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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-03-18

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

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

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 Issue No: 4612

CONTENTS

  • [01] Labour minister concludes meeting with troika
  • [02] Progress made on recapitalisation bill following HFSF, troika meeting
  • [03] No dismissals of public servants in 2015, Admin. Reform ministry source says
  • [04] Optimism for positive outcome in negotiations with troika on Monday
  • [05] Troika at the Finance Ministry
  • [06] Michelakis comments on troika talks, mobility; opens Athens conference on European citizenship
  • [07] Government spokesman on negotiations with troika and SYRIZA leader's comments
  • [08] DIMAR accuses government of yielding to troika mandates
  • [09] PM Samaras to meet with Education Minister Arvanitopoulos on Monday
  • [10] EU resolved on Ukraine sanctions, keeping dialogue open with Russia
  • [11] Infrastructure Minister Chryssohoidis rejects further labour cost reduction
  • [12] Greek presidency aims at eliminating roaming charges, Dev't Minister Hatzidakis says
  • [13] Foreign ministry to be in charge of NGOs' legislative initiative
  • [14] Greece, Turkey to hold new round of exploratory talks in Athens
  • [15] EU Parliamentary Committees on Justice and Home Affairs to meet on Wednesday
  • [16] Greece is a top tourist destination for the majority of Romanians, Macedonia-Thrace Minister says
  • [17] SYRIZA's candidate mayor for Athens to present proposals on Monday
  • [18] EU Parliamentary Committees on Production, Trade and Maritime Affairs hold meeting on 'Blue Growth'
  • [19] Parliament President Meimarakis addresses 27th EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly
  • [20] Jean-Marie Le Pen's interview to ANA-MPA
  • [21] Euro-Mediterranean Environment ministers to meet in Athens on May 13
  • [22] President Papoulias congratulates Petrounias for winning the silver medal on still rings in Cottbus
  • [23] Defence Minister Avramopoulos meets with his Bosnia-Herzegovina's counterpart
  • [24] Shipping minister inspects port works in Gythio
  • [25] KKE consistent in opposing privatisations, Koutsoumbas stressed at OLP
  • [26] KKE party on Thessaloniki metro project
  • [27] Disappointing figures for Greek justice in European Commission's 2nd Scoreboard
  • [28] Dev't minister: Liquidity gradually becoming less of a problem for Greek SMEs
  • [29] Environment minister meets with EU Commissioner on consumer policy
  • [30] Hellenic Investment Fund one step closer to becoming reality
  • [31] Greek deflation rate third highest in the EU in Feb
  • [32] Finance ministry finishes crosschecks on 500 of the 1,747 cases over tax evasion suspicions
  • [33] European Commissioner Mimica ends Greek visit launching consumer mission
  • [34] Greek stocks soar to new 34-month highs
  • [35] Greek bond market closing report
  • [36] ADEX closing report
  • [37] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [38] Shipping Minister Varvitsiotis addresses events marking the 193rd anniversary of the Greek War of Independence in 1821
  • [39] NY politicians hold Greek Independence Day event honouring consul general, among others
  • [40] National Opera's Swan Lake has successful debut at Athens Concert hall
  • [41] Acropolis Museum open on 25 March; the day will be dedicated to Parthenon
  • [42] OAED's programme for hiring 10,000 unemployed starts on Monday
  • [43] European conference on internet to be held in Athens
  • [44] PPC substation blast causes power cuts near Thessaloniki; one man seriously injured
  • [45] PPC employee injured in explosion in serious condition, cause still unknown
  • [46] Greek Police releases names, photos of "Maria's" alleged abductors
  • [47] Flu virus death toll rise to 94
  • [48] Acropolis Museum open on 25 March; the day will be dedicated to Parthenon
  • [49] Pharmacists association to temporarily suspend strike from Tuesday
  • [50] Six arrested on Monday, two tonnes cannabis confiscated
  • [51] Videotaping of children's hospital president being bribed is ruled legal
  • [52] Athens hospice representatives to protest outside Maximos Mansion Tues.
  • [53] Fair on Tuesday
  • [54] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] Labour minister concludes meeting with troika

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis concluded a meeting with the troika that began at 7:00 p.m. at the Finance ministry. A senior Labour ministry official said after the meeting that "we are even closer to an agreement".

    The meetings of the troika with individual ministers are continuing, in the presence of Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.

    [02] Progress made on recapitalisation bill following HFSF, troika meeting

    The bill for the recapitalization of Greek banks may be brought to the Parliament as soon as this week, according to comments from officials from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), following a meeting between the CEO of HFSF Anastasia Sakellariou with troika on Monday evening. A Fund official said "the banking issues were resolved, today we made some technical changes to the [recapita-lization] bill."

    The troika is continuing its meetings with Greek officials and ministers, on Monday night.

    [03] No dismissals of public servants in 2015, Admin. Reform ministry source says

    The Greek government reiterated its position, that there will be no dismissal of public servants during 2015, according to a high-ranking official from the Administrative Reform Ministry, following the completion of a meeting between Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the troika, late on Monday.

    According to the same source, the suspension from service of public servants will from now on be disassociated from dismissals, while the second batch of 12.500 suspensions of public servants by end-March is to be completed with the intra-municipal mobility.

    [04] Optimism for positive outcome in negotiations with troika on Monday

    Government's negotiations with the troika of Greece lenders was concluded at 5 a.m. on Monday after 14 hours of deliberations.

    The Greek side, said a Finance ministry top official, is seeking to conclude the negotiations by Monday night. (A new round of meetings will be held at the Finance ministry after Monday noon while the heads of the troika are expected to depart from Athens on Tuesday night). According to the same official "we are very close to reach an agreement in everything, but I can't say with certainty that we will have an agreement".

    "However, I do not rule it out", he said adding that "if we do not reach an agreement today, we will reach it within the next days".

    Another Finance ministry top official noted: "If there was no will from both sides to bridge the differences, we would not have stayed so late and we would not meet again on Monday" adding that Monday is "crucial" for the agreement.

    The "thorns" in the negotiations are:

    The issue of mass layoffs issue as according to the Labour ministy "There is no convergence. We have a different approach and we are keeping our position".

    Regarding the Administrative Reform ministry, the troika insists on civil servants' layoffs in 2015, but the government does not accept it.

    Regarding the Development ministry, the troika insists on the 100 percent implementation of OECD's toolkit. Moreover, the two sides have not agreed on the milk issue and the non-prescription medicines, the pharmacies and the interventions in transport.

    Regarding the Finance ministry, an agreement has not been reached on the fiscal developments and particularly on the allocation of the social dividend. According to a Finance ministry top official, the heads of the troika did not expect that the 2013 primary surplus would be so high and now it is difficult justify their wrong forecasts last September. The same source said regarding the allocation of the social dividend that "we have tabled a very smartly drawn up plan, we will not accept a unilateral launching".

    Another Finance Ministry official clarified that the Greek side's stance has been determined by the the political leaders that support the government and it will not change.

    Procedures on European level will start when the negotiations are completed and an agreement on technical level is reached, said Finance Ministry's leadership and the tranche may be approved at the unofficial Eurogroup in Athens (1-2 April). Moreover, another governmental source said that "the size of the country's needs advocates that will be more than one tranche" adding that "we will receive as much money as we need to cover our obligations in May (approximately 10 billion euros).

    [05] Troika at the Finance Ministry

    The government's economic staff is currently in a meeting with the heads of the troika at the Finance ministry. Greece has expressed cautious optimism that the two sides may have reached an agreement by Monday night.

    The "thorns" in the negotiations are:

    The issue of mass layoffs issue as according to the Labour ministy "There is no convergence. We have a different approach and we are keeping our position".

    Regarding the Administrative Reform ministry, the troika insists on civil servants' layoffs in 2015, but the government does not accept it.

    Regarding the Development ministry, the troika insists on the 100 percent implementation of OECD's toolkit. Moreover, the two sides have not agreed on the milk issue and the non-prescription medicines, the pharmacies and the interventions in transport.

    Regarding the Finance ministry, an agreement has not been reached on the fiscal developments and particularly on the allocation of the social dividend. According to a Finance ministry top official, the heads of the troika did not expect that the 2013 primary surplus would be so high and now it is difficult justify their wrong forecasts last September. The same source said regarding the allocation of the social dividend that "we have tabled a very smartly drawn up plan, we will not accept a unilateral launching".

    A Finance Ministry official clarified that the Greek side's stance has been determined by the the political leaders that support the government and it will not change.

    [06] Michelakis comments on troika talks, mobility; opens Athens conference on European citizenship

    Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis on Monday said his ministry had met targets relating to the public-sector employee mobility scheme, which was to place the required 4,000 workers in the scheme by the end of the month. Speaking on the private radio station Vima FM concerning the ongoing negotiations between the Greek government and the troika representing Greece's lenders, and whether there might be a third memorandum, the minister replied "I don't know".

    "I believe the country has reached the point where it can look [to the future] with hope, seeing that the sacrifices made have yielded the first tangible results and that these results will, among others, give the country the possibility to return to the markets, which is a very important thing...I think that there are very many things that give the possibility to return to the markets," he said.

    Referring to the far-right party Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi), he noted last week's decision by the party's former MP Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos to leave GD and become independent, saying he could not continue to support GD following the revelations concerning its criminal actions.

    "What we must have as our constant refrain and reply to Golden Dawn is that it must be dealt with as a political party within the law, so that it can face the repercussions of the law for all that it is accused of," he said, adding that this reply must be "political" and "given by society".

    Opening a seminar on European citizenship held on Monday in the the Old Parliament building in Athens, meanwhile, Michelakis especially emphasised that freedom of movement within the European Union was a fundamental tool in the process of European integration. The conference was organised on the occasion of Greece's EU presidency by the Union of Attica Mayors, the Regional Union of Attica Municipalities, the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) Amphictyony and the EGTC Efxini Poli.

    "Given that freedom of movement is one of the most beneficial aspects of European citizenship for the citizens of the Union, our position is that this must not only not be undermined but instead be supported and reinforced," he stressed, adding that any discussion on restricting this only added grist to the mill of extremist and populist euroskeptic elements.

    [07] Government spokesman on negotiations with troika and SYRIZA leader's comments

    There has been progress in the government's negotiations with the troika of the country's lenders, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Ant1 TV early on Monday.

    "There has been progress. We are very close to reaching an agreement. The fact that negotiations lasted all night and there was an agreement for talks to resume...in the afternoon shows our willingness to reach a deal and that we are close," he said.

    He did not want to elaborate on specific issues and noted that "It is a comprehensive deliberation and we have to reach an overall agreement. Things are difficult. You can see we are negotiating hard. We are determined to achieve our goals and we believe we will succeed in that."

    He also lashed out on main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, regarding his comments that the country's exit to the markets before the elections would be fixed.

    "Markets cannot be fixed. If they could be fixed, then the United States would not have faced the issue of Lehman Brothers. Let's see how things stand. Because what Mr. Tsipras is doing is unacceptable. It is an effort to undermine the national effort on obvious unacceptable expediency. Anyone that knows the way this mechanism works laughs when he hears of a staged exit to the markets."

    [08] DIMAR accuses government of yielding to troika mandates

    The Democratic Left (DIMAR) party, in an announcement on the government's negotiations with the troika, said that "once again the government is yielding to the mandates by the troika, lifting protective provisions that had been enacted for the salary earners of the private sector".

    DIMAR added that "the change in the status for mass layoffs and the abolition of the three-year terms for the longterm unemployed constitute unacceptable concessions, especially on issues that should have been excluded from the field of negotiations from the start".

    [09] PM Samaras to meet with Education Minister Arvanitopoulos on Monday

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday will meet with Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos to discuss the issue of 212 school teachers under availability scheme, whose re-hiring is stalled by the Administrative Reform Ministry.

    School teachers have scheduled a rally at Klathmonos square, at 14.00. Meanwhile, the high school teachers federation OLME has also announced work stoppages between 11.00-14.00 and 14.00-17.00. Another rally has been scheduled outside the Education ministry in the afternoon.

    [10] EU resolved on Ukraine sanctions, keeping dialogue open with Russia

    Sanctions against Ukraine are both a message of EU resolve to safeguard stability while keeping dialogue with Russia open, government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said after the emergency EU Foreign Affairs Council on the developments in Ukraine.

    Speaking from Brussels in his capacity as Council chairman, Venizelos said, "The European response to the Ukraine issue is based on international law and on the need to safeguard stability and peace. Of course, the sanctions are a message conveying our resolve. But at the same time, the content of the sanctions is such that the political and diplomatic dialogue with Russia is kept open at the highest levels."

    He warned that Europe's goal "cannot be a repetition of the Cold War; it cannot be Russia's exiting the international community, because this is not the European Union's strategic planning for the Eastern neighbourhood and Ukraine in particular."

    What EU aimed for was for the country "to be supported and to function in a smooth democratic manner, with a voice for all the forces, all the regions, all the ethnic and ethno-linguistic groups."

    "We want to see Ukraine saved from economic disaster," Venizelos stressed, "but at the same time we want to find a political solution on Crimea that is acceptable to everyone, and we want to keep the crisis from spreading and to safeguard peace on the European continent."

    [11] Infrastructure Minister Chryssohoidis rejects further labour cost reduction

    Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Monday underlined that the labour cost in Greece has recorded a considerable decline and therefore, a?? further reduction will not help in the efforts for economic recovery.

    Addressing a meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees on Production, Trade and Maritime Affairs of the EU national parliaments held in the context of the Greek EU Presidency at the Greek Parliament, he noted that labour relations in Greece have become very flexible in recent years as a result of a number of regulations adopted in response to the crisis.

    "Labor cost has been reduced considerably. However, this is not the key factor that makes an economy competitive, because there are other factors that affect cost in the economy. The most important of these factors now is energy cost," he said, noting that "Greece has to pay roughly 10 pct of its GDP annually to import oil and natural gas."

    Referring to the Connecting Europe Facility and European Transport Policy, he briefed the meeting on the road projects and the seaport and airport projects underway, underlining that Greece is creating the conditions for improving connections with the rest of Europe and other countries worldwide (Asia, Far East, Eastern Europe) whose economies were booming.

    He noted that the Connecting Europe Facility programme currently passes through Greece with the construction and completion of a network of motorways. Five major motorways will be completed in roughly a year-and-a-half, linking major seaports in Greece that are gateways to Europe (Patras and Igoumenitsa), while they will also link the country with Eastern European and Balkan countries, the minister said.

    He underlined that the next challenge is the railway connection of major seaports (Piraeus and Thessaloniki) with Balkan and Central European countries.

    Chryssohoidis said that the privatisation of the ports and the TRAINOSE rail operator will boost infrastructure used to transport goods from the Mediterranean to central, eastern and northern Europe quickly and safely, creating new conditions for economic growth and employment.

    Speaking at the meeting, European Commission Deputy Director General for Mobility and Transport Fotis Karamitsos underlined that transport is a necessary tool for the single European market and therefore, high quality transport networks are necessary.

    Lithuanian Financial Affairs Committee president Remigijus Zemaitaitis referred to his country's role in the Baltic region's transport sector.

    [12] Greek presidency aims at eliminating roaming charges, Dev't Minister Hatzidakis says

    Greek consumers do not have much confidence in the Internet and the use of legal means to enforce their rights, but they appear satisfied with the telecommunications market and particularly the mobile phones market, European Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica said on Monday at a press conference on the sidelines of an event on "Getting Consumers Digital", organized by the General Secretariat for Consumer Affairs under the Greek presidency at Zappeio.

    "Satisfaction is higher than the European average and we want this trend to continue," Mimica said. "What is missing is the households' access to the Internet, which is lower than the European average," he added.

    He also announced that on Monday an advertising campaign on the rights of consumers will be launched from Greece.

    The Commissioner noted that the digital single market offers new opportunities to stimulate the economy through e-commerce, while facilitating businesses' compliance with administrative and financial requirements and provides new opportunities to customers through eGovernment services.

    One out of three European consumers does not shop on-line and one out of five households has no internet at home, he said, adding that these consumers should be integrated into society as they risk being marginalized. "Confidence and connectivity are the keys for the transition to the new era and the fear of fraud or lack of security is the problem the EU has to deal with," he said.

    On his part, Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis underlined that consumer organizations need to boost their efforts to protect consumer rights, and stressed that the aim of the Greek presidency is to reduce or even eliminate roaming charges in the EU.

    The government is aiming at protecting consumers through lower prices and higher competition,, Hatzidakis said adding that "it would be nice if consumer organizations became more active on the OECD toolkit."

    As for the talks with the troika, Hatzidakis noted that Greece is about to finalise negotiations on the OECD toolkit and the parliament will soon decide on the issue.

    He added that he is aware of the business groups' and unions' reactions, "but the ministry cannot ignore that incomes have lately fallen significantly and there are a half million unemployed in Greece."

    [13] Foreign ministry to be in charge of NGOs' legislative initiative

    The Foreign Ministry will be responsible for the government's legislative initiative on the operation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), according to a document by Deputy Foreign Minister Akis Gerontopoulos submitted to parliament.

    "Prime Minister has ordered that a legislative committee under the responsibility of the Interior Ministry is set up and the Agency for International Development Cooperation (YDAS) has been asked to participate in it," Gerontopoulos said.

    He also said that last autumn he asked YDAS to develop a new single institutional framework regarding the implementation and financing of development and humanitarian activities of NGOs.

    Gerontopoulos replied to a question by Independent Greeks deputies Terens Kouik and Rachil Makri on the operating framework of NGOs, and earlier recommendations by FATF (Financial Action Task Force) regarding the supervision of NGOs.

    He pointed out, however, that the cooperation of NGOs with the Greek government is not limited to the Foreign ministry. Other ministries also cooperate with non-governmental organizations. Regarding the Foreign ministry, he noted, YDAS does not fund or subsidize non-governmental organizations, but only development and humanitarian programmes, which were implemented during the period 2000-2010 from certain NGOs within the framework of development diplomacy and policies concerning Greece's international presence.

    [14] Greece, Turkey to hold new round of exploratory talks in Athens

    Greece and Turkey on Tuesday will hold the 56th round of exploratory talks in Athens, according to a Foreign Ministry announcement.

    [15] EU Parliamentary Committees on Justice and Home Affairs to meet on Wednesday

    The Greek Parliament and the European Parliament on Wednesday organise a joint meeting of the Parliamentary Committees on Justice and Home Affairs of the EU in Brussels.

    Kyriakos Virvidakis, chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice of the Greek Parliament and Juan Fernando L?pez Aguillar, chairman of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament will co-chair the meeting on "Future priorities in Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs".

    Among the issues to be discussed are : the current crisis in the Mediterranean region regarding immigration, the European Commission's proposals in the fields of Justice and Home Affairs for the forthcoming season, with EU Commissioners Vivianne Reding and Cecilia Malmstrom as rapporteurs , the fundamental rights of EU citizens in the digital era, and the proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor.

    The Greek Parliament will be represented by New Democracy deputy Vassilis Ypsilantis, SYRIZA deputy Afroditi Stabouli and PASOK deputy Dimitris Saltouros.

    [16] Greece is a top tourist destination for the majority of Romanians, Macedonia-Thrace Minister says

    Greece is a top tourist destination for 72 percent of Romanians who want to travel abroad, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Theodoros Karaoglou said at a press conference on the occasion of Romanian Tourism Fair (TTR).

    He added that the number of Romanians staying in Thessaloniki hotels has increased by 57.27 percent.

    During the press conference, Karaoglou called on Romanians to visit Macedonia and Thrace in order to discover the beauties of Northern Greece, and thanked the more than 320,000 Romanian tourists who visited Greece last year.

    He also described Romania as one of "the most promising tourism markets of Europe" and an "important gateway to mature tourist markets, such as that of Russia."

    [17] SYRIZA's candidate mayor for Athens to present proposals on Monday

    SYRIZA's candidate mayor for Athens Gavriil Sakellaridis on Monday will present his proposals for the city, according to a SYRIZA announcement. The presentation will be held at 19:00 at the Athens Technopolis. Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will attend the event.

    [18] EU Parliamentary Committees on Production, Trade and Maritime Affairs hold meeting on 'Blue Growth'

    Fiscal stability, structural reforms and mobilization of untapped sources of growth are the three prerequisites, according to Greek EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki, for the overcoming of the crisis and the recovery of the EU.

    In a speech to Production, Trade and Maritime Affairs committees of the EU's national parliaments which meet at the Greek Parliament as part of the Greek EU presidency, Damanaki referred to the upcoming Euroelections. She said the challenge for Europe is to take a step forward and make brave choices that have cost and consequences.

    The Commissioner said the upcoming elections were a crucial test and expressed the hope that citizens would realize what was at stake, as it takes more and not less Europe to overcome the crisis and ensure growth.

    Blue growth is one of the three topics of the meeting. The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries briefed the participants on the Commission's actions so far and the initiatives that have been put forward.

    According to Damanaki, there are five sectors with particular potential for blue growth: blue energy, maritime and coastal tourism, seabed mining, aquaculture and blue biotechnology. Europe's maritime sector currently employees 5.4 million workers, while the EU aims to increase this number by 1.6 million to 7 million jobs by 2020.

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, who participated in the meeting, informed the participants on the government's upcoming legislative initiative to upgrade the Greek Tourism Organisation and the national strategic plan aimed at the Greek tourism's development and the creation of jobs.

    "Greek tourism can and should support the regional development of the country and the Greek government is doing everything required while it believes it needs the private sector and the local communities as its partners," Kefalogianni said.

    She pointed out that Greece supports the agenda of the blue growth and agrees with its objectives. "Greece is a leading tourist destination and we have to make sure this will continue and for this reason we support the EU agenda," she said.

    Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), said that in the next two weeks Piraeus Port will be given environmental certification by the European organization responsible for environmental issues in ports. She also presented data according to which there are about 1.5 million jobs related to the European ports and submitted data under an OECD report that every 1 million tones of commodities in ports results in the creation of 300 jobs in the area surrounding the port. Moreover, 74 percent of the goods imported and exported from the EU are transited through ports.

    The Parliament's Deputy Speaker Ioannis Tragakis referred to the importance of strengthening inter-parliamentary cooperation and pointed out the need for the parliaments of member-states to participate in policy and claim a greater role in decision making.

    [19] Parliament President Meimarakis addresses 27th EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA / N. Roussis)

    Sustainable economic growth, a higher employment rate and measures against poverty should be firm policy targets, Greek Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis underlined while addressing the 27th Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of states launched here on Monday.

    Addressing the opening session of the assembly held in the European Parliament, Meimarakis said that the EU-ACP Parliamentary Assembly is a unique institution that was the result of a mutually shared desire for substantive cooperation between the elected deputies of EU member-states and ACP countries that have signed the Cotonou Agreement.

    He noted that it is a unique institutional body allowing MPs of countries with different cultures and histories to meet regularly and promote cooperation. Meimarakis referred to the decisive role played by national parliaments in the joint effort focusing on sustainable economic growth, employment and the adoption of measures against poverty.

    "The challenges faced by our societies today are major and complex," Meimarakis said, noting that the issue of the mass influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants in the countries of the European south as a result of armed conflicts, political persecutions and economic reasons is very important. He also noted that the specific issue will have to be resolved immediately through multilateral and bilateral cooperation.

    [20] Jean-Marie Le Pen's interview to ANA-MPA

    The founder of the French ultra-right National Front eurodeputy Jean-Marie Le Pen kept clear distances for the Greek ultra-right party Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) in an interview with ANA-MPA webTV in Strasbourg.

    Le Pen clarified that he does not know the party but he is not suprised by its emergence saying that it is the result of the crisis that "has very hard repercussions". These consequences are getting "increasingly violent as long as the existing political systems are proved unable to harness the crisis".

    The French MEP estimated that "the people's reaction in Greece would be more moderate if a relative economic stability was restored".

    Referring to Golden Dawn's classification as "criminal organisation", Le Pen noted "I am not aware of the problem and I can't say why it is called 'criminal' only because some do not like that fact it goes against the common view. I do not believe that this is a classification by itself".

    On his party's opposition to the eurozone, Le Pen said "We are against this expression of Europe because the Euro currency was created as the harbinger that would force the state-members to impose Europe's political union. Normally it should be the result of an already established political union of Europe that would have a common currency".

    [21] Euro-Mediterranean Environment ministers to meet in Athens on May 13

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    The impact of climate change is the key issue to be addressed at the meeting of the Environment ministers of the Euro-Mediterranean countries to be held on May 13 in Athens.

    In view of this session an ad hoc meeting of stakeholders was held on March 13 and March 14 in Amman, Jordan to prepare the final draft of the announcement.

    As the document of European information Agence Europe states, the various topics to be discussed include the application of the ''Horizon 2020 to protect the Mediterranean Sea from Pollution" (launched by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on the Environment held in Cairo in November 2006), the impact of climate change and the issue of sustainable consumption and production (SCP). The issues of biodiversity and integrated coastal zone management in the region will also be discussed.

    [22] President Papoulias congratulates Petrounias for winning the silver medal on still rings in Cottbus

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday sent a congratulatory telegram to athlete Lefteris Petrounias for winning the silver medal on still rings at the 38th Tournament of Masters, a World Challenge Cup held in Cottbus, Germany.

    "The silver medal is a proof of the great potential of the Greek gymnastics," President Papoulias underlined.

    [23] Defence Minister Avramopoulos meets with his Bosnia-Herzegovina's counterpart

    The Euro-Atlantic perspective of Bosnia-Herzegovina and issues related to widening and strengthening defense cooperation between Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as the strengthening of cooperation within the framework of regional security schemes dominated the meeting of the two countries' Defence Ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos and Zekerijah Osmic on Monday.

    Avramopoulos reiterated Greece's firm support to the Euro-Atlantic perspective of Bosnia-Herzegovina and wished that the efforts of the neighboring country to this direction soon produce results.

    "We should all together build our common European home," he noted, adding that the strengthening of bilateral relations is not only to the benefit of the citizens of both countries, but also to the benefit of the citizens of the wider region of SE Europe.

    Osmic thanked Greece for its support to the Euro-Atlantic perspective of his country and said: "We are trying to put in order and put aside all those elements associated with the past."

    Avramopoulos repeated that Defence ministers of SE Europe in late April will hold a meeting on the cooperation of countries in the defense industry in Athens.

    [24] Shipping minister inspects port works in Gythio

    Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis visited extension works at the port of Gythio, southern Peloponnese, on Monday afternoon, accompanied by regional officials.

    Port works in Gythio are underway and concern the extension of the pier and its deepening, with the aim of enabling big cruiseships to approach it, as they have already started as of last summer to include the port of Gythio among ports on their itinerary.

    The project is being carried out by the regional administration services with financing by the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA).

    The minister stressed that destinations of an international calibre - such as Sparti, Mystras and Monemvasia - are capable of assisting, through the infrastructures being created, the government's target for more qualitative tourism and the extension of the tourist period. He also stressed that "the government is targeting an increase in cruise tourism trends; for this to take place, our port infrastructures must be ready to receive big cruise ships safely".

    [25] KKE consistent in opposing privatisations, Koutsoumbas stressed at OLP

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas underlined his party's steadfast opposition to privatisations, while addressing an event organised by the party's industry-transport sector for Attica at the Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) on Monday.

    KKE's leader noted that the EU's marine policy for shipping fully dovetailed with the anti-popular "Europe 2020" strategy and the more generalised EU anti-popular policies. He stressed the party's steadfast opposition to these policies, while pointing to the differences between KKE and main opposition SYRIZA.

    "KKE will not engage in bartering with respect to the negotiations about how much the workers will lose, what percentage of state property will be handed over to monopolies. It is consistent in fighting against all privatisation, in whatever form this may come," he emphasised. He said that the party addressed itself to "the people who are suffering" and with a desire to strengthen them, saying that the people were in a position to prevent the anti-labour, anti-popular developments and to change the balance in favour of class forces, that a strong working-class, popular opposition can become empowered and place its seal on developments, opening the way for more general changes.

    [26] KKE party on Thessaloniki metro project

    The state must assume the continuation and completion of the works on the Thessaloniki metro, the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Central Mcedonia party branch said on Monday.

    The local party organisation, prompted by the recent withdrawal from the project of the consortim of contractors, proposed that the state continue the project through a public construction agency.

    KKE's announcement added that "this proposal by KKE can interrupt the soaring rise of the cost, complete the project in the visible future, rid the city of this nightmare and secure employment and the rights of people working people on it".

    [27] Disappointing figures for Greek justice in European Commission's 2nd Scoreboard

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)

    The European Commission on Monday presented its second Scoreboard on European justice in order to promote the quality, independence and effectiveness of justice systems in the European Union.

    Specifically for Greece, the Scoreboard shows that the time to hear civil and commercial disputes of first level has increased from 190 days in 2010 to 460 days in 2012 - the third worst action among the 22 EU member states for which data is available. Lithuania, Luxembourg and Hungary, with a time resolution of no more than 100 days, present the best performance in the EU, while the worst performance is presented by Italy and Malta.

    Meanwhile regarding the efficiency of the justice system from the European Commission 's investigation, Greece has the worst performance among the 20 Member States for which data are available, where the rate of litigation in civil and commercial disputes of first level decreased from 79 pct in 2010 to 59 pct in 2012, while Luxembourg, Italy and Malta present the best results.

    Furthermore, regarding the quality of the justice system on a scale ranging from 0 to 4, Greece has the last position in EU with a rate of 1.5 and is followed by Cyprus with a rate of 2, while 10 member-states (Denmark, Estonia, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden) hold the best positions with a rate of 4. It is worth noting that the indicators for quality include mandatory training for judges, monitoring and evaluation of judicial activities, budget and human resources of the courts, availability of information and communications technologies (ICT) and alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution (ADR).

    The Scoreboard presents data on the perception of the independence of the justice system. According to these figures Greece holds the 24th position in the EU and the 84th among 184 countries. Finland, Ireland and Great Britain hold the best positions, while the worst numbers are presented by Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.

    Regarding the next steps, the European Commission stresses that these results will be taken into account during the preparation of the forthcoming analyses per country within the European Semester of 2014.

    According to the Commission the Scoreboard is an information tool that contains objective, reliable and comparable data on the judicial systems of the member states.

    The scoreboard will be contributing to the European Semester, the EU's annual economic policy coordination process that aims to boost the member states' economic performance and competitiveness through a set of country-specific recommendations. The Scoreboard 2014 on European justice gathered data from various sources. Most of the quantitative data was supplied by the European Commission for the Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Justice (CEPEJ) which collects data from the EU member states.

    Financial News

    [28] Dev't minister: Liquidity gradually becoming less of a problem for Greek SMEs

    European solidarity in Greek structural changes is a basic factor in building trust towards the Greek economy, Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis said at Parliament on Monday.

    He was speaking in the framework of a meeting of the presidents of the Production and Commerce Committees of EU Parliaments which focused on the provision of financial liquidity to SMEs.

    Hatzidakis informed the European participants about the measures already decided by the Greek government on financially supporting Greek SMEs, through cooperating with the European Investment Bank (EIB), taking advantage of available structural funds, as well as creating financial instruments for stimulating entrepreneurship.

    According to the Greek minister, the financial gap facing Greek SMEs is estimated between 15 and 18 million euros. Based on January data, the relevant funds available to Greek SMEs rose to 1,2 billion euros, of which 824 million euros have already been disbursed. As Hatzidakis pointed out, interest rates available to Greek SMEs have risen to 9-10 percent, about double the relevant borrowing costs in northern European countries, which explains why suitable financing tools must be developed, so as to restore SME liquidity in Greece.

    Mihai Tanasescu, vice-president of EIB, pointed out that Greece, after six consecutive years of economic recession, is now nearing economic expansion, recognising that access of Greek SMEs to financing was plagued by acute problems during the crisis. According to Tanasescu, 32 pct of Greek SMEs face problems in securing vital financing, compared to 16 pct in the EU. He suggested SMEs should invest more in research and development.

    [29] Environment minister meets with EU Commissioner on consumer policy

    Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yiannis Maniatis on Monday presented the initiatives to protect vulnerable energy consumers, at a meeting held in Athens with EU Commissioner of Consumer Policy Neven Mimica.

    Maniatis referred more specifically to the Social Residential Tariff, the freezing of disconnection of electricity supply during certain periods of the year, lower energy prices for specific groups of the population in need and the facilitation of the payment of debts.

    Mimica described the actions of the ministry as innovative and pioneering and emphasized the need of an information network for the protection of civil rights, the environmental protection and the quality of life. Mimica said that all of these actions will be presented to the European Consumer Summit to be held in Brussels on April 2 in the presence of the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

    Maniatis also stressed the need for programmes relating to energy efficiency in buildings of households such as "energy saving at home'' which operates in Greece. In the frame of the programme more than 191,000 applications were submitted of which around 60,000 are in the process of approval within a total budget of public and private expenditure approaching one billion euros.

    The meeting was also attended by the General Secretary of Energy and Climate Change Constantinos Mathioudakis and the president of the Energy Regulatory Authority Nikos Vassilakos.

    [30] Hellenic Investment Fund one step closer to becoming reality

    A series of meetings on a technical level with representatives of the European Investment Bank (EIB) are scheduled to take place in the coming days, in order to resolve all procedural issues concerning the Hellenic Investment Fund (HIF) and for a Momerandum of Cooperation to be signed, equivalent to those already concluded with the German financial institution KfW and the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.

    During a meeting on Monday between Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis and EIB vice-president Mihai Tanasescu, the full breadth of EIB programmes in Greece which fall under the jurisdiction of the Greek minister were discussed.

    Also, the full set of agreed studies on the Hellenic Investment Fund issue were presented by the Greek side, which estimates that HIF will gradually begin operating before the end of June 2014.

    [31] Greek deflation rate third highest in the EU in Feb

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    Greece recorded the third highest deflation rate in the European Union, with the inflation rate at -0.9 pct in February, after Bulgaria (-2.1 pct) and Cyprus (-1.3 pct), Eurostat said on Monday.

    The EU executive's statistics service, in a report released here, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone fell to 0.7 pct in February from 0.8 pct in January and 1.8 pct in February 2013. In the EU, the inflation rate eased to 0.8 pct from 0.9 pct in the same months, respectively, from 2.0 pct in February 2013.

    Croatia (-0/2 pct), Portugal and Slovakia (-0.1 pct each) also recorded negative inflation rates, while Malta and Finland (1.6 pct each) and Austria (1.5 pct) recorded the highest inflation rates.

    In comparison with January, the inflation rate fell in 17 member states, it was unchanged in three and rose in seven countries, while there were no figures for the UK.

    [32] Finance ministry finishes crosschecks on 500 of the 1,747 cases over tax evasion suspicions

    Special crosscheck crews, regional crosscheck centres and the Centre for the Taxation of Great Wealth have completed crosschecks on 500 of the 1,747 suspected tax evasion cases under investigation by the Finance ministry, according to an announcement by the Public Revenues General Secretariat on Monday, clarifying that crosschecks have expanded to 2,680 cases to include, among others, relatives of the initial suspects.

    According to the ministry of finance, the confirmed tax evasion amounts to roughly 100 million euros, of which 15 pct can be collected, while an additional 300 cases will soon be under investigation by the Centre for the Taxation of Great Wealth.

    Responding to relevant press reports, the Finance ministry announced that crosschecks continue, noting that the cases under investigation are complex and time consuming in relation to other more simple tax evasion cases.

    [33] European Commissioner Mimica ends Greek visit launching consumer mission

    European Commissioner for consumer policy Neven Mimica held meetings with two Greek ministers in Athens on Monday, the last day of his first consumer mission (March 14-17), which was launched in Greece. The objective of the mission was to engage with consumers, national authorities, consumer organisations and retailers to work together to strengthen consumer culture to the benefit of consumers but also the economy as a whole.

    "It was a great honour to undertake my first consumer mission here in Greece. In my meetings with consumer representatives and the administration I emphasised that in these difficult times consumer policy is more than ever essential. Consumers need to be protected from rogue traders and be confident that every euro they spend is a euro well spent. I also wanted to underline to traders that respecting consumer rights is good for consumers and good for their business," he said.

    At a press conference at the European Commission's offices in Athens, he noted that Greece was the first country to incorporate the 2011/83 directive into national law and that this would go into effect from June. He also emphasised that this was only a "first step" and that citizens had to know their rights and where to obtain information.

    During his visit to Greece, Commissioner Mimica met with consumer organisations, Development and Competitiveness Costis Hatzidakis and Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis, as well as the Consumer Ombudsman.

    During the Monday morning meeting with Hatzidakis, the minister expressed the Greek government's volition to improve the position of consumers during the crisis and afterward, in collaboration with the EU during the Greek EU presidency. The meeting with Maniatis focused on protection of vulnerable social groups, energy efficiency and problems with electricity bills.

    The consumer awareness campaign will run in eight countries where awareness of consumer rights is low according to the latest Consumer Scoreboard: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Spain. There will in addition be a specific campaign for the European Union's newest Member State, Croatia. The awareness raising campaign aims to inform citizens about key consumer rights such as the right to return products within two weeks; the right to have faulty products repaired or replaced; the right to fair and transparent information on the products they buy and the right to be provided with an e-mail address to turn to in case of consumer complaints.

    In Greece the campaign will run in both print and electronic media. The European Consumer Centre (ECC) in Greece will act as a contact point for the campaign and give consumers advice as to where they can best turn for assistance if they have a problem.

    [34] Greek stocks soar to new 34-month highs

    Greek stocks ended strongly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, after a three-day decline in the previous week which pushed the market 3.05 pct lower. The composite index of the market jumped 3.50 pct to end at 1,365.09 points, its highest closing in the last 34 months. The index is up 17.41 pct so far this year.

    Traders said buying activity focused on bank shares after news that the troika approved Eurobank's share capital increase plan, paving the way for a successful outcome in negotiations with the troika and the disbursement of a loan next month. Press reports that Standard & Poor's was expected to release a positive report on the Greek economy on Friday, also helped sentiment in the market.

    Turnover was a strong 110.23 million euros. The Large Cap index jumped 3.81 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.14 pct higher. All blue chip stocks ended higher led by Titan (7.83 pct), GEK Terna (6.44 pct), National Bank (6.56 pct), Eurobank Properties (6.03 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.69 pct) and Ellaktor (4.36 pct). All sectors gained ground, with Construction (6.46 pct), Real Estate (5.78 pct) and Banks (5.18 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 103 to 41, with another 19 issues unchanged. Kyriakides FHL (17.28 pct), Mermeren (9.73 pct) and Varvaresos (9.38 pct) were top gainers, while Spider (20 pct), PC Systems (19.85 pct) and G.E. Demetriou (14.29 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: +5.18%

    Insurance: +4.17%

    Financial Services: +4.26%

    Industrial Products: +2.12%

    Commercial: +1.30%

    Real Estate: +5.76%

    Personal & Household: +3.79%

    Food & Beverages: +3.69%

    Raw Materials: +3.72%

    Construction: +6.46%

    Oil: +3.07%

    Chemicals: +1.21%

    Media: +0.96%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.20%

    Technology: +1.23%

    Telecoms: +2.17%

    Utilities: +2.53%

    Health: +2.96%

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

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

    Alpha Bank : 0.72

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.92

    Coca Cola HBC: 17.84

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.76

    National Bank of Greece: 3.90

    Eurobank Properties : 9.15

    OPAP: 12.50

    OTE: 12.74

    Piraeus Bank: 2.01

    Titan: 24.80

    [35] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 5.04 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 5.77 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.09 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.55 pct.

    Press reports that international credit rating agencies were expected to upgrade the country's credit rating by the end of the week created a euphoric climate in the market. Turnover was a thin 6.0 million euros, equally distributed between buy and sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.576 pct from 0.57 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.492 pct from 0.487 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.407 pct from 0.402 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.305 pct from 0.303 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.232 pct from 0.23 pct.

    [36] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a small discount of 0.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising sharply to 115.721 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 40,855 contracts worth 88.557 million euros, with 51,723 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 56,724 contracts worth 27.164 million euros, with investment interest focusing on MIG's contracts (15,843), followed by Alpha Bank (3,511), National Bank (4,444), Piraeus Bank (5,470), OTE (2,884), PPC (6,696), OPAP (843), Hellenic Petroleum (2,057), Mytilineos (3,889), GEK (4,847), Intralot (1,037), Terna Energy (1,808), Motor Oil (451), Eurobank (373), Metka (205) and Ellaktor (491).

    [37] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.411

    Pound sterling 0.849

    Danish kroner 7.575

    Swedish kroner 8.993

    Japanese yen 143.57

    Swiss franc 1.233

    Norwegian kroner 8.404

    Canadian dollar 1.562

    Australian dollar 1.554

    General News

    [38] Shipping Minister Varvitsiotis addresses events marking the 193rd anniversary of the Greek War of Independence in 1821

    Shipping & Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on Monday sent a message of unity, while addressing events commemorating the 193rd anniversary of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks launched in Areopolis, southern Greece, in 1821.

    "The fundamental cultural elements and moral values of our nation were handed down from generation to generation for centuries," Varvitsiotis said, addressing the events, adding that the example set by the heroes in the region of Mani shows that with perseverance and unity Greeks can achieve anything they set their minds to.

    Tensions flared briefly when a small group of ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) supporters, including party MP Ilias Kassidiaris, jeered the minister during a wreath-laying ceremony.

    [39] NY politicians hold Greek Independence Day event honouring consul general, among others

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    New York state politicians on Monday honoured the Consul General of Greece George Eliopoulos and two executives of Greek American organisations on the occasion of annual commemorations of the Greek Independence Day, March 25, at an event in Stathakion Cultural Center of the Federation of Greek Societies of New York in Astoria, Queens.

    The event was organized by the new Queens Borough president Melinda Katz, NY state senator Michael Gianaris, NY State Assembly member Aravella Simotas and Astoria district council member Costa Constantinides. It was also addressed by Federation of Hellenic Societies President Elias Tsekeridis.

    Eliopoulos stated that "Greece has survived more serious crises, compared to what the Greek people are experiencing now," and expressed with confidence that "the same thing will happen again and the problems of economic crisis will be overcome".

    The event also honoured teacher Evi Chantzopoulou and Nikos Tziazas, president of the Eleftheria-Pancyprian Youth Athletic Teams. It was attended as well by the Consul of Greece in New York Manos Koubarakis and Consul General of Cyprus Vasilis Philippou.

    Greek Americans in the greater New York area hold an annual Greek Independence Day parade down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; this year, it will be held on Sunday, March 30.

    [40] National Opera's Swan Lake has successful debut at Athens Concert hall

    The National Opera's production of the renowned Tchaikovsky ballet ''Swan Lake'' got off to a good start and earned warm and prolonged applause from the audience on its second night at the Athens Concert Hall on Sunday night.

    The dancers performed a choreography prepared by Renato Tzanella - director of the National Opera Ballet - presenting the famous work of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky with a more modern edge. Even Tzanella's more eccentric ideas were welcomed by the audience, who also had a chance to see the director perform during the Second Act, when he stood in for a dancer who was unwell during the Polonaise dance.

    The National Opera orchestra, the costumes and the lighting also played a very important role in the overall expressivity of the ballet.

    ''Swan Lake'' will continue with five more performances at the Athens Concert Hall on March 18, 19, 21, 22 and 23.

    [41] Acropolis Museum open on 25 March; the day will be dedicated to Parthenon

    The Acropolis Museum will remain open on March 25th on the occasion of the 193th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. The museum will be open to public from 9.00 until 17.00 with free entrance and the visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about Parthenon and the Acropolis.

    Archaeologists of the Museum will be available to answer any questions and discuss with visitors issues on the Parthenon's architecture, the sculptures and the way these are displayed as well as their symbolism and the history of the unique monument.

    The presentations, which will last 50 minutes, will be held in Greek, English and French. Finally, the museum's restaurant will be open and will offer a "Greek Traditional Menu".

    [42] OAED's programme for hiring 10,000 unemployed starts on Monday

    The submission of applications to Greek unemployment agency OAED's programme for the hiring of 10,000 people in the private sector starts on Monday.

    The programme subsidizes private companies to hire unemployed persons aged between 30 and 66.

    The total cost of the programme is 54 million euros and subsidizes companies for a 12 month period, with 450 euros per worker.

    [43] European conference on internet to be held in Athens

    The event titled "Transforming the infrastructure of the internet of the future to achieve innovation" is the 11th meeting of the consortium ?Future Internet Assembly?, composed of bodies of more than 150 projects funded by the EU. This collaboration aims to strengthen European activities related to the Internet of the future, in order to maintain Europe's competitiveness in the global market.

    More than 400 private and public sector officials representating different fields and sectors will participate in the event.

    This year's conference will focus on the shaping of the new web technology landscape, by completing the software, the networks and the cloud computing, in order to encourage the development of new innovative applications in Europe.

    The conference will informally start on Monday with a series of pre-conference events, giving participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and reveal the results of the projects of the 7th Framework Programme for Research of EU.

    Furthermore, in the conference's exhibition area over 40 research projects in seven thematic areas will be presented (Net Futures, FIRE, Connected Smart Cities, FI-PPP, Cloud Computing, Software and Services, Network Technologies, International Cooperation).

    [44] PPC substation blast causes power cuts near Thessaloniki; one man seriously injured

    Roughly 20 villages northwest of Thessaloniki were left without electricity shortly after noon on Monday as a result of an explosion and subsequent fire at a Public Power Corporation S.A. (PPC S.A.) electrical substation near the village of Gefyra, most likely caused by a short circuit.

    A 42-year-old PPC employee suffered serious burns and another five employees experienced respiratory problems. All were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

    The explosion and the fire that followed happened during scheduled maintenance work.

    The fire was extinguished a few hours later by 10 firefighters operating three fire engines.

    PPC technicians are working to restore power supply to the affected communities.

    [45] PPC employee injured in explosion in serious condition, cause still unknown

    The governor of the hospital in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, speaking to the ANA-MPA, termed as serious the state of the 52-year-old employee who sustained severe burns over 53 percent of his body when a fire broke out at a Public Power Corporation substation northwest of Thessaloniki following an explosion on Monday.

    The injured man, 52 (originally reported as aged 42), was moved from the Ippokratio hospital in Thessaloniki to the burns unit of the Papanikolaou hospital, where surgery was performed on him. Another five of the man's colleagues were taken to a hospital in the city suffering from respiratory problems.

    The cause of the accident has not been ascertained so far.

    Power was restored to the area 1.5 hours after the accident.

    [46] Greek Police releases names, photos of "Maria's" alleged abductors

    Greek Police on Monday released the names and photos of three Roma accused of abducting four-year old "Maria", who was found at a camp at the northern town of Farsala, alongside her supposed parents, with whom she shared no hereditary compatibility.

    Accused of abducting the girl are her alleged parents, a 60-year-old male named Efstratios-Ioannis Arabatzis and a 59-year-old female Zoe Vilanaki, both of whom were taken into custody March 10. Another 41-year old female, Eleftheria Dimopoulou, has also been placed under custody, in the same case.

    The accused Roma couple reportedly maintained that the little blonde, light-skinned girl named Maria, was handed to them in August 2013 by the 41-year old, who appeared to be the child's mother. The defendants claimed that they wanted to have a child and that the 41-year-old woman 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 the northern Greek city of Katerini twice, but failed.

    [47] Flu virus death toll rise to 94

    Within the last 24hours the death toll as a result of complications due to the flu virus has reached 94, 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 261 people have been hospitalized in intensive care units (ICUs), while 47 are still being treated in hospital, KEELPNO says.

    [48] Acropolis Museum open on 25 March; the day will be dedicated to Parthenon

    The Acropolis Museum will remain open on March 25th on the occasion of the 193th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence. The museum will be open to public from 9.00 until 17.00 with free entrance and the visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about Parthenon and the Acropolis.

    Archaeologists of the Museum will be available to answer any questions and discuss with visitors issues on the Parthenon's architecture, the sculptures and the way these are displayed as well as their symbolism and the history of the unique monument.

    The presentations, which will last 50 minutes, will be held in Greek, English and French. Finally, the museum's restaurant will be open and will offer a "Greek Traditional Menu".

    [49] Pharmacists association to temporarily suspend strike from Tuesday

    The Panhellenic Pharmacists Association on Monday announced that the country's pharmacies will open temporarily from Tuesday in order to avoid disrupting the treatment regimes of patients but warned that their action may escalate after a general assembly next Saturday.

    "The struggle is continuing with the same intensity," said the association's president Kyriakos Theodosiadis and urged pharmacists to be on stand-by for immediate mobilisation at any moment, based on the results of the government's negotiations with the troika representing the country's lenders.

    Greece's pharmacists strenuously object to the troika's demands to deregulate sales of non-prescription drugs, allowing them to be sold in venues other than pharmacies, as well as changes to the ownership status and a complete liberalisation of opening hours.

    [50] Six arrested on Monday, two tonnes cannabis confiscated

    The Attica Financial Crimes Unit (SDOE) on Monday arrested six Albanian nationals accused of forming a criminal organisation trafficking large quantities of drugs, especially cannabis, from Albania to Greece and then to the rest of the European union.

    According to a police announcement, on Monday morning and after several days of investigation, police stopped a truck carrying two tonnes of cannabis at Elefsina toll station.

    Moreover, in a storage area in Paleo Faliro, police also found and seized a further 81.320 kg of cannabis, while about 600 flasks for transporting wine, which police believe would have been used to transport some of the drugs abroad, were found in the home of the ring's suspected mastermind.

    Police also confiscated two vehicles as evidence.

    Based on the findings of a police investigation, the drugs confiscated had been transported to a deserted shore of southern Achaia prefecture by boat, where they were picked up to be transported to Attica.

    [51] Videotaping of children's hospital president being bribed is ruled legal

    The Areios Pagos Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the videotaping of the bribery of "Aglaia Kyriakou" children's hospital president Haris Tombouloglou on Christmas Eve showing him receiving the amount of 25,000 euros in marked banknotes was legal.

    The ruling was issued after Tombouloglou had contested the surveillance as illegal.

    The hospital president was arrested on December 24, 2013 accused of blackmail and accepting bribes. According to the charges against him, Tobouloglou demanded that an advertising company, which had won a bid at the state hospital, should pay him 25,000 euros before he approved the final contract.

    [52] Athens hospice representatives to protest outside Maximos Mansion Tues.

    Patients, guardians and employees at the Athens hospice for the chronically ill (Asylo Aniaton) will hold a protest rally outside the Maximos Mansion at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday which, as they say, is in danger of being shut down due to great delays in hospital fees owed by the National Organisation for Providing Health Services (EOPYY), as well as the state's increasing tax demands.

    As the employees say, the nonprofit does not receive state funding and its operation is based on offers by private individuals, the rentals of its real estate and EOPYY's fees for the incurable who are insured.

    Weather forecast

    [53] Fair on Tuesday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 4C and 22C. Fair in Athens with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures between 5C and 21C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 4C and 20C.

    [54] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies

    DIMOKRATIA: A bitter agreement.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: A new memorandum after the elections.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Supplementary pensions to be slaughtered.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Full pension for public sector employees from the age of 50!

    ESTIA: Too many parties, low rates in polls.

    ETHNOS: Civil war in the 'black gang' (of Golden Dawn).

    NAFTEMPORIKI: This year we will pay 7.4 billion euros to the IMF.

    TA NEA: Bargaining and unexpected changes - a thriller with the troika and lack of stability in the political arena.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS


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