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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-02-24

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

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

Monday, 24 February 2014 Issue No: 4594

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs meeting to prepare for talks with troika
  • [02] Cross-checks on wire transfers, offshore firms have brought in 100 mln, PM told
  • [03] Samaras-Venizelos meeting ends; Optimism regarding talks with troika
  • [04] Venizelos on the developments in Ukraine
  • [05] Venizelos on Ukraine: developments 'radical and dramatic'
  • [06] Rehn rules out Greek borrowing from markets before EU elections in 'WirtschaftsWoche' interview
  • [07] SYRIZA says government is hostage to strict implementation of memorandum policies
  • [08] SYRIZA expresses serious doubts over 'grey areas' in Cyprus Joint Declaration
  • [09] SYRIZA leader Tsipras' newspaper interview; government spokesman's response
  • [10] DIM.AR leader Kouvelis says the country does not need elections but a change of policy
  • [11] Central bank governor, SYRIZA's Glezos discuss German war reparations issue
  • [12] AN.EL president Kammenos wraps up visit to Cyprus
  • [13] KKE's Koutsoumbas says SYRIZA evolves into a new PASOK
  • [14] French defence minister praises professionalism of Larissa EU command staff
  • [15] US welcomes Athens, Ankara visits by Cyprus issue negotiators
  • [16] Gov't will soon start to fill hiring quota for disabled, Dep. labour minister says
  • [17] Rider on the release of inmates for health reasons will be voted in parliament on Wednesday
  • [18] Dep. foreign minister on proposal for smaller Parliament
  • [19] Citizen Service Centres given powers to independently issue certificates
  • [20] SEV to present report on Greece's business environment on Monday
  • [21] Economic conditions in Greece have improved, Soros tells 'Der Speigel'
  • [22] European Commissioner for fisheries visits Rendi central markets organisation
  • [23] Five in custody over fuel tax fraud scams
  • [24] Athens doctors blame higher flu deaths on vaccine shortage
  • [25] Eight detained at road toll protest near Megara
  • [26] Cocaine and quantity of bullets found in truck at Patras port
  • [27] Protest in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki over Skouries gold mining
  • [28] Super League results
  • [29] Rain and storms on Monday
  • [30] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM chairs meeting to prepare for talks with troika

    A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (C) was held at the finance ministry on Sunday to prepare the Greek government's positions for the start of talks with the troika representing Greece's lenders, due to start on Monday.

    Exiting the meeting, a senior government sources said that the primary surplus will play a key role in the talks and in "the realisation by all parties" of the Greek economy's performance.

    Questioned about the primary surplus might allow a lightening of the load for Greek citizens, the same sources declined to go into details, saying he preferred to "say little and be precise". Pointing out that the surplus must first be confirmed by Eurostat, the source ventured to predict that a part of this will be "returned" to society.

    "Anything that is in that direction is positive. It is the first tangible proof, where individuals will see that the injustices they have suffered are being lifted."

    The source refused to be specific about the possibility of a reduction in taxes, however, saying that this had been planned for 2015 but "we must first see how it goes". The talks with the EU-IMF troika representing Greece's creditors are due to kick off on Monday afternoon, when Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will meet troika representatives at 16:00. They are then due to meet Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis at 19:00. Government officials emphasised that the Sunday meeting had ended with agreement between all sides and that the government will be adopting a uniform line on all issues during the talks with the troika. They said that meetings will be held over the coming days between the two parties in the ruling coalition, as part of the preparation of their respective Parliamentary groups, but that there were no longer any disagreements on policy issues. A source leaving the meeting earlier on noted that the government will present a united front on such issues as the sale of non-prescription drugs, shelf-life for milk and book prices. The same source noted that the government will insist on an 80 pct implementation of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 'toolkit' for competition, whereas the troika was insisting on 100 pct implementation of the OECD proposals. Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis were the first to leave the meeting at the finance ministry. In statements before it started, meanwhile, a senior source told reporters that the Greek side intends to arrive at the negotiations with the troika with its own 'agenda' for structural reforms. He appeared optimistic, however, that a deal will be struck with the country's creditors before the Eurogroup meeting on March 10. This source expressed surprise that the OECD toolkit had taken on the status of a "bible" and said the Greek proposals will not be confined to simply replacing some measures proposed by the troika with others but take a different tack. Those attending the Sunday meeting included Stournaras, Hatzidakis, Georgiadis, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis and the finance ministry's general secretary for public revenues Haris Theoharis. The Greek side's aim is to reach an agreement with the troika before the Eurogroup meeting on March 10 so that an 8.3-billion-euro tranche of bailout loans that was not released at the end of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 might be disbursed.

    [02] Cross-checks on wire transfers, offshore firms have brought in 100 mln, PM told

    Finance ministry cross-checks of lists of wire transfers and offshore firms have brought in roughly 100 million euros in revenues, according to figures presented to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras during a government meeting at the finance ministry on Sunday. According to the ministry, an initial examination of 54,000 cases showed 24,710 calling for additional investigation and letters were sent out prompting tax-payers to present documentation to account for the sums involved. A team of special auditors was set up, who used risk analysis techniques to target these cases and focus on those that were most important. In the cases for which audits were completed, this yielded results in excess of 25 million euros and showed a delinquency rate of around 30 pct. Given that the techniques target the most high-risk cases, however, it is expected that the overall rate overall will be lower. More cases are expected to be investigated in coming months, after the government established a new 'fast-track' partial auditing procedure and with the addition of new staff and resources to investigate these cases. Similar action is being taken to investigate offshore firms, where the result for the cases where the investigation is completed exceeds 70 million euros. In the meantime, the finance ministry's financial crimes squad SDOE has launched a sweeping inspection of the cases on the so-called 'Lagarde list' - which contains the names of thousands of Greeks with large sums deposited in a Swiss branch of HSBC - and the public revenues secretariat is conducting tax audits for some of these cases based on recent instructions from prosecuting authorities.

    [03] Samaras-Venizelos meeting ends; Optimism regarding talks with troika

    A meeting between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his junior partner in the ruling coalition, government vice-president, Foreign Minister and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, was held on Saturday afternoon to discuss the economy and the negotiations with the troika representing Greece's lenders. The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras. In statements after the meeting, Venizelos said the meeting had covered the entire range of issues faced by Greece and stressed that this was an exceptionally "busy" six months, during which the sacrifices made by Greeks had to bring results. The country must "reach a clearing" representing an exit from the crisis and the end of bailout memorandums, "in defiance of those who invest politically in the existence of a crisis and the memorandums," he added. He also appeared confident that a deal will be struck with the troika representing Greece's lenders before the next Eurogroup meeting, saying he had a "healthy dose of optimism" fuelled by "the very impressive results of the citizens' sacrifices". Venizelos said that the fiscal adjustment achieved by Greece was unique and that the primary surplus was very important, "leaving us now, with only the structural measures that boost competitiveness, which modernise the state and open the market and are therefore measures that the citizens want." The minister also noted that the primary surplus allowed room for measures to protect social cohesion and correct injustices, in what he said was "the start of the reverse process. Until now, everyone had to contribute; now the state had return to the sensitive groups." Asked about criticism voiced by European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, who said the Greek side was responsible for the delays in the talks with the troika, Venizelos declined to comment. He referred to what he called an unfair international discussion based on stereotypes about Greece, adding that to recycle this was "an injustice to Greece". The time had come to talk on the basis of figures and numbers, he said, urging Greece's partners to look at the figures "comprehensively and understand that the situation in Greece has changed". Europe could not go to EU elections with any other "narrative" unless the case called Greece was a success, he added. Stournaras, who was first to leave the meeting, also appeared optimistic that a deal will be achieved in talks with the troika, noting that there wasn't much time left. With respect to the comments made by Rehn, Stournaras said that mistakes had been made by both sides.

    [04] Venizelos on the developments in Ukraine

    Government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Sunday referred to the rapid developments in Ukraine before departing for Budapest to attend the Visegrad+3 Ministerial Meeting on Monday. "We are watching closely the rapid developments in Ukraine in cooperation with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton," he said, adding that "now more than ever is necessary for Ukrainian officials to realize their historical responsibility and adopt consensus, democratic solutions that will safeguard their country's national unity and integrity". "We are welcoming the release of Yulia Tymoshenko and express the hope that this development will contribute to the return to normalcy and to the restoration of the state of law," he said, noting that everybody should realize that democratic dialogue and not violence is the only way out of the crisis.

    [05] Venizelos on Ukraine: developments 'radical and dramatic'

    Government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos commented on developments in Ukraine and the results of his tour of Western Balkan capitals, in statements after meeting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Saturday. "Developments in Ukraine are radical and dramatic; it is very important to protect the country's territorial integrity, to protect the safety of citizens and create conditions for democratic and widely accepted consensus solutions, with the participation of all forces in the country," Venizelos stressed. He underlined that Ukraine must not be allowed to become a field of "blind geopolitical conflict" but a springboard for a different approach to international politics that was in accordance with European principles, while taking into account the international equilibrium. The foreign minister said that the Greek presidency of the EU Council will work closely with the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. "We are at her disposal and will undertake initiatives at the right moment," he added. Sources did not rule out a visit by Venizelos to Kiev in the near future, either with Ashton or other EU foreign ministers. The foreign minister said that he had briefed Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on the results of his tour of Balkan capitals last week, noting that the "common denominator" was that all Western Balkan countries have a EuroAtlantic perspective that is part of Greece's policy for their integration. He also reported progress on various bilateral issues, which will soon be unveiled in more detail. Referring to his talks in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Venizelos said his discussion with the country's premier Nikola Gruevski had created a framework regarding the name dispute, "which is not an issue of a name, it is an issue of good neighbourhood, international law and the European acquis". He revealed that preparations were underway to organise a meeting between the 28 EU foreign ministers and the six Western Balkans foreign ministers at the end of April, in a bid to revive the Thessaloniki 2014 agenda for their EU accession. He also referred to plans for an EU-Arab League foreign ministers' meeting on June 10.

    [06] Rehn rules out Greek borrowing from markets before EU elections in 'WirtschaftsWoche' interview

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)

    Greece has made a lot of progress in terms of fiscal and structural reforms but is unlikely to return to borrowing from the markets before the European Parliament elections, European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn said in an interview with the German financial paper "WirtschaftsWoche". In the interview, due to be published on Monday, Rehn noted that things in Greece "are always complicated and last a long time," and explains why the discussion about Greece will start in August, blaming the delays in the current troika review on the Greek side. The Commissioner stressed the need to carefully collect all the data and fully update the forecasts, in order to have as accurate a picture as possible about the country's growth prospects, noting that this would have a great impact on the sustainability of Greece's debt. Rehn referred to the delays, especially at the start of Greece's bailout programme, adding that the country had achieved much in terms of reforms in the last two years but still had a lot of work to do in terms of opening up markets for goods and services, listing sectors such as notaries and pharmacies. He judged it unlikely that Greece would be able to get a sustainable interest rate on its bonds if it attempted to borrow from the markets at present, saying that markets could not become the country's most important source of funding as long as it had not achieved a sustainable path in terms of the budget and growth.

    [07] SYRIZA says government is hostage to strict implementation of memorandum policies

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Sunday said that "the government is hostage to the tactic of the strict implementation of memorandum policies," when "a discussion on the debt sustainability has opened". Commenting on the return to Athens on Monday of the country's troika of lenders, SYRIZA accused the government of surrendering everything, begging for a political statement of support by the lenders ahead of the European elections, without considering to utter anything that does not please Mrs. Merkel". A SYRIZA press office statement noted that the troika now aims at the privatization of part of the Public Power Corp. in order to shrink it, underlining that the people have realized who can represent the country's interests, who can negotiate and together with the peoples of Europe can defeat the extreme neo-liberal austerity policies. "Greece, from a crisis guinea pig, is being turned into an Achilles' heel of the dominant neo-liberal model," SYRIZA underlined.

    [08] SYRIZA expresses serious doubts over 'grey areas' in Cyprus Joint Declaration

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) expressed serious doubts regarding the Joint Declaration revealed by the two communities on Cyprus, pointing to "grey areas" regarding the content of a Cyprus solution, in an announcement released by the party's Political Secretariat on Saturday. This called for a broader movement of support in Greece aimed at a just and sustainable solution to the political problem on Cyprus. "In order for the negotiations to become a window of opportunity they must be conducted without outward pressure, on the basis of an internationalisation of the Cyprus issue and not by dealing with it as a bilateral problem between Greece and Turkey, deinternationalised in a quadrilateral framework with the use of all friendly forces of Cyprus and the supervision of the permanent members of the UN Security Council," the announcement said. The party also stressed that it will do its utmost to prevent the bailout memorandums for Greece and Cyprus to be used as a means to exert pressure to impose unjust choices. Regarding the content of a Cyprus solution, SYRIZA outlined the following positions: "The aim is a peaceful Cyprus, a common home for all Cypriots. With a sovereign people. Ensuring the human rights of all its citizens, far from racism and racial discrimination. A Cyprus on which Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins will live peacefully." It also stressed that the solution must result in a single state with a single sovereignty, one identity and one nationality, without occupation forces and colonisation policies and a federal structure aiming at a common coexistence rather than a separation of the populations on the island. "It is a fundamental right of the two communities, as well as of the recognised minorities, to live in a sovereign Cyprus, without guarantor forces. Without third parties that can determine the fate of the shared home of the Cyprus people," the announcement said. SYRIZA also called for a just and functional settlement of the territorial issue in the framework of European principles, the free movement and settlement of persons and the unobstructed movement of goods, saying that the property issue must be settled in the spirit of the legal rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

    [09] SYRIZA leader Tsipras' newspaper interview; government spokesman's response

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Sunday commented on main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras' interview in VIMA newspaper, underlining that "Mr. Tsipras threatens to unilaterally suspend debt repayment spending, thus leading the country to bankruptcy and out of the eurozone". "The systematic defamation of our country by Mr. Tsipras and political absurdity have limits," Kedikoglou added. In an interview to VIMA newspaper, Tsipras spoke about the government he intends to form if his party wins the national elections, his positions on crucial issues and the negotiation in Europe on the "Greek issue". He expressed certainty that national elections will be held soon after the European elections and pledged that his government will also include personalities that do not belong to SYRIZA. "SYRIZA aspires to become the new democratic party of the Left," Tsipras said, adding that his party "attracts conservative citizens as well, because PASOK and ND do not express the middle class anymore". He said that if elected he will launch a negotiation course and will call for an EU summit meeting on the debt issue, focusing on "collective, solidarity-based handling of the public debt crisis" which will be "the starting point of a well-planned, cool-headed and, at the same time, tough and assertive negotiation". "We will not make unilateral moves. But we will not hesitate to make them if it is necessary to protect national interest," Tsipras said, underlining that "everybody knows that an intolerance toward Greece could 'wake up' many dormant 'debt volcanoes' in Europe".

    [10] DIM.AR leader Kouvelis says the country does not need elections but a change of policy

    "The country does not need elections, it needs a change of policy," opposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis underlined in an interview in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper. Kouvelis also said that the overwhelming majority of the people are favour of coalition governments, adding that such options should not be ruled out if they serve the country's interests.

    [11] Central bank governor, SYRIZA's Glezos discuss German war reparations issue

    Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos met with main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Manolis Glezos to discuss the issue of German war reparations to Greece. According to a SYRIZA announcement, the meeting took place on Friday at Glezos' request and focused on collecting evidence to back up Greece's claims against Germany. The veteran Greek politician, an icon of Greek resistance to the Nazis now in his 90s, heads a movement called the National Council for the Claim of German Debts. According to their calculations, rejected by the German side, Germany owes Greece some 162 billion euros, not counting interest.

    [12] AN.EL president Kammenos wraps up visit to Cyprus

    Opposition Independent Greeks (AN.EL) president Panos Kammenos on Sunday wrapped up a two-day visit to Cyprus where he met with political party representatives and distinguished personalities who disagree with the Joint Declaration. Kammenos met with EDEK President Yiannakis Omirou, Citizens' Alliance president Giorgos Lillikas and distinguished political figure Vassos Lyssarides. Kammenos and an AN.EL party delegation also visited the Ledra Palace buffer zone and the Imprisoned Graves in Nicosia.

    [13] KKE's Koutsoumbas says SYRIZA evolves into a new PASOK

    Opposition Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas lashed out at main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) in an interview in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper saying that it evolves into a "new PASOK". He accused SYRIZA of mockery when it talks about writing off part of the debt, "because it will be the result of European conferences and agreements and the people will have to pay in return", adding that it is also a mockery to say that the primary surplus will be returned to the vulnerable social groups. On Sunday morning, Koutsoumbas visited the Agios Kosmas Sports Center noting he rejects the relocation and privatization plans.

    [14] French defence minister praises professionalism of Larissa EU command staff

    Visiting the European Union's Operational Command Centre in Larissa, central Greece on Saturday, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the professionalism of the EU member-state officers stationed there. Le Drian met with the French commander General Philippe Ponties and was briefed on the Larissa centre's operational capability, current EU operations underway and the progress in the planning of an operation in the Central African Republic. Ponties stressed that a rapid and decisive reaction was needed in order to deal effectively with the situation in the Central African Republic.

    [15] US welcomes Athens, Ankara visits by Cyprus issue negotiators

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The U.S. State Department has welcomed a decision for visits by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators to Ankara and Athens, respectively, scheduled to take place on February 27. In statements late on Friday, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf called the visits "unprecedented" and said that, along with the agreement on the joint statement between the two sides on Cyprus and the new round of talks last week, they were another important step forward in achieving a "just and lasting Cyprus settlement". She said that the United States continues to urge all sides involved to "seize this historic opportunity" to make real and substantial progress toward a reunification of the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    [16] Gov't will soon start to fill hiring quota for disabled, Dep. labour minister says

    The government will soon launch a process to cover a 5 pct hiring quota set aside for people with disabilities in the public sector, Deputy Labour Minister Vassilis Kegeroglou announced on Saturday. The deputy minister was addressing the second day of a conference organised by the National Confederation of People with Disabilities (ESAmEA) Executive Secretariat and the Executive Committee of the European Disability Forum (EDF) taking place in Athens. The 5 pct quota had been introduced in a law passed in 1998 but had been allowed to lapse due to a suspension of hiring until 2016. The hiring in the so-called 'protected' categories - such as the disabled, people with four or more children and other groups - was unfrozen in a recent order published in the government gazette. The minister also underlined that Greece will support the EDF agenda while it holds the presidency of the EU Council. The EDF conference is due to end later on Saturday and is taking place in Athens for the second consecutive year, while it has been declared an official event of the Greek EU presidency.

    [17] Rider on the release of inmates for health reasons will be voted in parliament on Wednesday

    A rider sponsored by Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou will be voted in parliament on Wednesday, February 25 allowing the release of inmates serving prison sentences of less than 10 years who suffer from multiple sclerosis, hemiplegia, paraplegia, have undergone heart or kidney transplant operation, have been diagnosed with cancer or have tested HIV positive, it was announced on Sunday. Female inmates, who have their underage children with them, will also be released, according to the rider. For inmates to be eligible will have to serve two fifths of their sentence. Inmates serving time for terrorism, pedophiles, as well as, members of criminal organizations and those convicted of fraudulent acts against the state will be excluded from the measure. Meanwhile, the justice ministry announced on Sunday that the Korydallos Prison "Agios Savvas" hospital will be reinforced with nursing staff.

    [18] Dep. foreign minister on proposal for smaller Parliament

    Deputy Foreign Minister Akis Gerontopoulos on Sunday expressed support for a government proposals to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament, while enhancing the role of the president of the Republic, speaking at a book launch in the northern Greek prefecture of Serres. The issue has been raised in view of an upcoming revision of the Constitution. "A debate will open concerning the Constitutional revision, where changes must be made. The current Constitution provides that the number of MPs should be between 200 and 300. We are at 300 but they can be reduced," he said, adding that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had made these proposals before and for separating the role of MPs from that of ministers.

    [19] Citizen Service Centres given powers to independently issue certificates

    Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis has signed a Joint Ministerial Decision extending the number of services offered to the public by Citizens' Service Centres. According to an announcement on Sunday, the centres will now be able to issue certificates usually obtained from municipality records, such as family status, birth and nationality. These will have equal validity as those obtained from municipal authorities since the centres will have electronic access to their records and registers. As a result, they will be able to autonomously issue such certificates upon application and not simply forward applications to the relevant authorities.

    Financial News

    [20] SEV to present report on Greece's business environment on Monday

    Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos is to present SEV's first annual report on the business environment in Greece on Monday afternoon, at the administrative reform and e-government ministry. The report will be presented to Administrative Reform and e-Government Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis. It will outline the main regulatory and administrative obstacles to entrepreneurship in 13 sectors of business interest, as well as making an assessment of recent reform efforts and suggesting improvements. The main conclusion arising from a barometer poll among businesses appears to be a lack of satisfaction with the quality of services offered by public administration.

    [21] Economic conditions in Greece have improved, Soros tells 'Der Speigel'

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)

    Economic conditions in Greece have improved, global investor George Soros said in an interview with the German newspaper 'Der Spiegel' on Sunday, when asked if he would invest in the country. He also repeated his criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her handling of the economic crisis in Europe. "The situation in the Eurozone remains very critical and the Germans know this. The austerity policy imposed by Chancellor Merkel was mistaken," he asserted, noting that this had increased the intensity of the crisis unnecessarily, and that the situation in financial markets had now calmed down but there was no discussion on a sustainable recovery. He expressed fears that the Eurozone might enter into a long period of economic stagnation, similar to that in Japan, but said that he would invest in Greece provided it was judged possible to have a lasting profit. Soros said the European Central Bank had adopted the correct attitude to the crisis but noted that banks did not do enough to finance businesses and the ECB's chances of success were limited as long as investors in the crisis countries were not active.

    [22] European Commissioner for fisheries visits Rendi central markets organisation

    European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki on Saturday paid a visit to the Organisation of Central Markets and Fishing (OKAA) in the Rendi district near Piraeus, where she held talks on the fish farming sector and its struggle to survive, even though its exports 80 pct of its production. She attended a meeting that included Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Athanassios Skordas to discuss improvements to the organisation of the fish trade, fish markets and the operation of a modern fish market at the facilities in Rendi.

    General News

    [23] Five in custody over fuel tax fraud scams

    Five people were remanded in custody for tax fraud and illegal fuel sales after testifying before an examining magistrate and a prosecutor over the weekend, four on Saturday and a fifth on Sunday. Six of another seven individuals arrested and led before the Piraeus court magistrate and public prosecutor on Sunday were released on bail. The seventh, a trade unionist and senior environment ministry employee, was remanded in custody. Another three suspects, two fuel station owners and a Piraeus Port Organisation employee, are to be examined on Monday. Among those being held are ETEKA oil company president and Atromitos FC president Giorgos Spanos, an ETEKA installations supervisor, a customs official and a ship's engineer. All four are to be taken to Korydallos prison on Monday. A female suspect, co-owner of a fuel station, was released with conditions after posting a 20,000-euro bail. Soon after the decision was read, incidents broke out among relatives of the defendants and ETEKA employees, prompting the intervention of riot police. Unidentified individuals targeted television crews that sought refuge in the building housing the prosecutor's office. Those examined by the magistrate on Sunday were an environment, energy and climate change ministry official in charge of supervising the fuel oil sector, four fuel truck drivers, a labourer and a petrol station owner.

    [24] Athens doctors blame higher flu deaths on vaccine shortage

    A shortage of the ordinary flu vaccine may have been partly responsible for the higher number of deaths from seasonal flu this winter, the Athens Medical Association (ISA) suggested in a press release on Sunday. Commenting on the 58 confirmed deaths from seasonal influenza recorded this year, ISA said that up to 40 pct of the high-risk population was unable to obtain a vaccine against seasonal flu, while reporting a shortage of vaccines arriving at pharmacies. "It is tragic when people are dying [for lack] of a six-euro vaccine," the announcement said, noting that vaccines were sent to pharmacies in much lower quantities than those ordered, while none were sent to the state insurance health branch EOPYY, in what ISA criticised as a "criminal" lack of vaccination policy in Greece.

    [25] Eight detained at road toll protest near Megara

    Eight people were detained by police on Sunday during a protest against road toll hikes held at the Pachi toll booths near Megara. About 200 people took part in the protest, raising the toll bars and allowing vehicles to go through free of charge for roughly two hours, while traffic on the national highway was interrupted for roughly 15 minutes.

    [26] Cocaine and quantity of bullets found in truck at Patras port

    More than two kilos of cocaine and at least 150,000 9mm bullets were found in a truck during a search conducted at Patras port, authorities announced on Saturday morning. Acting on a tip-off, police conducted a search on Friday afternoon and found the drugs and bullets hidden in a truck loaded with potatoes, which had just come off a boat. The 29-year-old driver has been arrested and coast guard officers are conducting an investigation to find out the final destination for the cocaine and bullets and whether other individuals were involved.

    [27] Protest in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki over Skouries gold mining

    Protests were underway in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki and in the Halkidiki peninsula on Saturday, over the gold mining operations in Halkidiki's Skouries region by the company Hellas Gold and recent clashes with police during demonstrations against the mines. The protestors gathered at Thessaloniki's Aristotelous Square, from Mitropoleos to Tsimiski streets, and at the location 'Hondro Dendro' where the latest clashes with police and arrests were carried out.

    Soccer

    [28] Super League results

    Olympiakos Piraeus beat OFI, Crete by 0-4 in an away game on Sunday, maintaining its lead in the standings in the 26th round of the Greek soccer Super League.

    In other action: Levadiakos - Asteras Tripolis 3-1 Apollon Smyrnis - Panionios 1-2 Panathinaikos - Ergotelis 1-1 Atromitos - Xanthi 2-0 Platanias - Aris 2-1 PAS Yiannena - Veria 0-1 PAOK - Panthrakikos 3-0 Kalloni - Panetolikos 24/2/14

    Standings after 26 weeks of play: 1. Olympiakos 74 2. PAOK 54 3. Atromitos Athens 52 4. Panathinaikos Athens 47 5. Asteras Tripoli 45 6. Panetolikos 34 (25 games) 7. Panthrakikos 34 8. OFI Crete 33 9. PAS Yiannena 32 10. Ergotelis 31 11. Levadiakos 30 12. Panionios 30 13. Xanthi 29 14. Kalloni Mytilini 29 (25 games) 15. Platanias Hania 25 16 Apollon Smyrnis 25 17. Veria 23 18. Aris Thessaloniki 18

    Weather forecast

    [29] Rain and storms on Monday

    Wet and stormy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Monday, with snow on higher ground. Moderate to strong winds, from main northerly directions, ranging from 3-7 Beaufort. The temperature will drop sharply to between 3C and 15C. The phenomena will start to clear up from the late afternoon. Cloudy weather with rain and storms in Attica, with temperatures between 7C and 12C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 6C to 11C. Rain and storms in Cephalonia, with temperatures from 11C to 14C.

    [30] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: The momentum of the Left is a catalyst for Europe

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Taxation traps for private homes, cars

    EPOCHI: The government is in a minefield

    ETHNOS: Bribes, tricks, omerta

    KATHIMERINI: Parliament with 250 deputies

    KYRIAKATIKI ELEFTHEROTYPIA: 25 billion euros snatched by rings

    KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: Peoples can break the chains of the EU and the monopolies

    PROTO THEMA: 8 million euros to an NGO...to count NGOs

    TO ARTHRO: Why ND rebels should be expelled from the party

    TO VIMA: 116,000 targeted by the tax office

    VRADYNI: Avoid supplementary pension reductions

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