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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-05-14

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

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

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 Issue No: 4358

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras satisfied with Greek economy's course
  • [02] SEV president Daskalopoulos addresses general assembly
  • [03] Tsipras launches twin attack on SEV, government
  • [04] SEV business leader welcomes transformation, calls for political will to exit crisis
  • [05] Main opposition leader is 'arrogant' and 'delusional', gov't spokesman
  • [06] PM Samaras and cabinet members gearing up for China trip May 15-19
  • [07] PM Samaras: Everyone must help prevent, fight summer fires
  • [08] PM Samaras welcomes Germany's Hanns Seidel Foundation in Greece
  • [09] Exams will go ahead, spokesman says, as teachers start getting civil mobilisation papers
  • [10] DIM.AR calls for a dialogue between public high school teachers and government
  • [11] Teachers' union resorts to Council of State over mobilisation orders
  • [12] Council of State refuses teachers' request; declines temporary block of 'back-to-work' order
  • [13] KKE leader criticises gov't over education, state of social security
  • [14] Tsipras: Democracy the first victim of Memorandum
  • [15] National interest decisive in founding mosque in Athens, Foreign Minister says
  • [16] FM Avramopoulos meets American Hellenic Institute's Larigakis
  • [17] Interior Minister Stylianidis receives visiting Bavarian delegation
  • [18] PASOK leader meets with Archbishop Ieronymos
  • [19] PASOK party leader holds meeting with ADEDY board
  • [20] Parliament president to visit Canada
  • [21] Former Cypriot minister to face charges in Tsohatzopoulos armaments' case
  • [22] KKE on the bomb attack at the Turkish-Syrian border
  • [23] Civil servants on strike Tuesday, work stoppage on Thurday
  • [24] Commission praises Greek progress, says more measures needed in 2015-2016
  • [25] Greek Finance ministry response to Commission report
  • [26] Eurogroup approves dual tranche of rescue loan to Greece
  • [27] Finmin Stournaras says atmosphere for Greece in Eurogroup 'better than ever'
  • [28] Development minister on motorways, financing of country's international trade
  • [29] Greek consumer confidence shows signs of recovery, Nielsen report
  • [30] Greece, Cyprus, Malta maritime policy meeting focuses on cooperation
  • [31] Xanthi must become tourist destination, Macedonia-Thrace minister stresses
  • [32] Family benefit should be maintained, business leader
  • [33] Piraeus Bank announces bond buy back programe
  • [34] Alumil announces deal with Turkish company
  • [35] Pfizer Hellas returned to profitability in 2012
  • [36] Foreign investors cut participation in ASE's capitalization in April
  • [37] Greek stocks end sharply up
  • [38] Greek bond market closing report
  • [39] ADEX closing report
  • [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [41] Greek, Turkish authorities join forces in a fight against mosquitoes
  • [42] Finance ministry covers cost of uninsured children's vaccinations
  • [43] Three female demonstrators in Halkidiki mining area face prosecutor
  • [44] Citizen Protection Minister visits injured police officer in hospital
  • [45] Dellatolas' newspaper '6 Meres' to fold
  • [46] Three Greeks held in Cyprus occupied territories released unharmed
  • [47] Migrant trafficking ring members arrested
  • [48] SYRIZA offices firebombed in Dafni
  • [49] Afghan man arrested for attempt to travel with fake passport
  • [50] Rainy on Tuesday
  • [51] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras satisfied with Greek economy's course

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, addressing the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises' (SEV) General Assembly on Monday evening, said he was very satisfied with the Greek economy's course and appeared certain that Monday's Eurogroup would announce the disbursement of the June tranche as well, as the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Troika of Greece's international lenders is expected to Greece in October for its next evaluation.

    According to Samaras, the climate is now very positive for Greece and the evaluation of the troika is very good resulting in Greece receiving the June tranche as well, while the creditors' representatives will come back in autumn.

    "We have already done a great deal in the past months and it is being unwrapped piece-by-piece," Samaras said, but stressed that the danger has not yet passed since the recession remains as welle as the high unemployment percentages.

    "We have not yet overcome the danger, we have not overcome the recession and unemployment. The country's image has changed, the psychology has changed, big structural changes are producing results, the control over our fiscal issues has been restored," he said and pointing out that the country is already achieving its targets and indeed things are going even better.

    Samaras said that his concern is for this course to be continued with the same rate and there be no slackening.

    "I do not want us to do better than what they are estimating. I want us to do much better than what they imagine. I want us to go even more ahead because we can," he said mentioning as an example the strengthenig of liquidity that will result from the recapitalization of banks, the disbursement of the funds of National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) and the payment of the strate's overdue debts.

    Referring to changes in the public sector, the prime minister said "we are breaking taboos with the removal of the unsuitable employees".

    "Have you ever seen so much changing is such little time. Words are good, radical action is what is difficult", he said presenting his plan for Greece's growth.

    "Greece will return to prosperity through sustainable growth with dignity in every direction," he said, setting his priorities which are investments with the aim of reducing unemployment, economic and political stability and reforms.

    The prime minister criticised trade union practices, terming the strike in the nationwide examinations' period "unacceptable and repulsive".

    Samaras stressed that "it is not permissible and trade union practices cannot blow up everything because it was requested of them to work two more hours".

    "Unitil today trade unions closed companies and blocked ports. All must realise, that these are images from yesterday's Greece. No one deserves such a plight," he added.

    Samaras also referred to the three-party government's work which, as he said, changed in a short period of time what was not changing in Greece for years.

    [02] SEV president Daskalopoulos addresses general assembly

    Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos, addressing the general assembly's Monday afternoon event, proposed direct negotiating with Brussels on the revision of the adjustment programme with growth terms, the abolition of permanent status in the public sector and the unified salary scale and the assignment to the private sector of functions of the state, such as the management of ESPA, the payment of public sector debts, etc.

    Daskalopoulos said he is "reservedly pessimistic" over the country's overall course but pointed out that lately there are encouraging news and favourable indications.

    "The danger for the country has decreased. Foreign and local investors are showing interest. Certain reforms are going ahead and are yielding results. Good comments for Greece interna-tionally have become the rule," he said.

    "I am not underestimating the great efforts that the present government is making and the prime minister personally. But I also do not want to underestimate the difficulties that are still waiting for us. We need optimism but hasty optimism can have the opposite results when the problems are so big," he added.

    Addressing the morning session of the general assembly, Daskalopoulos said that Greece must execute its 2013 budget correctly and present a primary surplus if it wants a further reduction of its public debt in the official sector.

    He noted that achieving these goals will not be an easy task.

    In his address, Daskalopoulos said that SEV was "an equal partner of the political system" and not just a spectator, but an active player in developments of the country's public life. "We are not a union. We are the leading class of society. We are not the financial advisors of every government. We are the force of progress and of policy-making. We are not a limited-responsibility group. We are a managing team with a national voice and a role that talks directly with society. There cannot be a really modern Greece without a really modern business class," he said.

    [03] Tsipras launches twin attack on SEV, government

    In a twin attack on the government and the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) on Monday, main opposition SYRIZA-EKM leader Alexis Tsipras criticised the former for attempting to deceive the Greek people and SEV's industrialists for being absent from negotiations for the National General Collective Labour Agreement.

    "Your absence from the negotiations for the National General Collective Labour agreement is unjustifiable. Refusing discussion on setting the wages and terms of employment does not help anyone," SYRIZA-EKM's leader said. "It does not contribute to growth, it deepens the division," he added and urged SEV to reconsider.

    Speaking at SEV's annual general assembly, Tsipras stressed that the country was facing an unprecedented economic crisis that was taking on the dimensions of a national tragedy and humanitarian crisis. "We will not escape this crisis unless we all realise that we cannot continue to operate as we did before," he emphasised.

    Pointing out that the country needs deep, radical changes on all levels to avoid complete disaster, Tsipras underlined that all sides had a responsibility toward the country and the generations to come, including political parties and productive forces.

    Tsipras said that SYRIZA-EKM wants to rebuild the economy, society and country that others were pulling apart and that this could not be done with a "pitifully paid labour force, with ragged and insecure workers, with millions of unemployed or those subjugated in demolished labour relations."

    Commenting on the government's position and its claim that Greece was now on the road toward recovery, the main opposition leader dismissed the claim as outright myth. "We are living in a time of myth. The last stage of the memorandum policies appears to be that of mythology," he quipped.

    "It is a myth that we are reaching the end of the tunnel, a myth that growth is beginning, a myth that unemployment is falling off, a myth that the sacrifices are accepted by society, a myth that the government represents political stability and a myth that everything, in general, is changing for the better," he underlined.

    He speculated that the "strategy of mythology" might be linked to plans for early elections but noted that it mainly expressed the problems faced by the government and its policies. Lies, deception and distortion were the resort of "autocratic, corrupt and chiefly failed" regimes, he added.

    He urged the government and especially the prime minister to get to grips with reality and said that a policy of deceiving society in order to make it through the month "is not a strategic plan for the next day of a troubled country" nor could popular reaction be constantly suppressed with policies like civil mobilisation, which "were reminiscent of dictatorships".

    Presenting SYRIZA-EKM's plan for the "post-Memorandum era", he said this included five immediate initiatives to restore economic and social stability, including the cancellation of the austerity memorandums and their replacement by a national plan passed by Parliament. He also outlined plans for "socially just and viable" fiscal stabilisation, a stable labour relations and tax framework, a national plan against unemployment and the restoration of social protection mechanism.

    He also underlined SYRIZA-EKM's intention to put an end to the "fake entrepreneurship of privatisations, on which state-supported corruption thrives" and instead support healthy private enterprise.

    SYRIZA-EKM's leader said these goals will be achieved through public administration reform, fighting corruption and graft and reorienting available public policy tools, with new productive activities in regional planning.

    [04] SEV business leader welcomes transformation, calls for political will to exit crisis

    Bringing change is not the prerogative of a single political force, Hellenic Federation of Enterprises Chairman Dimitris Daskalopoulos said, addressing main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras at the federation's annual meeting on Monday.

    "The call for change today is not the monopoly of any agency," Daskalopoulos said. "It is the responsibility of the Right if it wants to modernise itself and of the Left if it truly wants to govern."

    In his speech, the businessman quoted Karl Marx on production and industry being expressions of man's most fundamental powers, and on "not being philosophers, to limit ourselves just to interpreting the state Greece has entered, [but] to transforming it out of necessity."

    SEV's chairman said SYRIZA's radicality was useful and welcome, as Greece needs radical solutions, and noted that it was not necessary for SEV and the party to agree on everything, yet it was obligatory to be able to discuss everything. He questioned why the Left supported the continuing existence of practically useless agencies, which served petty political motives. Efficiency, which is not considered of political and social value in the traditional view of the Left, is the most sought-after quality in a competitive economy, he said.

    Speaking of developments in the market, Daskalopoulos warned that even the most resilient production units are beginning to buckle under the weight of taxes, the cost of electricity and energy, reduced demand and inexistent liquidity, while 60 pct of young people have no future in the labour market. The troika of Greece's lenders, he pointed out, "is under examination for mistakes, wrong targets and untenable idee fixes. But we did not do what had to be done, either. We limited ourselves to playing the role of unwilling accountants or willing prosecutors of memorandum policies, and this is what we are paying for today."

    He asserted however that Europe was seeing an increse in protest to the German austerity recipe, which they realised brought unbearable social cost and unstated political repercussions, and he reiterated his proposal for the formulation of a national reconstruction schedule that would help Greece exit the crisis on the basis of development and investments.

    [05] Main opposition leader is 'arrogant' and 'delusional', gov't spokesman

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou criticised main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday after the latter's comments at a radio interview and at the annual meeting of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV), calling him "arrogant" and "delusional".

    "In his arrogant delirium, Tsipras is conjuring 'streets of social struggle', he directly casts doubt on democracy by saying 'we have a full understanding of the limited opportunities we have to overturn things by the book' and sees himself in the role of a new Lenin," Kedikoglou said.

    "Apparently, the 'social struggle' he is talking about consists of murderous attacks like those in Halkidiki," he said, referring to recent incidents at the gold mine area in the north, "and the blackmailing practices of union members who gamble with the studiousness and anxiety of students." He added, "Tsipras should be aware that the totalitarian states he is fantasising about will remain just there - in his fantasies."

    [06] PM Samaras and cabinet members gearing up for China trip May 15-19

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and members of his cabinet made final preparations for an official visit to China starting Wednesday, as the prospect of extending bilateral cooperation with major agreements in the leading sectors of shipping and tourism, and in the turning the main port of Piraeus into a major hub of commerce in Europe with the help of China-based container company COSCO, will be on the agenda.

    Samaras is visiting China on invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, and his visit will conclude on May 19.

    He will be accompanied on his visit to Beijing and Shanghai by a delegation of 50 Greek business people and several ministers, including those of foreign affairs (Dimitris Avramopoulos), tourism (Olga Kefalogianni), shipping (Costis Moussouroulis), the deputy ministers of development (Notis Mitarakis) and foreign affairs (Dimitris Kourkoulas), the premier's diplomatic attache Stavros Papastavrou, Minister of State Chrysanthos Lazaridis and the head of his press office George Mouroutis.

    According to Chinese Ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen, who gave a press conference on Thursday, the visit - one of the first by a Western leader after the assumption of duties by the new Chinese government in March - is based on a firm foundation of good relations between the two countries and will give a renewed push to bilateral relations.

    The ambassador noted that despite the crisis bilateral trade exceeds 4 billion dollars and said the export of Greek products to China was promising, especially in in olive oil, Kastoria furs, marble and marble products while he also called on Greek tourism business owners to intensify their efforts and take advantage of the huge and developing market of Chinese tourists.

    Stressing the importance of COSCO's investment at the Port of Piraeus, he called it a "win-win" agreement, and noted the company's social and philanthropic contributions to soup kitchens and heating of schools. The agreement between state-owned TrainOSE and US-based Hewlett Packard (which has improved facilities and resulted in the construction of a transport rail line to the port, cutting down on delivery time to European and Asian markets) will be joined by three more multinational agreements currently in progress, which he said, "will give Piraeus back its role of major transitional centre in the Mediterranean."

    The agenda of Samaras' visit is also expected to include discussion on the shipping sector, as the powerful Greek shipping sector has invested heavily in the Chinese shipbuilding sector, while Greek ships are being used to transport trade goods to China.

    Samaras' schedule includes inaugurating the screenings of a series of three episodes of "Renowned Greece", a documentary made by Chinese state television (CCTV)on Greece and addressing the World Cultural Forum (in Taihu), which aims at strengthening international cooperation in creating an ecological world and will be held in Hang Chow.

    The Greek premier's schedule includes a visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Chinese Wall and a business visit to Shanghai.

    [07] PM Samaras: Everyone must help prevent, fight summer fires

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday called on all Greeks to help fight summer fires, adding that he will be "very strict" if he finds lapses in government, both central and local, in dealing with the problem.

    Following a government-wide meeting earlier in the day - the third since January - on Greece's summer blight, the premier said, "We are facing a difficult and hot summer ahead, but it also happens to be a very fruitful tourist season. We are expecting more than 17 million tourists, from all countries, who have selected Greece as their destination."

    Their choice to vacation in Greece, a result of hard preparations and a vote of confidence in Greece is also "a great relief to our economy," and said that "The state has prepared ahead of time to deal with possible fires in Greece that for years have been destroying our natural wealth and undermine our economy."

    Samaras warned that "I will personally be very strict, if I discover any weakness or inactivity by central and local authorities in preventing and dealing with fires."

    Appealing to Greeks, he said, "I ask of citizens and every one individually to help in protecting our natural wealth and protect our common home. In a few days, the Civil Protection Secretariat will initiate a campaign for citizens on how they can contribute fundamentally in the prevention and fighting of fires. The state has an obligation and will carry out its duty, and I am sure that the same will happen with every one of you."

    Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias warned that this summer season was expected to be especially difficult in terms of fire (because of expected high temperatures) and said his ministry will be coordinating all related fire-fighting forces, by order of the premier. "We want a calm summer, and the armed forces will always be at the ready," he added.

    [08] PM Samaras welcomes Germany's Hanns Seidel Foundation in Greece

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday evening addressed the inauguration in Greece of Germany's Hanns Seidel Foundation, saying that the significant spiritual centre's influence expands far beyond Germany and its founding Christian Social Union (CSU).

    Samaras took the opportunity to welcome in the audience CSU eurodeputy Makcus Ferber, "an old friend of mine, together with whom we have given several battles, especially in the Committee on Budgets of the European Union."

    The Greek premier said that that the presence of the Siedel institution in Greece had a dual meaning, a real and a symbolic meaning.

    Referring to Greece, Samaras said that Greeks are starting to regain the idea of "who they are" and their European perspective. "All the ideals that have marked the best moments in our history are now being revived amidst the recent crisis and form the springboard to overcome the crisis. At the same time, they help Europe to overcome the crisis."

    Greece has managed to reverse its downward course through sacrifices, showing Europe that it can overcome its problems, the premier said.

    "A year ago Greece was an example to be avoided. Today the perceived success of Greece, the so-called Greek success story, is becoming a symbol of renewed European dynamics," Samaras noted.

    [09] Exams will go ahead, spokesman says, as teachers start getting civil mobilisation papers

    The national examinations for university entrance for high school students, starting on May 17, will "go ahead normally and on time," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said Monday, referring to the ongoing controversy between teachers and the government.

    His comments came as the government started handing out civil mobilisation papers to about 85,000 teachers, in force as of Wednesday, May 15.

    The threat to strike "threatens the most sensitive segment of society, the 100,000 students that are sitting for their first and most important exams of their lives," Kedikoglou told private radio Vima station. "Who are these teachers, who, at the most critical educational moment choose to see how much more they can gain?" he added.

    "The examinations will be carried out normally and on time. We did whatever we could and we hope the tension de-escalates so we can sit down and see the real issues in education: Are we proud of the quality of education we are offering our children? Of the language they speak? The history they know? I think the Greek we were learning in our generation in school were better than what children are being taught today," he added.

    The high school teachers' main union (OLME), meanwhile, are planning to resort to the Council of State, requesting that the order for civil mobilisation the government has ordered as of Monday (today). They are also calling on the umbrella unions of ADEDY (civil servants) and GSEE (private sector) to call a strike for the first scheduled day of examinations, on Friday, May 17, to protest "the government's authoritarianism and transgression of the constitutionally-guaranteed right to strike.'

    OLME has planned a protest rally for 7:00 p.m. on Monday outside the federation's offices in central Athens.

    [10] DIM.AR calls for a dialogue between public high school teachers and government

    Democratic Left (DIM.AR), a junior partner in the coalition government, on Monday charged that the adoption of an extreme position by OLME, the union representing state high school teachers, by calling a strike during the nationwide university entrance exams, combined with the government decision to issue a "preventive back-to-work" order, create a damaging tension for students and their families.

    DIM.AR repeated that it is against a teachers' strike during the nationwide exams and that it has tabled alternative proposals in response to the positions of the education ministry and OLME.

    DIM.AR called on the government and OLME trade union leaders to enter a dialogue and reach a consensus after the exams are completed.

    [11] Teachers' union resorts to Council of State over mobilisation orders

    The high school teachers' main union (OLME) filed for an annulment of government's order for secondary education teachers' civil mobilisation with the Council of State, the supreme administrative court of Greece, it was announced on Monday.

    The filing comes on the same day civil mobilisation papers started being handed out to teachers. The mobilisation goes into effect on Wednesday, before the national examinations for university entrance start for high school students on Friday, and were handed out by the government after teachers threatened to strike over unmet demands.

    [12] Council of State refuses teachers' request; declines temporary block of 'back-to-work' order

    The Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court, on Monday declined a request to temporarily suspend a civil mobilisation order forcing teachers back to work, filed by the teachers' union federation OLME. The government issued the civil mobilisation order forcing highschool teachers to work and requisitioning school buildings after teachers announced plans to strike from May 17, when nationwide university entrance examinations are due to begin.

    OLME's main case against the government's order is due to be discussed by the Council of State plenum on June 7. The union federation's main argument is that the civil mobilisation of teachers is unconstitutional, a violation of the freedom for trade union action and rights and violates the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Social Charter, as well as international labour laws on requisitioning personal services in times of peace, since there is no 'emergency' as required by legislation for civil mobilisation.

    The government has justified the decision to proceed with a civil mobilisation by claiming that a strike during the period of the examinations involves "major disruption of the social and economic life of the country and the threat of serious danger for public order and the health of exam candidates."

    [13] KKE leader criticises gov't over education, state of social security

    The implementation of the "dogma of 'law and order' to secondary education teachers before they even start striking is the pinnacle of authoritarianism," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Monday during an address to social security funds employees, putting the blame on the government for the prevailing conditions in education.

    Koutsoumbas said that KKE has noted that the unions' movement follows its own procedures, in which the state has no right to intervene. He added that the movement has the power to select whatever means of struggle it wants in order to safeguard the massive and unified action.

    He also referred to proposals the KKE-affiliated labour organisation PAME had made to the high school teachers' union, OLME, that aimed to safeguard their the struggle from petty politics and opportunism. He added that the focus of the debate should be the substance of education, and called for participation in PAME's rallies in Athens and throughout Greece.

    Referring to the state and future of the social security system, Koutsoumbas said it is "at a danger point" and underlined that the attack against social security has not been completed but will intensify in the next period under the pretext of the "social security funds' viability".

    He said an alarm should be sounded about the issue and underlined that the KKE will do whatever possible in Parliament and at the labour-popular movement level. Social security is not only a pension issue, he warned, but refers to present social needs overall. As wealth is produced by labourers, it is to that segment of society it should be returned, he said.

    [14] Tsipras: Democracy the first victim of Memorandum

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday called the government "dangerous" over its decision to issue a civil mobilisation order in effect Monday (today), and said that "democracy is the first victim of the Memorandum," referring to the terms under which Greece received its bailout loan.

    In comments to private radio "Sto kokkino", Tsipras said that the government was dangerous for democracy because it wanted to impose laws that violate democracy and that the only way the to implement its policy is to restrain democracy.

    The government said Tsipras is trying to show its might while if SYRIZA were in power it would cancel the implementation of the measures and start a debate with the teachers. Government's sense of arrogance will lead it to disaster, warned Tsipras.

    At a query on what will follow the denounce of the memorandum, Tsipras said that "nothing will be the same in the country when the Memorandum ends".

    [15] National interest decisive in founding mosque in Athens, Foreign Minister says

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos outlined the government's plans to convert an old naval base building in the Votanikos area of central Athens into a mosque with the capacity of house 350 people, in a letter read out in Parliament. The minister sent the document in reply to a question tabled by independent MP Nikos Nikolopoulos.

    In the letter, which was forwarded to Parliament on May 8, Avramopoulos also underlined that the government's actions were fully transparent and not dictated by expediency.

    He clarified that the ministry of development, infrastructure, transport & networks will be responsible for the construction of the project and the conversion of adjacent buildings into auxiliary facilities, such as lavatories. He also underlined that a minaret will not be built to ensure that the whole construction will be in harmony with the surroundings.

    "The state authorities have pondered on the issue of the mosque construction for some time in order to find the best possible solution while preserving domestic balance and security. At the same time, it is a long-standing demand of the Muslims living in Greece," Avramopoulos said.

    The foreign minister noted that the government's actions are dictated by national interest and the decision to found a mosque in Athens is based on national interest.

    He also pointed out that the relevant legislation concerning the project (Law No 4014/2011) was passed in parliament on Sept. 7, 2011.

    [16] FM Avramopoulos meets American Hellenic Institute's Larigakis

    The "useful role played by the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) in the United States, raising public and official awareness on Greek affairs," was emphasized by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos after his meeting Monday with the president of AHI Nick Larigakis and other members of the institute's Board of Directors.

    Avramopoulos pointed out in particular the fact that the Institute serves as a contributor to the improvement of relations between Greece and the US, promoting a "new image of the country beyond and after the economic crisis."

    Larigakis on his part said that "for 39 years, based in Washington, the AHI has been doing its best to promote national interests, such as Macedonia, the Aegean, Cyprus and Greek-Turkish relations," through contacts with the American Congress, the White House and the State Department. He assured the Greek leadership that AHI will continue to work on upgrading relations between Greece and the US.

    [17] Interior Minister Stylianidis receives visiting Bavarian delegation

    Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday met with a visiting 10-member delegation representing the European Affairs Committee of the state of Bavaria in Germany.

    The meeting, which was held in the presence of German Ambassador to Athens Wolfgang Dold, focused on bilateral issues concerning local administration, partnerships of Greek and German local administration organizations, city twinning, as well as potential for cooperation and the exchange of know-how.

    [18] PASOK leader meets with Archbishop Ieronymos

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos met on Monday with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece at the Petrakis monastery (Moni Petraki), in the Evangelismos hospital area of Athens.

    "Our mission is to assist the people in these difficult times and to support them psycologically, to ask them to have patience and keep trying; to remain united instead of panicking to retain our optimism and overcome the crisis, just as we have done many times in this country's history," said Ieronymos after the meeting.

    On his part, Venizelos stated that "given that the Church's basic mission is people's salvation, it is very important that a message of optimism be sent" adding that "our country, our society that has overpassed and is still going through so many difficulties; it has the need of positive messages".

    Moreover he said that PASOK, as a junior member of the ruling coalition, "will always operate as a factor of stability, in order to find solutions to the state-church relations and daily problems of people."

    Venizelos noted that his discussions with the Archbishop were always very interesting and critical because the prelate is "abreast of the news, with love, modesty and discreetness," and this is the reason of existence and role of the Church, which is "neither a branch of the government, nor a simple role is neither that of a state's annexe nor of a simple non-governmental organisation, but a holy organisation."

    [19] PASOK party leader holds meeting with ADEDY board

    PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos expressed his satisfaction since agreement was reached in his meeting with the board of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on Monday on the issue of the smooth holding of the nationwide examinations.

    The PASOK leader reiterated that "the overwhelming majority of civil servants, with a few exceptions, carry out their duty with a sense of honour and effectively, consciously defending the general interest and serving the citizen and the country's development targets and that only through the evaluation of services, structures and people can a reformist breath be given to the state."

    [20] Parliament president to visit Canada

    MONTREAL (ANA-MPA - I. Fragoulis)

    Greek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis is to carry out a visit to Canada from May 27 until June 1, in response to an official invitation from his counterparts in the Canadian Senate and Canadian House of Commons.

    During the visit, he is to meet House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer and Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, as well as the chairman and members of the Parliamentary Greece-Canada Friendship Group. He is also scheduled to meet representatives of the Ontario Legislative Assembly and the Quebec National Assembly and the Greek-Canadian communities in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.

    [21] Former Cypriot minister to face charges in Tsohatzopoulos armaments' case

    Former Cypriot interior minister Dinos Michaelides and his son Michael are to face money-laundering charges in connection with the case against former Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, currently on trial for money laundering and taking kickbacks to sign armaments' contracts, it was announced on Monday.

    Michaelides and his son have been summoned to testify before the examining magistrates investigating the Tsohatzopoulos case in connection with an illegal fee of about 10 million dollars that they allegedly moved, with Tsohatzopoulos as the final recipient, for the purchase of the TOR M-1 anti-missile system.

    According to the magistrates, an offshore company called Beeston was found to have transferred funds to a joint account owned by Michael Michaelidis and his father in Cyprus.

    The company's records show that it received millions from the currently wanted Syrian businessman Fouad Al Zayat, the owner of the offshore firm Drumillan, which played a key role in the movement of illegal funds for the purchase of the TOR M-1 missile system.

    Drumillan's representative was the business man Vlassis Kabouroglou, who was found dead in Jakarta in October 2012. The 10 million dollars were then traced to Michaelides' account in Cyprus. Seven million dollars appear to originate from Beeston, while the rest were sent by Fouad Al Zayat.

    The magistrates will act through the foreign ministry in order to summon the former Cypriot minister, while the summons for his son Michael will be sent directly because he also has Greek nationality.

    The former Cypriot minister has also featured in evidence given to the magistrate by Tsohatzopoulos' cousin and long-time associate Nikos Zigras, whom Michaelides has sued. According to Zigras, the former Cypriot minister, Kabouroglou and Al Zayat were key players in the Tsohatzopoulos scandal. Among others, Zigras claimed that the Cypriot politician brought large sums of money into Greece at least four times, hidden in his luggage, and also transported all the cheques sent by Al Zayat and Kabouroglou.

    [22] KKE on the bomb attack at the Turkish-Syrian border

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday issued a statement on "the recent bomb attack in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, near the borders with Syria, that killed over 46 people and injured dozens," noting that "it is an act that heightens tensions in the already volatile region."

    According to KKE, "it is certain that the move creates an atmosphere that favours an imperialist intervention in Syria".

    "In any case, it is confirmed daily that the backing of the opposition and its supply with new armaments, on the basis of allegations concerning the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government or excuses like the bomb attack, pave the way for a general attack on Syria in which the United States, NATO and the European Union will be involved in collaboration with Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia," KKE stressed.

    The KKE called on the Greek people to "condemn this imperialist intervention and demand our country's disengagement from such plans."

    [23] Civil servants on strike Tuesday, work stoppage on Thurday

    The umbrella union of civil servants (ADEDY) is calling for a national strike in the public sector for Tuesday, May 14, and a rally at Propylaia, central Athens, at 10:00 a.m. the same day, in support of teachers, who are being handed out mobilisation papers by the government prior to national examinations starting Friday.

    In an announcement, ADEDY also called for work stoppages in the civil sector on Thursday, from 12:00 to the end of the working day. It will hold this stoppage in conjunction with the umbrella union GSEE, which will do the same in the private sector and public utility firms. There will be another rally, at 12:30 p.m. on Klafthmonos Square, it said.

    Financial News

    [24] Commission praises Greek progress, says more measures needed in 2015-2016

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    Greece has taken effective action to correct its excessive fiscal deficit, the European Commission said in a report released on Monday. The report noted that Greece managed to improve its structural balance in the period 2010-2012 by more than 10 percentage points -which was recommended by the European Council for the period 2009-2014.

    It also stressed that Greece cut its structural deficit by 13.5 percentage points, from 14.8 pct in 2009 to 1.3 pct in 2012, while its fiscal deficit fell from 15.6 pct of GDP in 2009 to 6.3 pct in 2012. Greece also successfully implemented measures to stabilize its public finances for the period 2013-2014. The state budget, adopted in November 11, 2012, included a package of additional measures worth 9.2 billion euros, or 5 pct of GDP, aimed at reducing a primary budget deficit in 2013. These measures are included in a consolidation programe worth 13.5 billion euros for the period 2013 and 2014.

    The Commission noted that the biggest part of this package of fiscal measures has been largely implemented. The report said that the goals for primary surplus should remain at 0.0 pct of GDP this year, 1.5 pct in 2014, 3.0 pct in 2015 and 4.5 pct in 2016.

    The European Commission noted that despite progress made in the fiscal sector and implementation of reforms, there still were risks which could affect fiscal goals in the future. An economic recovery faces hurdles from a fiscal consolidation effort and a slow growth in the Eurozone. At the same time, reforms in key-sectors, such as taxation and public administration could face resistance from vested interests, while further progress in the reform of markets of product and services will be needed.

    The Commission stressed it was important to strictly adhere to the agreed policy which will reduce uncertainties and strengthen confidence, contributing in containing the effects of a recession in the society and in unemployment. Conditions to increase investments could improve after the recapitalization of banks, through foreign capital flows and larger absorption of community funds.

    The report noted that the prospects for a sustainable public debt remained unchanged compared with December 2012 as there has not been any significant changes in the macro-economic scenario. The public debt is projected to fall below 160 pct of GDP in 2016 on the precondition that an economic adjustment programe was strictly implemented.

    The European Commission said that fiscal prospects beyond 2014 remained uncertain and will largely depend on the strength of economic recovery and progress made in boosting tax administration and social funds' managements.

    The report noted that additional measures up to 1.8 pct of GDP in 2015 and 2.2 pct of GDP in 2016 will be needed to achieve the goals of primary budget surplus.

    [25] Greek Finance ministry response to Commission report

    Greece will cover any possible fiscal gap in the period 2015-2016 from the economy's improved performance in the 2013-2014 period, the Finance ministry said on Monday.

    Ministry officials, responding to a report released by the European Commission -which said that additional measures equaling 1.8 pct of GDP in 2015 and 2.2 pct of GDP in 2016 would be needed to achieve ambitious fiscal targets of 2015 and 2016- said that a memorandum of understanding recently updated, did not have any reference on specific sum of new measures for the period 2015-2016. On the contrary, they said, the memorandum has made clear reference to better-than-expected performances of the country, while they noted that according to a medium-term fiscal strategy framework -recently ratified by Parliament- any possible fiscal gap in the period 2015-2016 was expected to be covered by the economy's better performance in the 2013-2014 period.

    [26] Eurogroup approves dual tranche of rescue loan to Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MNA/M.Aroni)

    The Eurogroup on Monday afternoon endorsed the disbursement of two tranches of financial aid to Greece, totaling 7.5 billion euros, according to reports.

    More specifically, according to the same sources, the finance ministers of the eurozone who are meeting here, agreed on the disbursement of May and June's tranches amounting to 4.2 billion euros and 3.3 billion euros, respectively.

    [27] Finmin Stournaras says atmosphere for Greece in Eurogroup 'better than ever'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MNA/M. Aroni)

    "Greece's economy is entering a new phase," Finance minister Yannis Stournaras said here on Monday evening commenting on the initial approval by Eurogroup of a dual tranche of financial aid to Greece, totaling 7.5 billion euros, for the months of May and June.

    Stournaras noted that the first tranche of May, of 4.2 billion euros will be disbursed within the next few days, while the next tranche of June, of 3.3 billion euros, was expected to be released in June, provided that Greece fulfilled certain prerequisites associated with the liberalization of the energy market, the implementation of legislation on corruption and the bill for indebted households.

    Commenting on Eurogroup's decision, Stournaras said "it is clearly a confirmation that Greece is doing well", adding however that this did not mean that "we should rest assured."

    The finance minister noted that the atmosphere in Monday's Eurogroup meeting was "dithyrambic" for Greece and "better than ever."

    Asked about a European Commission report released earlier on Monday, according to which additional fiscal measures accounting for 1.8% of GDP in 2015 and 2.2% of GDP in 2016 may be necessary, Stournaras stressed that such measures will not be lowering wages and pensions, but instead the entire effort will focus on cracking down on tax evasion.

    He noted however that such measures will depend on the rate of economic growth, which he said was not predictable.

    Similarly, EU Commissioner for economic affairs Olli Rehn said developments will depend on Greece's rate of growth in 2015 and 2016 and that any predictions at this time for additional measures was premature.

    [28] Development minister on motorways, financing of country's international trade

    Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, speaking at the general assembly of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV) on Monday, said that

    The revised contracts for Greece's motorway projects will be submitted to the European Commission for approval in a the next few days, and will then be tabled to the Greek Parliament for ratification, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, said on Monday.

    Speaking at the general assembly of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV), Hatzidakis added that in the same timeframe an agreement will be signed between commercial banks and the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the financing of the country's international trade boosting programmes.

    "Projects that last year were by many considered to be defunct, are now commencing again and will create new jobs, as well as hopes that the Greek economy can survive," the minister said referring to the motorways.

    The agreement with EIB will facilitate considerably the country's import and export trade, as the recycling of capital amounting to 500 million euros will provide cover for letters of guarantee of Greek banks totalling 1.5 billion euros on an annual basis, Hatzidakis said.

    [29] Greek consumer confidence shows signs of recovery, Nielsen report

    Greek consumers remained very pessimistic and worried over their job security and the country' s finances despite a recovery in consumer confidence index in the first quarter of 2013, Nielsen said in its latest report on Monday.

    The global consumer confidence index rose slightly in the January-March period, rising by two points to 93. Greece is the second most pessimistic country on the planet, after Portugal, as the consumer confidence index rose by five points to 40 in the first three months of 2013. However, nine out of 10 consumers still believed that the country was in recession and eight out of 10 believed that the crisis will continue next year. Job security (39 pct) and the state of the economy (37 pct) remained the biggest concerns of Greek consumers, although these rates were lower compared with the previous six-month period. A 35 pct of Greek consumers said their surplus cash, after covering their basic needs, was spent on covering bank loans, credit cards and other debt, while another 35 pct of consumers said they had no money left.

    Purchasing habits continued a trend of changing for one more quarter, with the number of Greek consumers cutting their outdoor entertainment (75 pct) and using cheaper consumer products (72 pct) up 5 percentage points compared with the previous quarter.

    According to Nielsen's global consumer confidence index, ratings above 100 indicate a optimistic view, while below 100 pessimistic views.

    The most optimistic geographical region of the planet was Asia/Pacific, once again, while Europe remained the most pessimistic continent of the plant.

    [30] Greece, Cyprus, Malta maritime policy meeting focuses on cooperation

    China is seen as a strategic partner in Europe and Greece, and interest in mutual investments is increasingly high, Shipping and Aegean Minister Costis?Mousouroulis said on Monday after the end of a working meeting on maritime policy issues with Cyprus' minister of Communications and Works Tasos Mitsopoulos and Malta's minister for Infrastructure and Transport Joe Mizzi.

    Relations between Greece and China have been developed in a number of areas, particularly in sea transports and ports, Mousouroulis said after briefing his counterparts on maritime transport in view of the EU-China summit to be held in Greece in October.

    Referring to the meeting, the Greek minister said that as the three countries share common positions on key policies relating to EU maritime affairs, it looked into ways to achieve cooperation in various areas, especially in view of Greece's presidency of the EU in the first semester of 2014.

    "We had the opportunity to exchange very constructive views on issues of common interest, as we face common challenges given the fact that the three respective countries have the largest commercial fleets in Europe," said Mitsopoulos.

    Mizzi remarked that the meeting "proved the three countries are moving in the same direction, since all three have especially large ship registers... Our discussion today proved that we share a number of common points of interest and that we can work together to attain our goals."

    [31] Xanthi must become tourist destination, Macedonia-Thrace minister stresses

    Visiting the northern Greek prefecture of Xanthi on Monday, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Thodoris Karaoglou highlighted the initiatives undertaken by the ministry and local organisations to put Xanthi on the world tourism map and establish the area as a local tourist attraction.

    He especially highlighted the role of the Xanthi Chamber of Commerce in this effort, while speaking at a seminar organised by the chamber, in which he stressed the importance of tourism as a pillar for growth in the region of Thrace in general.

    Karaoglou was carrying out a four-day tour of the region, as part of the ministry's drive to promote tourism and draw up an plan for the sector's growth in Macedonia and Thrace.

    "For many decades we were an unknown territory; now is the time for tourist development. We don't have time for more missed opportunities," he stressed.

    The minister said that Greece expected a bumper year for tourism in 2013, with more than 17 million tourists arriving and bringing smiles in tourist destinations like Kavala, Thassos and Samothrace.

    [32] Family benefit should be maintained, business leader

    Business owners of small- and medium-sized entreprises believe the marriage bonus for workers should be maintained, even if it needs to be lowered under the terms of the new National General Collective Labour Contract, said National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce Vassilis Krokidis on Monday.

    In a statement, Krokidis noted that "the marriage benefit was initially introduced to Greek salaries in 1976 in order to safeguard a series of social rights. Despite the fact that it refers only to individual labourers, in reality it helps protect and promote a major social instituition, the family," the business leader said.

    Moreover, Korkidis added that the family status benefit is not a classic personal and financial right, but a 'guarantee' of the institution of family, and its abolition from the Labour Contract would deal another blow to the 'sacred core of of the constitutionally-guaranteed rights."

    [33] Piraeus Bank announces bond buy back programe

    Piraeus Bank on Monday announced a bond buy back programe of hybrid securities worth 321 million euros. Barclays Bank Plc, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank will act as managers of the programe.

    A bank statement said the programe is part of a plan to strengthen the quality of the group's supervised capital, through raising its Core Tier I Capital up to 156 million euros. Piraeus Bank said investors will be able to liquidate their positions at prices significantly higher from those in the secondary market. The buy back programe is expected to last until May 24, 2013.

    [34] Alumil announces deal with Turkish company

    Alumil, a Greek-listed aluminium company- on Monday confirmed it has reached an agreement with Turkish company Has Metal to set up a production unit in Turkey. In a statement, Alumil said it will offer more details soon after it reached a formal agreement with the Turkish company.

    [35] Pfizer Hellas returned to profitability in 2012

    Pfizer Hellas on Monday reported earnings totaling 28 million euros in 2012 after reporting strong losses in 2011 and 2010.

    The company, which ranks second in the domestic pharmaceutical market with a market share of around 8.0 pct, said revenues fell to 346 million euros in 2012, from 446.1 million in the previous 12-month period, for a decline of 17.8 pct. Pfizer Hellas said gross earnings totaled 85.5 million euros, EBITDA were 20.2 million euros and pre-tax gains of 28 million euros, after pre-tax losses of 50.32 million euros in the previous year. The company said it had boosted in equity capital, probably with the contribution of the US group, to 129.7 million euros last year from 44.2 million euros. The company began operating in Greece in 1960 and currently employs more than 500 workers.

    [36] Foreign investors cut participation in ASE's capitalization in April

    Foreign investors cut their participation in the capitalization of the Athens Stock Exchange in April to 52.3 pct, from 53.2 pct in March, while Greek investors raised their share to 46.3 pct in April from 45.4 pct in March.

    Foreign investors accounted for 42.6 pct of all transactions made in the Greek market in April, down from 48.8 pct in March. The value of transactions totaled 1.322 billion euros in April, up 12.1 pct from the previous month and up a spectacular 171.6 pct compared with April 2012. The average daily value of transactions was 62.96 million euros in April, down from

    65.62 million in March, but sharply up compared with 28.64 million in April last year.

    The number of active investor codes rose to 45,120 in April, form 35,841 in March. The market's capitalization was 37.16 billion euros at the end of April, up 12.2 pct from March and up 33.3 pct from April last year.

    [37] Greek stocks end sharply up

    Greek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, boosted by a sharp increase in bank shares. Traders said aggressive moves in Greek bank shares by foreign investors and mainly hedge funds, expecting large returns after the completion of a bank recapitalization plan, combined with a wave of positive comments from abroad over the prospects of the Greek economy, sparked a rally of prices in the market. The composite index rose 2.98 pct to end at 1,065.22 points, near the day's highs of 1,067.78 points. An analysis by Emporiki Bank said that the next resistance levels of the market were 1,070, 1,110 and 1,165 points. Turnover remained a strong 105.28 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 4.58 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 3.19 pct. Alpha Bank was at the focus of investment activity, rising 28.25 pct, to 0.622 euros, after rising as much as 43.51 pct during the day. Eurobank (29.06 pct), Piraeus Bank (28.47 pct), National Bank (13.57 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (8.81 pct) also scored big gains among blue chip stocks. On the other hand, Coca Cola Hellenic (1.16 pct) and Folli Follie (0.63 pct) were the only ones to end lower. The Banks (20.72 pct), Financial Services (6.46 pct) and Raw Materials (5.24 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Food (1.11 pct) and Commerce (0.62 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 103 to 56 with another 19 issues unchanged. Eurobank (29.06 pct), Piraeus Bank (28.25 pct) and Alpha Bank (28.25 pct) were top gainers, while Technical Publications (20 pct), Nutriart (19.75 pct) and Spider (18.0 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +1.69%

    Commercial: -0.62%

    Construction: +2.82%

    Oil & Gas: +2.75%

    Personal & Household: +4.52%

    Raw Materials: +5.24%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.78%

    Technology: +2.87%

    Telecoms: +2.60%

    Banks: +20.72%

    Food & Beverages: -1.11%

    Health: +1.83%

    Utilities: +3.16%

    Financial Services: +6.46%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, OTE and Mytilineos.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.62

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.85

    Coca-Cola: 20.50

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.58

    National Bank of Greece: 1.13

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.34

    OPAP: 7.52

    OTE: 7.10

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.38

    Titan: 14.10

    [38] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 8.45 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.61 pct and the German Bund 1.36 pct. Turnover was a thin 5.0 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.49 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.40 pct, the six-month rate was 0.30 pct, the three-month rate was 0.20 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.

    [39] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE Large Cap was trading at a premium of 1.56 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 14.339 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,032 contracts worth 9.175 million euros, with 40,804 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,433 contracts worth 5.169 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (3,235), followed by MIG (1,463), OTE (2,246), PPC (970), OPAP (684), Hellenic Exchanges (237), Viohalco (276), Mytilineos (2,203), GEK (972), Ellaktor (202), Intralot (284), Terna Energy (100).

    [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.316

    Pound sterling 0.856

    Danish kroner 7.565

    Swedish kroner 8.698

    Japanese yen 133.99

    Swiss franc 1.259

    Norwegian kroner 7.646

    Canadian dollar 1.328

    Australian dollar 1.319

    General News

    [41] Greek, Turkish authorities join forces in a fight against mosquitoes

    Greek authorities of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace prefectures joined their Turkish counterparts in a meeting to deal with mosquito infestation on either side of Evros river, delineating the borders of the two countries, on Monday.

    The meeting, initiated by the Greek side, was held in Edirne (Adrianople) in Turkey and focused on sharing programmes and techniques of reducing the population of mosquitoes in the greater river basin. Both sides agreed to notify each other weekly of planned spraying and whenever there is any case of mosquito-carried infections on either side of the river.

    If a mosquito-carried disease breaks out, both sides agreed to hold simultaneous sprayings, focusing on holding centres for illegal immigrants and border stations of the two countries.

    The meeting was also attended by an entomologist, Alexandra Haskopoulou, representative of a company who won a bid for the spraying over Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

    [42] Finance ministry covers cost of uninsured children's vaccinations

    The government has allocated half a million euros for inoculating poor and uninsured children, the finance ministry announced on Monday.

    In its announcement, it said that Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras has earmarked the sum of 500,000 euros from the state budget to cover this year's cost of the vaccinations.

    The decision was reached in collaboration with Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos and aims at supporting vulnerable social groups and safeguarding public health.

    [43] Three female demonstrators in Halkidiki mining area face prosecutor

    Local people on Monday gathered outside the courthouse in Polygyros, Halkidiki, in northern Greece, in a show of support to three women arrested a day earlier, when tensions flared between protesters and police during a rally by residents objecting to the continuing operation of a Hellas Gold work site at Skouries mining area.

    The women, aged 25, 39, and 40, are accused of allegedly trying to stop one of the mining firm's vehicles from approaching the worksite.

    Residents of the nearby coastal town of Ierissos are continuing their protest on Monday by erecting roadblocks, leaving only one lane open for motorists.

    A female demonstrator and eight police officers were injured during Sunday's clashes with protesters in the Kakkavos forest near the Hellas Gold worksite. One of the officers was seriously injured and is still being treated in the military hospital of Thessaloniki.

    An investigation has been launched for the arrest of an unidentified individual who allegedly opened fire on police using a hunting gun.

    Meanwhile, a meeting planned for Monday between a Thessaloniki Court of Appeals prosecutor and representatives of the local population, the police and the Hellas Gold aimed at easing the tension, has been canceled, after Hellas Gold and police representatives stated they were unable to attend.

    [44] Citizen Protection Minister visits injured police officer in hospital

    Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday visited a 27-year-old police officer admitted to a Thessaloniki hospital for injuries sustained in clashes between protesters and police the previous day. The incident occured in Skouries, during a rally by residents objecting to the continued operation of a Hellas Gold work site in the Skouries mining area, in Halkidiki, northern Greece.

    Dendias was briefed by the attendant doctors and conveyed the wishes of President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for quick recovery.

    "The security forces will continue to do their duty and law will be respected in the country," Dendias commented afterward.

    Three female demonstrators arrested in Skouries on Sunday were released after a court in the town of Polygyros accepted their request to have the trial postponed until Wednesday.

    The three, aged 25, 39 and 40, face charges for insult, resisting authority and attempted release of a detainee. One of them is also accused of attempted assault.

    [45] Dellatolas' newspaper '6 Meres' to fold

    Publisher Antonis Dellatolas on Monday announced that the '6 Meres' newspaper that he founded last October, starting as a daily and then as a weekly, has been forced to fold.

    In a letter to the staff posted on the newspaper's website, Dellatolas noted that the effort "exceeded our powers and has reached its end. In spite of our hard work, we were unable to beat the highly unfavourable conjuncture that has hit the press sector with exceptional intensity."

    [46] Three Greeks held in Cyprus occupied territories released unharmed

    Three Greek nationals who had been arrested and held in the occupied territories on Cyprus have been released unharmed, the Greek foreign ministry announced on Monday.

    The ministry had been closely following the case of the three Greek nationals, who were accused of entering the buffer zone on Cyprus without permission, since Friday.

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos had mobilised the Greek Embassy in Nicosia, which had appealed to the Cypriot foreign ministry, which in turn asked for the intervention of the UN peacekeeping force on Cyprus for their release.

    [47] Migrant trafficking ring members arrested

    Police arrested on Sunday four persons, among them a 42-year-old Greek female, alleged to be members of an illegal migrants trafficking ring.

    The arrest took place on the Thessaloniki-Evzones national highway near Kilkis when Thessaloniki police found 41 migrants on board of a lorry. Most of them were Afghan and Pakistani nationals, some with legal transit documents.

    According to police the ring initially transferred the migrants from Athens to Thessaloniki and then sent them on to countries of Central Europe. The ring received 1,250 euros per each migrant; police estimates indicate they had collected over 50,000 euros from their illegal activities.

    The arrested will be sent before Thessaloniki prosecutor. Police are conducting an investigation on possible involvement of other individuals in the case.

    [48] SYRIZA offices firebombed in Dafni

    Two firebombs were pitched into main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) offices in Dafni, a district of Athens, after the windows were broken early on Monday morning.

    The attack occurred around 1:30 a.m. and resulted in a fire; damages were minor.

    Police have launched an investigation.

    SYRIZA reaction

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Monday condemned the arson attack on local party offices in Athens' Dafni district.

    A statement issued by the party underlined that "those responsible of such attacks seek to terrorize SYRIZA and the people of the Left but their efforts are in vain. The struggle in defence of the workers and democracy will continue."

    [49] Afghan man arrested for attempt to travel with fake passport

    Kalamata airport security police on Monday announced the arrest of a 27-year-old Afghan national for attempting to board a flight to Germany using a fake Finnish passport.

    The suspect was led before a Kalamata public prosecutor.

    Weather forecast

    [50] Rainy on Tuesday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 9C and 26C. Local showers in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 15C and 25C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14C and 24C.

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

    DIMOKRATIA: "Jail and foreclosures".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "The teachers' loneliness".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Bread, Education,...back to work order".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tax Bureau file for children too".

    ESTIA: "Serious distortions in economy".

    ETHNOS: "10,700 suspects on Tax Bureau's target".

    IMERISSIA: "Messages of optimism".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Two burning months for the banking system ahead".

    TA NEA: "Pupils on a minefield".

    VRADYNI: "War over the 'back to work order' for secondary education teachers".

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