|Tuesday, 20 August 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-05-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 7 May 2014 Issue No: 4650
 Any decisions for Greek debt relief to be taken after October, FinMin Stournaras saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras expressed his content over the Eurogroup's statement on Greece, adding that any decisions regarding the sustainability of the country's debt would be adopted after October.
Speaking to Greek jour-nalists after the end of the Eurogroup, the Fi-nance minister explai-ned that any decisions adopted to reduce the Greek debt will be signi-ficantly bound up with the results of stress tests carried out by the ECB in October, both of the Greek systemic banks and of the corresponding banks of other eurozone member states.
Referring to the financial stability fund's 11 billion euros currently available, Stournaras said he was pleased that Greece's ability to use those funds in a more flexible way was formally recognized. More specifically, if Greece does not use the funds for the recapitalisation of its banks, it can use them to reduce the Greek debt or boost liquidity and the economy in general.
Stournaras also stated that the next assessment of the Greek programme would start this summer and would be completed after the publication of the results of the banks' stress tests to be carried out by the ECB.
As for the development programme of the Greek economy presented in the Eurogroup, Stournaras underlined that the 10-year programme was based both on fiscal consolidation and the enhancement of Greek economy's competitiveness.
The Finance minister noted that Greece aimed to exploit the well skilled workforce of the country, while pointing out that the major obstacle in relation to its implementation was the lack of liquidity. The minister also said the contribution of the eurozone's banks to efforts to boost Greek economy's liquidity would be desirable.
Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem, in statements to the press, also expressed his content over the Greek economy's progress.
The Dutch minister said it was important to continue following Greece's programme in the future and noted that in the next meeting and after the new assessment of the Greek programme by the troika, the issue of the Greek debt relief would be discussed.
He noted, however, that the final decisions would be taken after the completion of the European banks' stress tests in autumn.
 Ten EU states reach political agreement on FTTimplementationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Ten member states of the EU - including Greece - participating in the enhanced cooperation in the area of Financial Tax Transaction (FTT) reached a political agreement on Tuesday's Ecofin meeting for the gradual application of the first FTT by January 1, 2016.
Speaking at a press conference after the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) meeting, presiding Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras welcomed the agreement, noting that the work of the Ecofin Council will continue on a technical level, adding that the current Greek EU Presidency is ready to work on an expert level if necessary.
According to a common statement by the ten collaborating member states, the first stage of FTT implementation will involve the taxing of shares and some classes of derivative financial products by January 1, 2016 at the latest. The statement also takes into consideration the dissenting points of view of member states not included in the FTT collaborating states, such as the United Kingdom.
The ten member states which agreed on the gradual implementation of the FTT on Tuesday are Greece, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.
In Tuesday's Ecofin meeting, the Greek Presidency welcomed the final adoption of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD). "Together with two other key texts recently approved by the European Parliament (the Single Resolution Mechanism and the recast Directive on Deposit Guarantee Schemes), the BRRD completes the legislative work underpinning the Banking Union and constitutes a very important achievement in restoring confidence in the EU's banks after the recent financial crisis". "Establishing these common rules for a clear and comprehensive bank recovery and resolution regime, the BRRD is crucial for ensuring long term financial and economic stability, and for reducing the potential costs of possible future financial crises for public funding and for taxpayers", said Stournaras.
 Venizelos meets PM, says election result must protect 'government stability'Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos held talks in a meeting on Tuesday, discussing the emerging economic recovery in the country, in light also of Monday's Eurogroup meeting, but also the political framework in Greece.
"What matters now is the overall picture. It must not be possible, on the night of the second round of the local government elections and the European elections, for someone to claim that the country has entered into a state of crisis and doubt," Venizelos said.
He stressed that government stability and completing the national strategy is ensured through the role of the "progressive wing" because, as he said, without this governmental balances cannot be maintained.
Asked whether this might be interpreted as an advance warning of PASOK's departure from the government if the PASOK-backed 'Elia' formation does not achieve the desired percentages, Venizelos replied that the "government belongs to the cooperation. Without us there is no government".
This meant that government stability as a whole was at stake, he added.
Venizelos noted this was not some kind of political "blackmail" but self-evident and a statement of fact "in a democratically sensitive and honest way".
 Greek and United Arab Emirates foreign ministers sign cooperation agreementsGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday hailed bilateral cooperation agreements signed between Greece and the United Arab Emirates, during the 2nd Greece-UAE Joint Interministerial Committee held in Athens earlier the same day, saying that the agreements and the UAE's support represented a "vote of confidence" in Greece and the Greek economy, .
"You are welcomed by a Greece exiting the crisis. A Greece exiting the memorandum. A Greece returning to normality as an equal member-state of the EU and the eurozone. A Greece that has overcome its fiscal problems and showcases a primary surplus and sustainable financial data. A Greece returning to positive growth," Venizelos said, addressing the UAE's Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh\Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Venizelos praised the excellent bilateral cooperation between Greece and the United Arab Emirates and stressed that both private meetings and larger meetings "showed that our positions and our strategy coincide in all major open international issues."
"We want the area covered by the Arab world to be a region of peace, development and cooperation with Europe and we are aware of the role of Greece as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between the EU and the Arab world," Venizelos said, adding: "We aspire that by the end of the Greek presidency's term, the process of visa liberalisation for citizens of the UAE will have been completed."
At the same time, he noted that the signing of the bilateral cooperation agreement on the mutual protection of investments will create a comprehensive legal framework to "facilitate any investment initiative and any form of cooperation between enterprises and between our governments."
The agreement on the protection of investments and the prior agreement on avoidance of double taxation are two legal pillars of cooperation, further encouraging cooperation between enterprises, Venizelos underlined.
Regarding the participation of the UAE in the Elliniko and Astir resort in Vouliagmenis, Venizelos said "these are two specific moves, tangible, which kick-off this cooperation."
"The investment at Elliniko, which today takes a significant step forward, will create 50,000 jobs. It is now the largest residential intervention in the EU. But we have a lot ahead of us", Venizelos said.
"We have to develop our cooperation in air transport, in culture, as we share a common culture background which we need to develop; there is significant potential for cooperation in trade, as well as in defense and security," he added.
He also referred to energy, particularly renewable energy resources, noting their great potential, while the business agreements signed on Tuesday constitute an important step to that direction.
Venizelos made a reference to the support of Dubai's candidacy for EXPO 2020 and stressed that Greece was "willing to assist in any way possible."
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan underlined the Emirates' intense investment interest in Greece and made special reference to Elliniko and the Astir resort in Vouliagmeni. He described Elliniko as one of the best sites in the Mediterranean, where the investment, as he noted, is expected to reach 7.0 billion euros.
He said that with the 2nd Greece-UAE Joint Interministerial Committee in Athens "we wanted to send a strong message of support to Greece, first on the occasion of Greece's EU presidency and secondly on the occasion of the country's exit to the markets."
"Greece successfully dealt with challenges and difficulties and we believe the political will to attract investments and tourism from around the world is in place," the minister noted.
He referred to the cooperation potential between the two countries on a trade and cultural level and underlined that Greece is the closest European country for Arabs from a geographical and cultural point of view. He also spoke of cooperation in energy and cultural issues, as well as the widening of bilateral development relations at international organisations.
The 2nd Greece-United Arab Emirates Joint Interministerial Committee was concluded with the signing of a number of bilateral agreements on promoting and safeguarding investments, as well as cooperation in the fields of culture and sports cooperation between Venizelos and Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
On a business level, two agreements were signed: a memorandum of understanding in energy between Terna Energy and Abu Dhabi's state energy company TAQA and a second one on the development and management of Elliniko between Lamda Development-Latsis Group and Al Maabar.
 President Papoulias receives visiting Arab officials currently in AthensPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received Arab officials currently in Athens to attend the 2nd Greece-United Arab Emirates Joint Interministerial Committee held on Tuesday, starting off with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby.
Greeting Elaraby, Papoulias noted the close and enduring ties between Greece and the Arab world. "I am glad because you come at an interesting time for the region and I would like to hear your views," he said.
Elaraby replied by pointing to Greece's ties with all countries around the Mediterranean and that these, in turn, "are all interested in maintaining relations of cooperation with Greece."
"Throughout the Arab world it is known that of all the countries friendly to us in Europe, Greece is the foremost," he added.
There followed a meeting between Papoulias and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who emphasised the importance of the bilateral agreements signed with Greece on Tuesday, including one on the avoidance of double taxation that will facilitate major investment opportunities in Greece.
"We are very happy that UAE were given an oppotunity to invest in the old site at Elliniko. It is a major project that will cost about six billion euros and when ready will give an opportunity for employment to 50,000 people. It will definitely give another image to the city and to the entire region," he said.
 EU Agriculture Ministers informal meeting in AthensThe agricultural diversity and how it will become a competitive advantage will be the only issue to be discussed at the informal meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in the presence of EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos that is held on Tuesday in Athens.
The main target of the Greek presidency's initiative "aGRidiverstity" is to bring the European farmers and the citizens closer by promoting the wealth and the European farming's diversity and in parallel to raise people's awareness over their common history and their common values.
Despite the safeguarding and promotion of the agricultural diversity, "aGRidiversity" aims to promote and boost the farming's contribution to the long-term development of the economy, the society and of the environment. The Greek presidency wishes to emphasise on the long-term farming development strategies that are based on the farming diversity with a strong European dimension.
The aim is, as Greek Agriculture and Food Minister Athanassios Tsaftaris has noted, how the diversity of the productive systems that is also reflected in the European products will be turned into its strategic advantage.
Approximately 40 representatives of the European media have come to Greece to cover the meeting.
Today, the farming sector and the farming-food industries offer 46 million job positions, 6 percent of the European GDP and approximately 24 percent of its exports.
A press conference has been scheduled for 13:00 after the end of the meeting.
 PM Samaras: Elections pivotal for Greece's futurePrime Minister Antonis Samaras told private Antenna television on an interview on Tuesday said that the elections will test whether Greece will turn a new page and exit from the nightmare of the crisis or return to the past.
Samaras appeared optimistic over the outcome of the May elections, stressing that he wants this outcome to give him the right for the country to exit from the crisis.
"I believe that this will also be the result. Be sure of this. We cannot go to uncertainties, we cannot go to new measures", he said, accusing main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras of pursuing instability.
The prime minister added that "matters must be very gloomy for SYRIZA, for it to be telling the Greek people at the moment that money exists" and pointed out that SYRIZA is exploiting the problem of the Greeks, their grief and pain.
Samaras rejected predictions that there shall be a new memorandum, ruling out new measures, pension or wage cuts or tax increases. On the question of the debt, the prime minister termed the discussion that began on Monday on the debt as the last pending issue that will be completed at the end of the summer.
He stressed that until 2018, 26.5 billion will be invested in Greece from National Strategic Reference Framework funds to be released.
Samaras expressed the view that that there should be further tax reductions, both for incomes and for profits of enterprises, and spoke of a unified tax in the region of 15 percent.
He also appeared optimistic over a decrease in unemployment, predicting that it drop 24.5 percent in 2014 and 15 percent in 2018.
Lastly, referring to the Golden Dawn party, Samaras said that Justice has the case in its hands, but clarified that he does not believe that it must be outlawed. "I do not believe that Greece, the cradle of democracy, can have strong parties of this sort," Samaras said, "but on the other hand, I cannot forbid anyone from doing anything. Such is democracy. Let me repeat, however, that the specific issue is with justice, and absolutely nobody in the government is engaged with it."
 Deputy Health Minister unveils plan to keep Greece 'polio-free'The presence of a wild poliovirus in three left endemic countries as well as the epidemic in other countries as the outbreak of acute mild paralysis in Syria are now threatening to spread in EU countries, following the recent announcement of the World Medical Organisation.
Deputy Health Minister Zetta Makri announced on Tuesday a plan to keep Greece "polio-free" despite the fact that Greece was certified as "polio-free" country in 2002.
 EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Conference in ThessalonikiWithin the framework of the Greek presidency of the Council of the European Union, a conference of the Foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states and the countries of the Western Balkans will be held in Thessaloniki on Thursday, 8 May 2014. The conference will be chaired by Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall.
Eleven years after the 2003 Thessaloniki/Chalkidiki summit meeting - which was the culmination of the previous Greek presidency, and at which the Thessaloniki Agenda for the countries of the Western Balkans was set down - the Ministerial Conference comes to link these two Greek presidencies.
In the first session of the conference on "2004-2014: Ten Years of Enlargement and the European Integration of the Western Balkans," participants will: a) Reaffirm the EU's commitment to the region's European future, as well as the Western Balkan countries' resolve to pursue the path of EU-related reforms. b) Discuss achievements and challenges of the enlargement policy, with a view to further promoting the European agenda in the Western Balkans.
During the working luncheon, participants will: a) Exchange views on how to strengthen the European integration of the Western Balkans in real terms, through connectivity in the energy and transport sectors within the region and with the EU, while promoting growth, competitiveness and employment, in parallel with the accession process of each country. b) Discuss connectivity in broader geostrategic terms.
In the second session, on the topic of "Beyond the Thessaloniki Agenda: Transport and Energy Connectivity," participants will: a) Discuss the achievements of and opportunities offered by regional fora that can contribute to an EU approach to connectivity in the energy and transport sectors. b) Assess the needs of investment in infrastructure in the transport and energy sectors and exchange views on ways and means of enhancing cooperation and financial assistance in order to maximize the impact of the combined available funds, including through the establishment of a strategic framework for enhanced cooperation and financial assistance. c) Discuss the role of economic governance in promoting connectivity.
Upon the completion of the Conference (15:30), Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Venizelos will hold a press conference.
On the eve of the Ministerial Conference, Wednesday, 7 May, at the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, Venizelos will have a bilateral meeting, at 16:30, with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin. have a bilateral meeting, at 17:30, with Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean.
A trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria will take place at 18:30.
On the margins of the Conference, on Thursday, 8 May, Venizelos will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the countries of the Western Balkans.
 The Medium Term Programme gets approved by the Economic Affairs CommitteeGreece entered in 2013 a long period of high and sustainable primary budget surpluses, according to Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras addressing the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday in defense of the Medium Term Programme.
Staikouras regards the programme's assumptions about future growth rates as realistic, while conceding that its targets might truly be difficult, but not unattainable.
In response to opposition criticism of the programme that its projected large primary budget surpluses are impossible to pair with its growth assumptions, Staikouras invoked the example of Greece back in 1995-2007, when the average growth rate was 3.7 pct., as opposed to the average growth rate of 2.8 pct predicted in the programme.
The alternate minister also appeared optimistic on the sensitive issue of combating the current high unemployment rate, which to his view can be reduced by 10 percentage points over the next five years.
The Medium Term Programme was finally approved on Tuesday by the Economic Affairs Committee with the votes of the two government coalition parties, New Democracy (Nea Dimokratia) and PASOK. Next, it will be brought to the Plenum on Thursday, in order to be scrutinized by the full assembly.
 1999-2010, a 'golden era' for tax evading by transferring money abroad, FinMin official tells ParliamentThe period when the greatest part of financial crime activity took place in Greece was the 1999 to 2010 era, when most of illegal funds were transferred abroad, Ioannis Katsipis, a tax specialist at the Finance Ministry's Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE), stressed.
Both Katsipis and other colleagues of his stressed the need for legislative intervention to prevent a write-off, during a session of Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee convened to approve the reconstruction of the authority on fighting money laundering with the appointment of 12 new regular members.
Parliament has already ratified a provision according to which the write-off for cases for which check orders have been issued up to December 31, 2013 is extended to two years, but the authority's new members stress that many cases up to 2007 are close to a write-off, and these ares and SDOE and the authority must place the greatest weight of checks there.
"If the transactions of accounts enter the system until December 31, 2014 we shall be pleased", Katsipis said.
Hariklia Mavridou, tax management general director, said that since July 2013- when the Great Wealth Control Centre was created - a risk analysis was carried out on the 24,710 cases that had transferred approximately 9 billion euros abroad over the 2009-2011 period. "We targeted initially 436 cases; in all, we have targeted 1,200 cases up to now," Mavridou said and notified that checks from such cases have produced revenues that exceed 200 million euros.
Mavridou underlined the existence of problems in legislation and the lack of staff, as out of 17,000 tax employees only about 8,000 remain.
 Greece has emergency evacuation plan on standby for Ukrainians of Greek descentGreece places the safety of Ukraine citizens of Greek descent in high priority, Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos remarked during the extraordinary session of the Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad in the parliament on Tuesday.
"This is what I emphasize and always request from our diplomatic missions in Ukraine in my daily contact with them," he added.
Gerontopoulos was invited to bring up to date the committee on the situation in Ukraine and asked to describe the ministry's intentions in case the living conditions for Ukraine citizens of Greek descent were to deteriorate severely.
The deputy minister explained that he communicates daily with the Greek ambassador in Kiev, the Odessa and Mariupol Greek consuls and the president of the Federation of Greek Communities in Ukraine, Alexandra Protsenko, to form the most accurate view possible of the latest developments.
Gerontopoulos did not confirm reports about a reported rush by Ukrainian citizens of Greek descent to migrate to Greece. He did, however, confirm there is an emergency evacuation plan for them, in case things get worse.
He conceded that the procedure of issuing special identity documents for Ukraine citizens of Greek descent was time-consuming and the relevant authorities in Greece were to blame, not the Greek diplomatic mission in Ukraine, and said there is an upcoming initiative by the Interior ministry which will attempt to improve the process.
 Administrative Reform minister urges support for innovationThe Greek economy's adjustment effort has had results during the past few years, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed on Tuesday, addressing a ministry event to present the National Action Plan for Open Governance 2014-2016.
Announcing the start of a period of public consultation on the Action Plan, he said the aim was to officially submit the final version to the international Open Government Partnership platform in June, after incorporating proposals made during the dialogue. The plan is based on three main directions: encouraging public participation, open public data and, finally, integrity and accountability.
The minister referred to efforts to implement an open governance strategy and stressed the need "to support innovation, as well as small and medium-sized companies in our country, because this is the only way to create new jobs."
Among such efforts, he added, was the "Open Public Data Hackathon" tender, where "participants had the opportunity to use of open public data to develop applications and services of added value, which contribute to generating and transferring knowledge."
Mitsotakis expressed satisfaction over the entries participating in the tender and said that the "proposals of those who participated are proof that we must proceed quickly to modernizing the state's operation and to enhance participatory governance."
During the event there was a ceremony to present prizes for the best three entries in the Open Public Data Hackathon, who were considered to have developed the best digital app.
 Environment ministry approves wind park construction in PeloponneseEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis signed the decision that approved the environmental terms for a 38 MW wind park in Peloponnese.
The park will be built on the borders of Achaia and Ilia prefectures, close to the Ancient Olympia, while its construction, according to the ministry, is expected to generate about 46 million euros to the real economy.
During the last few months, authorities have approved the environmental terms for 23 large wind parks, with total capacity of 887.7 MW.
 Protest against mobility scheme at the Admin.Reform MinistrySchool guards, teachers,Finance ministry's cleaning staff as well as employees at the Culture Ministry and universities have called for Tuesday a nationwide protest outside the Administrative Reform Ministry against the mobility scheme.
Municipality workers union POE-OTA has also called a 3-hour work stoppage between 12.00-15.00 to facilitate the participation to the protest. The Federation of Secondary Education School Teachers (OLME)has also called 2-hour work stoppages between 12.00-14.00 and 14.00-16.00.
 PM Samaras on Saturday will give a speech in TripolisPrime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is to visit the city of Tripolis in the central Peloponnese on Saturday .
Samaras will give a speech on the upcoming Europarliament elections at the city's cultural centre at 19.30.
 SYRIZA leader visits EYDAP facility in Athens, criticises privatisation plansMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday paid a visit to an Athens water and sewage company (EYDAP) facility in the Athens district of Galatsi, accompanied by SYRIZA's candidate for Athens mayor Gavriil Sakellaridis.
"You cannot sell something that does not belong to you. Water is a public good, not a commodity," Tsipras said while addressing EYDAP staff, criticising plans to privatise the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies as a "disastrous model for citizens" that had proved absolutely unsuccessful wherever it was attempted during the 80s and 90s, forcing the governments involved to restore public control.
"Only in third-world countries do private companies still exploit water, with the result that many people do not have access to it, since the private owner is only interested in profits," he added.
He pointed to experiences in Bolivia, where he said the government was toppled because privatisation of water had led to a sharp increase in prices, inadequate maintenance that placed public health at risk, and the exclusion of a large section of the population from something that had until then been self-evident - drinking water in every home.
Tsipras also accused the current Athens mayor George Kaminis and Attica Region chief Yiannis Sgouros of avoiding to adopt a position on this issue because they were "the chosen of PASOK, a party that is disintegrating".
 Gov't spokesman criticizes SYRIZA leader interviewsGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Tuesday commented on interviews by main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras with Huffington Post Italia and the Guardian, saying that Greeks will respond to Tsipras by moving forward.
"While Greece is exiting the memorandum, Tsipras says that he will rip it off," Kedikoglou said, and stressed that main opposition leader "makes false promises to take us back to chaos."
 Governments fall because of the dilemma raised by PASOK leader, party spokesman saysGovernments do not fall because of street markets (protests), but they fall because of the dilemma raised by Evangelos Venizelos regarding percentages of Elia political grouping, PASOK spokesman Odysseas Konstantopoulos told SKAI TV on Tuesday.
"Citizens will evaluate us and then we will evaluate," Konstantopoulos said referring to the elections.
"Since PASOK leader raised this dilemma, there is no return," he said, adding that people could not possibly want them in government to ensure political stability, but not vote for them.
 Greece should seek a significant debt relief, DIMAR leader saysA credible policy for dealing with the crisis cannot exist without substantial restructuring of debt and strong growth, Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis said commenting on Eurogroup's statement regarding the Greek debt.
"Its current form makes the restructuring of payments - reduction of interest rates, extension of repayment period, excluding the banks' recapitalization cost from the debt - possible and, in parallel, a European mutualisation of debt," Kouvelis said and urged the government to make timely and publicly proposals for the relief, stating that: "Debt is not dealt with optimistic and unrealistic scenarios of primary surpluses, high revenues from privatisations and unrealistic growth."
"The memorandum obsessions of deep recession failed to address the debt problem and this will continue as long as the Greek economy remains trapped in these policies," he said adding that the country has to seek, within the EU context, a serious relief debt.
 DIMAR's main political goal for the Euroelections is to send a message of change to Europe, its leader saysThe Democratic Left's (DIMAR) main political objective for the upcoming Euroelections is to secure a strong political mandate and enhance the proposal for a gradual exit from the crisis with responsibility, stability and social cohesion as well as to send out a message of change of Europe's political scenery, the party's leader Fotis Kouvelis said.
Kouvelis stressed the importance of a policy change in Greece through the reduction of the unemployment and the protection of the unemployed, increase of minimum wages, restoring and reinstating labour rights by securing pensions and preventing any further cuts, reorganizing the public sector and disassociating mobility from layoffs, offering liquidity to the real economy and establishing a fair and stable tax system.
"The basic goal is the claim of a new agreement with the partners that will effectively reduce the debt and pave the way for growth, with environment sensibility, focus on job creation and social cohesion," he said.
 UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz expected to visit Athens, Skopje in early JulyNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The UN Secretary General's special envoy in talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Matthew Nimetz, is expected to visit Athens and Skopje in early July, according to statements he made after his meeting at UN headquarters on Tuesday with the two countries' representatives, ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Zoran Yolevski, respectively.
Nimetz said that a "reconsideration" of the positions of each side took place and that he presented no "new ideas".
Ambassador Vassilakis told the ANA-MPA that there was no differentiation in FYROM's positions, stressing characteristically that "Greece desires a solution to be found, but the other side has done absolutely nothing to date. It is in the (same) position that it was in 1995".
Apart from Tuesday's joint meeting, Nimetz also met separately with each representative on Monday.
 Macedonia-Thrace minister and Romanian ambassador discuss bilateral issuesRomanian ambassador to Greece Lucian Fatu visited the Macedonia-Thrace ministry at noon on Tuesday and held a meeting with Minister Theodoros Karaoglou, accompanied by Romania's general consul in Thessaloniki Martin Ladislau Salamon.
The Macedonia-Thrace minister and the Romanian ambassador discussed bilateral issues, confirming the "very good and friendly relations" of the two countries.
"We came to Thessaloniki to attend certain major political events being held by the Greek presidency of the EU and bilateral meetings, as well as the meeting (Wednesday) of the Foreign ministers of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria", Fatu said.
"We also had the possibility of discussing as well the recent visit we made to Romexpo, at the international tourism exhibition in Romania, and we must not forget that last year more than 350,000 Romanian tourists visited our country and Macedonia and Thrace in particular and this year we are expecting an equally large, and maybe bigger number", the minister said on his part.
 Advisory committee gives opinion on new Development ministry draft billThe Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE) on Tuesday in an opinion opposed a Development and Competitiveness ministry draft bill on simplifying licencing procedures for new enterprises, asking the government not to grant supervisory jurisdiction to private entities.
OKE considers that supervisory jurisdiction should be granted to relevant autjorities and their appropriately trained employees, as supervision by private institutions can be extremelly risky. OKE suggests that since licencing procedures are assigned to private institutions, supervision should be conducted by public entities.
The opinion stresses that the ministry's bill contains vague terms such as "public interest" or "rare resource" without further explanation, without specifying the exact licencing and operating criteria and conditions, and without making clear which entities the proposed licencing simplification procedures will be assigned to.
OKE considers the involvement of private institutions to the licencing procedures as positive, as it will accelerate the process.
The role of OKE as an institution is to be in direct cooperation with the European Union on a social and scientific level to make the social dialogue in Greek society more meaningful and more effective.
 Dev't minister withdraws non-urgent amendments from licensing simplification billDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis has withdrawn five ministerial amendments that were included in the Development ministry's bill on simplifying the licensing of enterprises, due to the non-urgent character of the provisions.
Revoked amendments include provisions on finance inspectors, alcoholic beverages (Finance ministry); the appointment of a magistrate supervising surveillance data (Public Order ministry); funding of sports clubs and the National Opera (Culture ministry); citizen access to Manpower Organisation (OAED) services, and updating the existing law on employer obligations during hiring, including updating the real-time labour database Ergani (Labour minstry)
 MPs jailed on remand allowed to address Parliament and vote on WednesdayThe Parliamentary deputies currently being held on remand will be given the opportunity to address Parliament and take part in the roll-call vote on Wednesday that will decide whether they will be stripped of their immunity from prosecution.
According to an announcement on Tuesday, the debate will be carried out in accordance with article 108, paragraph 1, which gives an MP the right to address the plenum when objecting to the public prosecutor's demand to remove his or her immunity from prosecution.
Parliament will vote on whether to lift immunity from prosecution from the far-right Golden Dawn MPs Giorgos Germenis and Nikos Mihos, remanded in custody on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives with the intent of supplying a criminal organisation, former GD and now independent MP Stathis Boukouras on the same charges, a drugs-related charge against Mihos, and a charge of joining and running a criminal organisation against now independent MP Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos.
 Golden Dawn party 'founded as a criminal organisation', investigators say in case fileThe extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party, whose leader and certain of its deputies are currently detained pending trial, was founded in 1987 as a criminal organisation with "political and operational branches," according to investigating magistrates drawing up a case file against four newly-charged deputies who were given an extension on Monday to testify in the first half of June.
Appeals investigating magistrates Ioanna Klapa and Maria Dimitropoulou, said the organisation "Golden Dawn" was a criminal organisation that gradually accepted all four as of 1987 on. They said that the small and tight-knit group of neo-Nazi indoctrination of 1987 "morphed into a political group under the same name, 'Popular Union-Golden Dawn'," following the same ideological direction as Adolf Hitler's party.
In their charges, the two investigators noted that their "political" section focused on "destroying the enemies of the nation", which for the party included migrants, Roma and anyone not belonging to the (Aryan) Caucasian race - in direct violation of the Greek Constitution and international treaties on full protection of residents of the Greek state without discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, language, religion or political beliefs. The "operational" section, they said, ran along military lines and hierarchy, and used attack units with members who were physically trained to intimidate.
The magistrates said the party deputies were members of and directors in the crime organisation whose illegal acts - including homicide, attempted homicide, and arson attacks - they knew and lauded. Among other acts the party members perpetrated the magistrates included the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas, the murder of Pakistani worker Shahzat Lukman, the homicide attempts against leftist PAME union members, and attacks against organised social spaces in districts of Athens, among other things.
 NERIT appoints new presidentAthens University Administrative Science Professor Antonis Makrydimitris on Tuesday was appointed as the New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television (NERIT) president.
"During this new phase of the company, the board of directors will operate collectivelly and in close co-operation with the Supervisory Council which will ensure the company's independent operation," NERIT's announcement stressed, noting that "during the last seven months after NERIT's administration appointment and under the presidency of Giorgos Prokopakis, many important steps had been made for the creation and operation of the new public broadcasting institution."
 Bulgarian premier visits Mount AthosBulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski on Tuesday is paying a private visit to Mount Athos. He is accompanied by Bulgaria's Culture Minister Peter Stoyanovich, who was already in Mount Athos monastic community for religious reasons.
 Georgian ambassador visits ArgosThe Georgian Ambassador in Athens David Bakradze paid a visit to the town of Argos in the Peloponnese at the weekend, accepting an invitation from the Argos-Mycenae mayor to attend celebrations for the feast day of St. Peter the Wonderworker, a former bishop of Argos and patron saint of Argos celebrated on May 3.
The Georgian ambassador visited the relics of the saint at the cathedral and toured the archaeological sites in Argos and Mycenae, while also attending events organised by the local Georgian and Black Sea communities, also attended by many Georgian visitors living permanently in Kalamata and Athens.
 Greek economy to grow by 1.9 pct in 2015, OECDThe Greek economy has begun recovering with the contribution of increased tourism and improving confidence, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Tuesday.
In its economic outlook report, the Paris-based organization said that output growth will turn positive in the course of 2014, gaining additional strength in the following year as expanding global markets and improved competitiveness boost exports and investment. The unemployment rate will edge down slowly, OECD said adding that substantial excess capacity and adjustment pressures will keep prices and wages falling, although the pace of decline will moderate. The current account is set to remain in surplus.
The OECD said it expected the Greek economy to contract by 0.3 pct this year and to grow by 1.9 pct in 2015, after shrinking by 3.9 pct in 2013. The unemployment rate will fall to 27.1 pct in 2014, from 27.3 pct in 2013, falling further to 26.7 pct in 2015, while the inflation rate will fall by 1.1 pct this year and by 1.0 pct in 2015. The country's current account surplus is projected to reach 0.2 pct of GDP this year and 0.8 pct of GDP in 2016. The general government's deficit will fall to 2.5 pct of GDP this year and 1.4 pct of GDP next year.
The public debt will rise to 177.7 pct of GDP this year falling slightly to 177.2 pct of GDP next year. The Organisation noted that further fiscal consolidation is needed to reduce the high level of debt, but automatic stabilisers should be allowed to work around the consolidation path. Additional debt relief, for instance, an extension of maturities and lower interest rates on existing loans, might be necessary to achieve fiscal sustainability. The economic recovery also hinges on better access to credit, underscoring the importance of implementing plans to restructure bank balance sheets. Further reducing impediments to competition would promote investment and growth.
The global economy is expected to grow in the next two years, although urgent actions were necessary to further reduce unemployment and to deal with the problems left behind by the crisis. The global economy is projected to grow by 3.4 pct this year and by 3.9 pct in 2015.
 Twelve large energy infrastructure PCI project to be 'fast tracked'The Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis requested from the Interministerial Committee of Strategic Investments (DESE) on Monday the inclusion of 12 large energy projects in the "fast track" swift procedures for strategic investments.
The cumulative budget of these strategic projects - all of which have been adopted as key energy infrastructure projects of common interest (PCI) by the European Commission - is 11.4 billion euros, of which half is associated with the Israel -Cyprus-Greece gas pipeline.
Three out of the twelve energy projects which the minister petitions to transform into "fast track" projects are electricity projects, while the remaining nine projects are all natural gas projects.
The electricity projects include the Greek component of the Euro-Asia Interconnector electricity link of 1,518 kilometers, interconnecting Israel-Cyprus-Greece (about 1 billion euros). It also includes the second Greece-Bulgaria electricity interconnection - between Maritsa East 1 (Bulgaria) and Nea Santa (Greece) - of which the Greek component amounts to a project worth about 10 million euros. The third of the electricity projects petitioned to become "fast tracked" is the 590 MW hydro-pumped storage project at Amfilochia, western Greece, worth about half a billion euros.
The nine natural gas key energy projects petitioned to become "fast tracked" are the following: 1) IGB pipeline interconnecting Greece-Bulgaria (250 million euros), 2) Permanent backflow station in the Greek-Bulgarian borders, 3) INGS LNG Greece project of a floating storage and re-gasification LNG station at Alexandroupoli, north eastern Greece (340 million euros), 4) Aegean LNG import terminal project of a floating storage and re-gasification LNG station (275 million euros), 5) Storage facility at a depleted natural gas deposit, Nea Kavala, northern Greece (400 million euros), 6) TAP pipeline interconnecting Greece-Albania-Italy (Greek component worth 1.5 billion euros), 7) ITGI pipeline interconnecting Turkey-Greece-Italy (investment over land worth 1.1 billion), 8) Eastern Mediterranean pipeline interconnecting an offshore Cypriot deposit to Greek inland and Europe via the island of Crete (6 billion euros) and 9) Natural gas compression station at Kipi Evrou, northeastern Greece (70 million euros).
In a statement, Maniatis mentioned that the rationale behind his "fast track" petition for these large energy projects includes the energy safety of Greece, the integration of the regional energy market through interconnecting neighbouring countries and the geopolitical upgrading of Greece's role as an important "regional player" in the energy safety of the EU itself.
 Interest rate spread up in MarchDeposits interest rates have fallen by almost 50 pct in the last 12 months, while the interest rate spread (the gap between deposit and loan interest rates) widened to 3.70 pct, from 3.07 pct, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in a report said that the overall weighted average interest rates on new deposits and loans exhibited small variations and as a result the interest rate spread between loan and deposit rates increased by 4 basis points to stand at 3.70 percentage points in March. The overall weighted average interest rate on all new deposits stood at 1.76 pct in March 2014, compared with 1.74 pct in the previous month. In particular, the average interest rate on overnight deposits from households remained unchanged at 0.33 pct, while the corresponding rate from non-financial corporations slightly increased by 3 basis points to stand at 0.38 pct. The average interest rate on deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to one year remained basically unchanged at 2.81 pct.
The overall weighted average interest rate on all new loans to households and corporations increased by 6 basis points to stand at 5.46 pct in March 2014. In particular, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity (a category which includes credit card debt, open account loans and debit balances on current accounts) decreased by 6 basis points to stand at 14.65 pct. The average interest rate on consumer loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year remained almost unchanged at 7.81 pct.
In March 2014, the average interest rates on loans without a defined maturity to corporations and to sole proprietors remained almost unchanged at 7.23 pct and 9.15 pct, respectively. The average interest rate on corporate loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year decreased by 39 basis points to stand at 6.39% for loans up to 250,000 euros, marginally increased by 3 basis points to stand at 5.85 pct for loans above 250,000 euros and up to 1 million, and decreased by 31 basis points to stand at 5.57 pct for loans above 1 million euros. Finally, the average interest rate on housing loans at a floating rate or with an initial fixation period of up to one year increased by 22 basis points and stood at 2.95 pct.
In March 2014, the overall weighted average interest rates on outstanding amounts of all deposits and loans remained almost unchanged. The spread between loan and deposit rates remained basically unchanged at 3.68 percentage points. the overall weighted average interest rates on the outstanding amount of all deposits (including overnight deposits) and loans remained basically unchanged at 1.90 pct and 5.58 pct respectively.
 Greece sells T-bill issue at a lower costGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issues raising 1.3 billion euros from the market at a lower cost.
The Public Debt Management Organization, in an announcement, said that the interest rate of the auction was set at 2.70 pct, down from 3.01 pct of the previous auction of same T-bills in April 8, 2014. Bids submitted totaled 2.653 billion euros, 2.65 times more than the asked sum and the organization accepted non-competitive bids worth 300 million euros.
The Organization will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by Thursday, 8 May, while settlement date is Friday, 9 May.
 Dev't minister meets with visiting official on Greek investments in SudanDevelopment and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday received Sudanese Investment Minister Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail and talked with him on the possibility of Greek investments in Sudan in the sectors of infrastructure, mining, food security and other parameters that will enhance bilateral financial relations.
The two ministers also discussed the establishment of a bilateral entrepreneurial council, the organisation of entrepreneurial missions between the two countries and the adoption of measures that will facilitate investments, while the the Sudanese delegation stressed the existing business activity of many Greek enterprises in Sudan which can be enhanced through infrastructure, mining and food security.
 Hellenic Aerospace Industry signs contract with Polish WZL-2Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) on Tuesday announced the signature of a contract with the Polish company WZL-2, through which it will offer consulting services and knowhow in the maintenance of C-130 military transport planes. The 18-month programme will be implemented in two phases, with HAI offering its services at its own facilities in Tanagra, near Athens, and in Poland.
HAI CEO Dimitrios Papakostas said that the goal was for the programme to act as a springboard for establishing HAI's presence in the Polish market.
 Terna Energy signs MoU with TAQATerna Energy, a member of GEK Terna Group, on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with TAQA, the state energy company of Abu Dhabi.
The MoU was signed in the framework of a high-level bilateral cooperation commission meeting between Greece and the United Arab Emirates and envisages the cooperation of the two companies in the field of renewable energy sources mainly in Greece, but abroad as well.
Under the agreement, TAQA could acquire an equity participation in Terna Energy's capital, or participation in Terna Energy's existing assets.
Terna Energy is a leader in the renewable energy sources sector in Greece, with installed energy units with a power of 544MW, of which 302MW in Greece, 138MW in the US, 74MW in Poland and 30MW in Bulgaria.
The company is currently working on projects to building new energy units with a total power of 294MW in Greece and abroad.
TAQA in an international company with established presence in 11 countries in four continents, controlled by the government of Abu Dhabi, with activities in energy and water sources.
 PNO urges political parties to vote against shipping ministry amendmentThe Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) on Tuesday issued a statement condemning an shipping ministry amendment attached to a draft bill on open-air street markets and urged the leaders of the political parties and MPs to vote against the measure.
The seamen's union accused Shipping and Aegean Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis of bowing to the dictates of the EU-IMF troika and attempting to abolish the established right of seamen to negotiate and sign collective labour agreements for naval work, seeking to divide and undermine the sea-workers' trade union movement.
It urged the shipping ministry to immediately withdraw the measures and warned that they will meet with a "dynamic response" from Greek seamen.
 Protest against mobility scheme at the Admin.Reform Ministry (ADDS)A protest held outside the administrative reform ministry by laid-off workers in the broader public sector - including school guards, teachers, former finance ministry cleaners and former staff at the culture ministry and universities - ended by Tuesday afternoon. Protestors expressed their opposition to the public-sector mobility scheme that has led to public-sector job cuts.
The municipality workers union POE-OTA had called a three-hour work stoppage between 12.00-15.00 to facilitate participation to the protest, while the Federation of Secondary Education School Teachers (OLME) had called two successive two-hour work stoppages from 12.00-14.00 and 14.00-16.00.
 Northern Greece Business Index up in AprilThe Northern Greece Business Index 500 (NGBI 500) returned to positive territory in April for the first time in 54 months, while enterprises in the region recorded the lowest rate of dismissal intentions (8.0 pct), a survey by "Interview" said on Tuesday.
The NGBI 500 index rose to 1.0 point in April, from -3 in March, -1 in February, -6 in January and -14 in April 2013. "Interview" said it was only the second positive reading of the index since it began compiling the index in October 2009.
The index was positively affected by increased business in the retail market during the Easter holidays. Reporting on their situation, 22 pct of enterprises said it was good (down from 25 pct in March), while 43 pct said their situation was satisfactory and 35 pct said their situation was bad (down from 40 pct in March). Twenty pct of businesses in Northern Greece expect their situation to improve in the next six months, down from 31 pct in March, while 51 pct did not expect any change (48 pct in March) and 29 pct expected a deterioration (21 pct in March).
A further 8.0 pct enterprises expect to carry out new hirings in April, while dismissal intentions fell to 8.0 pct in April, from 12 pct in March and 84 pct said they did not plan any changes in their workforce. Another 31 pct of enterprises expected an increase in their turnover (up from 15 pct in March).
 Greek stocks end 1.42 pct lowerGreek stocks came under pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index of the market fell 1.42 pct to end at 1,215.08 points, off the day's lows of 1,214 points. Investors focused on National Bank's share capital increase plan (its shares fell 1.75 pct), while Eurobank came under strong pressure to end 19.10 pct lower. Turnover was a heavy 135.52 million euros.
The Large Cap index fell 1.36 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.97 pct lower. Athens Water (1.87 pct), Piraeus Port (1.01 pct) and Metka (0.96 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (6.32 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (4.66 pct) and Korinth Pipeworks (3.91 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Industrial Products (0.32 pct), Chemicals (0.14 pct) and Construction (0.08 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Financial Services (5.16 pct), Personal Products (3.16 pct) and Technology (2.48 pct) sectors suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 77 to 36 with another 26 issues unchanged. G.E.Demetriou (18.18 pct), Intertek (9.71 pct) and Mermeren (8.16 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobank (19.10 pct), AXON Holdings (19.05 pct) and ETEM (16.53 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -5.16%
Industrial Products: +0.32%
Real Estate: +0.02%
Personal & Household: -3.16%
Food & Beverages: -0.65%
Raw Materials: -0.81%
Travel & Leisure: -1.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.69
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.75
Coca Cola HBC: 17.49
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.27
National Bank of Greece: 2.81
Eurobank Properties : 8.30
Piraeus Bank: 1.75
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 4.69 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 4.70 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.15 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.456 pct. Turnover was a heavy 63 million euros, of which 52 million were buy orders and the remaining 11 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.613 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.524 pct from 0.522 pct, the six-month rate was 0.437 pct, the three-month rate was 0.337 pct and the one-month rate eased to 0.257 pct from 0.258 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.32 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with volume falling to 10.677 million euros.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 3,566 contracts worth 6.978 million euros, with 51,373 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 25,768 contracts worth 3.639 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (17,888), followed by Piraeus Bank (988), Alpha Bank (999), National Bank (1,032), MIG (2,447), OTE (564), PPC (688), OPAP (182), Mytilineos (184), Hellenic Petroleum (106), Ellaktor (112), GEK (93), Intralot (49) and Piraeus Port (42).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference rates per euro released by the European
Central Bank on Tuesday -
U.S. dollar 1.394
Pound sterling 0.821
Danish kroner 7.464
Swedish kroner 9.066
Japanese yen 141.89
Swiss franc 1.216
Norwegian kroner 8.242
Canadian dollar 1.523
Australian dollar 1.493
 Twenty-four undocumented migrants rescued at new incident off SamosGreek Coast Guard vessel on Tuesday morning rescued 24 undocumented migrants in Samos Strait in the Turkish waters.
The 22 men and two women were probably on board a dinghy that sank. A Turkish vessel is expected to collect the migrants.
Meanwhile, the search in the sea area north of Samos to locate missing undocumented migrants who were on board the yacht that sank on Monday off the coasts of Samos continues.
The body count of undocumented migrants includes 4 children, 12 women and 6 men, authorities said late on Monday. Of the 22 dead, 18 were found in the yacht among them 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 a Coast Guard vessel, one vessel from the EU's border patrol Frontex and a ship sailing in the area. The yacht was towed to Malagari port, Samos, soon after 1:00 p.m. and lifted onto dry land.
 Sixteen undocumented migrants collected near ChiosSixteen undocumented migrants were located by a coast guard patrol boat in waters off the island of Oinousses on Tuesday and taken to the general hospital in the nearby island of Chios for precautionary medical examination.
 Greece, China to set up respective culture centres in Beijing and AthensGreece's culture ministry on Tuesday announced plans to set up a new centre for Greek culture in Beijing and its Chinese equivalent in Athens, as well as a branch of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Nicosia, during a press conference at the Acropolis Museum.
"Greece must have a powerful cultural arm of diplomacy; the HFC is an institution that can and must promote the values and achievements of Greek culture over the ages," Culture Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos said, pointing to serious efforts to reduce "unreasonable spending" at the HFC in ways that did not undermine the foundation's work.
The press conference focused mainly on the plans to restructure the HFC, which is to undergo a name change and also gradually absorb the functions of the National Book Centre of Greece. Efforts are currently focused on organising the upcoming International Book Exhibition taking place on May 8-11 in Thessaloniki, with Israel as country of honour and over 230 events planned.
 Photographers from 23 countries showing their work in Thessaloniki biennaleThe PhotoBiennale at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, opening on May 9, will bring together 100 Greek and international artists from 23 countries showing 1,000 of their creations.
This year's show focuses on the last of three thematic sections: Time (shown in 2008) and Place (2010-2011) preceded Logos, which will run until August this year. The exhibition will include discussions, master classes, screenings, concerts and other actions in 20 locations in Thessaloniki, northern Greece's largest city. The venues are all at the port area of the city and include Apothiki A (a former warehouse) and military offices - some of them open to the public for the first time.
"Our aim is to show the public works and give creators the opportunity to meet each other," Vangelis Ioakimidis, director of the Thessaloniki Photography Museum said during a press conference in Athens earlier in the month.
The Museum was founded in 1997. It is supervised by the Greek ministry of Culture and is currently the only state-funded museum in Greece dedicated solely to photography.
The archives it holds cover the period from 1890 to 1980, and include part of the archives of Costas Balafas and Nelly's, while the Museum also serves as a safekeeper of the Greek part of the Frederic Boissonnas collection (1903-1920) that belongs to the ministry of Culture.
According to Ioakimidis, the 2010-2011 Space exhibition was seen by over 200,000 visitors, in all venues.
The Museum has already held events in other Greek cities and abroad, in collaboration with both private and public entities and its plans include finding sponsors to help it open shows i the Balkans, Turkey and Israel..
ANA-MPA is the communications sponsor for the exhibition.
 Iraklio Museum reopens Minoan Antiquities Collection after seven yearsThe Minoan Antiquities Collection at Iraklio Museum on the island of Crete will again open to the public after more than seven years, the museum announced on Tuesday. The public will be able to visit the collection, which has been closed since November 2006, from 8:00 in the morning until 20:00 at night.
The collection is the largest and most significant section in the museum, reflecting the important civilisation of the Cretan palaces and occupying 55 percent of the total gallery space. It includes several famous ancient works of art and artifacts, including idols depicting the snake and poppy goddesses of Minoan civilisation, the Phaestus Disc, the ivory bull leaper and the iconic bull-leaping murals and a host of other items made of gold, precious gems, pottery and elaborate stonework.
The items on display are separated into units based on various themes, eras and areas, reflecting both aspects of ordinary day-to-day life and more "official" events, such as symposiums and sports, systems of bureaucracy and administration (as reflected in the use of writing and seals), religion, rituals associated with the palaces, burial rites and beliefs about the after-life.
 MasterCard survey: Cash use can be harmful to human healthMasterCard publicised the results of a survey on Tuesday which reveals that 69 pct of the Greek population and 64 pct of the Europeans considers using cash as unhygienic - however, only 1 out of 5 individuals washes his/her hands after touching coins or notes.
The survey, which was conducted on a sample group of 9,000 consumers from 12 countries, reported that beside the fact that the use of cash is ranked as more unhygienic than grips located in public transport means, or food that is shared by more than one person such as peanuts served in bars, the Europeans face difficulties in stopping the use of dirty money.
A previous survey conducted by MasterCard and the University of Oxford in 2013 suggested that an average European bank note contained 26,000 bacteria, a number that could be potentially harmful for human health.
For Greeks, the most popular alternative solutions to using cash money in transactions is using credit or debit cards (45 pct) or payments using contactless smart cards (43 pct). The report stresses that almost 26 pct of Greeks report that they prefer their cash money not to be touched by many other persons before them while 60 pct of the Greek population and the majority of the Europeans stated that they prefer using contactless cards for their transactions.
 Thessaloniki open-air market producers hold protestOpen-air markets fruit and vegetables producers from Central and Western Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace have gathered outside the White Tower in Thessaloniki as part of continued labour action against the government's bill on street markets.
Their representatives claim they would even appeal to the Council of State so that "a fair solution can be given to the problems caused by the bill" concerning their sector.
The head of Central and Western Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace federation of open-air markets associations Vassilis Makridis told ANA-MPA "some steps were taken to the right direction, but there are still pending issues (amendments to be voted on later in the day) that push us over the cliff."
Open-air market 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.
Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Monday submitted final changes in the street market trade bill.
According to the minister, the system regarding the separation between producers and other sellers at the market would be determined within three months by ministerial decision while the lottery system would apply only on new licences.
 Zakynthos-Italy ferry ticket reservations a positive message for tourismThe messages from the Italian tourist market for the Ionian islands are very optimistic and this is reflected on the ticket reservations for the ferry that will carry out the itinerary Bari-Zakynthos-Cephalonia.
The ferry link between Italy and Zakynthos will be carried by the ferry "Orison" with total capacity 1,000 persons. Orison will set sail for the Ionian island on July 21.
Orison will leave from Bari to Zakynthos and Cephalonia on 21 and 28 July and on 4,11,18 and 25 August and the season will end on Sept. 1.
The vessel will leave from Zakynthos to Bari on 22 and 29 July, 5,8,12,19 and 26 August and on September 3.
The ferry will leave from Bari at 17:00 and will arrive to Zakynthos at 16:00 the next day.
 Lesvos and Hong Kong Geoparks sign cooperation agreementLesvos and Hong Kong Geoparks signed a cooperation agreement offering significant potential in the fields of scientific cooperation, education and tourism.
The agreement was signed by the director of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong Alan Chi Kong Wong, the mayor of Lesvos Dimitris Vounatsos and the Director of the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest, Professor Nikos Zouros.
The signing of the agreement was part of the official visit of a government delegation and executives of the Hong Kong Geopark.
The agreement aims to enhance the cooperation between the two Geoparks and promote joint activities so as to
- facilitate and promote the exchange of visits and the exchange of scientific and technological information, including experience and expertise in the conservation, management, sustainable tourism development and exploitation of geological resources
- facilitate and promote cooperation in research, education, staff training, programme development and management, networking, publicity, quality services management and other activities.
- enhance the mutual assistance to promote the activities of each Geopark, by making media information widely known and showcase the main attractions and
- develop new areas of cooperation to be mutually agreed by the participants.
 Street market federations end rolling strikeStreet market producers and sellers called off their rolling strikes on Tuesday which they had started in protest of a draft bill in Parliament.
The Street Market Federations stressed in a statement they will "continue the struggle to overturn the rest of the regulatisons (of the bill) that harm street markets and will persist until the state prepares an institutional framework that will meet the needs of our country, of consumers and of the street market producers".
 Foreign ministry launches tender for new network systemsDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Tuesday signed a proclamation of an open international tender for equipment to update, improve and modernise the foreign ministry's networks, both in Greece and at embassies and consulates abroad.
The project is 95 pct financed by EU National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, with Greece's public sector contributing 5 pct.
 Police ID offices to stay open late in run-up to electionsPolice ID offices will have extended opening hours right up to the day of the local and European Parliament elections taking place on May 18 and May 25, the Greek Police (ELAS) announced on Tuesday. Voters will be able to have an ID issued right up to the day of the elections, with ID offices staying open from 8:00-18:00 on the two Saturdays before the elections and from 7:00-19:00 on the two election Sundays.
In cases when IDs need to be issued for the first time or replaced, this will take place on the spot if the interested party applies in person and produces the necessary documentation. For those wanting to issue a first ID card, information on the documentation needed and contact information for the local ID offices can be obtained on the Greek Police website (www.hellenicpolice.gr).
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailiesAVGHI: (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras in state of panic by (Government Vice President Evangelos) Venizelos' collapse.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Europe's shame (refers to the new tragic incident off the coasts of Samos during which undocumented migrants lost their lives).
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: The next two generations under supervision!
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Hirings in public sector by the end of May.
ESTIA: Would Mr. Tsipras (Alexis, main opposition SYRIZA leader) pass ASEP (Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection) exams?
ETHNOS: Contract for the debt relief.
IMERISSIA: Eurogroup committed to give solution to the debt issue.
KATHIMERINI: Support for the debt, new meeting in September.
LOGOS: Repeated tragedy.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Eurogroup pledged to support Greece on the debt's sustainability.
RIZOSPASTIS: Communist Party (KKE) told people the truth for EU and the capital's course.
TA NEA: Opinion poll gives strong lead to the candidates of the center-left in local administration elections.
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