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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-03-11

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

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

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 Issue No: 4606

CONTENTS

  • [01] Eurogroup wants review of Greek programme concluded by end of the week
  • [02] Dijsselbloem expresses hope for troika-Greece agreement 'as soon as possible'
  • [03] FinMin Stournaras in Brussels for the Eurogroup meeting
  • [04] Parliament briefed on situation of Greek community in Ukraine
  • [05] Greek government welcomes decision on "Great and Sacred Synod" of Orthodox Churches, FM Venizelos says
  • [06] Former minister Pangalos to represent Greek EU Presidency in EU military committee meeting
  • [07] EU Employment Council convenes on Monday
  • [08] DM Avramopoulos holds talks with Montenegro counterpart
  • [09] Joint Ministerial Decision on cultivation of industrial hemp expected soon
  • [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras says 'On May 25, people will decide if they want the troika'
  • [11] SYRIZA leader analyses proposal, vision of the Left for Europe
  • [12] SYRIZA accuses banks, BoG and ECB of 'political transaction' regarding lenders' capital needs
  • [13] SYRIZA leader met with representatives of the American Jewish Committee
  • [14] DIMAR autonomously supports Schulz's candidacy, party leader Kouvelis says
  • [15] Health minister sees deal with troika on non-prescription drugs
  • [16] Council of State section discusses retirees' appeals against pension cutbacks
  • [17] Public-sector staff union federation announces strike action against planned reforms
  • [18] Draft law on 'small PPC' presented for public debate
  • [19] Domokos maximum security prison to be ready next month
  • [20] Minister denies reports concerning Korydallos hospital wing
  • [21] Parliament President Meimarakis to meet with French Senate President on Tuesday
  • [22] DEPA launches tender for Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline feasibility report
  • [23] Tourist arrivals rise by 30 pct in Jan.-Feb., airport data shows
  • [24] Shipping Minister Varvitsiotis on the voluntary taxation of Greek-flagged ships
  • [25] Foreign investors net buyers in the Greek market in Feb
  • [26] High-level conference on coastal and maritime tourism in Athens
  • [27] Greek ports represented at Cruise Shipping Miami 2014 trade fair
  • [28] Alpha Bank reports 2.9 billion euros profit in 2013
  • [29] Greek exports post decline in January, study shows
  • [30] Greek exports down 4.3 pct in Jan
  • [31] Greek deflation rate fell to 1.1 pct in Feb
  • [32] Greece records biggest increase in energy consumption from RES in 2012
  • [33] Greece presents list with tax-heaven countries
  • [34] Kri-Kri to invest 20 mln euros in a new yogurt factory
  • [35] Envitec signs 4.3-mln-euro waste management contract
  • [36] Effort to collect overdue tax debt offers poor results so far
  • [37] PNO threatens with labour action unless accruals are paid
  • [38] Greek stocks end slightly lower
  • [39] Greek bond market closing report
  • [40] ADEX closing report
  • [41] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [42] Greece firmly against GMOs, minister tells Greenpeace
  • [43] More migrants left than entered Greece in 2013, International Organisation for Migration reports
  • [44] Conference on tourism at the Acropolis Museum on Monday
  • [45] Flu virus death toll reaches 83
  • [46] Makis Psomiadis' testimony to be continued March 12
  • [47] Roma couple charged with temporary imprisonment over case of little 'Maria'
  • [48] Fugitive terrorists Maziotis, Roupa post message in anti-establishment website
  • [49] Suspect remanded after testifying in Crete extortion-racket case; lawyer released on bail
  • [50] Pharmacists on strike March 10-11
  • [51] KEPE says proposal on abolition of minimum wage for young workers was a researcher's "personal view"
  • [52] Secondary education union members hold blockades in Thessaloniki on Monday
  • [53] Vytina town calls for volunteers to help with reforestation of Mt. Maenalon
  • [54] Supreme Court reminds local authorities to enforce non-smoking laws
  • [55] Policeman injured during bank robbery
  • [56] Overcast on Tuesday
  • [57] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] Eurogroup wants review of Greek programme concluded by end of the week

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The eurozone Finance ministers (Eurogroup) (L) who are meeting here on Monday gave the Greek govern-ment a deadline by the end of the week to conclude the review of the Greek programme, according to diplomatic sources.

    During discussion of the issue, the same sources said, strong criticism was leveled on the lack of progress in talks between Athens and the EU-IMF troika of lenders, while the Eurogroup acknowled-ged progress in fiscal issues.

    [02] Dijsselbloem expresses hope for troika-Greece agreement 'as soon as possible'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    Arriving for a Eurogroup meeting here on Monday, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said he hoped that agreement will be reached between the EU-IMF troika and the Greek government as soon as possible.

    "It is important for all of us and especially for Greece that there is an agreement. Let us hope that the troika and the Greek government will work in Athens to achieve a deal very soon," he said when asked whether the two sides might reach an agreement by the end of this week.

    [03] FinMin Stournaras in Brussels for the Eurogroup meeting

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras participates in the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday. The first phase of negotiations between the government and the troika of Greece's international lenders was completed. A new round of negotiations has been scheduled for Wednesday.

    "Greece will go to the Eurogroup having solved the issue with the banks," a senior Finance ministry official said.

    The same official expressed his optimism that all negotiations with the troika will have been completed by next Sunday, March 16.

    Regarding the banks, he said, Saturday's meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and IMF representative in the troika of lenders to Greece Poul Tomsen was rather critical as Tomsen was forced to retreat from his initial extreme positions and accept the implementation of equal terms between Greek and other European banks.

    Another government official said that the fact that two systemic banks announced they would proceed with a share capital increase also played a key role.

    [04] Parliament briefed on situation of Greek community in Ukraine

    The parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad on Monday was briefed on the situation in Ukraine and received assurances that the members of the Greek community are safe.

    World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) regional coordinator for the former USSR countries and Federation of Greek Communities of Russia President Ivan Savvides and Federation of Greek Communities of Ukraine President Alexandra Protsenko briefed the committee, while also present were Federation of Greek Communities of Kazakhstan Pavlos Theodoridis, Azerbaijan Hellenic Association "Argo" President Saida Mehdiyeva and Regional Youth Coordinating Council President Evgenia Kotanidou.

    Savvides underlined that the 40 schools in Ukraine, where the Greek language is being taught, are at risk as a result of the change in the law on minority languages introduced by the new Ukrainian government. Protsenko assured that the Greek language is still being taught, noting that the Greeks did not become the victims of ethnic persecution and their rights were not violated.

    Protsenko underlined that communication between the 150 Greek associations in Ukraine is continuous and expressed gratitude to the Greek government for its support.

    On his part, Savvides raised the issues of the pensions of the repatriated Greeks, the citizenship of the Greeks from the former Soviet Union and the repatriated Greek identity card. He also called for an investigation by a special parliamentary committee into SAE's state financing.

    [05] Greek government welcomes decision on "Great and Sacred Synod" of Orthodox Churches, FM Venizelos says

    The Greek government welcomes the decision to convene the "Great and Sacred Synod" in 2016 and is monitoring the situation in the Orthodox Churches with great interest, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday said regarding the decision to convene a "Great and Sacred Synod" of Orthodox Churches and on the freeing of the nuns from the St. Thekla Convent in Syria.

    "The Synaxis of the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, which took place in Istanbul, under the chairmanship of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, indicates the unity of Orthodox Christians in a world full of hotbeds of crisis, tension and war," Venizelos said.

    The minister also expressed the Greek government's satisfaction at the release, following coordinated efforts, of the nuns abducted from the St. Thekla Convent in Maaloula last December and called on "all sides to intensify their efforts toward the location and release of the two abducted Bishops of Aleppo."

    [06] Former minister Pangalos to represent Greek EU Presidency in EU military committee meeting

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday met with former minister and government vice-president Thodoros Pangalos, who accepted an invitation to represent the Greek EU Presidency in the EU military committee meeting in Brussels on March 12.

    A defence ministry announcement underlined that, traditionally, the working luncheon is attended by a public figure from the country holding the rotating EU Presidency, who addresses the event as a keynote speaker and presents views on European integration focusing on geopolitical and strategy issues.

    The topics under discussion at the meeting will be European defence integration, energy security and the creation of a European army in the context of the European contribution to global stability.

    [07] EU Employment Council convenes on Monday

    The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council convenes on Monday to discuss social challenges, youth guarantee schemes as well as employment issues, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said on Monday.

    Vroutsis, who chairs the meeting under the Greek EU presidency, said the "European semester' and "Europe 2020 strategy" will also be discussed at the meeting.

    The Greek minister expressed his hope for constructive and productive discussions.

    [08] DM Avramopoulos holds talks with Montenegro counterpart

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and his Montenegro counterpart, Milica Pejanovic-Djuricic, discussed issues concerning developments in Ukraine, Syria and North Africa, Montenegro's Euro-Atlantic prospects and the deepening and strengthening of bilateral defence cooperation between Greece and Montenegro, during their meeting in Athens on Monday.

    Avramopoulos reiterated Greece's support for Montenegro's Euro-Atlantic prospects.

    The two ministers expressed the will to strengthen their cooperation in the framework of existing regional structures of cooperation with the aim of the further stabilisation of the Balkans and Southeastern Europe.

    It is reminded that a special session of the Defence ministers of Southeastern Europe will be held in Athens at the end of April, focusing on the deepening of cooperation between the region's countries in the defence sector and in the sector of the defence industry in particular.

    Pejanovic-Djuricic extended an invitation to Avramopoulos to visit Montenegro at a date that will be set through diplomatic channels.

    The Montenegro Defence minister visited the Evelpidon Military School on Monday afternoon, where she talked with the School's 12 Montenegrin cadets. She visited the Acropolis site in the morning and then laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. She was accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Athanassios Davakis and Army General Staff chief Christos Manolas.

    [09] Joint Ministerial Decision on cultivation of industrial hemp expected soon

    The Justice Ministry has assigned a prosecution magistrate to review the draft Joint Ministerial Decision on the terms and condition for the cultivation of industrial hemp in Greece.

    According to a document by Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou which was tabled to Parliament, the Rural Development Ministry has already sent the draft Joint Ministerial Decision to Justice Ministry so that it can make its own comments and observations on its content and in particular the monitoring of cultivated land and penalties on those not complying with the legislation.

    A prosecutor has already been assigned to review the draft decision and send it back soon to the Rural Development Ministry, Athanassiou said.

    Athanassiou was responding to a question by Independent Greeks deputy Maria Giatagana, in which the deputy claimed that although the law providing for the issue of a common ministerial decision had been voted since 2013, no decision had yet been issued.

    Parliament President Meimarakis to meet with French Senate President on Tuesday

    Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis will meet on Tuesday at 12:00 with French Senate President Jean-Pierre Bel, according to a parliament announcement.

    [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras says 'On May 25, people will decide if they want the troika'

    The people of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus will decide with their vote in the May 25 European Parliament elections whether they want to live with the failed recipe prescribed by the troika of lenders or build a new Europe, a Europe of the people, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras stated on Monday in Dublin.

    He underlined that in every country the troika has set foot it has brought social suffering, poverty, unemployment and mass migration of the young, adding that the governments in all these countries are now trying to create a false picture of a troika success.

    The people will not be led to believe this because they have lived and still live a tragedy, Tsipras noted.

    The vote of every European citizen, everywhere in Europe, counts as never before, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras told the international conference "Challenging the rule of the troika, transforming Europe" in Dublin, co-organised by the University of Dublin and the European Network Transform! Europe on Monday.

    The SYRIZA leader analysed the proposal and vision of the Left for Europe, in contrast to the positions presented by other candidates such as Martin Schulz and Jean-Claude Juncker, enumerating all problems caused by austerity policies over the past years.

    [11] SYRIZA leader analyses proposal, vision of the Left for Europe

    Referring to the significance of the European Parliament elections, Tsipras said that their resut can and must change the course of Europe because, as he stressed, neo-liberalism and German hegemony have led the EU to a strategic deadloock.

    Tsipras outlined at length SYRIZA's positions regarding the failure of policies being implemented over the past years in Ireland and the countries of the European south, stressing that social cohesion is being threatened as well as democracy. In this context, he added, the Euroelections can change political correlations. Such a change in the balance of forces will also determine the solution's political direction, he further said.

    Lastly, Tsipras reiterated his proposal on the holding of a European conference on the Greek debt, while stressing the need for the reforming of the legal framework on immigration, and of "Dublin II", among other things.

    [12] SYRIZA accuses banks, BoG and ECB of 'political transaction' regarding lenders' capital needs

    Main opposition SYRIZA party expressed doubts over the method used to estimate banks' capital needs, saying it was a "political transaction" between the lenders' managements, the Bank of Greece (BoG) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

    According to SYRIZA's economic policy sector, the release of the banks' stress tests by BoG on March 6, demonstrating the need for 6.4 billion euro additional funds proves the failure of the recent recapitalization as it contradicts and defies the estimates of BoG, the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and of various government officials and bankers that there is no need for additional funds.

    SYRIZA underlined that the estimates regarding banks' capital needs were based on June 2013 figures, which are already outdated.

    "The determination of the necessary funds in each bank is subject to political transaction between banks, BoG and the ECB so as not to create problems in the operation of banks, not to question the credibility of the banking system of the eurozone and provided there is a plan to cover any new needs that may arise," SYRIZA noted.

    SYRIZA's economic policy sector underlined that the only solution is that SYRIZA becomes government, which will immediately put banks using public money under public ownership and control while implementing a policy based on development rather than continuing austerity.

    [13] SYRIZA leader met with representatives of the American Jewish Committee

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras last week met with representatives of the American Jewish Committee headed by its Executive Director David Harris and representatives of the Central Board of Jewish Communities Benjamin Albalas and Victor Eliezer.

    The relations between Greece and Israel as well as the concerning phenomenon of the rise of Nazism and anti-Semitism, both in Greece and internationally, were among the issues discussed in the meeting.

    [14] DIMAR autonomously supports Schulz's candidacy, party leader Kouvelis says

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) party leader Fotis Kouvelis on Sunday in Athens met with the candidate of the Party of European Socialists for president of the European Commission Martin Schulz.

    "DIMAR-Progressive Cooperation, along with the MEPs to be elected, will join the Socialists and Democrats group. We are trying so that the correlations of the new European parliament and the election of the Commission head are defined in a progressive direction. DIMAR-Progressive Cooperation is participating autonomously in this effort and equally to any other political force from Greece that wants to support the candidacy of Martin Schulz," Kouvelis said.

    "No one in Greece has the exclusive right to claim he is a Eurosocialist or anything else relevant to that. What we declare is our clear European orientation, our daily fight and our demands for a Europe of solidarity and social cohesion," he added.

    On his part, Schulz noted there was an exchange of views as a follow-up of the meeting he had with Kouvelis in Brussels regarding his programme for the European Commission presidency, the country's economic situation and the negotiations with troika.

    "It is a good development and I am in favour of several left movements in the country being united to elect members of the Europarliament," Schulz noted.

    He also responded to a journalist's remark that "PASOK leader seems to disagree with the support given by DIMAR" by saying that "PASOK president is aware of my meetings with Mr. Kouvelis. I cannot get involved in the internal affairs of the left movements, this is not my role."

    [15] Health minister sees deal with troika on non-prescription drugs

    The operation of the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) service hotline is being normalized, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis told Vima FM on Monday.

    "It has been gradually normalizing. It is a new service that hasn't existed before and what we are trying to do is to offer it online, so that people don't even have to call. It's always difficult to launch something new. It should have normalized by now," he said.

    Regarding negotiations with the troika, Georgiadis estimated that there would be an agreement. "I believe there will be an agreement in the end. We have been negotiating all summer, as we have certain obligations. We reached an agreement with the troika and we implemented it and now it is considered 'done'. What we are now discussing is a Development Ministry issue... The issue of non-prescription drugs falls within the jurisdiction of another ministry, the Development Ministry, and OECD's (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) toolkit... The decision is to support the Health Ministry's proposal, which is not to liberalize the distribution channels but the selling of non-prescription drugs within pharmacies. We are talking about drugs, as the non-prescription drugs markets totals 300 million euros."

    [16] Council of State section discusses retirees' appeals against pension cutbacks

    Appeals by pensioners of the IKA-TEAM fund, who are calling for cutbacks made in their main and auxiliary pensions at the order of memorandum laws to be considered unconstitutional and contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, were discussed at the Council of State's First Section on Monday.

    According to the pensioners, their pensions were reduced by between 20 percent to 40 percent (depending on their original amount), while auxiliary ones were reduced by 15 percent.

    The pensioners stress that as of November 1, 2011, pensions exceeding 1,200 euros per month were reduced by 20 percent; for those who had not reached 55 years of age they were reduced by 40 percent in all cases they exceeded 1,000 euros per month, while IKA-TEAM's auxiliary pensions were reduced as of the same time period by 15 percent.

    The pensioners claim in their appeals that the constitutional principle of proportionality is violated, along with the constitutional principle of a state of law and the principle of protected trust.

    Furthermore, it is claimed that the controversial cutbacks also clash with stipulations of the European Convention on Human Rights that protect property, the sense of which includes the wages of working people and pensions.

    The decisions that will be issued by the Council of State will constitute an obligatory "pilot" rule for the country's Administrative First Instance and Appeals Courts, where hundreds of such cases are pending, since they were tried with the procedures of law 3900/2010 (pilot trials under express procedures).

    The Council of State's First Department reserved the issuing of its decision, that is expected in a relatively short period of time.

    [17] Public-sector staff union federation announces strike action against planned reforms

    The public-sector workers' union federation ADEDY announced planned strike action in protest against the administrative reform ministry's draft bill on public administration, during a press conference on Monday.

    The union announced a 24-hour strike next Wednesday, starting with a rally at 11:00 in Klafthmonos Square, to be followed by a march to the administrative reform ministry. ADEDY is also planning a 48-hour strike on March 19-20 and its leadership will convene again on March 21 to assess the result of labour action.

    Trade unionists expressed fears that up to 5,000 jobs will be shed by the end of the month, chiefly from the health and education ministries, and said the draft bill "is fully in line with the overall policy of restricting the public sector, farming out structures and functions to private interests, and a drastic restruction of public-sector staff, or at least those employed on the basis of permanent and steady work."

    They also announced their opposition to the abolition of public-sector entities and organisations and claimed that the assessment process included in the bill "will provide the government with an additional means of essentially abolishing a service".

    ADEDY also expressed concern that payment of lump sums to pensioners will the 'frozen' from the summer, with pending applications exceeding 60,000 by the end of the year whereas the welfare fund reserves do not exceed 400 million euros.

    [18] Draft law on 'small PPC' presented for public debate

    The draft law on the so-called "small Public Power Corporation" was present for public debate on Monday by the ministry of Environment, Energy & Climate change.

    The new company, that will be set up as a 100 pct subsidiary of the Public Power Corporation SA (PPC) before it is sold through an international tender, will include lignite, natural gas and hydroelectric electricity production units that correspond to 30 pct of the PPC SA production capacity, as well as, 30 pct of the PPC SA clients.

    According to the ministry of environment, the creation of a new competitive company in the electricity market encourages investments in the power production sector and creates new jobs. The ministry announcement added that the Greek electricity market's extroversion is boosted and the necessary preconditions are being created for the participation of strong international players in the Greek market, the attraction of investments and the reduction of the energy cost for consumers.

    The public debate will be completed on Friday.

    [19] Domokos maximum security prison to be ready next month

    The first maximum security prison (category C) in Greece will operate in Domokos next month for inmates sentenced to at least 10 years for terrorist acts, high treason, murder, extortion, robbery (as members of a criminal organisation) and also for inmates characterized as extremely dangerous, according to a justice ministry draft law to be presented for public consultation on Monday.

    The draft law also clarifies which inmates will be transferred to Domokos Prison and furlough approval preconditions.

    Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou underlined that Domokos Prison inmates will not have a right to furlough for the duration of their incarceration.

    According to the draft law, inmates accused of terrorism, high treason etc. will be held in the maximum security prison for at least 10 years without the right to furlough.

    After serving 10 years in prison their incarceration will be re-examined and it can be extended for up to two years. Their furlough requests will be examined by the Prison Council in case they are transferred to category A or B prison facilities. Telephone communication or other communication with their relatives will be restricted.

    Inmates serving time for other types of crimes that are characterized as dangerous by the prosecutor in charge will be held in maximum security prisons for four years without the right to furlough. Their incarceration could be extended for up to two years if they continue to be characterised as dangerous. The same treatment will be received by those accused of disciplinary offences against correctional facility personnel (assaults).

    [20] Minister denies reports concerning Korydallos hospital wing

    In other statements, meanwhile, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou categorically denied reports that inmates being treated at the Korydallos hospital wing were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, as shown in photographs sent by inmates to the media. The minister admitted that conditions were crowded and not "something we are proud of" but emphasised that there were no mattresses on the floor.

    He also noted that rising numbers of HIV positive inmates, who jumped to 140 from 45 in 2011, had prompted the ministry to create a new wing for HIV prisoners with the capacity to house 100 prisoners.

    Athanassiou also announced the hiring of an additional 39 doctors and other action for prison system patients, such as GPS ankle monitors for prisoners with serious diseases.

    [21] Parliament President Meimarakis to meet with French Senate President on Tuesday

    Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis will meet on Tuesday at 12:00 with French Senate President Jean-Pierre Bel, according to a parliament announcement.

    Financial News

    [22] DEPA launches tender for Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline feasibility report

    Greece's natural gas corporation DEPA has launched a tender for the provision of feasibility study services for the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline project, which will transfer natural gas from Eastern Mediterranean deposits (Cyprus and Israel) through Crete and the Greek mainland to Europe, the country's Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministry said on Monday.

    The project is being promoted by DEPA, in cooperation with Cyprus's Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry and has been classified as a project of common interest by the European Commission.

    The pipeline will have an initial nominal gas capacity of 8 billion cubic metres per year and its main sections are:

    An offshore pipeline stretching from Eastern Mediterranean sources to Cyprus (about 150 klm)

    An offshore pipeline from Cyprus to Eastern Crete (about 630 klm)

    An offshore pipeline from Eastern Greece to Peloponnese (about 400 klm)

    An onshore pipeline crossing Peloponnese (about 260 klm)

    An offshore pipeline crossing the Gulf of Patras

    An onshore pipeline crossing Western Greece (about 220 klm)

    The objective of the feasibility study is to offer analytical technical data on its construction and operation and necessary economical and sustainability evaluation.

    The cost will be covered by DEPA and other interested parties and entities involved in the drilling and exploitation of natural gas in the SouthEastern Mediterranean Basin while there will be efforts to that the project can be co-financed by the EU.

    "The Eastmed pipeline is a reliable alternative for the extraction of natural gas of Southeastern Mediterranean to European countries. This is also proved by the strong European interest for the creation of a new energy corridor, to which I hope Greek natural gas will contribute significantly in the future," Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis said.

    "The positive results are obvious. Greek economy and the Greek consumer will enjoy an even lower energy cost, while the country will have an upgraded and powerful role in the international energy scene," he added.

    [23] Tourist arrivals rise by 30 pct in Jan.-Feb., airport data shows

    Tourist arrivals in January-February 2014 rose by nearly 28.8 percent compared to the same period in 2013, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said on Monday. Citing data from the major airports in the country, the travel agents' union said that Athens continues to register the trend towards revival it showed the last months of 2013. Tourist arrivals at the airport showed a rise of 30 pct or by 60,000 persons in the January-February period, compared to the same period in 2013. It should be noted that a senior of the largest tour worldwide organization, TUI, who met with Tourism Minister Olga Kefalo-gianni a few days ago in Berlin spoke about a "rebirth" of Greek tourism.

    [24] Shipping Minister Varvitsiotis on the voluntary taxation of Greek-flagged ships

    The overwhelming majority of Greek-flagged ships have pledged to the voluntary taxation implemented following a relevant proposal by the Greek Shipowners Association, according to a document by Shipping & Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis forwarded to Parliament on Monday. The document was replying to a question by opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MPs Thanassis Pafilis, Christos Katsotis and Nikos Karathanassopoulos on the taxation of shipowners.

    An agreement on the voluntary contribution of the shipping community was signed last summer by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Greek Shipowners Association President Theodoros Veniamis.

    The shipping minister outlined the existing taxation framework and underlined that the taxation of shipping companies and ships falls under the authority of the ministry of finance pursuant to Law No 27/75.

    [25] Foreign investors net buyers in the Greek market in Feb

    Foreign investors remained net buyers in the Athens Stock Exchange in February, for the 16th month in a row, official data showed on Monday.

    Foreign investors recorded net capital inflows of 95.02 million euros in February, while Greek investors were net sellers with capital outflows of 81.49 million euros.

    Foreign investors' participation in the Greek market's capitalisation rose to 51.5 pct in February, from 49.9 pct in January, for an increase of 3.3 pct. However, if the participation of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund was added, foreign investors' participation in the Greek market was 32.8 pct, up 3.5 pct from the previous month.

    Greek investors accounted for 29.5 pct of the market's capitalisation (including Hellenic Financial Stability Fund), or 46.5 pct excluding HFSF participation.

    The value of transactions totaled 1.772 billion euros in February, a decline of 17.8 pct from the previous month and up 50.1 pct compared with February 2013. Daily average turnover was 88.59 million euros in February, down from 102.65 million in January, but up from 59.02 million euros in February 2013. The number of active investor codes fell to 29,917 in February, from 34,350 in January. The market's capitalization was 67.38 billion euros at the end of February, 10.7 pct higher compared with January, and up a spectacular 76.5 pct compared with February last year.

    [26] High-level conference on coastal and maritime tourism in Athens

    The implementation of the Blue Growth Agenda focusing, among others, on coastal and maritime tourism of EU member-states will play a decisive role in the creation of more jobs in Europe and Greece, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said on Monday.

    Speaking in the opening day of the High Level Conference on Coastal and Maritime Tourism, organized by the ministry of tourism in the context of the Greek EU Presidency, she noted that tourism is a "key" to exiting the crisis.

    Kefalogianni underlined that tourism corresponds to 10 pct of Europe's GDP and, referring to the conference topic, said that the blue growth agenda creates the conditions for creating new jobs, while coastal and maritime tourism will play an important role in this direction.

    Addressing the conference, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries Maria Damanaki underlined that coastal and maritime tourism is the "backbone" of the coastal economy with roughly 3 million jobs, adding that 4 out of 9 travelers choose these regions for their vacations.

    "We are in a new more hopeful phase," she said, noting that "Europe is reacting to the economic crisis and appears determined to preserve its conquests and single currency".

    She referred to the permanent support mechanism for the single currency, adding that a total of 700 billion euros have been used for this purpose. Damanaki also underlined that the EU can be proud because it has achieved the biggest mobilisation in its history aimed at rescuing member-states.

    Outlining future EU goals, Damanaki said that the "mother of all battles" for the EU will be waged in the sector employment "with 26 million unemployed in Europe and 1.3 million unemployed in Greece".

    As regards coastal and maritime tourism, Damanaki said that most problems are the result of the sector's fragmentation, which is comprised mainly of SMEs, lack of skills and difficulties in obtaining access to financing.

    According to Damanaki, the EU effort for the implementation of the blue agenda includes, among others, a total of 14 actions aimed at improving competitiveness, better access to information, better communication between companies and the state, etc.

    Using as an example the Medes Islands in Spain, Damanaki noted that "we should turn to alternative forms of tourism (fishing, diving, yachting, marine protected areas) to increase tourism income in coastal regions and reduce seasonal employment".

    She underlined that the EU finances those who take care of the natural environment and keep the coasts clean of plastics and pollutants. Also, SMEs can utilise the 150-million-euro EU support programme COSME, while the 325-billion-euro regional cohesion policy also includes tourism-sector actions.

    Speaking at the conference, World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai referred to Greece using flattering words and noted that traveling is better represented in Greece than in any other country. He also underlined the importance of the tourism sector in Europe's economic growth.

    In 2013, roughly 1.08 billion people traveled worldwide and half of them chose Europe as their holiday destination, he said, adding that the EU coastline is roughly 70,000km long, with Greece coming second after Norway in terms of coastline length.

    In a taped message, European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani noted that coastal and maritime tourism is a priority for the EU, stressing that "we should cooperate and ensure that our coasts will be competitive".

    [27] Greek ports represented at Cruise Shipping Miami 2014 trade fair

    Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and the Greek Ports Union (ELIME) will participate in Cruise Shipping Miami 2014, the largest international cruise trade fair in the world, opening in Florida on Monday.

    This year, approximately 1,000 exhibitors from 127 countries are participating, while it is expected to be visited by over 11,000 people, company officials and representatives from the tourism and the cruise industry.

    The exhibition is almost 10 percent bigger than last year and has 140 new exhibitors, for a total of about 900 companies from 127 countries.

    Included will be representatives from shipyards, ship equipment and entertainment supplying companies. There will also be representatives from companies who will be giving briefings on new gastronomic trends, products and equipment for cruise ships.

    OLP, according to its 2010-2015 investment programme, is proceeding with an extension of the southern section of the passenger cruise port, a project that is being funded by the EU in 95 percent of its total expenditure. The project is expected to make the port of Piraeus the Mediterranean's most important cruise hub.

    [28] Alpha Bank reports 2.9 billion euros profit in 2013

    Alpha Bank on Monday reported after tax profits of 2.922 billion euros in 2013 and said that results from continuing activities - excluding the positive impact from the purchase of Emporiki Bank worth 3.3 billion euros - recorded losses totalling 304 million euros.

    Loans, pre-write downs, totalled 62.8 billion euros at the end of December 2013, of which 52.4 billion euros in Greece and the remaining 9.9 billion in Southeastern Europe.

    Deposits totalled 42.5 billion euros, of which 36.8 billion euros in Greece. Alpha Bank said capital inflows totalled 1.9 billion euros in 2013.

    Yiannis Costopoulos, the bank's chairman, commenting on the results, said,"A guaranteed by a consortium of international banks share capital increase plan worth 1.2 billion euros allows the purchase of the Greek state's preferential shares, a move which is the basic part of our strategy to repay state support and for the bank to return fully to private hands".

    Dimitrios Mantzounis, the bank's chief executive, said: "We are continuing the implementation of our business plan towards restoring our organic profitability following the results of a second stress test on the capital needs of Greek banks. In 2014 we expect a further improvement of our main revenues as a result of a reduced funding cost. We also expect a further reduction of bad debt provisions in 2014".

    [29] Greek exports post decline in January, study shows

    Greek exports recorded a negative performance for the first time in the last four years in January, succumbing to pressures on the country's foreign trade, based on an analysis unveiled on Monday by the Exports Research Centre (ERC) of the Panhellenic Exporters' Association. The study was based on estimates released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority ELSTAT.

    According to ELSTAT figures, the total value of annual exports fell by 4.3 pct in January year-on-year (dropping to 2.12 billion euros from 2.22 billion euros in January 2013), even excluding petroleum products. Based on the analysis, the drop was the result of export pressures that had also driven the total worth of exports in 2013 marginally lower (-0.2 pct).

    The study also pointed to encouraging signs that the pressure on exports is letting up, while individual sectors had encouraging figures, especially for Food (4.6 pct), Raw Materials (6.8 pct), Chemicals (10.3 pct), Various Industrial Products (18.3 pct) and Confidential Products (137.5 pct).

    Forecasts by the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) see a total rise in export activity by 4.6 pct to 6.6 pct by the end of the year. The PEA's own extrapolation on those estimates shows exports of products rising by 2-3 pct on a yearly level. The new drop in January has lowered the starting point for export performance on a yearly level to -1.6 pct in relation to 12 months from February 2012 to January 2013.

    [30] Greek exports down 4.3 pct in Jan

    Greek exports fell in the first month of 2014, continuing a negative trend which began in late 2013, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the value of export-deliveries totaled 2.129 billion euros in January, from 2.224 billion euros in the same month last year, for a decline of 4.3 pct (excluding oil products exports fell also by 4.3 pct).

    The value of import-arrivals totaled 3.752 billion euros in January, from 4.142 billion euros in January 2013, for a decline of 9.4 pct (excluding oil products imports fell by 3.3 pct).

    [31] Greek deflation rate fell to 1.1 pct in Feb

    Greece remained in a deflation cycle for the 12-month in a row in February, although during the last few months the rate of decline has slowed, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The consumer price index remained a negative -1.1 pct in February, from -1.4 pct in January. The statistics service said that price increases were recorded in pharmaceuticals (27.2 pct), electricity rates (7.9 pct), tobacco (2.5 pct), dairy/eggs (1.9 pct), olive oil (1.7 pct) and road tolls (0.9 pct), while on the other hand price declines were recorded in fresh lamb meat (9.2 pct), fresh vegetables (7.7 pct), fresh potatoes (6.3 pct), petrol (5.6 pct), poultry (4.8 pct), heating oil (3.8 pct) and fresh fruit (3.2 pct).

    The consumer price index was down 1.3 pct in February, from January, after a decline of 1.6 pct recorded in the same period last year.

    The statistics service attributed the -1.1 pct inflation rate in February to an 1.3 pct decline in food/beverage prices, a 2.9 pct fall in clothing/footwear, a 2.2 pct in housing prices, a 0.2 pct fall in durable goods, a 3.4 pct decline in transportation, a 2.9 pct fall in entertainment, a 3.9 pct fall in education prices, a 2.7 pct fall in hotel/restaurant and a 4.1 pct fall in other goods and services. On the other hand, alcohol/tobacco prices rose 2.0 pct in February and healthcare prices rose 1.7 pct

    Greece's harmonized inflation rate slowed to -0.9 pct in February, from -1.4 pct in January (it was 0.9 pct in February 2013). The harmonized inflation rate fell by 1.1 pct in February from January this year, after a decline of 1.6 pct recorded in the same period last year.

    [32] Greece records biggest increase in energy consumption from RES in 2012

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)

    Energy consumption from renewable energy sources in Greece grew at a faster rate compared with the EU average rate in 2012, Eurostat said on Monday.

    In a report released here, the EU executive's statistics service said that energy consumption from renewable energy sources grew by 15.1 pct in Greece, from 14 pct in the EU-28. Greece also recorded the biggest percentage increase in the period 2004-2012, from 7.2 pct to 15.1 pct, followed by Sweden (38.7 pct to 51 pct), Denmark (14.5 pct to 26 pct) and Austria (22.7 pct to 32.1 pct).

    Sweden (51 pct), Latvia (35.8 pct), Finland (34.3 pct) and Austria (32.1 pct) recorded the highest energy consumption from renewable energy sources rates, while Malta (1.4 pct), Luxembourg (3.1 pct), the UK (4.2 pct) and Holland (4.5 pct) the lowest rates.

    In the EU-28, the share of energy consumption from renewable energy sources grew from 8.3 pct in 2004 to 14 pct in 2012, while the target is to reach 20 pct by 2020. Greece has to raise its share of energy consumption from renewable energy sources to 18 pct by 2020

    [33] Greece presents list with tax-heaven countries

    Greek authorities on Monday released a list with all tax heaven countries around the world.

    The list includes all countries which are not cooperating with Greece on taxation, or countries whose tax regime is preferential compared with the Greek tax system. A ministerial decree, signed by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Deputy Minister George Mavraganis, includes two lists: the first with 31 countries not cooperating with Greek tax authorities and a second with 33 countries offering better tax factors to enterprises.

    Listed below are the non-cooperating countries for 2014:

    - Andorra

    - Antigua and Barbuda

    - Bahrain

    - Barbados

    - Brunei

    - Cook Islands

    - Dominica

    - Grenada

    - Guatemala

    - Jersey

    - Lebanon

    - Liberia

    - Lichtenstein

    - Marshall Islands

    - Mauritius

    - Monaco

    - Nauru

    - Dutch Antilles

    - FYROM

    - Niue

    - Panama

    - Philippines

    - St Christopher and Nevis

    - St Vincent and Grenadines

    - Samoa

    - Seychelles

    - Singapore

    - US Virgin Islands

    - Vanuatu

    - Uruguay

    - Hong Kong

    [34] Kri-Kri to invest 20 mln euros in a new yogurt factory

    Kri-Kri is investing a total of 20 million euros in order to build a new, modern yogurt factory in Serres, Greece, following the unfortunate recent event of the fire on its premises.

    This new investment plan includes new yogurt production lines and also storage facilities for raw materials and ready products, covering 12,000 sq. m. Production capacity will be doubled, compared to the former plant that was destroyed. In full operation, the new factory will provide employment to more than 70 workers. According to schedule, initial operation will begin in summer 2014.

    Kri-Kri has already filed an application for a state subsidy of 30 percent on the project's budget, according to the Development Law 3908/11. The remaining will be financed by existing cash reserves and long-term bank borrowing (30 percent).

    On the yogurt market, Kri-Kri is experiencing rising market shares in Greece, whereas it keeps strong exporting activity to more than 10 countries (Balkan countries, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Iraq).

    [35] Envitec signs 4.3-mln-euro waste management contract

    Envitec SA on Monday announced the signing of a contract with the municipality of Monemvasia for the construction and operation of a waste management project in the city of Neapolis, worth 4,329,155 euros (plus VAT).

    [36] Effort to collect overdue tax debt offers poor results so far

    Only a small part of taxpayers with overdue tax debts have been included in a renegotiation program offered by the Finance ministry, a ministry report said on Monday.

    A Finance ministry report said that from a total of 62.5 billion euros of overdue tax debt to the state, only 1.5 billion euros of overdue debt have been included in the program and 304.7 million euros have been collected so far. The report said that from a total of 2.6 million taxpayers with new overdue debt (created after January 1, 2013), only 92,323 have been included in the renegotiation program. Another 99,793 taxpayers with older overdue debt have been included in the program.

    [37] PNO threatens with labour action unless accruals are paid

    The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) gave an ultimatum to shipping companies NEL LINES, ANEK LINES, HELLENIC SEA WAYS MARITIMES SA, VENTURIS SEA LINES, AMMEZ and LANE LINES to pay accruals to their crews until March 20, warning them that otherwise there would be labour action on their ships.

    In the letter communicated to the Shipping ministry and the Greek Shipowners Association For Passenger Ships, PNO stresses that "seamen have many times exhibited a sense of responsibility and have not proceeded with labour actions to give shipping companies the necessary time to deliver on their commitments and pay the amounts due to beneficiaries, but this has not been appreciated by some companies."

    [38] Greek stocks end slightly lower

    Greek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. The composite index of the market fell 0.19 pct to end at 1,338.68 points, after briefly surpassing the 1,350 level for the first time since May 13, 2011. National Bank and Eurobank were among top gainers, while Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank suffered losses.

    Turnover was a heavy 118.09 million euros. The Large Cap index fell 0.71 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.83 pct higher. National Bank (5.78 pct), Jumbo (3.33 pct), Folli Follie (2.33 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (2.30 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (5.18 pct), Alpha Bank (4.02 pct), Titan (3.06 pct) and Eurobank Properties (2.55 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Personal Products (2.73 pct), Commerce (2.30 pct) and Industrial Products (1.13 pct) sectors scored gains, while Real Estate (2.50 pct), Food (2.36 pct) and Travel (1.61 pct) suffered losses.

    Kathimerini (44.67 pct), Ilyda (30 pct) and Kyriakoulis (18.26 pct) were top gainers, while Atti-kat (20 pct), G.E.Demetriou (20 pct) and Tzirakian (20 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -0.94%

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Financial Services: +0.92%

    Industrial Products: +1.13%

    Commercial: +2.30%

    Real Estate: -2.50%

    Personal & Household: +2.73%

    Food & Beverages: -2.36%

    Raw Materials: +0.49%

    Construction: -1.29%

    Oil: +0.77%

    Chemicals: -0.49%

    Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -1.61%

    Technology: -0.96%

    Telecoms: -0.31%

    Utilities: -0.79%

    Health: -0.68%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.66

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.22

    Coca Cola HBC: 17.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.57

    National Bank of Greece: 3.66

    Eurobank Properties : 8.40

    OPAP: 12.35

    OTE: 12.85

    Piraeus Bank: 1.83

    Titan: 23.75

    [39] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 5.2 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 5.02 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.82 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.62 pct. Turnover was a moderate 12 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.587 pct from 0.567 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.494 pct from 0.484 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.408 pct from 0.398 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.307 pct from 0.299 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.236 pct from 0.229 pct.

    [40] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.27 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 18.023 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 4,114 contracts worth 9.132 million euros, with 52,183 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 24,806 contracts worth 8.891 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (7,733), followed by National Bank (3,467), Piraeus Bank (5,230), MIG (1,052), OTE (814), PPC (1,143), OPAP (457), Hellenic Exchanges (356), Eurobank (507), Mytilineos (769), Intralot (454), Frigoglass (170), Korinth Pipeworks (200) and Sidenor (193).

    [41] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.408

    Pound sterling 0.846

    Danish kroner 7.574

    Swedish kroner 9.006

    Japanese yen 145.54

    Swiss franc 1.237

    Norwegian kroner 8.406

    Canadian dollar 1.565

    Australian dollar 1.558

    General News

    [42] Greece firmly against GMOs, minister tells Greenpeace

    Greece has always been against genetically modified organism (GMO) crops, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis told the European head of Greenpeace, Jorgo Riss, in a letter on Monday.

    Referring to a decision by the EU in February to allow the cultivation of a GMO strain of corn, which most countries opposed and some of which said would fight against domestic introduction, Maniatis said, "Greece has always been against GMO crops, a position I endorse personally as well."

    He also thanked Greenpeace for its readiness in supporting the Greek EU Presidency in improving a final compromise within the EU for all GMOs.

    He noted that the permit process does not allow any EU member-state to exempt itself from cultivating GMOs, therefore any solution that gives EU countries that legal option will be, politically, a significant step towards banning restrictions on GMOs at a national level.

    In his letter he also said that the Greek proposal was based on the original one by the EU, which led to failed negotiations in March 2012 and the decision in February following an EU deadline.

    "Although the current proposal is not the ideal preference of choice, it is a significant improvement compared to the status quo," Maniatis said, and expressed the willingness of the Greek EU Presidency to introduce further improvements in the proposal that would be circulated right after the next work group meeting.

    He also called on Greenpeace to add its suggestions to the proposal.

    [43] More migrants left than entered Greece in 2013, International Organisation for Migration reports

    More than 20,000 migrants living in Greece had returned to their country in 2013, the first year when there was a net outflow of migrants from the country, the head of the Greek branch of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Daniel Esdras said in a press conference on Monday.

    Speaking during a press conference in Patras to mark the opening of a new IOM office in the port city, he noted that 2013 was the first year that the migrants leaving Greece outnumbered those that entered the country.

    Esdras announced that Patras would soon acquire a hostel to house unaccompanied migrant children, providing them with care and shelter and protecting them from groups seeking to exploit them.

    [44] Conference on tourism at the Acropolis Museum on Monday

    The European Commission, the Greek Tourism Ministry and the Greek Tourism Organization (EOT) will hold on Monday a high-level conference on tourism as well as an informal ministerial meeting.

    The meeting will be held at the Acropolis Museum, under the Greek presidency of the EU Council.

    Among the issues to be discussed are the challenges, problems, and marine tourism potential ahead of the announcement of the EU strategy for marine and coastal tourism by the European Commission.

    The event will stand as an active platform for the exchange of views and practices on coastal tourism, cruise tourism, yachting, coastal management, marine clusters, marine cultural heritage, and cooperation between the public and the private sector in order to strengthen the promotion of sustainable coastal and marine tourism in the EU at a time of intense competition from other regions.

    Finally, the discussions are part of the announcement on "Europe, the first tourist destination in the world - a new political framework for European tourism" and the development of sustainable, credible and high quality tourism.

    [45] Flu virus death toll reaches 83

    The death toll as a result of complications due to the flu virus reached 83, according to figures released by the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO) on Monday.

    Since the start of the influenza outbreak, a total of 242 people, most of them belonging to high-risk groups, have been hospitalised in intensive care units (ICUs), while 55 are still being treated in hospitals, according to KEELPNO.

    KEEPLNO urged those with flu-like symptoms to receive preventive anti-viral treatment.

    [46] Makis Psomiadis' testimony to be continued March 12

    Makis Psomiadis began testifying on Monday on the background of his ownership of AEK FC at the trial involving charges of embezzlement of about 22 million euros from the club's funds, according to the trial case file.

    Psomiadis, who denied from the start charges against him and claims that the club was not harmed during his administration, said in his testimony that he loves AEK and that since 1987 when he returned to Greece from Switzerland "they approached me to deal with AEK because they learnt my feelings".

    The defendant claimed in court that a proposal was made to him to take the soccer club for 120 million drachmas (the currency at the time) and that ultimately the transfer had not gone ahead with the blame of the side of the owners at the time.

    In 2001, he said, "A shipowner, a lawyer and a journalist had been set to get 37 million euros and they came 1.5 years later to say that Makis Psomiadis embezzled money. I haven't said this for 10 years and anyone who comes to prosecute me is lying and using extortion."

    "If Psomiadis was a fraud he would have taken the checques and used them," he said of himself, "...I brought these checques here...I could have cashed these checques for 37 million cash abroad in a single day...But I kept them in the safe, instead".

    Psomiadis' testimony will continue on March 12. The businessman's co-defendant and cousin Haris Psomiadis, a former member of AEK soccer club's board, testified in court earlier.

    [47] Roma couple charged with temporary imprisonment over case of little 'Maria'

    A male, 59 years old, and his female companion, 58, who had been arrested on charges of child stealing were detained by police on Monday after their being examined by a prosecutor in Katerini, northern Greece.

    According to sources, the accused Roma couple reportedly maintained that the little girl, "Maria", was handed to them last August by a 41-year-old woman who appeared as the child's mother. Maria, who was blonde and light skinned, was spotted in a gypsy camp in Farsala, igniting an international furore over charges of child abduction.

    The defendants claimed that they wanted to have a child and that the 41-year-old woman, who is temporarily being held over the case had handed the child to them with promises of a legal adoption.

    According to the accused, the young woman told them that the baby had been abandoned by a Roma woman from Bulgaria.

    According to court documents the couple managed to get a birth certificate issued by the municipality of Athens while the 58-year-old woman tried to register the infant in Katerini twice but failed.

    The defendants claimed that they had not had the birth certificate issued, but that it was sent to their home.

    DNA tests proved that the defendants are not the biological parents of the little girl, who remains hospitalized in Katerini and is in good health.

    [48] Fugitive terrorists Maziotis, Roupa post message in anti-establishment website

    Fugitive terrorists Nikos Maziotis and Pola Roupa, each of which has a one-million-euro reward on their head, on Monday posted a message in an anti-establishment website to mark the fourth anniversary since the death of "Revolutionary Struggle" group terrorist Lambros Foundas.

    In this, they denied having any links to other terror groups, such as the People's Fighters Group (OLA) or an organisation authorities dubbed the 'Maziotis group'. They also denied all connection with an arms cache found in a car in Paleo Faliro or press reports speculating about their links with other known terrorists, such as Christodoulos Xiros.

    The Greek government in January posted a one-million-euro reward for information leading to the arrests of either Xiros, Maziotis or Roupa, who have all escaped custody.

    Maziotis and Roupa, a couple who have a child together, had both spent 18 months imprisoned on remand for participation in the terror group "Revolutionary Struggle" but then had to be released because the maximum period for incarceration before trial had elapsed. They have been at large since June 2012, when they failed to report to a police station as required and authorities lost track of their whereabouts.

    [49] Suspect remanded after testifying in Crete extortion-racket case; lawyer released on bail

    One additional suspect was remanded in custody and an Iraklio-based lawyer released on bail on Monday after testifying before an examining magistrate concerning the activities of a ring involved in extortion and fraud, operating mainly from the island of Crete. Their testimony, during which they both denied the charges against them, completed the statements from all suspects arrested in connection with the case so far.

    The man remanded in custody was an agronomist, who was jailed along with the alleged mastermind of the operation and a Public Power Corporation (PPC) employee, who both testified on Sunday night. Two more suspects were released on bail of 50,000 euros each and forbidden to exit the country.

    The lawyer was released on bail of 80,000 euros and required to report to a police station in the first five days of every month.

    The six suspects were arrested in a massive police operation in Iraklio and Lasithi last week, in which authorities dismantled a fraud and extortion ring in which a total of 17 suspects are implicated. Its members are charged with participating in a criminal organisation, extortion, fraud and money laundering. The group's alleged activities included tax evasion scams, in addition to other criminal acts of fraud.

    Their proceeds were laundered using the so-called 'smurfing' method in order to avoid alerting authorities while its action had spread beyond Crete to other Greek islands and even as far as Brussels and Bulgaria.

    [50] Pharmacists on strike March 10-11

    Pharmacists in Greece have called a a 48-hour nationwide strike on March 10 and 11 in response to demands by representatives of the troika to end restrictions on sales of non-prescription medicines, to introduce changes in the ownership of private pharmacies and to the extend their working hours.

    The decision was taken at a special meeting of the board of the Panhellenic Pharmacists Association (PFS) following a relevant proposal by the President of the Association Kyriakos Theodosiades.

    "The 48-hour strike is the beginning of a strong reaction and resistance by pharmacists to the pressure of troika and all those who require the dismantling of the pharmaceutical care," PFS said.

    The board of the PFS will meet again on March 11 to decide upon next moves.

    [51] KEPE says proposal on abolition of minimum wage for young workers was a researcher's "personal view"

    The Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) categorically assured it has not adopted the proposal for the abolition of minimum wage of young employers for up to one year.

    According to a document signed by KEPE's director Nikolaos Philippas and tabled to parliament, this position was proposed in a article by a KEPE scientific researcher, which was included in the monthly edition "Greek Economy" and which was not a report or a survey by KEPE but a personal view, among another 20 proposals on how to deal with unemployment.

    Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis - the Development Ministry is KEPE's supervisory body - made clear in a letter to the Parliament that "the government takes KEPE's positions and the scientific dialogue that develops within the centre itself into consideration but that does not mean those positions reflect the government's policy and intentions."

    The two documents were forwarded to the Parliament after a question by the Independent Greeks deputy Vassilis Kapernaros, regarding the proposal to abolish minimum wage for a period up to one-year for young people aged between 15-24, so as to give businesses a strong incentive to hire them and evaluate their basic knowledge and skills. Under this specific proposal, the abolition of minimum wage would apply for up to one year from the date of the hiring.

    [52] Secondary education union members hold blockades in Thessaloniki on Monday

    Teachers, students and parents on Monday morning blocked symbolically the entrance in three out of four major professional schools (EPAL) in western Thessaloniki to protest against education downgrade, professors' evaluation, shrinking of departments and schools, layoffs and teachers' availability scheme.

    They also marched to the secondary education directorate of Western Thessaloniki and blocked the entrance, requesting among others the reopening of all departments of professional high schools.

    Mobilizations are expected to continue on Tuesday at two EPAL centres in Thessaloniki and the education directorate of eastern Thessaloniki.

    [53] Vytina town calls for volunteers to help with reforestation of Mt. Maenalon

    The Vytina authorities on Saturday, March 15, will oversee the reforestation of the southern and western slopes of Mt. Maenalon in central Peloponnese that were burned in the summer of 2000, with 5,000 saplings of black pine and a small number of fir trees, all donated by the town's forestry department.

    Several surrounding areas will be lending assistance, including the fire and police departments of local areas, while Vytina authorities also issued a call for volunteers to help plant the saplings.

    The meeting area is the Rapouni area, at the 7th kilometer of Chryssovitsi-Stemnitsa, at 10:00 a.m.

    [54] Supreme Court reminds local authorities to enforce non-smoking laws

    Smoking is absolutely forbidden absolutely in all public or private premises used for work and in all stores of health interest, Supreme Court prosecutor Eftermpi Koutzamani reminded Appeals Court prosecutors in a document sent on Monday.

    Referring to the full implementation of legislation which bans smoking in public premises, the prosecutor called on the Appeals Courts to pass down the instructions to regional First Instance Court prosecutors, and they in turn to regional police and harbour authorities.

    Deputy Health Minister Zetta Makri has requested the Supreme Court prosecutor's assistance and cooperation in implementing the no-smoking law.

    [55] Policeman injured during bank robbery

    A policeman was injured by gunfire during a bank robbery in the Kalavryta area on Monday, in which two unidentified armed robbers held up a branch of Piraeus bank.

    According to witness accounts, the policeman was nearby when the two bank robbers held up the bank at gunpoint and was shot in the leg.

    He was rushed to the local health centre, while a manhunt was launched in the area around Kalavryta to locate the culprits.

    Weather forecast

    [56] Overcast on Tuesday

    Cloudy weather and low temperatures are forecast on Tuesday, with rain and even sleet in most parts of the country, snow on higher ground. Mainly northerly winds, ranging from 3-5 Beaufort and up to 7 Beaufort in the Aegean. Temperatures will be between 0C and 15C. Light showers in Athens, temperatures from 7C to 10C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4C to 10C. Cloudy in Cephalonia, with temperatures from 10C to 15C.

    [57] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: A dynamite on labour issues.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Confiscations as a result of debts to the freelancers' social security fund (OAEE) will be terninated.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pensions from the age of 55 based on a gradual social security system.

    ESTIA: Parties of principles to prevail.

    ETHNOS: A list of endurance for 375,000 pensioners.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Troika to open again labour and social security issues.

    TA NEA: They have planted (the new centre-left grouping dubbed) "Elia" (olive tree), but a fruit fly is lurking.

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