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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-07-22

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

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

Monday, 22 July 2013 Issue No: 4413

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras, U.S. Treasury Secretary Lew make statements after Acropolis Museum meeting
  • [02] FinMin Stournaras meets US Dept of Treasury Secretary Lew
  • [03] Opposition parties see scant comfort in U.S. Treasury Secretary's visit
  • [04] German Finance Minister: 'Fiscal consolidation and growth not contradictory'
  • [05] PM's message on 39th anniversary of Turkish invasion of Cyprus
  • [06] Venizelos on 39th anniversary of Turkish invasion in Cyrpus
  • [07] Tsipras: We need a huge and radical reversal
  • [08] SYRIZA Central Committee's sec. elected
  • [09] KKE leader turns down Tsipras' cooperation proposal
  • [10] Opinion poll shows ND's marginal lead over SYRIZA
  • [11] State health sector strikes on Wednesday
  • [12] FinMin: Additional measures not necessary in 2013-14
  • [13] Environment Min.: Hydrocarbon reserves exploitation a national issue
  • [14] Special sign for restaurants, venues that pass VAT cut on to consumers
  • [15] Council of State upholds 'freelancers' levy' as constitutional
  • [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [17] Trikala jailbreaker killed in shootout with police
  • [18] Fire raging uncontrollably on the island of Samos
  • [19] Arrest in Athens for Saturday bomb blast in Larissa
  • [20] Wildfire reported at Arla, west Achaia
  • [21] Cloudy and wet in the north, dry in the south on Monday
  • [22] The Sunday edition of Athens newspapers at a glance

  • [01] PM Samaras, U.S. Treasury Secretary Lew make statements after Acropolis Museum meeting

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Sunday met visiting U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew at the Acropolis Museum. After the meeting, the Greek premier made the following statements:

    "It is my great pleasure to welcome today the US Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew. I welcome him here in Athens, the birthplace of Democracy, underneath the Acropolis, the eternal symbol of Free Spirit and Aesthetic Perfection. The Acropolis symbolizes through the ages the quest of mankind to liberate itself from fear and tyranny and to attain harmony and prosperity.

    These are exactly the core values aspired by the American Nation, carved in stone in its Constitution and deep rooted in the spirit of its people.

    Greece has gone through difficult moments in the last three years. But it has gone a long way in the last 12 months. The image of Greece abroad has changed.

    Both within and beyond Europe.

    My imminent visit to President Obama at the White House will further strengthen our ties with our American allies.

    We have always been very close friends as demonstrated by the strong and flourishing Greek American Community.

    We now have to keep on building on this solid background.

    The discussion we just had with the Secretary was focused on the obvious challenges of our times: growth and stability.

    --Stability, based on justice, to attain long term peace in our turbulent region.

    -- And growth, based on stability and competitiveness, to attain our most important goal: jobs, opportunities and prosperity.

    Jack Lew, welcome to Greece."

    The following statements were then made by the U.S. Treasury Secretary:

    "I would like to thank Prime Minister Samaras for his gracious hospitality in Athens. I also enjoyed meeting with Finance Minister Stournaras.

    This is my third trip to Europe as Treasury Secretary, and I welcome the opportunity to hear directly from our Greek friends, because Greece has had a tough road to recovery over the last few years.

    We have been following developments here closely, and we know that Greece has passed through a very difficult period of adjustment and reform.? We recognize the difficult decisions and shared sacrifices of the last few years, as well as the challenges that remain.?

    I am particularly pleased to see that your government is close to completing the current program review and taking the difficult actions necessary to sustain momentum for your economic reforms.

    Of course, the road ahead is still challenging. Continued reform will be essential to laying the foundation for sustained growth.

    The U.S. economy is now recovering from its own financial crisis - where we had to take tough actions to stabilize our system.

    We know you are working hard to set Greece on a path of sustainable growth and prosperity for the generations to come.? After all that Greece has accomplished, I know that you don't want to leave this important work unfinished.?

    Engagement with Europe remains at the top of my agenda, because U.S. jobs and growth are inextricably linked to Europe achieving growth and prosperity.?Moreover, growth in Europe and Asia is critical to the world economy. As you know, I was just in Moscow, where finance ministers and labour ministers sat side by side and reiterated their commitment to boost growth and improve prospects for job creation - a key focus for the road ahead.

    I am delighted to be here and to be able to talk directly with you and to hear about your plans for moving forward."

    [02] FinMin Stournaras meets US Dept of Treasury Secretary Lew

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras met with visiting US Department of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew at the Finance Ministry in Athens on Sunday in the presence of Alternate Finance Minister and Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Giorgos Mavraganis respectively.

    According to Finance Ministry top official, Mr. Lew recognises Greece's huge effort and did not show to be worried for something.

    The meeting focused on the course of the implementation of the fiscal adjustment programme for 2012-2013, the reforms and the need of coordination between the growth measures and the fiscal adjustment as well as the issue of the fiscal and financing gap for the period 2015-16. Especially for the latter which is expected to be specified precisely at the Troika's (EC, ECB, IMF) new report in autumn, the Greek side said to Mr. Lew that the specific gap can't be covered with additional cutbacks in salaries and pensions.

    US Department of Treasury Secretary arrived in Athens one day after the conclusion of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting and according to the same source he believes that "Europe has added water to its wine" and US and Europe approach between on the exercise of the economic policy is now closer.

    [03] Opposition parties see scant comfort in U.S. Treasury Secretary's visit

    In reactions to a visit by United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Sunday, Greece's opposition parties saw scant comfort arising for the crisis-stricken country as a result.

    According to main opposition SYRIZA MP Rena Dourou, in charge of foreign policy issues for the party, however the government sought to "dress up" Lew's visit as a new "success story", it would be unable to hide the "dark reality that austerity policies daily create: the 1.5 million unemployed, the deep recession for a sixth year that will continue next year, the non sustainable debt."

    "Instead of policies for growth and job creation, the two-party government offers mass layoffs and..a return to civil-war rhetoric as a last line of defence. A line of defence that is rapidly becoming a Maginot line, a line of defeat for which wage-earners and pensioners are having to pay dearly," she added.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) called Lew "another representative of capital" come to support the government in its work against the masses, after a visit by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

    "This proves that whether with the Merkel management model or with the Obama model so admired by SYRIZA, the people are being led to even greater destruction," KKE's announcement said.

    The Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party accused the government of an "unrealistic overoptimism concerning the results of economic policy". It said the government had an obligation to warn visiting officials representing powerful countries about the dangers of extended austerity and ask for substantial changes to the fiscal adjustment programme that will link fiscal reform with the growth process, giving priority to structural reforms and creating a social safety net for the unemployed and those below the poverty line.

    "Such a stance would make use of the admission that mistakes were made by the partners themselves, forestalling new punitive measures and restoring the prospects for stabilisation and recovery," the announcement concluded.

    [04] German Finance Minister: 'Fiscal consolidation and growth not contradictory'

    "Germany can't give more loans if it believes they will not be paid back," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with VIMA Sunday newspaper, in a reply to those raising the issue of a further haircut of Greek debt.

    "A haircut to state loans would mean that the eurozone will not get back the loans it has given to support Greece. I can't imagine that something like this could help the country," he said.

    According to Schaeuble, a new haircut would only serve to increase insecurity and was, in any case, legally impossible in Germany, in addition to have minimal impact on liquidity in Greece since interests rates were already low.

    He reiterated that the eurozone always given assurances that it will support Greece until it once again has access to the markets but makes it a condition that that Greece will continue to implement reforms. The German finance minister also stressed the need for consensus between all parties in order to successfully implement the programme and expressed hope that the current government will continue to have the necessary support.

    The German Finance Minister said he had confidence in Greece, even though he recognises that the constant pressure may lead to the opposite results, citing the 2012 election result as an example. He stressed that competitiveness is the 'key' for long-term, sustainable growth in Greece, adding that "fiscal consolidation and growth are not contradictory".

    [05] PM's message on 39th anniversary of Turkish invasion of Cyprus

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in his message on Saturday on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus stated "We Greeks align to all the struggles of our Cypriot brothers, we support with all our powers the claim for a solution within the UN decisions and of the European acquis. A solution that will put an end to the occupation and that will reunite Cyprus. A democratic and European solution. A solution functional and viable".

    Samaras also noted "the 20 of July is a day of honor and memory for All Greeks but also a day that highlights the real dimension of Cyprus' issue. A day of duty. Beyond everything it is a day of honor to the fallen heroes and to those murdered in cold blood, the dead and the missing. It's beyond everything a day of remembrance of the greatest national tragedy in the Modern Greek history. The invasion and occupation of a large part of the Republic of Cyprus that turned our brothers into refugees in their own country, the vandalism of our culture and of the Orthodox Church's monuments".

    Concluding, Samaras underlined that it is a day to remind that the Cyprus issue is beyond everything an issue of invasion and occupation of an independent and sovereign state-member of the UN and of the European Union. "It is a day of duty for Hellenism and the Civilised World before the martyred island of Cyprus that is now also facing the worst economic crisis".

    [06] Venizelos on 39th anniversary of Turkish invasion in Cyrpus

    "The end of the occupation and of its repercussions, the reunification of Cyprus via a just, viable and functional solution based on the decisions of the UN Security Council and of Cyprus as a EU country member, remains Greece's aim for which Cyprus issue is a top priority of its foreign policy" said Government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in a statement on Saturday on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus.

    Venizelos also underlined "Thirty nine years have passed since the illegal Turkish invasion in Cyprus on 20 July 1974 that sank into grief the relatives of the dead and turned into refugees thousands of families. Despite the Security Council's decisions, the international legitimacy continues to be violated in Cyprus. Cyprus continues to live with the repercussion of the invasion with the illegal military occupation and the mass violation of the human rights, of the Cypriots, the illegal settlement and the ongoing disaster of its Hellenic and Orthodox culture. Moreover, the fate of the missing remains unknown and their relatives continue to wait for answers".

    Concluding, Venizelos said "in these extremely adverse conditions, the Democracy of Cyprus has proved its strength and has evolved into a factor of peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greek government and the Greek people will continue to stand by Cyprus. Those who believe that Greece and Cyprus' current economic difficulties will bring a change of Greece's policy on Cyprus issue are sadly mistaken".

    [07] Tsipras: We need a huge and radical reversal

    "We have a government that the weaker and vulnerable it gets the more dangerous it becomes" said main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Saturday addressing his party's new Central Committee.

    "It (government) will stop at nothing, in its agony to fulfill its commitments to our lenders in order to have their favour and remain in the authority. We have a government that we will not wrong it at if we call it anti-democratic and anti-popular not only regarding the content of the imposed measures but also for the means it uses to impose them" said Tsipras.

    Moreover, Tsipras underlined that "we do not have the luxury in the prevailing conditions to talk about a change in authority, a change, even important, in the government and the policy, we talk of Greece's salvation, of a huge and radical reversal".

    [08] SYRIZA Central Committee's sec. elected

    The first meeting of main opposition SYRIZA Central Committee was concluded late Saturday with the election of the new Political Secretariat and the Central Committee's secretary.

    Dimitris Vitsas received 129 votes against 63 blanks and was elected Central Committee's secretary.

    [09] KKE leader turns down Tsipras' cooperation proposal

    Communist Party (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas rejected main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras's proposal for cooperation because, as he said in an interview with Sunday newspaper Eleftherotypia, "SYRIZA is evolving into a new PASOK, inherits its faults, and develops its own".

    Referring to Tsipras he asks "what is he going to do with all the antisocial laws that have been voted before and after the memorandum and what is his position on Greece's participation in the EU and the NATO.

    [10] Opinion poll shows ND's marginal lead over SYRIZA

    New Democracy (ND) leads by a marginal 0.5 percent over main opposition SYRIZA, according to an opinion poll conducted by Kappa Research for Sunday newspaper "Vima".

    According to the poll results, ND was leading with 28.9 percent, followed by SYRIZA with 28.4 percent, ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 12.1 percent, PASOK with 9.1 percent the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.1 percent, Independent Greeks with 5.6 percent and Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 3.5 percent, while 6.2 expressed preference to other parties.

    In response to who would be most suitable for prime minister, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (and ND leader) was preferred by 44.6 percent of the respondents, followed by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras with 31.4 percent.

    60.6 percent of the respondents said there should be layoffs in the public sector while 64.5 percent are in favour of the lifting of civil servants' permanency.

    65.2 percent of the respondents were in favour of Greece remaining in the eurozone.

    [11] State health sector strikes on Wednesday

    State hospital, welfare and ambulance service workers have announced a 24-hour strike on Wednesday July 24, during which their services will operate with a skeleton staff. The strikes are held in retaliation to an announcement that 2,500 health-sector employees of all types will be suspended on reduced pay as part of a public-sector 'mobility' scheme, until they are either transferred or laid off.

    The strike on July 24 will be combined with a protest rally outside the health ministry at 11:30 a.m.

    The nationwide federation of state hospital employees (POEDHN) said that "the mergers-abolitions of hospitals and of 770 units, departments of National Health System (ESY), the new organisations and the possible abolition of sectors are the tools for the implementation of a savage policy in the health sector.

    The state hospital doctors union federation (OEMGE), whose members are excluded from the suspension and 'mobility' scheme, said they will stand by the other employees who are threatened with layoffs.

    Financial News

    [12] FinMin: Additional measures not necessary in 2013-14

    "Additional austerity measures will not be necessary in 2013 and 2014 if we respect the State budget and strictly keep the timetables" reassured Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras in an interview with VIMA Sunday newspaper.

    On the receipts collection measure, Stournaras said that the ministry is examining ways to reward the tax payers that collect receipts adding that after the VAT reduction in food services the direct target is the reduction of the cost of the contribution to social security funds and afterwards the reduction of the tax rates and of the indirect taxes, as soon as the fiscal conditions allow it.

    Referring to the financing gap after July 2014, Stournaras said "it is small to create any problem".

    However, as he said, the discussion for relief measures should open at the right time, meaning after the country has a primary surplus.

    He estimated that main opposition SYRIZA now accepts the memorandum and noted that the wish lists and the ungrounded proposals may please SYRIZA's supporters but will not save the country from bankruptcy.

    [13] Environment Min.: Hydrocarbon reserves exploitation a national issue

    Energean Oil and Gas jointly with its subsidiary Kavala Oil and Gas will make 60,000.000 US dollars investment within the next period, announced on Saturday the president and managing director of the Energean Oil Mathios Rigas during an open event in Kavala library in the presence of Environment Minister Yannis Maniatis.

    Maniatis expressed his satisfaction for this important development and noted that two years ago 'we were are at point zero' regarding the hydrocarbons exploitation and praised Energean Oil and Gas' credibility and consistency in hydrocarbons drilling and on the continuous investments in Greece. He called the hydrocarbon reserves exploitation a national issue underlining the common line that followed Greece's former governments towards this direction with crown the huge geopolitical selection of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

    "This country has a national priority to become energy hub of southeastern Mediterranean and of southeastern Europe" Maniatis said.

    On his part, Rigas said that four new drillings will be held at the existing Prinos reserve which will multiply the production from 2,500 barrels to 4,000 barrels per day adding that the estimation in 1980 was that Prinos reserve will offer 64 million barrels of oil and until today it has given 120 million barrels and the 'reserve still has future'.

    The Greek state is estimated to collect 300,000.000 US dollars from the new investments.

    [14] Special sign for restaurants, venues that pass VAT cut on to consumers

    The restaurants and other catering outlets that pass on a recently agreed VAT reduction to consumers will receive a special sign that they can display to customers from the associations to which they belong. This was decided on Sunday during a meeting between Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, restaurant owners, the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsment and Merchants (GSEVEE) and the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

    The finance ministry's general secretary for revenues Haris Theoharis also left open the possibility of adopting a SETE proposal calling for the 24-hour closure of any business failing to issue receipts.

    The system proposed is based on the French model adopted after a similar VAT rate cut in 2009. Under this, the various business associations will award the enterprises wanting to participate in the system with a special sign certifying that they have revised their prices to incorporate the VAT reduction and pass gains on to consumers. A separate sign of a different colour will be handed out to those businesses that only partially pass the VAT cut to their customers.

    The details of the system will be ironed out in follow-up meetings over the next few days, to be followed by the signature of an agreement between the development ministry and the various agencies involved. The businesses participating will be asked to sign an agreement and to submit data from their cash registers proving the current price level, with current higher VAT rates incorporated. They will also be asked to have menus showing prices with the old and new VAT rates.

    "The agreement for the reduction of VAT [in restaurants and catering] was a success achieved by the prime minister thanks to his persistence. Now the baton has passed to all of us so that this temporary measures will become permanent," Hatzidakis stressed, urging all sides to show the required sense of responsibility.

    [15] Council of State upholds 'freelancers' levy' as constitutional

    A Council of State plenum ruling announced on Sunday has judged a fixed levy on freelance workers and the self-employed to be constitutional and in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights.

    In a series of five decisions, the CoS threw out the objections of the bar associations of Athens, Thessaloniki, Volos, Halkida, the Greek Taxpayers Union and individual entrepreneurs against a tax imposed on freelance professionals and the self-employed under recent tax reforms.

    [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.332

    Pound sterling 0.872

    Danish kroner 7.569

    Swedish kroner 8.722

    Japanese yen 133.65

    Swiss franc 1.254

    Norwegian kroner 7.973

    Canadian dollar 1.382

    Australian dollar 1.445

    General News

    [17] Trikala jailbreaker killed in shootout with police

    Albanian national Marian Kola, a fugitive from Trikala prison, was shot dead by police early Sunday during a shootout in the mountains around Souli, northwestern Greece. Kola's accomplice Ilir Kupa, another Albanian national that escaped from Trikala prison, managed to escape. One police officer was shot in the leg.

    The injured police officer was taken to hospital, where he underwent an operation to his knee.

    Searching Kola's body, police found that he was holding a Kalashnikov rifle, handgrenades, a bag of cartridges and cooked food.

    According to police the two fugitives had stolen three cars in their attempt to reach the Albanian borders. The two fugitives were among five sought by police since June 17, when they shot and killed a police officer at Distomo, in the central Greek prefecture of Viotia. A manhunt for all five ended at the mountains, where police located them through the use of thermic cameras. The fugitives split into two groups and two of them were shot dead, while the three escaped - among them Kola and Kupa.

    Police have now launched a manhunt in the area to locate Kupa, who is still at large. During a search in the Zaloggo River ravine, about 600m from where Kola was shot, police also found a bullet-proof vest and a rucksack full of food. These are believed to belong to Kupa and the search is now focusing on the villages of the Kato Zaloggo area, with the assistance of an ultra-modern coast guard helicopter.

    [18] Fire raging uncontrollably on the island of Samos

    A wildfire has been raging uncontrollably on the Aegean island of Samos since 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, in a region known as Zoodochos Pigi. The fire is burning in largely inaccessible areas of forest and can only be combatted from the air. Two water-bombing aircraft and a fire-fighting helicopter, based at Samos airport, have been deployed to put out the flames, assisted by a strong fire-fighting team on the ground. An additional two aircraft sent from Elefsina in Attica joined the effort from 7:00 p.m.

    Forces on the ground have been largely unable to approach the flames, however, apart from a small team of firemen and volunteers that sought to contain a front heading toward the Zoodochou Pigis nunnery. As a precaution, the nuns have been evacuated and the icons there taken away.

    The aircraft have now stopped flying due to the onset of night, allowing the fire to spread to three fronts and with fire-fighters unsure how far it may spread.

    [19] Arrest in Athens for Saturday bomb blast in Larissa

    Police on Sunday reported the arrest of a suspect in Athens for a bomb attack targeting a Larissa public prosecutor on Saturday, for which a 39-year-old is already in custody.

    Sources within the police department said that the suspect is a 44-year-old male with a past record for extortion, who has been arrested by the counter-terrorism squad and is currently in custody.

    Authorities are expected to release further information concerning the arrest during a press conference on Monday in Larissa.

    In comments on the attack, Justice Minister Haris Athanassiou stressed that a criminal attack on a public prosecutor "is an attack on democracy and the institutions and, as such, condemned by society as a whole."

    He also expressed the government's support for the prosecutor and her family and all citizens who were endangered as a result of the attack.

    The minister stressed that Greek judges were not dismayed by such actions and will continue to do their duty responsibly and without fear, influenced only by the law and their conscience.

    A powerful explosion shook an apartment building in the city of Larissa, central Greece in the early hours of Saturday morning. Within the building was the apartment of a local public prosecutor who had handled the case of a well-known criminal but was not at home at the time of the attack.

    The public prosecutor was within the Larissa prefecture and has now been placed under police protection.

    The blast caused extensive damage for an 80-metre radius around the building, bringing down shop fronts, causing damage to parked cars and to surrounding homes.

    [20] Wildfire reported at Arla, west Achaia

    A wildfire burning trees was reported on Sunday in the region Arla in western Achaia, in the west Peloponnese. Wind speeds were low in the area where the fire broke out, as a team of 20 firemen with 10 fire-engines, a 12-man team on foot and two water-bombing aircraft attempted to put out the blaze.

    Weather forecast

    [21] Cloudy and wet in the north, dry in the south on Monday

    Cloudy, stormy weather is forecast in northern and eastern parts of the country on Monday, with fair weather in the south and west. Mainly northerly winds with speeds ranging from 3-5 Beaufort and up to 7-8 Beaufort over the Aegean Sea. Temperatures will range from 16C to 32C. Clouds and possibly rain forecast in Athens, with temperatures between 22C and 30C. Cloudy and wet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 20C to 29C.

    [22] The Sunday edition of Athens newspapers at a glance

    AVGHI: Distraction with black propaganda.

    EPOCHI: Continuous memorandum - Whichever new 'help' will be accompanied by new measures.

    ETHNOS: National Health system on the operation table- Six public hospitals to close in August.

    KATHIMERINI: Greek market thirsty for 20 billion euros liquidity - Oliver Wyman's report on the establishment of an Investment Fund.

    KYRIAKATIKI DIMOKRATIA: What Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble for the new measures: This can kill us.

    KYRIAKATIKI ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Balance of terror until the 'accident' - Government, MPs and troika trapped in an ineffective programme.

    KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: Protest rallies on Tuesday against the opening of shops on Sunday.

    PROTO THEMA: 21 taxes in 6 months.

    REAL NEWS: Will the government survive? Schaueble's unknown dialogues in Athens.

    TO PARON: We are running out of cash, nosedive in revenues, holes everywhere, time running out for government.

    TO VIMA: 60 percent of Greeks say yes to layoffs in public sector, show opinion poll.

    TYPOS TIS KYRIAKIS: Relief for apartment owners, who gain and who lose from 2014 real estate tax.

    VRADYNI: Everything changes in pensions' calculation- Guide for professionals.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS


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