|Saturday, 16 January 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-01-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 28 January 2014 Issue No: 4571
 PM Samaras to meet with Russia's Putin on TuesdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras (R) will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at 5:00 pm (local time) on Tuesday in Brussels, government sources said on Monday.
The two leaders will discuss bilateral relations, with a focus on economic coope-ration, as well as progress in relations between Moscow and the EU. Their last meeting was two years ago.
 Stournaras expects to reach agreement with the troika before next Eurogroup meetingBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Monday said that he expects to reach an agreement - in principle - with the troika by the next Eurogroup meeting in February, giving sufficient time for a Eurogroup meeting in March to approve the disbursement of the next tranche of bailout loans to Greece.
Speaking to reporters after a Eurogroup meeting, Stournaras admitted there were differences over certain issues with the troika, but noted that the Greek side was presenting alternative proposals. During his address in the Eurogroup, Stournaras underlined that Greece has surpassed its fiscal targets for 2013 and that the budget's primary surplus was expected to reach 830 million euros.
"This is a great achievement," Stournaras said, adding that "it changed the whole picture. That's why I have asked the troika's representatives to reassess the whole situation." The Greek FinMin noted that the main issue in negotiations with the troika - the fiscal gap - "has been resolved in a way that leaves no room for doubt".
Commenting on the fiscal gap in 2015, Stournaras said that the Greek side has noted the sectors from which it expected savings, mostly related with a restructuring of the wider public sector. He stressed that the OECD's recommendations for structural changes in Greece would be implemented by 80 pct. Stournaras said that a discussion over the sustainability of the Greek debt will begin as soon as the Eurostat validated the figures for Greece's primary surplus, around April 24, while a discussion over a funding gap will begin as soon as the troika completes its current review.
 Greece not on Eurogroup's agendaGreece is not included on the Eurogroup's agenda that is held in Brussels on Monday.
According to a Finance ministry's top official, the country is in the midst of troika's two evaluations and for this reason it is impossible a final decision on the disbursement of Greece's next tranche of the bailout loan to be taken at Monday's eurozone finance ministers' meeting.
However, Greece's progress on the implementation of the fiscal adjustment and reforms as well as the course of the negotiations with the troika of Greece's lenders is expected to be discussed on the sidelines of the meeting.
 Ind. Greeks party criticises FinMin for 'sham' negotiations with troikaIndependent Greeks (ANEL) spokesman Notis Marias on Monday criticised Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, saying that the minister's negotiations with the lenders were a sham and "nothing more than the planning of new austerity measures."
"The finance minister is waiting for the Eurogroup's orders," Marias said, adding that "Stournaras' so-called alternative proposals are nothing more than a plan to take new austerity measures."
In addition, ANEL head for public administration issues Marina Chrysoveloni criticised Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis regarding the "unfair layoffs, in line with the troika's and the memorandum's directives."
"They are being promoted as public administration reforms. Mr. Mitsotakis hypocrisy and cruelty are without bounds," Chrysoveloni said, commenting on public sector layoffs.
 Prime Minister Samaras attends International Holocaust Remembrance Day eventBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Antonis Samaras attended an event in the European Parliament here on Monday marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"One hundred years after WWI when millions of Europeans lost their lives on the battlefield and 70 years after the Genocide and Holocaust atrocities, we have managed to turn these horrible nightmares into a bright vision and this vision into a reality: a United Europe, our Europe, which became a champion in the respect of freedom, democratic rights and the individual," the prime minister underlined addressing the event.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that "antisemitism and racism constitute a threat against fundamental principles, such as democracy and respect for diversity and human rights".
On his part, European Jewish Congress (EJC) President Moshe Kantor underlined that fighting the ultra-right Golden Dawn party by the Greek government constitutes an example for the protection of democracy which, hopefully, will be followed across Europe.
 PM Samaras in BrusselsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras is visiting Brussels on Monday to participate in the conference "Industry matters" organized by the European Trade Union Confederation, according to an announcement.
The Prime Minister will return to Athens on Tuesday evening to go to the Acropolis Museum where he will speak at an event of the Hellenic-Australian Business Council on the development of trade relations between the two countries.
 Foreign Minister's statement on Remembrance Day for the victims of the HolocaustHumanity honors the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the millions of Jews who were exterminated by the crimes of the Hitler regime, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Monday on the Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Holocaust, according to a ministry announcement.
Venizelos noted that the Greek government considers the Holocaust denial a blatant abomination, stressing the importance of the firm enforcement of existing anti-racist legislation and unequivocal condemnation of anti-Semitism. He also expressed his confidence that neo-Nazi elements, which threaten the Republic and the rule of law, will be marginalized by the Greek society, which condemns intolerance.
He concluded that Greece is joining forces with other countries to honor the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust.
 Public Order min. Dendias addresses Holocaust event in AthensPublic Order and Citizen Protection minister Nikos Dendias on Monday evening appealed to all Greeks, regardless of religion and belief, to contribute to Greece's development as children of the same God. He was speaking during an event organised in Athens by the Region of Attica and the Jewish community in remembrance of the Holocaust victims, under the slogan "Together, we will defeat racism."
"We are opposed to Nazism as Europeans, as Greeks and as people," Dendias said, stressing that one of the causes that allowed neo-Nazism to emerge in Greece was the uncertainty of exiting the eurozone, but such a turn is now disappearing as the country is returning to stability and growth.
Dendias also referred to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who attended an event in the European Parliament in Brussles on Monday marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.?
 Venizelos: EU presidency an opportunity to promote a new image of GreeceHolding the presidency of the EU is an opportunity for Greece to show its after-crisis face, Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos told European Parliament members at a meeting at the Greek parliament on Monday.
Addressing the conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC), Venizelos said that "the Greek EU presidency is an opportunity to promote another image, Greece's post-crisis image, because for us these six months (of Greece's EU presidency) will be the six months that will confirm the final exit from the crisis and from the memorandum after years of huge sacrifices," he said.
"Greece has achieved a primary surplus one year earlier than expected, something that is indicative of the restoration of its fiscal balance," he noted and, referring to the Greek presidency's targets, pointed out the necessity for " 'a new narrative' for Europe as an answer to the different kinds of eurospepticism." Europe cannot be identified with the crisis and austerity but must promote anew virtues as the rule of law, pluralism, tolerance and competitiveness," he stressed.
 FM Venizelos to address Greek-French Chamber of Commerce on TuesdayGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will deliver a speech at an event organised by the Greek-French Chamber of Commerce on "Greece: the six months of the presidency and the turn towards the final exit from the crisis."
The event will be held on Tuesday at 20.15 at the Aegli conference centre next to the Zappion Megaron, according to a ministry statement.
 Greek Parliament President meets European Parliament Vice-president, EP committee chairHellenic Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis had a private conversation on Monday with European Parliament Vice President Miguel Angel Martinez and the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs Carlo Casini. The meeting was held on the sidelines of a meeting of EU national parliaments' European affairs committee chairpersons, which is held to prepare for the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC).
The debate focused on the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency and European political issues. The meeting was attended by the First Vice President and Chairman of the House Committee on European Affairs Mr Ioannis Tragakis.
 Government VP to honor the sponsors of Greek EU Presidency on TuesdayGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will honour sponsoring companies for the contribution and support of the Greek presidency of EU Council, at 12:00 noon on Tuesday.
The event will be held at the foreign ministry, according to an announcement.
 Dijsselbloem, Rehn say Athens must work harder on reaching deal with troikaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
After the end of a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday evening, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem and EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn both said that the troika representing Greece's creditors must complete its review of Greece's progress in the adjustment programme as soon as possible.
Dijsselbloem expressed disappointment that the review has not been completed because "more work needs to be done," as he put it, while he called on Greece and the troika to do their best to achieve a deal the soonest possible.
The Eurogroup head made it clear that the Greek issue will not be re-examined by the Eurogroup unless there is a positive conclusion of the review, which would also give the green light for the disbursement of a bailout loan tranche.
Dijsselbloem, who is also Holland's finance minister, said deflation was normal in countries undergoing internal devaluation by cutting labour costs but also warned of the risks of a prolonged deflation.
On his part, Rehn said that the troika mission were due to return to Athens soon in order to complete their review. He noted that, even though there has been progress in the ongoing discussions, harder work is required in the coming weeks on both fiscal and structural levels to reach a deal between the two sides.
 Dijsselbloem says Greece's evaluation by troika must be 'completed as soon as possible'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
The present evaluation by the troika of Greece's lenders, which began in September, "has lasted too long" and "it is in both the EU's and Greece's interest that we reach a conclusion the soonest possible," Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said prior to entering a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Dijsselbloem said that he would be briefed on pending issues and where progress can be made by involved parties, including the Greek government.
 Greek EU presidency promotes e-invoicing directiveThe Greek EU presidency on Monday confirmed a provisional agreement with the EU Council and the European Parliament on a directive on e-invoicing in public procurements.
Reiterating Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier's statements, Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis said that the adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement alone across the EU could generate savings of up to 2.3 billion euros.
The draft directive will contribute to eliminating barriers to cross-border public procurement and ensure interoperability between national e-invoicing systems.
E-invoicing will be used by public agencies for procurement of supplies and services and for public works tendering. The directive was a priority for the ministry during Greece's EU presidency, Hatzidakis said.
"By expanding the use of e-invoicing, we achieved a basic step towards a paperless public administration," Hatzidakis noted, "as the signing of public contracts will be carried out faster and with less costs, while small and medium-sized enterprises will face fewer obstacles in accessing public tenders."
The directive needs to be voted on by the European Parliament's plenum and then be formally adopted by the EU Council, over which Greece currently presides. It must then be adopted by member-states within 36 months.
 Minister inspects damage of earthquake-stricken Kefalonia as aftershocks continueInterior Minister Ioannis Mihelakis on Monday paid a visited to areas worst hit by the earthquake that struck the Ionian island of Kefalonia, most of which were near the town of Lyxouri. He was accompanied by the Ionian Islands regional authority chief Spyros Spyrou and Kefalonia Mayor Alexandros Parisis. A state of emergency has been declared on the island since Sunday, when a 5.8 Richter earthquake shook the island and caused extensive damage.
The minister, who arrived on the island on Sunday night at the orders of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, visited houses damaged by the tremor and intense post-quake seismic activity, as well as those declared unsafe by authorities.
The most acute problems are in the village Livadi, a short distance from Lyxouri, where many roofs collapsed and garden walls fell, while one home lost two stories. After speaking with local inhabitants, the minister said that building-inspection crews had got to work since Sunday night, starting with public buildings that are open on a 24-hour basis to record damages.
The minister also visited the mountain village Atheras, which has been evacuated due to falling rocks dislodged by the quake.
Mihelakis referred to two ships sent to provide shelter for those unable to stay in their homes, saying that the 'Superfast I' that arrived on Monday morning could host 400 to 600 people, while the larger ship "Eleftherios Venizelos" was due to arrive at Argostoli harbour and could house up to 1,300.
"By order of the prime minister, there was a massive mobilisation of the authorities, we have reinforced the police and the inspector for Southern Greece has come to Kefalonia, with men and vehicles that will reinforce policing on the island so that there are no security issues," he said. The fire brigade's deputy chief, accompanied by a search-and-rescue (EMAK) team from Patras, had also arrived in case there was any incident that needed to be dealt with, he said.
Again on the orders of the prime minister, the labour and finance ministry have suspended tax and social insurance payments for residents on the islands of Kefalonia and nearby Ithaki for three months, while the labour and interior ministers have sent 100,000 euros to each island to cover emergency needs.
Some of the more serious damages reported on the island were at the Lyxouri cemetery, where many graves have opened, and the road linking Lyxouri with Argostoli, which had to be closed. Meanwhile, the Lyxouri old people's home was declared unsafe and the residents were forced to spend the night in a small chapel before they were transferred to an area within an indoor gym.
During inspections carried out so far on 70 homes, 40 were declared unsafe, while of the 21 public buildings inspected, four were judged unsafe and four had problems.
Seismologists reported that 92 aftershocks measuring between 3.0 and 5.1 on the Richter scale had been recorded by Monday at 17:00, since the first 5.8 Richter quake that shook the island on Sunday. They remain cautious in their predictions about the progression of seismic activity in the area.
 Gov't should support businesses hit by the Cephalonia earthquake, Chambers Union head saysThe head of Greece's Union of Chambers Constantine Michalos on Monday urged the government to support businesses affected by the Cephalonia earthquake.
"The Greek government should immediately prepare a comprehensive plan to restore any damage caused by the big earthquake on Cephalonia," Michalos pointed out. His proposals include the freeze of business payments to social security funds, banks and the state as well as the compensation of those affected.
Earlier, the government had announced through Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis that Social Security Foundation (IKA) contributions by residents of Cephalonia island would be suspended for a month, while the Bank of Piraeus had also suspended any payments by residents for a month.
 Venizelos reports climate of 'national unity' at National Foreign Policy CouncilGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, speaking after Monday's National Foreign Policy Council session, ascertained a climate of "national unity".
He observed that a time when "political and social tension and an acute political confrontation," were rife in the country, the National Foreign Policy Council was marked by "a climate of shared understanding, seriousness and consensus as regards the strategic direction and the individual handling of the country's foreign policy, which are part of a common strategic plan."
Noting that all developments of the past months relating to the entire spectrum of Greece's foreign policy and international relations were examined in the session, Venizelos stressed that all had to be considered in relation to the economic situation.
"Fortunately", he added, "over the last four years of the crisis, despite being engaged in a tough financial negotiation from an difficult position, no asymmetrical or unfair pressures have been exercised against us on foreign policy and security issues."
Monday's National Foreign Policy Council was attended by foreign ministry officials and representatives of political parties in Parliament, including: Costas Tasoulas and George Koumoutsakos from ruling coalition leader New Democracy, Theodoros Dritsas and Panos Trigazis from main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Odysseas Konstantopoulos and Nikos Sifounakis from junior coalition partner PASOK, as well as Terens Quick and Ioannis Gianellis-Theodosiadis from the opposition Independent Greeks party.
 Defence minister meets FYROM counterpart over name dispute and military cooperationFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) Defence Minister Talat Xhaferi on Monday met with his Greek counterpart Dimitris Avramopoulos. This was the first time that a defence minister from the neighbouring country has visited Greece's defence ministry.
The two ministers discussed bilateral military cooperation issues and a one-year military cooperation agreement between the general staffs of the Greek and fYRoM armed forces was signed in this context. The agreement, among others, calls for the conducting of joint exercises and an increase in the number of students at military schools in the two countries.
During his statements, Avramopoulos reiterated Greece's long-standing position on the name dispute between the two countries. He said the progress of negotiations under United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz on a mutually accepted solution for the name of the neighbouring country would contribute to the solution of a chronic problem, an immediate and full normalization of bilateral relations, greater stability in the wider region and would be to the benefit of fYRoM and Europe.
He added Greece has proposed a fair framework for a viable, functional and straightforward solution, leaving no room for historically unfounded claims.
Xhaferi expressed his wish for a stable solution to the name dispute in the near future, which would open the way for his country's accession to EuroAtlantic structures.
In light of the unresolved dispute over fYRoM's name, elements of the customary arrival ceremony for working visits by foreign officials were omitted, such as the inspection of the Guard of Honor and the playing of national anthems, though the flags of the two countries were flying and there was a Guard of Honour was stationed on the stairs as Xhaferi arrived.
 Deputy FM meets Union for the Mediterranean sec'y general and Latvia's European Affairs Committee headDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Monday met separately with the Union for the Mediterranean secretary general Fathallah Sijilmassi and the chairwoman of Latvia's European Affairs Committee Zanda Kalnina-Lukasevica.
Kourkoulas and Sijilmassi discussed the further promotion of cooperation between the Greek presidency and the Union, which, as Kourkoulas
Kourkoulas noted that a series of events, during which the Union for the Mediterranean will have a significant role, have been scheduled and added that "we generally want to use this organization to promote certain programmes in energy, environment, water and the multilateral cooperation in the region of the Mediterranean Basin."
During his meeting with the Latvian official, Kourkoulas was briefed on the country's exit from the crisis, which lasted three years and resulted in Latvia losing 25 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Latvia is now on a growth course, with its GDP has significantly increased while unemployment has been decreasing. The two officials also discussed the preparation of Latvia's presidency in the EU, with the Latvian official asking for details concerning the organization of Greece's presidency.
They also touched upon pending issues among the Greek presidency's priorities.
 Greece has made progress but the effort must continue, German FinMin saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Monday highlighted the progress Greece has made in restructuring its economy, while emphasises that the country must continue reforms.
"Greece has made a lot of progress, but it still has a lot to accomplish," Schaeuble said ahead of the Eurogroup meeting, adding he was confident Greece would stay on the same course.
He said that Greece's fiscal data "seem to be good" but he pointed out efforts should continue and Greece should stick to a process of reforms.
"This is something that the Greek government is aware of," he added.
Asked when the next tranche of bailout loans to Greece will be approved, Schaeuble would not comment and simply said the typical procedure would be followed and troika must complete its review.
 Greece to sign up to EU rules helping international couplesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Monday gave the green light to Greece's decision to join the 15 countries having already adopted EU rules, which allow international couples to select which country's law applies to their divorce or legal separation.
The regulation aims to give couples legal certainty and prevent a "rush to court", while at the same time avoiding emotionally and financially costly proceedings.
"The EU's rules on cross-border divorce broke new ground for European integration. They showed the way ahead in areas where a lack of unanimity was a stumbling block to progress, turning the legal innovations of the Lisbon Treaty into a practical reality," EU Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said.
According to the Commission, the Regulation on the law applicable to divorce aims to provide assistance to weaker partners during divorce disputes. International couples are able to agree in advance which law would apply in the event of their divorce or legal separation. In case the couple cannot agree, judges will have a common formula for deciding which country's law applies. The regulation, which applies since 21 June 2012, has no effect on national divorce or marriage laws, nor does it foresee the adoption of rules affecting substantive family law of the member states.
With almost 1 million divorces in the EU area in 2009 the rules help couples of different nationalities, those living apart in different countries or those living together in a country other than their home country and protects them from complicated, lengthy and painful procedures, the Commission said.
 Public sector layoffs aim to renew personnel, administrative reform minister saysPublic sector layoffs are part of the country's obligations towards its lenders, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday told Athina 984 radio station.
The public sector layoffs "have been allocated throughout the year and will be concluded at the end of 2014," he said.
He added that "we are continuing the evaluation of all private legal entities to see how we can save on resources." He pointed out that the aim of employees leaving the public sector was the renewal of personnel.
"For the first time, the hiring process is being conducted under the supervision of the Administrative Reform ministry, which receives the ministries' requests, evaluates them and links them to the government's priorities, such as hirings in the health sector and the tax collection mechanism," he said.
 Development minister releases note on standard EU practices for non-prescription drugs, defends positionsDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Monday released a note outlining standard practices in other European Union countries with respect to non-prescription drugs, urging the public to draw their own conclusions about the changes he proposed. The minister said that he wished to "defend" against the attacks made against him in person by the national pharmacists' association, regardless of the decisions the government will ultimately take on this issue.
In the note, Hatzidakis pointed out that the share of non-prescription medication in Greece is among the lowest in Europe at 11.9 percent of pharmaceutical products consumed in 2012 (372 million euros), compared to an average of 16 percent in the eurozone as a whole.
He also cited an OECD report, according to which prices are expected to fall once non-prescription drug sales are deregulated and their sale outside pharmacies permitted. Based on the study, retail prices per unit of drastic substance are 27.6 pct higher when sales points are prices are controlled at wholesale and retail.
According to the announcement, the deregulation of prices, combined with the deregulation of sale locations, will bring multiple benefits, including a better service for Greek consumers, who will be able to find the product they want much more easily and at a lower price.
 SYRIZA leader to visit top courts on TuesdayMain opposition party (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras will meet with the president of the State Council, Sotiris Rizos, on Tuesday, at 10:30 a.m. At noon, he will meet with the Corruption Crimes Prosecutor, Eleni Raikou at the Court of Appeals according to an announcement on Monday.
 National Council on Foreign Policy to convene on MondayThe National Council on Foreign Policy (NCFP), chaired by Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, will convene on Monday at 3 pm, at the Foreign ministry.
It will discuss issues of the Greek presidency of the Council of the European Union in the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), of civil enlargement and neighborhood policy.
They will also discuss Greek-Turkish relations and the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, the situation in the Middle East with emphasis on the Syrian crisis and Iran, as well as bilateral relations between Greece and the countries of the Western Balkans in light of their European perspective.
 Dora Bakoyannis to chair PACE Committee on Political Affairs and DemocracyGreek MP Dora Bakoyannis was on Monday elected unanimously as the chair of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Bakoyannis was proposed for the position by the European People's Party (EPP).
The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy that elected the New Democracy party's state deputy has 180 members and alternate members from all countries and from all European parties. It is the largest committee of the Council as it deals with all political issues, bilateral issues and generally with the issue of democracy in the member states. Bakoyannis is the first woman elected to that position.
 Discipline action begun against prosecutors who approved furlough to fugutive terrorist XirosSupreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani ordered the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the two public prosecutors who consented to granting furloughs to Christodoulos Xiros, a November 17 terror group convict who disappeared this month.
Xiros, who had been granted several furloughs, has been at large since failing to return to prison on January 6 from a week-long furlough.
The order for proceedings was given after a report sent by the chief prosecutor of the Pireaus Appeals Court Evangelos Zacharis establishing that the two prosecutors showed serious negligence in their duties, according to sources.
According to information, Xiros had a record of disciplinary misdemeanours and a disciplinary penalty, while he had never specifically stated he had repented for his actions. This evidence was not properly taken into account by the two prosecutors before signing off on the furlough, according to the sources.
 More arrests in Athens and Thessaloniki during ongoing search for convicted terrorist XirosTwo people were arrested in Athens and Thessaloniki during the ongoing police investigation for the recapture of fugitive convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, it was announced on Monday.
Police raids were carried out in three houses in Athens and four in Thessaloniki.
In the house of the suspect arrested in Athens, police found and seized a double-barreled gun, cartridges, an airgun, handcuffs and a naval knife.
A pistol, four wooden bats, a wireless transceiver, three knives, a bayonet that belonged to a Kalashnikov, pepper spray and anarchist printed matter, were found in the house of the suspect arrested in Thessaloniki.
 Prosecution against wife, brother of MP Gerasimos GiakoumatosThe wife and brother of Greek Parliamentary deputy Gerasimos Giakoumatos will remain in custody until Tuesday, after their arrest by the financial police on Monday afternoon. The two were brought before a public prosecutor, who charged them with tax-related offences.
Similar charges were also filed against two employees in their business' accounts department. All four defandants are to stand trial in a misdemeanours court on Tuesday afternoon.
The defendants have denied the charge, while through their lawyers they refer to a "show" set up at their expense.
Lastly, the prosecuting authority will examine the evidence in the file to ascertain whether there is any reason to take action against Giakoumatos, provided that his parliamentary immunity is lifted.
 Health minister says PASOK proposals on primary health care constructiveHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis met on Monday with a delegation of PASOK deputies and termed the party's proposals on Primary Health Care constructive. The meeting was also attended by Deputy Health Minister Antonis Bezas and the ministry's general secretary Christina Papanikolaou.
The deputies presented the minister with PASOK's proposals on reforming Primary Health Care, which Georgiadis termed constructive and he thanked PASOK for its support for the bill.
 Health bill is 'a gift to private interests,' SYRIZA leader saysThe health bill is "a gift to private interests" and should be withdrawn, main opposition leader SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras said on Monday after his meeting with representatives of the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) in the Attica prefecture.
Tsipras said the fact that there are about three million uninsured citizens in Greece, who will increase after the abolition of EOPYY and who will not have access to primary care, is a potential "time bomb".
Deputies "must really think through a second time" their vote if the government persists and brings the bill to parliament, he said.
SYRIZA leader stressed that this bill is ordered by the troika and added that its content is in deep contrast to the needs of the society for an upgraded public health system.
 Communist-affiliated PAME group to rally on Feb 4 against health billCommunist-affiliated PAME group is holding a rally in central Athens on February 4 against the health bill tabled in Parliament.
It has also called protests outside hospitals, health centers and umbrella social security fund EOPYY units.
In a statement, PAME has opposed the bill and has called for a fight "to overthrow the government's antipopular measures on health."
 SYRIZA spokesman in favour of a debt haircutGreece's problems are not attributed to lack of communication between political parties, but to current policies and programs," main opposition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Monday at private TV station Skai.
Skourletis noted that the country needs to withdraw the memorandum policies, adding that "there is a clear attempt by collapsing forces to create accomplices."
He also accused the prime minister of failing to make substantive negotiations adding that the aim should not be a debt relief with an extension of maturity, but a "haircut" in the total amount.
Regarding the European Parliament elections, he said they are both a referendum and a discussion for the present and future of Europe. As for possible collaborations in the elections, Skourletis said that SYRIZA has not raised the issue of cooperation with the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, although there are no programmatic convergences between the two parties.
 KKE supports former ERT employees, KKE leader saysThe national journalists union federation POESY on Monday met with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas to present their positions on "setting up a truly public broadcaster" and ask for KKE's support.
According to a KKE announcement, Koutsoumbas said that his party "has expressed and continues to express its support to (former public broadcaster) ERT employees' struggle for permanent and stable jobs for all workers."
He pointed out that the "new state broadcaster that the government is drafting will inherit all the handicaps of the old ERT - the ones against which KKE has repeatedly protested?and will even make them more profound."
He pointed out that the new draft bill for the state radio and television company did not ensure permanent and stable jobs for workers, while it discredited regional broadcasters.
 Environment ministry draft bill to revamp football stadiumsA new draft bill sponsored by the environment and climate change ministry, unveiled for public debate as of Monday, provides for the restoration and modernization of football stadiums hosting Super League and Football League games, improved safety standards for spectators, economic and commercial exploitation of football stadiums and incentives for their relocation to the outskirts of urban centers.
Alternate minister Stavros Kalafatis said that an emphasis will be given to safety standards, adding that football stadiums can also be used for economic activities, such photovoltaic systems, that can bring revenues to football teams and the state.
 Infrastructure Minister Chryssohoidis visits road project worksiteInfrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Monday visited the worksite of Aktio-Amvrakia road axis near Vonitsa in Aitoloakarnania prefecture, central Greece. He emphasised the importance of the Ionia Odos concession project linking the seaport of Patras in the southwest with the seaport of Igoumenitsa in the northwest.
Chryssohoidis said that roughly 4,000 people will be employed in the Ionia Odos worksites and more than 500 enterprises will benefit from the project.
Referring to Aktio-Amvrakia road axis, he said that it will be completed in roughly a year-and-a-half. He also announced a tender for the project linking the road axis with the Ionian Sea island of Lefkada and the acceleration of the procedures concerning the Lefkada underwater tunnel.
As regards the road projects in progress, he said that public investments in the five concession projects under construction in the country amount to eight billion euro.
 Greek banks plan to boost mortgage loan portfoliosThe Greek banking system will focus on housing credit in 2014 and the next year, banking officials said.
Housing credit fell to a historic low, recording negative growth rates in the last few years, as a consequence of the crisis, after rising by more than 25 pct annually in the mid-2000.
Banking officials said that new mortgage loans totaled around 150 million euros, or around 2,500 new loans, in 2013, almost a weekly figure during the "golden era" of bank credit. Greek banks plan to distribute more capital into housing credit this year.
National Bank plans to boost its mortgage loans portfolio by more than 200 million euros, with other banks also planning similar projects.
Greek banks have focused their attention, almost exclusively, in the last two years to renegotiate loans with debtors facing problems in loan repayment and have renegotiated more than 250,000 mortgage loans, worth 18 billion euros so far. Greek banks now aim to focus on the lending of households with healthy finances seeking to buy new homes.
 Deadline for EU-state subsidy investments set for Feb. 28A law will be tabled soon setting February 28 as the deadline for applications coming under investment law 3908/2011, the finance ministry said on Monday.
This is a necessary step due to changes in the EU legal framework related to state subsidies that are going into effect in the second half of 2014. The February deadline for the first round of funding in 2014 will prevent problems in the evaluation of applications and the funding of business plans ready to go.
There will be no deadline extension, because of EU time constrains, the ministry said.
 Engineers, TAP consortium set up consultation committee on pipeline routeRepresentatives from Greece's Technical (TEE) and Geotechnical Chambers (GEOTEE) as well as the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) consortium will set up a tripartite consultation committee over the routing of the pipeline.
The decision to set up the committee was taken during a meeting chaired by Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Monday.
Maniatis said the meeting establishes mutual trust, so that the project can be carried out with a positive approach from all parties involved. He noted that the safety issues raised concerned the state as much as the local communities where the pipeline passes and that steps will be taken to ensure the strictest European-level rules for safety and environmental protection are followed.
 Piraeus port remains top passenger port in EuropePassenger traffic in the port of Piraeus fell to 17,669,774 passengers in 2013, from 17,978,728 in 2012, although passenger traffic in the sea cruise sector jumped 11.10 pct to 2,296,457 departure-arrivals from 2,066,925 in 2012, official figures showed on Monday.
A report released by the Piraeus Port Organization said that passenger traffic in the coastal shipping sector (Aegean sea lines) totaled 5,741,167 passengers, while passenger traffic in Argosaronic Gulf was 1,856,519 passengers.
The report also said that vehicle traffic fell to 2,549,407 units in 2013 from 2,701,891 in 2012.
Piraeus Port authority said that cargo traffic rose to 644,055 TEUs in 2013, from 625,914 in 2012.
George Anomeritis, chairman and chief executive of Piraeus Port Organization, commenting on the report said that despite a small deviation of figures "the port of Piraeus remains Europe's largest passenger port and one of the top 10 in container traffic in Europe."
Anomeritis said he expected traffic to move around the same or slightly higher levels this year.
 Frigoglass to terminate production operations in USFrigoglass on Monday said it will terminate production activities in its factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, at the end of the first quarter of 2014.
In a statement, Frigoglass said its move was part of a strategic plan to change its operation model in the United States, which focused on commercial actitives of sales, distribution and service. The factory produces and supplies refrigerators in the North American market. Frigoglass said it will continue to service the needs of its customers in North America from its existing production network.
Torsten Tuerling, chief executive of Frigoglass, commenting on the decision to terminate production in the US factory, said the move would allow Frigoglass to make better use of its fixed assets and improve its competitiveness.
 Rally against new tax measures by farmers in NafplioA rural rally organized by the farmers of Argolida prefecture, with the support of all regional agricultural agencies and store owners, is in progress in the city of Nafplio on Monday.
Farmers with tractors from all across Argolida - a major agricultural production area in Greece - gathered outside the headquarters of the region's headquarters on the Nafplio-Nea Kios coastal road to demonstrate against the new tax measures and ask that farmers be excluded from the measures.
A delegation is scheduled to meet Rural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris on Tuesday noon at the ministry to discuss the issues concerning the rural sector of Argolida prefecture.
 Greek households' available income down 8.0 pct in Q3 2013Greek households' and non-profit institutions' (offering services to households) available income fell by 8.0 pct in the third quarter of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, to 30.4 billion euros, reflecting a 9.9 pct decline in workers' income and an 8.2 pct fall in social benefits to households, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
In a report, the statistics service said that final consumption spending of Greek households and NPIs fell by 10.2 pct in the July-September period in 2013 to 32.4 billion euros, from 36.1 billion euros in the same period in 2012. Greek households' and NPIs' savings rate (gross savings per gross available income) was -6.7 pct in the third quarter of 2013, down from -9.3 pct in the third quarter of 2012.
 Millions of euros in unlawfully paid pensions returned to the stateUnlawfully paid pensions amounting to 29.9 million euro have been returned to the Greek state, while other 12.9 million euro are being sought, it was announced on Monday.
The amount retrieved had been paid in 2,658 cases where the beneficiaries were deceased, according to figures provided by the public sector pensioners' census completed last October, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.
 Greek stocks end 2.07 pct lowerGreek stocks remained under pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by a turmoil in emerging markets which pushed the yield of the 10-year Greek benchmark bond to 8.67 pct - the highest level this year. The composite index of the market dropped 2.07 pct to end at 1,159.43 points, losing all of its 2014 gains. Analysts said the 1,160 level was a crucial technical support level.
Turnover fell to 68.03 million euros. The Large Cap index fell 2.38 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.86 pct lower. Terna Energy (1.20 pct), MIG (1.01 pct) and Eurobank Properties (0.56 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (6.27 pct), Frigoglass (4.88 pct), Athens Water (4.72 pct) and Titan (3.95 pct) were top losers.
All sector indices ended lower, with the exception of the Real Estate Property index which ended 0.33 pct higher. Media (7.59 pct), Banks (3.41 pct), Food (3.32 pct) and Health (2.67 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 104 to 31 with another 23 issues unchanged. PC Systems (20 pct), AAA (18.51 pct) and Boutaris (17.54 pct) were top gainers, while NEL (20 pct), Douros (19.91 pct) and Sidma (19.57 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -1.12%
Industrial Products: -1.61%
Real Estate: +0.33%
Personal & Household: -1.74%
Food & Beverages: -3.32%
Raw Materials: -2.03%
Travel & Leisure: -2.03%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, Piraeus Bank, National Bank and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.64
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.70
Coca Cola HBC: 19.90
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.13
National Bank of Greece: 3.44
Eurobank Properties : 7.19
Piraeus Bank: 1.66
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 7.16 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 6.84 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.82 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.66 pct. Turnover was an improved 29 million euros, of which 24 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 5.0 million were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.569 pct from 0.575 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.493 pct from 0.498 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.404 pct from 0.407 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.30 pct from 0.304 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.239 pct from 0.241 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.21 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 21.325 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,702 contracts worth 12.869 million euros, with 46,462 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,593 contracts worth 8.456 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (4,909), followed by Alpha Bank (3,303), National Bank (2,659), MIG (3,220), OTE (2,800), PPC (1,261), OPAP (556), Hellenic Exchanges (337), Mytiineos (747), Intralot (544), Athens Water (123), GEK (216), Eurobank (110), Motor Oil (108) and Frigoglass (86).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.386
Pound sterling 0.837
Danish kroner 7.573
Swedish kroner 8.937
Japanese yen 142.50
Swiss franc 1.245
Norwegian kroner 8.564
Canadian dollar 1.530
Australian dollar 1.585
 Argos and Mycenae to get upgraded water system through EU fundsThe supplying of water to the municipality of Argos-Mycenae from Lerna was included in the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) programme, following the positive evaluation by the Interim Management Authority of the Peloponnese, it was announced on Monday.
The project's total public expenditure budget is 15.7 million euros along with a co-financed public expenditure of 9 million euros. It will upgrade the water supply system of Argos-Mycenae, including the former municipality of Midea that belongs to the municipality of Nafplio, which is supported by the springs of Lerna and Amimoni.
 Explosion damages magistrate's office at Corinth court buildingAn explosion at 7.13 am at the main court building of Corinth, west of Athens, destroyed the examining magistrate's office on Monday.
According to preliminary police information, the explosion came from an incendiary device that burst into flames outside the door of the magistrate's office.
The explosion occurred when the first employee was entering the building, but there was no injury.
Police is examining a metal box found at the scene, while a criminal laboratory unit has arrived to Corinth to examine the evidence.
 Justice minister condemns explosion at Corinth's main court building---pkJustice Minister Charlambos Athanassiou expressed his outrage regarding the explosion that occurred at 7:13 am on Monday at the main court building of Corinth, west of Athens, which damaged a magistrate's office and "could have put human lives at risk."
Commenting on the placement of an incendiary device outside of the office, Athanassiou said, "The Greek judicial officials have demonstrated that they are exercising their duties vigorously and responsibly. Acts of violence against them that aim at intimidating them and demoralizing them will not affect them."
 Police operation in Thessaly to crack down on metal theftA police operation to fight metal theft and trafficking was carried out in Thessaly on Monday. Eight people were arrested and charges draw up against three others.
During the operation, a total of 354 people, 268 vehicles and 52 businesses involved in the collection, management, processing and recycling of metals (scrapyards, stockyards) were checked. Various items such as Public Power Corporation (PPC) cables, car batteries, generators and others were found and seized.
Charges were pressed for a total of 30 offences involving illegal business operations, noncompliance with environmental regulations, illegal acquisition of scrap metal were, along with 16 other violations.
 Former EAS executives to face charges for mismanagement, embezzlementThe public prosecutor for corruption on Monday filed charges against 19 former Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. (EAS) management executives. The prosecution involves charges of financial mismanagement that cost the public sector up to 50 million euros and embezzlement.
After an investigation conducted by public prosecutor for corruption Antonis Elftherianos, the former EAS officials were allegedly accused for paying compesation to retired employees that exceeded the 15,000-euro limit set by the Defence ministry for public utilities, resulting in financial damages of 11 million euros to the company. They also face charges in connection with an insurance contract signed with Ethiniki Insurance, which cost EAS upward of 40 million euros.
The former EAS officials denied the charges, testifying that the company was not a public utility and not subject to the 15,000-euro limit, but their position was rejected by investigating authorities based on past opinions issued by the Legal Council of State.
 Anti-smoking legislation will be implemented, the health ministry saysAnti-smoking legislation will be implemented, Deputy Health Minister Zeta Makri said on Monday, noting that this has been expressly requested by the prime minister.
"Every civilized state has an obligation to protect the present and future generations," she said, adding that updating the anti-tobacco framework is a priority for the ministry of health.
She also expressed certainty that the enforcement of anti-smoking laws will not lead bars, cafes and restaurants to close.
 PPC employees launch rolling strikes as of Monday midnightFirst-level associations representing Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees have called 24-hour rolling strikes as of Monday midnight, ahead of the debate of the bill on the privatization of country's Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) at the Parliament.
Unions plan a rally on Wednesday at 15:30 at Korai Square, in central Athens, and a march towards Syntagma Square where they will hold a sit-down protest until the vote of the bill.
PPC employees' union GENOP has not elected a board yet, so the strike has been called by first-level employees' associations.
Union representatives said the duration and possible escalation of their labour action will depend on the workers' participation rates.
During a press conference, they also opposed the privatization of the power grids, regardless of the sale price, as they said this sector should remain under state control for strategic and national security reasons.
 Greek air traffic controllers to join Europe-wide strike next ThursdayThe Greek air traffic controllers union on Monday announced their participation in a strike called by various European air traffic controllers unions throughout Europe on Thursday.
Greek air traffic controllers have proclaimed a three-hour strike, starting at 11:00, to demand the hiring of an additional 70 employees.
Many flight delays and cancellations are expected at Greece's regional airports on Wednesday as well, due to a four-hour work stoppage by the Union of Electronic Engineers for Air Traffic Safety starting at 10:00 on Wednesday and Thursday.
 Human remains found in unmarked grave do not belong to young Alex from VeriaThe remains found buried in a cemetery in Imathia prefecture, northern Greece, belonged to an elderly woman and not to young Alex from the city of Veria as initially thought, authorities announced on Monday. The exhumation and examination of the remains was conducted in the presence of a coroner, at the orders of a First Instance Court prosecutor in Veria.
The investigation was launched after a resident of Rapsomaniki village revealed during a popular television show, investigating crime cases and disappearances, that an unidentified human skeleton was found buried next to a regular grave during an exhumation conducted five years ago in the local cemetery.
Alex Meschisvili was an 11-year-old boy that went missing in the town of Veria in February 2006 and whose body has never been recovered.
 Schools shut down in northern Greece due to weather conditionsSeveral schools in northern Greece will remain closed on Monday because of harsh weather conditions.
Snow and ice forced the shutdown of schools from Orestiada and Soufli in the Evros prefecture, northeastern Greece, to the greater Florina area in western Macedonia.
Furthermore, in some areas of western Macedonia, such as Amindeo, Serbia and Velvendo, the local authorities decided that schools will open an hour later.
Icy conditions in the greater Serres area, northeast of Thessaloniki, called for the shutdown of schools in certain areas and created problems in rural roads, with affected municipalities salting roads to prevent accidents, Giorgos Karagiannidis, head of civil protection in Serres told ANA-MPA. He said traffic in the city of Serres was normal on Monday following a heavy snowfall overnight.
According to Karagiannidis, traffic across the entire national road network of Serres prefecture continued normally on Monday without any problems.
Long-distance KTEL buses, whose schedules were cancelled, have resumed their runs as of 11:00 am.
 First of 20 waste compactor bins installed in AthensThe first waste compactor bin, with the capacity to hold as much waste as up to 40 conventional bins, was installed and put into operation in Athens' Goudi district on Monday.
The project, which will place 20 similar bins throughout the city, seeks to address the Athens municipality's chronic waste collection issues and is funded by the European Union through the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF).
The bin, which occupies six square metres, can fit twenty cubic meters of compacted waste. It is equipped with a raising device and the bin itself placed 3,5 meters under the ground, which ensures better hygiene and avoids bad odours, especially during hot summer months. The bins operate by a remote control sensor that alerts the sanitation department when its full and needs emptying, therefore saving both time and money.
 Rain on TuesdayRain and thunderstorms for Tuesday, while snowfall will occur at lower elevations, starting at 400 meters above sea level. Phenomena will abate overnight. Variable winds, from 3 to 8 Beaufort, especially high at the Aegean Sea and on Crete. Temperatures from -2C to 15C. In Athens, rain and thunderstorms that will abate late at night. Variable winds 4-8 Beaufort, gradually weakening. Temperatures from 4C to 10C. In Thessaloniki, overcast with freezing rain or snow. Easterly winds 3 to 6 Beaufort turning northerly overnight. Temperatures from -1C to 4C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailiesEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Dying in the Aegean Sea.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: All the secrets for women's pensions.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pensions from the age of 60 in public and private sector.
ESTIA: The threat of general elections devastates the economy.
ETHNOS: Big brother over civil servants' salaries.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Private urban development with change of regulations.
TA NEA: Building associations: Draft law-solution with land exchanges.
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