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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-05-06

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

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

Tuesday, 6 May 2014 Issue No: 4649

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek economy to grow by 0.9 in 2014, 2.9 pct in 2015, Commission report
  • [02] Dijsselbloem says eurozone decisions on Greek debt coming after the summer
  • [03] Greece seeks beginning of negotiations on debt restructuring
  • [04] Eurogroup corroborates forthcoming 'debt sustainability measures' for Greece
  • [05] European Commissioner Kallas satisfied with Greece's progress
  • [06] PM Samaras meets with Saudi Arabian Prince Alawaleed Bin Talal Al Saud
  • [07] FM Venizelos and Arab League Secretary General hold talks on upcoming EU-Arab League ministerial
  • [08] FM Venizelos addresses an Economist conference
  • [09] League of Arab States' secretary general addresses an Economist conference
  • [10] Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal addresses Economist conference in Athens
  • [11] Moroccan PM addresses Economist Conference in Athens
  • [12] Deputy Development Minister Mitarachi addresses an Economist conference
  • [13] Ukraine crisis upgrades Greece's regional role in the energy sector
  • [14] Deputy FM Kourkoulas, Israeli counterpart Elkin discuss bilateral ties in Athens
  • [15] SYRIZA leads over ND in euroelections, says opinion poll
  • [16] ND parliamentary group to convene on Thursday
  • [17] Social benefit to be allocated to 265,000 beneficiaries this week
  • [18] Draft bill on 'Principles of Fiscal Administration and Supervision - Public Accounts' tabled in Parliament
  • [19] SYRIZA leader Tsipras adopts election catch-phrase 'one battle, three ballot boxes and one choice'
  • [20] Gov't spokesman bashes opposition leader Tsipras 'whose dreams are a nightmare'
  • [21] Deputy FM to participate in a ministerial summit in Vienna
  • [22] Development ministry urges street-market vendors to end strike action as 'pointless'
  • [23] Admin. Reform ministry presents new public administration 2014-2020 programme
  • [24] Investigating magistrate set testimony deadlines for four Golden Dawn deputies
  • [25] Golden Dawn MP Lagos files motion over magistrates' recusal
  • [26] Tourism minister meets visiting Iraqi counterpart
  • [27] Deputy Foreign minister addresses European conference on the Roma
  • [28] Six new deputies to replace European Parliament elections candidates
  • [29] Tenders for oil exploration in the Ionian and south of Crete to be called early summer, Environment Minister says
  • [30] Greek economic sentiment index down in April
  • [31] Greece, UAE to sign bilateral agreement on investments protection
  • [32] OAED embraces new technologies in upgrading its services to the unemployed
  • [33] Aegean announces 16 pct increase in its total passenger traffic
  • [34] Plaisio Computers says sales up, profits down in Q1
  • [35] PPC sets up subsidiary in Turkey
  • [36] National Bank begins book building process on Tuesday
  • [37] German-Hellenic Chamber urges gov't to keep interest for energy investments alive
  • [38] Greek stocks end lower
  • [39] Greek bond market closing report
  • [40] ADEX closing repor
  • [41] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [42] 18 bodies found in ship's hold after boat capsizes off coast of Samos
  • [43] CERN exhibition 'Accelerating Science' on show at Evgenidio Foundation this month
  • [44] No release for Proton Bank defendants, appeals council decides
  • [45] Greek police dismantle international ring helping Albanians migrate abroad
  • [46] Amateur paraglide athlete found dead
  • [47] Thessaloniki open-air market producers continue strike
  • [48] Public administration inspectors find serious oversights by Elliniko-Argiroupolis municipality over tragic funfair accident
  • [49] Police at Patras port round up 70 migrants, arrest 17 for lack of residence permits
  • [50] Appeals court refuses release of Vicky Stamati, wife of jailed former minister
  • [51] Overcast on Tuesday
  • [52] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] Greek economy to grow by 0.9 in 2014, 2.9 pct in 2015, Commission report

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    The Greek economy is expected to grow by 0.9 pct this year and by 2.9 pct in 2015, the European Commission said on Monday.

    In its spring estimates for the country's economic outlook, the Commission confirmed its estimates released earlier this year (February 25). In the report, the Commission said it expected the Eurozone economy to grow by 1.2 pct this year and by 1.7 pct in 2015 (down from an 1.8 pct estimate in February). For the EU, it expects an 1.6 pct growth rate in 2014 (1.5 pct in February) and a 2.0 pct growth rate in 2015 (unchanged from February).

    The unemployment rate is projected to fall to 26 pct in 2014, from 27.3 pct in 2013 (up from a 25.7 pct estimate in February) and to 24 pct of the workforce in 2015 (down from 24.6 pct in February).

    The fiscal deficit is estimated to fall from 12.7 pct of GDP in 2013 to 1.6 pct in 2014 (down from a 2.1 pct estimate in February) and to 1.0 pct in 2015 (unchanged from February).

    The public debt is expected to rise to 177.2 pct of GDP this year and to fall to 172.4 pct in 2015 (up from an 171.1 pct estimate in February).

    The inflation rate is expected to remain negative at -0.8 pct this year from -0.9 pct in 2013, rising to 0.3 pct in 2015.

    Finally, investments are expected to rise from 3.6 pct in 2013 to 12 pct in 2014 and 6.5 pct in 2015.

    "Recovery signs are strengthening" was the headline of the chapter for Greece in the European Commission's spring economic forecasts report. The Commission noted that structural reforms made in product and services markets led to an improvement in competitiveness which in turn will boost exports and investments.

    The Commission noted that confidence indexes have improved in the construction sector and among consumers, while industrial production grew in the first two months of 2014, retail sales stabilized along with building licenses. Greek exports are projected to grow further helped by a recovery in the Eurozone, while imports are expected to decline at a slower pace this year.

    The European Commission noted that investments and private consumption were expected to contribute largely in a 2.9 pct growth rate expected for 2015. The unemployment rate reached its peak (27.3 pct) in 2013, while reforms made in the labour market and higher investments will contributed to a decline in the unempoyment rate from this year.

    The report noted that risks are balance and related with general geopolitical developments in the region, while it stressed that any slowdown in implementing structural reforms could negatively affect confidence in the economy.

    The Commission welcomed the Greek government's initiatives to rationalize spending, to have a more efficient social insurance system and boost tax collection.

    [02] Dijsselbloem says eurozone decisions on Greek debt coming after the summer

    Any decisions deemed necessary as regards the Greek public debt will be adopted after the forthcoming

    summer when the next review of the Greek economy will have been completed, said Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Monday on his way to the latest Eurogroup meeting, which is still under way.

    Dijsselbloem - also the Dutch Finance Minister - noted, that there would possibly be a first

    discussion on this subject today, insinuating that not all eurozone countries agree on the optimal path to a final solution of the Greek debt issue.

    The Eurogroup president expressed his satisfaction for the verification by Eurostat - the official EU statistical agency - of the Greek primary budget surplus for 2013.

    [03] Greece seeks beginning of negotiations on debt restructuring

    Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will officially put forward a demand during Monday's Eurogroup meeting for the beginning of negotiations aimed at the restructuring of the country's pubic debt, based on a decision reached by Greece's partners in November 2012.

    The Greek demand will be based on Eurostat's ratification of the country's primary surplus for 2013, the country's successful return to international markets with a five-year bond and the European Commission's positive assessment that the Greek economic adjustment programme was on track.

    The Greek demand, however, will depend on two significant parameters:

    First, a disagreement between Eurozone member-states and the IMF on the way to solve the problem. The IMF essentially insists that without a "haircut" the sustainability of debt is not safeguarded, while on the other side Germany dismisses any scenario of a "haircut" by the official sector.

    The second parameter refers to the time of completing the negotiations. A Greek Finance ministry official recently said that the Greek demand will be put forward at the Eurogroup but the procedure will last long until final decisions could be reached. He added that negotiations could last until December in order to have the results of European stress tests for credit institutions and after the formation of a new European Commission.

    The Greek government strategy will focus on a demand to extend the repayment time of loans, worth 192.8 billion euros, to 50 years. Such an extension could reduce the country's needs of debt servicing by 6-7 billion euros in the next 20-30 years. Greece will also demand that a current fluctuating interest rate of bilateral loans of the first memorandum to be transfomed into a fixed interest rate. Under this proposal, a current 0.82 pct fluctuating interest rate (three-month Euribor plus 0.50 pct) is expected to rise by up to 2.0 points in the next five years, significantly raising the cost of repaying the 52.9-bln-euro loans of the first bailout programme. According to the Greek proposal, the interest rate will be transformed into a fixed one for 15 yeas and the issue will be re-examined after this period. Greece also asks for a gratis period of 10-20 years in interest payments from the Eurozone.

    The Greek Finance minister will also present to its Eurozone partners a new growth model for the Greek economy, called "Greece 2021". This plan is based on nine sectors: tourism, primary production-agricultural product processing, research-technology, energy, logistics/transport, metal industry-building materials, pharmaceuticals, commercial services and shipping.

    [04] Eurogroup corroborates forthcoming 'debt sustainability measures' for Greece

    At the end of its latest meeting on Monday, the Eurogroup - composed of the finance ministers of the eurozone countries - issued a statement on Greece, in which it expressed its satisfaction with the macroeconomic developments in the country, noting that "possible debt sustainability measures will be considered in the context of the next review", expected to have been completed after the summer.

    The full text of the Eurogroup statement on Greece follows:

    "The Eurogroup welcomes the recent positive macro-economic developments in the Greek economy. The renewed growth prospects for Greece reflect the remarkable adjustment efforts undertaken by the Greek citizens and authorities. The economic adjustment programme is starting to pay off and is proving to be a cornerstone for Greece's return to sustainable and balanced growth. Fiscal performance continues to be strong, as reflected in the primary surplus for 2013 as defined in the programme. Moreover, the recent return of the Hellenic Republic and of Greek banks to the international capital markets is an encouraging sign of increasing market confidence and is an important first step towards regaining broader market access. Fully implementing the reforms of the programme will be crucial to that end.

    We further welcome that the Greek authorities have complied with the prior actions required for the first EFSF disbursement of the current review. The EFSF Board of Directors approved the disbursement of EUR 6.3 billion, which took place on 28 April. The IMF Executive Board is foreseen to decide in June on the IMF disbursement of around EUR 3.6 billion linked to the review. We call on the authorities to carry the current positive reform momentum forward to maintain the programme on track and avoid accumulating delays.

    As foreseen under the programme, the significant adjustment made allows the Greek economy to enter now a new phase, moving from stabilisation and recovery to sustainable growth. The long-term strategy to foster growth presented to us by the Greek authorities shows a clear ownership and determination to continue the reform path. The Eurogroup supports this strategy that builds on the adjustment programme by stepping up policies that raise private investment, facilitate economic activity and eventually lead to more job creation. We invite Greece to develop a more detailed action plan consistent with the existing programme.

    Against this background, the Eurogroup welcomes the progress made by the European Commission and the Greek authorities with the preparation of the Partnership Agreement for the European Structural and Investment Funds. In the next seven years, these funds will provide around EUR 19 billion of co-financing transfers for the Greek economy with the aim to create a competitive, dynamic and inclusive economy, driven by entrepreneurship and innovation. Moreover, the Greek government has expressed the ambition to attract and facilitate private investment. In this context, the recently established Institution for Growth will help to pool financial resources from private and public organisations to provide financing to SMEs and for public investment projects.

    The Eurogroup also welcomes the contribution to programme implementation provided by technical assistance to Greece under the coordination of the Task Force for Greece (TFGR). We stress the need for a continuation and stepping up of technical assistance in support of growth-related reforms (including via fighting tax evasion and corruption and supporting capacity building of national public administration). Euro area Member States will assess their possibilities for getting into closer partnerships with Greece in this regard. We encourage Greece to make use of the new funding arrangement for technical assistance beyond 2014. We recommend Greece, in coordination with the Commission (including the Task Force for Greece) to provide an overview of external financing and technical support available and to reflect on the potential role of relevant international financial institutions in providing their expertise and, where applicable, funds.

    Euro area Member States reaffirm their commitment to provide adequate support until Greece regains full market access, provided Greece fully complies with the requirements and objectives of the adjustment programme. The relative merits of possible debt sustainability measures, as stated by the Eurogroup on 27 November 2012, will be considered in the context of the next review.".

    [05] European Commissioner Kallas satisfied with Greece's progress

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    European Commissioner responsible for Economic Issues Siim Kallas on Monday presented the European Commission's economic estimates for the period 2014-2015.

    Kallas said that growth would return in Greece, even moderately, as of 2014. He noted that the recent recapitalisation of the Greek banks exceeded every expectation and was indicative of the Greek economy's good prospects.

    Asked on Greece's fiscal debt which remains high (177.2 of GDP in 2014) and whether it can remain sustainable without a further reduction, the Commissioner said that it was a very serious issue which Greece would discuss with its lenders.

    However, Kallas underlined that the margins for manoeuvres were limited, adding that the issue may be discussed on Monday's Eurogroup.

    He also said that the economic condition in Greece had considerably improved and that Greece was 'getting out from the hole'.

    [06] PM Samaras meets with Saudi Arabian Prince Alawaleed Bin Talal Al Saud

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met on Monday with the Prince of Saudi Arabia and president of Kingdom Holding Company Alawaleed Bin Talal Bin Ablulaziz Al Saud at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.

    According to information, the Prince expressed serious interest to invest in Greece and made positive references regarding the Cyprus' issue noting that the occupied part of Cyprus is only recognised by Turkey.

    [07] FM Venizelos and Arab League Secretary General hold talks on upcoming EU-Arab League ministerial

    Government Vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday received visiting Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby at the foreign ministry. Elaraby was in Athens to attend an international Economist conference on relations between the EU and Arab world.

    In joint statements after their meeting, Venizelos said their talks had focused mainly on the preparations for a meeting between the foreign ministers of the 28 EU member-states and their Arab League counterparts in Athens on June 10-11.

    "This is a very major event that is fully aligned with the priorities of the Hellenic Presidency. You know how strong and deep [Greece's] ties are with the Arab world on the bilateral level, so we are working within the European Union with the aim of deepening and promoting the relations between Europe and the Arab world," Venizelos said.

    The Greek foreign minister expressed his belief that the June meeting will provide a great opportunity to "reaffirm the political framework governing our relations, to discuss the open fronts that exist," and also to discuss the economic and commercial dimensions of cooperation.

    Elaraby referred to the very old, historic connections between Greece and the Arab world, especially in his native Egypt, and emphasised the importance of the planned meeting in June, the third in a series of such meetings.

    "There will be the 28 foreign ministers from the EU, there will be the foreign ministers of the Arab world, and we are going to discuss how we are going to proceed in our relations," he said, adding that the two sides need each other and also need to "rethink" their relationship.

    "This is the third Meeting, so relationships have to mature, have to enter many new areas, and the objective is always how to cooperate better and how to align ourselves in projects that will benefit the two sides," he said.

    Speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States about the relationship with Greece in the political field, Elaraby described this as a "modern kind of relationship that we find support, we find advice and we find interest in what is going on in our world and our problems," adding that the Arab nations like to consult with Greece, and Greece is one of the countries that are always committed to improve matters in a very positive way.

    [08] FM Venizelos addresses an Economist conference

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday addressed an Economist conference on "Europe and the Arab World", held under the auspices of Greece's EU presidency.

    "The Greece that is welcoming you today is a different Greece. It is the Greece that has started exiting the crisis after eight years of recession," Venizelos told high ranking Arab and EU officials in his opening remarks.

    "Greece can now present an impressive primary surplus, the biggest one in the EU," he stressed and noted that the "country's fiscal deficit is under the European threshold of 3 percent of GDP" and added that "Greece, as a country, has so far shown all the elements of a long-term sustainability."

    He termed the conference a prelude to a significant political event, organized by the Greek presidency in cooperation with EU High Representative and European Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton. According to Venizelos, this would be the ministerial summit of the EU and Arab League member-states, which will be held in Greece on June 10 and 11 aiming at making the EU-Arab World relations more profound.

    He also referred to the enhancement of the so-called Southern Neighborhood, pointing out its importance and expressed the hope that "the Arab spring, which bore hopes, will be concluded as a true spring." He underlined the interest for security especially energy security as well as political stability in the wider region.

    "The cultural, historical, emotional and financial conditions for the deepening and strengthening of the relations between Greece and the Arab World, of the relation between Europe and the Arab World, are in place," he said.

    He underlined the Greek government's commitment to that cause and expressed his confidence that the conference as well as June's ministerial summit would contribute to the achievement of a common goal.

    [09] League of Arab States' secretary general addresses an Economist conference

    The Secretary General of the League of Arab States Nabil Elaraby on Monday addressed an Economist conference on "Europe and the Arab World: Strengthening Political, Business and Investment Ties", held under the auspices of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU and the League of Arab States in Athens, and explained the reasons why the Euro-Arab ties are not so strong as they used to be.

    He noted that this development is not a result of lack of initiative. "The last 40 years we have had too many," he said citing three reasons for this:

    1.strategies were geographically "divided" and therefore created a "fragmentary" effect. The Egyptian official acknowledged that the "diversity" of the Arab world justified this approach, however, "the division of the Arab world into subareas" pulled out "the Arab world as a whole" of the stage.

    2.the "introvert" nature of investments in the region, and

    3.reforms promoted in many Arab countries "with the help of the EU" had the same "paradox": a combination of "economic openness" and "political constraints at regional level."

    Peace, stability and security are the conditions for development, he said, while solving the problem of the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and ending the crisis in Syria is a prerequisite.

    [10] Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal addresses Economist conference in Athens

    Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Ablul-Aziz Alsaud on Monday addressed the Economist conference taking place in Athens, referring to the historic ties between Greece and the Arab world.

    He noted that these relations were reflected in the "positions adopted by Greece as regards the rights of Palestinians (given their knowledge of Mediterranean history)" and the fact that Arab countries had not recognised the Turkish-occupied territories on Cyprus.

    Referring to the opportunities offered by Greece's economy, he pointed indicatively to Saudi investments in the Asteras resort in Vouliagmeni and stressed the great fiscal progress made by Greece, "which is now on the path to growth" and its remarkable fiscal performance, adding that Greece "could become a base for Arab companies in Europe".

    Talking about trade relations between Saudi Arabia and Greece, he said that this was not solely driven by bilateral cooperation but also helped by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the EU. He emphasised that substantial margins existed for improving relations between Greece, the EU and Arab nations, expressing his pleasure that he had an opportunity to discuss this with the Greek prime minister and members of the government during his visit.

    [11] Moroccan PM addresses Economist Conference in Athens

    Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane on Monday addressed an Economist conference on "Europe and the Arab World: Strengthening Political, Business and Investment Ties," held under the auspices of the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU and the League of Arab States in Athens.

    Benkirane noted the "imbalances" in the government of the Arab world, which had resulted in tensions that spilled over into the unrest of the "Arab Spring", so that there was still widespread concern regarding political, economic and investment ties between Europe and the Arab world.

    Regarding Morocco, he noted that the 'Arab Spring' in his country had been "hot enough to heat the pot without burning the food or blowing up the kitchen," with Moroccans taking to the streets to demand reform but not demanding the abolition of the monarchy.

    He stressed the need for a more powerful partnership relation with the EU, saying this would be mutually beneficial since a part of the migration currently heading to Europe will be redirected toward Morocco, which would be a developed country.

    [12] Deputy Development Minister Mitarachi addresses an Economist conference

    A bilateral agreement on the mutual protection of investments between Greece and the UAE will be signed on Tuesday, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi told an Economist Conference on "Europe and the Arab World."

    Mitarachi underlined the political and economic relations of Greece with the Arab countries are at an exceptional level. As far as bilateral trade is concerned, Greece's imports from Arab countries amount to 3.5 billion euros, corresponding to 7.6 percent of the total 2013 imports. Exports amount to 3.3 billion euros, or 12.4 percent.

    "Without overlooking the significance of certain numbers, my feeling is we can do even better," Mitarachi said and added: "In this direction, namely the deepening of cooperation, we work on two levels: national and at EU level."

    "On a national level," he said "we have signed significant memoranda of understanding in the areas of investment and trade. Memoranda that...have already produced tangible results. Such as the participation of Abu Dhabi's Al Maabar in the development of the old Ellinikon airport, the participation of AGC Equity Partners in Astir Palace with a 400 million euro investment, the GEK Terna -QPI (Qatar Petroleum International) agreement, which is the first investment by a Qatari state company in Greece and the participation of Al Dahra Agricultural Spain in Loulis Mills. Moreover, the "Agreement for the Protection and Promotion of Investments with the United Arab Emirates, for the creation of a permanent cooperation mechanism on investment issues will be signed tomorrow."

    "On a European Union level, specifically as part of the Foreign Ministers' meeting, we showcased, along with the Greek presidency, the relations between the Arab world and the EU, by including them on the agenda of the Committee on Trade Policy held last March in Athens," he said.

    "And we can continue this partnership even more intensively. Particularly now that a new Greece is born. The European Commission, in its recent report, showed that Greece was entering the post-Memorandum era. Because the three main reasons that forced us to ask for a special support mechanism - the Memorandum - have now reversed. We have a surplus. The country produces and exports, as shown in the current account balance, it returned to markets and retained the benefits of the euro. And instead of talking about new taxes, we reduce as of July 1 the insurance contributions as an extra incentive for recruitment and job creation," Mitarachi said.

    [13] Ukraine crisis upgrades Greece's regional role in the energy sector

    The latest developments in Ukraine highlight the need for safeguarding energy security, which constitutes one of the top priorities of the current Greek EU Presidency, Deputy Environment Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou remarked on Monday at an Economist conference in Athens.

    The "Europe and the Arab World: Strengthening Political, Business and Investment Ties" conference is organized by the Economist magazine under the auspices of the Greek Presidency and the League of Arab States.

    In his address, Papageorgiou said that the events in Ukraine upgrade the regional role of Greece as a gateway to energy resources, facilitating energy transportation, diversification of energy supply sources and safeguarding energy security.

    The restructuring and deregulation of the energy sector creates large prospects of forming strategic energy alliances", as Papageorgiou noted, emphasizing in particular the cooperation possibilities that arise in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and renewable energy sources sectors.

    For the deputy minister, the stability of the international oil prices is a prerequisite for the recovery of the European economy, the elimination of energy poverty and the reinforcement of the competitiveness of the European industry.

    Speaking at the same Economist conference, the Libyan Alternate Oil and Gas Minister Omar Ali Elshakmak mentioned that the Libyan people have not benefited from the growth of the oil industry, while their standard of living has deteriorated. The minister added that Libya is currently amending its legislation on the oil sector, investments, the environment, taxation and international regulations.

    The Secretary General of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) Abbas Ali Al-Naqi noted that hydrocarbons will remain the largest energy source in the years leading to 2030, although their share is projected to be reduced down to 26%, from 32%. He also said that renewable energy sources can play only a supplementary role to hydrocarbons.

    [14] Deputy FM Kourkoulas, Israeli counterpart Elkin discuss bilateral ties in Athens

    The recent years' marked improvement in Greek-Israeli bilateral relations and ways to bring the diaspora of the two countries closer were the main focus of a meeting held between Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos and his Israeli counterpart Ze'ev Elkin in Athens on Monday.

    Elkin noted that Greece can play an important role as a "bridge" between Israel and the EU and referred to the peace process in the Middle East, focusing on the signature of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas on April 23.

    Gerontopoulos conveyed Greece's support for the efforts to continue negotiations and repeated the positions of the EU, calling on the two sides to avoid actions that might undermine the progress of the talks.

    "We believe that there can be cooperation with Israel in all areas - such as trade, research, culture - and that Greece can offer its know-how and experience to Israel in issues relating to tourism and shipping," Gerontopoulos said in statements to the ANA-MPA after the meeting.

    [15] SYRIZA leads over ND in euroelections, says opinion poll

    Main opposition SYRIZA leads over New Democracy (ND) in the euroelections, according to an opinion poll conducted by Pulse RC for PONTIKI weekly newspaper.

    According to the poll results, SYRIZA leads among those questioned with 22 percent, followed by New Democracy (ND) with 20.5 percent, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 10 percent, the newly founded party To Potami with 7 percent, ELIA with 6.5, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6 percent, Independent Greeks with 4 percent and Democratic Left (DIMAR) with 3 percent.

    In response to who is most suitable for prime minister, current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (who is also ND party leader) was chosen by 32 percent of the respondents, followed by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras with 24 percent, while 41 percent said "none of above".

    The geographic coverage of the opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between April 30 and May 2 2014.

    [16] ND parliamentary group to convene on Thursday

    New Democracy (ND) parliamentary group will convene on Thursday, May 8, at 12:00, in the Senate hall of the Parliament, chaired by the prime minister and leader of the party Antonis Samaras.

    [17] Social benefit to be allocated to 265,000 beneficiaries this week

    The social dividend will be given to 265,000 beneficiaries who filed an application to the General Secretariat of Public Revenues until April 30 while on Friday it will be given to the 75,000 uniformed personnel.

    The applications for the social dividend have exceeded 800,000 so far, while 265,000 have been approved.

    The Finance ministry is currently considering including those with incomes just over 6,000 euros up to 6,500 euros in the social dividend beneficiaries.

    [18] Draft bill on 'Principles of Fiscal Administration and Supervision - Public Accounts' tabled in Parliament

    A draft bill on "Principles of Fiscal Administration and Supervision - Public Accounts" was tabled in Parliament on Monday by Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras. According to a ministry announcement, this aims to align Greece's existing national framework for public finances with optimal European and international practices and equip the country's public administration with tools to boost the long-term sustainability of public finances, with emphasis on fiscal discipline.

    The measures seek to prevent the country's unprecedented fiscal adjustment being undermined by future fiscal and macroeconomic imbalances and avoid jeopardising the progress made thus far, incorporating new European rules for economic and fiscal governance that apply to all member-states, not just those in economic adjustment programmes.

    The new law incorporates all laws passed in 2010 and some of those passed in 2013 on monitoring and executing state agency budgets and includes EU directive 85 that completes the so-called 'six-pack' established in 2011.

    [19] SYRIZA leader Tsipras adopts election catch-phrase 'one battle, three ballot boxes and one choice'

    The catch-phrase in the forthcoming elections will be "one battle, three ballot boxes and one choice", said the leader of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party Alexis Tsipras on Monday, addressing a crowd of supporters at the Ionian island of Corfu.

    For Tsipras, the local government is part of the central political scene. He asked for SYRIZA to be voted in the dual - European Parliament and local government - elections, noting that by voting for his party, voters "will vote for their own life, for Greece".

    He again posed the dilemma: "Either with Merkel or with Greece. With Berlin or with dignity. With Samaras or SYRIZA.".

    Tsipras attacked the government by saying that it is acting as a broker of big interests, but also attacked the troika of lenders, to which he sent the message that "Greece is not a plot for sale".

    The leader of the opposition pledged to end the humanitarian crisis in Greece by placing first the debt owed to people, before the debts owed to "the usurers and lenders".

    He also offered to abolish a law which prevents thousands of seasonal workers - many of which are residents of Corfu - from receiving unemployment benefits off season.

    [20] Gov't spokesman bashes opposition leader Tsipras 'whose dreams are a nightmare'

    Following a speech by main opposition Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA party leader Alexis Tsipras to a crowd of supporters at the Ionian island of Corfu on Monday, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou offered the following statement:

    "Faced with election rallies which (like trees are) increasingly shed leaves, Tsipras continues his raving. It is by now clear that he lives in his own world. He considers a catastrophe the fact that Greece is now standing at its own feet. He is nostalgic of the era when streets were on fire and hooded men were acting unchecked. He is bothered by the reinstated stability and asks for his dreams to take revenge. Tsipras' dreams are a nightmare for the Greek people.".

    [21] Deputy FM to participate in a ministerial summit in Vienna

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas will visit Vienna on May 5-6 to participate in the ministerial summit of the Council of Europe, representing the High Representative of the EU, Catherine Ashton, according to a Foreign ministry announcement.

    During the summit, officials will discuss the "Council of Europe Values and stability in Europe: current challenges", as well as developments in Ukraine.

    The ministerial summit of the Council of Europe coincides with the 65th anniversary of the founding of the organization.

    [22] Development ministry urges street-market vendors to end strike action as 'pointless'

    The development and competitiveness ministry on Monday urged street-market vendors to end their ongoing strike, which the ministry described as "pointless" and "serving only to drive consumers to other distribution networks".

    An announcement by the ministry press office pointed out that Parliament has already passed the draft bill in principle, noting that this seeks to modernise the functioning of open-air commerce and create a balance with other areas of retail trade.

    It also pointed out that the government has accepted a series of proposals made by the opposition parties, so that the final version of the draft bill reflects the positions of a broad Parliamentary majority, while the changes mean that no permits or positions within markets are lost.

    "On the contrary, the draft bill puts an end to professional insecurity for street market professionals, since their permits are converted from three-year permits to indefinite and transferrable permits. It also helps combat unemployment, since new permits are only given to the unemployed.

    [23] Admin. Reform ministry presents new public administration 2014-2020 programme

    The Administrative Reform ministry presented on Monday an outline of the "Public Administration Reforms 2014-2020" programme, and the Action Programme for E-Governance.

    At a press conference, Deputy Minister Evi Christofilopoulou said that the current programme, 2007-2013, had used funds that were in danger of being lost over non-absorption, totalling 120 million euros, which were allocated to social programmes. "We do not have the luxury of losing funds, especially European ones," she said, adding that 77 million euros were also transferred to nursery stations to cover municipalities' needs.

    Christofilopoulou said another 37 million euros were absorbed in work without pay for the unemployed and other business programmes provided additional funding - 75 million from human resources development and 8 million from the ministry of Health. "This brought the absorption rate to 79 percent," she said.

    The new programme is worth 376 million euros, of which 176 million is from the European Regional Development Fund and 200 milllion from the European Social Fund. The target for the next seven years is to make public administration more flexible, extroverted and effective, she said.

    The programme, which is aligned with the Strategy for E-Governance approved by the Administrative Reform Council, will be submitted to the Council for final approval at the end of May and is cosponsored by all related ministries. Although it covers a seven-year period, it will be reviewed annually to assure that it reflects the public administration's current needs.

    [24] Investigating magistrate set testimony deadlines for four Golden Dawn deputies

    Investigating magistrates on Monday set testimony deadlines for the four Golden Dawn deputies facing charges for participating and directing a criminal organisation.

    Deputies Dimitris Koukoutsis and Michalis Arvanitis were given a June 10 and June 13 deadline, respectively. The magistrates also set a June 10 deadline for Nikos Kouzilos and a June 12 for Eleni Zaroulia.

    "The political conspiracy has collapsed. Now the Greek people will give their own message on May 18 and 25," Zaroulia said while exiting the magistrates' offices.

    "The Greek people have already got the message and the victory will be ours," Koukoutsis said.

    Kouzilos said that "The Samaras' regime will collapse in the elections. The Greek people will realize the political conspiracy."

    Arvanitis said he was given a June 13 deadline to testify on this "ridiculous and outrageous issue" and declined to make any further comments.

    [25] Golden Dawn MP Lagos files motion over magistrates' recusal

    Golden Dawn deputy Yiannis Lagos, who is remanded in custody, filed a motion asking that the two investigating magistrates Ioanna Klapa and Maria Dimitropoulou handling the Golden Dawn case be recused.

    In the meantime, four of his collegues, including the wife of the party's leader Eleni Zaroulia, have appeared before the two magistrates accused of setting up and directing a criminal organization.

    The four most recently accused - Zaroulia and Michalis Arvanitis, Nikos Kouzilos and Dimitris Koukoutsis - whose state of immunity was recently lifted by the parliament, are expected to be given a deadline to prepare their defense ahead of their testimonies. Authorities already set a June 6 deadline for Koukoutsis.

    The new recusal motion filed by Golden Dawn was submitted on the grounds of suspected bias against the accused, just as the one previously filed by deputy Ilias Kasidiaris.

    In his petition, Lagos has cited two reasons which, as he claimed, show the two investigating magistrates were biased and their actions were based on criteria solely defined by ideological and political obsession.

    The first one relates to a letter the two investigating magistrates sent to the president of the Parliament on April 16 regarding the speeding up of the process over the lifting of their immunity where they were pointing out the risk of the accused being released due to the tight time table.

    The second reason the deputy has cited relates to the offenses of misconduct and attempted extortion that Lagos claimed the investigating magistrates had committed against the head of the Golden Dawn unit of Perama, Piraeus district, Anastasios Pantazis.

    According to the deputy, the two investigating magistrates "directly and openly deviate from institutionalized legal principles and conduct an investigating research based on ideological political principles" while he believes that "they have adopted the political stance of our opponents that equate Golden Dawn with a criminal organization." He also accuses them of having included anything possibly related to the Golden Dawn in the case file and of conducting "a political and not judicial investigation against us."

    [26] Tourism minister meets visiting Iraqi counterpart

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Monday met with her Iraqi counterpart Liwaa Semeism who is in Athens to participate in the international Economic conference "Europe and the Arab world". Their talks focused on updating an existing agreement on tourism between Greece and Iraq signed in 1981.

    The two ministers also discussed bilateral issues, including that of tourist visas and the possibility of an Athens-Baghad-Erbil airline connection.

    Semeism briefed Kefalogianni on the political situation in Iraq and the forthcoming election, while he underlined the increase of tourism traffic to his country as a result of rapid development in recent years.

    [27] Deputy Foreign minister addresses European conference on the Roma

    Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Monday addressed an event on "Improving the conditions of the Romany people in Europe: Challenges and open questions", organised by the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) in the framework of the Greek EU presidency, to discuss the situation of roma living in Europe.

    "Greek Roma are a constituent part of the Greek population," Gerontopoulos said and underlined that "they are entitled to full access in all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights recognised for all Greek citizens."

    Gerontopoulos stressed that the Greek authorities have adopted a series of meaures in order to improve Roma social integration while maintaining their cultural tradition and way of life. Since 2002 special emphasis has been given to provide accommodation and other services such as education, healthcare, employment, culture and sports, he said and stressed that the home loans programme offered the Roma a strong motive to enhance their relations with local government authorities.

    The deputy minister also added that the government introduced additional measures to facilitate Roma registration by local authorities, while he announced a new national plan already submitted to the European Commission that will further support the Roma's social integration.

    [28] Six new deputies to replace European Parliament elections candidates

    Six new deputies - from New Democracy (ND), Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and Independent Greeks (ANEL) - were installed on Monday, replacing deputies who resigned to run in the European Parliament elections.

    The newly installed MPs replaced two ND deputies, three from SYRIZA and one from ANEL.

    Financial News

    [29] Tenders for oil exploration in the Ionian and south of Crete to be called early summer, Environment Minister says

    The tenders for oil exploration in the Ionian Sea and the sea area south of Crete will be launched in early summer, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis said on Monday speaking at an Economist conference on the strengthening of Europe's relations with the Arab world.

    The creation of a new market for the research and development of national hydrocarbon deposits for which, as he said, the first messages are extremely positive, is one of the three key objectives of the ministry's policies. The other two are: climate change and energy becoming a driver supporting the competitiveness of European industry and reducing energy costs for households, as well as the geopolitical upgrading of Greece through infrastructure for transporting energy resources.

    Maniatis also said that the Euro-Mediterranean conference on issues of quality marine environment and the informal Council of Environment and Energy ministers will be held in Athens next week.

    [30] Greek economic sentiment index down in April

    Greece's economic sentiment index eased slightly in April to 95.4 points from 97.5 points in March, recording however the second highest reading since October 2008, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.

    IOBE, in its monthly report, said that business expectations in the services sector recovered, in the manufacturing and construction sectors the climate deteriorated, while in the retail commerce conditions were unchanged. Consumer confidence, however, moved higher for the second successive month to its less negative levels in the last four years.

    The report noted that positive signs from the economy (such as the return to international capital markets after four years) and signs of a continuing slowdown of an economic recession, offered prospects that encouraged expectations among citizens and enterprises in the country.

    More analytically, business expectations in the manufacturing sector showed that estimates over short-term production eased, while expectations over the current level of orders and demand remained unchanged and inventories rose.

    In the services sector, business expectations over their current activity and demand grew further, although estimates over short-term demand eased slightly.

    In the retail sector, business expectations over current sales deteriorated further, while estimates over short-term prospects improved and inventories fell.

    In the construction sector, expectations over work programs were more negative, while the employment index was unchanged.

    In the consumer confidence, estimates over the finances of Greek households and particularly those of the country in the next 12 months grew in April, while saving intentions were unchanged and estimates over unemployment improved.

    The economic climate weakened in April in the Eurozone, but grew in the EU.

    [31] Greece, UAE to sign bilateral agreement on investments protection

    A bilateral agreement on the mutual protection of investments between Greece and the UAE will be signed on Tuesday, according to press information.

    The two countries' joint cooperation committee will convene and the agreement will be signed by Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi. Apart from the agreement on the mutual protection of investments, there will also be signed two additional memoranda (MoU) on cultural and sports cooperation, one on defence issues as well as a protocol on defence.

    The agreement on the mutual protection of investment offers the opportunity to investors to directly appeal to to international arbitration in case of violation of an agreement. The parliament will be called to ratify the agreements. The Greek government has launched similar negotiations with Oman, Nigeria and Qatar.

    Government sources said that investors from UAE are ready to invest in Greece in sectors such as energy, natural gas, real estate, food and tourism. Despite the private investments, the UAE are also interested on the privatisations in energy (PPC, DEPA, ELPE) as well as in the Greek Investment Fund.

    According to the same sources, the agreement on the mutual protection of investments and the agreement against double taxation facilitates the investors from UAE to invest in Greece.

    [32] OAED embraces new technologies in upgrading its services to the unemployed

    Starting from June 2014, the official Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) will make possible the electronic renewal - over the internet - of the unemployment card of 1,000,000 unemployed people registered with the agency, irrespective of whether or not they are receiving a benefit at the time of renewal.

    This will be made possible through a law amendment brought to the parliament on Monday by Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis.

    The amendment provides for the interconnection of OAED's systems to the central information system "Ergani" of the Labour Ministry, which records wage employment flows. Ergani will be directly updating OAED's unemployed registry, a method which does not require people to physically report to OAED's regional offices in order to submit supporting documents.

    Every year, OAED's regional offices record 4,250,000 visits by people requiring its services. The electronic renewal of unemployment cards will relieve 800 work consultants and 1,200 administrative employees from their current workload. They will be reassigned in the personalised support of unemployed people in their efforts to find a job, through interviews and other methods.

    One of the positive side-effects of the new system, is that it will also eradicate the abusive receipt of unemployment benefits and limit other infringing practices.

    [33] Aegean announces 16 pct increase in its total passenger traffic

    Aegean-Olympic Air on Monday announced a 16 pct increase of its total passenger traffic for the January-April 2014 quarter, reaching 2.3 million passengers, an increase of 330,000 in comparison with 2013 respective period's total passengers of the two companies.

    According to Aegean's announcement the total passenger traffic for flights abroad increased by 14 pct and reached more that 1 million passengers, up by 128,000 compared to last year's period. Only from the Athens airport the increase was 17 pct, or 790,000 passengers, while domestic flights passengers exceeded 1.3 million, a 20 pct increased. Domestic passengers' traffic from the Athens International Airport reached 1.1 million passengers, up by 18 pct, the announcement said.

    Aegean also stressed that its total passenger traffic in April reached 751,374 passengers, up by 153,443 or 26 pct in comparison with the 2013 respective period. The announcement underlines that in April, Aegean-Olympic Air carried out 7,933 flights, reaching an improved booking of 76 pct. Flights from all Greek airports to other countries in April rose by 29 pct or 340,000 passengers, 76,000 more than in April 2013.

    "Athens' recovery was especially positive, as it increased by 28 pct in flights traffic abroad, reversing the previous years' trend," the announcement said and underlined that the increase "is a result of new destinations, adopted by the company in 2013, which continued during winter."

    The rise in domestic flights, the announcement stressed, can be attributed to new pricing policies which included two new airfare categories - light and flex - that led to an increase in passenger traffic by 26 pct, as the company transported 411,000 passengers. Additional factors that contributed to the increase were the low airfares and the increase in the capacity of flights to out-of-the way destinations.

    [34] Plaisio Computers says sales up, profits down in Q1

    Plaisio Computers on Monday said its net profits fell 9.15 pct in the first quarter of 2014 to 2.721 million euros, from 2.995 million euros in the corresponding period last year.

    The company attributed a decline in net earnings and earnings per share to a higher tax burden in the same period last year.

    Operating earnings grew 28 pct while pre-tax earnings jumped 31 pct in the January-March period, while sales rose 5.5 pct. First quarter EBITDA rose 28.1 pct to 4.7 million euros, while pre-tax earnings totalled 3.8 million euros, up 31.4 pct from the same period last eyar.

    Plaisio Computers said its cash flow totalled 45 million euros at the end of March.

    [35] PPC sets up subsidiary in Turkey

    Public Power Corporation on Monday announced the set up of a subsidiary company in Turkey. The new company will begin activities in the electricity power market with share capital of 2.0 million Turkish liras (around 686,000 euros).

    The subsidiary, which is currently undergoing its licensure procedure, is part of PPC's strategy to gain access to new developing markets in Southeastern Europe.

    [36] National Bank begins book building process on Tuesday

    National Bank will begin a book building proceduce for its share capital increase plan worth 2.5 billion euros on Tuesday, May 6.

    The bank's management team completed a series of roadshows in Europe and the United States and met with more than 100 representatives of large institutional portfolios. Bank sources said investment interest was significant for the bank's share capital increase plan.

    National Bank will set the offer price of its new shares on Friday, while on Saturday, May 10, an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting will convene to approve the offer price and the completion of a share capital increase scheme.

    [37] German-Hellenic Chamber urges gov't to keep interest for energy investments alive

    The German-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on the government to review the basic guidelines regarding the deregulation of the energy market and the operation of the renewable energy sources (RES) sector.

    The Chamber urged the government to intervene legislatively to restore investor confidence before interest in new RES investments is completely perished.

    The above issues were discussed by the Chamber's committee on RES during a special meeting for the new RES operating framework along with energy planning, the role of RES, power grids and electrical connections between Greece and neighbouring countries.

    [38] Greek stocks end lower

    Greek stocks ended moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, halting a three-day rally of prices which pushed the composite index of the market 3.87 pct higher. Turnover shrank substantially to 74.5 million euros ahead of the opening of a book building process by National Bank (as part of a share capital increase plan) and amid a wave of corporate bond issues which drained liquidity from the market. The composite index fell 0.62 pct to end at 1,232.52 points.

    The Large Cap index ended 0.48 pct lower and the Mid Cap index ended 2.50 pct lower. Titan (3.41 pct), National Bank (1.78 pct) and Frigoglass (1.46 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Athens Water (8.64 pct), Motor Oil (3.67 pct) and Mytilineos (2.80 pct) were top losers.

    Construction (1.54 pct) and Banks (0.46 pct) were the only sectors to move higher, while Chemicals (3.06 pct), Oil (2.75 pct) and Food (2.71 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 65 to 45 with another 27 issues unchanged. Hatzikraniot (19.05 pct), AXON Holdings (13.51 pct) and AEGEK (10.96 pct) were top gainers, while Perseus (19.84 pct), Pegasus (19.23 pct) and G.E.Demetriou (12 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices on Monday ended as follows:

    Banks: +0.46%

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Financial Services: -0.93%

    Industrial Products: -0.88%

    Commercial: +0.15%

    Real Estate: -1.70%

    Personal & Household: +0.23%

    Food & Beverages: -2.71%

    Raw Materials: -2.54%

    Construction: +1.54%

    Oil: -2.75%

    Chemicals: -3.06%

    Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -0.32%

    Technology: -0.70%

    Telecoms: -0.61%

    Utilities: -1.76%

    Health: -1.14%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, amd MIG.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.705

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.99

    Coca Cola HBC: 17.60

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.24

    National Bank of Greece: 2.86

    Eurobank Properties : 8.30

    OPAP: 11.24

    OTE: 11.43

    Piraeus Bank: 1.77

    Titan: 23.37

    [39] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 4.70 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.15 pct and the German Bund 1.45 pct. Turnover was a moderate 15 million euros, of which 12 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 3.0 million were buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to 0.613 pct from 0.612 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.522 pct, the six-month rate was 0.437 pct, the three-month rate was 0.336 pct and the one-month rate was 0.258 pct.

    [40] ADEX closing repor

    The June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.36 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 16.452 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 5,914 contracts worth 11.669 million euros, with 51,749 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 14,366 contracts worth 4.783 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (5,805), followed by Alpha Bank (1,564), Piraeus Bank (646), National Bank (1,572), MIG (812), OTE (1,093), PPC (1,159), OPAP (345), Hellenic Exchanges (129), Mytilineos (324), Athens Water (178), GEK (121), Intralot (94) and Titan (59).

    [41] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.408

    Pound sterling 0.835

    Danish kroner 7.575

    Swedish kroner 9.220

    Japanese yen 143.56

    Swiss franc 1.235

    Norwegian kroner 8.384

    Canadian dollar 1.547

    Australian dollar 1.52

    General News

    [42] 18 bodies found in ship's hold after boat capsizes off coast of Samos

    The body count of undocumented migrants on a yacht that sank off the north coast of the norther Aegean island of Samos early on Monday morning includes 4 children, 12 women and 6 men, authorities said late on Monday. Of the 22 dead, 18 were found in the ship's hold, including a mother and her baby.

    The migrants were from Somalia and Eritrea, and reached a total of 65, according to the 39 migrants that survived the capsizing of the overloaded vessel.

    According to preliminary indications, the 12-metre boat started listing and took in water before capsizing. A search-and-rescue operation involved three Coast Guard vessels, one vessel from the EU's border patrol Frontex, three fishing craft, a Super-Puma helicopter and a Greek Navy ship. The yacht was towed to Malagari port, Samos, soon after 1:00 p.m. and lifted onto dry land.

    An emergency airlift by the Air Force took a 3-year-old boy on life support to Athens, where he was rushed to hospital.

    Expressing his "deep regret and sorrow," Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis extolled the efforts of the Coast Guard but said that "the problem is multi-faceted and a modern European problem of illegal immigration by way of the sea." He called for a common European policy to deal with the migration issue, which he said would be central on the agenda of the European Summit in June.

    Northern Aegean region director Nassos Yiakalis called on the Greek EU Presidency to impress upon the European community the gravity of the issue, as "islanders of the area are becoming, once again, witnesses to a tragedy with many dead migrants" and called on Europe to "show some activity at last" about dealing with the issue.

    Statements were also issued by parties. PASOK said called for "European and international policies that are realistic and applicable and take into account the protection of migrants."

    Main opposition SYRIZA said that the protection of borders is costing lives throughout the Mediterranean and funds that could best be turned over to welcome migrants.

    The Democratic Left (DIMAR) party said that the incident underlined "the lack of migrant policy characteristic of the EU" and said the Greek EU Presidency should have placed the issue on the negotiation table.

    In its statement, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the incident showed again "the barbarity of the capitalist system and the EU directives intensifying oppression against migrants and refugees" and called on peoples to "stop accepting the Mediterranean's becoming a sea of dead migrants and refugees."

    [43] CERN exhibition 'Accelerating Science' on show at Evgenidio Foundation this month

    The Evgenidio Foundation on Monday held an official presentation for the interactive travelling exhibition "Accelerating Science" set up by CERN, the European nuclear research facility in Geneva, which will be on show at its premises in Athens until May 31.

    The exhibition, which is on a European tour to celebrate the 60th anniversary since CERN's foundation, is designed for adults and children over 10 years old and aims to bring general public closer to the groundbreaking science taking place at the huge particle accelerator at CERN's underground facility. It is hosted in Greece by the Evgenidio Foundation, the private school Ellinogermaniki Agogi, the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), the University of Athens, the Institute of Accelerator Systems and Applications and the Union of Physicists of Greece.

    Entrance is free of charge and the exhibition will be open to the public every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 17:00 to 21:00 (excluding bank holidays) and at weekends from 11:00 to 21:00.

    The organisers have also planned special educational programmes for school parties on all mornings during the week provided they are booked in advance (210 9469631 and 210 9469632, Monday to Friday, from 9:00-14:00). A separate training programme for primary and secondary school science teachers will also take place alongside the exhibition.

    Monday's presentation was attended by general secretary for research and technology Christos Vasilakos, who described the exhibition as a major event and said that Greece hopes to maximise the benefits from its participation in the CERN projects in coming years. Other speakers included NTUA Rector Simos Simopoulos, who highlighted the contribution by NTUA scientists in CERN experiments, and Greece's national representative at CERN Professor Dimitris Nanopoulos, as well as CERN director Professor Manolis Tsesmelis.

    Both of them highlighted the visit paid to CERN by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias last week, during his visit to Switzerland, where he met the Greek team of scientists at the facility and signed the visitors' book. Greece was among the 11 states that signed the founding declaration for the CERN facility in 1953.

    [44] No release for Proton Bank defendants, appeals council decides

    Businessman and former Proton Bank owner Lavrentis Lavrentiadis will remain in custody, according to a decree by the Appeals Council on Monday, that is committing him to trial along with another 33 individuals over the bad loan bank case.

    In its decree, the court rejected all petitions for release filed and said all 34 will be tried over the case of 700 million euros worth of unsecured loans Proton Bank provided to several people and interests, and the court also kept all restrictions imposed on the defendants. Those charged include fugitive Petros Kyriakidis and his son Giorgos, shareholders in several media including the now-defunct Athens News.

    The judges cleared another five people, including publisher Antonis Delatolas, who was questioned over a checque drawn on a Cypriot bank by Kyriakidis for purchasing shares in mass media.

    Lavrentiadis had applied for release in a petition supported by a prosecuting magistrate, who had proposed he be placed on a 100 million euro bail and restrictions.

    [45] Greek police dismantle international ring helping Albanians migrate abroad

    The Hellenic Police (ELAS) on Monday announced the dismantling of an international criminal ring suspected of helping Albanian nationals to illegally migrate from Greece to richer economies abroad, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

    A police spokesman said that six individuals had been arrested, of which four were Greek nationals and two were foreign nationals. They included a 41-year-old man believed to be the leader of the organisation and a 38-year-old Greek police officer serving in Attica.

    The first arrests were carried out during a police operation at Athens international airport, where the 41-year-old had accompanied a 26-year-old foreign national trying to illegally travel to the UK. They were found in possession of a boarding card and a stolen passport used to buy the ticket and issue the boarding card. Based on evidence uncovered by the investigation thus far, the ring has been active since 2010 and was involved in 53 operations to traffic 96 foreign nationals in total, including children travelling with their parents, through which it is estimated to have earned about three million euros.

    The suspects under arrest were led before an Athens Misdemeanours Court Prosecutor on Sunday and the case referred to an examining magistrate.

    The police officer implicated in the affair has been suspended from duty pending the findings of an official internal inquiry.

    [46] Amateur paraglide athlete found dead

    A tourist, amateur paraglide athlete, was found dead late Sunday at the area of Lentas on Crete island.

    The man was declared missing by his wife on Sunday afternoon. The victim's wife told police that her husband had gone paragliding in the wider region of Lentas.

    A rescue operation was launched to locate the missing man who was found dead in a remote gorge between Loutra and Tripiti.

    Police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.

    [47] Thessaloniki open-air market producers continue strike

    Open-air markets fruit and vegetables producers are determined to appeal even to the Council of State if the parliament on Monday passes the bill that concerns their sector, the head of Central and Western Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace federation of open-air markets associations Vassilis Makridis told ANA-MPA.

    Open-air market producers continue their strike and will continue their labour action in case the bill is voted for, Makridis said, without aiming at causing a disruption in the market to the detriment of consumers.

    Producers claim that the bill will not "benefit consumers" and will not result in lower prices, since there have been hikes in toll fees and taxation. Moreover, they have called the government to withdraw it and start negotiations from scratch.

    [48] Public administration inspectors find serious oversights by Elliniko-Argiroupolis municipality over tragic funfair accident

    Public Administration Inspectors and Auditors Body (SEEDD) found serious oversights on the part of Elliniko-Argiroupolis Municipality regarding the legality of the funfair operating within the bounds of the municipality where a tragic accident occured in late April, resulting in the death of a 13-year-old boy and the injury of his nine-year-old sister.

    The body of inspectors and auditors submitted its findings to the Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Their report was concluded within five days and was sent to the Athens Prosecution Authorities so it can be included in an ongoing investigation over possible criminal charges as well as to the secretary general of Attica Decentralized Administration Manolis Aggelakas over a possible disciplinary action against municipality officials.

    SEED found, among others, that the leasing of the site was not legitimate. The HAPPY FUN Company unlawfully installed and operated the funfair, as the municipality had never issued a relevant license. Moreover, the municipal departments and services never asked the company to submit the necessary documentation, despite the fact the municipality regularly received leasing fees, nor did they take any action to terminate its unlawful operation.

    [49] Police at Patras port round up 70 migrants, arrest 17 for lack of residence permits

    Police at the central Greek port of Patras took 70 foreign nationals in for questioning, arresting 17 of them for being in Greece illegally.

    The 70 were nationals of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bagladesh, Eritrea, Nigeria Pakistan and Senegal and included 27 underaged individuals who will be put up at NGO housing.

    The police sting was carried out to fight illegal migration at the port, which is a major through-way for Italy, and handles both passenger traffic and trucks.

    Those arrested will be held for processing and expulsion.

    [50] Appeals court refuses release of Vicky Stamati, wife of jailed former minister

    An Athens appeals court on Monday rejected a petition by Vicky Stamati, wife of the jailed former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, asking to be released from prison. The panel of five justices adopted the recommendation of the public prosecutor and voted unanimously against her request for early release from her 12-year prison sentence.

    Stamati, who did not attend the hearing due to health problems, has been in jail since April 2012 for her part in a kickbacks taken by the former defence minister for arms programmes and for money-laundering.

    Weather forecast

    [51] Overcast on Tuesday

    Rain and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 10C-20C.Same weather in the central and the southern parts with temperatures ranging from 9C-22C. Mostly fair over the islands, 14C-22C.Clouds with possibility of rain in Athens, 12C-20C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 13C-19C.

    [52] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies

    DIMOKRATIA: The best officers leave from the armed forces.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Who will survive the Armageddon.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Pension before the age of 62.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Who can draw their pension from the age of 50 to 58.

    ESTIA: (SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras) Eurozone's dissolution leverage in Greece.

    ETHNOS: White smoke from Brussels for the debt.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Revised estimates for smaller deficits.

    TA NEA: Ballot...talks.

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