|Wednesday, 18 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-10-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 24 October 2013 Issue No: 4494
 Samaras and Venizelos agree on government policy platformPrime Minister and leader of the New Democracy (ND) party Antonis Samaras and Government Vice President and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos agreed on Wednesday on a policy platform of the two government coalition partners.
According to the text, which was distributed to the press on Wednesday evening following a meeting between the two leaders, the horizon of the present government remains the four-year term, aiming to rid the country from the EC/ECB/IMF bailout memorandum through the observance of Greece's committments. The two coalition partners also make clear that after the achievemnt of a primary surplus, the Greek economy and society cannot bear any further horizontal measures and conclude by indicating that the present policy platform also constitutes the framework of negotiations with the EC/ECB/IMF troika of lenders.
The text further notes that ND and PASOK, despite their ideological and political differences and the different appreciations regarding crucial periods of the past, they cooperate in the resent government of national responsibility fully conscious of their historical responsibility in securing the country's steady course within the European Union and the Eurozone and its definite exit from the crisis.
The first precondition for achieving the above national target is the government's stability and the completion of its four-year term. The two leaders also note that they are fully aware of the situtaion prevailing in society after six years of recession, adding: "Our greatest agony and major objective is to safeguard social cohesion; contain unemployment and especially the unemployment among the young generations; protect vulnerable social groups; and, correct injustices that have been committed during the battle to keep our homeland upright."
They underline that the solution will be given only through growth and indicate that the country's top priority was to generate national wealth through the support of healthy entrepreneurship.
Greece must transform from a parasite economy to real production, as well as from the accumulation of super-profits to the productive investments and from the economy of "incomers" to the economy of innovative entrepreneurs.
The two leaders noted that dialogue and consultation with the country's creative forces is a priority in order to establish a "responsible front" that will guarantee the success of changes and reforms.
Samaras and Venizelos make it clear to all directions that "now that Greece, thanks to the sacrifices of its citizens, is already posting a structural fiscal surplus and will meet the target of primary surplus, it can internationally say in a convincing manner that new fiscal measures that cut salaries and pensions neither should nor can be taken. Neither the society nor the economy can afford such further measures."
Returning to a stable positive growth rate of GDP for all the coming years is the only safe way to cover any budget gap up to the conclusion of the adjustment program in 2016.
The two leaders list four major priorities:
implementation of the mid-term fiscal adjustment program and the annual budgets of the general government;
implementation of measures to contain unemployment, protect weak social groups and safeguard social cohesion;
going ahead with structural changes in the state and in the state's relation with the economy; and,
supporting the real economy, businesses, growth and employment
Restarting the real economy, the text stresses, can only be achieved through a gradual, but as fast as possible, restoration of private and public investments to pre-crisis levels.
The primary objectives of the government in this respect include:
reducing the cost of money;
reducing energy costs;
full payment of overdue state debts to businesses;
the constant fight against bureaucracy;
reducing company tax, as part of an overall gradual reduction of all taxes
Special reference is also made to the combatting of unemployment and its reduction to average European levels and the strengthening of the social state's structures.
The agreement refers to the creation of temporary jobs for unemployed persons (young people, middle aged people, women) and clarifies that the necessary resources have been secured to a considerable extent and will be supplemented through necessary procedures at national and EU level. The first relative programme for 50,000 posts already run in 2013, while the next are being prepared for 2014 with a prediction for 75,000 posts.
It refers to the arrangements of the tax and social insurance commitments and clarifies that the first house of the poor or average household that is struggling to arrange and serve its loans or is provenly in a state of inability, is and will be absolutely secured against auctions.
It anticipates that VAT decrease will also follow in all other categories as soon as the fiscal situation permits it.
They speak of "the shaping of a new national taxation system, simple and codified, that will systematically arrange, without gaps and contradictions, the income taxation of private individuals and legal entities, real estate, capital taxation etc" but stress that the completion of such a system requires that the fiscal crisis is folly overcome.
They also speak of evaluation in the public sector, reassuring, however, that no employee in the public sector who does his work properly need to worry.
They announce in advance that the two parties will undertake an initiative on the revision of the constitution aiming at the greatest possible consensus.
They also pledge that there will be a review of the overall immigration legislation, which has already started, including provisions for the granting of citizenship, according to European standards and corresponding to what is valid in other European countries with similar problems (European South).
They clarify that protection of democracy and of Parliamentarism from those exploiting the tolerance of democratic institutions to undermine and abuse Parliamentary democracy itself, and the institutional reaction against Nazism, racism and xenophobia is one of the principles included in the government's policy platform.
The two leaders concluded that "this policy platform is at the same time the political framework for negotiations with the European partners, the European institutions and the IMF as well".
 FinMin Stournaras meets with PM SamarasFollowing the end of a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at the government headquarters (Maximos building) late Wednesday evening, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was asked by reporters to comment on a statement by EU Vice-President and Economic and Monetary Affairs commissioner Olli Rehn that Greece's economy will be under surveillance until 75 percent of the bailout loans have been repaid.
Stournaras replied by saying that this applies for all EU member states that taken rescue loans from the European Support Mechanism (ESM).
"It does not apply only for Greece. Besides, in a Federal Europe, each member state's budget would be controlled by all other member states."
Replying to another question as to whether Greece would be considering to make up for the fiscal gap by cutting early retirement, Stournaras said "we will see about this when the time comes."
 PM Samaras telephones Spanish counterpart to discuss migration issuesPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday spoke on the telephone with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy, ahead of the European Council meeting on Thursday.
Their discussion focused on the problem of illegal migration and relevant initiatives for coordinated action by the countries of the European south.
Samaras had also discussed the problem of illegal migration and the creation of a common front by the countries in southern Europe during his recent visits to Malta and Italy.
 FM Venizelos meets with Slovak counterpart LajcakForeign minister Evangelos Venizelos met on Wednesday evening with his counterpart of Slovakia Miroslav Lajcak. In a joint press conference, Venizelos underlined the especially friendly Greece-Slovakia relations and cooperation, while Lajcak expressed his full support to Greece in its fiscal consolidation and structural reforms efforts, and said that Slovaks know well how tough these were.
"We cannot accept more burdens on the Greek people" Venizelos said in reference to the agreed policy platform between the New Democracy and the PASOK parties that form the government coalition.
He stressed that the emphasis should now be placed on correcting injustices, revitalizing growth and reestablishing Greece's equal position within the European Union, as the "Greek people deserve it."
The government vice president explained that the policy platform was not simply an agreement between the two parties forming the government, but an agreement between the government and the society; an agreement of what should be done to exit the crisis; the political framework of the national reconstruction plan; and, the framework of negotiation with the troika of international lenders and the country's institutional partners.
 SYRIZA to step up efforts for political change; main opposition has no proposals, gov't repliesMain opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has decided to intensify its political efforts in order for the country to "turn a new page", the party's Central Committee announced after meeting on Wednesday.
It stressed that this change must become a "central political demand, creating a major political-social movement for overthrow and radical change, the goal of a mobilisation of millions of citizens being crushed by memorandum policies."
Responding to SYRIZA's announcement, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accused SYRIZA of "having no proposals, only the formulas of regimes that collapsed," and noted that the main opposition had no allies in Europe, apart from marginal opponents of Europe, while it could not even persuade its component members to agree on a definition of terrorism.
"It is natural, therefore, for SYRIZA to believe that everyone is conspiring against it," he added.
Analysing its proposals, SYRIZA's Central Committee said the alternative solution for Greece would not be a path "strewn with rose petals" but a difficult endeavour that required a clash with the neoliberal system and would act as a model on a national and European level.
"It is the solution of the future, the only one capable of setting a hopeful course," the party added.
Outlining its strategy for the upcoming European and local government elections, SYRIZA said it would aim to create an active movement from the "grassroots up" and to regroup and strengthen the trade union movement, step up action among young people and take initiatives to highlight its policy platform and politics.
Among others, SYRIZA repeated the need to write off the greater part of Greece's debt, abolish the memorandums, establish fairer taxation based on total property and income rather than an overtaxation of the poor and action to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the country.
On an economic front, it said liquidity must be restored by a state-controlled banking system and the economy boosted by a restructuring and increase in Community funds, a productive reconstruction of the economy, prevention of privatisations and the return of public enterprises and goods to state control.
It also proposed new forms of public collective and social economy, a fight against corruption, democratic reforms of the state, and a restoration and deepening of democratic institutions and participation in public life, calling for a new course "in the direction of socialism."
 Amendment suspending party funding in cases of criminal action passes by majority voteAn amendment to suspend state funding to political parties on condition was passed by wide majority in Parliament early on Wednesday morning.
Of a total of 269 deputies, 235 voted yes - the parties of New Democracy (ND), PASOK, and SYRIZA - while 34 deputies from Independent Greeks, the Communist Party of Greece, three independent deputies, and SYRIZA deputy Zoe Konstantopoulou voted "present".
Those absent from Parliament included Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Michalis Chryssochoidis, and deputies from other parties;Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) walked out before the vote.
According to the new law, state funding will be suspended if the leadership or one-fifth of the deputies of a party are prosecuted on grounds of being a criminal organisation or acting like terrorists. This act requires a roll-call vote in Parliament and the absolute majority of MPs, or 151 votes.
 Council of Europe official: 'Working together to fight racism'Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland, on a two-day visit to Athens ending Wednesday, hailed the Greek government's handling of the issue of extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) and its intention to introduce an antiracism bill in Parliament.
After meeting with him, government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that Athens supports the secretary general's inititiatives on improving the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights and all supervisory institutions and mechanisms, because the Council is historically and institutionally the guardian of all large European principles and values, democracy and the state of law.
"I am here, not to impose anything on Greece, but to collaborate, to discuss and to see how we can work together to deal with challenges that relate to phenomena of extremism, violence, xenophobia and violent political reaction," Jagland said.
Speaking about the case of Golden Dawn, whose leadership is being prosecuted over violent acts, Jagland said, "It is not permissible for anyone to commit violent acts with a cover-up by political groups or political ideology. We fully support this line, which is also in line with the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. After saying that, I believe that the modernisation of the relevant legislation, as I have been briefed, to fight racism in words or acts, is very important and agrees fully with the relevant Convention."
 President Papoulias receives visiting CoE secretary general"The Council of Europe is a very important institution and we need your advice and cooperation to overcome certain issues that interest us both," Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias said on Wednesday, welcoming visiting CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.
On his part, the CoE secretary general said that Greece is among the oldest CoE member-states and noted that it is equally important to the CoE, underlining that it has played an important role.
 Parliament President Meimarakis receives visiting CoE Secretary General JaglandParliament President Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday received visiting Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, praising his role in the reforms that are being promoted in the organistion and underlining that they have Greece's support.
Referring to Greece in particular, Meimarakis said that "the challenges with which societies are faced are very big," adding that "new problems emerge constantly that need to be tackled".
On his part, the CoE secretary general said that he had a series of contacts during his visit and that he agrees with the way the ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) political party was handled.
He underlined that the progress made in Greece, as regards the reforms aimed at combating phenomena and acts of violence and hate, is being appreciated.
The CoE secretary general said that he was briefed on the economic burden shouldered by the country as a result of the illegal immigration wave and noted that he will address the issue in the CoE by underlining the importance of European solidarity at this point.
Jagland also underlined that the CoE has the expertise and know-how, which is placed at the Greek Parliament's disposal.
 Defence Minister Avramopoulos attends NATO Defence Ministers' meeting in BrusselsIn times of constant changes and developments, the North Atlantic Alliance adjusts its structures and priorities, Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Wednesday after the conclusion of the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting in Brussels.
Avramopoulos underlined that "the challenges of today, especially in cyberdefence, can be met through methodical utilisation of available resources and technology," noting that the experience and capabilities of each member state and the readiness for immediate assistance and cooperation have a crucial role.
"Greece puts an emphasis on the smart defence principle, focusing on joint structures and formations," Avramopoulos said.
"Our country is present in all actions undertaken by the Alliance and in the context of the Greek EU Presidency, to be launched on January 1, 2014, it will play a crucial role in meeting all these targets having as a priority a common Foreign Policy and Defence," he said.
Avramopoulos underlined that in this context cooperation between NATO and Russia is extremely important as it became obvious in the NATO-Russia Council meeting attended by Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu.
"Greece, due to its geopolitical position and its upgraded stabilising role in the region, can only benefit from such a prospect," Avramopoulos said.
In the margins of the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting, Avramopoulos met with his counterparts from Albania (Mimi Kodheli), Georgia (Irakli Alasania) and FYROM (Talat Xhaferi), respectively.
 Deputy Foreign Minister on official visit in BeirutDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos met on Tuesday, first day of his official visit to Lebanon, with the Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.
The two officials discussed issues of mutual and regional interest as well as the situation in Syria. Gerontopoulos referred to the abduction of the two Aleppo metropolitans and underlined that Greece's concern remains unabated. He also requested the Lebanese government's contribution towards the efforts to locate and rescue the two prelates.
Later, Gerontopoulos visited the new offices of the Greek Community of Beirut, where he was received by the Community's board and by 200 people of Greek descent, in the presence of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut.
Finally, he met with members of the Lebanese graduates of Greek Universities association, who declared him an honorary member of their association.
 SYRIZA leader on social security system, government spokesman repliesMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing Wednesday the conference of the Panhellenic Federation of Social Security Foundation (IKA) Employee Unions, stressed that SYRIZA "is struggling for an upgraded, public, universal and redistributive social security system".
Tsipras also criticised the policy exercised through the memorandums, as well as the policy of the previous governments which, as he said, "led to the dissolution" of the social security system, while also stressing the responsibilities on the huge gaps in IKA's staff and material and technical infrastructure.
As regards IKA, Tsipras said that the country's biggest social security agency is being downgraded and degraded, mainly through its inadequate funding and understaffing. About half of the 9,000 employees that it had in 2009 have remained.
Tsipras further said that SYRIZA's position is that the strengthening is necessary and not the degrading and dissolution of both IKA and the auditing apparatuses, adding that his party is setting as a target the utilisation of the list of the big IKA-ETAM debtors for the increase of the foundation's revenues.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, replying to Tsipras, said "stuck with yesterday, he is unable to think of tomorrow".
The spokesman accused the SYRIZA leader of distorting and slandering to oppose every effort for the restructuring of the social security system.
"Of course he does not have an alternative proposal again, except for repeating the mistakes that lead to deadlock", Kedikoglou added.
 SYRIZA calls for measures against health and humanitarian crisis in ParliamentMain opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) on Wednesday called for immediate counter measures against the emerging health and humanitarian crisis in Greece, in a question tabled in Parliament by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and his MPs referring to current soaring unemployment rates.
SYRIZA quoted statistics showing the jobless rate has increased by nearly 800,000 over the last three years, that a 12,9% of households have no working members and that Eurostat gives the negative percentage of -8,3% for the growth of new jobs in Greece.
Among tradesmen and merchants, 379,844 cannot cover their insurance contributions to the Self-Employed Workers' Insurance fund (OAEE) and as a result over one million people are without healthcare.
Quoting Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, who said that "not even the government knows the exact number of insured and uninsured," SYRIZA stressed that there needs to be an immediate solution to the problem.
 German Ambassador to Athens Wolfgang Dold interview with ANA-MPA Web TV"Any discussion on a 'haircut' of Greek debt would cause insecurity in the eurozone and could bring back to the surface crisis models. This is my personal opinion," German Ambassador to Athens Wolfgang Dold said in an interview with ANA-MPA Web TV on Wednesday.
"There is no need to talk about a new 'haircut' at the moment. As you know, the Eurogroup had decided last November to again discuss the issue of Greece in 2013 and would consider new debt relief measures if a primary surplus was achieved and the programme was properly implemented," he said.
The German ambassador also underlined that the programme shows signs of success and should be continued. He said that he agrees that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that there are signs of economic recovery, noting that it is very likely that Greece will have some economic growth in 2014, though probably small, and exit the crisis.
He said that any discussion on what can be done the day after is premature and what's necessary is to continue on the same course, noting that the government is working hard on that.
Responding to a question on whether there is a likelihood for a third memorandum in Greece, Dold said that this is a hypothetical question for now, adding that "we should wait for the results of the programme".
He admitted that, as Germany's ambassador, he is very concerned about the rise of anti-German sentiment in Greece but noted that he "understands that a part of the Greek people has been pressured considerably".
On the suspension of state funding for the ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) party voted in Parliament, he said that "the fact that all democratic parties agreed to go against the spread of neo-Nazis is wonderful," adding that "this is a phenomenon seen in other European countries, even in countries not affected by the crisis, and not just in Greece".
On the German war reparations issue, he said that such a claim "from a legal point of view, is completely groundless but with respect to the moral and historical responsibility for Germany's actions during the WWII occupation of many countries, among them Greece, this will continue to exist as a leading principle in Europe, which is no other than the preservation of social cohesion, peace and democracy as they have been shaped after WWII".
 Putin receives Greek envoy: 'We honor the traditionally close partnership with Greece'Russia honors the traditionally close partnership with the Hellenic Republic that has deep historical and spiritual roots, said Russian President Vladimir Putin as he received Greece's new ambassador in Moscow Danae-Magdalene Koumanakou, who presented her credentials to the Russian president at the Kremlin on Wednesday.
"In September we celebrated 185 years since the establishment of our diplomatic relations" said the Russian leader, adding that "bilateral political dialogue and business cooperation have good prospects, taking into account the imminent Greek EU presidency among others".
Greece takes over the rotating EU presidency in the 1st half of 2014.
 Two-day events on October 29-30 for Ioannis Kapodistrias, establishment of Greek-Russian relationsThe 185th anniversary since the proclamation of Ioannis Kapodistrias as first governor of Greece and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Greece and Russia will be celebrated in Athens and the city Nafplio, in the Peloponnese, on October 29-30 in the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The events will begin in Nafplio on Tuesday afternoon with a memorial service and the laying of wreaths at the statue of Kapodistrias by the participating agencies.
On Wednesday morning, a conference will be held at a downtown Athens hotel during which addresses will be made by government vice president and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and on the Russian side by Lavrov, Vladimir Yakunin, president of the "Russian Railways", and by two Russian organisations which organise the two-day events.
Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said this is a very important initiative which is being manifested in a phase of development of Greek-Russian relations.
The vice president of the two Russian organisations, Zalina Medoeva stressed during the press conference that 2013 is a year full of significance for Greek-Russian relations, she spoke of the mutual respect and sympathy uniting the two peoples and the role of the foundations she represents in promoting spiritual and cultural values, common history and intercultural relations. Medoeva stressed that "common actions are in our priorities with emphasis on young people".
 Prosecutors request immunity be lifted for ANEL leader Panos KammenosA request to lift the immunity of Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos was tabled in Parliament by judicial authorities on Wednesday, pertaining to violations of the Criminal Code and specifically for inciting others to commit a crime or misdemeanour.
The prosecutors drew up the file after seeing a video in which Kammenos appears to be telling residents of Halkidiki peninsula in northern Greece, protesting over goldmining in their area, to lynch Aristotelis mayor Christos Pachtas, who was involved in the sale of the Kassandra mines as deputy national economy minister. "Pachtas must not be able to circulate any more. Lynch him! We are with you!", Kammenos is alleged to be saying in the video cited in the file.
 KKE's Koutsoumbas on likelihood of new measures; meeting with OSYPA representativesOpposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Wednesday commented on the negotiations with the troika representing Greece's creditors and the likelihood of new economic measures, underlining that his party "will oppose them while the crisis is deepening, the problems become bigger and people say enough is enough".
In a meeting with Greek Civil Aviation Authority union federation OSYPA representatives, Koutsoumbas expressed solidarity with their struggle and the effort made by civil aviation employees, repeating that KKE is firmly against privatisations, the labour reserve measure and layoffs and is opposed to changes in labour relations, wages and workers' rights.
 New TV amendment passes; minister responds to criticismParliament's plenum session passed early on Wednesday morning the amendments related to the New Greek Radio, Internet, and Television (NERIT).
The amendments were passed with 149 for and 120 against, in a total of 269 voting. The yes votes included those of ND and PASOK, and independent deputies Andreas Loverdos and Christos Aidonis.
The vote followed a contentious discussion in Parliament, during which PASOK clashed with its former coalition partner DIMAR (Democratic Left) and Deputy Minister for Public Radio and Television Pantelis Kapsis came to the plenum session to respond to the criticism, especially as PASOK rapporteur Thanos Moraitis had criticised Kapsis last Thursday for the government shutdown of the former public broadcaster ERT in June, calling the transitional television's programme "substandard" and "unworthy of ERT's history and of the needs and expectations of the Greek people."
The PASOK deputy had also warned that the amendment under consideration "could lead again to the problems and malaise that led ERT to the impasse, with its superpowers in staff hiring."
In the Wednesday discussion, Konstantopoulou said "the deadline to ratify the contemptible legal act shutting down ERT expired last Friday" and reiterated that ERT is the only legal state radio and television entity, "by decision of the Council of State". She criticised the government for trying to legalise "legally unsubstatiated NERIT" and called on relevant ministers to move legislatively on the issue.
Sharp criticism also came from DIMAR's Dimitris Anagnostakis, calling the new television "a sensational failure in information, entertainment and culture" and charged that the amendment violates earlier laws and is shoddily drawn up "as a so-called emergency" while it also treated staff with discrimination, by allowing different kinds of contracts to be drawn up.
In his response, Kapsis expressed sadness about Anagnostakis' charges and for the way the government's efforts were dealt with. "We were open to cooperation, but without any response. There was a lot of prejudice and efforts to undermine the attempt with lies."
Referring to the cost of ERT's shutdown and the operation of NERIT, Kapsis said, "In the two months of operation (of the transitional network), 1,832,000 euros has been spent, and 500,000 of this is due to the fact the television could not use the (ERT) facilities in Aghia Paraskevi and therefore access the ERT archive. Therefore, the monthly cost is under 1 million euros. I don't think there is any television in the world that operates on such a budget."
The amendment, he said, calls for the extension of two-month-long contracts by ten months to adequately cover Greece's presidency of the European Commission. "For NERIT to hire the staff it needs - through the state hiring agency (ASEP) and without legal standing yet - it will take three to four months. Therefore, if we want to have public television, these contracts need extension. We put down ten months because some will be hired for the Greek presidency and therefore a small number may need to stay until the end of the presidency," he said. He expressed the hope that NERIT will start broadcasting by the beginning of 2014.
Kapsis expressed his dissatisfaction that neither the ERT staff union nor the Journalists' Union assisted him, despite the fact he is resolving significant issues like the former two-year contracts that led to interruption of shows or collaboration with successful journalists after their expiration.
"I'm open to any criticism and to all parties, but as far as I am concerned, the ERT of party interventions and unionist impunity will not happen," he concluded.
 New juvenile detention centre and penitentiary measures announcedGeneral Secretary of Crime Policy Marinos Skandamis on Wednesday announced the operation of the new juvenile detention centre for young offenders aged 15-18 in Corinth. He said the aim of the new prison is to separate underage prisoners from the adult prison population, in line with UN guidelines, and announced that it will be equipped with an elementary, junior and high school in order for young prisoners to be educated.
Skandamis was replying to questions concerning the problem of prison overcrowding and instances of prisoner mistreatment associated with this problem, as well as a call by UN Special Rapporteur for torture Juan M?ndez for a revision of international standards for prisoners. Skandamis admitted that acute prison overcrowding was an ongoing problem in Greece also, which needs immediate radical solutions and a comprehensive approach via a new penal code and alternative means of serving sentences."
The general secretary mentioned in an interview with ANA-MPA that the ministry of justice is currently in the process of working on draft legislation for a new penal code, while a draft bill for electronic surveillance of prisoners via ankle bracelets.
Noting an alarmingly rapid rise in the growth of the prison population in recent months, and its links to economic and political migration, Skandamis pointed out that 61 percent of prisoners in our country are foreigners, don't have the chance to find a job, are excluded from social and institutional structures and as a result, were pushed for reasons of convenience rather than inclination to illegality.
 Draft law on electronic monitors of prisoners approved in first readingThe justice ministry-sponsored draft law on the electronic monitors for people convicted of crimes or held in custody pending their trial was approved in its first reading in Parliament on Wednesday, backed by the ruling parties of New Democracy (ND) and PASOK.
Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and opposition parties Independent Greeks (AN.EL) and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted "present," recognizing that positive clauses are included in the draft law.
The opposition parties expressed strong objections and called for further clarifications referring to an appended rider to be added to the Criminal Code as an article according to which, violations of UN Security Council decisions and EU regulations will be penalized.
Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou said that the reservations expressed are groundless and added that clarifications will be given in the draft law's second reading on Thursday.
 Greece signs final environmental impact assessment on IGB natural gas pipeline with BulgariaGreece ratified on Wednesday the environmental impact assessment for the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB Pipeline) that will convey in its initial phase 3 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, with a maximum capacity of 5 billion cubic metres.
The IGB Pipeline will provide a direct link between the national natural gas systems of Greece and Bulgaria, and will be eventually connected to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is carrying natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Greece.
After signing the assessment, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis said that the pipeline would be of decisive significance for the energy security of Greece and Bulgaria, and would also be of importance in the materializing of the Southern Gas Corridor and serve as a gate to the supply of Caspian natural gas to Southeast European markets.
"We are proceeding towards making another large project a reality, contributing decisively to our effort to make Greece an energy hub in Europe and a significant factor of stability, security and prosperity in the wider area of the Southeast Mediterranean and the Balkans," Maniatis added.
The IGB Pipeline is 182 km long, will start at the northeastern Greek city of Komotini and end at Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. It is estimated to cost 220 million euros.
The project has received 45 million euros in EU financial support throught the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR), while it has also been included by the European Commission in a proposal to the European Parliament for funding through the Projects of Common Interest (PC) programme, a final decision on which is expected by mid-2014.
Construction is expected to begin in autumn 2014, with the pipeline becoming operational by early 2016.
 Greek systemic banks to be included in ECB's stress test in 2014Greece's four largest banks, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank and Piraeus Bank, will be among the 128 banks to be included in a new round of stress test to be held by the European Central Bank in 2014.
The ECB will adopt the new stricter rules announced by the European Banking Authority to check the quality of assets of the 128 largest banks in the eurozone, focusing more on non-performing loans and setting an 8.0 pct capital ratio.
The ECB wants the next round of stress tests to be austere in order to avoid any negative surprises when it would take over supervision of the banking system and to avoid making the mistakes of the previous two stress tests, which failed to reveal the dangers that led to the Irish and Spanish banking crises.
If any capital shortfalls are found, banks will be obliged to cover them, primarily with private funds, the ECB said in a report on Wednesday, although Mario Draghi, its chairman, said a "public safety valve" should also be available.
 Eurozone central banks to return another 500 mln euros to Greece, reportEurozone central banks will return another 500 million euros to Greece from profits made from their participation in an SMP (Security Market Program) of the European Central Bank over Greek state bonds.
Eurozone central banks have agreed to return 2.0 billion euros to Greece in earnings from their participation in the SMP in 2012. They had returned 1.5 billion euros by July 31, 2013. Another 500 million euros were expected to be disbursed by the end of the year, a report by Finance Alternate Minister Christos Staikouras said on Wednesday.
The report was submitted to Parliament in response to questions tabled by SYRIZA main opposition party deputies.
 Greek public debt highest in the EU in Q2BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
Greece's public debt rose to 169.1 pct of the country's Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2013, from 160.5 pct in the first quarter of the year, Eurostat said on Wednesday.
The EU executive's statistics service, in a report, said Greece reported the highest public debt in the European Union, followed by Italy with 133.3 pct, Portugal with 131.3 pct and Ireland with 125.7 pct, while the lowest public debt rates were recorded in Estonia (9.8 pct of GDP), Bulgaria (18 pct) and Luxembourg (23.1 pct).
In the eurozone, the public debt rose to 93.4 pct of GDP in the April-June period, compared with 92.3 pct in the first quarter, while in the EU the public debt rose to 86.8 pct from 85.9 pct, over the same periods, respectively.
Eurostat said the public debt grew in 24 EU member-states and fell to another four. Greece (19.9 pct), Ireland (15.5 pct) and Cyprus (15.2 pct) recorded the biggest percentage increase on an annual basis, while Latvia (3.8 pct), Germany (2.1 pct), Denmark and Austria (0.6 pct each) recorded the biggest percentage declines.
 Record unemployment among young graduates, GSEE reportsUnemployment rates among young graduates have jumped 189 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the findings of a survey released on Wednesday by the Centre for Developing Educational Police of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation.
As a result, there was a sharp rise in the number of graduates migrating abroad, said GSEE representative Nikos Paizis, who presented the report.
This also showed that spending by Greek families on education rose 61 percent in the decade 2001-2011 while state spending per student on tertiary education ranked Greece in 26th place among the EU27 member-states.
Commenting on the new crisis within universities relating to a planned reduction of their administrative staff, Paizis also noted that the ratio of administrative employees to scientific and teaching staff and per student in Greek universities was the lowest in the EU.
Specifically, he said that spending per teacher in Greek universities was around 29,463.79 euros per year while spending per student fell 9.6 percent in the three-year period 2008-2010, from 30,191.21 euros in 2008 to 22,279.25 euros in 2010.
 Thessaloniki Port organisation among the country's 'true leaders' in businessThe Thessaloniki Port Authority Organization S.A. (THPA S.A) was honored by ICAP Group as one of the 43 companies and business groups that are the "true leaders" in the Greek market, it was announced on Wednesday.
The "true leaders" list was based on the 2012 balance sheets of 20,500 companies and on financial performance indicators (EBITDA), as well as on the company's credit rating, hirings and leading role in its sector.
 Aegean Airlines completes acquisition of Olympic AirAegean Airlines on Wendesday announced the completion of the acquisition of Olympic Air with the signing of a final agreement for the purchase of 100 pct of shares in Olympic Air with Marfin Investment Group.
In a statement, Aegean Airlines said the value of the deal was 72 million euros. The Greek airline company has already paid 20 million euros during the signing of a pre-contract in October 22, while the remaining sum will be paid in five equal annual tranches of which the first was paid on Wednesday. Following completion of the acquisition, Olympic Air will become a subsidiary of Aegean Airlines. The acquisition will offer a series of advantages to passengers, creating increased possibilities for the country's tourism growth. Aegean Airlines recently announced a package of actions aimed at boosting its scheduled flight programe with foreign destinations and a new pricing policy for flights to the country's remote areas.
 Greek gov't unveils new property tax planThe Greek government on Wednesday unveiled its plans for the introduction of a single property tax to replace the two existing different property taxes. The new property tax is designed to bring less money from more citizens and it is reduced by an average of 16 pct compared with the previous tax. The Finance ministry, in a statement, said that "the new tax is imposed per property and will contribute to expanding a tax base to all real estate property and through limiting tax breaks".
Under the new plan, farmers will be called to pay taxes for their farm lands, although the ministry said that 90 pct of all farm land were included in the low tax level category (1.5-2.25 euros per stremma). Special social groups, such as unemployed, inabilities, families with more than three children and poor households, will be either exempted or will have significant tax cuts.
 Gov't mulling reduction in special tax for natgas, dep. minister revealsThe government is examining the possibility of a gradual reduction in the special consumption tax for natural gas until it reached the average for the European Union, Deputy Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Assimakis Papageorgiou revealed in Thessaloniki on Wednesday. He said that the government would make a relevant proposal to the troika representing the country's creditors before the end of 2013.
Papageorgiou made the statement to reporters on the sidelines of a Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) event in the city, saying the environment ministry was already working with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras toward this goal and specifying that the reduction would not only be for industry and manufacturing.
The special consumption tax for natural gas in Greece is currently 5.5 percent, compared to 2 percent in the EU on average.
 Energean Oil & Gas says investment programme faces funding problemsEnergean Oil & Gas is facing funding problems with its oil drilling programme in the bay of Kavala, a development which could undermine completion of the programme.
The company is also pressing to be allowed to sell its production to BP (an agreement has already been signed) which could be accompanied by funding of oil drilling activities, an additional strong credibility card in the Greek company's efforts to secure more loans.
The agreement envisages that BP will absorb Energean Oil & Gas production in the next six years, but implementation of the deal needs a change in the existing regulatory framework which envisages that Hellenic Petroleum is the sole buyer of oil production from northern Greece's Prinos project.
Energean is currently implementing a four-drillings programme worth 60 million euros, aiming to more than double its production from 1,500-1,700 barrels per day currently, and is also expecting the results from its second drilling in Prinos in the next few days.
 Shipping Ministry gets research & rescue award"Greece, on the illegal immigration, issue is serving a mission, not only in national but also on European level and this is something that all our European partners must understand," Shipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
On Tuesday the Center of Research and Rescue of the Shipping Ministry received two Amver awards from the Piraeus branch of the International Propeller Club of The United States.
The Amver (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) is a programme supported by the US coast guard and uses a central computer to record every 48 hours the geographic location of the vessels that participate in it. In case of emergency the computer will notify ships in the same vicinity to provide assistance to the endangered ship.The programme is cost-free.
Awards were also bestowed to shipping companies while a short video was screened which showed the Coast Guard's rescue operations of undocumented immigrants.
 Eurobank presents shareholders with merger plan with Hellenic PostbankEurobank on Wednesday offered its shareholders a complete contract plan for the merger with Hellenic Postbank.
The bank said documents would be available to shareholders as of Wednesday, 23 October. These included the merger contract, balance sheets of Eurobank and Hellenic Post (dated June 30, 2013), annual financial reports by Eurobank, auditors' reports over the book value of all asssets of the two banks.
These documents will be available to shareholders until November 24, 2013.
 Interest in investments in Greece by Arab capitalThe government is expecting a considerabale inflow of capital into Greece, following Wednesday's conclusion of negotiations between Greek and Emirates delegations on the text concerning the agreement on the Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments.
The initialled text takes into consideration elements of Greek interest, particularly as regards compliance with the acquis communautaire and achieves the targets set by the Greek side, paving the way for investments on both sides. Approval of the text by the European Commission and then its ratification by the Greek Parliament is anticipated initially for the signing of the specific agreement and its activation.
Deputy Development Minister Notis Mytarakis said on the occasion: "I express on behalf of the Greek government my satisfaction and warm thanks to the government of the United Arab Emirates for the conclusion of the negotiations. The agreement on the mutual promotion and protection of investments, that will be promoted immediately for approval by the European Commission, will contribute to the building of strategic cooperation between Greece and the UAE and at the same time it will create considerable ground for the further development of bilateral economic relations".
 Tourist arrivals up 12.3 pct in Jan-JuneTourist arrivals grew 12.3 pct in the first six months of 2013, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.
The statistics service, in a report based on a survey by the Bank of Greece, said that arrivals from Europe (which accounts for 86.1 pct of all tourists) grew 10.1 pct in the January-June period, while arrivals from European Union member-states grew 4.6 pct. Arrivals grew significantly from Russia, Germany, Bulgaria and France, while on the other hand, arrivals fell significantly from the UK, Spain and Cyprus.
Germany was the leading country for Greek tourism, with a market share of 12.9 pct, followed by the UK (9.6 pct), France (6.6 pct), Russia (6.2 pct) and Bulgaria (6.1 pct).
Visitors from Asia rose significantly (helped mainly from Turkey), while arrivals from the United States also rose significantly in the first half of the year.
The Athens International Airport accounted for the biggest part of tourist arrivals (18.9 pct), followed by the airports of Iraklio (12.2 pct), Rhodes (8.9 pct) and Thessaloniki (5.6 pct).
 Kosmima jewellery trade fair shows surge in participation numbers this yearThe number of exhibitors at the 28th International Jewellery, Watches, Precious Stones, machinery and equipment trade fair "Kosmima" that will be held November 2 to 4 at the Helexpo premises in Thessaloniki has grown by 20 percent compared to 2012, organiser TIF-Helexpo said in an announcement on Wednesday.
This year's pavillions will include professionals from Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates. Entrants of the 24th National Competition of Jewellery Design, on the theme of "Seascapes", will show their work also.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday as a wave of profit taking selling ended a seven-day rally of prices and pushed the composite index of the market 3.82 pct lower to end at 1,156.36 points. The index jumped 8.39 pct in the previous seven sessions reaching the highest levels since July 2011. The index ended off the day's lows of 1,142.34 points. Turnover remained a strong 133.34 million euros.
The Large Cap index fell 3.60 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 4.22 pct lower. Athens Water (3.12 pct), Folli Follie (0.29 pct), Viohalco (0.16 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (7.45 pct), MIG (7.35 pct), OPAP (6.55 pct) and Intralot (6.44 pct) were top losers.
The Commerce sector was the only one to end higher (0.31 pct), while Travel (6.20 pct), Financial Services (5.42 pct) and Banks (5.32 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 102 to 45 with another 13 issues unchanged. Athina (20 pct), NEL (17.86 pct) and Galaxidi (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Dias Acquaculture (19.85 pct) and Hellenic Spin Mills (19.73 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -5.20%
Personal & Household: -3.30%
Raw Materials: -3.55%
Travel & Leisure: -6.43%
Food & Beverages: -0.56%
Financial Services: -5.42%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.669
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.73
Coca Cola HBC: 20.97
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.95
National Bank of Greece: 4.35
Eurobank Properties : 8.99
Piraeus Bank: 1.68
 ADEX closing reportThe November contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.33 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 36.203 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,617 contracts worth 24.405 million euros, with 52,245 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 29,567 contracts worth 11.798 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (6,341), followed by National Bank (4,010), Alpha Bank (6,053), Eurobank (914), MIG (1,490), OTE (2,184), PPC (1,423), OPAP (1,675), Mytilineos (1,047), Motor Oil (621), Jumbo (308), Ellaktor (364), GEK (488), Intralot (378), Hellenic Petroleum (335) and Sidenor (153).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.395
Pound sterling 0.864
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish kroner 8.907
Japanese yen 135.96
Swiss franc 1.249
Norwegian kroner 8.258
Canadian dollar 1.440
Australian dollar 1.451
 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew honored by Thessaloniki's University, inaugurates St. Mamas exhibitionEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received the Medal of Saint Dimitrios, the highest distinction awarded by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), in a special event held in the university's Hall of Ceremonies on Wednesday.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, currently on a visit to Thessaloniki, received the distinction from AUTh Rector Yiannis Milopoulos in the presence of Macedonia-Thrace Minister Thodoros Karaoglou, Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki and representatives of local authorities, among others.
Addressing the audience, Bartholomew underlined that "we are going through a period characterized by dysfunction of societies with unforeseen consequences," noting that the intensity of the economic crisis is "unprecedented, manifesting in various ways, including massacres, human sacrifice and widening of the gap between the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor. Those who are prudent condemn the situation but that is not enough".
The Patriarch later inaugurated an exhibition on "The Veneration of St Mamas in the Mediterranean" at Thessaloniki's Museum of Byzantine Culture, in the presence of Greek Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos and Macedonia-Thrace Minister Thodoros Karaoglou, the Cyprus ambassador and other officials.
 Joint Greek, Bulgarian police operation to find father of mystery baby MariaSOFIA (ANA-MPA/ B. Borisov)
According to media reports in Bulgaria on Wednesday, the Greek and Bulgarian police have organised a joint operation in the town of Sandanski, southwest Bulgaria in an attempt to find the father of Maria, the young girl who was found living with a Roma couple in Farsala, central Greece that were not her biological parents.
Bulgarian media reported that a police search was underway, citing a report by the local television network BTV. The case is being closely followed in Bulgaria, where it has captured the public's imagination.
So far, there has been no official confirmation of the report from Bulgarian authorities, with the Bulgarian interior ministry press service spokesman saying that no order has been issued for an operation by the Bulgarian police. However, the interior ministry is no longer responsible for prosecuting organised crime, which has passed into the authority of the public order ministry by order of the new government.
 New charges against escaped convict Vassilis Paleokostas for 2011 shoot-outPolice on Wednesday announced that new charges and another arrest warrant have been issued against the notorious escaped convict Vassilis Paleokostas, in connection with an exchange of fire between armed criminals and the police in February 2011 on the Livadia-Arachova road that resulted in the injury of a police officer.
Based on the case drawn up by a Livadia examining magistrate, Paleokostas faces additional charges of repeated attempted homicide, illegal possession and use of weapons and other crimes.
He was identified as one of the two suspects in the car that 'raked' police in pursuit with fire from a Kalashnikov rifle, based on an investigation conducted by the counter-terrorism squad.
The incident occurred on the morning of February 6, 2011 when a Livadia Security Police patrol car spotted an Audi A4 moving suspiciously on the road toward Arachova and attempted to flag it down, initiating a pursuit when it failed to stop and its plates were discovered to belong to another car. In an exchange of fire between the fugitives and police, the driver of the police patrol car was shot in the thigh and the two suspects escaped. A total of 23 bullet casings were later found at the scene.
 Protests by Skaramangas Shipyards employees, teachers in downtown AthensSkaramangas Shipyards employees demanding to receive work stamps owed to them since 2012 and teachers affected by the labour reserve measure held protests in downtown Athens on Wednesday.
Protesting shipyard employees marched to the ministry of labour, where they were received by a representative of the labour minister.
According to the workers' delegation that participated in the meeting, they received no specific replies and stated that they are determined to continue their mobilizations next Wednesday, in cooperation with Labour Union Centers.
Then the protesters marched to Syntagma Square where they joined teachers demanding the abolition of the labour reserve measure affecting them.
Holding black flags the teachers marched to the Presidential Mansion but they were prevented from approaching Herod Atticus Street by police forces. The protest ended after a teacher delegation met with representatives of the presidency and the prime minister and briefed them on the problems created in the sector of education by the labour reserve measure.
 Police break up large criminal gang of robbers with nationwide activityPolice broke up a large criminal gang of foreign nationals, numbering over 100 members, that systematically committed robberies and thefts in downtown Athens and in other areas nationwide, including the island of Crete and the cities of Patras and Thessaloniki, it was announced on Wednesday.
Thirteen gang members were arrested on Monday during an organized police operation in downtown Athens.
All face felony charges for participation in a criminal organization, break-ins, multiple counts of larceny, handling stolen goods and violations of firearms laws.
According to police, the gang was formed in early 2010 and operated in small groups, targeting the elderly and tourists riding public transport. They were also involved in car thefts and apartment and store break-ins.
In the process of removing jewelry or mobile phones, many of their victims were injured as they did not hesitate to use violence.
The culprits were identified by their victims, their fingerprints and through DNA testing. Stolen items found in their possession were also identified.
The investigation continues for the arrest of the remaining gang members.
 Three Greek Roma arrested on charges of abducting minorThe Greek Police on Wednesday announced the arrest, earlier in the day, of three Greek Roma in Mytilene, the main town on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, on charges of abducting a child.
The three under arrest are a couple, aged 19 and 21, respectively, and a 51-year-old woman. They are accused of abducting a three-month-old baby boy found living with them, which they admitted to police had been given to them by another Roma woman living in Athens.
The Mytilene police department has launched a preliminary investigation into the case, while the couple's defence counsel claimed that they took the child because the birth mother was too poor to take care of it and not to sell it, as they have been accused.
 Mild tremor reported near Pyrgos, PeloponneseA mild earthquake occurred shortly before 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday evening, with its epicentre located six kilometres northwest of the city of Pyrgos, on the western side of Ilia prefecture in the Peloponnese. According to the Geodynamic Institute of the National Athens Observatory, the tremor had a magnitude of 4 points on the Richter scale.
According to inhabitants of Pyrgos and of neighbouring regions, the earthquake was felt in quite a few regions from Zaharo to Amaliada.
According to reports, no damage has been reported as a result of the tremor.
 8.3 kilos of heroin found at Igoumenitsa portIgoumenitsa (northwestern Greece) port authorities found 8.3 kilos of heroin with the assistance of a sniffer dog, on Tuesday midnight.
The drugs were found in a car driven by a Kurdish national who was coming from Syria and was ready to get on board a ferry for Italy. The heroin was hidden in two secret compartments and divided into 16 packages.
The driver was arrested and the drugs and the car were confiscated.
 Daylight Saving Time ends Oct. 27 amDaylight Saving Time ends in Europe on Sunday, October 27. At 4:00 am on Sunday, clocks will be set an hour early (to 3:00 am).
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday. Winds 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures between 10C and 26C. Fair in Athens with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures between 14C and 23C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 11C and 23C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: 'Sinking in Skaramangas shipyards' (about controversy over submarine contract) .
DIMOKRATIA: Looting in new ERT (Public Radio and Television)
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Your turn is coming...(for university professors and educational staff to be included in the mobility scheme).
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Reversal. 3-15 years increase to retirement age limits.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 'Block' to early pensions under the age of 62.
ESTIA: Myths and truth for the troika (EC, ECB, IMF)
ETHNOS: Suspicious pressure from lenders.
IMERISSIA: Shares and investment funds hit record-performances in Athens Stock Exchange
KATHIMERINI: Troika to government: Shut down Hellenic Defence Systems and Hellenic Vehicle Industry.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Troika rejects political negotiation.
RIZOSPASTIS: Government prepares new reversals in social security system.
TA NEA: Confusion over the measures.
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