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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-02-20

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

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

Thursday, 20 February 2014 Issue No: 4591

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece reports first annual current account surplus since 1948
  • [02] Current account data signals end of twin-deficit period for Greek economy
  • [03] German institute DIW proposes debt 'haircut' and lower rates for Greece in return for reforms
  • [04] Bosnia-Herzegovina needs more Europe, not less, FM Venizelos says
  • [05] FM Venizelos to meet with political, party leaders in Skopje
  • [06] FM Venizelos on situation in Ukraine
  • [07] EU Defence ministers to hold two-day informal meeting in Athens
  • [08] Labour Minister Vroutsis to address event on Wednesday
  • [09] PM Samaras' meeting with ND Central Macedonia deputies
  • [10] Farmers stage large rally in Athens
  • [11] Farmers can be exempted from freelance workers' levy, finance ministry circular clarifies
  • [12] KKE leader: Gov't must listen to the farmers' voice
  • [13] Deputy Labour minister on the profession of farmers
  • [14] Environment Min. meets with adviser to the British prime minister on European and global issues
  • [15] Health minister's confrontation with doctors escalates
  • [16] Greek-British programme to fund management and control of illegal migration
  • [17] Health minister meets with deputy director of International Organisation for Migration
  • [18] NGOs fraud case ' the tip of an iceberg', Public Order Minister says
  • [19] Government spokesman on ND's stance in local elections
  • [20] SYRIZA spokesman sees possibility of snap general elections before May
  • [21] Main opposition SYRIZA calls for in-depth investigation into fuel smuggling
  • [22] Sourlas to ANA-MPA: Wednesday arrests the start of stamping out fuel scams
  • [23] PASOK to support current Athens mayor Kaminis in upcoming municipal elections
  • [24] DIMAR leader to meet with Thessaloniki mayor on Thursday
  • [25] Cyprus issue negotiators to visit Athens, Ankara on February 27
  • [26] Defence Minister Avramopoulos meets with US Ambassador to Greece
  • [27] KKE party leader in Volos: Working classes will suffer regardless of who rules
  • [28] Turkish Kurds' case should go to appeals magistrate, Supreme Court prosecutor recommends
  • [29] Parliament reduces budget for mobile phones of MPs
  • [30] KYSEA appoints new Hellenic Army General Staff Chief
  • [31] Consumer prices are falling, deputy Development minister says
  • [32] Deal with Gazprom for lower prices 'very soon', deputy minister says
  • [33] Shipping minister discusses seamen's problems with PNO administration members
  • [34] HRADF launches tender for exploitation of Castello Bibelli in Corfu
  • [35] Expert Group returns to Greece with 14 new stores
  • [36] Social security fund IKA presents measures to support Cephalonia
  • [37] Industrial new orders down 6.9 pct in 2013
  • [38] Industrial turnover index down 6.4 pct in 2013
  • [39] Shipping ministry grants LANE Lines ferry one-year operating extension
  • [40] Ukrainian tourists arrive in Thessaloniki on Ellinair maiden flight
  • [41] Greek stocks end significantly lower
  • [42] Greek bond market closing report
  • [43] ADEX closing report
  • [44] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [45] Fuel smuggling case detainees given extension to testify
  • [46] Four more people hospitalized in intensive care units for flu
  • [47] Agricultural Insurance Organization employees to hold a work stoppage on Wednesday
  • [48] Cephalonia General Hospital announces measures to assist island residents
  • [49] Former TAIPED head Stavridis died
  • [50] PM Samaras on the death of former TAIPED head Stavridis
  • [51] 'Box in a Suitcase': The modern art of France travels to Athens in 15 boxes
  • [52] Three arrested, two injured during protest in Skouries, Halkidiki
  • [53] OLP schedules one-day meeting on ports security systems
  • [54] Body of Dutch sailing boat skipper identified by his family
  • [55] Body of girl recovered from Farmakonissi wreck
  • [56] Overcast on Thursday
  • [57] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] Greece reports first annual current account surplus since 1948

    Greece's current account balance showed the first annual surplus since 1948 in 2013, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

    In a report, the central bank said that the current account balance showed a surplus of 1.2 billion euros last year, against a deficit of 4.6 billion in 2012, reflecting primarily a significant reduction of the trade deficit by 2.4 billion euros and rising surplus in the current transfer balance (by 3.0 billion euros) and the services balance (by 1.7 billion euros), while the incomes deficit widened in 2013.

    The trade deficit shrank last year mainly due to a significant reduction in import payments (-4.5 pct) and a 2.3 pct increase in export receipts.

    Apart from oil product exports, which account for the bulk of this increase, the contribution of foods and beverages and non-metallic mineral products was also significant. The decline in the import bill resulted mainly from lower oil imports, the report said.

    An increase in the services surplus is mainly due to higher net travel receipts and the improved "other" services balance, which offset a contraction in net transport receipts. In more detail, travel spending in Greece by non-residents grew by 14.9 pct year-on-year. At the same time, travel spending by residents abroad remained almost unchanged.

    The income account deficit rose by 1.2 billion euros year-on-year, due to higher net interest, dividend and profit payments. Finally, the current transfers balance showed a surplus of 4.5 billion euros, up by 3 billion year-on-year. This development is mainly due to higher general government net transfer receipts (mainly from the EU).

    The capital transfers balance recorded a surplus of 3 billion euros, up by 0.7 billion year-on-years.

    In the January-December period, non-residents' direct investment in Greece showed a net inflow of 1.9 billion euros, whereas residents' direct investment abroad showed a net inflow (disinvestment) of 469 million.

    Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of 6.6 billion euros was recorded (compared with a net outflow of 100 billion in the same period of 2012).

    Under "other" investment, a net inflow of 676 million was recorded (compared with a net inflow of 101.7 billion in the same period of 2012).

    At the end of December, Greece's reserve assets stood at 4.2 billion euros, compared with 5.5 billion at end-December 2012.

    [02] Current account data signals end of twin-deficit period for Greek economy

    Data showing that the country' s current account balance recorded a surplus for the first time in several decades in 2013 signaled the start of a reversal of persistent deficits by the Greek economy and offered a positive outlook for achieving a forecast made for 2014 as the year of returning to healthy and sustainable economic growth, Greece's Finance ministry said on Wednesday.

    Commenting on a Bank of Greece's report showing that the current account balance recorded a surplus of around 1.2 billion euros, or 0.7 pct of GDP in 2013 (after a deficit of 4.6 billion euros or 2.4 pct of GDP in 2012), ministry officials told ANA-MPA that "the surplus in the external balance of the country combined with a primary budget surplus achieved in 2013, erased the two causes of the Greek economic crisis, the huge twin deficits in the state budget and the current account balance". The ministry officials stressed the importance of a significant improvement in the trade deficit of the country last year.

    [03] German institute DIW proposes debt 'haircut' and lower rates for Greece in return for reforms

    A combination of solutions, involving a new "haircut" and lower interest rates on Greek loans, should be implemented in Greece in return for reforms, the head of the German Institute of Economic Research DIW Marcel Fratzscher said.

    "We need a combination, otherwise Greece will not be able to overcome its problems," Fratzscher told Saarbrucker Zeitung in an interview. He added that concerns that those solutions would result in losses for German tax payers were unfounded.

    On the contrary, he said, a third support package should be given to Greece to prevent this possibility so that the European Union can continue monitoring Greece's progress and ensuring there was no cost on Germany.

    "A third programme does not mean we are giving the money, you can use it as you like," he said. "Money will be given only if Greece implements more reforms," he added.

    [04] Bosnia-Herzegovina needs more Europe, not less, FM Venizelos says

    Bosnia-Herzegovina needs more Europe not less, Greek Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Wednesday, after meeting with his Bosnian counterpart Zlatko Lagumdzija in Sarajevo.

    Venizelos, in his capacity as chair of the EU council, stressed the European stance towards Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    "Our fundamental interest is the stability, territorial integrity and European perspective of this country and, of course, its citizens' prosperity," he pointed out.

    He said that the problems were not "just inter-ethnic or constitutional. The problems are also economic and social."

    "The fate and future of this country is in the hands of its citizens. They have the right to a European future with security, with employment, with dignity," Venizelos said.

    He pointed out that complex constitutional situations need to be avoided and the real problems of the people should be dealt with. According to Venizelos, Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities should proceed with reforms based on the fundamental principles of "European legal and political culture: democracy, rule of law, human rights, respect for the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights."

    On a bilateral level, he said the two countries had very close ties and that he conveyed a message of friendship of the Greek people to the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    Venizelos said the two ministers also discussed cooperation in energy and agreed that the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) extensions into the region must certainly include Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    On his part, Lagumdzija welcomed Greece's help with the post-war reconstruction of his country, pointing out the fact that the Greek presidency has made the European integration of the western Balkans a priority.

    Venizelos visited Sarajevo as part of a tour of western Balkan capitals, carried out in the framework of Greece's presidency of the EU Council.

    [05] FM Venizelos to meet with political, party leaders in Skopje

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos arrived at Skopje late on Wednesday for a series of meetings with leaders of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and other politicians.

    Venizelos, who arrived overland from Pristina, where he had met with Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, is touring the western Balkans as chairman of the European Union's Council of Ministers, during Greece's EU Presidency.

    On Thursday, he is scheduled to meet consecutively with FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs Fatmir Besimi (of the DUI party), FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov, leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Union (SDSM) party Zoran Zaev, leader of the co-ruling Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) party - the largest Albanian political party - Ali Ahmeti and FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

    Venizelos will also meet with ambassadors of EU member-states at Skopje, giving a press conference at the conclusion of his meetings.

    He will then return to Pristina and from there fly to Tirana.

    According to a FYROM Foreign Affairs ministry announcement, Venizelos and political and party leaders will focus on developments in the EU, the status of expanding the Union under the Greek EU Presidency and the membership status of FYROM in particular.

    [06] FM Venizelos on situation in Ukraine

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday expressed his concern on the situation in Ukraine, according to a ministry statement.

    "The international community is shocked at the uncontrolled escalation of violence in the center of Kiev in recent hours. We express our strong concern and state in the most categorical manner that violence is not a solution, but merely perpetuates the impasse," he said.

    "We call on all those involved to show restraint, to desist from the use of violence, and to return to the table of dialogue. In these critical hours, the Ukrainian people need to bear in mind that the achievement of a compromise solution is the only way ahead, and that what unites them is much greater than what divides them," he added.

    [07] EU Defence ministers to hold two-day informal meeting in Athens

    EU Defence Ministers on Thursday will hold a two-day informal meeting in Athens to discuss EU plans for a military operation in the Central African Republic and other operations in the Horn of Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali and Somalia.

    Ministers will also discuss the conclusions of the December 2013 European Council, focusing on outlining a plan for their implementation.

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous will also participate in the informal meeting.

    Delegates from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission, the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) and the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) will also attend the meeting.

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will chair the meeting, while Alternate Defence Minister Fofi Genimata will represent Greece as a member state.

    On the sidelines of the event, Avramopoulos will have bipartite talks with his counterparts. The meeting will take place on Thursday and Friday at Zappeion Megaron.

    [08] Labour Minister Vroutsis to address event on Wednesday

    Labour, Social Security and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis will address an event on "The sides of unemployment and the challenge of entrepreneurship" organized by the Constantinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Centre for European Studies.

    The event will be held on Wednesday, 18:00, at Divani Caravel Hotel in central Athens.

    [09] PM Samaras' meeting with ND Central Macedonia deputies

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met on Wednesday with New Democracy deputies in Central Macedonia ahead of municipal and regional elections.

    "We will proceed together without rivalries. The road is open. The country will win," candidate governor for Central Macedonia Yiannis Ioannidis said after the meeting at Maximos Mansion, the government headquarters.

    [10] Farmers stage large rally in Athens

    One of the largest protest rallies by farmers was held on Wednesday in Athens' Vathi Square, followed by a march to Parliament and Syntagma Square. According to police sources, more than 5,000 people, including farmers that arrived from regions throughout Greece, participated in the mobilization.

    A delegation of farmers tried to meet with Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis but he was absent so they delivered a resolution outlining their demands to Meimarakis' office instead.

    The rally then dispersed, though scuffles broke out when a small group of the farmers tried to knock down protective fences put up outside Parliament by the Greek Police and MAT riot police were deployed to repel them. After the incident was resolved, the area was turned back over to traffic.

    Participants included farmers from northern Greece, Thessaly, central Greece, the island of Evia, the Peloponnese, Crete, the Communist Party-affiliated trade union group PAME, trade unions representing retail staff, railway workers, urban transport workers, textile workers, food industry workers, students, builders, local authority staff and agricultural technicians, as well as representatives of left wing parties.

    In a speech, one of the heads of the farmers' nationwide protest movement Vangelis Boutas said the demands of the rural world were of vital importance and stressed that "small farms are struggling to survive."

    Earlier on Wednesday, a delegation of farmers led by Boutas had a meeting with the head of the farmers' state insurance fund OGA, Xenofon Verginis, and discussed issues relating to farmers' retirement, health care, insurance issues and legislation to help poor and elderly farmers.

    [11] Farmers can be exempted from freelance workers' levy, finance ministry circular clarifies

    Farmers will be exempted for paying the freelance workers' levy if they come under normal VAT rules for the next five years, according to clarifications in a circular issued on Wednesday by the finance ministry's general secretary for public revenues Haris Theoharis.

    This also said that the exemption will also apply to farmers that keep books of accounts, pay VAT as normal and are over 62 years old.

    [12] KKE leader: Gov't must listen to the farmers' voice

    Communist Party (KKE) party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Wednesday reiterated his party support to the farmers' mobilizations.

    "The government must listen to the farmers' voice. The outrageous tax looting against the Greek farmers must stop. The least guaranteed prices to all agricultural products must be safeguarded so that farmers are able to cover the production cost and survive in these difficult circumstances," he said.

    Koutsoumbas who joined the Northern Greek farmers' protest currently underway in Athens stated: "KKE stands by the side of the struggling farmers, a popular alliance must exist from today and every day that will finally change the antipopular policy of the governments and of the EU".

    [13] Deputy Labour minister on the profession of farmers

    Farmers should be placed under the regime of hazardous professions, Deputy Labour Minister Vassilis Kegeroglou said on Wednesday in Parliament.

    "I believe that farmers' work - not the exploitation of rural property- should be included in hazardous professions," Kegeroglou said responding to a current question by New Democracy deputy Iordanis Tzamtzis.

    Kegeroglou had earlier said that "being a businessman-farmer and working in an office -- as some do not drive tractors or go to the fields ? is one thing and being a low and middle-level farmer is quite another. So we have to consider what their work represents in each case."

    [14] Environment Min. meets with adviser to the British prime minister on European and global issues

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yannis Maniatis on Wednesday received the adviser to the British Prime Minister on Europe and Global Issues, Tom Scholar.

    Talks focused on the Greek EU Presidency's priorities regarding the "Energy/Climate Change towards 2030" framework for climate and energy proposed by the European Commission, ahead of meetings in Brussels by the European Council of the Environment (ENVI) on March 3 and the Council of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) on March 4.

    Maniatis referred to national targets' formation on European Commission's energy and climate policies framework and stressed that a detailed examination and promotion of proposals is a very important priority of the Greek EU presidency, which will exhaust every possibility to achieve convergence among all member-states and the maximum possible consensus.

    Scholar also analyzed the British government's position ahead of the European Council two-day summit meeting starting on March 20 in Brussels.

    The meeting was also attended by British Ambassador to Greece John Kittmer and Environment ministry's secretary general Constantine Mathioudakis.

    [15] Health minister's confrontation with doctors escalates

    A confrontation between Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis and doctors in the state insurance system's health branch escalated after accusations made on Wednesday by the minister, who said that doctors working for the National Organization for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) were demanding extra cash to examine those insured by EOPYY when they visited their private practices in the afternoon.

    Georgiadis reported that 99 pct of EOPYY clinics had been handed over, with handover still pending for only two or three, thus making it clear that responsibility for any loss or damage to units not delivered will rest with those who refused to hand them over.

    The Panhellenic Medical Association (PIS) responded immediately, demanding "an immediate stop to the threats and blackmail against the medical community," and that the minister to stop disseminating "propaganda".

    PIS considers described the law on primary healthcare as "disastrous," and "the worst government option," adding that "the threats and blackmail undermine democratic functioning and moral order."

    Meanwhile, doctors held a protest outside EOPYY's headquarters in Maroussi, organized by the Athens Medical Association with the support of PIS, demanding payment of money due to them and reforms from scratch, as well as collective agreements for all doctors and other measures

    [16] Greek-British programme to fund management and control of illegal migration

    A 2-million-pound programme to support practical cooperation in asylum and migration systems in EU member-states was presented on Wednesday by British ambassador John Kittmer and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, along with Laura Thompson, deputy director general of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    The rationale for funding the programme was based on the fact that Britain remains the final destination for many illegal migrants, therefore calling for management and control of illegal migration.

    The programme aims at supporting overall management of migration in Greece and at "facilitating the safe return and reintegration of citizens of third countries to their home countries".

    The British ambassador stressed that his country ''cooperates with the Greek government, which faces the ongoing challenge of illegal migration" in order to further reduce illegal migration to the United Kingdom.

    Referring to the calling that illegal immigration is a priority of the Greek EU Presidency the Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias remarked that "the programme is expected to contribute substantially to the voluntary return of illegal migrants to their countries of origin".

    The figures were presented by Thompson who stated that the programme will facilitate the voluntary return of 1,500 illegal migrants to their home countries (such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Morocco, Egypt, India, Nigeria and Sudan).

    Finally a "sustainable reintegration of 75 immigrants" will be supported while (in cooperation with other member countries) Britain is funding an additional programme of voluntary return and reintegration of unaccompanied minors living in Greece.

    [17] Health minister meets with deputy director of International Organisation for Migration

    Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Wednesday held a meeting with Laura Thompson, deputy director of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM); discussion focused on migrants' living conditions and the repatriation programme.

    Georgiadis reiterated the government's willingness to cooperate with its European partners on this crucial issue and secure migrants' access to the National Health System. He also stressed that the European Union's assistance is essential in this effort, both financially and at know-how level.

    On her part, Thompson assured that she will assist in Greece's effort to resolve issues concerning the immigration issue.

    [18] NGOs fraud case ' the tip of an iceberg', Public Order Minister says

    A recently unveiled case of suspected fraud involving a non-governmental organisation (NGOs) purportedly involved in landmine-clearing activities abroad was "the tip of the iceberg" in terms of extracting money from the state, Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias said on Wednesday.

    "I'd like to talk to you about what you already know. The huge role played by the Greek police and the financial police in protecting Greek taxpayers' hard-earned money. The case of the NGO is probably the tip of an iceberg. It does not mean, in any way, that this applies to all NGOs. However, there was plenty of room for finding ways to wrongfully extract money from the state, and this was tolerated for years and years," Dendias said. He was speaking outside the British Embassy in Athens, where he addressed an event on "Voluntary return and reintegration of citizens of third countries to their country of origin".

    [19] Government spokesman on ND's stance in local elections

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, in an announcement on Wednesday concerning the New Democracy party's stance toward candidates in the local elections, said that the party had chosen "not to manipulate the party and its cadres."

    "This is the difference between nomination and support," he added. "That there are no disciplinary repercussions for whatever choice."

    If some chose to follow their own inclination, Kedikoglou added, "all these things will be judged in due course by the citizens, who were the natural judge". Speaking to private radio station 'Vima', he clarified that the party "naturally expressed its support, because they are not all the same" but would not seek to impose its choices. "For us to impose the party choice by force is something that we rejected and we believe this will be appreciated by the people," he said.

    Asked about a recent scandal involving an NGO that may have received irregular grants from the foreign ministry, he stressed that the government "did what should be done when it should be done", pointing out that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had issued orders in September 2012 to stop all funding to NGOs and to carefully "sift through them".

    On negotiations with the troika, he said that the climate in Brussels was not negative. "I think you are aware that we have committed ourselves to completing the reforms and this commitment is enough for us to conclude the agreement," the spokesman added. He noted, however, that in certain cases it might be necessary to 'adjust' these in line with Greek reality.

    [20] SYRIZA spokesman sees possibility of snap general elections before May

    Main opposition SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis on Wednesday said there was a real possibility of a snap general election before the European Parliament polls in May "so that [Prime Minister Antonis] Samaras can have a more dignified defeat," in statements to the Athens-based radio station 'Vima'.

    According to the spokesman, a major defeat in the local and EuroParliament elections would cast the current prime minister's leadership of the New Democracy party into question. He also ruled out the possibility of any kind of victory for the coalition government's leading partner.

    "I do not consider there is the slightest chance of a result in the European Parliament or national elections that will allow Samaras to participate in any government," he said.

    Skourletis said there would be no additional measures if SYRIZA was elected as a government: "We are led to the necessity, at last, for Greece to speak on the basis of its real, its own experience and put the issues to be discussed comprehensively and not just with respect to the fiscal problem and the crisis. Samaras doesn't do this. He said 'we did what we had to do'. In other words, we followed the mistake."

    SYRIZA's spokesman accused the current government of failing to exploit arguments heard with increasing frequency in Europe that criticised the troika's actions and the policy being followed.

    Referring to recent revelations about a scandal involving a non-governmental organisation, Skourletis said the only surprise "was that being feigned by various government officials, either from PASOK or ND, who are acting as if they've just now discovered America."

    [21] Main opposition SYRIZA calls for in-depth investigation into fuel smuggling

    A judicial investigation into fuel smuggling is a positive development and should continue in depth, main opposition SYRIZA said in a statement on Wednesday.

    The issue has been raised several times in the context of parliamentary procedure, according to the statement.

    SYRIZA underlined that fuel smuggling has been a serious problem for many years and the Greek state has lost billions of euros in the absence of political will to combat the phenomenon and issue the relevant ministerial decisions provided by the law 4072/2012.

    [22] Sourlas to ANA-MPA: Wednesday arrests the start of stamping out fuel scams

    The arrests carried out on Wednesday marked the start of the battle to stamp out rings involved in fuel-smuggling scams, general secretary for transparency and human rights Georgios Sourlas told the ANA-MPA in an interview, commenting on news that 16 people had been arrested for fuel smuggling offences.

    He predicted that Greek authorities will soon also stamp out scams with adulterated fuels involving the armed forces.

    "These are rings that have looted public funds for decades," Sourlas added, noting that these scams cost the Greek state up to one billion euros in lost revenues each year.

    "We have started dismantling them and I want to note that this will go ahead because it is the political intention of [Prime Minister Antonis Samaras] that we clean up political life in the country, that rings are stamped out and transparency should prevail," he stressed.

    [23] PASOK to support current Athens mayor Kaminis in upcoming municipal elections

    PASOK's Political Committee secretary Nikos Androulakis on Wednesday expressed the party's support to current Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis ahead of the municipal elections.

    "Giorgos Kaminis has proved over the last three and a half years that he is not only a person with modern progressive ideas, but a really useful and competent mayor for Athens," Androulakis said.

    "We will support Giorgos Kaminis so that he can continue his creative work," he added.

    [24] DIMAR leader to meet with Thessaloniki mayor on Thursday

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis will meet with Thessaloniki mayor Yiannis Boutaris on Thursday at 13.30 at Thessaloniki Town Hall.

    Moreover, Kouvelis will meet with representatives of small and medium sized enterprises (SMES), the Professionals Chamber, the Merchants Association and federations of craftsmen and merchants of Thessaloniki.

    The meeting will be held at the Chamber of Small and Medium Industries of Thessaloniki, at 19.00.

    [25] Cyprus issue negotiators to visit Athens, Ankara on February 27

    The negotiators of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities for the Cyprus issue will carry out parallel visits to Athens and Ankara next week on Thursday, February 27.

    Specifically, the Turkish-Cypriot negotiator Kudret Ozersay will be received by foreign ministry general secretary Amb. Anastasios Mitsialis, on the same day as Greek-Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyannis is received in Ankara by the Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridum Sinirlioglu.

    [26] Defence Minister Avramopoulos meets with US Ambassador to Greece

    National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday received US Ambassador to Greece David D. Pearce, according to a ministry announcement.

    [27] KKE party leader in Volos: Working classes will suffer regardless of who rules

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoubas, speaking in the city of Volos on Wednesday evening, said that when the government says "relief with the return of the surplus to society", it means certain pre-electoral crumbs for the low pensioners and people in security forces that will not change the harsh reality of an entire people.

    He added that the picture that the prime minister describes on an exit from the crisis is that of Greece of capitalist profit-making "and for this the working class and the working strata will continue to bleed daily".

    He stressed that that there shall be no return of the salaries and pensions to the pre-crisis levels with whatever government, in governments built on either a New Democracy majority or around a SYRIZA one, and added that the two parties' existing individual differences must not confuse the people, pointing out that "regardless of their differences, ND and SYRIZA converge on the strategy of the EU, of capital".

    [28] Turkish Kurds' case should go to appeals magistrate, Supreme Court prosecutor recommends

    Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani on Wednesday recommended that a special appeals magistrate be assigned to handle a case involving four Turkish Kurds arrested in Athens, who face terrorism-related charges. She asked that the Appeals Court Justices' plenum be convened to appoint an experienced magistrate to the case, which she said was linked to an international terrorist organisation and could also affect Greece's relations with Turkey.

    [29] Parliament reduces budget for mobile phones of MPs

    A reduction of 20 euros per month in the subsidy for mobile phones of deputies will take effect in March, it was announced on Tuesday.

    According to a decision by President of the Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis, the amount paid out of the parliamentary budget to mobile companies for each of the MPs will be reduced from 170 euros to 150 euros.

    A reduction of 10 pct in the monthly subsidies of deputies for land lines is also expected in the coming days.

    [30] KYSEA appoints new Hellenic Army General Staff Chief

    The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) on Wednesday replaced Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGS) chief, as he has completed his tenure of office.

    KYSEA appointed Lieutenant General Christos Manolas as the new HAGS chief while awarded his predecessor Lieutenant General Athanasios Tselios the title of Honorary Chief of HAGS.

    The current HAGS General Inspector, Lieutenant General Vasileios Tellidis, was appointed as the Commander the Hellenic First Army.

    Financial News

    [31] Consumer prices are falling, deputy Development minister says

    Consumer prices declined in 2013 although certain food products, pharmaceuticals, beverages and tobacco remain expensive, Deputy Development Minister Athanassios Skordas said on Wednesday citing a new report by the Development ministry.

    Taxes, energy costs, and the speeding up of structural changes are considered key factors to this development, he noted.

    Skordas said that while the GDP fall is slowing down, consumer prices are falling at a higher pace, proving that the overall policy and coordinated measures have started paying off. The rise of retail sales is another indication that recession has been halted.

    Asked on tax relief measures such as the VAT reduction for specific food categories, he said this is not an issue currently under discussion, but he did not rule out the possibility of taking measures to support households in the future.

    "We are having discussions at an informal level, but it is not time yet to do something. When the country's fiscal data are finalized, then we will see," Skordas noted.

    The Deputy Minister stressed the need for structural changes and reforms in economy as they have positive effects on final prices, adding that ministries are having a constructive dialogue on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recommendations especially for the price of milk.

    Explaining the difficulty in reducing food prices, Skordas said that part of the problem is due to the decline in production as well as output costs. With the exception of labour costs, all other parameters are rising, he said.

    Based on ministry data, he said, an increasing number of Greeks choose discount and private label products. More specifically, demand for discount products has increased by 40 percent and for private label ones by 30 percent.

    "High prices require continuous reforms and the government will insist on that," Skordas said.

    According to statistics, most food prices are declining, with the exception of beef, potatoes and dairy products, where there is a fall in production and an increase in international demand.

    The Deputy Minister underlined that it is the second year that most food prices fall, in contrast to other EU countries, particularly southern European countries under austerity policies, where Eurostat data show an upward trend in this category of goods.

    [32] Deal with Gazprom for lower prices 'very soon', deputy minister says

    A new deal with Gazprom for lower natural gas prices will be achieved very soon, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Assimakis Papageorgiou said in statements to the private Athens radio station 'Vima' on Wednesday.

    He referred to a "good reduction in the price of natural gas, which will be immediately passed on (to the market)," noting that this would be competitive in relation to Europe and the rest of Greece's neighbours.

    "There is an initial agreement (after the talks between Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Russian President Vladimir Putin) and within the next few days this will have been completed, and the price reduction will be passed on immediately to domestic and business clients," he added.

    On reducing energy costs for industry, the deputy minister noted that several steps had already be taken for energy-intensive industries while the effort is continuing. Among such efforts he listed a measure for "interruptible" power for businesses, exchanging discount rates for non-peak consumption, which was blocked by the European Commission. He said the obstacle would now be overcome via an auction system approved by the Commission in other countries.

    Regarding his meeting on Tuesday with the management of Halyvourgiki, which has suspended production, he said the company was prepared to go back into operation if the measures and programme he outlined for energy were implemented.

    [33] Shipping minister discusses seamen's problems with PNO administration members

    Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis met with members of the Greek Seamen's Federation (PNO) administration and discussed all the problems preoccupying their sector during in a long meeting held at the ministry on Wednesday.

    They discussed among other issues collective labour agreements in coastal shipping and oceangoing shipping, the signing of which are still pending, seamen's unemployment and the regulation on a security ship during strikes, as well as changes being promoted in the Health ministry's new law on primary health care.

    As regards the issue of collective labour agreements in coastal shipping and oceangoing shipping that have expired, the Shipping minister supported the existing institutional framework while calling on PNO's members to sit at the same negotiating table with representatives of the Federation of Passenger Shipping Enterprises as well as the Union of Greek Shipowners in order to find a mutually acceptable solution and labour agreement.

    On their part, the members of PNO's administration rejected the introduction of individual labour agreements and said that while a new collective labour agreement has not been signed, the terms and preconditions of the previous ones are still in effect.

    [34] HRADF launches tender for exploitation of Castello Bibelli in Corfu

    Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) on Wednesday launched a tender for the exploitation of a real estate property asset known as Castello Bibelli, located in Kato Korakiana in Corfu island, for a period of 99 years.

    In an announcement, Greece's privatisation agency said that the real estate is located around 13 km from the city of Corfu and around 16 km from the island's international airport. Bids will be accepted by April 30.

    The real estate property includes a two-storey building covering 1,968 sqm built circa 1900, a single-storey building covering an area of 57.75 sqm, a two-storey building covering 121.74 sqm, a two-storey building covering 218.54 smq, a single-storey building covering 59.40 sqm, the Castellino Building, a three-storey building and the Castelleto building, a three-storey building.

    [35] Expert Group returns to Greece with 14 new stores

    Expert - a European electric and electronics chain group - has returned to the Greek market this year as part of an expansion strategy throughout Europe, through a business initiative supported by 10 former Expert shop owners who have united their forces under the company Emporoviomihaniki AEBE.

    The new company will act as licensing partner of Expert Group in Greece and will support a franchise retail unit network aimed to promote the Expert brand in the country.

    The Group launched 14 new shops around Greece this year (seven in Athens and one each in Aliveri, Corfu, Naxos, Paros, Rhodes, Chalkida and Chania) with a mid-term goal of adding another 15-20 franchise stores by the end of the year. Constantinos Grammenos, president of Emporoviomihaniki said that project envisages a total of 45-50 stores by the end of 2015 and to gain a 5.0 pct market share by 2017.

    Dieter Mathys, chief executive of Expert Group, said: "We are glad to welcome Greece again in our group," adding that the network in Greece consisted of profitable, healthy enterprises operating under the Expert brand name.

    [36] Social security fund IKA presents measures to support Cephalonia

    Social security fund IKA decided to suspend for a six-month period the payment of current social security contributions for employers and employees of Cephalonia and Ithaca whiche were hit by the recent earthquake.

    The measure will be effective retrospectively as of January 1 and will apply to employers already under an arrears settlement and those planning to be placed under an installments scheme, while there will be no additional fees, charges and surcharges.

    Measures to support affected businesses also include:

    Capitalization of social security arrears until 31/12/2013

    Payment of arrears in equal monthly installments

    Electricity demand down 4.5 pct in Jan.

    Electricity demand fell by 4.5 pct in January, the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) said on Wednesday.

    In a report on the first month of 2014, ADMIE said that electricity production totaled 4,037 GWh in January, down from 4,505 GWh in the same month last year. Production of compatible units fell to 3,406 GWh from 3,848 GWh, while production of alternative energy sources eased to 631 GWh from 657 GWh over the same periods, respectively (figures do not include production from photovoltaic units).

    Production from lignite units rose slightly to 2,230 GWh from 2,280 GWh, while production from natural gas fell to 856 GWh from 1,039 GWh and hydro-electric production dropped to 270 GWh from 580 GWh in January 2013.

    ADMIE said that production capacity of roof photovoltaic units was unchanged at 349 MW in January, while production capacity of windpower units grew to 1,538 MW from 1,520 MW in December. Production capacity from ground photovoltaic rose to 2,073 MW in January from 2,070 in December.

    [37] Industrial new orders down 6.9 pct in 2013

    Industrial new orders fell by 6.9 pct on average in 2013, after recording a 7.5 pct decline in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that new orders composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell by 7.5 pct in December, compared with December 2012. The average index in the 12-month period from January to December 2013 was down 6.9 pct compared with the same period in 2012.

    The 7.5 pct decline in December was attributed to an 11.5 pct decline in the domestic market index and a 5.8 pct fall in the external market index.

    [38] Industrial turnover index down 6.4 pct in 2013

    The turnover index in the industrial sector fell by 6.4 pct in 2013 on average after falling by 11.8 pct in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that turnover in the manufacturing sector dropped 12 pct in December and by 6.6 pct in 2013. The turnover composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell by 11.8 pct in December, after a 4.5 pct decline recorded in December 2012. The average index of the 12-month period from January to December 2013 fell by 6.4 pct after a 3.0 pct increase recorded in the previous 12-month period. The December decline was attributed to an 1.2 pct fall in the mining sector and a 12 pct drop in manufacturing. The December fall also reflected a 4.7 pct decline in the domestic market index and a 20.3 pct fall in the external market index.

    [39] Shipping ministry grants LANE Lines ferry one-year operating extension

    Shipping and Aegean ministry on Wednesday granted LANE Lines company permission to keep operating one of its ferries "Vitsentzos Kornaros" for another year, before it is replaced by a newer vessel.

    The ferry will restart its voyages from Piraeus to Kithyra, Antikithyra and Kasteli on Friday.

    "Vitsentzos Kornaros" has been dry-docked since November 1, 2013 for its annual technical inspection, which was completed in end-January.

    [40] Ukrainian tourists arrive in Thessaloniki on Ellinair maiden flight

    A new Greek airline, Ellinair, completed its maiden flight from Thessaloniki to Kiev and back at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, bringing 96 Ukrainian tourists to the main northern city.

    They were welcomed at the airport by owners Mouzenidis Group, while Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos held a blessing ceremony by the aircraft, a four-engine RJ85 that had left Greece at 9:15 a.m. for Kiev.

    The Group plans to run two such airplanes from Thessaloniki and expects to add an A319 airbus, to be based on Corfu island in western Greece.

    The travel group, which runs 70 offices in Russia, the Ukraine and other Eastern European cities, brought half a million tourists to Greece from Russia and Eastern Europe and, based on current reservations, expects to surpass that number this year, Ellinair CEO Ioannis Mouzenidis said. About half of them usually head for northern Greece and Halkidiki peninsula (including Mt. Athos).

    Through the use of the two airplanes and agreements with other carriers, Ellinair plans to include schedules to and from the following cities, he said: Briansk, Voronezh, Stavropol, Kaliningrad, Riga, Meneralnye Vody, Odessa, Donetsk, Lviv, Moscow, Volgograd, Arkhangelsk, Astrakhan, Omsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Saint Petersburg, Perm, Samara, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Astana, Kharkiv and Bari.

    [41] Greek stocks end significantly lower

    Greek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, hit by a wave of selling which erupted in the last hour of trading. The composite index of the market fell 1.44 pct to end at 1,256.52 points, while turnover remained a moderate 67.83 million euros.

    The Large Cap index fell 1.30 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.71 pct lower. Eurobank Properties (0.25 pct) and MIG (0.22 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Frigoglass (5.10 pct), Mytilineos (3.40 pct), Jumbo (3.25 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (2.78 pct), Titan (2.69 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.40 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Real Estate (0.22 pct) and Technology (0.16 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (4.99 pct), Raw Materials (2.84 pct), Personal Products (1.20 pct) and Construction (1.96 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 95 to 50 with another 13 issues unchanged. Naftemporiki (29.97 pct), Nakas (29.03 pct) and Elviemek (19.93 pct) were top gainers, while Kyriakoulis (25.56 pct), Teletypos (20 pct) and Compucon (20 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.68%

    Industrial Products: -1.88%

    Commercial: -1.76%

    Construction: -1.96%

    Media: -4.99%

    Oil & Gas: -1.13%

    Personal & Household: -2.80%

    Raw Materials: -2.84%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.93%

    Technology: +0.16%

    Telecoms: -0.41%

    Banks: -1.36%

    Food & Beverages: -0.63%

    Health: -1.06%

    Utilities: -1.95%

    Financial Services: -1.82%

    Chemicals: -1.74%

    Real Estate: +0.22%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.69

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.81

    Coca Cola HBC: 19.18

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.06

    National Bank of Greece: 3.60

    Eurobank Properties : 7.97

    OPAP: 10.32

    OTE: 12.10

    Piraeus Bank: 1.93

    Titan: 22.75

    [42] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds remained unchanged at 5.93 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 1.0 million euros, one sell order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed to lower. The 12-month rate was unchanged at 0.547 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.466 pct from 0.468 pct, the six-month rate was 0.386 pct, the three-month rate was 0.287 pct and the one-month rate was 0.224 pct.

    [43] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.32 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover soaring to 122.392 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 56,703 contracts worth 117.616 million euros, with 53,994 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,832 contracts worth 4.776 million euros, with investment interest focusing on MIG's contracts (944), followed by Alpha Bank (579), National Bank (789), Piraeus Bank (659), OTE (941), PPC (734), OPAP (362), Hellenic Exchanges (468), Mytilineos (744), Hellenic Petroleum (100), Athens Water (104), GEK (315), Ellaktor (181), Intralot (282), Terna Energy (159) and Jumbo (171).

    [44] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.395

    Pound sterling 0.837

    Danish kroner 7.574

    Swedish kroner 9.072

    Japanese yen 142.18

    Swiss franc 1.239

    Norwegian kroner 8.443

    Canadian dollar 1.527

    Australian dollar 1.544

    General News

    [45] Fuel smuggling case detainees given extension to testify

    The 15 people arrested over charges of participating in a fuel smuggling ring were given extensions starting this weekend to testify in groups; they are scheduled to appear before prosecutors on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

    They will be detained at Greek Police headquarters in Athens until their testimony.

    Authorities said the leader of the criminal organisation is reportedly the president of the ETEKA petroleum company and president of the Atromitos Athens football club George Spanos, together with an employee and an associate of the company who have also been arrested. The arrests were made late on Monday while details on the case were released on Wednesday.

    A total of 24 people are involved in the case, according to the case file prepared by the Western Attica Police, 9 of whom are still at large.

    According to evidence collected so far, the ring had sold illegally in the market, over the past two years, approximately 4.5 million litres of contraband oil, with lost duties and taxes exceeding 3.5 million euros.

    The members of the ring, through the company involved in the smuggling, stole marine fuel that was destined for the supplying of ships. With the cooperation of fuel truck drivers, members of the ring withheld a quantity of marine fuel after the supplying of ships and then channelled it to cooperating fuel stations where, following mixing with diesel oil, they resold it in the market. In many cases they resold it to the shipowners from whom they had withheld it.

    Investigations carried out at the company's installations and at a gas station led to the discovery and confiscation of 8,000 litres of illegally witheld marine diesel, five fuel trucks and 18,400 euros in cash.

    The file prepared against the detainees concerns the creation and participation in a criminal organisation, fuel smuggling to a felonious extent, fraud by profession and continuously to a felonious extent, "money laundering", continuous active and passive bribery and abuse of authority.

    Responding to the charges, ETEKA head Spanos said that the charges attributed to him are stale and groundless and do not even touch him, or the company that he heads, and that is why, he claimed, he appeared immediately and voluntarily before the police.

    In a statement published online by media outlets, he said that his nationwide company contributes greatly to the national economy by paying for taxes, duties and contributions every year in amounts exceeding 300,000,000 euros and by employing a staff of over 150 people.

    Secretary General for Transparency and Human Rights George Sourlas said in an interview to ANA-MPA that "these are rings that looted public money for decades", stressing that former prime minister Lucas Papademos had also mentioned in Parliament in January 2012 that the Greek state suffered annual losses of one billion euros in revenues, and at least 25 billion over the past 25 years, from fuel smuggling.

    "Over the past 15 years three reports had been prepared on how the smuggling is carried out and how it can be handled; however, they were never utilised, Sourlas said.

    He added that although the issue was not under his jurisdiction now, he had "dealt with it for 10 years, since a chemical analysis of the General Chemistry office on fuel at the Fire Brigade came to my knowledge...I have submitted 49 files on proven fuel adulteration to both regular Justice and the military and I have never received a reply, for over a year now."

    [46] Four more people hospitalized in intensive care units for flu

    Four more people affected by the flu virus were hospitalized in intensive care units (ICUs) around the country in the last 24hours, according to the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO).

    Since the start of the outbreak a total of 159 people have been hospitalized in ICUs for inluenza, out of which 45 died while 59 were still being treated in hospitals, KEELPNO said in its report.

    [47] Agricultural Insurance Organization employees to hold a work stoppage on Wednesday

    The employees of the Agricultural Insurance Organization (OGA) will hold a work stoppage on Wednesday from 14:00 until the end of the working hours.

    According to a statement by their association, the work stoppage is being held in solidarity to farmers' protests.

    [48] Cephalonia General Hospital announces measures to assist island residents

    Cephalonia General Hospital on Wednesday decided to offer primary health-care services at home for households with persons in need with the use of a Hellenic Centre for Desease Control and Prevention (HCDCP) mobile unit. Residents will be able to call for the mobile unit on a local four-digit number.

    Deputy Health Minister Zeta Makri, who also attended the General Hospital's meeting, announced that the hospital's staff attended a seminar to train for providing personal and psychological support of the people living in camps and offshore on ships, with emphasis in children's services.

    It was also announced that there aren't any serious issues regarding hygiene rules neither serious health problems on the earthquake-stricken island.

    International Orthodox Charity, an international humanitarian organization, sent health-care supplies to the hospital, in collaboration with the Region's health directorate.

    [49] Former TAIPED head Stavridis died

    State privatization agency TAIPED's former chairman and CEO Stelios Stavridis died of cancer early on Wednesday.

    He was born in Athens originating from Smyrna and was a father of three children. He studied Engineering at the University of Zurich and had postgraduate studies in Business Administration and Economics.

    He had a long and successful career as a manager in top executive roles at leading companies and Greek industries, such as "Lavipharm Group of Companies" (Executive Director 1984-1987), "Aigaion" textile industry (CEO 1988), "Lafarge-Heracles" cement company (President of the BoD & CEO 1991-1992), "Hellenic Petroleum" (CEO 1992), "Hellenic Refinery of Aspropyrgos" (President of the BoD 1992-1993), "EYDAP S.A." as Chairman and CEO and "TAIPED" (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund) as Chairman between April and August of 2013.

    Stavridis was honored with the Greek Quality Leader of the Year award by the European Organization for Quality.

    In 1991 he founded Ideales Group (Piscines Ideales, Ideales Spa, Ideales Resort, Ideales Constructions), which was repeatedly awarded for its business ethics, its working environment (European Best Workplace 2009) and CSR practices. Piscines Ideales was awarded for 3 consecutive years (2007, 2008 and 2009) as Best Workplace in Greece and as the European Best Workplace in 2009.

    [50] PM Samaras on the death of former TAIPED head Stavridis

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday expressed his deep sorrow on the loss of the former head of the country's privatization agency TAIPED Stelios Stavridis.

    "He was an inspiring and creative man, excelled for his contribution to the development of entrepreneurship and our national economy. He successfully assumed the management of TAIPED and effectively concluded major privatizations. Stelios Stavridis honoured our party as a candidate deputy and honoured me personally with his friendship. I express my warmest condolences to this family," Samaras said.

    [51] 'Box in a Suitcase': The modern art of France travels to Athens in 15 boxes

    A contemporary French artistic creation travels in small "boxes-suitcases", proving that art fits everywhere and is able to travel around the world.

    Fifteen boxes-suitcases along with corresponding works by French artists of the new generation will travel from France to Athens in the Alex Mylona Museum (Agion Assomaton square) and then will be presented at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. The artists were selected by a committee of French curators and art historians to participate in the exhibition "Box in a Suitcase" honouring Marcel Duchamp.

    The exhibit presented for the first time worldwide borrows its title from a famous work created by the renowned French artist in 1941 when he emigrated to the United States: a portable-box museum presenting a collection of creations in miniatures. With this concept in mind the artists were invited to create a specific project in accordance with a predetermined protocol: to put their work (paintings, installations, videos, sculpture and even performances) in a suitcase.

    "Box in a Suitcase" makes its world premiere on Saturday in Athens (February 22-April 27) in the frame of the events "Greece-France Alliance 2014" organised by the French Institute. The inauguration will be attended by Pierre Labat, who will participate in the exhibit with his project "Slabs City".

    "The 'Box in a suitcase' is a project and an exhibit, a historical reference and a challenge,'' stresses artistic director of the Macedonian Museum Dennis Zacharopoulos, who curated the exhibit along with art historian Alexios Papazacharias. As Zaxaropoulos states the exhibit presents fifteen of the most interesting artists of the younger generation and France is trying to introduce them by linking their work to the history of French art from early 20th century.

    [52] Three arrested, two injured during protest in Skouries, Halkidiki

    Three people were arrested and two slightly injured on Wednesday afternoon, when police intervened to stop a protest by local residents in the Skouries region, in the Halkidiki peninsula. The residents were protesting against what they claimed was the use of hazardous materials to cover roads built to transport material from the gold mines operated by the company Hellas Gold in the area.

    According to a police announcement, those arrested were a 55-year-old man and two women aged 30 and 47 years old, respectively. They were charged with insubordination and illegal use of violence before they were released at the orders of a public prosecutor pending a trial. The two injured protestors were taken to the Paleochori health centre.

    The residents had blocked the road leading to the Hellas Gold worksite when police intervened. The road was opened again a short while afterwards so that the company's trucks could pass through and then closed again.

    The residents' claims were denied by a company spokesman, who said that the material used to line the roads to the worksite had been supplied by local quarries and invited anyone who wanted to take samples. He also disputed another of the residents' complaints, namely that the company needed permits to set up containers on the worksite, saying that the mine had permits issued by the appropriate authorities.

    The protestors insisted, however, that samples of the materials used showed traces of arsenic and other heavy metals.

    A later police announcement denied reports that police had attacked the protestors, claiming that the latter had refused to comply with police instructions to depart. It stressed that no tear gas was used to disperse the protest and that police removed protestors "with their physical presence" while fully respecting the law, as well as individual rights and freedoms.

    [53] OLP schedules one-day meeting on ports security systems

    The Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) on Wednesday announced it was holding a one-day meeting on Thursday to present the new port security services under the European Union's Support Project.

    "OLP SA is one of the world's safest ports. Since 2010 it has developed a modern and updated security environment," Organisation President and CEO Giorgos Anomeritis said.

    OLP has been participateing in Support, an integrated project funded by the EU's 7th Framework Programme, since 2010, alongside 17 other ports in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Cyprus, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia and Austria.

    [54] Body of Dutch sailing boat skipper identified by his family

    A body found off Spetses island on Wednesday belongs to the 29-year-old skipper of the Dutch-flagged sailboat "Ziesjoem", which was found sunk on February 16 off Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens.

    The young man was identified by his family.

    He had left the Alimos Marina, on the western coast of Attica, on January 28 and in his last message cited mechanical problems, saying he would continue on wind power alone.

    [55] Body of girl recovered from Farmakonissi wreck

    The Coast Guard on Wednesday recovered yet another body, of a young girl, from the fishing boat that sank off Farmakonissi, north of Kalymnos in the Eastern Aegean, on January 19 involving undocumented migrants, some of whom had drowned when their boat capsized.

    An autopsy will be conducted on Leros.

    The Turkish-flagged fishing boat "Coznuru" was raised also on Tuesday by the frigate "Thetis" in the presence of an investigating magistrate, and is being examined at Leros island.

    Along with the bodies of a woman and two boys that were recovered on Tuesday, this brings the total of the dead bodies recovered from the accident to ten.

    Sixteen people had been rescued off the boat before it capsized under unknown circumstances; 8 children and 3 women lost their lives during the operation.

    Weather forecast

    [56] Overcast on Thursday

    High temperatures, fog and northeasterly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of country with temperatures ranging from 2C-18C.Fair weather in the central parts and in the south, 2C-20C. Fog over the islands in the morning, 10C-20C.Scattered clouds in Athens with fog in the morning, 5C-19C; the same for Thessaloniki, 6C-16C.

    [57] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies

    AVGHI: Industry devastated.

    DIMOKRATIA: Civil war in main opposition SYRIZA over the armed forces.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Eight German doctors that visited Greece said: You remind us of Iraq.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: 100 million euro looting in Agricultural Bank of Greece.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: How the scam in the NGO was set up.

    ESTIA: Turning point for Greece.

    ETHNOS: Sweeping-law for fines and capital gain tax.

    IMERISSIA: Changes in capital tax properties.

    KATHIMERINI: A sweeping draft law aims at correcting mistakes.

    KERDOS: China and the Emirates seeking new investment opportunities.

    LOGOS: Troika... as of Monday.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Real estate owners lost in tax statement's labyrinth.

    RIZOSPASTIS: All on the farmers' side!

    TA NEA: New draft law brings facelift to taxation.

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