|Wednesday, 29 November 2023|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-02-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 18 February 2014 Issue No: 4589
 PM Samaras: Business licencing procedures to be completed in one dayBusiness licencing procedures will go online and be completed in one day, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (L) said on Monday at a press conference presenting a draft bill simplifying the issue of business licences. The press conference marked the launch of a period of public consultation on the bill.
"With few words and many actions, we are aligning [our actions] to bring growth through businesses, so that we have a country friendly toward entrepreneurship," Samaras said, adding that the law is to be passed by early April. "We cannot reduce unemployment by wishing for it. Supporting entrepreneurship is key to increasing employment," he stressed, noting that the new one-day licencing procedure will reduce the cost of starting up a business.
"We are decriminalising entrepreneurship. We are reducing the cost of founding a business, reducing bureaucracy, because we consider that facilitating enterprises is a fundamental condition for growth and creating new jobs," the premier said.
According to Development and Competitiveness Mini-ster Costis Hatzidakis, who presented the details of the draft bill, it was a message to the international community that Greece and the entire process for issuing business licences is changing.
The draft bill introduces four main changes, among others removing requirements for supporting documentation, with the business owner henceforth held responsible for the accuracy of his claims in the application, except in environmental protection issues. It also allows inspections to be carried out while the business is already in operation rather than in the period before the licence is issued, by certified private as well as public-sector agencies, and sets up a uniform electronic system for handling business licence procedures.
According to Hatzidakis, the net result will create a completely new environment for investors. The minister noted that obtaining a licence to operate a heavy or medium-impact industrial enterprises currently requires the completion of 21 different procedural steps, 14 of which will be scrapped under the new system. The seven remaining steps will all be carried out on line.
He noted that, overall, there will be a 60 pct reduction in the steps needed to issue a business licence and stricter penalties for offences, with fines as high as 3.0 million euros of 15pct of turnover, even closure and criminal prosecution. Reducing suspicion of corruption, harmonising with international practice, more independent inspections and a smaller workload for the courts would be other side benefits, he added.
Hatzidakis said that completing the legislative framework will require a series of bills prepared by a number of ministries, as well as presidential decrees that must be approved by the Council of State and a host of ministerial decisions. The entire framework is expected to be in place by the end of the year, according to the minister.
 PM announces planned measures for high business energy costsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday referred to planned government measures to tackle high energy costs for Greek businesses and the issues faced by the steel company Halyvourgiki, which recently suspended operations.
"We will have specific measures but not today," he said, in reply to questions at a press conference with Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis. Hatzidakis said that the issue was currently before the council for industry. The press conference was held to present draft legislation simplifying the issue of business licences.
According to sources, meanwhile, the environment, energy and climate change ministry may have plans for a measure allowing businesses with high energy consumption to temporarily suspend their operations at specific times, thus reducing the overall demand on the system, in exchange for discounts. The sources said the measure may be signed within the week, without being run past the European Union or the troika representing Greece's lenders.
 Tourism minister on reducing red tape for investments, after meeting chaired by PMTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Monday stressed that her ministry was working indefatigably to simplifying administrative and licencing procedures as much as possible, after a meeting on the issue at the development ministry chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
"We have done a lot of work, with specific results, for the entire range of licenced businesses," Kefalogianni said in statements as she emerged from the meeting.
The minister highlighted the Greek economy's need for investments to boost growth, create new jobs and significantly boost state revenues.
Tourism had proved it was a basic pillar for kickstarting the economy and the ministry's priorities were to attract and support new investments in tourism, she said. She referred to investment plans now in the process of receiving licences in Tzia, Milos, Ios and Messinia and confirmed investment interest in Kalamata.
 Venizelos interviewed by Tanjug ahead of Balkans tourBELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)
Government Vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos underlined Greece's firm support for European Union enlargement in the western Balkans, during an interview with the Serb news agency Tanjug on Monday. He noted that each successive Greek presidency of the EU Council had added new momentum to the region's European perspective.
Venizelos is due to conduct a tour of western Balkan capitals, starting on Tuesday and ending on Friday, in his capacity as chair of the EU Council.
Talking to Tanjug, he said that he intended to bring a message of support and encouragement for Serbia's European perspective and the process of reforms in the country, as well as confirming the good relations between Greece and Serbia on a bilateral level.
Referring to the great progress made by Serbia in its European course, he said the start of accession negotiations was a historic event, both for Serbia and for the region, as well as for Greece's EU presidency.
"Our intention is to continue to support Serbia's efforts for accession to the EU and to reinforce the values and principles of the EU, including good neighbourhood, in the broader region of the Western Balkans," he said.
Regarding Kosovo, Venizelos congratulated Serbia's leadership on its "brave" stance during dialogue with Pristina. He emphasised that Greece's position was clear: "We believe strongly that Kosovo, along with the rest of the Western
Balkans, has a clear European perspective and we will actively support all efforts that significantly contribute to enhancing this," he said.
In response to questions, he stressed that the Cyprus issue and Kosovo were two different issues in areas with different sensitivities. "Greece supports the efforts of the Cyprus government to achieve an agreed, fair, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus issue," he said.
He emphasised that "artificial deadlines" and mediation had failed to lead to a solution in the past, stressing that the two sides had to be given adequate time to negotiate an agreed solution based on the spirit of UN Security Council resolutions and the principles governing Cyprus' participation in the EU, and ratified in a referendum by the Cypriot people.
 FM Venizelos: EU must fight Euroscepticism more activelyGreece has to exit the crisis and memorandums permanently within the first six months of the year, government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos told the Economist summit in Thessaloniki on Monday, an event held under the auspices of Greece's EU Presidency.
This will put an end, with actions, to new trends of Euroscepticism starting up, he added. Europe needs a new narrative not related to austerity policies, unemployment and crisis. Whether scepticism comes from the right or the left, whether classically conservativer of from a so-called revolutionary but really deeply conservative left that wants to retain the status quo, the EU has to overcome its own reflex deficit and fight it, he stressed.
Venizelos asserted that this EU presidency by Greece would also be successful and he praised the contribution of Greek Commissioner Maria Damanaki, responsible in the EU for maritime policies and fisheries, in organizing the Economist conference in Thessaloniki.
 Greece is a champion of reforms, ESM head saysGreece has been implementing more reforms than any other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member state, European Stability Mechanism (ESM) head Klaus Regling said in an interview to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Regling estimates that reforms will lead to growth as long as they continue, adding that the pace of reforms in Greece is the best ever.
"At the beginning, the Greeks did nothing. However, now they are doing more reforms than any other of the 36 OECD member states," he noted. "But, of course, they will have to continue," he added.
Regling admitted that it would still take some time for Greeks to feel the benefits of these reforms.
"The labor market always improves at the end of such a process. That is why I always look at competitiveness, which has improved significantly in Greece. And fiscal deficits have been significantly reduced from 15 percent to 2 percent," he said.
 Senior government official on Greece's return to the marketsGreece will focus its efforts to return to the markets in the second half of the year, a senior government official said on Monday.
"That's where we will focus our efforts, at the second half of 2014, and we are optimistic about it," the official said.
Asked on the possibility of changing the government's policy due to the Europarliament elections, he said: "We will not destroy the right course either for the Euroelections or for New Democracy (ND) or for SYRIZA or any other reason. We only care for the country's interest," he added.
 Deputy FM highlights role of economic diplomacy, outlines 2014 targetsDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Monday noted that the deep crisis experienced by Greece in recent years had helped to highlight the importance of economic diplomacy as a "national issue". The minister was speaking at a working meeting of the presidents of the business and export agencies of Thessaloniki, hosted by the Greek International Business Association (SEVE).
Kourkoulas presented the 2013 annual report and 2014 action programme of the foreign ministry's economic diplomacy and provided a briefing on the priorities and course of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU.
He also underlined that the crisis, even in its most difficult and critical moments, had not affected the country's steadfast course in connection with major foreign policy issues.
"At no time was there an attempt to exploit the passing weakness into which we had fallen in order to demand concessions or to seek solutions that are not compatible with our foreign policy on national issues," he said.
He highlighted the foreign ministry's contribution to a decision that Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) should pass through northern Greece, which he said would place the country on the "energy map" for the region and create the prospect of constructing connecting pipelines to Bulgaria and other western Balkan countries.
"TAP's construction opens up very significant new prospects for business cooperation with Azerbaijan," he added, while also touching on the ministry's lesser-known contribution to the effort to exploit Greece's own energy resources on land and at sea, in coordination with Cyprus and through a diplomatic presence in the Balkans and Egypt.
Kourkoulas also pointed to the foreign ministry's contribution to a rise in tourism, especially arrivals from outside the EU, by facilitating and speeding up the issue of visas.
He said the ministry's economic diplomacy targets in 2014 were to boost its network of economic and commercial affairs bureaus around the world, in new cities such as Nairobi, Lagos, Astana, Guangzhou, St. Petersburg, Doha and others. He explained that the emphasis will be on large markets, such as Russia and China, and in sub-Saharan Africa.
The country was also exploiting the period of Greece's presidency of the EU Council, trying to improve its image abroad and to promote EU growth initiatives to protect the Eurozone by completing the banking union," he added.
 Deputy FM to represent Greece in regional SE Europe meeting on TuesdayDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos will represent Greece in an infomal Foreign Affairs ministers meeting in the framework of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), formed to promote regional cooperation, which will be held on Tuesday in Bucharest.
Gerontopoulos will meet with Greek expatriates in Bucharest and Costanza, and with Greek businesspeople working in Romania.
The deputy minister will also visit the Greek school "Athena" in Bucharest and the Classic Literature and Modern Green Studies Department of the University of Bucharest.
 Troika 'probably in Athens within the week,' EU Commissioner says, FinMin confirmsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Representatives of Greece's troica of lenders will probably return to Greece within the week, in order to complete their review within March, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro Olli Rehn said, shortly after the end of the Eurogroup meeting on Monday.
Rehn said that emphasis should be placed on structural reforms and on meeting targets for 2014 and 2015. He also said that decisions on further aid to Greece and on the Greek debt's viability will be taken in the second half of 2014.
Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem acknowledged that Greece's fiscal results for 2013 exceeded expectations but that a final picture would emerge when Eurostat announces results on April 23.
"The troika will return by the end of the week, in order to have an initial agreement on technical level, until the next Eurogroup in March," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras confirmed from Brussels. The troika will stay in Athens until March 7 at most; if the review is positive, the Eurogroup is expected to approve the next loan tranche of 9 million euros, he added.
Asked about the amount of the next loan tranche, Stournaras said that the aim is to have a decision on "what is owed for 2013 and the first tranche for 2014," in order for the country to be able to cover bonds maturing in mid-May that come to about 8.8 billion euros.
He said there was progress lately in talks with the troika, but noted that there was important work still pending. "It is very unlikely we will not reach agreement," he said.
To other questions, he replied that Greece has already fulfilled 78 percent of its obligations in the structural reforms it committed to, while one of the basic issues pending in talks with the troika include a 3.9 percent reduction in insurance contributions, some third-party taxes and the greater part of the OECD toolkit.
In terms of mass layoffs, Stournaras said that Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis had sent to the troika a plan that was closely aligned with the relevant EU regulations.
The Finance minister also noted that Greece insists that any discussion on the fiscal gap begin after the completion of the current review, and that talks on lessening the debt load should begin after the Eurostat announcements for the primary surplus for 2013. He declined giving the primary surplus figures specifically, noting that "it will be a pleasant wait."
 Decisions on Greek debt after the summer, Dijsselbloem saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
Eurozone partners' decisions over Greece could wait after the Euro-elections, the President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, ahead of a Eurogroup meeting here, Dijsselbloem said: "We are in a middle of an assessment. If this assessment is positive a decision on a new support package for Greece could wait for after the Euro-elections".
"We always said to look to the future, when Eurostat verified Greek statistics. This will happen at the end of April," Dijsselbloem added, noting that the Eurogroup will decide on a possible new programme for Greece if necessary. This decision could be taken after the summer, "it could be in September" he said, adding that the IMF agreed to that.
Dijsselbloem said that if all preconditions of the Greek programme were met, Greece's creditors would approve the disbursement of pending loans before May. "This could fund Greece until August. So, there is no reason to hurry," he noted. The Eurogroup's president noted that the Greek debt must be reduced, the question however was who and how to do it. "This is something we will discuss after the summer," he said.
 European Commissioner Damanaki: 'The worst is over' for GreeceEuropean Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said in Thessaloniki on Monday that the worst has passed, in terms of to further financial support for Greece and the imposition a new memorandum.
During a press conference in the framework of the Economist Conference, Damanaki said, "After the spring, the memorandum period will be over. I would like to believe that we will manage to return to (bond) markets." She noted that the possibility of further financial support will be discussed after Eurostat publishes its official data in April.
"Discussions are ongoing. However, there can't be any announcements before the end of April," she said.
 German Finance Ministry dismisses Der Spiegel's article on new support package to GreeceBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
The German Finance Ministry dismissed a German magazine Der Spiegel article that Greece should not expect any positive messages regarding a new support package before the Euroelections.
"The relevant ministries are examining further support to Greece," said a German Finance Ministry's representive and noted that the current program for Greece is in effect until the end of 2014.
"If there is still need for further financing, it will be clarified in midst 2014" said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's spokesman.
According to Der Spiegel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not willing to send a positive message before the euroelections because she is afraid that it will strengthen the euroscepticism party "Alternative for Germany" ahead of the euroelections.
 Troika behaved in Europe like a bull in a china shop, German party Die Linke vice president saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Troika has behaved in Europe as a bull in a china shop, vice president of the German party Die Linke Zara Vagkenknecht said, adding that the troika should be immediately deprived of any authority.
Vagkenknecht believed that a new "haircut" of the Greek debt will be inevitable and that the country's main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras would have implemented a socially fair policy and would confront the troika and Germany in a more daring way.
"Troika has caused great misery. It put democracy out of power, it destroyed the economy and with its demands not only did not relieve the debt but increased it. One can easily see it has failed, it drafted the wrong policies and now it is urgent that power is being taken away from it," Vagkenknecht said in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
Referring to Greece's primary surplus she said that it is the result of a "harsh" austerity policy that impoverished the Greeks and led to the collapse of the investments in the country. "The Greeks have lost 40 percent of their income and this was a dramatic development never seen in another country in a period of peace".
She explained her party's decision to vote against all support packages to Greece in Bundestag saying that "the money from the support funds never reached Greece", as "94 percent of over 200 billion euros was fuelled to investors and banks?with that money we did not support Greek pensions, the unemployment agency, no investments took place in the country but the money was directed to the rich."
"We reject this policy", Vagkenknecht said, "mainly because it is linked with harsh austerity measures and it didn't work out."
Asked on SYRIZA leader Tsipras, Vagkenknecht said he is an exceptionally active and gifted politician and represents the "new political ideas".
Asked whether she thinks Tsipras would become prime minister, she noted: "I don't know for how long the Greek government will be able to say 'no' to new elections. That will depend on the Europarliament elections result. However, I think that the policy that SYRIZA would implement would bring more social justice and more social elements. And above all, it would confront the troika and Germany with more guts than the current government."
 Deputy FM Gerontopoulos on visit to MozambiqueDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Monday jointly inaugurated Greece's new honorary Consulate in Maputo, Mozambique with the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II.
He then met with Mozambique's Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi, with whom they discussed issues of national interest, such as Mozambique's change of stance on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and latest developments over the issue of Cyprus. It was agreed that the two countries will examine the possibility of signing agreements on cooperation in such sectors as shipping and culture.
Gerontopoulos held a meeting with Coordination and Development Minister Aiuba Cuereneia, who called for cooperation and assistance from Greece on providing know-how in the tourist sector for his country, that has a growth rate in the region of approximately 8 percent. He also proposed the signing of an agreement on the protection of investments and consented to a proposal on the creation of a joint chamber of commerce and industry, as well as for cooperation between the two countries in the shipping sector.
On Sunday, Gerontopoulos attended the inauguration of the Holy Church of the Taxiarchs in Maputo, by Patriarch Theodoros II, also in the presence of the African country's justice, culture and health ministers.
 Health Minister Georgiadis warns against not handing over of EOPYY clinicsThose who do not hand over public property will be held accountable for their actions, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Monday told Mega TV regarding the refusal of doctors with the National Organization for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) to hand over the buildings housing EOPYY clinics (polyiatreia), which are to be transformed into urban type health centres.
"If some think they would rebel and become heroes, they shouldn't have such expectations. We will not do anything. We have recorded all medical machinery and material at the EOPYY clinics. Those who have not handed them over will be held accountable even for minor damages."
He said he was confident that 99 percent of the clinics would be handed over by the doctors.
 Health minister asks police not to intervene in EOPYY doctors' protestsHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis has asked police not to intervene in the protests held by doctors of the National Organization for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) at buildings housing EOPYY clinics (polyiatreia).
"I have asked police not to intervene under any circumstances," Georgiadis told Skai radio station. He clarified that during the 30-day period those clinics will remain closed so as to be transformed into urban type health centres, citizens' needs will be covered in the same way as during the three-month strike of the doctors.
Georgiadis said that those doctors who will close down their private practices and submit applications within a month will be invited to work at the new organization. He added that any shortages would be covered by hiring doctors under specific contracts.
EOPYY management has set a Monday deadline for the completion of handing over the clinics.
 New health law goes into effect as health service branches shut down for a monthThe National Organization for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) informed insured members that as of Tuesday its health branch offices (former IKA) will shut down for a month, as the government made the new health law official by publishing it late on Monday in the Government Gazette.
EOPYY asked the public not to use the 5-digit phone number used to set up appointments with doctors, as their scheduling will not be possible, and said the shutdown was necessary for reorganization. Insured people will be able to be served in health centers of National Health (ESY) hospitals for the month, it said.
The shutdown is temporary, the Health ministry said, and there will be no layoffs, but there may be resignations as doctors will be asked to choose between working in public health care or working out of their private offices.
EOPPY also stresses that during this period the insured will be served by the network of the 5,000 affiliated doctors to EOPYY (a list is available on the organization website www.eopyy.gov.gr) and reminds that these doctors will manage an increased number of visits (from 200 to 400 per month).
For a month, EOPYY will suspend a ceiling on the number of prescriptions written by doctors of health centers, regional clinics and hospitals.
Meanwhile, the president of EOPPY-affiliated doctors Thanassis Apostolopoulos told ANA-MPA that supporting the laws and institutions is the reason doctors of EOPYY are reacting to the shutdown of clinics and branches. ''We are not carrying out guerrilla warfare, we simply invoke legal rule, because EOPYY along with the ministry are breaking the law, as they are trying to violently seal up offices and proceed to handing them over before the official posting of the law," he said.
Regarding the matter, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said that those doctors who will shut down their private practice and submit applications within a month will be invited to work at the new organization. He added that any staffing shortages would be covered by hiring doctors under specific contracts.
Finally, Georgiadis has asked police not to intervene in the protests held by doctors of EOPYY at buildings housing EOPYY clinics.
Late on Monday night, the law for the new Primary National Health Service, which will turn EOPYY into a procurer of health services and bring all primary care outlets under the National Health System (ESY), was published in the Government Gazette, making the law effective immediately.
It will affect 8,599 staff at EOPYY branches, who will be placed on a mobility scheme, leading to transfers or gradual layoffs.
The Athens Medical Association compared the law to "a tombstone over primary health care" and called on all doctors on EOPYY contracts to "resign and rally together on a national health effort to claim their survival through collective work agreements."
It proposed the free choice by patients of any doctor they wanted, and the participation of all doctors in EOPYY in a collective labour agreement that sets out the price per item and per case.
The association also called on doctors to join a rally at the EOPYY central offices, on 39 Kifissias Avenue, at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
 Frontex head Laitinen presents 2013 illegal immigration data to Greek ParliamentThe number of migrants illegally crossing the European Union's borders increased significantly in 2013, according to figures presented by Frontex on Monday. Frontex Executive Manager Ilkka Laitinen presented the data in Parliament, during a meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees of Justice and Home Affairs of EU national parliaments to discuss migration policy. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom referred to the significant steps that have been taken in Greece and to issues such as conditions at detention centres and the duration of detention, which need to be further improved.
Malmstrom underlined the need to develop policies that will improve benefits from migration and limit social conflicts.
"We are trying to make Europe more attractive to the migrants that we will need in the future," Malmstrom said.
Regarding Greece, she said she was aware of the difficulties. She praised the stance adopted by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Public Order minister Nikos Dendias and said they were "working hard to improve reception conditions and implement European standards." She acknowledged that Greece has made great progress but added that there were still problems at reception and detention centres, where conditions were not fully aligned with what the European Commission has been asking for and need to be further improved.
During the discussion on issues regarding European migration policy, Laitinen said there were about 700 million transits over the European Union's external borders in 2013. Compared to 2012, the number of illegal transits rose by 48 percent to 170,000.
According to Laitinen, the Eastern Mediterranean route, which is of particular interest for Greece, is among the six routes that Frontex is focused on. "The good news is that in 2013, we had 33 percent fewer cases but the number is still high, there were almost 25,000 cases," he said.
The focus, he said, is on the borders between Bulgaria and Turkey and the sea borders between Greece and Turkey, while Syrians are the largest nationality group for illegal migration. Last August, the number of cases at the land borders between Turkey and Greece decreased as a result of the measures taken by the Greek authorities.
Dendias said that European migration policy should adopted a spherical approach so as to deal with the direct and pressing causes of illegal migration effectively in an environment filled with fiscal and social challenges.
 Shipping minister holds meeting with Chinese ambassadorShipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on Monday had a meeting with China's Ambassador in Athens Zou Xiaoli and discussed the ways to boost bilateral cooperation in investments and shipping.
Varvitsiotis referred to ongoing cooperation between Greece and China through the COSCO's investments at Piraeus Port, saying that the priority for the Greek side was to enhance this cooperation "transforming this into even more revenue and more jobs for the country".
Among others, he pointed to a recent friendly agreement between the Piraeus Port Organisation and COSCO that he said, among others, made Piraeus a "metropolitan port for the whole Mediterranean". Varvitsiotis said that he had contacted all the appropriate authorities and EU officials about the deal, which now had Europe's seal of approval.
The ambassador stressed the Chinese government's support for the investment in Piraeus, which it wanted to see implemented in every way.
In terms of cooperation in shipping, the minister said that there had been a rise in orders put in by Greek ship owners for new ships, many at Chinese shipyards. "For this reason," he added, "it will be very important for China's central bank to offer financing facilities toward every Greek active in the Chinese market," he added.
The ambassador gave weight to the rising levels of cooperation, noting that this was not confined to Greece but extended to Europe as well. He said this cooperation would be constructive for all involved and emphasised the importance of Varvitsiotis' upcoming visit to China, adding that the Chinese side wanted to establish Chinese companies in Piraeus.
 SYRIZA leader formally opens campaign period with address at Athens eventRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras officially opened his party's election campaign during an address at the Acropole Theatre on Monday evening, saying that local and Europarliamentary elections are seen by his party as a referendum "for the memorandums, the troika and the inhuman policies of austerity".
Tsipras said that the elections will be a struggle that will decide the future while on the Euroelections in particular he said that they shall be the most crucial in history for both Greece and Europe.
The leader of SYRIZA spoke of an electoral encounter with the ruthless class rival - vested interests, big interests, bank thievery and their political representatives.
"Anyone who believes that tragedy is happiness may choose (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras, favored by (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel," Tsipras said, adding, "whoever believes that Greece is in a humanitarian crisis and that something must be done for that, will join our ranks."
The main opposition leader stressed that SYRIZA's candidates are young people with knowledge, faith and passion who had a plan and determination to work for Greece's renaissance. "With the help of more experienced members, who stood strong under difficult conditions...they will envision and create a new Greece," he said.
Indirectly criticising the government for accusing it of siding with terrorism - "seeing in our faces monsters, extremists, fortune hunters, and followers of violence" - Tsipras also criticised anyone drawing comparisons between SYRIZA and PASOK. "A psychiatrist is necessary to diagnose what the problem is of those who collaborate closely on memorandums with PASOK and then turn around to accuse us of becoming like PASOK. I'm sorry, they are committing another historical error," he said.
Speaking on the second round of local elections, the party leader said SYRIZA would clearly vote for Communist Party of Greece (KKE) candidates if none of his party were available: "In any corner of Greece, if there are no forces SYRIZA supports in the second round, and wherever a KKE candidate runs opposite a government candidate, we shall support KKE's candidate."
 Main opposition SYRIZA to closely monitor negotiations on CyprusMain opposition SYRIZA party on Monday said it would closely monitor the negotiations on the Cyprus issue and cooperate with all political forces in Cyprus to achieve a truly fair and viable solution.
"SYRIZA remains firmly committed to its strategic aim for a fair and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, which will terminate the Turkish occupation and lead to a bicommunal-bizonal federation with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international identity," it said ahead of talks on the Cyprus issue.
According to the party's statement, SYRIZA has always supported the bridges of dialogue and understanding between the two communities as the cornerstone for peace and stability in the region for the benefit of the people of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.
 SYRIZA: pre-election promises about surplus highlight 'deficit' in political strategy, targetsMain opposition SYRIZA on Monday resumed the offensive against the government and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, in response to statements by European Union officials about putting off discussion on Greece's debt and fiscal gap until after the summer.
"The surplus of the prime minister's pre-election promises does not hide but makes clear as day the real deficit in the government's political strategy and targets," a SYRIZA announcement said.
According to the main opposition party, the government was clutching at the distribution of a primary surplus "obtained at the expense of social cohesion and economic growth" - and which the troika had not yet recognised - as its last hope for salvation.
KKE deputies request immediate convention of National Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss developments in Cyprus
Communist Party (KKE) deputies Thanasis Pafilis and Liana Kanelli asked for the immediate convention of the Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs.
The two deputies, both members of the Committee, requested the meeting as they estimate that negative developments regarding the Cyprus issue are accelerating and a discussion with the presence of Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is necessary.
 Dragasakis reacts to parliamentary absence of four ministers over questions by MPsThe absence of all relevant ministers called on by deputies to reply to eight questions by deputies drew the ire of Parliament's presiding chairman Yiannis Dragasakis on Monday.
The questions were directed to the Finance, Agricultural Development, Education and Infrastructures ministers who declared either an obstacle or absence of jurisdiction.
"Unfortunately Parliament is convening today without a government. I wonder whether this was unavoidable, or if a certain rescheduling could take place. Let me ask: Where is the government? What is it doing? And why are we looking at this picture today?" Dragasakis said.
As the absence of ministers called upon to answer verbal questions appeared to have increased recently, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had instructed his ministers not to downgrade Parliament, and to reply to deputies; if they are unable to do so themselves, their deputy ministers should replace them.
Responding to Dragasakis, sources at New Democracy's parliamentary group said the four ministers were absent for good reason - Finance and Agricultural Development ministers were in Brussels for the Eurogroup and Council of EU ministers, respectively; Infrastructures minister was on earthquake-stricken Cephalonia as head of a delegation to inspect damages; while the Education minister had already informed the querying deputy he would be absent.
 Infrastructure Minister announces further measures for earthquake-stricken CephaloniaInfrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis announced on Monday that secondary inspections on earthquake-damaged buildings will be completed by Friday.
After a meeting held on the earthquake-stricken Cephalonia, in western Greece, Chryssohoidis also announced that the island's airport was now fully operational, as were about 70 percent of the schools. In addition the minister underlined that the citizens can now apply for rental or cohabitation subsidies to local Earthquake Restoration Service (YAS) offices.
Deputy Labour Minister Vasilis Kegeroglou announced that compensation would begin on Friday for the loss of major household appliances and furniture in still-uninhabitable houses while compensation would be extended to habitable houses, as needed, after inspections.
General Secretary of Public Works Stratos Simopoulos and other regional officials also attended the meeting.
 Justice minister releases draft law fighting child exploitation and pornographyA draft bill bringing Greece into full compliance with EU laws on fighting sexual abuse of children and child pornography was released to public deliberation on Monday by Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou.
The bill follows EU directive 2011/93/EU and introduces stricter sentences on sexual exploitation of children, with preventative measures and protection of victims. It also includes stricter regulations on online and telephone solicitations of underage individuals leading to sexual exploitation and abuse. Sentences are raised to a maximum of 10 years and fines begin at 20,000 euros up to 3 million euros.
The bill also calls for one-year jail sentences for anyone accessing child pornography material, and allows the lifting of privacy controls in communications and the removal of internet pages by Greek authorities.
 Public sector union ADEDY calls for labour action against lay-offsPublic sector union ADEDY has called for labour action against the merger of the public sector's organizations and services.
The union's executive committee has called two 48hour strikes for the public sector. The first one will take place during the parliamentary debate and vote of the Administrative Reform Ministry's draft bill on the merger of state entities. The second strike will be held on March 13-14 ahead of March 22, when public employees placed under the government's mobility scheme eight months ago will be fired.
ADEDY calls on public employees' federations and first-level unions to "respond dynamically and prevent new lay-offs which are presented as being part of the mobility scheme."
 Parliament President Meimarakis to meet with Morphou mayor on TuesdayParliament President Evangelos Meimerakis will meet with the Mayor of Morphou, Cyprus, Charalambos Pittas. The meeting will be held on Tuesday at 13:00.
 Culture Ministry employees hold 24h strike on TuesdayThe Pan-Hellenic Federation of Culture Ministry Employees (POE-YPPO) has called a 24hour stike for Tuesday.
According to POE-YPPO, employees are protesting against the checks carried out at the Culture Ministry aiming at overthrowing the Presidential Decree 164/2004.
Culture ministry employees are also asking for "the immediate reappointment, through the process of mobility, of 184 colleagues placed under the availability scheme and the immediate staffing of job positions at the Culture Ministry either through a hiring process or from the labour reserve pool through the mobility scheme."
Employees on Tuesday plan a rally outside the ministry's headquarters. The rally, in which public sector union ADEDY will also participate, will take place at 09.00.
 No irregularity in Dep. Development minister's wealth statement, Parliament Audit Committee saysParliament vice president and chair of the Committee for MP and Political Party Auditing Georgios Kalantzis on Monday said no irregularity has been detected in the wealth statements submitted by Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis.
"The Deputy Minister first submitted a 'source of wealth' statement in 2012 when he assumed his responsibilities. This was audited by chartered accountants-auditors, as well as Parliament's Auditing Committee and no violation of the law was found," Kalantzis said, responding to an ANA-MPA question.
Mitarakis had earlier issued a written statement saying "I asked for and was given the Chartered Auditors' report by the Parliament's committee on 'source of wealth'. The report categorically confirms that my financial status report has been accurate."
 Greek business climate has significantly improved, Eurogroup head saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Greece's business climate has significantly improved, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday during a seminar by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on "the Euro area at a crossroads".
"There has been increased competition in retail trade, which has intensified, resulting among others to a significant recovery of tourism," he said.
Dijsselbloem expressed concern over the strengthening of the extreme right at the European North and South. He also referred to reservations often expressed in some north European countries regarding the possibility of a new support package for Greece as well as the austerity fatigue in some south European countries.
The Eurogroup president also stressed the need for boosting structural reforms in countries under bailout programmes, adding that reforms should also be a priority for the rest of the Euro area countries.
 Three new programmes for 27,713 unemployed launched by Labour MinisterLabour, Social Security and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Monday announced the launch of three new targeted employment programs to help the jobless enter the labour market.
"We will use every resource available, European and national, in order to fight unemployment with modern and innovative tools, integrating more groups in the labour market" he stressed, after signing decision for the launch of the programmes.
The new programmes are implemented under the "Integrated Action Plan for Employment and Combating Unemployment" recently announced by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and will give the opportunity to 443,474 unemployed to enter the labour market, using a budget of 1,527,642,069 euros.
The three programmes are:
Enterprise Subsidy Programme to encourage businesses to hire 10,000 unemployed aged 30-66 years old, which involves a full salary and insurance for one year, budgeted at 54 million euros.
Enterprise Grant Programmes with up to 10,000 beneficiaries for actions on a local level, targeting projects tailored to local labour markets (TopSA) and local actions for the social inclusion for vulnerable groups (Topeka). The amount of subsidy covers part of the wage bill and the total duration of the program is set to four 4 months with a total cost of the intervention of 17 million euros.
Interventions for socially vulnerable groups (EKO) which involves coherent actions for social inclusion and integration into the labour market for vulnerable groups (people with disabilities, ex-prisoners, HIV-positive former drug users, etc.). The beneficiaries are 7,713 unemployed in this category and the total expenditure of the program amounts to 79.56 million euros.
The first two projects will be implemented by the Manpower Employment Organisation (Employment Agency) and the third by the Secretariat for Community and other resources of the Ministry of Labour.
For people aged 30-66 years the wage subsidy will last one year and amount to 18 euros per day for up to 25 days per month. The subsidy for each full day of employment for unemployed beneficiaries under 25 amounts to 15 euros a day for up to 25 days a month, while the grant for each full day of employment for unemployed beneficiaries aged 25 and over amounts to 18 euros per day for up to 25 days a month.
More information on the programs can be found on the website www.oaed.gr.
 Construction of Greek-Bulgarian pipeline expected to begin in 2015The construction of the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline (IGB) is expected to begin in 2015, said Costas Karagiannakos, head of gas procurement and International projects section of the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) in Thessaloniki on Monday.
Speaking at the Ecconomist's summit conference taking place under the auspices of the Greek presidency of the EU, the DEPA official said that the IGB is on the list of projects of mutual European interest. "The project is at a very mature stage, all the licensing processing and technical studies have finished. The institutional framework is being completed; by the end of 2014 we will be able to take the final investment decision and start construction in 2015," he said.
As regards the natural gas liquefaction station being planned in the wider region of Kavala that will export liquefied natural gas to the greater region of southeastern Europe, he stressed that the technical feasibility study has been completed.
"It is a project that, combined with the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline, presents special interest for the region, because except for Greece, the rest of the countries in Southeastern Europe do not have access to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and could benefit countries excluded from the Nabucco pipeline.
Also, he said, DEPA has already implemented a pre-feasibility study showing that the pipeline that would transfer gas from the Levantine Basin to Europe is a project that makes sense economically and is technically feasible. "The next step is to go ahead and do a viability study, a decision approved recently by the DEPA board, and which is moving very fast towards tendering," Karagiannakos said. "This is being pursued in tandem with Cyprus and we believe that soon more companies with southeastern Mediterranean licences will be able to participate in the group supporting the study," he added.
 Greek budget surplus almost doubled in JanuaryGreece' s central government cash balance showed a surplus of 603 million euros in January 2014, compared with a surplus of 392 million euros in the corresponding month in 2013, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
In a report, the central bank, said that in January, ordinary budget revenue amounted to 4.467 billion euros, compared to 4.299 billion euros in the corresponding month of last year. Ordinary budget expenditure, including expenditure of about 5 million euro for the repayment of arrears, amounted to 3.609 billion euros, from 3.827 billion euros in January 2013.
 Greek harmonized inflation rate -1.4 pct in JanGreece's harmonized inflation rate slowed to -1.4 pct in January, from -1.8 pct in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the harmonized consumer pridce index was down 0.9 pct in January from December, after a decline of 1.4 pct recorded in the same period last year.
 Eurozone banks in good shape ahead of stress tests, ESM head saysSpain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Ireland's banks are in good shape and there will not be any surprises in European Central
Bank stress tests due later in 2014, the head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Klaus Regling said in an interview to Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
He said those five countries were benefiting from rising exports and the return of economic growth adding it was important that reforms continue.
"The banks in the program countries are in quite good shape," Regling was quoted as saying. "I expect that there won't be any big surprises in Spain, Portugal and Cyprus. The same is the case for Greece and Ireland," he noted.
The ECB's asset quality review, an assessment of the balance sheets of more than 120 banks due to be completed next autumn, should bring transparency on the quality of banks' loans and other assets.
 High-voltage prices have not increased for nearly 6 years, PPC president tells Economist conferenceThe Public Power Corporation's (PPC) high-voltage prices have remained unchanged since 2008, without any increases during the last 5.5 years, company president and CEO Arthuros Zervos said in his speech during the Economist's Greek EU Presidency Summit in Thessaloniki on Monday.
"Unlike what happened to mid- and especially low-cost voltage cost," Zervos said, "if the overall cos for high-voltage energy has increased, it is for other reasons," Zervos said and underlined that in terms of cost figures, "the numbers presented by the press and what Greek industry is claiming are not based on any official data."
"A country's industrial policy must be set by the governments, not by companies such as PPC and Public Gas Corporation (DEPA)," he said, adding that "the recent industry cost presented recently by the European Commission - which were cast in doubt by Greek industry representatives - bear no relation to those quoted in Greece."
 Eurobank Properties returned to profitability in 2013Eurobank Properties on Monday said its net after tax profits totalled 2.7 million euros in 2013, after a loss of 28.1 million euros in the previous year, despite a write down worth 43 million euros of its asset portfolio.
Leasing revenue fell 5.0 pct to 37 million euros, while interest revenue fell 16 pct to 73 million euros. Financial expenses dropped 29 pct to 2.2 million euros.
Eurobank Properties said the acquisition of Cloud Hellas Real Estate had a positive impact on the group's results by 12 million euros.
Group cash reserves totalled 191 million euros last year, from 161 million euros in 2012, while loans rose to 125 million euros form 83 million euros over the same periods.
 Development minister to address event on aluminium sector, TuesdayDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis will address at 12:00 on Tuesday an event titled "Greek Aluminium: A sector of strategic importance for the development of Greece", his office said on Monday.
The event is organized by the Aluminium Association of Greece and will be held at the Grande Bretagne hotel.
 3.3 mln euros approved for innovation programs in fisheriesThirteen programs for the support of innovation totaling 3.3 million euros were approved under the Operational Program for Fisheries 2007-2013.
The proposals were tabled by Greek research institutes and scientific agencies in cooperation with fishermen's unions and non governmental organizations (NGO) that focus on the promotion of sustainability, competitiveness and other issues.
 ESEE's seven guidelines to help youth entrepreneurshipThe National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) on Monday called on the government to implement a privileged tax and insurance regime for young entrepreneurs.
Merchants believe that there are seven points that should be included in the priorities of the National Employment Council so as to boost youth entrepreneurship as 6 out of 10 young people are currently out of work. These seven points are: giving information over modern funding tools, business training, privileged tax and insurance regime, specialized programs to integrate young entrepreneurs in the market, identification of market sectors with shortages and increased demand, changes in the procedure of transferring businesses and simplification of tax and insurance regime.
"The next generations have to be inspired to start a new business, to channel their creativity into private activities, to promote innovative ideas, to take the risk and manage their success in the right way," ESEE said.
According to ESEE, the only way to exit recession is to subsidize employment instead of unemployment. The combination of training with employment and work experience will help the sector recover and will put an end to the "export" of the new generation of scientists, it added.
 Intrasoft International consortium wins 83 mln euro contractThe Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union of the European Union has awarded an Intrasoft International-led consortium a framework contract of 83 million euros.
The contract concerns the implementation of the new EU customs policy and the development of the respective customs related software applications for the next 8 years.
Intrasoft International's participation is estimated at 31.5 million euros. The consortium also includes ARHS Developments SA and Sword Group.
The project has initial 5-year duration, but can be renewed up to 3 times, each time for a period of 12 months, with a maximum duration of 8 years.
The company will provide technical specifications, development, maintenance and support of specialised customs services.
 Greek stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday in thin volume as investors remained on the sidelines awaiting new incentives.
Buying activity focused on blue chip stocks such as Coca Cola HBC, Titan and Jumbo, while OPAP and OTE came under pressure. The composite index of the market eased 0.28 pct to end at 1,276.82 points, off the day's losses of 1.16 pct. Turnover was a thin 51.23 million euros.
The Large Cap index eased 0.21 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.60 pct higher. The Technology (3.73 pct), Food (2.28 pct) and Personal Products (1.49 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (2.70 pct), Health (2.38 pct) and Telecoms (1.92 pct) suffered losses.
Coca Cola HBC (2.32 pct), Jumbo (1.81 pct), Titan (1.71 pct) and MIG (1.09 pct) were top gainers, while Korinth Pipeworks (3.0 pct), OPAP (2.0 pct), OTE (1.92 pct) and Motor Oil (1.88 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 73 to 59 with another 27 issues unchanged. Teletypos (20 pct), Elviemek (19.79 pct) and Spider (18.52 pct) were top gainers, while AXON Holdings (18.18 pct), Hatzikranioti (15.73 pct) and Douros (12.90 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -0.08%
Industrial Products: +0.01%
Real Estate: -0.28%
Personal & Household: +1.49%
Food & Beverages: +2.28%
Raw Materials: -0.23%
Travel & Leisure: -1.71%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Jumbo, Piraeus Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.69
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.02
Coca Cola HBC: 19.43
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.05
National Bank of Greece: 3.66
Eurobank Properties : 8.00
Piraeus Bank: 1.92
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell significantly to 5.87 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 6.0 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.55 pct and the German Bund 1.68 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate eased to 0.547 pct from 0.548 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.468 pct from 0.469 pct, the six-month rate was 0.386 pct, the three-month rate was 0.287 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.251 pct from 0.226 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a small discount of 0.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 15.206 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,500 contracts worth 11.424 million euros, with 52,341 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,654 contracts, worth 3.782 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (942), followed by National Bank (541), Piraeus Bank (524), MIG (399), OTE (741), PPC (664), OPAP (428), Mytilineos (329), Intralot (95), Hellenic Petroleum (104), Athens Water (144) and GEK (71).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.390
Pound sterling 0.831
Danish kroner 7.573
Swedish kroner 8.961
Japanese yen 141.69
Swiss franc 1.240
Norwegian kroner 8.444
Canadian dollar 1.524
Australian dollar 1.538
 ANA-MPA presents its new audiovisual servicesThe ANA-MPA S.A. on Monday presented its new range of multimedia audiovisual services, using state-of-the-art technical equipment, to foreign correspondents and embassy representatives.
The event was held at the offices of the European Parliament in Athens, in the presence of the Secretary General of Mass Media Ioannis Panagiotopoulos, the head of European Parliament Office in Athens Leonidas Antonakopoulos, as well as embassy representatives and journalists.
"The ANA-MPA now offers the full range of TV products (videos), providing options for their direct sale, distribution and screening, after having ensured the best quality and speed with the use of cutting-edge technical equipment," ANA-MPA president - general director Antonis Skyllakos said. He also presented a new application launched by the ANA-MPA that will allow owners of Samsung high-definition TVs to access the news content of ANA-MPA. The application is soon expected to also be made available for other brands of televisions.
ANA-MPA special adviser Vangelis Siafakas presented the new webdocs service - featuring high-quality productions on a range of subjects dealing with current political, social and economic life in Greece, as well as in-depth reports and follow-ups of big news stories. He also referred to an image bank, which gives access to raw material from all major events, livestreaming or videos on subjects requested.
The editor of webdocs George Kouvaras presented the topics one can find in this category, such as documentaries on illegal immigration, Cosco, cigarettes and fuel smuggling, personal human stories and portraits of ordinary people during the crisis.
The head of production Akis Stamatiadis underlined that the content in this category is also translated into English and processed in accordance with high standards.
The ANA-MPA also presented a new page for the 2014 European Parliament elections and coverage of the Greek EU presidency, and presented all services offered by the agency in the audio-visual sector.
 Financial police reveal 9 mln euro fraud case involving NGOThe Hellenic Police (ELAS) financial crimes unit on Monday revealed a major case of fraud at the expense of the Greek state, involving senior state officials and a non-governmental organization (NGO). Following 20 months of investigations, police found that the NGO, purportedly involved in landmine-clearing activities abroad, illegally extracted roughly nine million euros from the Greek state.
The case also involves senior state officials occupying key positions within the foreign ministry from 2000 until 2004, many of which continue to occupy senior positions in state services.
Details concerning the case were made public on Monday by an ELAS spokesman and the head of the financial police, who said the evidence in the file came to more than 20,000 pages.
The NGO had received funding from the foreign ministry to clear mines in countries such as Bosnia-Hercegovina, Lebanon and Iraq but without adhering to the proper procedures for approving NGO funding. They also employed various scams, with their operatives returning 20-30 pct of the funds received in the form of "donations", allowing the NGO to apply for more funding.
Eight people are facing charges in connection with the case but only one - the NGO head thought to be the mastermind of the operation - has been taken into custody so far.
The NGO president was summoned to testify before an examining magistrate last Friday, who ordered that he be remanded in custody. Authorities had earlier issued a European warrant and Red Notice for his arrest.
Others implicated in the case include a former general director of the foreign ministry's international developmental cooperation (IDC) service, a second employee from the same service that is now serving as a senior diplomatic attache for the EU in Africa, and three retired foreign ministry officials.
Based on the investigation, the money had been disbursed to the NGO illegally since it did not meet the necessary conditions and a number of violations were carried out to cover up this fact. Among others, the funding was meant to cover only 75 pct of the budget for the programmes and the remaining 25 pct was to be supplied by the NGO itself using grants from outside sources. Instead, the NGO's foreign operatives returned 20-30 pct of their supposed fee in the form of a donation that was not properly recorded but presented as own funds obtained from fund-raising. Many of the funds disbursed were also not spent on the expenses of the programmes but to cover the running costs of the NGO at home, such as its rent, consumables and even restaurant and parking bills.
An audit of the properties and companies owned by the NGO president and his wife in Greece and Cyprus revealed a host of evidence concerning its activities.
The civil servants involved are accused of falsely certifying the NGO's eligibility to receive the funding given.
The accused are charged with fraud against the Greek state, money laundering, providing false certification and repeated counts of breach of duty at the expense of the public sector.
The case is now before examining magistrates, while the assets of the NGO head and his wife in Greece have been frozen and seized.
 Farmers withdraw from villages squares in Serres, rally in Alexandroupoli, KomotiniFarmers in northern Greece held several actions as part of nationwide protests over new tax regulations and over demands for subsidies, among other things.
Farmers in the greater Serres area, Central Macedonia, withdrew their tractors that were gathered in villages squares the previous week and will have union meetings to discuss further protest actions.
The farmers in Alexandroupoli and Komotini, in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace respectively, held rallies with livestock farmers asking for fair taxation and compensation for the damages they suffered from sheep pox. Regional public services remained closed to support the farmers protests.
 Three new wind parks begin operation in GreeceThree new wind parks set up by renewable energy sources company Terna Energy capable of producing 36 MW in total power have begun operation in Greece, bringing the total installed capacity of the Group in Greece and abroad to 544 MW.
Two of the wind parks are in Alexandroupoli, Evros prefecture (11,7 MW and 6,3 MW, respectively), and the third one is in Rhodes, eastern Mediterranean (18 MW).
Terna plans to have about 1,000 MW of Renewable Energy System (RES) projects under construction by the end of 2014 in all countries it is active.
Overall the Group operates, manufactures or has fully licensed 852 MW of RES installations in Europe and America, including the three new windparks.
It has installed 302 MW in Greece, 138 MW in the USA, 74 MW in Poland and 30 MW in Bulgaria. At the same time RES power plants with a power of 308 MW are under construction or ready for construction in Greece and abroad.
 Halyvourgiki steel employees go ahead with mobilisations after failed meetingEmployees of Halyvourgiki SA steel industry will be going ahead with a work stoppage from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, following a fruitless meeting at the Labour ministry on Monday involving Secretary General Anna Stratinaki and representatives of the employees and the owners.
The stoppage is taking place at the initiative of the Elefsina Labour Centre and will affect all work sites in the Thriasio Basin in Attica; it will end with a rally outside the factory of Halyvourgiki in Elefsina.
In addition, the employees' union will be holding another work stoppage, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, on Wednesday, and will also block the Athens-Corinth national motorway at the Halyvourgiki site.
Halyvourghiki's administration announced a few days ago that all 200 production line personnel out of a total of 263 company employees will be placed on reserve from February 17 until March 31; they will be paid 50 percent of their salary, with the rest of the amount to be covered by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED).
Representatives of the employees at the tripartite meeting said they called for the decision to be suspended for a week, to allow time for discussion at the interministerial committee on industry - expected to convene in the coming days - to examine the problem.
They said that Stratinaki sided with their proposal, which was rejected by the company's representatives. The tripartite meeting had been called by the Metalworkers' Federation (POEM).
 Positive messages for tourism from ScandinaviaThe Grekland Panorama, the first exhibition exclusively for Greece that was held between 14-16 February at the Annexet Globe in Stockholm sent positive messages for the Greek tourism.
Alternate general secretary of Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Constantinos Zikos represented the Greek Tourism Ministry and GNTO and had a series of meetings with top cadres of the international tour operators, with officials of the Swedish market and gave interviews to the media and to the Swedish press agency.
According to the latest estimates of the Scandinavian tour operators, the tourist flow to Greece will rise to 10-11 pct in 2014.
A special interest is expressed for Athens and for Attica region in general which is expected to increase further as Aegean Airlines schedules to introduce new non-stop flights from Stockholm and Copenhagen to Athens at the same time when other airline companies, such as SAS, also add new flights.
 Missing yacht found sunk without its captain in region of SounionThe Dutch-flagged yacht "ZIESJOEM", that went missing on January 28 this year and had a 27-year-old as its sole occupant, was discovered sunk off the southern tip of the islet of Patroklos, near Cape Sounion.
A Lavrio coast guard vessel and an underwater missions unit, assisted by a private diver, rushed to the scene and searched the yacht's interior but found no sign of the 27-year-old captain.
The man had set sail from Alimos Marina on January 28 and in his last communication reported an engine failure, saying that he would continue his voyage using only the vessel's sails.
 Police reveals 9 mln euro fraud case against the stateGreek Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) revealed a fraud case against the Greek state by a non-governmental organization (NGO) following months of investigations.
The NGO, which is involved in demining activities abroad, is reported to have incurred the Greek state about 9 million euros of damage. Greek police officials are expected to make announcements later on Monday.
 Death toll from flu virus rise to 40The death toll as a result of complications due to the flu virus reached 40, while another 57 people are in serious condition and are being hospitalised in Intensive Care Units (ICU).
According to figures released by the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO), a total of 145 people, most of which people with underlying medical conditions who had not been vaccinated against the flu, have been treated in serious condition in intensive care units.
KEELPNO calls those with flu-like symptoms to contact their doctor immediately and receive preventive treatment.
 Overcast on TuesdayFair and hot weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 7C-19C.Sunny in the central parts and in the south, 4C-21C. Fair over the islands, 8C-19C.Sunny in Athens, 6C-20C; the same for Thessaloniki, 5C-18C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailiesEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The tax-madness triangle.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Huge deficit in households' basket.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Reversals in supplementary pensions for 2.6 million insured.
ESTIA: SYRIZA (main opposition) plans to impose heavier taxes.
ETHNOS: Alarm over taxes in real estate.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Deregulation 'bomb' over revenues collection.
TA NEA: Government prepares Easter gift.
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