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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-04-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 5 April 2013 Issue No: 4327


  • [01] PM: First signs of economic recovery already visible
  • [02] Greece must focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, Commissioner Hahn says
  • [03] Greek finmin: 'Nothing finalised until everything's finalised'
  • [04] Stournaras: 'Negotiations with troika are tough'
  • [05] No timetable for troika negotiations with Greece, Commission
  • [06] German FinMin says progress achieved in Greece, as in Ireland
  • [07] SYRIZA-EKM: 'New measures just as repulsive and criminal'
  • [08] SYRIZA charges coalition party leaders of 'deceiving citizens' over property tax
  • [09] KKE calls for rally and action against troika, gov't blackmail
  • [10] Greek FM Avramopoulos holds talks in Bucharest
  • [11] SYRIZA-EKM leader Tsipras visits military commands in Larissa, central Greece
  • [12] 'Cyprus is not alone,' SYRIZA says
  • [13] Alavanos announces creation of new political formation
  • [14] Golden Dawn MP expelled from session of Parliament's Lagarde list inquiry
  • [15] Relations with Cyprus must remain fraternal, Greek Embassy official tells ANA-MPA WebTV
  • [16] Pros and cons of Cyprus memorandum analysed by Cyprus expert on ANA-MPA WebTV
  • [17] Decongesting jails hinges on bilateral agreements, minister
  • [18] General Accounting Office WWI, II archives report 'confidential'
  • [19] Democrats Abroad Greece elect new Executive Committee
  • [20] Clause restructuring overseas Greeks bureau to be reintroduced shortly
  • [21] Gov't to propose Single Tax on real estate in lieu of extraordinary surtax to Troika, sources say
  • [22] Proposed unified tax will lower average fees by 10-15 pct, spokesman
  • [23] Greek exports up 109.4 pct in 2004-2012
  • [24] Piraeus port more than doubled container traffic in last three years
  • [25] Omnibus bill on port facilities before Parliamentary committee
  • [26] Parliament passes draft bill on growth and investments
  • [27] Greece gov't will carefully examine ICIJ report on offshore companies, official says
  • [28] Tourism minister visiting London
  • [29] KKE general secretary Papariga meets with Heracles Cement workers in Halkida
  • [30] Greek economic sentiment index up in March
  • [31] New hirings surpass dismissals in March, report
  • [32] Piraeus Bank to hold general shareholders' meeting in April 12
  • [33] Greece seeks to broaden tax base
  • [34] Business briefs
  • [35] Greek stocks recover moderately
  • [36] Greek bond market closing report
  • [37] ADEX closing report
  • [38] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [39] Ancient Pella excavations to continue
  • [40] Athens mayor on moslem places of worship
  • [41] European Jazz Festival at Technopolis
  • [42] Raid in Trikala Prison reveals drugs, knives hidden in inmates' cells
  • [43] More arrests in relation to power company embezzlement case
  • [44] Athens police to fine negligent pet owners
  • [45] Court approves extradition of foreign national wanted on international warrant, ruling appealed
  • [46] Businessman found shot in the head
  • [47] Three arrested for possession of counterfeit banknotes
  • [48] Newborn puma and lion cubs steal hearts of Zoo's staff
  • [49] Piraeus authorities confiscate 867 kg of frozen beef
  • [50] Rainy on Friday
  • [51] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM: First signs of economic recovery already visible

    The first signs of recovery of the Greek economy are already visible, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed on Thursday, addressing a conference on the utilization of EU funds in the next programming period of 2014-2020, budgeted at 36 billion euros.

    Addressing the 1st National Development Conference for the programming period 2014-2020, jointly organized by the Development Ministry and the European Commission, Samaras said that the year 2013 is a turning point that will lead to growth, given that the results of the measures taken by the government will begin to be clearly visible in the next quarter and become tangible on the market by the end of the year.

    Indeed, Samaras made a specific reference to the fact that in February a positive balance between hirings and layoffs was posted for the first time in many years, which he said was a significant sign of recovery.

    On the overall course of the economy, the premier said that Greece is not at risk of finding itself outside the Eurozone, but pointed out that the crisis has traumatized the European vision, especially in the South. "That is why we must change much more, so that the waves of populism will not annul all that has been done to date. We must see Europe as an ally and not as a punisher, and the assistance provided to us by European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn via the 36 billion euros in funds that will flow into the country by 2020 are the response -- to the anti-European voices inside the country -- that Europe is our home," Samaras said.

    "I believe that even those who react, hope inside that we will remain in the euro and Europe," he added.

    On the mode of operation of public administration, with the focus on absorption of the Community funds and materialization of the projects, the premier said that "the eras of lax rates of the public sector have ended...there is neither room nor justification for allowing any delays because of bureaucracy when you are asking for money from the citizens".

    In closing, Samaras said that he has sent dossiers with instructions to all the ministries for actions to coordinate and accelerate efforts aiming at better utilization of the funds.

    "We are making the transition from the vicious cycle of recession to the virtuous cycle of growth," Samaras said.

    [02] Greece must focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, Commissioner Hahn says

    Greece must focus on innovation and entrepreneurship using EU funds, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said on Thursday.

    Addressing a conference in Athens on the exploitation of community funds in the period 2014-2020, organized by the Development Ministry and the European Commission, the EU Commissioner said: "The issue is not just how to give money to address an urgent problem, but to emphasize on innovation and entrepreneurship".

    Hahn said investments must be channeled to modern technologies of waste management and investments, in energy and tourism, and on culture. "The sun and sea are not enough," he noted, adding that a framework for managing Community funds for the 2014-2020 period would be completed by June. "Money should be given to projects that will change Greece," Hahn said.

    The Commissioner said he will meet with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis to discuss restarting national road projects and predicted that works could begin this month. He said that Greece will receive 16 billion euros in Community funds from a new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)programme by 2020, another 4.0 billion euros from an Alexandros Baltatzis programme, 15 billion euros in direct farm support and 500 million euros in relief against illegal immigration.

    Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, addressing the same conference, said the planning focused more on entrepreneur-ship, exporting activity, innovation, social cohesion, vocational training, combating unemployment, new technologies and protection of the environment, and less on infrastructure projects. He noted that environmental programmes included waste management and green economy.

    Hatzidakis also said the government was drafting a programme to modernize public services and a wider development plan for 'the day after' the memorandum in Greece. He noted that each region will have its own development programme and that national programmes will be fewer..

    [03] Greek finmin: 'Nothing finalised until everything's finalised'

    Emerging from a meeting with representatives of Greece's troika of lenders - the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday stressed that "nothing will be finalised until everything is finalised".

    "There is still work to do," the minister told reporters after the three-hour-plus meeting with the troika, who are back in Athens to determine whether Greece has met requirements for the next tranche of bailout loans.

    Asked whether the meeting had dealt with the troika's rumoured objections to a planned merger between National Bank of Greece and Eurobank, Stournaras replied only that "we talked about everything".

    A finance ministry source earlier reported that the full range of economic issues - from public finances to banks and structural reforms - was discussed during the meeting and that arrangements were made for the meetings and negotiations that will take place during the troika's visit.

    The Greek side raised the issue of a new method for taxing real estate in the current year, while the troika representatives posed questions about whether the measure would raise the necessary amount.

    The government is hoping to secure disbursement of the remainder of last December's tranche, amounting to 2.8 billion euro, which is conditional on meeting requirements relating to mobility in the public sector, in addition to the tranche for the 1st quarter of 2013, amounting to 6 billion euros.

    The latter will depend on agreement between the two sides on the progress of privatisations, the course of tax revenues, the settlement of overdue debts in taxes and social insurance contributions and bank recapitalisation.

    The government hopes that the talks will be wrapped up by April 15, so that disbursement of the next tranche of bailout loans can be approved by the emergency Eurogroup at the end of the month.

    [04] Stournaras: 'Negotiations with troika are tough'

    "Things are not at all simple; they are difficult," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said Thursday evening, referring to negotiations he had earlier in the afternoon with the troika heads.

    Speaking during a book presentation at a central Athens hotel, the minister stressed that the current round of talks with Greece's troika of international lenders (EC-ECB-IMF), on the disbursement of the next tranche of the rescue loan "remain tough".

    In the wake of Wednesday's meeting between the three party leaders of the coalition government on the special property levy, the minister said "the three-party government, in spite of the difficulties, passed its 'child illnesses'. Yesterday, the three political leaders rose to the occasion. They showed self-knowledge and political realism."

    Referring to developments in the economy in general, Stournaras said "the markets' stance toward Greece has changed and is changing. No-one speaks of an exit from the euro anymore. We have now covered two-thirds of the way that is necessary for fiscal consolidation and three-fourths of the path for the restoration of competitiveness. Meaning, we have covered the biggest distance. Of course, just like in every marathon, the last kilometres are more difficult because the runner is tired."

    [05] No timetable for troika negotiations with Greece, Commission

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)

    The troika of lenders is under no timetable for negotiations with Greece, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said in Brussels Thursday.

    The EU, ECB and IMF representatives are in Greece to review progress on the country's loan agreement terms before releasing the next tranche.

    "In such missions, there are no specific timetables because we all know that one needs time for negotiations to be completed," he said, while declining to go into details about the issues under negotiation between Greece and the troika.

    [06] German FinMin says progress achieved in Greece, as in Ireland


    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday that efforts are being made so that Greece "may exit the very difficult position it is currently in", as the country is burdened by a large debt.

    Speaking after the conclusion of a lecture on the theme "The French-German duo: Starting point for a federal status in Europe?", held at the French National Public Administration School of Strasbourg, which was also addressed by French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, Schaeuble noted "although the end of the tunnel has not yet appeared, progress has been achieved in Greece, as it has in Ireland."

    Schaeuble briefly referred to negotiations with Cyprus on a rescue deal with Europe and the IMF.

    On his part, Moscovici expressed the conviction that "the programmes for Cyprus and for Greece were necessary", to enable them to exit the crisis.

    He added that "growth in these countries could also be based on the energy sector," and focusing his interest on the case of Cyprus he noted that "the business model" of Cyprus could not be considered an advantage, since the structure of its banking system contained elements which may be risky for the Eurozone.

    The French minister also replied to an address by Italian representative of the "Jeunes Europ?ens" with regard to the rise of extreme political parties in Europe, such as the Golden Dawn (Chyssi Avghi) in Greece and V. Orban in Hungary. Moscovici said the "Golden Dawn is a nazi and anti-Semitic party", and spoke of "intolerable people". He said Europe should adopt a joint position on extreme parties.

    [07] SYRIZA-EKM: 'New measures just as repulsive and criminal'

    In a renewed attack on the government on Thursday, main opposition SYRIZA-EKM issued an announcement saying that the new measures being planned "continue to be just as repulsive and criminal as the previous ones, regardless of what the government calls them".

    It also accused the three-party government of thinking it could fool the Greek people with promises to 'draw a line in the sand' one day, followed by blackmail about whether Greece will get the next tranche of bailout loans and assurances that all was being done for the sake of the country's exit from the crisis.

    According to SYRIZA-EKM, the members of the government "do not care that they leave behind them social and economic ruins, millions of unemployed and poor and a country levelled by the increasingly barbaric memorandum policies".

    "There is not other way apart from that of resistance and the unifying struggles of the Greek people. Only [the Greek people] can stop them, putting an end to the disaster," the announcement concluded.

    [08] SYRIZA charges coalition party leaders of 'deceiving citizens' over property tax

    The decision of party leaders in the ruling coalition to propose a uniform propety tax is "an attempt to deceive citizens," Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis charged on Thursday.

    "They incorporated an emergency tax into the unified tax and are continuing its collection in the same extortionist manner, through the Public Power Corporation (DEI) bills," Skourletis said to public tv station NET. He also said "the government is fully subjugated to the troika" of lenders and accused the party leaders in the coalition of "negotiating only one thing, how to divide government [power] amongst themselves."

    [09] KKE calls for rally and action against troika, gov't blackmail

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday called on the workers, the unemployed, the professionals and the farmers to rally together and take action now for abolition of the real estate surtax and all the taxes that strangle them and so that those who can't pay their taxes, loans and bills will not to suffer from the repercussions.

    "A shield of solidarity must be formed to stop the foreclosures," the KKE said in an announcement on the coalition government party leaders' agreement on the real estate tax and the deliberations with the EC, ECB, IMF troika heads, adding that the people should "not be intimidated by the threats regarding the debts".

    "This should be the response to the government's and troika's blackmail and mockery," noted the KKE, adding that the people should have no confidence in the parties that promise a people-friendly negotiation, in whatever format, within the EU and with the monopolies untouched".

    [10] Greek FM Avramopoulos holds talks in Bucharest

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday paid a one-day working visit to Bucharest during which he held talks with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his Romanian counterpart Titus Corlatean.

    Addressing a joint press conference with Corlatean, Avramopoulos said their talks focused on bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in the political, economic and cultural sectors. Talks also included regional and European issues of common interest and the incorporation of Western Balkans in European and Euroatlantic institutions, he added.

    "A European prospect constitutes the safe catalyst for the implementation of reforms. And for this reason the steadfast European prospect of all our neighbours in Southeastern Europe is in the common benefit of Greece and Romania," Avramo-poulos said.

    "This naturally means," he added, "that all in the region must respect the principle of good neighbourliness and work for the resolution of pending issues. It also means that it should be made clear to the region's leaders that extremism, nationalism and xenophobia have no place here. This is inconceivable today in the big European family."

    Avramopoulos noted that his talks with Corlatean also touched on the current economic crisis in Europe and the ways employed by the EU and the Eurogroup to tackle it. "Greece is determined to go ahead in implementing structural reforms and fiscal adjustment...the Greek people are going through tremendous sacrifices, but their efforts are yielding results that are recognised by all," Avramopoulos underlined.

    The Greek foreign minister also briefed his Romanian counterpart on Greece's preparation to assume, in the first half of 2014, the EU's six-month rotating presidency, as well as its priorities.

    "During our talks today, it was confirmed that our countries, which are partners and allies in the EU and Nato, share common views on important international, European and regional issues," Avramopoulos added.

    On his part, Romanian Foreign Minister Corlatean said that talks on bilateral issues were constructive. "We have clearly proved that we will continue at a fast pace political contacts at a high level between our countries and of course on a Foreign Ministers' level," he added.

    Referring to economic and trade relations between Romania and Greece, Corlatean said that Greece is the sixth important trade partner and foreign investor in Romania. Trade transactions between the two countries reached 1.116 billion euros in 2012, he said.

    The Romanian minister also expressed his government's gratitude towards Greece for its steadfast support to Romania's accession to the Schengen Treaty.

    [11] SYRIZA-EKM leader Tsipras visits military commands in Larissa, central Greece

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA-EKM) leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday underlined that "for the past three years the country is experiencing the repercussions of an undeclared war. An economic war, with broad geopolitical dimensions and consequences".

    During his visit to the Hellenic Tactical Air Force Command and 110 Combat Wing in Larissa, Tsipras underlined that "only during war has the country experienced a similar decline in living standards and the insult to the core of our national sovereignty attempted by our lenders."

    Tsipras was received by Defence Minister Panos Panagioto-poulos.

    The SYRIZA leader stressed that "we should realize that we are going through a very crucial historic period characterized by geopolitical changes in the greater region," adding that "our lenders cannot have a say in the drawing up our country's defence planning".

    Referring to wage cuts for military personnel, he said that SYRIZA wishes to put an end to indiscriminate wage reductions, adding that the armed forces' will have to be reorganized to ensure lower operating cost without jeopardizing their effectiveness.

    Tsipras also praised the armed forces deterrent ability and the high level of readiness.

    In a later press release, Panagiotopoulos said that Tsipras had been welcomed by the leadership of the Air Force and himself and stressed that the armed forces must remain the "primary area that unites the entire nation, all the Greek people, all the political forces," stressing that Greece must above all preserve its national and social cohesion in this difficult time.

    [12] 'Cyprus is not alone,' SYRIZA says

    The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday expressed its multifaceted solidarity to Cyprus Hellenism, offering its support to both the crisis-hit society and on a strategic level aimed at safeguarding "Cyprus' sovereignty and sovereign rights".

    In a written statement issued by the party, titled "Cyprus is not alone", the political conclusion drawn by SYRIZA on the latest developments in Cyprus is that the EU is following a harsh austerity policy, ripping apart the few existing social rights and expropriating sovereign rights.

    The people of Cyprus, adds SYRIZA, and the country itself, are regarded a guinea pig for this strategy, and it is clear that the decisions of the Eurogroup are of a punitive nature.

    As such, SYRIZA believes, these decisions are aimed at serving as a deterrent to the adoption of alternative radical policies.

    [13] Alavanos announces creation of new political formation

    Alekos Alavanos, former leader of the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), announced on Thursday the creation of a new political formation, with a scheduled content and the title of "Plan B", on behalf of the Solidarity and Reversal Front.

    Alavanos criticised both the government and the main opposition party SYRIZA, stressing that they constitute the two versions of "Plan A". He said that "the government's conception that the completion of the memorandum is leading to growth is baseless, with the dissolution of the Cypriot economy" and "the conception of the main opposition party that 'the memorandum will be abolished in the eurozone' has totally collapsed, given the tool of the discontinuation of liquidity in euros by the European Central Bank".

    "We call on the people to confront the two versions of Plan A with a liberating Plan B," Alavanos said, claiming that "withdrawal from the euro is an essential precondition for salvation and recovery".

    The new political formation's inaugural assembly is scheduled to take place in Athens on May 18-19. As Alavanos pointed out "Plan B" will be "present" in the next elections, either autonomously or in the framework of some cooperation.

    [14] Golden Dawn MP expelled from session of Parliament's Lagarde list inquiry

    Another altercation taking place in the Parliament's investigative committee on the "Lagarde list scandal" during the testimony of PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos resulted in the expulsion from the session of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) Deputy Elias Kasidiaris on Thursday.

    Committee chairman Christos Markogiannakis expelled Kasidiaris after the latter called Venizelos "ridiculous and fat."

    The MP's actions were later roundly condemned by PASOK and the Democratic Left (DIM.AR), the two junior members of Greece's three-party coalition government, who accused him of "fascist attacks".

    Three PASOK MPs (Apostolos Kaklamanis, Leonidas Grigorakos and Ioannis Maniatis) later officially requested an emergency meeting of the Parliament presidium in order to discuss the stance of the ultra-right-wing nationalists Golden Dawn in the Parliamentary inquiry, in a letter sent to Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis.

    Democratic Left (DIM.AR) Parliamentary spokesman Vassilis Economou, also on the same committee, described his behaviour as "undemocratic, sordid and vile, an outcome of his Nazi ideology," and said that Kasidiaris had no interest in uncovering the facts concerning the Lagarde list case but only in promoting his "anti-democratic and fascist beliefs" through so-called "outbursts" that concealed the truth and made a mockery of institutions.

    Golden Dawn, for its part, later announced its intention to table a censure motion against Markogiannakis. The announcement was made by the party's spokesman Christos Pappas before the Parliament plenum, provoking an incensed reaction from ND MP Adonis Georgiadis. The censure motion accuses Markogiannakis of preventing Kasidiaris from posing questions to Venizelos; according to Georgiadis, the MP had neither spoken nor posed questions but simply hurled verbal abuse at Venizelos and other members of the committee, before throwing a glass and breaking a microphone.

    "This was the reason why the committee imposed the specific penalties and condemned this behaviour. All this is recorded in the minutes," Georgiadis added.

    In another episode during the morning's stormy session of the committee, Venizelos also reportedly clashed with main opposition SYRIZA-EKM MP Zoi Constantopoulou, in what quickly devolved into an exchange of insults.

    In statements to reporters, Constantopoulou later asserted that there was a systematic effort from the start of the session to prevent questions that would put Venizelos in a difficult position.

    "From 10:30 until 12:30 we had only outbursts, explosions and arguments," she said, while accusing Venizelos of repeatedly refusing to reply to key questions, relating to his public statements and the precise route taken by the controversial USB flash drive and printouts once they came into his possession.

    Among others, she pointed out that PASOK's leader had for the first time changed the date and time that he claimed to have sought the USB, after speaking to the former head of the SDOE financial crimes squad Ioannis Diotis on the telephone on October 1, 2012.

    "They frittered away the time so that I could not pose questions, since they knew that I could not attend the committee this afternoon," she said.

    Venizelos' testimony before the committee, interrupted due to the incident with Kasidiaris, is scheduled to resume on Thursday evening.

    [15] Relations with Cyprus must remain fraternal, Greek Embassy official tells ANA-MPA WebTV

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA / A.Viketos)

    The purchase of Greek government bonds by Cypriot banks entailed some risk, the head of the economic and trade affairs office of the Greek Embassy in Nicosia Vassilis Skronias said in an ANA-MPA WebTV interview on Thursday.

    Skronias countered the accusations levelled against Greece regardings its role in the island republic's economic crisis and stressed that relations between Greece and Cyprus must remain fraternal. He was pessimistic, however, about the prospects of the roughly 60,000 Greeks currently living and working on Cyprus, as well as for bilateral relations in trade and finance.

    Commenting on the Eurogroup's decision, he suggested the aim was to shrink the island's banking sector and predicted that Luxembourg and Malta would be next in line.

    Regarding Cyprus' future development, Skronias said the island's hope lay in exploiting the hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone.

    [16] Pros and cons of Cyprus memorandum analysed by Cyprus expert on ANA-MPA WebTV

    In an interview broadcast by ANA-MPA WebTV on Thursday, noted academic and finance expert Dr. Stavros Zenios analysed the positive and negative aspects of the memorandum agreed upon by the Cypriot government and representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika providing the country's bailout funds.

    Among the positive aspects of the agreement, Zenios listed the effort to rebuild the island's banking sector. Even more important, in his opinion, was the effort to put the island republic's public finances in order and bring about improvements in the broader public sector, in line with a "general philosophy in modern states that citizens must be share responsibility for their states".

    The most significant negative aspect, in his view, was the sudden and violent way in which the correction in the banking system occurred.

    Dr. Zenios is known internationally for his work in computational finance and financial services, high-performance and parallel computations, and operations research. In his career he authored two books, edited twelve books and journal issues, and (co)authored over 130 scholarly articles in some of the premier journals in the field. One of his books was even translated into Chinese in 2005.

    His interview with ANA-MPA WebTV can be found in full at the website

    [17] Decongesting jails hinges on bilateral agreements, minister

    The decongestion of Greek jails is partly obstructed by the refusal of other countries to change existing bilateral agreements that would facilitate the return of their nationals held in Greece, Deputy Justice Minister Costas Karagounis told parliament on Thursday.

    Responding to a question by PASOK Deputy Apostolos Kaklamanis, who asked that bilateral agreements include clauses allowing convicts to complete their jail sentences in their countries of origin, Karagounis said, "There are such bilateral agreements, but according to their clauses you cannot return anyone without the detainee's consent." Other countries have refused to change the agreements with Greece, he added, while detainees have declined to give their consent to be repatriated.

    "During the tenure of Haris Kastanidis as justice minister," Karagounis said, "Greece proposed building jails in Albania with Greek funds, but it was refused." The offer has been reintroduced by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos to his counterpart and the neighbouring country's president, but has been declined again.

    Kaklamanis said the congestion of jails is a "megaton bomb", and called on the prime minister to deal with the issue personally, as it raises security and social stability issues as well as human rights issues for detainees held in crowded jails.

    [18] General Accounting Office WWI, II archives report 'confidential'

    The findings of the General Accounting Office (GAO) working group on archives relating to the two World Wars will not be presenting its completed report to parliament, as originally intended, because it has been "marked as confidential."

    In a letter to parliament presented on Thursday, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the report had been delivered by the deadline, the first week of March, to the Foreign Ministry, as law requires, and that he also had a copy.

    The working group has collected, codified, recorded, classified and digitised the large historic archive - 761 archival volumes - for the first time, and the originals are at the GAO building.

    Staikouras was replying to a question by Independent Greeks Deputy Notis Marias, on "the legal and related actions to collect from Germany the war reparations and loan made by force which amounts to 162 billion euros, exclusive of interest."

    The working group was initiated in April 2012 by the former government under finance minister Filippos Sahinidis.

    [19] Democrats Abroad Greece elect new Executive Committee

    Meeting for its Annual General Meeting at the historic Athens Centre in Mets, Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) members recently elected a new Executive Committee. The new Executive Committee, with very strong participation by Greek-Americans, will be led by economist and former U.S. diplomat, Alec Mally as Chair (former Vice Chair), hospitality professional Arleen Zafirakis-Komninou as new Vice Chair, and educator Steven M. Medeiros as Chair of the Athens Chapter (former DAGR Counsel). Two additional members from the new Thessaloniki Chapter will join the 11-member Executive Committee upon completion of elections there.

    Former US Consul General in Thessaloniki Alec Mally committed to providing his full support to the Chapters to inform and expand their membership, and stated: "Our Country Committee currently suffers many of the same issues that plague our host country; we see it most acutely in the 'hollowing out' of the American community in Greece as employment opportunities disappear. This requires us to focus this next term on reinforcing our existing Athens and Thessaloniki chapters while exploring expansion into underserved areas where American communities are found."

    The full Executive Committee is as follows:

    Chair: Alec Mally (Florida)

    Vice Chair: Arleen Zafirakis-Komninou (New York)

    Secretary: Meg Matsaganis (Massachusetts)

    Treasurer: John A. Bacalis, MBA, CPA (New York)

    Counsel: Alexandra Jelkes (Georgia)

    At-Large members (representing the rest of Greece):

    Amalia Kalogridakis-Lagoudakis (New Jersey)

    Karen Lee (Ohio)

    The Athens Chapter elected new officers:

    Chair: Steven M. Medeiros (Massachusetts)

    Representative: John Lewis (Massachusetts)

    Outgoing DAGR Chair, Yvette Jarvis, presently visiting family in Colorado, addressed the meeting via Skype and expressed her appreciation to those who worked side-by-side with her since 2010.

    The Greece Country Committee of Democrats Abroad is the official representative of the U.S. Democratic Party in Greece. DAGR has helped thousands of Americans register to vote, and organized many functions to educate votersand build a sense of community among like-minded Americans resident in Greece. Membership is free and open to all American citizens who share our ideals. To join, please click JOIN at or contact Secretary Meg Matsaganis at or call 210 6106 488

    [20] Clause restructuring overseas Greeks bureau to be reintroduced shortly

    A clause to reorganise the General Secretariat of Overseas Greeks (GGAE) has been rescinded from a draft bill, Deputy Foreign Secretary Kostas Tsiaras said in Parliament on Thursday.

    The regulation was originally tabled in a bill setting up an office to facilitate Greece's assumption of the rotating presidency of the EU in the first half of 2014 currently in Parliament. Tsiaras said the regulation would be reintroduced in the draft bill on the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), expected to be tabled shortly.

    Financial News

    [21] Gov't to propose Single Tax on real estate in lieu of extraordinary surtax to Troika, sources say

    The Greek government will discuss a proposal for a Single Real Estate Tax with the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's lenders, who return to Athens on Thursday, Finance Ministry sources said in reference to decisions taken at Wednesday's meeting between Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and leaders of the two junior partners in his three-party coalition government, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis.

    The sources said that the coalition leaders were briefed on all the outstanding matters, adding that "there will be a uniform proposal on everything that was jointly agreed" by the coalition government leaders.

    Specifically concerning the extraordinary real estate surtax (Extraordinary Levy on Electricity-Supplied Surfaces/EE-THDE), which is collected via PPC electricity bills, the sources noted that the proposal to be discussed with the troika is to rename it as the Single Tax (on real estate), with a reduced rate. The new rate will incur a loss of 10-15 percent to state revenues in relation to the EETHDE.

    The loss in revenues is estimated at 200 million euros and will be made up for in three ways:

  • From real estate properties not incorporated in the city plans, which are supplied with electricity however, and are currently burdened with the minimum rate, which will be taxed henceforth with the municipalities' mean rate

  • From real estate properties rented by private entities to the state, on which the EETHDE is not collected

  • From currently existing exemptions on various real estate properties on which the municipalities do not impose the EETHDE or the Real Estate Tax (TAP)

    The three alternative ways of collection are expected to bring in about 140 million euros to the state coffers, while the balance of 60 million euros remaining from the 200 million euro losses will be met through the higher yield that will result from the EETHDE (henceforth the Single Tax) in relation to the way it is calculated by the troika. In addition, an effort will be made to incorporate parcel plots into the system.

    [22] Proposed unified tax will lower average fees by 10-15 pct, spokesman

    The new property tax will be on average lower by 10-15 pct, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told private Mega tv channel on Thursday, referring to a proposed unified tax or real estate being considered instead of a current tax collected through electricity bills.

    "We haven't relabelled the same thing," Kedikoglou said, "It is a new way of calculating tax, and, in terms of weighed averages, will be lower by about 10-15 pct."

    "The cost has been assessed, because [for] the property added to the tax base - in other words, the real estate that was located outside city limits and was taxed on the lowest possible tax factors, the property the state rented from private individuals - we have a widening of the tax base, because we have the data from the Public Power Corporation (DEI); and [the measure] will cover the gap from the reduction, which is estimated around 200 million euros," the spokesman said, adding that "in property of higher values, the proportionate reduction will be lower."

    The unified tax will go into effect in September, and will be collected through the electricity bills only for 2013.

    [23] Greek exports up 109.4 pct in 2004-2012

    Greek exports more than doubled in the 2004-2012 period (up 109.4 pct), while imports rose by 8.8 pct and the country's trade balanced shrank by 32.7 pct over the same period, the Panhellenic Exporters Association said on Thursday.

    In a report, the Association said that Greek exports exceeded even the most optimistic estimates in the last two years, with the value of exports rising to 27.6 billion euros (up from 26.5 billion euros initially estimated), while exports were also revised upwards for 2011 (24.35 billion euros from 22.5 billion euros).

    Greek exports grew 57 pct in the 2009-2012 period, almost doubling their participation in the country's GDP to 13.8 pct in 2012 from 7.6 pct in 2009, while the value of exports in oil and fuel accounted for 38 pct of total exports.

    The country's trade balance improved significantly over the same period.

    Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Association, commenting on the figures said: "Improved export statistics mean greater responsibility to continue their positive trend and greater needs to safeguarding the support of exporting enterprises in the country, particularly in the liquidity. However, a deepening recession in Greece and most European economies, developments in Cyprus and the euro currency rate are reasons for concern".

    Greek exports accounted for 13.8 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product, up 81.5 pct from 2008 levels. The report noted that if export services were to be added, then the export industry contributed 27 pct to the country's GDP, remaining however significantly lower compared with a more than 40 pct rate prevailing in Europe on average.

    The beverage/tobacco sector (exports of 624.1 million euros and imports of 495.4 million), oils (exports of 383.8 million euros and imports of 282.9 million), raw materials (exports of 1.4 billion euros and imports of 1.24 billion) and confidential items (exports of 587.3 million euros and imports of 14.3 million) recorded the biggest trade surplus, while the food (-913 million) and industrial products (-12.57 billion euros) sectors recorded a trade deficit.

    [24] Piraeus port more than doubled container traffic in last three years

    The port of Piraeus presents spectacular growth rates three years after the deal with Cosco, a report by National Bank said on Thursday.

    Container traffic in Piraeus (accounting for 90 pct of traffic in the Greek market) more than doubled in the last three years to 2.7 million TEUs in 2012 from 850,000 TEUs in 2010, when container traffic in other rival ports in the Mediterranean grew by only 20 pct over the same period, the report said, adding that Greek ports absorbed 5.5 pct of container traffic in the Mediterranean last year, up from 2.0 pct in the period 2008-2010.

    National Bank's analysts noted that Piraeus port has a significant room for further growth in container traffic in the future, to 2.5 million TEUs by 2015 (raising the country's market share to 7.6 pct) from 2.0 million TEUs in 2012 (6.8 pct of Mediterranean transport). This development is based on the assumption that Piraeus port's capacity will rise to 5.7 million TEUs in 2015 from 3.6 million TEUs last year, as envisaged by Cosco's business plans.

    [25] Omnibus bill on port facilities before Parliamentary committee

    The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Production and Trade is on Thursday expected to complete the processing of a new omnibus bill tabled by the shipping ministry, designed to create the requisite legal environment for an organisational restructuring of port authority systems focusing on investments, economic growth and employment.

    Addressing the parliamentary committee, Shipping & Aegean Minister Costas Mousouroulis clarified that "we are not seeking a privatisation model but instead we are organizing an institutional framework to ensure that port infrastructure can be exploited for the benefit of the Greek state, creating new work positions and contributing to economic growth."

    The shipping & Aegean minister presented 26 improvements in the draft law, which do not include reforms in labour issues proposed by seamen, who are now threatening with strike action.

    The draft law's vote by article and second reading will take place on Thursday, while a plenary session vote is most likely to take place next Tuesday.

    [26] Parliament passes draft bill on growth and investments

    The Development ministry's draft bill on setting the growth conditions for strategic and private investments was passed by the plenum of the parliament late Thursday evening, after Development minister Costis Hatzidakis incorporated a number of amendments - proposed primarily by PASOK and DIMAR parties.

    Opposition parties voted against the draft bill, both on principle and on its main articles, primarily because of a number of "emergency" arrangements which facilitates strategic investments risking environment and labour legislation.

    A stipulation allowing for participation of private parties in approval procedures was strongly criticized by opposition parties.

    [27] Greece gov't will carefully examine ICIJ report on offshore companies, official says

    The finance ministry will carefully examine the evidence unearthed by an investigation of offshore firms conducted by the International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists and take all appropriate action, finance ministry general secretary for revenues Haris Theoharis said on Thursday.

    The ICIJ's global report "Secrecy For Sale: Inside The Global Offshore Money Maze" - drawing on 2.5 million secret files and described as perhaps "the largest cross border journalism collaboration in history," - was published in the Greek newspaper "Ta Nea" on Thursday. It delves deep into the hidden world of tax havens, exposing the secrets of 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and almost 130,000 individuals in more than 170 countries.

    Most of the offshore companies of Greek interest included in these secret files are based in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

    In total, the report revealed 107 offshore firms owned by Greek interests, of which only four were listed in the country's tax registers - as required in the case of companies economically active or having property assets in Greece. For the remaining 103, the Greek state possesses no information whatever.

    The investigation also showed that two of the Greek-owned offshore companies were used for the purchase and renovation of the cruise ship "Christina O" that once belonged to shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, others have links with companies given defence contracts by the Greek state, while others are linked to individuals involved in the trade of bonds.

    The Greek owners of offshore firms originate from various parts of the country, ranging from company executives to ship owners and even ordinary middle-class families.

    The British Virgin Islands are home to roughly 500,000 active offshore companies, which represent approximately 40 percent of the world total. Their activity and rapid proliferation is linked with their owners' efforts to retain their anonymity and this, in turn, is often linked to tax evasion and other forms of financial crime.

    [28] Tourism minister visiting London

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni was due to leave for London on Thursday afternoon with the aim of further strengthening the tourist wave from Great Britain to Greece, shortly before the beginning of the new tourist period.

    During her stay in London, Kefaloyianni will be holding meetings with senior officials of major travel agencies, such as the TUI. On Saturday April 6 in the afternoon, she will be meeting with well-known actor, television presenter and film director Stephen Fry, who has expressed his love for Greece publicly in many ways. She will also be giving interviews to British media with the purpose of promoting alternative tourism and strengthening Greece's tourist image.

    It is noteworthy that, according to bookings, arrivals of British tourists in Greece will present a considerable increase this summer.

    [29] KKE general secretary Papariga meets with Heracles Cement workers in Halkida

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday met with representatives of Heracles Cement employees at the party's headquarters in Perissos and expressed solidarity with the people who lost their jobs.

    KKE stated that the sector's trade unions, as well as related sectors, should offer their backing to workers who were laid off, adding that cement is necessary for the construction of housing projects for the workers.

    Last month, Heracles Cement announced the termination of operations of its production unit in Halkida, as part of a restructuring programme of its production structure.

    [30] Greek economic sentiment index up in March

    Greece's economic sentiment index rose to 88.1 points in March from 86.9 in February, its highest level since October 2009, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.

    IOBE, in its monthly report, said the business expectations improved in the manufacturing sector and the retail commerce, while expectations deteriorated in the services and the constructions sector. The report noted that a mild improvement in economic sentiment -which began this year- seemed to be stabilized despite the fact that both consumers and enterprises remained under heavy pressure. A gradual repayment of overdue debt to the private sector, mobility in investments, a return of deposits in the banking system, all have a positive impact, although rising unemployment negatively affected a series of economic and social activity, such as ability to pay taxes and social insurance contributions. IOBE said that the report was conducted before the Cyprus crisis erupted.

    Business expectations in the manufacturing sector improved significantly over short-term developments, although expectations over the current level of orders and demand and inventories deteriorated.

    In the services sector, business expectations remained negative, both over the current activity and short-term orders' levels, while expectations over current demand deteriorated further.

    In the retail commerce, expectations over current sales worsened, along with negative forecasts over inventories. However, expectations over short-term prospects of sales improved markedly.

    In the construction sector, business expectations remained negative, while employment prospects showed a slightly recovery.

    Consumer confidence showed a deteriorating prospect for households' finances and an improving prospect for the country's finances.

    [31] New hirings surpass dismissals in March, report

    Employment in the private sector showed positive signs in March, with new hirings surpassing dismissals, official figures showed on Thursday.

    A report by "Ergani", an online system recording employment trends around the country, showed that hirings surpassed dismissals by around 9,000 job positions in March. The system, records employment trends in all regions of the country, economic sector, company size, type of labor contract, etc. It began operating in March and obliges employers to submit electronically the labor records.

    The restaurant sector, tourism, wholesale and retail commerce sectors recorded the most new hirings in March. From a total of 8,500 new hirings, 3,546 were made in Attica, 1,678 in Crete, followed by Central Macedonia (1,212) and Southern Aegean (1,116).

    Labor, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, commenting on the data said "it was pleasant development" and expressed the hope that this trend would continue in the future.

    [32] Piraeus Bank to hold general shareholders' meeting in April 12

    Piraeus Bank on Thursday called for a general shareholders' meeting on Friday, 12 April, to discuss a share capital increase plan as part of a recapitalization process.

    The general shareholders' meeting will decide on a board plan for a reverse split of the bank's shares, setting up a special reserve fund through a reduction of the bank's share capital and issuing new common shares with the aim to raise 7,335,000,000 euros to cover the bank's capital requirements as set by the Bank of Greece. Under the recapitalization plan, Piraeus Bank will also receive a sum of up to 570,000,000 euros from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund and another 524,000,000 euros from the HFSF to cover the acquisition of Cypriot banks' subsidiaries in Greece.

    [33] Greece seeks to broaden tax base

    Taxpayers must declare their incomes from deposit interest and dividends in this year's income tax statements, as part of a new tax legislation aimed to broaden the tax base and combat tax evasion in the country.

    The new tax statement model also includes special codes for home owners to declare their electricity account number for a more equitable distribution of property taxes, requests more data of yacht owners and includes fields for the social insurance identification numbers of children.

    [34] Business briefs

    -- A two-year saving programme helped Inform Lykos return to profitability in 2012, despite the fact that its two main sectors of activity - printed IT products and services - remained loss-making.

    [35] Greek stocks recover moderately

    Greek stocks recovered moderately in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a 3.61 pct decline in the two previous sessions. Traders said buying activity focused on blue chip stocks such as OTE and PPC. The composite index of the market rose 0.59 pct to end at 842.76 points, off the day's highs of 852.64 points. Turnover remained a disappointing low 38.530 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.38 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.21 pct higher. The Telecoms (5.42 pct), Raw Materials (4.69 pct) and Utilities (4.61 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Travel (2.22 pct), Commerce (2.20 pct) and Food (1.93 pct) were top losers. OTE (5.42 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (5.29 pct), PPC (4.89 pct) and Mytilineos (4.44 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (9.05 pct), OPAP (3.02 pct), Folli Follie (2.25 pct) and Coca Cola Hellenic (1.95 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 82 to 52 with another 24 issues unchanged. Pasal (30 pct), Nutriart (18.52 pct) and Dias Fish Farms (18.37 pct) were top gainers, while Bioter (19.18 pct), HOL (18.90 pct) and Technical Publications (18.87 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +0.72%

    Commercial: -2.20%

    Construction: +0.92%

    Oil & Gas: +1.62%

    Personal & Household: +2.11%

    Raw Materials: +4.69%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.22%

    Technology: +2.18%

    Telecoms: +5.42%

    Banks: -0.67%

    Food & Beverages: -1.93%

    Health: +3.39%

    Utilities: +4.61%

    Financial Services: -0.72%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.62

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.15

    HBC Coca Cola: 20.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.08

    National Bank of Greece: 0.59

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.19

    OPAP: 6.10

    OTE: 4.67

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.18

    Titan: 13.00

    [36] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 11.81 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.06 pct and the German Bund 1.25 pct. Turnover was a thin 4.0 million euros, all sell orders.

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

    [37] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.96 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 11.100 million euros.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,391 contracts worth 7.219 million euros, with 26,232 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,096 contracts worth 3.881 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,536), followed by Alpha Bank (2,024), Piraeus Bank (1,202), Eurobank (419), MIG (658), OTE (1,844), PPC (1,594), OPAP (545), Mytilineos (689), Ellaktor (411), GEK (504), Intralot (470) and Hellenic Exchanges (170).

    [38] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.301

    Pound sterling 0.860

    Danish kroner 7.565

    Swedish kroner 8.532

    Japanese yen 124.14

    Swiss franc 1.233

    Norwegian kroner 7.560

    Canadian dollar 1.320

    Australian dollar 1.247

    General News

    [39] Ancient Pella excavations to continue

    Excavations at the ancient agora of Pella, capital city of Alexander the Great's and his father Philip's kingdom, have been renewed for another five years under University of Thessaloniki professor of classical archaeology Ioannis Akamatis, following the Central Archaeological Council's approval.

    Field work will focus on the area south of the agora, the northern stoa, the central square and the eastern wing, to look for structures earlier than the hellenistic metropolis' remains of the mid-4th century BC to the 2nd century BC.

    The compound of the ancient agora covers 70,000 square metres and contained multiple buildings and workshops attesting to the city's economic strength - from ceramic and sculpture studios, to metal processing, food and perfume manufacturing, administrative offices and the city's archive, containing the clay stamps of papyrus records.

    Excavations last year revealed a temple-like rectangular structure that will be researched further, several coins, ceramic storage vessels stamped with identifiable data and statuettes.

    [40] Athens mayor on moslem places of worship

    The establishment of a central moslem mosque in Athens paves the way for one to two premises to operate legally in each municipal sector, Athens mayor George Kaminis said during a municipal council session on Thursday.

    Kaminis expressed support for the decision giving the green light to the construction of a moslem mosque in Athens "for self-evident reasons of equality before the law and defence of the right to religious worship," as well as "for practical reasons so that order can be put in the uncontrolled set up of such informal premises".

    The Athens mayor said that he had raised the issue during his recent meeting with the Education minister and added that the establishment of a central moslem mosque paved the way to enable licensing of one to two legal places of worship in each municipal sector.

    [41] European Jazz Festival at Technopolis

    Musical groups from 10 countries will take part in this year's European Jazz Festival, to be held at the City of Athens' Technopolis events center from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2.

    Jazz lovers will have the opportunity to see representative groups of this musical genre from Portugal, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands and Greece, all with international careers.

    The Jazz Fest goes international this year, as groups from the world over will take the stage at the Technopolis this year.

    Entrance is free to the public, and performances will begin at 9:00 p.m. on all days.

    Festival Programme:

    Friday, May 31: Laurent Filipe "Ar Trio" (Portugal), Shai Maestro (Israel), Phronesis (Denmark)

    Saturday, June 1: Julia Karosi quartet (Hungary), Serrano & Lechner (Spain), Contemporary Noise Sextet (Poland)

    Sunday, June 2: Roman Gomez Trio (Argentina), Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlik (Austria), Ramon Valle Trio (Netherlands)

    The Greek participation will be decided by a panel of eminent Greek composers, music producers and journalists.

    [42] Raid in Trikala Prison reveals drugs, knives hidden in inmates' cells

    Raids performed by correctional officers in Trikala Prison, central Greece, revealed drugs, mobile phones, improvised knives and other contraband objects hidden in the inmates' cells, it was announced on Thursday.

    Prison guards assisted by police performed two raids in Trikala Prison, during which they found and seized 64.8 grams of heroin, 4 improvised knives, 2 mobile phones and other objects.

    Trikala prison is in the spotlight since the March 22 jailbreak when 11 convicts managed to escape. On Wednesday, during a search conducted outside the perimeter, authorities also found and safely disposed of two unexploded hand grenades.

    [43] More arrests in relation to power company embezzlement case

    Five arrest warrants were issued by the examining judge investigating an embezzlement and money-laundering case involving the private electricity companies Energa and Hellas Power, it was announced on Thursday.

    Three of the defendants, two men and a woman, were arrested on Thursday. The 63-year-old woman who is accused of money-laundering testified before an examining judge and was released on condition that she will not leave the country.

    The woman is the wife and the mother of two executives of one of the companies who are currently in custody.

    The other two defendants, aged 38 and 44, will be remanded in custody until they testify.

    The examining judge issued arrest warrants against them based on evidence relating to their bank account movements at a Cyprus bank.

    A bank account containing 22 million euros that allegedly belongs to the family of the 63-year-old woman was frozen, following a Cypriot court decision. Based on the investigation, the money ended up in Nicosia through banks in Switzerland and China.

    Another two arrest warrants have been issued against a foreign national, representative of a foreign company, and a Greek national, representing a Liberian company, allegedly involved in money-laundering.

    Six individuals accused of embezzlement, illegal trade and money-laundering are already in custody pending trial.

    The charges against Energa and Hellas Power concern the companies' failure to pay to the state a special tax for consumption of electric power and the extraordinary surtax on real estate they collected from consumers via electricity bills. According to the case file, the lost revenue to the state is estimated to be around 200 million euros that were transferred to the suspects' bank accounts abroad.

    [44] Athens police to fine negligent pet owners

    The city of Athens is intensifying its efforts to keep the city clean by fining animal owners for violating regulations on cleanliness, behaviour, inoculations and treatment in a new and stricter pet law.

    Vice-mayor of town police Giorgos Anagnostopoulos told AMNA that inspections will begin in central Athens and continue in all public spaces, the most common complaint being the destruction of green spaces and owners not picking up their pets' feces.

    Town police will issue warnings and, if not complied with, proceed to fining owners. Fines range from 100 euros for littering to 30,000 euros for maltreatment and torture of animals. Town police will also have the right to respond to charges of dogs abandoned on balconies and to check pet shops and suspend operation licenses when necessary, said vice-mayor for parks Angelos Antonopoulos.

    Anastasia Bobolaki, president of the National Animal-Friendly and Environmental Federation, said the measure was positive, "even though we are not for repression but in support of a change of mentality."

    [45] Court approves extradition of foreign national wanted on international warrant, ruling appealed

    A Thessaloniki court on Thursday ruled in favor of a request by the Albanian authorities for the extradition of an Albanian national believed to be the perpetrator of the killing of a senior Albanian police official.

    The Thessaloniki Appeals Council ruled in favor of the extradition of an Albanian businessman, who was arrested together with another Albanian national at a central hotel in late February, a few days after the killing, for possession of arms and small quantities of narcotic substances.

    It turned out that the businessman was wanted on an international arrest warrant issued by the Albanian authorities for the killing of senior Albanian police officer Dritan Lamai.

    The suspect, believed to be involved gambling and nightclub rackets, is said to have had "differences" with the police officer.

    The suspect, via his defence attorney, has denied the charges, claiming "political persecution" due to his involvement in the Albanian political scene, and appealed the ruling.

    [46] Businessman found shot in the head

    The body of a businessman from Heraklion, Crete was found on Thursday morning in parking area in the Industrial Zone of the city.

    The activities of the businessman, identified as 47-year-old man Stylianos Dandoutis, focused on food, beverage and oil trade. His body, which was found at 8.30 a.m. by his employees, bore a gunshot wound to the head, while a gun was found next to the body.

    Police initially attributed the death of the businessman, who was the father of two children, to suicide, given that he was facing serious financial problems.

    [47] Three arrested for possession of counterfeit banknotes

    Three people were arrested on Thursday in the area of Kavasila, Ilia prefecture, southern Greece, after a large number of counterfeit banknotes was found in their possession.

    Police, acting on a tip-off, spotted the three suspects' car as they stopped at a gas station. A search of the car revealed 100 counterfeit banknotes of a 20-euro denomination.

    During the investigation it was revealed that the 44, 40 and 31 year-old suspects had purchased the counterfeit banknotes in Athens for five euros each and intended to channel them in the wider region of Ilia.

    [48] Newborn puma and lion cubs steal hearts of Zoo's staff

    Two newborns, a puma cub and a lion cub, have stolen the hearts of the Attica Zoo Park staff.

    The female puma cub was born on Valentine's Day and was named ...Valentina. Her mother is Polish and her father French. Her mother did not want to take care of her newborn cub, possibly because she was tired given that she has given birth to 18 more cubs. The Zoo's staff is taking care of her, feeding her with a bottle from the day she was born.

    Akido, the male lion cub, is the offspring of a French father and a Polish mother. Akido was also rejected by his mother and the Zoo's staff is also taking care of little Akido.

    [49] Piraeus authorities confiscate 867 kg of frozen beef

    Food inspectors from the Piraeus Prefecture confiscated and destroyed 867 kg of frozen beef from Romania after finding it unfit for consumption.

    The lot was found in freezers in the port city of Piraeus and is part of meat confiscated on suspicion of containing horse meat.

    Weather forecast

    [50] Rainy on Friday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 7C and 26C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with southerly 3-7 beaufort winds and temperatures between 13C and 24C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 10C and 22C.

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

    AVGHI: "Extraordinary real estate surtax permanent for 2.8 million proprietors".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Permanent real estate surtax ".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "They baptized the".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Changes and traps in 2013 income tax statement".

    ELLADA AVRIO: "Continuous looting with surtax and single property tax".

    ESTIA: "Improvisation in all its glory".

    ETHNOS: "Ten traps in the new income tax statements".

    IMERISSIA: "Agreement at the last minute".

    KATHIMERINI: "Coalition government party leaders' agreement on real estate tax".

    LOGOS: "Return the stolen".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Compromise uniform position with single tax via PPC".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "New antipopular measures are ready".

    TA NEA: "Compromise (via PPC) on the surtax".

    TO PONTIKI: "German invasion".

    VRADYNI: "Single property tax via PPC bills".

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