|Tuesday, 20 August 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-05-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 9 May 2014 Issue No: 4652
 Greece will soon return to its pre-crisis level, PM Samaras tells deputiesPrime Minister Antonis Samaras (photo-R) lashed out at main opposition SYRIZA while addressing his New Demo-cracy Parliamentary group on Thursday, saying "they want to take the country back to the crisis," while he elaborated on his plan for the country's exit from the crisis.
"What will they, in SYRIZA, do without barbarians?" he wondered and added: "they will disappear when the crisis is over. They emerged by denouncing the memoranda, they are being fuelled by the crisis and they consider growth an enemy. That is why they are trying to bring the crisis back. They are nostalgic for the days when hood-wearing individuals burnt cities, when universities were a place of lawlessness, when migrants entered the country undisturbed. We are turning the page and they want Greece to return to the past and to chaos. SYRIZA does not want Greece to become a normal country, that is why it wants new memoranda, but there will be no new memoranda, there will be no new measures. It is trying to destabilise the country. It is a synonym of instability, this is its main goal but it will not get it its way."
The premier said that in "the Medium-term programme that was submitted, growth is expected for the first time after six years while it is estimated that unemployment will have fallen by 10 percentage points by 2018. In 2020, we will have recovered to a pre-crisis level and on a sound basis, without pathogenies. We just need to stay on the course we have paved and this will be decided in the upcoming elections. We are at a crucial moment, we are exiting an ailing past. SYRIZA forces are waging a last-ditch battle to take us back to the crisis. We are asking the Greek people to give our party the power to overcome the last resistances from the nostalgics of decay and take a step towards tomorrow. The New Democracy party sets the country on a course of development, with competitiveness and credibility, beyond our borders. We are asking the Greek people to give us the power to move to a New Greece."
Samaras said that Greece is at a crucial point, as it overcame hard times with many sacrifices and is close to achievements that some, until recently, considered inconceivable.
The primary surpluses, the social dividend, the end of the recession, the recovery that is nearing, are questioned by the nay-sayers, "those who consider the country's success an enemy," the prime minister said.
"The hard times have passed; now the only way is upwards," Samaras said.
"Greek people have suffered a lot, but the country did not end up like Argentina, as some wished. I am confident that in a few years we will have reached our pre-crisis level. Some claim than only the numbers are thriving. True, numbers are now thriving, but they were not thriving two years ago. If numbers plummet it is an omen that people will soon suffer. Now the economy has stabilised and we will soon have growth, more job positions and more income. Such a number of reforms has never [before] been implemented, such a number of inflexibilities [never before] restored. Now that the country is changing, some are fighting hard so that it returns to the crisis and to the memoranda. That is why they were so upset with Greece's exit to the markets," the premier said.
Now the discussion on the debt's sustainability is starting and it will be concluded in autumn. We are leading the country out of the memorandum. Mistakes and injustices have been made; we will redress them. Greece has turned a page in two years, but those nostalgic for debt say they will annul the memoranda we left behind," he said.
He concluded by thanking his deputies that withstood pressure during the last two years and underlined that the New Democracy is a pillar of stability, which guarantees the country's course.
He predicted that "SYRIZA, in its despair, will seek polarisation and try to cause division," and asked his deputies to give the proper response. "They have the nerve to speak of a dialogue when they won't even show up at European fora. What will they say? That Europe is an imperialistic power? What kind of allies will they find?" Samaras wondered.
Samaras also referred to the constitutional review and said that the national development plan will be presented the coming week. "There has never been a comprehensive plan for the regeneration of the country as a state and growth-wise," he noted.
 SYRIZA attacks PM's speech to ND deputies as 'divisive,' accuses him of scare tacticsMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday attacked Prime Minister Antonis Samaras for his speech to New Democracy party deputies, accusing him of adopting divisive rhetoric and scare tactics. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis, meanwhile, dismissed the premier's positions concerning the need for a Constitutional revision as "a desperate attempt to change the agenda".
SYRIZA said that the premier's speech on Thursday was a defence of extreme neoliberalism and revealed his vision for the next day, for both Greece and Europe.
"It is true that never before has so much damage been done to the country in such a short space of time, in just four years, never before have so many jobs been lost, never have wages been so reduced, never have so many young people emigrated since the return of democracy, never have so many committed suicide," the party pointed out.
Responding to the call for a revision of the Constitution, Skourletis accused Samaras of avoiding any public dialogue on the repercussions of austerity policies imposed by the memorandums and resorting to desperate attempts to change the agenda by an untimely discussion on the Constitution.
"After the shredded the Constitution, diminishing democracy, they are bringing proposals that to a great extent are in the direction of 'constitutionalising' the memorandums. Nevertheless, the essence is that Samaras will not be able to bring them again after the elections, since he will not have this margin," Skourletis added.
 Premier congratulates ONNED youth organisation for university student elections resultsPrime Minister Antonis Samaras congratulated ONNED, the youth organisation affiliated with his party, New Democracy, for its success in university elections, during a visit at their central offices on Thursday.
Samaras said the message of ONNED's very important victory was "a message to all directions." He added, "I am especially pleased because the results show that young people's progress and stance favours development, equal opportunities for all and the reforms...The misery and image of universities as being third rate, that (main opposition party) SYRIZA promotes, is not a mainstream trend."
ONNED president Sakis Ioannidis thanked the prime minister for his support.
 Concessions for three reserves with 3.3 million oil barrels to be signed Wed.The Premier Antonis Samaras as well as the government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will attend a ceremony on Wednesday, May 14, in which agreements for hydrocarbon explorations, surveys and extraction/production in three separate areas of Greece will be signed.
The agreements to be signed have already been scrutinized and approved by the Court of Audit, as follows:
1. The joint venture of Energean Oil and Gas/Petra Petroleum will be the concessionaire for a reserve in the land area of Ioannina in northwestern Greece, where up to 100 million oil barrels are expected to be produced.
2. The joint venture of Hellenic Petroleum/Edison/Petroceltic will be the concessionaire for an offshore reserve in the Gulf of Patras, at the western exit of the Gulf of Corinth. The reserve is estimated to be able to offer about 200 million oil barrels.
3. The joint venture Energean Oil and Gas/Trajan Oil & Gas Ltd. will be the concessionaire for an oil reserve at Katakolo in northwestern Peloponnese, east of Zakynthos island. This is the largest of the three reserves, expected to produce up to 3 million oil barrels.
The agreements to be signed include a 20 pct regular tax rate, plus an additional regional tax of 5 pct. The final value of each agreement will depend on factors such as the production level, the geographic, geological and other area characteristics and the revenue/expenses ratio.
Investors will be bound to a minimum level of investment at each exploration/survey phase, as well as a minimum investment value secured with a letter of guarantee. The effective tax rate of the three agreements will remain stable over time, in order to safeguard the long-term return on investment of each concession.
The oil production will be governed by the strictest European environmental law specifications, while the concessionaires will be obliged to educate and train Greek personnel in the hydrocarbon sector.
According to Energy Ministry projections, every direct job in the hydrocarbon sector will result in the creation of another 3.2 new full-time jobs in the greater economy. Moreover, every one dollar of added value in the sector is estimated to produce an additional 1.3 dollars of added value in the greater economy.
 President Papoulias receives PACE President Anne Brasseur, Cyprus defence ministerPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Anne Brasseur, who was accompanied by Dora Bakoyannis, the head of the PACE Political Affairs and Democracy Committee and chief of the Greek delegation at PACE.
Papoulias referred to the historic ties between Greece and the Council of Europe, as well as the close relations between Greece and Brasseur's native Luxembourg within the European Union.
"There have been many and dear friends to Greece - most recently Mr. [Jean-Claude] Juncker, to whom we wish every success in his efforts," he added.
There followed a meeting between Papoulias and visiting Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides, who was accompanied by Alternate Defence Minister Fofi Gennimata.
"We have had a tough time here and in Cyprus, we are continuing to have a tough time, but we have an obligation to prepare a better future, to turn over the page of the past and build with new tools a more hopeful future for new generations, in conditions of growth, employment and social cohesion. And governments have the primary responsibility for opening this road," the Cypriot minister said.
He briefed Papoulias on the negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the intransigent stance adopted by Turkey, as well as the prospects opening up with the discovery of hydrocarbons in the region.
"Perhaps another wind is blowing in Ankara and they will understand that they cannot carry out any plans for rapprochement with Europe or for Turkey's accession to the EU unless they observe all those things that the EU demands candidate-members observe," Papoulias commented. He stressed that the Cyprus issue remained one of invasion and occupation, underlining the great success of Cyprus's accession to the EU.
 IMF board to discuss Greek programme in next few weeks, spokesman saysWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)
The managing board of the International Monetary Fund will meet in the next few weeks in the framework of the 5th assessment of the Greek programme, Gerry Rice, an IMF spokesman, said on Thursday, underlining the need for political stability in the country.
Speaking to reporters during the daily news briefing, the spokesman reiterated that the IMF's view on the Greek debt remained unchanged and noted that the Greek public debt was expected to remain at "high levels". He stressed that Greece's European partners agreed to offer a restructuring of the debt, if necessary, on the precondition that Greece remained "fully aligned with its commitments in the programme". Rice noted that the Europeans announced that a discussion on the Greek debt will begin in the second half of the year.
The IMF spokesman said that a technical group of the Fund will return to Athens in June or July and that a full IMF mission will be in Greece after the summer, although no specific date has been set.
Rice confirmed that Greece was among the topics discussed during a recent meeting between IMF head Christine Lagarde and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington. Commenting on the forthcoming elections in Greece (local and Euro elections) and their impact, the IMF spokesman underlined that "in the Greek programme, as in any other programme, political stability was an important issue".
 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.
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.
 FM Venizelos on EU-Western Balkans Ministerial meetingGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that the EU-Western Balkans Foreign Ministers meeting on Thursday is an excellent opportunity to renew the engagement and hope of western Balkans' Euroatlantic prospect.
Venizelos upon his arrival at Thessaloniki Concert Hall, where he will chair the ministers' meeting, made the following statement: "The ministerial meeting...is an excellent opportunity to renew and highlight our commitment and wish for the Western Balkan countries' Euroatlantic prospect. This is very important for the stability, growth and prosperity in the area and I am very happy because the so-called "Thessaloniki 2014 Agenda" which was one of the results of the EU Greek Presidency in 2003, now, in this Presidency acquires a new dynamic".
 EU Commissioner Fuele attends Thessaloniki conference, speaks to ANA-MPAIf a country wants to become a member of the European Union and participate in the accession process, it must be reliable and effective in applying the prerequisites of becoming a member, said European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fuele, speaking to ANA-MPA on Thursday.
Commissioner Fuele was in Greece to attend the EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Conference organised by the Greek EU Presidency in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. The conference's aim was to promote the European agenda of the region and review the accession process in light of the 10th anniversary of the 2004 enlargement, as well as to examine the prospects of Western Balkan countries joining the EU.
The commissioner said this particular conference differed from past ones in two respects - the combination of the political aspects of Western Balkan countries with practical aspects of the link-up in the energy and transport sectors, on one hand, and accession processes "at a time of great concern for Ukraine" on the other.
Among other things, Fuele said he was not worried about political developments in Kosovo, because he does not believe the relations between Belgrade and Pristina or the EU Stabilisation and Association process would be affected. In terms of political normalisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said the EU has fixed its attention on Bosnia, but the Balkan country's politicians should also fix their attention on its citizens.
Finally, Fuele flatly denied rumours claiming that he was interested in succeeding EU High Representative Lady Catherine Ashton.
 Western Balkans' European prospect is still strong, Slovakia's foreign minister saysThe European prospect for Western Balkans' countries remain alive and strong as long as we continue to meet and discuss this process, Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said on the sidelines of the informal EU-Western Balkan countries meeting in Thessaloniki.
Lajcak stressed that the meeting in Thessaloniki was was taking place 10 years after the last enlargement and added that his country celebrated this significant anniversary.
The quality of everyday life has improved in Slovakia since the country joined the EU, Lajcak said.
He added that the wider region was moving towards the EU but this progress was uneven. Some countries, such as Serbia and Montenegro, made it their primary strategic target to join the EU while others, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and FYROM, were still struggling, he noted.
"Europe does its best but it is also important for a country to do its part of the job," he said referring to Bosnia-Herzegovina. "We cannot do the work that is needed in place of Bosnia-Herzegovina's politicians," he underlined.
 EU Transport ministers hold informal meeting at ZappeionInfrastructures Transport and Networks Minister Michalis Chryssohoidis on Thursday addressed the informal meeting of Transport Ministers which focused on Road Safety.
The meeting is held at Zappeion, in the presence of Greek President Karolos Papoulias and vice president of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas.
Chryssohoidis underlined the crucial role of road safety, as according to estimations the road accidents are the third cause of death worldwide.
"We must focus on road safety and especially on the context in which it can and should be improved, upgraded, assessed and reevaluated," he said.
He stressed that "transport is a lever of growth, a driving force for the release of the entropy of regions, prefectures, countries and societies with substantial contribution to the production process, employment and to the overall economic activity."
He concluded that transport networks have set the necessary conditions for the development of untapped and remote areas and create prospects for prosperity and integration.
 Greece's primary surplus was higher than expected, German FinMin saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
Greece's primary surplus was higher than expected, according to Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who acknowledged the progress made by Greece and Spain.
"The development with the primary surplus was better than expected," noted Schaeuble in his address to Europaforum organized by the West German Radio (WDR) at the German Foreign Ministry.
At a query on the surplus calculation method, he underlined that a programme is underway and that the primary surplus was the first step.
"Further efforts should be made," said the German Finance Minister and estimated that Europe is on the right track, however, the danger is not over yet.
 Alternate Finance Minister announces allocation of 133.2 mln euros of the social dividendAlternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Thursday announced that the first applications for the social dividend have been approved.
According to Staikouras, the distribution of 133.2 million euros to 205,912 households was approved on Thursday, while on Friday the amount of the one-off financial support will be allocated to 75,328 uniformed staff.
"The criteria are constantly being evaluated; there will be no discounts as to the amount that will be distributed," Staikouras said.
 Draft bill on public-sector management selection unveiled for public consultationThe administrative reform ministry on Thursday unveiled a draft bill on a new system for selecting public-sector managerial staff for a period of public consultation and debate. The draft bill involves sweeping changes to the existing system, such as interviews and the involvement of the Supreme Council of Staff Selection (ASEP), as well as private-sector evaluators to choose the best-qualified candidates for each position.
The ministry pointed out that the new system will for the time being be restricted to central government services, with a new study for a senior management selection system to be carried out for local authorities, in collaboration with the interior ministry.
 Deputy Admin. Reform minister presents open governance policyDeputy Administrative Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou on Thursday presented the policy and main actions that Greece has promoted on Open Governance, at the European Conference of the International Initiative on Open Government Partnership (OGP) taking place in Dublin.
Christofilopoulou focused in particular on transparency and the "Diavgheia" (Clarity) programme - which obliges all ministries to upload decisions at its central site on the Internet - as well as the new policy being promoted by the Administrative Reform ministry on the open access to public information.
She also presented the national Action Plan on Open Governance 2014-2016, that has already been raised for open public consultation, as well as the ministry's wide consultation and cooperation procedure with social partners to draw up the Action Plan jointly.
 Greece, Moldovan justice ministers decide to sign bilateral cooperation memorandumA meeting between Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou and his Moldovan counterpart Oleg Efrim, during the latter's official visit to Greece on Thursday, ended with a decision to sign a cooperation memorandum between the two ministries. The agreement will seen to establish deepter bilateral ties and the exchange of knowhow and best practices in issues relating to justice and the prison system.
The two ministers also explored the possibility of exchanging training techniques for justices, an announcement said, with the Greek side outlining the operating framework of the National School for Judges, in which the Moldovan officials expressed deep interest.
Athanassiou accepted an invitation from his counterpart to visit Moldova.
 Opinion poll sees SYRIZA lead over ND in euroelectionsMain opposition SYRIZA leads over New Democracy (ND) with 2 percent 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 22.5 percent, followed by New Democracy (ND) with 20.5 percent, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) with 9 percent, the newly founded party To Potami with 7 percent, ELIA with 7, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.5 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 26 percent, while 40 percent said "none of above".
The geographic coverage of the opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between May 2 and May 7 2014.
 Main opposition leader Tsipras abnegates the stigma of euro-scepticIn an election speech on Thursday, the leader of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA party Alexis Tsipras emphasised that his party does not constitute a euro-sceptical party. "It's today's Europe that is repulsive and perilous and this Europe must change", he noted in an election event supporting his candidacy for EU Commission president.
SYRIZA leader added that "it is not us that are euro-sceptics, we are deniers of their Europe, the Europe of banks and multinationals. The Europe of austerity and authoritarianism".
In reference to his EU candidacy, Tsipras said that he doesn't "see it as typical, but as a mandate to unite all of what neoliberalism violently separated...a mandate to put an end to austerity and reclaim democracy".
After being asked what is the first thing he would do if he were elected president of the EU Commission, Tsipras retorted that he would first demand the withdrawal of the European Commission from the troika of Greece's lenders. Second, he would immediately seek negotiations for the restructuring of debt on a European level. Third, he would claim more responsibilities for the European Parliament, the strengthening of democracy and the participation of the European people in crucial issues through referenda.
Tsipras also expressed his concern on the future of the European Union, noting that it currently faces a strategic impasse, while "regenerating the nightmare of fascism and hatred amongst its people".
 Greece and Cyprus to sign a crisis handling memorandumGreek Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and his Cyprus counterpart Christoforos Fokaides during a meeting on Thursday in Athens agreed to sign a crisis handling memorandum.
The signing of the memorandum will take place during the Greek minister's visit to Cyprus following Fokaides' invitation. The date of the visit will be set via the diplomatic path.
Moreover, Avramopoulos reassured that Greece is Cyprus' backbone and safeguards Cyprus' security, independence and sovereignty.
The latest developments regarding the Cyprus issue were also examined during the meeting along with the hydrocarbons in Cyprus' EEZ, the ongoing condition in the East Mediterranean and the wider region, while the two ministers made a review of the two countries' bilateral relations.
Avramopoulos called the negotiations between the two communities, held according to February 11 joint statement, difficult and complicated. "The solution to the Cyprus issue must be absolutely compatible with the European acquis. The invasion and the occupation is a flagrant violation of the international law, the political issue is of international character," he said and reiterated that "the solution must be based on UN Security Council's resolutions for a bizonal, two-community federation with political equality, one sovereignty, one international personality and one citizenship."
Moreover, Avramopoulos called the Turkish side to attest the volition to facilitate the negotiations for a comprehensive solution that will benefit all Cypriots as well as the security and peace in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean.
On his part, the Cypriot Minister said that Cyprus is determined to join the negotiations with sincerity for an honest compromise that will end the greatest anachronism in Europe, the occupation of the land of an EU state member by another non-EU country member. "It is up to Turkey to seize the opportunity with constructive proposals that will comply with those it announces" he said.
Avramopoulos noted that Greece supports Cyprus with all its powers on the exercise of its sovereign rights in its EEZ adding that both countries are in total coordination regarding this issue.
Fokaides underlined that "the cooperation strategies that we (Cyprus) form and implement with powerful countries of the region on the hydrocarbons issue not only do they shield the exercise of our sovereign rights according to the international law but also serve the need for energy safety and Europe's independence in energy and work as a catalyst, as an opportunity and a lever for a solution that will benefit us all".
"We are determined to work for the solution of the Cyprus issue and we are equally determined to work in order to safeguard our sovereignty rights within the context of the international law" concluded Fokaides.
 Important trade agreements on Foreign Affairs Council agendaThe meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC-Trade) on Thursday will discuss important agreements for EU's trade, Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Notis Mitarachi said on his arrival at the meeting held in Brussels.
Mitarachi, who will chair the meeting, underlined that "trade is very important in order to promote growth and jobs creation in EU and from this point of view we want to boost the trade agreements that will be discussed today. The council will review the progress of the agreements with Canada, Japan and the US. All these agreements are very important for the trade."
"We will also continue our discussion, which we opened at the informal meeting in Athens, on the post-Bali agenda and the council is expected to give a negotiation order for the Green Goods, an initiative supported by the EU state members," he concluded.
 Greece nominates professor for UN Human Rights committee post candidateNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece is nominating Fotini Pazartzi, alternate International Law professor at the Athens University Law School, as a candidate for the United Nations' Human Rights Council Advisory Committee.
The committee is composed of independent experts who monitor the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by every member-state. All member-states, including Greece, are obliged to submit reports regarding the implementation of human rights.
Greece's permanent delegation at the UN held a reception on the premises of the Greek Press and Communication Office in New York to support and promote the candidacy of Pazartzi; the event was attended by several permanent representatives and diplomats of member-states of Human Rights Council.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, Fotini Pazartzi said that the government's decision to support her candidacy is a "special honour" for her.
Greece's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Michel Spinellis, said that "the Commission changed form and the Human Rights Council was formed. This year, there are 9 vacant posts with 11 candidates, for the time being. The elections have been set for June 24 and the only member-states of the UN General Assembly member-states may vote are those that have signed the Accord for the founding of this body, or 167 states".
 KKE criticises ND proposals to revise ConstitutionThe proposals for revising the Constitution put forward by the New Democracy party aim to make a "rotten bourgeois state even more hostile to the people and their interests," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Thursday.
Replying to proposals outlined on Wednesday by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the party said the goal was to "create institutions and staff them with persons that, with greater decisiveness and ability will implement the anti-popular policy, while at the same time serving the process for reforming the bourgeois political system and its even closer adaptation to the needs of capital."
 KKE leader calls for people's support in elections, at Patras rallyCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoumbas called on people to rally and support it in elections, in a speech delivered at the port city of Patras, northern Peloponnese, on Thursday.
"Our mission is to vote and strengthen KKE everyone, and to say no to the fetters of the European Union of monopolies," Koutsoumbas said, charging the New Democracy, PASOK and (main opposition) SYRIZA parties of "seeking the submission and entrapment of people and youth" in the EU and its monopolies.
"The so-called new Greece that (Prime Minister) Antonis Samaras talks about is the new Greece industrialists, shipowners and big-interest businessmen have ordered from the government," he charged, "a Greece where every workers' right has been destroyed."
The party leader said that "Greece's and its people's great potential do exist, but they will only be released to the benefit of workers' needs when the people take over power, when they manage the economy."
Referring to student elections at universities, he said the second placement of the KKE-affiliated Panspoudastiki youth organisation was a preliminary sign of popular upsurge in support of KKE both on May 18 (local government elections) and May 25 (second round; and European Parliament).
 Board of Appeals rejects another extradition request by TurkeyA Board of Appeals at Thessaloniki, northern Greece, rejected on Thursday an extradition request by Turkey for the Turkish political refugee Mehmet Yaman, who had recently been arrested in Greece under an international arrest warrant by Interpol for participating in the DHKP-C group, which has been outlawed in Turkey after having been characterized as a "terrorist" organization.
In his plea, Yaman upheld that he has been offered a political asylum by the Greek authorities and emphasized that he is evidently ill and his extradition could endanger his life. He mentioned that in the past he has been imprisoned in Turkish jails for his political beliefs and was released only after a long hunger strike.
During March 2014, the same Board of Appeals had rejected another extradition request by Turkey, this time for Turkish political refugee Kadir Kaya.
 Ergani figures confirmed by ELSTAT report of decline in unemployment, labour minister saysFigures from the 'Ergani' system for monitoring the net flow of hirings and dismissals were confirmed by the findings of Greece's independent statistical authority ELSTAT, which showed that unemployment is starting to decline, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Yiannis Vroutsis noted on Thursday.
He said the employment flow balance, or the number of hirings minus dismissals reported to the ministry, was more than double in April 2014 compared with the same month the previous year. Specifically, there was net value of 60,600 new jobs created in April 2014, compared with 29,298 new jobs in April last year. The Ergani figures also showed net job creation for the January-April period, where the net number of jobs minus dismissals came to 101,476 compared with just 20,460 in the first third of 2013.
According to Vroutsis, both the net figure for April and that for January-April were the highest since 2001.
"We are optimistic and confident that, on the unemployment front, the battle has been won. The news, for the first time in the last five years, is especially positive and encouraging," Vroutsis stressed, commenting on the announcement of Ergani's figures.
"All the available statistical evidence and data from the labour market indicates that unemployment, after the stabilisation shown in 2013, is now well into a phase of de-escalating, a channel of decline. The positive developments in employment are confirmed by ELSTAT's Workforce Survey, where for the first time since the start of the crisis in 2009 the unemployment rate is constantly decreaseing for five consecutive months," Vroutsis added.
He also emphasised the fact that this was happening in the heart of winter, a season of traditionally lower employment, with the unemployment rate falling from 27.7 pct in September 2013 to 26.5 pct in February. While advising caution and "guarded optimism" in interpreting these figures, the minister also pointed out that the forecasts of the Bank of Greece and other financial bodies agreed that unemployment in Greece had reached its peak in 2013 and would now start to decline.
The Ergani system figures for April 2014 released on Thursday reported 145,812 new hirings in the month, 56,033 more than in April 2013, and 85,212 dismissals/departures. Flexible forms of employment continue to account for a significant portion of the labour market, however. Of the 423,174 new jobs created in the first four months of the year, 232,383 were for full-time work, 140,527 were for part-time work and 50,264 were for rotating employment contracts.
 Hefty increase by 177 pct in the cash holdings of Pireaus Port Authority"The profitable course of the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) will continue during 2014, despite the ongoing crisis of the Greek economy in the transportation sector", remarked OLP's president and CEO Giorgos Anomeritis on Thursday during a presentation of the company's financial results for 2013 at the Hellenic Fund and Asset Management Association.
Anomeritis noted that for the financial year 2013 OLP managed to increase its pre-tax profit (EBT) by 30% and also reinforce its earnings after taxes (EAT) by 12.1%, while at the same time reducing its management expenses by 3%. It still increased its cash holdings by a hefty 177% - to 40.62 million euros - even after contributing 21 million euros to the Greek state and social security funds through its operations.
Anomeritis noted that OLP achieved a significant reduction in the wage expense/total expenses ratio to 52% at end-2013, down from 74% at end-2007, a development which rendered the Pireaus port - the largest Greek passenger and transportation port - fully competitive against most of its European peers.
When asked about the pending privatisation procedure of OLP through the selling of 67% of its shares, the head the company suggested that at this stage similar questions have to be addressed to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED), who is the current owner of the shares.
For Anomeritis, OLP is "a growth machine of the Greek economy, of Pireaus and its businesses, contributing, in another sense, in the social, environmental and cultural workings of the city".
 Hellenic Petroleum to issue 200-mln-US dollar bondHellenic Petroleum (ELPE) on Thursday said they have hired BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Ltd, Eurobank Ergasias SA and HSBC Bank plc to issue a two-year US dollar bond with a fixed interest rate.
The issue will carry Hellenic Petroleum's guarantee and the bonds will be traded in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
The coupon of the issue will be set in the coming days, following completion of a book-building process. The money to be raised will be used to refinance existing short-term loans and to cover the group's funding needs.
The decision to issue a US dollar bond was part of the group's strategy to turn part of its loan portfolio to US dollars, the basic currency in the oil business. According to sources, the issue will reach 200 million US dollars.
Hellenic Petroleum issued a 500-mln-euro four-year bond loan in April 2013, with a fixed interest rate of 8.0 pct.
 National Bank's 2.5-bln-euro share capital increase plan oversubscribedNational Bank on Thursday announced the successful completion of a book-building process in the framework of a share capital increase plan worth 2.5 billion euros.
Sources said that the issue was oversubscribed and that the offer price of the new shares will be 2.20 euros. The bank will officially announce the results on the book-building process on Friday.
Following these developments, National Bank becomes the bank with the second largest free flow in the market, as the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund in the bank's capitalisation fell to 57 pct, from 84.376 pct.
The bank will hold an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Saturday.
 Greek exports to third countries up 5.2 pct in MarchGreek exports to third, or non-EU, countries rose by 5.2 pct in March and fell by 2.7 pct to the EU. Excluding oil products, however, Greek exports fell both to European countries (-4.2 pct) and to third countries (-9.2 pct), the Panhellenic Exporters Association said on Thursday.
In an analysis of official data on Greek exports and imports, the association said that exports to third countries accounted for 53.4 pct of total exports, while excluding oil products third countries' share fell to 33.9 pct.
An increase in exports reflected increased activity in the oil products sector (16.5 pct), chemicals (8.8 pct), machinery (1.2 pct), various industrial (0.5 pct) and confidential products (84.6 pct). On the other hand, exports in the sectors of food (-2.2 pct), beverage/tobacco (-9.5 pct), raw materials (-1.9 pct), olive oil (-63.8 pct) and industrial products (-8.3 pct) moved lower.
Christina Sakellaridi, president of the Association, commenting on the March export figures and said that "their recovery was another positive message to the country's real economy". The European Commission, in its latest report, estimated a 4.6 pct increase in Greek exports this year, while the OECD forecasts a 6.6 pct rise in exports in 2014.
 Greek exports up in MarchGreek imports grew five times more compared with exports in March this year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.970 billion euros in March, from 3.710 billion euros in March 2013, for an increase of 7.0 pct (excluding oil products imports grew by 16.9 pct).
The value of export-deliveries totaled 2.151 billion euros in March, from 2.122 billion euros in March last year, for an increase of 1.4 pct (excluding oil products the value of exports fell by 5.9 pct).
 OTE reports improved Q1 resultsHellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Thursday announced stable revenues for the second successive quarter and higher adjusted net profits by 9.5 pct in the first three months of 2014.
Net profits totaled 55.8 million euros in the January-March period, down 66.5 pct compared with the same period last year, but excluding extraordinary charges adjusted net profits rose 9.5 pct in the first quarter.
Adjusted EBITDA totaled 333.4 million euros, down 3.0 pct from the same period in 2013, while adjusted net borrowing of the Group dropped 42.1 pct to less than 1.6 billion euros at the end of March compared with the same month last year, while investments totaled 123.4 million euros on fixed- and mobile telephony networks in Greece and fixed-telephony networks in Romania. In Greece, EBITDA rose 5.0 pct in the first quarter and the EBITDA profit margin was 38.8 pct, up 350 basis points from the first quarter of 2013. OTE said it customer base in broadband services totaled 1,275,000, while VDSL services had more than 55,000 subscribers by the end of March. TV subscriptions totaled 279,000, up 23,000 in the quarter.
In mobile telephony services, revenues fell by 5.9 pct in the quarter, while demand for data services grew 36.5 pct in the quarter, while smartphone sales grew further accounting for 57 pct of all mobile device sales. Cosmote continued expanding its 4G network covering almost 60 pct of the population.
In Romania, Romtelecom's revenues grew 7.7 pct in the January-March period, while Cosmote Romania's revenues rose 9.2 pct and EBITDA profit margin was 22.6 pct.
In Albania, AMC reported a 24 pct increase in revenues from data services in the quarter, while revenues were up 7.1 pct.
Mihalis Tsamaz, commenting on the results said: "The year began with a fruitful first quarter, continuing the positive performance from the start of the previous year. Group revenues were stable as a result of high performance in fixed telephony. We intensify our investments in networks and content with the aim to strengthen and enrich customers' experience and enhance our leading position. We also invest on the development of our workers and in attracting new talent to remain at the forefront of know-how. We are convinced that these initiatives will support both or revenue and profits in 2014".
 Joint ministerial decision on installation of petrol inflow-outflow systemsThe Finance, Development and Transport ministries have gone ahead with the signing of a Joint Ministerial Decision on the installation of inflow and outflow systems in large-capacity petrol tanks, allowing the General Informatics Systems Secretariat to start receiving in two months data electronically from the overwhelming majority of installations of refineries and fuel trade companies.
The signature marks the first steps in implementing a huge project that covers nationally approximately 1,000 final-destination tanks.
As regards the timetable for these systems, it is anticipated that during the first year of implementation inflow-outflow systems must be installed and start transmitting data (to a central database of the Finance ministry) at 40 percent of all tanks owned by every approved supplier and every administrator of a customs storage depot. The remaining percentage of tanks must comply by the end of the second year of implementation.
In most cases enterprises have already installed electronic fuel inflow-outflow control systems to monitor the reserves and the movement of their products.
 Frigoglass says sales down 11.7 pct in Q1In para 3, line 1 Frigoglass results for 2013 are corrected to read "profit of 3.6 million euros," replacing incorrect "loss of 3.6 million euros". Corrected version follows:
Frigoglass on Thursday reported sales of 124.247 million euros in the first quarter of 2014, down 11.6 pct from the same period last year.
EBITDA fell 20.7 pct to 16.078 million euros, while operating earnings dropped 33.4 pct to 7.891 million euros.
Frigoglass reported net losses of 3.4 million euros in the January-March period, slightly down from a profit of 3.6 million euros reported in the corresponding period in 2013.
In an announcement, the company attributed this negative development to adverse conditions prevailing in the market.
 Greek unemployment rate eased to 26.5 pct in FebGreece's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate eased to 26.5 pct in February from 26.7 pct in February 2013 and 26.6 pct in January 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday. The statistics service, in a monthly report, said that the number of unemployed people totaled 1,300,165 and noted that new hirings were workers up to 34 years old (with a basic salary of 586 euros), while for young people age below 25 years old the basic salary was 511 euros.
The number of unemployed people fell by 14,996 compared with February 2013 (-1.1 pct) and by 7,987 compared with January 2014 (-0.6 pct).
The number of employed people totaled 3,609,445, down 0.2 pct compared with February 2013 and down 0.1 pct from January 2014. The number of economically non-active population was 3,408,565, up 0.7 pct from February last year and up 0.4 pct from January 2014.
The unemployment rate among women was 30 pct in February, while among men the unemployment rate was 23.8 pct. The 15-24 age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (56.9 pct in February, down from 60.1 pct in February last year), followed by the 25-34 age group (34.7 pct from 36.1 pct), the 35-44 age group (24.2 pct from 23.4 pct), the 45-54 age group (20.8 pct from 20.4 pct), the 55-64 age group (17.6 pct from 16.6 pct) and the 65-74 age group (14.8 pct from 7.3 pct).
Among the country's regions Epirus-Western Macedonia (29.6 pct in February from 28.8 pct last year) recorded the highest unemployment rate, followed by Attica (27.3 pct from 27.8 pct), Macedonia-Thrace (26.9 pct from 28.3 pct), Thessaly-Central Greece (26.1 pct from 27.8 pct), the Peloponese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands (26.1 pct from 23.1 pct), Crete (23.8 pct from 23.3 pct) and the Aegean (21.3 pct from 20.2 pct).
 Registered unemployment down 0.43 pct in MarchRegistered unemployment fell by 0.43 pct in March, compared with February, the Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) said on Thursday.
In a report, OAED said the number of registered unemployed people totaled 853,751 in March, from 857,448 in February. Almost half the registered unemployed people were unemployed for more than 12 months, while the number of unemployed people not seeking jobs fell by 2.14 pct in the month. Also, the number of people receiving unemployment benefit fell by 33.07 pct.
The majority of unemployed people are aged between 30-54 years old, mostly women and Greek citizens. A total of 437,173 people (51.21 pct) are unemployed for more than 12 months, of which 354,734 are men (41.58 pct) and 499,017 (58.45 pct) women.
The number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefit totaled 105,694 people in March, down 52,227 people compared with February.
 Foreign investors further raise participation in Greek market's capitalisationForeign investors remained net buyers in the Athens Stock Exchange for the 18th successive month in April, with capital inflows totalling 166.93 million euros, while Greek investors were net sellers with capital outflows of 148.10 million euros.
Foreign investors raised their participation in the Greek market's capitalisation to 54.8 pct in April, from 52.9 pct a month earlier, an increase of 3.6 pct. If the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund in the market's capitalisation was taken into account then foreign investors' participation was 37 pct, up 8.8 pct on a monthly basis. Greek investors cut their participation to 29.3 pct of the market capitalisation.
Turnover totaled 3.229 billion euros in April, up 28.1 pct from March and up a spectacular 144.2 pct compared with April 2013. Daily average turnover was 161.47 million euros, up from 132.67 million euros in March and 62.96 million euros in April 2013.
The number of active investor codes totalled 29,313 in April, from 33,734 in March and 45,120 in April last year. The market's capitalisation totalled 64.55 euros at the end of April, down 8.0 pct from March but up 73.7 pct from April last year.
 Greek stocks resumed decline on ThursdayGreek stocks resumed their decline in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, after Wednesday' s strong recovery. The composite index of the market fell 0.53 pct to end at 1,224.69 points, off the day' s lows of 1,241.97 points. Turnover remained a strong 124.27 million euros.
The Large Cap index eased 0.51 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.31 pct higher. Eurobank Properties (3.80 pct), Motor Oil (3.07 pct) and Titan (1.94 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (5.45 pct), National Bank (5.15 pct) and Korinth Pipeworks (3.98 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Media (3.67 pct), Real Estate (3.60 pct) and Technology (1.83 pct) sectors scored the biggest gains, while Telecommunications (5.45 pct), Utilities (2.19 pct) and Health (1.51 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 76 to 50, with another 28 issues unchanged. Geniki Bank (19.59 pct), Compucon (18.18 pct) and Aeoliki (17.12 pct) were top gainers, while Ilyda (29.08 pct), Pegasus (20 pct) and Pasal (19.91 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -0.67%
Industrial Products: -0.86%
Real Estate: +3.60%
Personal & Household: +1.37%
Food & Beverages: +0.28%
Raw Materials: -1.11%
Travel & Leisure: +0.56%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, Eurobank, 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): 11.04
Coca Cola HBC: 17.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.06
National Bank of Greece: 2.58
Eurobank Properties : 8.47
Piraeus Bank: 1.76
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 4.69 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.14 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.45 pct. Turnover remained a strong 83 million euros, of which 60 million were buy orders and the remaining 23 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate rose to 0.617 pct from 0.614 pct, the nine-month rate rose to 0.527 pct from 0.525 pct, the six-month rate was unchanged at 0.438 pct, the three-month rate was 0.338 pct and the one-month rate was 0.262 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.37 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising slightly to 23.369 million euros.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 7,776 contracts worth 15.384 million euros, with 51,670 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 24,179 contracts worth 7.985 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,675), followed by Alpha Bank (721), Piraeus Bank (419), Eurobank (8,235), MIG (1,170), OTE (2,268), PPC (1,460), OPAP (412), Hellenic Exchanges (105), Mytilineos (154), Hellenic Petroleum (104), Motor Oil (112) and GEK (49).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.395
Pound sterling 0.823
Danish kroner 7.463
Swedish kroner 9.043
Japanese yen 141.95
Swiss franc 1.217
Norwegian kroner 8.178
Canadian dollar 1.517
Australian dollar 1.485
 Drugs squad alerted to 16.8-kilo shipment cocaine at Rendi warehouseThe Greek Police on Thursday announced the discovery of a shipment of 16.82 kilos of Colombian cocaine hidden in crates of bananas, found by an importer at the company's warehouse in Rendi.
The company alerted the drugs squad, saying it had discovered three cardboard boxes full of "suspicious packages" hidden among crates of bananas. The packages later proved to contain cocaine.
Police said the bananas arrived at Italy's Bergeggi port on a ship from Colombia and were loaded onto three trucks operated by various transport companies, which came to Greece via Patras port. The bananas were delivered to the company's warehouse on May 2 for distribution to various traders.
Inside the cardboard boxes containing the cocaine was a GPS tracking device that allowed the criminal organisation that sent the cocaine to monitor its precise location at any time.
In a similar incident last July, again in the Rendi fruit and vegetable market, authorities had discovered half a tonne of cocaine that had arrived from Colombia and entered Greece via Patras.
 Large quantities of contraband cigarettes confiscatedAttica Financial Crimes Police acting on a tip-off on Tuesday found and confiscated large quantities of tobacco products in a container from Indonesia at Piraeus port.
The cargo was declared as containing pieces of furniture, according to a Finance Ministry announcement.
Upon checks, authorities found 900 cartons containing 9 million cigarettes of R.G.D brand. The unpaid custom duties amount to 1,598,121.49 euros. An investigation is underway to locate the recipients of the load.
Authorities also found in the area of Aspropyrgos, Southwestern Attica, 729,400 cigarettes hidden in special caches in pallets loaded with marble floor tiles which were about to be transported to England. Lost taxes and tariffs to the state are estimated at 170,000 euros.
 Three mobile infra-red scanner vans delivered to Coast GuardThe Coast Guard received on Thursday three cutting-edge mobile infra-red scanner systems known as "X-ray vans" for use in Greek ports, to aid in the fight against organised crime, tax evasion, smuggling and illegal migration.
The purchase had been announced in October 2013 by the Shipping and Aegean Minister, who attended a delivery ceremony. The purchase cost 3.2 million euros and was contracted between the Onex SA and the Coast Guard, which will manage the vans. It is cofunded by the European Commission's External Borders Funds (by 75 percent) and by the Greek state (25 percent).
The vans will be used at specific ports for checking containers, cars and baggage for undocumented migrants, explosives and contraband items, like cigarettes.
 Migrant survivors of yacht accident granted temporary stay, while Samos reaches dead body overcapacityRegional director for Northern Aegean Nassos Yiakalis and deputy director of Samos island Themistocles Papatheofanous on Thursday called on civil protection authorities to resolve the overcapacity reached with dead bodies at the hospital and port of the northeastern Aegean island, where a yacht that capsised on May 5 resulted in the deaths of 22 migrants of Somali and Eretrian origin.
Of the 22 bodies, 10 have been identified and will be buried, while the remaining 12 must be transferred to Athens because the morgue on Samos can only keep 9, and those for a few days only. The dead include 4 children, 12 women and 6 men.
The two officials said they would meet with the island's chief prosecutor on Friday.
Meanwhile, Greek Police decided to suspend the expulsion of the 34 migrants who survived the accident, following an initiative by Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias. Survivors were granted a six-month suspension of expulsion, with renewal options, for humanitarian reasons.
 Air Force helicopter airlifts newborn Rhodes baby to CreteAn Air Force Super Puma helicopter flew a prematurely born boy, an hour old, from the southeastern Aegean island of Rhodes to Iraklio, on Crete, on Thursday.
The helicopter landed on premises of Iraklio's general regional university hospital, due to the urgency of the case, at 17:39.
The baby's airlift took place following a request by the Greek Emergency Centre (EKAV).
 Fire breaks out in countryside near LoutrakiA fire broke out on Thursday in countryside near the seaside town of Loutraki, on the Corinthian Gulf, burning low-growing vegetation in an inaccessible location far from any inhabited settlement. A team of 12 fire-engines with crews of 24 firemen, assisting by a fire-fighting aircraft, are trying to put out the blaze.
 Overcast on FridayMostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 9C-22C. Fair weather in the central parts and in the south, 10C-26C. Clouds with possibility of rain over the islands, 13C-23C. Fair in Athens, 12C-24C; scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 12C-22C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailiesAVGHI: Tsipras (Alexis, SYRIZA leader): New start for Greece.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Wealth without control.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Greeks sinking in debts.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Samaras (Antonis, prime minister) : We are building the Greece of growth and opportunities.
ESTIA: Significant changes to the Constitution.
ETHNOS: Real estate at prices of the 80s.
IMERISSIA: Checks for suspicious 'games' at the Athens Stock Exchange
KATHIMERINI: Reversals in the operation of the political system.
LOGOS: Samaras: Greece moving to tomorrow.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Additional aid to Greek regions.
RIZOSPASTIS: Government abolishes dockworkers' collective contracts.
TA NEA: When Boukouras (Stathis, former Golden Dawn and now independent deputy) did not cry...
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