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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-04-15

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

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

Monday, 15 April 2013 Issue No: 4335

CONTENTS

  • [01] Agreement reached with Troika at technical level
  • [02] Gov't, troika reach agreement on state sector layoffs, Admin Reform Ministry sources
  • [03] Alt. FinMin: Agreement beneficial for the country
  • [04] Venizelos: Need to complete negotiation with Troika
  • [05] DIMAR leader newspaper interview
  • [06] SYRIZA leader: We will not consent to human sacrifices
  • [07] SYRIZA on leaders' meeting: The masks have fallen
  • [08] Gov't spokesman accuses Tsipras of 'political opportunism'
  • [09] SYRIZA leader makes new overture to KKE, calls for gov't to resign
  • [10] KKE turns down SYRIZA overture
  • [11] SYRIZA Central Committee concludes two-day congress
  • [12] Dimitris Koutsoumbas takes over KKE helm
  • [13] KKE: The barbarous measures against the people do not stop here
  • [14] Independent Greeks' Youth Organisation founding congress
  • [15] Independent Greeks leader bashes government over layoffs
  • [16] Recapitalisation of systemic banks entering final stage
  • [17] Greece 8th among 27 EU member states in absorption of NSRF funds, Commission report says
  • [18] Former HFSF chief: Greek banking system has regained firm foundations
  • [19] Gold-mine arson attack suspects remanded in custody after testimony
  • [20] Demonstrators protest gold investment in Halkidiki, arrest of two Skouries residents
  • [21] Four Greek courts rule against law allowing gradual civil service layoffs
  • [22] Doctors strike, staff hold work stoppage at state hospitals on Wednesday
  • [23] Three arrested on child porn charges
  • [24] Drug arrests
  • [25] Press unions protest violence against journalists
  • [26] Contraband cigarettes arrest
  • [27] Manhunt in Corinth for burglars who set fire to octogenarian
  • [28] Arms, antiquities arrest on Crete
  • [29] Men sets himself on fire in Vrilissia
  • [30] AEK fans clash with police near Olympic Stadium
  • [31] Super League results
  • [32] Overcast with local rainfall on Monday
  • [33] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

  • [01] Agreement reached with Troika at technical level

    Agreement at technical level has been reached between the government and the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, according to sources who are privy to the negotiations.

    The Troika's team of experts completed an examination of the reforms being advanced by Greece and paved the way for the disbursement of the next tranche of 10 billion euros of the EU/IMF bailout loan, a source told a foreign news agency.

    The agreement, achieved on Friday, if approved at Saturday's meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the leaders of the two junior parties in his coalition government -- PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis -- will open the way to the disbursement of a 2.8 billion euro balance, outstanding from December. The government is targeting full agreement by Tuesday to enable the release of the 2.8 billion euro by the end of April.

    If the leaders agree, an official announcement could possibly be released by the Troika on Sunday.

    [02] Gov't, troika reach agreement on state sector layoffs, Admin Reform Ministry sources

    The 14,000 layoffs in the public sector agreed with between the government and the troika of lenders will come from four sources, Administration Reform Ministry officials said on Sunday.

    The layoffs are split between two years - 4,000 must be carried out by the end of 2013, and the rest must be completed by the end of 2014.

    Civil servants to be laid off will come from private-law state entities that will be deemed obsolete because they are not viable and do not serve pressing needs; state organisations that will be merged, with staff transferred to fill other needs or given incentives to leave voluntarily; employees who will be found to have committed breach of duty, who will be fired; and staff placed out of work because of overstaffing and reorganisation, who will also be given incentives to leave voluntarily.

    All layoffs will be preceded by reviews in each of the above sectors, while the incentives being considered might include additional years of service counting towards retirement.

    In the case of staff who have been found to have carried out breach of duty, each organisation's disciplinary boards will proceed to the layoffs under "processes that are being accelerated," the Ministry said. "A legal intervention will allow that staff initially found liable to be laid off the opportunity to take their case to the Council of State. The most serious cases will be judged faster," it added.

    The Ministry said that this agreement with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund troika of lenders prevented "the random and horizontal layoffs of thousands of civil servants, as these would serve no purpose."

    [03] Alt. FinMin: Agreement beneficial for the country

    Alternate finance minister Christos Staikouras anticipated that all the details of the agreement will have been finalized by Monday night, speaking after a meeting on Saturday between Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and the leaders of the two junior partners in his three-party coalition government -- PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis -- to review progress in the negotiations with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders.

    Coming out of the meeting, Staikouras told waiting reporters the leaders had "a very good discussion".

    He said the political leaders were briefed on the negotiations with the partners in all the fields, on how the government covered the fiscal shortfall, on the arrangements for the loans and the debts to the Tax Bureau and the social security funds, the reduction of the tax on real estate property, and provision for the departure of 15,000 civil servants in various ways and an equal number of hirings of young people in a meritocratic manner.

    He opined that the final details of the agreement will have been completed by Monday night, calling it "an agreement beneficial for the country".

    "In a period of international uncertainty, the government is shoring up the country step-by-step and creating positive prospects," Staikouras added.

    [04] Venizelos: Need to complete negotiation with Troika

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos stressed that it is "absolutely necessary to complete the negotiation with the troika", given that there is "Europe-wide uncertainty and edginess", speaking to reporters on Saturday after a meeting of the leaders of the three parties supporting the coalition government.

    Greece, he said, "has in its hands the last old-type programme: a large loan with good terms and recapitalisation of the banks from the loan money", and stressed that "consequently, we must move out of the picture of crisis and uncertainty" and adding that "it cannot be that every so often, with the arrival of the troika, we have a negotiation with all the issues open and outstanding".

    To a relevant question, he replied that "we need to close the issues permanently", and "sweeping the issues under the carpet" now to take them out in June and to go from June to September "leads nowhere".

    Venizelos said that "we must close all the issues", noting that "today we made a coordinated and painful effort to close all the outstanding issues, with the issue of the public administration at the top of the list".

    In that respect, "we drafted a mutually acceptable framework which I hope will also be accepted by the troika, by Sunday night, because the new week must find us with a completed negotiation," he said.

    He elaborated that the framework, with respect to public administration, is "very good, reasonable and fair" that "totally respects the Constitution, the institutional guarantees", but added that "public administration, naturally, must be modernised".

    "When we have 1.5 million unemployed, we must deal with them, we naturally need to deal also with the 15,000 employees in the civil service and wider public sector -- the number which we must reduce the total staff, to give an example -- and this can be done within the deadlines, legally, efficiently, with various resources we have in our hands from which this reduction in staff will arise," he said.

    Listing these 'resources', Venizelos cited the "disciplinary procedures ending with a court ruling, the evaluation of the agencies and services where we will have some abolitions, some mergers, in others were mobility will function..." He further said that there are other categories of personnel throughout the civil service "who cannot contribute" for health reasons, for example, adding that some incentives could also be given for withdrawal from the civil service.

    Venizelos said that there are other issues too "that we are interested in closing", and referred more particularly to the programme for dealing with spiraling unemployment, "which is a priority for PASOK", arrangements for the payment of social security and tax debts "so that they will be the best possible", just as for the loans and the overindebted households, which must also be "mutually beneficial".

    "This is the framework I believe we completed today, and in this respect we can close the negotiation," he said.

    Asked if "evaluation" (of civil servants" means layoffs, Venizelos replied that "it means reduction of personnel" for which there is "a mix of measures", noting that "there is the 1:1 ratio" meaning that "for every civil servant leaving by virtue of the evaluation, a young person with qualifications comes in".

    Questioned whether the plan contains a specific number of 'withdrawals', Venizelos replied that the plan "is quantified and will be approved as such", and to another question explained that a first part of implementation of the plan will be in 2013 and the remainder in 2014.

    Asked to comment on main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' call for early elections earlier in the day, Venizelos said it was brash and irresponsible of Tsipras to demand elections "in the name of a supposed alternative plan", warning that "there was and is no alternative plan, unless we want to blow up Europe and the euro and become ourselves the first victims of a Europe in flames".

    Now that Europe is rallying together in fear of the debt crisis of the large countries of the north, Greece must exit the crisis frame, while asked to comment on a recent statement by European Commissioner for internal market affairs Michel Barnier that the new rescue plans for banks will be based on the shareholders, the investors and the large-scale depositors, Venizelos said that "this is an indirect threat for the European bans to streamline themselves in order for the market to function".

    He noted that the Greek banks have the big advantage of being fully recapitalised from the 50 billion euros, adding that "we have ahead of us a period of up to the end of 2014 to shore up and fully modernise the Greek banking system".

    [05] DIMAR leader newspaper interview

    "Negotiation and fulfillment of our obligations with conditions of political dignity is the government's responsibility," Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader, a junior partner in the three-party coalition government, said in an interview appearing in To Vima newspaper on Sunday.

    He criticised the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders of an authoritarian attitude, saying that "our institutional partners must realise that they are negotiating, not imposing".

    On the layoffs in the public sector, Kouvelis said that what the troika is asking is outside the Memorandum obligations, noting that the personnel in the public sector will be reduced by approximately 200,000 by 2015.

    He stressed that a "rational redistribution" of the existing staff is needed, "the so-called mobility".

    Kouvelis further said that DIMAR is "not winking at SYRIZA", noting that his party would not be a "responsible Left' party if it had moved to the ranks of the main opposition (SYRIZA) where it would have been accommodated.

    He further said that DIMAR supports the reform efforts and the structural changes, but has disagreed with and will not vote in favor of changes that are not reform-oriented in substance.

    [06] SYRIZA leader: We will not consent to human sacrifices

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras pledged on Sunday that his party ?will not consent to human sacrifices" and warned that the 15,000 layoffs in the public sector, "on the orders of" the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika of Greece's international lenders "are taking us a back a century".

    "This issue is taking us back to other, older, dark eras for the country. It is 15,000 human sacrifices that are being added to the millions of others that have taken place in the private sector," Tsipras charged.

    "We will not consent to the human sacrifices, we will not consent to the mass decapitation of working people," he said, and called on the working people "with their struggles, to put an end to the perpetuating and repeated sacrifice of Iphigenia's so that fair winds will blow for our lenders".

    He urged the Greek people, with their struggles, to "topple this policy, this government, that are leading us to disaster".

    [07] SYRIZA on leaders' meeting: The masks have fallen

    Main opposition SYRIZA charged that the three-party coalition government "faithfully adopting the memorandum, had never wanted to build a better public sector but was seeking a pretext to proceed with layoffs and to privatize the public assets".

    In a statement on Saturday's meeting of the partners of the three-party coalition government -- Prime Minister (and New Democracy leader) Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis -- issued by the SYRIZA press office, the main opposition party said that "after their meeting, the masks have fallen officially, with tragic repercussions for the working people and what remains of the social state".

    Replying to SYRIZA's criticism over the leaders' meeting decision for withdrawals for m the public sector and its restructuring, a party press office announcement said that SYRIZA "pretends that it does not understand that with Saturday's decision, across the board, mass and arbitrary withdrawals were avoided, and that everything will be done in accordance with the Constitution and the laws".

    DIMAR accused SYRIZA of "vote-grabbing through the cultivation of groundless scenarios that terrify the civil servants", and called on the main opposition party to submit its own proposal for administrative reform and especially for the restructure of the state.

    In a second announcement, DIMAR responded to SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras' demand that the government resign and for early elections in his address to a meeting of his party's central committee on Saturday, passing off the demand as "fireworks", given that it is out of place and time, and charged that the only thing SYRIZA cared about was to create a virtual reality among its voters that the party has a prospect and a policy proposal to offer.

    [08] Gov't spokesman accuses Tsipras of 'political opportunism'

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accused main opposition Alexis Tsipras of "political opportunism" on Saturday, in reference to Tsipras' address earlier in the day to a SYRIZA central committee meeting

    "No one will follow him in his dangerous political opportunism." Kedikoglou said, and further charged that Tsipras' only goal is to come into power, at all sacrifice, at whatever cost to society.

    "Mr. Tsipras confessed that he is prepared to risk disaster, without any proposal or even provision, in order to pacify his extreme supports," Kedikoglou added.

    [09] SYRIZA leader makes new overture to KKE, calls for gov't to resign

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras demanded the resignation of the government and recourse to early general elections, opening a meeting of his party's Central Committee on Saturday.

    He said that the situation in Greece "has reached a marginal point" and "at this time there is no other way out for the country other than the government's resignation and recourse to elections so that a government will emerge that will have the mandate and support of the majority of society in order to set in motion an alternative plan for exiting the crisis".

    Tsipras expressed his conviction that the only government that could manage a plan for disengagement from the Memorandums and the crisis is a government with SYRIZA at its core, but added however that "this does not mean that we are heading in this direction with an arrogant attitude and a hegemonic rationale".

    The SYRIZA leader made a new overture to the Communist Party of Greece, as the KKE's 19th Congress was taking place at the party's headquarters in Perissos, calling it to unity.

    Expanding the field of alliances, however, Tsipras also extended the invitation to "all the forces of the Left, all the democrats who are willing to fight to rid the country of the memorandums".

    Continuing his criticism of the three-party coalition government, Tsipras was caustic on the government's stance on the crisis in Cyprus, accusing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of inability to assume initiatives for overcoming the crisis and forging alliances with the other countries of the EU south.

    He was also scathing on the government's communication policy, calling it a "political adversary that lies deliberately, distorts deliberately and has declared an unsuccessful campaign of mudslinging, calumny and slander against us".

    Therefore, it is the responsibility of everyone "to organise not only our defence, but also our counter-attack, to speed up our steps to take over the governmental responsibility, with a spirit of unity, broadness but also an unwavering devotion to the target set out by the dramatic reality: To put an end to the regime of the memorandums," he urged.

    He further referred to the government' "supposed negotiations" with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders, and reiterated that "the programme of Greece's supposed rescue, the memorandum, is clinically dead", as proof of the failure, while he also cited the resent suspension of the merger of National Bank (NBG) and Eurobank as proof of the banks' recapitalisation programme's failure.

    All these confirm SYRIZA's concerns of total lack of planning and elementary responsibility on the part of the government, he added.

    On SYRIZA's policy of forging alliances, and regarding the KKE in particular, he said: "For us, when our people are living a tragedy, when our country is the hostage of debt, a debt colony, when our democracy is put before the firing squad of the lenders, the all the Greeks have a place in the resistance front".

    "We are Leftists, not conceited or fools," Tsipras continued, "we are the continuers of a long-standing tradition that teaches us without allies we cannot win the tough battles such as today's, and we know that we need every Greek man and woman who understands that in these dramatic hours each and everyone's stance is significant to the outcome of the showdown...That is why, and not because of any petty political designs, we are devoted to the idea of unity".

    On the issue of war reparations from Germany, Tsipras accused the government of "cowardice and shame", and reiterated SYRIZA's determination to demand compensation from Berlin for the forces occupation loan during the Nazi occupation in WWII.

    Concluding, Tsipras stressed the need for the party's alternative programme to be understood and to draw a large, strong and determined social majority around it.

    [10] KKE turns down SYRIZA overture

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) turned down a renewed overture by main opposition SYRIZA to join forces in a common front, charging that SYRIZA has only one goal: to ensure the exit of the capitalist economy from its deep crisis by passing the burden on to the people, with the euro-one-way path as its guide.

    A KKE press office release added that the people's agony is to rid itself of these weights, and the only way this can happen is with a break with and disengagement from the EU and to rid itself of the rule of the monopolies.

    The working people and the popular strata must move on this prospect, building their own Popular Alliance, the KKE said, adding that the KKE has been at the forefront of this struggle and will contribute even more decisively, with the decisions taken at its 19th Congress (on Saturday) as its guide.

    [11] SYRIZA Central Committee concludes two-day congress

    The meeting of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party's Central Committee concluded its two-day congress later on Sunday.

    In an announcement, SYRIZA said "the Central Committee approved the party's political platform, which will be published shortly, by a wide majority."

    [12] Dimitris Koutsoumbas takes over KKE helm

    Dimitris Koutsoumbas was elected as the new secretary general of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in the first hours of Sunday during the party's 19th Congress, taking over the party leadership from Aleka Papariga, who stepped down after 21 years at the party's helm.

    Papariga, however, remains a member of the party's new 63-member Central Committee elected by the Congress. The Congress also elected a 7-member Economic Control central committee.

    At the 16th Congress in February 200 and the 17th Congress in February 2005 he was re-elected to the Political Bureau, assuming the post of the party's public relations officer.

    The 19th Congress further approved, unanimously, the party's new Programme, new Constitution and the Congress Political Resolution.

    New secretary general's bio

    Koutsoumbas, 58, was elected by the new Central Committee itself in its first meeting immediately shortly after midnight Saturday.

    Koutsoumbas was born in Lamia in August 1955 into a family of EAM resistance fighters, is married and has a daughter.

    He worked at various jobs to pay his expenses while studying at Athens University's Law School, was involved in the November 1973 Polytechnic University students' uprising against the military dictatorship, was a member of the then outlawed Communist Party of Greece (KKE) youth organisation KNE, and became a member of the KKE in December 1974.

    He became involved full-time in party positions in the autumn of 1977 and was elected a member of the KKE central committee for the first time in 1987 at its 12 Congress and remained with the KKE after the division in 1991 during which the Coalition of the Left (SYN) branched off.

    He was re-elected to the central committee at the 13th Congress and in August 1991, after the division, took over the as director of the Central Committee's press office.

    In December 1991, at the 14th congress, he was elected to the Political Bureau, responsible for the press office, cultural affairs and the party radio station 90.2 FM, while at the 15th congress in May 1996 he was re-elected to the Political Bureau and took over as director of the party-affiliated newspaper Rizospastis, a post he held for a decade.

    [13] KKE: The barbarous measures against the people do not stop here

    The agreement reached by the three leaders of the co-governance prove once again that the barbarous measures against the people -- which serve the directions of the EU and the needs of the big capital, are not only pre-decided but do not stop here, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Sunday.

    The extraordinary surtax on real estate is being made permanent, the minimum salary is being deeply cut yet again, while the layoffs in the public sector, regardless of how they will be effected -- through abolitions of organisations or suspension of civil servants -- aim to abolish permanent and steady work both in the public and the private sector, the KKE warned, adding that the people must fight decisively against the policies of the government and the troika and turn their backs on those who promise better days inside the EU and the one-way path of the monopolies.

    [14] Independent Greeks' Youth Organisation founding congress

    The Independent Greeks on Saturday inaugurated the party's Youth Organisation with a founding congress, which was opened by party leader Panos Kammenos.

    The Independent Greeks Youth Organisation founding congress was held in light of the party's regular Congress slated for end-April.

    Kammenos said that his party, which arose through the movements of Syntagma Square and internet sites, has been attacked by all the media of the establishment, slandered and hurt by mutineers, but has proved "stronger than them".

    Kammenos said that his party brings hope, which means reversal but also planning for the country's future.

    For his party, "Greece is under occupation", the Constitution has been abolished, and now there is no legality, he said, and called on all the Greeks "of the great patriotic arch", as well as those who have left the party, to join forces with the Independent Greeks to rule the country.

    Referring to German chancellor Angela Merkel and finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Kammenos said that "some today point to Cyprus and tell the Greeks that if they do not subjugate they will face worse things".

    "No, Mrs Merkel and Mr. Schaeuble. We will not compromise and we will topple you. The Turks said the same things, and the Germans during the occupation, but the Greeks resisted," he said.

    Kammenos also accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos of signing personal letters to the EU for reduction of the pensions and salaries to 300 euro. He said that the crisis was a banking crisis but 'baptized' a fiscal crisis, and turned into a humanitarian crisis, and at the end into a national crisis because "that was their purpose".

    He further proposed the establishment of an Investment Bank of Greece, and called for ensurance that all the money that will enter the banks via the recapitalisation will be channeled to the market, accusing the bankers of not channeling money to the market from the money that they received.

    Kammenos also severely criticised Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, calling him an "employee of the Eurogroup", and the Greek government over its stance on the recent developments concerning Cyprus, and stressed that his party was steadfast in its red lines on national issues.

    [15] Independent Greeks leader bashes government over layoffs

    Independent Greeks Leader Panos Kammenos on Sunday attacked the coalition government and the three parties supporting it of lying to the people before the elections, adding that the decisions taken by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Saturday were in line with their 'signatures' to the troika, and warned that the layoffs of civil servants will reach 150,000 in due course.

    Speaking at the founding congress of his party's Youth Organisation, Kammenos warned that "this year's 15,000 layoffs will lead to the layoffs of 150,000 'families', because the laid off civil servant is not a 'bad' civil servant but a family leader supporting his family".

    This, he added, means that another 150,000 families will be thrown into unemployment "where private employees, small and medium size professionals are being added daily" in the "dissolution of the country that has been brought by the foreign troika" and "in implementation of the policy being followed by the internal troika of Samaras, Venizelos and Kouvelis".

    He added that his party is preparing for "the next day" in order "to give hope to the Greek people, with our national proposal".

    Financial News

    [16] Recapitalisation of systemic banks entering final stage

    Greece's four systemic banks - National Bank of Greece (NBG), Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank -- are entering the final stage of their recapitalisation process.

    Extraordinary General Assemblies of Shareholders are being convened to approve share capital increases in the context of their recapitalisation.

    The first bank, Alpha Bank, convenes its General Assembly on Tuesday, April 16, and according to statements by senior staff and administration, the bank will succeed in generating the required 10 percent of private participation in the share capital increase, thus enabling it to remain under private control.

    Alpha Bank, via the recapitalisation process, is putting emphasis in tandem on its full operational unification with Emporiki Bank, which will lead to significant cost-cutting synergies and its fortification on the domestic market. The relevant procedure, according to sources, is moving ahead without problems and within the time-tables that have been set out.

    The next General Assembly scheduled is that of Piraeus Bank on Monday, April 22, and here too generation of the 10 percent private participation is considered certain, according to bank administrative executives. The bank is also placing emphasis on matters related to the completion of the operational unification with the networks of the (former) Cypriot banks it recently acquired. Piraeus Bank is now the largest banking group in Greece with respect to network of branches, with a large difference over the second-placed bank, especially following the suspension of the NBG-Eurobank merger.

    The National Bank's General Assembly is slated for Monday, April 29. Following the full upset of its initial strategy of recapitalisation of the merged National Bank-Eurobank group, which was planned for the final stage of the merger, resulting from the recent governmental decision to freeze the merger, the National Bank administration has been racing against time to generate the 10 percent private participation. "The common goal is to successfully materialise the required private sector participation in the planned share capital increase. In a particularly difficult economic conjuncture, we are called on to rally together to achieve the minimum required private participation in increase," NBG CEO Alexandros Tourkolias said recently in a message to the bank's staff.

    Finally, the Eurobank General Assembly will be held on Tuesday, April 20, with the aim of meeting the 10 percent private participation that will enable the bank to continue as an autonomous institution.

    Upon completion of the general assemblies, the banks' administrative councils will convene to set out the terms and issue prices of the shares, which will be submitted to the Capital Market Commission and the process of increasing the share capital will commence in May.

    The capital needs of the banks have been set at 9.7 billion euro for NBG, 5.8 billion euro for Eurobank, 4.5 billion euro for Alpha Bank and 7.3 billion euro for Piraeus Bank.

    The recapitalisation of the Greek banks is guaranteed fully, whether the 10 percent private participation is achieved or not, by the Hellenic Fiscal Stability Fund (HFSF).

    After completion of the recapitalisation process, the systemic banks will acquire healthy financial indicators that will enable them to gradually return to the international markets for liquidity and channel this liquidity in turn to the real economy, which is necessary to re-start the growth prospect of the Greek economy and take it out of the crisis.

    [17] Greece 8th among 27 EU member states in absorption of NSRF funds, Commission report says

    Greece is above the EU average with respect to absorption of the National Strategic Referemce Framework (NSRF) funds among the 27 EU member states, and is increasing its distance from the EU aveage, according to a Europpean Commission report.

    According to the report, Greece's absorption rate rose to 56.7 percent in early April against a Community average of 49.2, meaning that Greece's rate was 7.5 percentage points higher than the EU average.

    The difference incrased by 1.5 percentage points over February, when it was six percentage points higher (55 percent)than the EU average (49 percent).

    This acceleration in the absorption rate has ranked Greece 8th among the EU 27, up from 13th place in February. Progress in the explitation of Community funding is expected to accelerate further in the coming months due to the simplification of the absorption procedures, the re-starting of major public works, implementation of the programmes for support of small and medium size enterprises, etc.

    In a joint statement, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Costis Hatzidakis and deputy minister Kyriakos Virdivakis noted:"The NSRF is not a panacea, but it is a signifacnt tool that must be utilised in the best possible way. Despite the adversities and the problems faced by the banking system, progress in absorption of the Community funds is apparent. There is improvement both in the percentage of absorption and in Greece[s ranking among the other member states. We are continuing the efort with greater intensity, because this year's target is even more difficiult, but mainly becase the needs of the economy are greater".

    [18] Former HFSF chief: Greek banking system has regained firm foundations

    The Greek banking system, based on the capital given by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the Hellenic Fiscal Stability Fund (HFSF) for recapitalisation of the banks, the liquidity provided by the euro-system (European Central Bank-ECB and the central Bank of Greece-BoG) has regained firm foundations, and comparisons should not be made with the developments in Cyprus, where the depositors will cover the losses of the two largest banks," BoG former deputy governor and former HFSF president Takis Thomopoulos said in an interview with Kathimerini newspaper appearing on Sunday.

    "After the completion of the recapitalisation in a few weeks' time (some 80-90 percent of the required capital has already been given to the banks by the HFSF while the remainder is in an escrow account for this purpose) and the mergers that will create large internationally competitive banking groups, the banking system will be further fortified," Thomopoulos said.

    "Under these conditions, the danger-mongering over the deposits, due to ignorance or malicious intent (just as they were saying in 2010, 2011 and 2012 that in a few weeks Greece would leave the euro), succeeds only in harming the credibility of the country, deepening the recession and increasing unemployment," he added.

    Thomopoulos was deputy governor of the central bank (BoG) from 1994 to 2009 and president of the HFSF from its foundation to end-January 2013.

    General News

    [19] Gold-mine arson attack suspects remanded in custody after testimony

    Two residents from the town of Ierissos in Halkidiki who were recently arrested for implication in the February attack against a Hellenic Gold mining facility in nearby Skouries were temporarily remanded on Sunday after testifying before a prosecutor and examining magistrate in Thessaloniki on Sunday.

    The two detainees denied the felony charge against them, but failed to convince the prosecutor and examining magistrate who unanimously decided on their detention.

    Meanwhile, fellow residents from Ierissos had gathered outside the police headquarters in Thessaloniki from early in the morning in a show of solidarity with the two suspects.

    Defying the rain, hundreds of residents demonstrated under stringent security measures against the arrest of the two suspects, a 33-year-old and a 44-year-old man, and demanded their release.

    The two are accused of taking part in the February 17 attack on the gold-mining facility in Skouries, based on genetic material collected from a woolen hood found near the site, which implicated one of the suspects, and a ballistics examination that matched a shotgun found in the home of the second suspect with bullets collected from the site.

    The charges are for seven felonies and 11 misdemeanors, including involvement in a criminal organisation, attempted homicide, possession of explosive material, arson and theft.

    [20] Demonstrators protest gold investment in Halkidiki, arrest of two Skouries residents

    Protestors demonstrated in downtown Athens on Saturday in protest over the Hellenic Gold mining operations in Halkidiki, northern Greece, and the arrest of two residents of Skouries village for implication in February's arson attack against the mining facility in Skouries.

    The demonstration, which marched to Syntagma Square, created traffic problems in surrounding streets before dispersing.

    A similar demonstration was staged Friday night outside police headquarters in Thessaloniki where Skouries residents protested against the arrest of two town residents.

    [21] Four Greek courts rule against law allowing gradual civil service layoffs

    The layoff of civil servants through a stage-by-stage process violates the Greek Constitution and the European Social Charter, four courts in Greece decided recently.

    Courts on Chios island, in Rethymno on Crete, Xanthi in the north and Messolonghi in Western Greece issued seven rulings on Law 4092/2012, according to which the number of public sector employees could be reduced gradually by placing them on reduced pay over a period of time before finally laying them off.

    The measure calling for a 25 pct reduction in wages, the courts said, infringes upon constitution articles that protect human dignity and the right to work on livable wages and that prevent a bias against weaker sectors of the population. The European Social Charter guarantees social and economic human rights and requires signatories, of which Greece is one, to submit annual reports on its implementation to the Council of Europe.

    [22] Doctors strike, staff hold work stoppage at state hospitals on Wednesday

    Public hospital doctors will go on a 24-hour strike and staff stop working between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday, following decisions by the operate with reduced staff on Wednesday, following decisions by the Federation of Hospital Doctors of Greece and the National Federation of Public Hospital Staff to protest mergers and layoffs among other things.

    The federations will hold a joint protest before the Health Ministry at 11:00 a.m. and then march to Parliament.

    Doctors and staff are protesting the obsolescence of hospitals and units, gradual and outright layoffs, delays in payment of worked shifts and staffing shortages and are calling for the extension of free services to the public

    [23] Three arrested on child porn charges

    Police arrested one individual each in Thessaloniki, Athens and Ermoupoli of Syros island on child porn charges following a month-long online investigation of their ring.

    Case files were drawn up for a 41-year-old private sector employee in Thessaloniki, a 49-year-old retiree in Athens and a 52-year-old sailor in Ermoupolis, along with four more individuals. Two of those arrested were also charged with possession of cannabis.

    The Electronic Crimes Division of police confiscated a total of 12 computer hard disks with 7,000 GB's worth of child porn material, five laptops and two USB sticks.

    [24] Drug arrests

    A couple from Argolida was arrested Saturday morning in Kalpaki, near the border with Albania, after 53 kilos of hashish were found in their car, in which their two children aged 5 years and 15 months were also on board.

    Two more people were arrested in a second car acting as a lookout.

    Police sources said the couple loaded sacks containing the hashish near the Greek-Albanian borders, and was arrested later near Kalpaki were narcotics squad officers had set up a roadblock.

    [25] Press unions protest violence against journalists

    The country's largest press union, Union of Journalists at Athens Daily Papers (ESIEA) and the National Association of Sports Editors (PSAT) held a fifteen-minute work stoppage during the Super League championship on Sunday to protest the continual attacks against journalists.

    ESIEA said the attacks aim at manipulating the press and creating a climate of fear, and called on state authorities to arrest and try perpetrators and accessories before the fact.

    [26] Contraband cigarettes arrest

    A 62-year-old man was arrested early Sunday in Komotini after charged with possession of and trafficking in contraband cigarettes.

    Police found and seized 1,300 packs of contraband cigarettes during a spot-check of the man's car, which was also impounded.

    The suspect will be taken before a local prosecutor, while the Komotini security police and the financial crimes squad SDOE are conducting an investigation.

    [27] Manhunt in Corinth for burglars who set fire to octogenarian

    Police in Corinth have launched a manhunt for three unidentified suspects who beat and injured an octogenarian in the town of Examillia and set him on fire.

    Three unidentified men wearing hoods broke into the elderly man's home in the pre-dawn hours Sunday and beat him to make him reveal where he kept his money. When the old man told them he had no money, they doused his legs with alcohol and set them on fire, forcing the 80-year-old to reveal where he had hidden his money.

    The burglars took off with 600 euros and disappeared.

    The elderly man was rushed to hospital in Corinth with burn injuries, and his attending doctors are examining the prospect of transferring him to hospital in Athens.

    [28] Arms, antiquities arrest on Crete

    A 44-year-old man was arrested on Sunday for illegal possession of weapons and violation of the law on antiquities, after a police search of his residence in Avgeniki, in Heraklion, Crete turned up pistols, firearms, more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition and a section of a Byzantine-era column, all of which were confiscated.

    The arrestee will be taken before a local prosecutor.

    [29] Men sets himself on fire in Vrilissia

    A 35-year-old man set himself on fire on a street corner in Vrilissia on Saturday morning, for reasons as yet unknown, and suffered serious burns.

    The man doused himself with flammable liquid and then set himself on fire at a corner of the main Pentelis Boulevard in Vrilissia at about 10:30 a.m., causing severe burns.

    The man was rushed by hospital to a nearby hotel, and police are conducting a preliminary investigation into the incident.

    Sports

    [30] AEK fans clash with police near Olympic Stadium

    AEK football fans clashed with police at the Irini train station on Sunday, after interrupting the game at the adjacent Olympic Stadium when AEK scored a goal against itself in favour of rival Panthrakikos team.

    The fans interrupted the game by entering the sporting arena, forcing players and referees to seek refuge in the locker room area.

    They damaged seats in the VIP section and then clashed with police outside the stadium who used chemicals and flashbangs. The fans retreated to the train station, where they clashed with police again.

    Train service was interrupted and incidents continued late at night after the arrest of an unknown number of people.

    [31] Super League results

    AEK lost to Panthrakikos 0-1 at a Super League game played on Sunday evening when it scored against itself. The game was interrupted by AEK fans and ended permanently by the referee, who may penalise the team and thus disqualify it from playing in the Super League.

    Standings after 29 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos 74

    2. PAOK 59

    3. Asteras 53

    4. PAS Yiannina 44

    5. Atromitos 43

    6. Xanthi 39

    7. Panathinaikos 37

    8. Panionios 36

    9. Levadiakos 34

    10. Platanias 33

    11. Veria 33

    12. OFI 32

    13. Aris 32

    14. Panthrakikos 30 (28 weeks)

    15. AEK 30 (28 weeks)

    16. Kerkyra 20 (downgraded)

    NOTE: Panathinaikos has had two points deducted.

    Weather forecast

    [32] Overcast with local rainfall on Monday

    Local showers and rainstorms are forecast in several parts of Greece, mainly in the east, on Monday with improvement expected at night, and high winds of up to 8 beaufort velocity in the Aegean.

    Overcast in Athens with rain and sporadic storms, mainly in the north of Attica prefecture, and improvement in the evening, with temperatures ranging from 8C to 19C. The same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures of 11-18C.

    [33] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    AGGELIOFOROS: "Odyssey for public administration - Report: Citizens hostage to circulars, overlapping laws, shortages".

    AVGHI: 37 billion euros looted from social security funds, which are collapsing due to the PSI, recession - The worst to come in June".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Revelation 1: Anastadiades' (new Cyprus president) daughter (the night of Cyprus' crucifixion) was eating sushi in Kolonaki and then went to a bouzouki nightclub - Revelation 2: 2,950 euros for two nights stay in Dublin (for Eurogoup informal meeting) by Mitarakis (deputy development minister)".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Beware of...Germans bearing gifts - Governments fall but...Siemens remains - Endless gifts to PASOK, ND and all the former and incumbent prime ministers".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The final plan for layoffs in the public sector - Layoffs till end-2014 locked in".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Documents on the forced occupation loan and reparations".

    ETHNOS: "The 6,000 'fugitives' from the Cypriot banks -- The names and the sums -- The entire list of the smart-alecs who escaped the haircut".

    KATHIMERINI: "The arrangement for the installments and terms for paying the overdue debts".

    KERDOS: "The long-term austerity harmful to the public health".

    LOGOS: "Merchants go from bad to worse - Universal disappointment - Causes: economic instability, salary reductions, uncertainty and climate of fear".

    NIKI: "Deposits - How secure they are - The truth about the 100,000 euros 'umbrella' - What games are being played with our money".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE 19th congress: Popular alliance for power - Congress winds up with election of new Central Committee".

    TO VIMA: "What Schaeuble (German finance minister) fears - The truth about the German war reparations - Today's value of the 13.5 million gold pounds of the occupation loan - The behind-the-scenes on the banks".

    VRADYNI: "Auxiliary pensions - The big reversals - German reparations - Moral vindication for Greece sought".

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