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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-02-13

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

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

Thursday, 13 February 2014 Issue No: 4585

CONTENTS

  • [01] Parliament passes amendment on timing of Euro-elections
  • [02] Interior ministry gives clarifications on how Greeks living abroad will vote at Europarliament elections
  • [03] PM meets head of Lidl Hellas, discusses company's investment programme
  • [04] Government works hard to relieve quake hit Cephalonia residents, secretary general Vartzopoulos says
  • [05] General Secretary Vartzopoulos says there will be an agreement with the troika; rules out early elections
  • [06] ND candidates for Athens municipality not aware of voters' problems, independent candidate Kaklamanis says
  • [07] DIM.AR leader rules out return to coalition gov't or move toward centre-left '58' movement
  • [08] ANEL announces its candidate for Athens mayor
  • [09] SYRIZA leads over ND, says opinion poll
  • [10] PM, government policies to blame for inefficient tax evasion investigations, SYRIZA spokesman says
  • [11] Deputy FM Kourkoulas's schedule for Thursday
  • [12] EU Commission backs Greek EU presidency plan for repeat talks on GMOs
  • [13] Draft law on assets of accused of money laundering to be tabled in parliament
  • [14] DIM.AR leader rules out return to coalition gov't or move toward centre-left '58' movement
  • [15] Foreign Policy Council to convene on Friday to discuss Cyprus issue
  • [16] Meeting to discuss 2030 framework for climate and energy at environment ministry on Thursday
  • [17] Administrative reform ministry draft bill on the abolition of public-sector organizations tabled in Parliament
  • [18] Decentralised Admin. official meets with Achaia farmers' representatives
  • [19] Defence Minister to brief armaments committee in Parliament on Thursday
  • [20] Defence minister meets Norwegian ambassador
  • [21] Law preparatory committee unveils new Code of Criminal Procedure
  • [22] Greece one of four countries with rise in industrial production, Eurostat
  • [23] Dep. minister Mitarakis urges Chinese investors to participate in Piraeus port privatisation
  • [24] Tourism minister meets investment company CEO and government officials in Riyadh
  • [25] More than 27 mln euros will be used to boost Athens youth entrepreneurship as part of the "Athina Project"
  • [26] Less Greeks plan to cut further personal spending compared to 2012-report
  • [27] Greek agriculture must make more efficient use of water, GuardEn meeting told
  • [28] State revenue service to request bank transaction data in attempt to crack down on tax evasion
  • [29] Dev't Minister Hatzidakis meets with social partners on the new NSRF
  • [30] Andreas Kouris acquitted for Alter TV debts to IKA
  • [31] New liabilities investigation into Thessaloniki Water, Sewage Company (EYATh)
  • [32] 80 proposals for industrial research development get 'green light'
  • [33] SEVE signs cooperation protocol with Union of Importers-Exporters of Iraqi Kurdistan
  • [34] Premium production in Greek insurance market down 9.3 pct in 2013
  • [35] Jumbo shareholders approve share capital increase plan
  • [36] Building activity up 36.2 pct in November
  • [37] Greek stocks end 2.58 pct higher
  • [38] Greek bond market closing report
  • [39] ADEX closing report
  • [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [41] Downtown Athens redevelopment project gets 'green light' by environment ministry
  • [42] Finance, Culture ministers meet over Athens Concert Hall future
  • [43] Farmers at road blocks ahead of Thursday's meeting with FinMin
  • [44] Seismology professor reassuring regarding new earthquake in Cephalonia
  • [45] Police seeking additional evidence relating to unreported rocket attack
  • [46] Waste management project in Western Greece awarded
  • [47] Court adjourns hearings of the national weightlifting team doping case to Feb 21
  • [48] Major technical project to be implemented in Ancient Olympia
  • [49] Visitors, revenues in museums and archaeological sites up in Jan-Oct 2013
  • [50] Prosecutor orders inquiry into reports of alleged reactor malfunction at Elefsina refinery
  • [51] Brussels academy holds conference on Black Sea Greeks genocide
  • [52] Secondary public school teachers to hold rallies, work stoppages
  • [53] Measures against tobacco smuggling
  • [54] Treasure hunters in search of hidden treasure near Amfipolis
  • [55] 1st "NafplioMarathon" race in March
  • [56] Light earthquake jolts Cephalonia
  • [57] Overcast on Thursday
  • [58] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies

  • [01] Parliament passes amendment on timing of Euro-elections

    Parliament on Wednesday passed an amendment stipulating that European Parliament elections will be held at the same time as the second round of local government elections, on May 25, with the support of the parties in the coalition government.

    The measure was passed after a heated debate focusing chiefly on a second part of the same amend-ment, which excludes all non-EU legal migrants from voting in EU and local government polls. The change in the law was made in the wake of a Council of State ruling, which found that laws giving non-EU foreign nationals the right to vote in local elections was unconstitutional.

    The amendment was attached to a justice ministry bill on holding 'fair trials'.

    Defending the measure concerning the timing of elections, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou cited technical and political reasons, with a much greater work load on election committees in the first round of the polls, and denied any attempt to influence the electoral body.

    Regarding measures denying foreign nationals and expa-triates the right to vote, he said this was merely compliance with the CoS ruling.

    The arguments were rejected by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary rapporteur Panagiotis Lafazanis, who accused the government of surprising the opposition with last-minute changes to the election system and claimed the ruling coalition partners were "in a panic" over their "electoral collapse in the second Sunday".

    The amendment was also criticised by the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), while Democratic Left (DIM.AR) clarified that implementing the court's decision could not be criticised per se but the government's failure to bring new legislation settling issues of nationality and naturalisation was not above reproach.

    [02] Interior ministry gives clarifications on how Greeks living abroad will vote at Europarliament elections

    The Interior Ministry has already started preparations so that Greeks living abroad can vote at the Europarliament elections, according to a document sent to parliament by Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis on Wednesday.

    According to the document, the ministry has sent detailed information to all consular authorities regarding how Greeks living abroad can apply to vote at the Europarliament elections, while they have set a March 28 deadline for the submission of such applications.

    Voters are invited to submit a request to the consular in the district they intend to exercise their voting rights, indicating they wish to vote in their place of residence. Those who have Internet access can also fill in the application and then submit it to the relevant authority.

    The applications are then sent to the Interior ministry in order to compile the lists of Greek voters residing in EU member states. After the expiry of the deadline for the submission of applications, the ministry will complete the processing of applications and will compile the special electoral lists.

    The document was submitted to parliament after a request of seven main opposition (SYRIZA) deputies.

    [03] PM meets head of Lidl Hellas, discusses company's investment programme

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday received the head of Lidl Hellas Georg Kroell and held talks on the company's planned investment programme for 2014, amounting to 130 million euros.

    Kroell said that the discount supermarket chain plans to build and operate two new logistics centres in the country, the first of which will be inaugurated on Thursday by Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis in Kalyvia, Attica.

    Samaras thanked Kroell for the faith the company has shown in the Greek economy and for promoting Greek exports to European countries, as well as for support the export potential of Greek farmers.

    [04] Government works hard to relieve quake hit Cephalonia residents, secretary general Vartzopoulos says

    Authorities are putting in a big effort and are taking fast-track and effective measures to start the restoration of damages on buildings and infrastructure in the earthquake stricken area of Lixouri on the island of Cephalonia, the secretary general of the Coordination of the Government's Work Dimitris Vartzopoulos told ANA-MPA.

    "I can see that life on the island's capital has come back to normal, while Lixouri and the surrounding area have suffered significant damage on infrastructure and houses," he said.

    The second-level inspection of the buildings, which have been declared unsuitable to live-in, started on Monday and will soon be concluded, the secretary general said. Then, the procedure of granting rent benefits to those in search of a new house will start.

    Regarding damages on households' electric appliances and furniture, Vartzopoulos said: "This is what has been decided: those, whose house has been totally destroyed, will get an advance payment, based on the building's surface and the number of their family members, as soon as the first-level inspection report has been submitted. This will be paid along with the one-off 580-euro aid."

    He added that municipality authorities will perform inspections to houses, which have been declared suitable to live-in, but whose appliances and furniture have been damaged, so that residents can get economic aid.

    He reiterated that "those, whose houses have been declared unsuitable to live-in, will not pay the electricity bills that will be sent to them." Moreover, Cephalonia citizens are exempted from tax obligations until April 30 and from property tax for 2014.

    [05] General Secretary Vartzopoulos says there will be an agreement with the troika; rules out early elections

    General Secretary for Coordination of the Government's Work Dimitris Vartzopoulos on Wednesday expressed certainty that the troika of the country's lenders will accept the government's position and an agreement will be reached "before the numbers are announced".

    Speaking on "Vima" private radio, he said that the government is certain that economic performance will improve this year because it is already apparent that recession will be smaller than expected, while tax and reform revenues will increase, successfully reducing expenditures.

    He said that the troika disagrees but it will accept the government's position, noting that "as Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has said, the troika had the same views last year but we were proved right and they accepted it. The same will happen this time and everything will turn out fine. They will accept it before the numbers are announced."

    He said that the Eurostat results will confirm the finance ministry results. "A substantive agreement will be reached with the troika in the following weeks. Eurostat will confirm the surplus by the end of April and soon after there will be a discussion on public debt relief," he said.

    Vartzopoulos added that "technical processing will be completed after the European elections and an atmosphere of trust will be created, already taking shape as a result of our reform efforts that will help the country return to the markets in the second half of the year. This way we will cover our needs as regards the fiscal gap".

    He ruled out the likelihood of early elections, noting that they will not take place before 2016. "Pay attention to what Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is saying. When he says 2016 he means it," Vartzopoulos underlined.

    [06] ND candidates for Athens municipality not aware of voters' problems, independent candidate Kaklamanis says

    New Democracy's (ND) candidates for the Athens municipality are not aware of the problems of the party's ordinary voters, ND deputy and former mayor of Athens Nikitas Kaklamanis told private TV station Ant1 on Wednesday.

    "I love my city and I do not feel very comfortable in this parliament," Kaklamanis, an independent candidate for the Athens municipality, said.

    Regarding the ND' candidates, he said: "They live within four walls and have no contact with the ordinary voters of the party." He added he was addressing the working class, where he comes from

    Kaklamanis acknowledged that the chances of his election are limited, but said he would put up a fight. Asked whether he would surrender his seat in parliament, he replied: "I've done it twice before, but this time I will not do them the favour."

    [07] DIM.AR leader rules out return to coalition gov't or move toward centre-left '58' movement

    Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Wednesday ruled out any return to the coalition government or any move toward the centre-left movement of the so-called "58", in statements to the private radio station "Vima".

    "If I was positively disposed [to the movement of the 58] we would have responded to their invitation," he said, adding that the effort was not what the "country and society need to regroup the democratic area".

    Regarding the government, Kouvelis noted that since DIM.AR had pulled out of the coalition, it had continued to pursue the same policies to which DIM.AR disagreed with the same and even greater intensity.

    Commenting on the European and local government elections, he said these would allow "conclusions" regarding the political scene, notwithstanding their local and regional character, and his estimate that the pro- and anti-austerity debate would not dominate people's vote.

    [08] ANEL announces its candidate for Athens mayor

    Independent Greeks party (ANEL) on Wednesday announced that the MP Vasilis Kapernaros' is to run for Athens mayor with the party's support.

    According to the announcement, the selection of Kapernaros was made by ANEL's leader Panos Kammenos and was unanimously approved by the party's Parliamentary Group.

    [09] SYRIZA leads over ND, says opinion poll

    Main opposition SYRIZA leads 1.5 percent over New Democracy (ND), according to an opinion poll conducted by Public Issue for Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper.

    According to the poll results, SYRIZA leads among those questioned with 30 percent, followed by ND with 28.5 percent, ultra-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 8.5 percent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 7.5 percent, PASOK with 7 percent, Independent Greeks with 6 percent and Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 3.5 percent and 9.5 percent expressed preference to other parties.

    The geographic coverage of the opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between 3 and 7 February.

    [10] PM, government policies to blame for inefficient tax evasion investigations, SYRIZA spokesman says

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesperson Panos Skourletis criticized Prime Minister Antonis Samaras through a statement on Wednesday regarding the investigation of pending tax cases.

    In his statement, Skourletis noted that the government, through its tax policy, covers up the serious issue of tax evasion, citing the ongoing 'Lagarde-list' investigation as the most obvious example.

    Skourletis stressed that the Financial Prosecutor's orders for an urgent preliminary inquiry into the conduct of investigations into outstanding tax cases confirms that justice is rising to the occasion, seeking to defend public interest while leaving the government exposed for the immunity it offers to the rich and to tax evaders.

    Finally, SYRIZA's spokesman concluded that the understaffing of the tax service and the inability of both the tax office and the financial crimes' squad SDOE to effectively investigate tax cases can be attributed directly to the current government and its prime minister.

    [11] Deputy FM Kourkoulas's schedule for Thursday

    Deputy Foreign Dimitris Kourkoulas on Thursday will deliver a speech on "Priorities of Economic Diplomacy" as part of the Foreign Ministry's event on "2013 Report- 2014 Economic Diplomacy Action Plan".

    The event, part of the economic diplomacy action plan aimed at promoting Greece's economic and commercial interests, will take place at the Foreign Ministry at 10:00.

    At 14:30, Kourkoulas, accompanied by Hellenic Post (ELTA) chairman and CEO Costis Melahrinos, will present the commemorative set of stamps issued to mark Greece's assumption of the EU presidency.

    [12] EU Commission backs Greek EU presidency plan for repeat talks on GMOs

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)

    The European Commission is in favour of the Greek EU presidency proposal to repeat a discussion on approving genetically-modified organisms in the European Union, a spokesman for European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday.

    "We view with confidence the Greek presidency's plan to put this issue on the daily agenda of the Council in March, so that there can be progress on this issue," the spokesman said during the regular press briefing.

    The Greek presidency of the EU Council on Tuesday announced its decision to hold a second discussion on the issue at the upcoming EU enviroment ministers' council, after the Commission's proposal to approve cultivation of GM maize in the EU failed to obtain the required majority.

    [13] Draft law on assets of accused of money laundering to be tabled in parliament

    The government's provisions on the distribution of movable and immovable property of those accused for money laundering and tax evasion are at their final stage.

    According to Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou, the relevant draft law will be soon tabled in parliament.

    Justice Minister's document was sent to parliament on Wednesday in response to New Democracy MPs Maximos Senetakis and Yiannis Kefalogiannis' question on the liquidation in favour of the Greek State of frozen bank accounts of persons accused of breaching the 'state of wealth' law, money laundering, tax evasion and smuggling, so that money from the frozen bank accounts to be directly sent to the State coffers and to be immediately used for social policy actions.

    [14] DIM.AR leader rules out return to coalition gov't or move toward centre-left '58' movement

    Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Wednesday ruled out any return to the coalition government or any move toward the centre-left movement of the so-called "58", in statements to the private radio station "Vima".

    "If I was positively disposed [to the movement of the 58] we would have responded to their invitation," he said, adding that the effort was not what the "country and society need to regroup the democratic area".

    Regarding the government, Kouvelis noted that since DIM.AR had pulled out of the coalition, it had continued to pursue the same policies to which DIM.AR disagreed with the same and even greater intensity.

    Commenting on the European and local government elections, he said these would allow "conclusions" regarding the political scene, notwithstanding their local and regional character, and his estimate that the pro- and anti-austerity debate would not dominate people's vote.

    [15] Foreign Policy Council to convene on Friday to discuss Cyprus issue

    The National Council for Foreign Policy (ESEP) is to convene on Friday, with Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in the chair.

    According to a foreign ministry announcement, the meeting will examine the latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue and Greece's interventions relating to decisions for the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal, taken by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

    [16] Meeting to discuss 2030 framework for climate and energy at environment ministry on Thursday

    Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis has called a working meeting to be held on Thursday, which will conduct a substantive dialogue and exchange of views concerning 2030 framework for Climate and Energy policies, a package of European Commission proposals presented to EU member-states on January 22.

    In an announcement on Wednesday, Maniatis said that promoting the proposals is a top priority for the Greek EU Presidency, noting that it is considered very important for the future of the EU in the sectors of climate change and energy. The European leaders will discuss the issue in the European Council meeting to take place in Brussels on March 20-21, while meetings of the Environment and Energy Councils will be held on March 3 and 4 respectively.

    The minister called on the working meeting's participants to answer questions on the progress towards a low-carbon economy, focusing on a competitive and secure energy system and new opportunities for growth and jobs.

    The meeting will be attended by the environment ministry leadership, general and special secretaries, representatives of the ministries of finance, development & competitiveness, and infrastructure, transport & networks.

    [17] Administrative reform ministry draft bill on the abolition of public-sector organizations tabled in Parliament

    An administrative reform ministry-sponsored draft bill on the abolition of 23 public-sector organizations, which also introduces changes in the civil servants' evaluation system and simplifies certain administrative procedures, was submitted to Parliament on Wednesday.

    The 23 organizations are being closed "because they are considered to be obsolete, while a number of their employees will be removed," the administrative reform ministry underlined.

    Specifically, private-law, open-ended contract employees of abolished private law legal entities will be laid off, while public-sector law legal entity employees will be included in the public-sector employee mobility programme, after being placed in a labour reserve pool.

    The reorganization of state structures is a strategic priority for the government, the administrative reform ministry underlined, noting that the goal is to have more effective and productive public-sector organizations and institutions with the smallest possible financial cost.

    The draft bill also includes changes in the evaluation system for public-sector employees in order to serve as an incentive for improved performance, as well as, administrative simplifications to reduce red tape and ensure that taxpayers will be better served.

    [18] Decentralised Admin. official meets with Achaia farmers' representatives

    Decentralised Administration Secretary General George Didaskalou held a meeting on Wednesday with representatives of Achaia prefecture farmers.

    The farmers' representatives presented all their demands to Didaskalou during the meeting, especially concerning their new taxation framework introduced by the government.

    Didaskalou stressed that "we must support those living from the primary sector", adding that "it is unacceptable in a country that has a total of approximately 300,000 real farmers, to have subsidies and aid be allocated to one million beneficiaries".

    The Achaia prefecture farmers are continuing their mobilisations, with another one scheduled for 12:00 noon on Thursday.

    More specifically, they will go to the Rio tolls on the Patra-Corinth national motorway, and, according to reports, the farmers are planning to open the tollgate bars to enable vehicles to pass through freely.

    [19] Defence Minister to brief armaments committee in Parliament on Thursday

    National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will appear before the Special Parliamentary Committee for Armaments Programmes and Contracts at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, the ministry announced on Wednesday.

    Avramopoulos will brief the committee members during a session that will also be attended by the ministry's top political and military officials.

    [20] Defence minister meets Norwegian ambassador

    National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday had a meeting with the Norwegian Ambassador in Athens Sjur Larsen.

    [21] Law preparatory committee unveils new Code of Criminal Procedure

    The law preparatory committee, assigned the task of reforming the Code of Criminal Procedure, introduced in its completed report procedures already applied in countries like the UK, the United States and Germany to relieve Greece's courts congested by hundreds of thousands of pending cases, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The new draft of the Code of Criminal Procedure was produced by a committee chaired by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Law School professor Lambros Margaritis. Its main innovation is that it introduces the process of plea bargaining between the prosecutor and a defendant, depending on the severity of the case. The prosecutor can reach agreement on sentencing with a defendant without having to try the case in court.

    Another innovation is to introduce single-judge courts of appeal for most criminal cases, instead of larger ones, in an effort to ensure a faster turnaround in the administration of justice.

    Financial News

    [22] Greece one of four countries with rise in industrial production, Eurostat

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    Industrial production rose by 2.6 percent in Greece in December, compared to November, Eurostat said on Wednesday.

    The EU's statistics agency said in a report that Greece was one of only 4 eurozone states registering a rise, while 19 registered a drop. Besides Greece, the others with improved industrial production in December include Slovenia (up 2.7 pct), Portugal (up 0.7 pct), and Great Britain (up 0.4 pct).

    For the same period, both in the EU and the eurozone, industrial production fell by 0.7 pct, with the greatest drop recorded in Estonia (down 5.7 pct), Sweden (down 2.7 pct), Holland (down 2.6 pct) and Croatia (down 2.4 pct).

    [23] Dep. minister Mitarakis urges Chinese investors to participate in Piraeus port privatisation

    Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarakis, nearing the end of a three-day visit to Beijing, on Wednesday urged Chinese investors to participate in the privatisation of Piraeus port, where the Chinese firm COSCO has already set up an operation.

    The minister said that the port's complete privatisation will further increase efficiency and lead to new investments that will be beneficial for Greece's economy.

    Later on Wednesday, Mitarakis is to travel to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, and start a round of meetings on Thursday in order to attract investments to Greece. He is to meet the governor of the province, Zhu Xiaodan and visit the Guangdong Association of Investment Abroad.

    While in Beijing, the deputy minister met several Chinese government officials and held talks with businesses, while he was keynote speaker at an Investment Forum organised by the Greek Embassy in collaboration with China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

    Mitarakis met on Tuesday with NDRC Vice-President Zhang Xiaogiang and signed a memorandum on the establishment of a permanent mechanism to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the field of investments.

    They also discussed issues relating to privatisations, private investments and the direct air link between the two countries as well as participation in the Hellenic Investment Fund.

    Other meetings included that with Vice Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan focusing on the need to boost mutual investments and increasing tourism from Greece to China, as well as the need for a direct flight between the two countries. The Chinese minister said that China wished to increase imports from Greece, as well as Chinese investments in the country, as well as to encourage tourism to Greece.

    In talks with Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Chao, Mitarakis presented the priorities of the Greek presidency of the EU Council and noted the Greek side's willingness to upgrade EU-Chinese relations. He also highlighted the significant progress made in bilateral relations and expressed hope that the Chinese president and prime minister will soon be able to visit Greece, building on the momentum created by the visit made by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to Beijing.

    In an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua, he said that his visit to China had confirmed the existence of opportunities and a willingness by both Greek and Chinese firms to make use of these, while outlining the comparative advantages that Greece has to offer, especially as a "gateway" to Europe and the East.

    [24] Tourism minister meets investment company CEO and government officials in Riyadh

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Wednesday met with Kingdom Holding Company president and CEO, Prince Al Waleed bin Talal. Talks focused on investment opportunities in Greece in connection with tourism.

    Kefalogianni, who is on an official visit in Saudi Arabia, presented Greece's recently introduced tourism policies with emphasis on simplifying tourism entrepreneurship procedures.

    Kingdom Holding Company is involved with large tourism investments on a global scale. The purpose of the meeting was to attract Arab investments in Greece and was arranged after a series of contacts between the prince and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

    The minister was also received by Saudi Arabian Deputy Prime Minister Prince Murqin bin Abdulaziz and discussed the possibility of direct airline connection between Greece and Saudi Arabia and other tourism issues.

    Kefalogianni met also with Culture and Information Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Mohieddin Khoja and talks focused on the production of a documentary presenting Greece in Saudi Arabia. In addition they discussed the possibility of organizing an exhibition in Riyadh and Athens to project the cultural legacy of both countries.

    So far on her visit, Kefalogianni has also met with the minister of Tourism, members of the Saudi Arabian Chamber of Commerce and the governor of the Riyadh province.

    [25] More than 27 mln euros will be used to boost Athens youth entrepreneurship as part of the "Athina Project"

    More than 27 million euros have been earmarked to improve competitiveness and entrepreneurship in the Athens municipality, according to participants in an event organized by the Municipality of Athens on the "Athina Project" which has already secured 120 million euros from EU funds.

    The 27 million euros will be used to boost cutting-edge sectors of the local economy but mainly to fight unemployment through the hiring of young workers.

    A significant part of the "Athina Project" is focused on improving competitiveness and entrepreneurship in Athens. The municipal authority has implemented actions to boost entrepreneurship, either by using its own resources and services or by collaborating with other organizations.

    The Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis said the city has secured 120 million euros from the European Union for the "Athina Project".

    "In this context, and in cooperation with 10 major organizations, we have designed a programme to stimulate entrepreneurship in the capital, securing more than 27 million euros for its implementation. The results will include the creation of hundreds of new jobs, the setting up of new and innovative companies mainly by young entrepreneurs and the support of hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)," he said.

    The head of Greece's industrialists' union SEV Dimitris Daskalopoulos also addressed the participants, pointing out that a truly modern Greece cannot exist without a truly modern business that will take charge of the development being inspired by a sense of corporate responsibility.

    [26] Less Greeks plan to cut further personal spending compared to 2012-report

    Greeks love buying branded products and receiving shopping bonuses including extra gifts or voucher points, but more than half of them plan to cut down on their expenses.

    This percentage, though, is lower compared to 2012, according to the findings of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey on consumer sentiment in Greece.

    BCG head Vassilis Antoniadis said the survey found a reserved underlying optimism over consumer confidence. Camille Egloff-Gika, one of the writers of the report, said that health, calmness, family, education and stability were the most important values, followed by home. In the 2012 report, convenience, health, calmness, environment and wellness took the top five places.

    Greek consumers plan to cut down on personal spendin, but the percentage of those saying they would spend less fell to 55 percent compared to 68 percent in 2012.

    Moreover, their expenses are more targeted compared to the past. A 83 percent of the participants said they wanted to cut expenses on less important products, while 66 percent said they would not spend less on basic goods, such as fresh food and dairy but would go out to restaurants less often.

    Greeks prefer domestic products, but they will not buy them if they are more expensive.

    Regarding online shopping, most participants use the internet to buy tickets, electronic appliances and clothes.

    The report also referred to the way Greek consumers' behavior has changed during the crisis, highlighting the need for a better and more innovative promotion of goods aimed at boosting consumption.

    [27] Greek agriculture must make more efficient use of water, GuardEn meeting told

    Greece's agricultural sector, which accounts for 80 pct of water consumption in Greece, must rationalise its use of water, agricultural science specialist Prof. Pantazis Georgiou stressed at working meeting for the European GuardEn project held on Wednesday.

    Georgiou noted that the future challenge for agriculture was to increase production and ensure adequate food supply while preserving natural resources, stressing that increasing production meant increasing consumption of irrigation water.

    The GuardEn project seeks to develop and put into pilot operation a cohesive framework to support optimal planning and effective implementation of strategies on a regional and local level in order to prevent or manage environmental risks.

    GuardEn is part of the South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme, which gets 85 pct of its funding from the European Regional Development Fund and 15 pct from national funds. Participants include 15 agencies from eight countries, including the northern Greece industries' association (SBBE) and the American Agricultural School of Thessaloniki.

    [28] State revenue service to request bank transaction data in attempt to crack down on tax evasion

    Banks will be required to provide the state revenue service with the names and other identifying data of account holders who have carried out, on an annual basis, over 50,000 euros in transactions, or who hold investment accounts with over 100,000 euros in transactions on an annual basis, the General Secretariat of State Revenues said on Wednesday.

    The data will have to be provided by banks between February and March 31. Also obliged to submit data are insurance companies, private schools and clinics, public utilities and other agencies, to enable the government to cross-check them with declared income tax and crack down on tax evasion.

    The Finance ministry's general secretariat said that data must also be provided by landline and mobile telephony companies, electric power companies and water-supply companies.

    [29] Dev't Minister Hatzidakis meets with social partners on the new NSRF

    The financing of enterprises through the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) were the focus of a meeting on Wednesday between Development & Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and the boards of private sector trade unions GSEE, the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE), the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE), the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), and the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE).The minister outlined the new EU strateging funding programme and plans for the best absorption possible in the 2014-2020 programme period, helping the country's economic growth.

    [30] Andreas Kouris acquitted for Alter TV debts to IKA

    An Athens police court on Wednesday acquitted Andreas Kouris, the son of publisher George Kouris, of charges over a two-million-euro debt to Greece's main social insurance fund IKA owed by Eleftheri Tileorasi, the company that owns the television station Alter. The court accepted arguments that he was not involved in the daily management of the company and could not thus be held to be a legal representative, manager or director of the company.

    [31] New liabilities investigation into Thessaloniki Water, Sewage Company (EYATh)

    Eighteen projects of the Thessaloniki Water and Sewage Company (EYATh), worth 13 million euros and completed betewen 2003 and 2006, are the focus of a preliminary investigation ordered by the northern city's anticorruption prosecutor, Argyris Dimopoulos, on Wednesday.

    The company management will come under scrutiny for possible criminal acts including breach of trust, embezzlement and falsification of documents at the expense of the state.

    The investigation is ordered on the basis of charges filed claiming that non-transparent procedures were followed for certain projects which were billed twice over.

    Another preliminary investigation involving EYATh has been under way, by order of the same prosecutor, for similar reasons.

    [32] 80 proposals for industrial research development get 'green light'

    Eighty proposals were approved for funding by the Act "2013 Development of Industrial Research and Technology (PAVET)", which aims to encourage and develop industrial research and experimental development.

    This is to be achieved through funding projects, which will be executed by dynamic domestic production firms.

    The PAVET program is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and national resources under the Programme for Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (OP II) and the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) 2007-2013.

    The basic objective is to promote innovation and enhance business competitiveness by producing products and services of high added value.

    The total approved public expenditure proposals approved for funding amounts to 19.5 million euros.

    [33] SEVE signs cooperation protocol with Union of Importers-Exporters of Iraqi Kurdistan

    The northern Greece exporters association SEVE signed a cooperation protocol with Union of Importers-Exporters of the Kurdistan Region-Iraq president Shekh Mustafa Abdulla, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Cooperation will focus on bilateral trade and economic relations and the exchange of business information and missions between Greece and Iraqi Kurdistan.

    Iraqi Kurdistan has a population of roughly 5 million with an annual growth rate of 3 pct. Economic growth in 2011 and 2012 was at 12 pct, while in the next five years the goal set is to have an average annual growth rate of roughly 8 pct. The per capita income in 2011 was 4,450 euros, increased 1,400 pct compared to 2003.

    Investors have expressed interest in the construction sector, booming due to the population increase and improved living standards in the region, as well as in the sectors of health, agriculture, industry and tourism.

    [34] Premium production in Greek insurance market down 9.3 pct in 2013

    Premium production in the Greek insurance market fell by 9.3 pct in 2013, official figures showed on Wednesday.

    The Association of Insurance Companies of Greece, in a report, said that premium production in life insurance contracts fell by 14.1 pct last year, while production in general insurance contracts eased 5.5 pct.

    The report was based on figures offered by around 60 insurance companies, which accounted for 94.6 pct of premium production in the country, of which 22 were life insurance companies (with a market share of 98.8 pct) and 49 were general insurance companies (market share of 91.3 pct).

    Premium production totaled 3.8 billion euros in 2013, of which 42.8 pct in life insurance and 57.2 pct in general insurance contracts.

    [35] Jumbo shareholders approve share capital increase plan

    A Jumbo extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday approved a board plan for a share capital increase and the distribution of free shares at a ratio of one for 22 existing shares.

    The shareholders' meeting also authorized the board to begin negotiations with interested banks to issue a new bond loan to replace an existing one worth 145 million euros. The company's management briefed shareholders over current sales trends and said sales grew 7.22 pct in the first seven months of the year.

    Jumbo operates a retail network of 66 units, of which 52 in Greece, four in Cyprus, eight in Bulgaria and two in Romania, while it also operates an e-Jumbo shop. The company will release its official figures for the first half of the year in February 27.

    [36] Building activity up 36.2 pct in November

    Building activity grew significantly in November 2013, compared with the same month in 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that building activity grew 36.2 pct in November (based on the number of building permits issued in the month) and by 89 pct in volume compared with the same month in 2012. Private building activity grew 35.1 pct in permits and by 89.2 pct in volume in November.

    In the 12-month period from December 2012 to November 2012, building activity fell by 29 pct in permits and by 24.5 pct in volume, while in the January-November period of 2013, building activity was down 27.4 pct in permits and by 23.7 pct in volume, compared with the same period in 2012.

    [37] Greek stocks end 2.58 pct higher

    Greek stocks resumed their upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, following Tuesday's short-lived correction, pushing the composite index of the market 2.58 pct higher to end at 1,278.22 points. Turnover, however, eased to 65.96 million euros.

    The Large Cap index jumped 2.71 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.62 pct higher. All blue chip stocks ended higher, with Korinth Pipeworks (7.49 pct), MIG (5.94 pct), OPAP (4.38 pct), PPC (4.17 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (3.86 pct) and Piraeus Port (3.62 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day. The Insurance (5.04 pct), Travel (4.10 pc), Raw Materials (4.10 pct) and Utilities (3.75 pct) sectors scored the biggest gains, while the Media sector ended lower (-1.50 pct).

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 93 to 43, with another 24 issues unchanged. Naftemporiki (27.37 pct), Ideal (25.71 pct) and Alko (20.45 pct) were top gainers, while Xylemporia (21.43 pct), Galaxidi (21.43 pct) and Nakas (20.02 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +5.04%

    Industrial Products: +2.41%

    Commercial: +3.20%

    Construction: +2.77%

    Media: -1.50%

    Oil & Gas: +2.85%

    Personal & Household: +2.05%

    Raw Materials: +4.01%

    Travel & Leisure: +4.10%

    Technology: +2.91%

    Telecoms: +1.65%

    Banks: +1.99%

    Food & Beverages: +3.03%

    Health: +3.40%

    Utilities: +3.75%

    Financial Services: +2.93%

    Chemicals: +1.49%

    Real Estate: +1.31%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, Piraeus Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.71

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.23

    Coca Cola HBC: 19.54

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.27

    National Bank of Greece: 3.75

    Eurobank Properties : 7.90

    OPAP: 10.48

    OTE: 12.35

    Piraeus Bank: 1.97

    Titan: 22.72

    [38] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds continued shrinking to 5.84 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 5.91 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 7.57 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.73 pct. Turnover was a moderate 9.0 million euros, of which 7.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.552 pct from 0.554 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.475 pct, the six-month rate was 0.390 pct, the three-month rate was 0.291 pct and the one-month rate was 0.23 pct.

    [39] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.33 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover almost unchanged at 28.987 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,564 contracts worth 21.855 million euros, with 49,593 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,136 contracts worth 7.132 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (1,986), followed by National Bank (655), Piraeus Bank (1,430), MIG (1,710), OTE (1,325), PPC (1,518), OPAP (953), Mytilineos (830), Hellenic Petroleum (408), Intralot (875), Hellenic Exchanges (178), Sidenor (105) and GEK (351).

    [40] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.377

    Pound sterling 0.833

    Danish kroner 7.574

    Swedish kroner 8.903

    Japanese yen 140.97

    Swiss franc 1.243

    Norwegian kroner 8.457

    Canadian dollar 1.515

    Australian dollar 1.524

    General News

    [41] Downtown Athens redevelopment project gets 'green light' by environment ministry

    A 78.5-million-euro project for the redevelopment of the Panepistimiou-Patission axis, the extension of the tram line and related traffic measures that will breath new life into the center of Athens, was given the "green light" on Wednesday.

    The project is entering its final stretch towards its implementation following the signing of the environmental impact study by Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis.

    The project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016, consists of a number of smaller projects that are divided into two entities to be funded with 37,974,000 euros by the ministry of the environment through the Operational Programme for Environment & Sustainable Development (EPPEPAA), and with 40,526,000 euros by the Regional Authority of Attiki through the Regional Operational Programme (PEP Attiki).

    The project chiefly concerns the extension of the tram line from Syntagma Square to Egyptou Square via the Amalias, Panepistimiou and Patission streets.

    The redevelopment of the public space between Acadimias and Stadiou streets, as well as interventions on Amalias and Patission streets up to Egiptou Square that will give a priority to pedestrians are also included in the project, while traffic circulation measures will help redesign public transportation routing for easier access to downtown Athens.

    Athens' Syntagma and Omonia Squares will be turned into "green urban squares", while work will be carried out at Dikeossinis Square and Korai Street to turn them into a free public space.

    [42] Finance, Culture ministers meet over Athens Concert Hall future

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos met on Wednesday to discuss a business plan assuring the continued operation of the Athens Concert Hall.

    According to govenrment officials, the Hall is unable to pay back three loans worth 245 million euros, secured by the state. The outstanding loan amount was 229.27 million euros on June 30, 2013, according to data provided to Parliament by Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras.

    The meeting was also attended by Staikouras and Athens Concert Hall president Yiannis Manos.

    [43] Farmers at road blocks ahead of Thursday's meeting with FinMin

    Farmers' representatives are expected to meet with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday in Athens, while any crucial decisions on further protests will be taken in the next few days.

    Farmers told ANA-MPA that no agreement had been reached during their meetings with Agriculture ministry top officials and the Finance ministry's secretary general, who told them that "any changes can be implemented only by order of the prime minister or the Finance minister."

    Farmers' representatives on Wednesday are meeting with Deputy Labour Minister Vassilis Kegeroglou to discuss the employment of foreigners in their fields.

    At the Kouloura block, on the Egnatia highway in Northern Greece, farmers are still in a wait-and-see stance and according to the vice-president of the Imathia farmers' movement Costas Lioliopoulos an increasing number of farmers are driving their tractors to the area.

    Farmers in Thessaly, central Greece, have called a rally for Thursday afternoon, hoping that workers from other sectors will join their protest.

    Farmers in Pella have blocked the entrance of the Edessa tax office building while Kavala farmers have set up two blocks in the area.

    Some 130 Thessaloniki farmers will drive their tractors to the Prasina Fanaria junction at noon while their colleagues at Vassilika will symbolically block the road at 13.00.

    Farmers and other workers from Viotia, central Greece, are heading towards the Tragana tolls, on the Athens-Lamia highway to protest toll fees hikes. Protesters will offer drivers agricultural products, such as spinach, and will open the tolls, so that cars can go through without paying any fees, for about two hours.

    Farmers oppose a measure requiring those with turnover below 40,000 euros to keep accounts on spending and income. They demand, among others, a tax-free family income of 20,000 euros, increased by 5,000 euros for each child; that farmers unable to pay debts to the state be not prosecuted; that there is no seizure of property (fields or houses) valued up to 300,000 euros; and a 30 percent haircut in loans up to 200,000 euros. They also hope to reduce production costs (by getting tax-free oil and low electricity rates) and boost livestock breeding.

    [44] Seismology professor reassuring regarding new earthquake in Cephalonia

    Seismology Professor Akis Tselentis ruled out the possibility of another major earthquake occurring on Cephalonia island, in an interview he gave to ANA-MPA on Wednesday.

    Commenting on an earthquake of 4.5 magnitude on the Richter scale earlier in the day at Lixouri, one of the island's two main towns, Tselentis stressed that the main seismic activity is over: "The main phenomenon is over. From time to time we may have aftershocks that may be a little strong. Nevertheless, there is no way we will have a strong earthquake in the greater area of Paliki."

    The professor stressed that today's earthquake is part of the aftershock period, while a seismic-less interlude does not mean that a strong earthquake is expected.

    The Ionian island has experienced two major earthquakes and several aftershocks since the end of January which caused extensive damages mostly in the towns of Lixouri and Argostoli, on the western part of the island.

    [45] Police seeking additional evidence relating to unreported rocket attack

    The Greek Police (ELAS) counter-terrorism unit on Wednesday said it was looking for additional evidence from security cameras and other sources concerning a previously unreported rocket attack on the 'Mercedes-Benz' building in Attica's Varybobi district.

    Authorities learned of the attack through a proclamation issued Tuesday by the terror organisation "People's Fighters Group", who said that they had fired a missile at the building on January 12. In the same proclamation, the group also claimed responsibility for an attack on the German ambassador's residence in Athens in December 2013.

    The claim was confirmed after police found a metal shard, believed to be part of the rocket, in a crater formed by the explosion. This was discovered in a plot of land behind the Mercedes-Benz building on Tuesday night, after a careful search of the area. The shard was sent to the police forensics laboratory for examination.

    The police are now trying to locate the precise spot from which the rocket was fired but have so far not been assisted in their efforts by the accounts of local residents who heard the blast, which they said were unclear. The scant signs left by the explosion and the confused witness accounts are considered the main reasons why the attack was not discovered earlier.

    A Greek Police (ELAS) officer also denied earlier reports that the police were conducting an internal inquiry to find out whether there had been mistakes or omissions by police services in connection with the case.

    According to the officer, police investigated the reports of the blast received after the attack but were unable to discern that anything was amiss, since the witness reports were unclear as to its location or nature. The later more thorough search of the scene showed that it would have been impossible for officers who investigated to discover anything without more information, he said.

    [46] Waste management project in Western Greece awarded

    A consortium by J&P-Mediterranean-AAGHS has won a contract for a waste management project in Western Greece under the method of public and private sector cooperation in the prefect of Ilia.

    It is the fourth such project to be awarded after signing similar contracts in the regions of Peloponese, Western Macedonia and Central Macedonia.

    The project will be funded through community and private funds (60 pct) and through the Jessica fund.

    [47] Court adjourns hearings of the national weightlifting team doping case to Feb 21

    A misdemeanors court on Wednesday opened the hearings of the doping case of the national weightlifting team, after the case had been postponed eight times in the last six years.

    The 25 defendants include eminent athletes, coaches and other sport officials who are facing charges for administration of banned chemicals to athletes to improve their performance, use of prohibited chemicals from the athletes and instigation on the above, as well as manufacturing, selling, supplying and possession of drugs.

    Their lawyers submitted to the court a request for the postponement of the trial, with some of them citing impediment. The request, however, was rejected by the court, which adjourned the trial for February 21 to facilitate lawyers who declared impediment .

    The case came to court in April 2008, when it was disclosed that during unannounced doping checks by WADA by order of IWF on 7 March 2008, 11 from 13 athletes of the weightlifting team had been found positive for illegal substances.

    [48] Major technical project to be implemented in Ancient Olympia

    A major technical project, which will essentially preserve the archaeological site of Olympia, will be implemented in the most important religious and athletic center of antiquity.

    The project involves preventive works aiming at supporting the slopes located at the Kronios hill and the altar of Demeter Chamyne.

    "The natural phenomena that occurred recently in neighboring areas of Messinia, with landslides...give us no other option. We must deal with it in a dynamic way so as to avoid having to face the same problem in Olympia in the future. They are effectively preventive measures," Culture Ministry's Secretary General Lina Mendoni told the Central Archaeological Council, which on Tuesday unanimously gave the green light to studies on the preservation and promotion of both monuments.

    The studies, included in the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) program since last March, aim at ensuring the drain and the static of the slope in the altar of Demeter Chamyne and the retaining wall of Olympia's Treasuries- the buildings which the Greek cities used to house the rich offerings to Zeus.

    Apart from the still and drainage works, a number of enhancement projects will be implemented on the site, including the construction of a specific route at the top of the slope, viewing space, information boards and lights.

    [49] Visitors, revenues in museums and archaeological sites up in Jan-Oct 2013

    Visitors to Greek museums in October 2013 increased by 17.5 percent, and revenues from entrance tickets rose by 28.2 pct compared to the same month last year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Wednesday.

    It also said that for January-October 2013, there were 15.7 pct more visitors to museums and revenues rose by 14.5 pct, compared to the same period last year.

    In terms of archaeological sites, ELSTAT said, the number of visitors rose by 20.5 pct in October while revenues rose by 16.7 pct. In the period January-October 2013, the number of visitors in archaeological sites rose by 23 pct and revenues by 17.4 pct.

    [50] Prosecutor orders inquiry into reports of alleged reactor malfunction at Elefsina refinery

    The first-instance court public prosecutors' office on Wednesday ordered a preliminary inquiry into a reported malfunction in a reactor at Hellenic Petroleum facilities in Elefsina, carried by the newspaper "Efimerida ton Syntakton".

    The newspaper reported that the environment and plant workers were at risk due to a deformation in the shell of a gasification unit.

    The case has been assigned to a first-instance court prosecutor, who is to investigate the validity of the reports.

    [51] Brussels academy holds conference on Black Sea Greeks genocide

    The Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium will be holding a conference in Brussels on February 20-21 on the theme of "Genocide and the massacres of Black Sea Greeks: The issue of the recognition of victims".

    The conference's rapporteurs include the permanent secretary of Belgium's Royal Academy, Herve Hasquin; the rector of the Free University of Brussels, Didier Viviers; Lambros Kouloumbaritsis (Royal Academy of Belgium and Free University); Artemis Menounou (University of Mons); Peter Lagrou (Free University); Ekaterini Lefka (University of Liege); Theodosios Kyriakidis (Aristotelio University of Thessaloniki), and Jennifer Reilly Kellogg (Greek-American Foundation and Greek Studies Centre of the University of Harvard in Greece).

    [52] Secondary public school teachers to hold rallies, work stoppages

    Secondary public school teachers will hold a rally at 1:00 p.m. and two work stoppages on Friday, 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 2:00-4:00 p.m., their federation (OLME) decided on Wednesday.

    The board of the Secondary Education Teachers Federation (OLME) decided during its session on Wednesday to propose to the Secondary Education Teachers Union (ELME) a 48-hour and a five-day strike to express its disagreement with the government's mobility policy and layoffs in particular.

    On Monday (Febr. 17), OLME has scheduled a rally at 10:30 a.m. and a march to the Finance ministry.

    On Tuesday (Feb. 25), a rally will be taking place at Klafthmonos Square.

    On Thursday (March 6), the federation will hold a nationwide rally in Athens with two three-hour work stoppages (11:00-2:00 p.m. and 2:00-5:00 p.m.), they said.

    [53] Measures against tobacco smuggling

    The chief executive officers (CEOs) of four tobacco companies presented on Tuesday to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras a series of measures to combat tobacco smuggling.

    Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis and the general secretary of state revenue Haris Theocharis also attended the presentation by the CEOs of Papastratos, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco Hellas.

    In particular, they suggested :

    A stable tax system and lowering taxes wherever possible

    Strict implementation and further tightening of existing legislation on smuggling of tobacco products

    Cooperation with law enforcement authorities to inform consumers about the negative consequences of illicit trade in tobacco

    Search of EU funds (eg Hercule III) to finance specific actions against illicit trade in tobacco

    Adoption of digital signage Codentify on packages, in order to achieve traceability of products alongside with the current paper tapes.

    [54] Treasure hunters in search of hidden treasure near Amfipolis

    A large number of people from Serres and Thessaloniki are digging every day deep pits, hoping to find a lost treasure rumored to be hidden in fields outside the small village of Skopia, municipality of Amfipolis in eastern Macedonia.

    The village residents say that the treasure hunters won't find anything, adding that they are not aware of any story regarding a hidden treasure in the region.

    "They do not dig beneath signs, trees or big rocks, but needlessly plow the land, opening huge pits of many meters deep," the residents of Skopia said.

    However, the treasure hunters continue their work since they have a license by police and Serres Ephorate of Antiquities for excavations in the area.

    [55] 1st "NafplioMarathon" race in March

    The Municipality of Nafplio organises the first "NafplioMarathon" race on March 23 in cooperation with Argolis prefecture and Harvard University's centre of Greek studies and Argolis prefecture Marathon runners under the auspices of SEGAS (Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics).

    The participants will have the opportunity to run in one of the most historic and beautiful cities of Greece given that the race wi ll be held in the historic town of Nafplio and will pass though all the archaeological sites of the wider area.

    The organisers' aim is to turn the race into the third larger Marathon race in the country with the participation of athletes from Greece and abroad and promote Nafplio into a sports, cultural and tourism destination.

    The race is scheduled to start on March 23 at 9 am.

    [56] Light earthquake jolts Cephalonia

    A light earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale was recorded at 12.34 on Cephalonia.

    According to the Geodynamics Institute of Athens the quake's epicenter was located 11km northwest of Argostoli.

    Weather forecast

    [57] Overcast on Thursday

    Rain and winds from variable directions are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Showers in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 5C-16C. Clouds in the south, 7C-16C; rain over the islands, 11C-17C. Clouds with possibility of rain in the afternoon in Athens, 8C-16; the same for Thessaloniki, 5C-14C.

    [58] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies

    AVGHI: Government to court for the so-called "Lagarde list".

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: SYRIZA (main opposition) retains the first place, says opinion poll.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Rift in the ring of corruption.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Last chance for loan arrangements.

    ESTIA: Shocking article published 90 years ago.

    ETHNOS: Increase in number of students in science schools.

    IMERISSIA: New landscape for the economy.

    KATHIMERINI: Mass layoffs 'a thorn' in government's negotiations with the troika (of Greece's lenders).

    KERDOS: The secrets of the primary surplus.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: The development of the land in Elliniko.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Communist Party: No to open or covered partition 'solutions' in Cyprus.

    TA NEA: 49,000 civil servants under the microscope.

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