry of culture and tourism and strengthens the opportunities for joint scientific research, exchange of cultural objects and the promotion of Greek cultural heritage".

    The agreement also reconfirmed "the commitment of both parties to deterring the illicit traffic in antiquities and, among other provisions, it encourages the exchange of scientists and scholars in the fields of archaeology, art history, conservation, cultural information, technology and other fields of common interest in research and training".

    David Bomford, acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, had welcomed the agreement at the time, saying it "provides us the confidence to develop long-term plans with the Ministry that will bring spectacular works to Los Angeles that further our visitors' understanding of Greek history and art".

    [44] Education Minister: Free meals for all Cypriot students

    Education Minister Costas Arvanitopoulos said Thursday that gave instructions on Wednesday to the Greek Universities to provide free meals to all Cypriot students, replying to a question submitted in parliament by Independent Greeks parliamentary spokesman Notis Marias.

    Rebutting the opposition parties' criticism of the Greek government's stance regarding the crisis in Cyprus, the Education Minister noted that the events "must help all of us to reach the proper conclusions, because the last thing that the Cypriot Hellenism deserves is exploitation of the drama it is going through".

    "My conclusion is that we must shore up our country, our economy, our education and health. We must try, in the midst of this crisis, to improve our position, through the proper policies and changes, in order to become stronger," Arvanitopoulos added.

    [45] Ministry approves transfer of Labour Day to May 7

    The Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Ministry on Thursday announced its agreement with a proposal to transfer the Labour Day holiday on May 1, which this year falls in the last week of Lent, to the Tuesday after Easter.

    The proposal was made by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce, so that shops might remain open on the Wednesday before Easter in a bid to boost sales ahead of the holiday, moving the holiday when shops remain closed to May 7. A ministerial order transferring the holiday is now at the labour ministry to be signed.

    [46] Twenty indicted in Hellenic Gold arson attack

    Twenty locals were indicted on seven felonies and 11 misdemeanors by Halkidiki prosecutor Magdalini Galatali on Thursday in connection with the recent attack on a Hellenic Gold facility in the village of Skouries last month during which hooded assailants broke into the premises of the gold-mining company, where they assaulted guards and set fire to installations, burning vehicles and offices.

    The 20 had been called to testify by Thessaloniki security police as suspected perpetrators of criminal actions.

    The 20 face felony charges of attempted homicide, participation in a criminal organisation, possession of explosives, causing an explosion and arson, and will testify before an examining magistrate.

    The 20, who are residents of Ierissos and Megali Panagia, did not appear for the indictment hearing but, in written depositions submitted by their defence attorneys, denied any involvement in the arson attack, while also charging police brutality in Halkidiki during the investigation of the attack.

    [47] Three Golden Dawn members arrested for ATM arson attack in Volos

    Three young persons arrested by police early on Thursday in the central Greece city of Volos for burning down a Bank of Cyprus ATM, are reported to be members of the far-right Golden Dawn party.

    The three, aged 21, 23 and 17, were found to possess a rifle, two six-round revolvers and two pistol imitations, which together with other evidence led police to the conclusion that they are Golden Dawn members.

    The ATM was completely destroyed, but the fire brigade managed to prevent the fire from spreading. Earlier, the three had attempted unsuccessfully to break the bank's window pane and throw a home-made cocktail inside.

    The three were charged with arson, serious cases of damage, explosion and violation of legislation on weapons and explosive materials.

    [48] Suicide attempt at Corinth Detention Center for migrants thwarted

    Two Palestinians, threatening to jump to their death from a 15-meter high building at the Detention Center for illegal migrants in an old army camp in Corinth, southern Greece, were persuaded to abandon the suicide attempt on Thursday afternoon.

    They had voiced no specific demand and authorities consider requesting a psychological evaluation of the two men.

    Weather forecast

    [49] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and easterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 5C and 23C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with possible local showers and easterly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 10C and 20C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 9C and 15C.

    [50] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: "Europe of the peoples or Germany's courtyard?".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Cyprus lights the fuse".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "On 'euro-terror' wagon".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Eurozone facing the firing squad".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The plan for salaries without three-year salary increments".

    ELLADA AVRIO: "Three vultures gambling on Cyprus".

    ESTIA: "How the Cypriots react now".

    ETHNOS: "Cyprus in Argentina's rhythms".

    IMERISSIA: "Cyprus virus hits Athens Stock Exchange".

    KATHIMERINI: "Crucial test for the banks in Cyprus".

    LOGOS: "We decide and order: Ceiling on withdrawals (from bank accounts) and checks".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Cyprus' (bailout) package frightens the eurozone".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Metal workers strike on Thursday throughout the country".

    TA NEA: "Cyprus: Agony - Greece: Calm - Europe: Division".

    VRADYNI: "Government arrangement for the 'red loans'."

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