|Friday, 23 August 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-05-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 13 May 2014 Issue No: 4655
 PM: Greece is leaving crisis behind itGreece is leaving the crisis behind it, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed on Monday during a visit to a new motorway bypass under construction at Stylida, after making a detour on his journey toward Lamia in central Greece.
"Greece is entering into new rhythms, a great relaunch is underway," Samaras said, adding that the government was moving forward in the way that people wanted, working and creating with steady steps.
"We are done with what's 'behind'. We are going forward," he stressed.
The prime minister pointed out that a central road axis for the country was being completed in Stylida, which had delayed for many years since 2009 when work had stopped, and was now being rapidly completed. He said the project would be ready to turn over to traffic in a few months time, along with other infrastructure projects from Lamia to Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
 PM Samaras announces special aid programme at Church eventPrime Minister Antonis Samaras addressed a Church of Greece event on Monday and expressed gratitude for its support to Greek society in the years of the economic crisis.
Speaking at the event entitled "Solidarity, the social work of the Church and the social dimension of EU policies," the prime minister underlined that the goal is to improve the people's lives and not faceless numbers or indices. He also referred to the economic reform effort aimed at preventing a similar crisis from happening again and praised the Church for its contribution.
Expressing his gratitude, Samaras noted "now, that the most difficult part of the uphill struggle is behind us, I have to underline that the family, as an institution, and the Church have kept society on its feet during hard times".
Aside from the ongoing relief measures, the social dividend, the measures in support of the homeless and the Church's work, the prime minister also announced a 281-million-euro food and special aid programme decided by the European Parliament and the Greek government for 2014-2020, noting that its budget could exceed 350 million euros and half of the amount will be managed by the Church of Greece.
"There are no atheists in a war," he said, adding that "we experience a war for the survival of our country and the signs show that it will be won." He said that mistakes have taken place in the past but now "we are moving with steady steps looking toward the future". "The Church is the ark of love," he said, noting that its contribution should continue "now that things have taken on a better shape". The event was attended by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, who offered to the prime minister an icon depicting Saint Antonios, Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki and Archbishop Anastasios of Albania.
 Deputy foreign minister addresses Church of Greece eventDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Monday addressed a one-day event organized by the Church of Greece in the framewwork of the Greek EU presidency, stressed the importance of employment, of social cohesion and of reducing social inequality.
Gerontopoulos underlined that the basic priorities of the government and the Greek EU presidency include the promotion of employment by strengthening financial and institutional tools and through reforms to ensure a job market open to everyone.
The deputy minister also pointed to the need to enhance the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union, with emphasis on social investments and innovation, emphasising the importance of promoting social dialogue on all levels.
Gerontopoulos added that the Church of Greece is absolutely devoted to carrying out its social and welfare work, while it contributes to the collective effort for social cohesion, prosperity and progress.
 PM Samaras sees elections as lever for the country's stabilisationPrime Minister Antonis Samaras, speaking in the framework of his tour in the region of Lamia, central Greece said that the election target of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA is to try to topple the government by using the Euroelections to create political instability in the country.
Samaras added that "this is a huge danger, a substantive one, because they see the elections as a lever for the country's destabilisation. But I see the elections as a lever for the country's stabilization; as yet another step forward that we must take with stability and seriousness for what is called growth. Because only growth can provide a solution to all the existing problems."
The prime minister called on citizens to take a clear position on this issue: "Do they want the elections as a lever of stability or as a lever of destabilisation? Do they realise the dangers if the latter takes place? And they must know for our side the positive and the sure. The steps may be small but they are sure, steadfast towards the hope of a Greece, that not merely can now breathe but it also can make the big leap forward. And this is the great question."
 PM Samaras addresses women event in LamiaAddressing a women's event in Lamia, central Greece on Monday evening, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras referred to what he called "New Greece," which he defined as "those who know the value gained by the Greeks when they are united."
He added that "New Greece means also those who bring investments in the country to provide work for our children, your children...not the ones who send them away! It is those who generate income, wealth, jobs and opportunities for everyone."
Samaras underlined that inequalities still exist against women and these have to be eliminated as "there can be no growth if women do not fully participate, if women are deprived of the opportunity to unfold their talents is each sector."
 Venizelos says violence and tension in Ukraine must de-escalateBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The roadmap for de-escalating violence and tension in Ukraine after Sunday's so-called referenda dominated the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting here on Monday, attended by Swiss Confederation President and Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, who currently chairs the OSCE.
Government vice-president and foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos said that he had underlined that the roadmap should be protected and that "the first thing we need to do is to clarify the official Russian stance on the so-called referenda that were held yesterday".
He also underlined that these referenda must not have legal recognition and that it must be ensured that eastern populations will vote in the May 25 presidential elections, noting that "a high abstention rate will create a problem of legitimisation and recycle the tension." Venizelos underlined that a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that troops should be withdrawn from the borderline should be implemented.
"On the other hand, the government in Kiev needs to ensure that there is no form of aggressive violence from the armed forces and, even more so, that collateral mechanisms are not used. Moreover, at the soonest possible time, an inclusive dialogue must be initiated with all of the social, political, ethnic and linguistic groups, and with all the regions, on a constitutional solution that ensures sovereignty, integrity and the participation of everyone," he noted.
 FM Venizelos' doorstep statement on arrival at the EU Foreign Affairs CouncilWith regard to Ukraine, the priority is to organize genuine public steps that would de-escalate tension and violence, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday said on arrival at the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
Venizelos noted that the first step from the Russian side would be not to recognize the so called referendum. The second step is the real participation of Ukraine's eastern regions in the presidential elections, Venizelos said and pointed out that the third step is the withdrawal of military forces from the borderline.
"On the part of Kiev, we need a genuine inclusive process of dialogue with the eastern regions of the country. This is something very important so as to organize a new and sustainable situation in Ukraine, always under the principle of respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country," he concluded.
 Venizelos expresses EU's willingness to help Albania's future accessionBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Greek government vice-president and Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday expressed the European Union's willingness to boost Albania's efforts to achieve its future accession to the EU. Venizelos was speaking after the end of the EU-Albania Stability and Association Council held here, which he chaired.
Venizelos emphasised the need for Albania to promote structural reforms with greater determination, primarily on the rule of law and fighting corruption and organised crime.
On the part of the European Commission, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule called on both government and opposition in Albania to cooperate constructively in implementing structural changes.
Albanian Foreign minister Ditmir Bushati, assured of his government's willingness to meet all the conditions required from Albania to receive the candidate status.
 Tsipras meets Federal Council Chair Matvienko in MoscowMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/ Th. Avgherinos)
Welcoming a SYRIZA delegation led by Greece's main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras at the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of Parliament, Council Chair Valentina Matvienko on Monday said that Greece is a "strategic partner" for Russia, which is interested in developing Greek-Russian relations in various sectors and directions, at both a bilateral and multilateral level.
Tsipras replied that the great majority of the Greek people, and SYRIZA, consider Russia to be an inseparable part of the greater Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, and for this reason are in favour of making "an effort to maintain the tradition of warm relations between Greece and Russia".
He stressed that Greece and Russia are linked with a "tradition of common struggles of our peoples, common religious convictions, with common political and cultural roots in our history," adding that "for this reason we believe that there can be no positive prospects and future for the peoples of Europe, if we do not try to once again build cooperation between our peoples, something that will also bring stability to our continent".
The SYRIZA leader went on to say that the meeting was taking place at a troubled and crucial time for Europe and Russia, while expressing concern over developments in Ukraine "since the conditions are being created for a new division in the heart of Europe, a regression to the era of the Cold War."
Tsipras further stressed that "it is a regression for us to see fascism and the neo-Nazis entering European governments again and for this to be accepted by the EU. The possibility of a diplomatic solution being promoted is also one of the targets of our visit, Ukraine must become a bridge between the EU and Russia and not a field of new division."
 Informal Competitiveness Council to be held on MondayThe developments in the European industry and the framework for a possible action roadmap - after the decisions of the Spring European Council - on Monday will be discussed at the Informal Competitiveness Council chaired by Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis.
The Greek presidency will highlight two key challenges for the European industry: innovation and key enabling technologies as well as competitiveness of energy-intensive industries.
 Three ministries sign co-operation protocol to improve quality of life for youngstersThe culture and sports, education and health ministries, represented by their respective deputy ministers Yannis Andrianos, Symeon Kedikoglou and Zetta Makri, on Monday signed a co-operation protocol for mutual action to tackle obesity among school children, encourage healthy eating habits and inform students on what constitutes a health diet through education.
"We must tackle child obesity, and our low performance in physical exercise, with determination and effectiveness," Andrianos said, stressing that "today's new generations are in danger, because of their habits, of having a shorter life expectancy than their parents' generation."
Makri stressed that the protocol was a very important initiative for co-operation between the three ministries to accomplish common goals in connection with improving the country's health and quality of life. "Chronic diseases are amongst the most serious public health problems," she said and underlined that "cardiovascular diseases, diabetes some types of cancer and obesity are directly connected with today's lifestyle," she said.
"I believe that the issues we are concerned with, such as health, students education, a correct diet and exercise, concern everyone's life," Kedikoglou said and stressed the importance of being educated on correct lifestyle habits, which can contribute to improving the quality of life.
The protocol was signed at the General Secretariat for Sports with University of Athens Medical School Professor Antonia Trichopoulou attending.
 No result at health ministry talks with private health contractorsThe outcome of talks between the health ministry and private health contractors on Monday failed to confirm the ministry's initial optimism of a quick resolution, which would avert a suspension of services by private medical laboratories and diagnostic centres formerly contracted with the National Organisation for Provision of Health Services (EOPYY).
The private providers are determined to go ahead with their mobilisation, even though both sides admitted that Monday's talks were on a good path.
Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis (in the presence of Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas and EOPYY president Dimitris Kontos) held an extensive meeting on Monday with representatives of the Panhellenic Medical Society, the private laboratories and the diagnostic centres.
Georgiadis termed the discussion constructive, assessed that progress had been made and predicted that a final solution will be achieved by noon on Tuesday.
The head of the Panhellenic Medical Association Mihalis Vlastarakos also agreed that a lot of progress had been made but stressed that unless the issue of the organisation's financing was resolved the same problems would arise again.
 Hospital doctors announces 24-hour strike in state hospitalsState hospitals and heathcare clinics, health centers and the National Emergency Aid Centre (EKAB) will be operating with a skeleton staff on Wednesday, due to a 24-hour strike announced by the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospitals Employees (POEDHN).
POEDHN is opposed to employee evaluation processes, stressing that it "will not allow unsolicited manipulation by the government, which wants to establish individual salaries in health and welfare, placing employees in a permanent mobility-dismissal pool and manipulating public administration."
The employees also stressed that tate health services were "underfunded and understaffed" and that "hospital services were being privatised."
 SYRIZA's Lafazanis interviewed by ANA-MPA, sees 'major victory' at upcoming EU electionsMain opposition SYRIZA's parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis appeared confident that his party was heading for a "major victory" in the upcoming European elections that would completely shake up the political scene, in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Monday.
He also expressed concern about the rise of the far right in Europe and suggested that "progressive upset" in Greece could act as a catalyst for positive changes in the rest of Europe. In the case of SYRIZA's victory, he said the party's priority would be to broker alliances through truly unifying initiatives between all leftist forces "through mutual political and policy shifts".
Conversely, he expressed conviction that the ruling coalition parties New Democracy and PASOK would see their support base collapse in the European elections.
 Independent Greeks party leader on three-day tour of Eastern Macedonia, ThraceIndependent Greeks (ANEL) party leader Panos Kammenos will be on a three-day tour of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace starting Tuesday.
Kammenos will be visiting Alexandroupoli on Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday he will be attending anniversary events marking the liberation of Komotini. He will then visit Xanthi and Kavala.
Lastly, he will be visiting Drama on Thursday.
 KKE's Koutsoumbas addresses event in Iraklio, CreteCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas told a gathering of party followers on Monday in Heraklion, Crete that KKE's and People's Rally ballot is a political weapon aiming directly at the anti-working class government of New Democracy (ND) and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).
"For years, PASOK and ND blackmailed the people, they shared promises, disoriented and trapped the people between their fake disputes," Koutsoumbas said and stressed that they continue with the same tactic today as they don't want popular displeasure to "define the European Union, their rotten system and never meet with the realistic political proposal of KKE."
 KKE Eurodeputy Agourakis dies at Onaseio hospitalCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Eurodeputy Bambis Agourakis died Monday evening at the intensive care unit of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center (Onaseio), Athens. Agourakis is reported to have been facing a serious health problem.
The 63-year-old politician held the Athens A' electoral district seat for KKE between 1997-2000 and was elected Eurodeputy in 2009.
 European Court of Human Rights ordersTurkey to pay 90 million euros compensation to CyprusSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/N. Roussis)
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in a ruling on Monday, set the final amount in compensation that Turkey must pay to Cyprus for human rights violations perpetrated during a Turkish invasion of the island and in subsequent years.
According to the ruling, Turkey is ordered to pay the Republic of Cyprus 90 million euros within three months of the issue of the ruling.
Of this amount, 30 million euros are for moral damages experienced by the relatives of those still missing after the Turkish invasion and the 60 million euros are for moral damages experienced by the enclaved Greek Cypriots of Karpasia, according to the ruling.
 Greece participating in large-scale military exercise in GermanyBERLIN (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)
Greece, with other 10 countries, will participate in the "Joint Air Warfare Tactical Exercise 2014" (JAWTEX 2014), the largest military exercise of the year in Germany, the German Air Force Luftwaffe announced on Monday.
Roughly 4,200 officers will take part in the large-scale exercise, a total of 800 from Greece, Holland, Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, United States and Turkey, representing almost all military branches namely, air force, ground forces and marines.
The exercise will be launched on May 23 and will take place mainly in north and northeast Germany and the North Sea, with the German Air Force rejecting any attempt to associate the manoeuvres with the situation in Ukraine.
According to a statement by a Luftwaffe spokesperson to the website "The Local", only a psychic could have predicted the situation in Ukraine two years ago when the planning of the exercise began. The Luftwaffe spokesperson also clarified that aircraft will fly over the region north of Cologne but people on the ground mostly likely will not be able to hear or see them.
"It will not be a Formula 1 race. Most part of the exercise will be carried out in military camps on the ground, and flights will take place at a very high altitude," the spokesperson underlined.
 Environment ministry officials concerned over finance ministry bill on coastal areasEnvironment, energy and climate change ministry officials on Monday expressed serious concern regarding a draft bill proposed by the finance ministry regulating protection of coastal areas and beaches.
The environment ministry's officials stressed that they have not beem sufficiently briefed regarding the finance ministry's intentions, while they expressed further concerns related to a series of articles included in the bill.
 Greece-Albania agreement on the use of geographical names (toponyms)BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
The foreign ministers of Greece and Albania, Evangelos Venizelos and Ditmir Bushati, respectively, reached an agreement here on Monday on the issue of the expression of geographical names (toponyms) in Albanian passports and certificates.
Government vice-president and foreign minister Venizelos noted that an agreement was reached on a persisting and very important issue.
He underlined that, respecting international law and good neighborly relations, it was agreed that the geographical names used will be acceptable by both sides in accordance with international practice.
"A step forward in the area of good neighbourly relations is being made, which is associated with the European prospect of the neighbouring country," Venizelos said.
Albania's EU candidacy is among the Greek EU Presidency goals, Venizelos underlined.
 Improved services provided by Greece's Consulate General in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)
Use of technology has facilitated procedures and helped overcome red tape in services offered by Greek diplomatic missions in the United States, Greece's General Consul in New York George Iliopoulos and Consul Manos Koumbarakis said in statements to the ANA-MPA on Monday. They cited the Consulate General in New York as a characteristic example, saying that it had kept up the level of services offered in spite of problems caused by constant cutbacks. At the same time, efforts aimed at promoting Greece's image have been reinforced, they said.
Noticeable progress has been made in services offered to Greek-Americans in the context of their transactions with the Greek state.
The public can keep up to date with the latest news from the Consulate General in New York and learn about the services provided by visiting www.mfa.gr/newyork or get information in twitter (@CGGreeceNYC).
 R&I upgrades Greece's credit rating to B-R&I (Rating and Investment Information), a Japanese credit rating agency, on Monday upgraded Greece's credit rating in foreign and domestic currency to B- with a stable outlook, from CC.
R&I, in an announcement, attributed this decision to the fact that the Greek economy was reaching its lowest point and the the country's public debt as a percentage of GDP will possible begin falling in the next two years.
"The Greek economy finally reaches its lowest point. With a fiscal consolidation progressing as planned, a primary fiscal balance became positive. The public debt is huge compared with the Gross Domestic Product, but will possible begin falling in one or two years, combined with an improvement of the fiscal balance," R&I said, adding that the country's ability to repay its debt has increased.
The Japanese credit rating expects the Greek economy to grow by 0-1.0 pct this year helped by an increase in exports and investments.
 IMF underestimated the impact of fiscal consolidation on Greece's growth, Lagarde saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) underestimated the impact of fiscal consolidation on economic growth, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde told German newspaper Handelsblatt in an interview, citing Greece as an example.
Lagarde acknowledged that Europe was recovering, but warned against "misleading security" because of falling bond prices. "The recovery is underway. That is correct," she said. "Some countries have successfully implemented the programmes, but that does not mean the crisis is over and our mission accomplished."
In the case of Greece, the deep and enduring political crisis caused further uncertainty among investors, Lagarde noted.
"I am confident that fiscal consolidation and growth-friendly steps do not exclude one another. This is not an easy case, but highly indebted countries cannot avoid a significant reduction of their debt if they want to restore confidence in the markets," Lagarde underlined.
"A country that can raise virtually no money from the markets, cannot afford to promote fiscal consolidation with small steps. This was the case in Greece," she added.
 Greek economic team optimistic over Q1 GDP trendThe Greek government's economic team is optimistic that an economic recession will slow to -1.0 pct in the first quarter of 2014. Finance ministry officials told ANA-MPA on Monday that the data on GDP for the first three months of the year will be released by Hellenic Statistical Authority on Thursday.
If the expectations of the ministry were justified, then an estimate for a growth rate between 0.6 pct-1.0 pct for the year would be considered possible, the officials said.
They added that the country's economy had contracted by 6.0 pct in the first quarter of 2013 and if the data were to show a contraction of 1.0 pct this year, the five points difference would be a pre-announcement of returning to positive growth rates, higher than estimated, in 2014.
Tourism is expected to be the driving force behind this year's growth estimate, as bookings in Greek hotels grew 30.1 pct in the first quarter of 2014.
 Greece presents strategy plan to boost tax collectionGreece's Public Revenues General Secretariat on Monday presented its strategic plan for the period 2014-2007, which envisaged actions aimed at boosting timely payment by taxpayers, reducing old tax debt, reducing the size of black economy, combating tax-evasion and tax-avoidance, containing corruption and enhancing the skills of tax administration workforce.
Presenting the plan, Haris Theoharis, secretary-general said the plan envisaged collection of 2.0 billion euros from old tax debt, collecting 25 pct of new overdue tax debt, collection of 30.9 billion euros in pre-return taxes by tax agencies and collecting 12.1 billion euros in pre-return taxes by customs offices.
Theoharis said the plan also envisaged widespread tax controls of large enterprises and wealthy individuals, along with measures aimed to boost the efficiency of the tax administration, such as updating of IT systems, locating and combating corruption/promoting a code of ethics, improving methods of forced collection of debt and improving the efficiency of tax controls.
The Public Revenue office, in a report released on Monday, said it had completed 181 tax controls on wealthy individuals and enterprises so far this year and has imposed fines totaling more than 45 million euros.
 Hatzidakis on the reduction of electricity rates for industrial consumersThe European Commission will give its response in the next few days to a proposal tabled by the Greek government concerning the reduction of electricity rates for industrial consumers through the implementation of the so-called "interruptibility" agreement, Development & Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced on Monday, during a press conference after the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Competitiveness (COMPET) on industrial competitiveness held in Athens
The interruptibility agreements allow the grid operator to cut or reduce electricity supply to energy intensive plants for some time during peak periods in exchange for rate discounts.
The interruptibility agreements were enacted into law last fall but their implementation was blocked as a result of objections raised by the European Competition Directorate, which now have been withdrawn.
The informal meeting held earlier on Monday in Athens' Zappeion Building reached four conclusions, including the reduction of high energy cost and red tape, the adoption of measures to encourage innovation and handling industry sector issues on EU level.
"In recent years, the EU did not focus on industrial competitiveness as much as it should have and now it pays the cost," Hatzidakis said. According to figures he presented, roughly 4 million jobs were lost since 2008, while the participation of industry in European GDP was reduced from 18 pct to 15 pct.
 Hellenic Petroleum raises 400 million US dollars from two-year bond issueHellenic Petroleum on Monday announced the successful completion of a two-year bond issue raising 400 million US dollars from international markets. A company statement said the bond issue carries a fixed interest rate of 4.625 pct, while bids submitted totaled 1.4 billion euros. Hellenic Petroleum said foreign institutional investors covered 50 pct of the book building process.
Commenting on the bond issue, chief executive of the Group John Costopoulos said that the successful completion of the first dollar Eurobond issue in the history of Hellenic Petroleum confirmed the confidence of international capital markets and private investors in the company's outlook and strategy. The money raised, the speed of completing the book building process and the participation of high-quality investors were proof of the company's ability to further expand its funding sources, he noted.
The money raised will be used to refinance existing debt and to cover other activities of the Group. The bonds will be listed in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
 Motor Oil to sell 300-mln-euro bond issueMotor Oil Hellas on Monday announced plans to sell a five-year senior note bond issue worth 300 million euros in international markets.
In an announcement to market authorities, Motor Oil said that issuer of the bond will be Motor Oil Finance plc, a 100 pct subsidiary. The bonds will carry Motor Oil Hellas guarantee and will be listed for trading in the Euro MTF Market of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
The sum to be raised and the interest rate of the coupon will be set through a book building process. HSBC Bank plc, is global coordinator of the issue, while Alpha Bank, Citigroup Global Markets Limited, Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) Limited, HSBC Bank plc, National Securities and Piraeus Bank will act as joint book-runners.
The money to be raised will be used to refinance its existing debt and other corporate purposes.
 Tourist arrivals up 30.1 pct in Jan-AprilGreek tourism is heading for a new arrivals record this year, official figures for the first four months of 2014 showed on Monday. A report released by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) showed that tourist arrivals jumped 30.1 pct in the largest airports of the country in the first four months of the year, compared with the same period in 2013, to 1,315,901 visitors.
SETE expects a record in tourist arrivals this year, 18.5 million visitors with revenues of 13 billion euros, excluding arrivals from sea cruises.
In Athens, tourist arrivals jumped 36.1 pct in the January-April period, compared with the same period in 2013. SETE expects a strong recovery in tourist arrivals to Athens this year, with 700,000 more arrivals. In Cyclades, arrivals soared 123 pct, while in Crete arrivals rose 43 pct compared with last year. In the Peloponese, tourist arrivals grew 28.1 pct.
 Building activity down 25.8 pct in Jan-FebBuilding activity continued its plunge, with the size of the domestic private building activity totaling 975 building permits in February this year, down 20.7 pct compared with the corresponding period in 2013. Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a report released on Monday, said that building activity fell by 5.0 pct in volume in February. In the January-February period, private building activity fell by 28.9 pct in permits and by 25.8 pct in volume.
 Greek stocks end 2.27 pct downGreek stocks came under renewed selling pressure in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market back to levels seen at the end of January. The index fell 2.27 pct to end at 1,164.59 points, off the day's lows of 1,150.01 points, with its gains so far this year reduced to 0.16 pct. Turnover remained a heavy 170.20 million euros.
The Large Cap index fell 1.98 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.36 pct lower. National Bank was the only blue chip stock to end higher (3.54 pct), while Frigoglass (7.65 pct), Titan (4.98 pct), Metka (4.32 pct), Motor Oil (4.25 pct) and Korinth Pipeworks (4.19 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
All sectors moved lower, with Oil (4.09 pct), Industrial Products (4.01 pct) and Commerce (3.98 pct) suffering heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 104 to 29 with another 18 issues unchanged. Compucon (19.35 pct), Sidma (16.83 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farms (16.07 pct) were top gainers, while G.E.Demetriou (24.24 pct), Perseus (19.80 pct) and Vioter (19.64 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -2.19%
Industrial Products: -4.01%
Real Estate: -1.95%
Personal & Household: -3.14%
Food & Beverages: -0.78%
Raw Materials: -2.41%
Travel & Leisure: -3.23%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.63
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.49
Coca Cola HBC: 17.39
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.89
National Bank of Greece: 2.63
Eurobank Properties : 8.20
Piraeus Bank: 1.67
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 4.76 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 4.62 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.22 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.46 pct. Turnover was a heavy 82 million euros, of which 66 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 16 million were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.606 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.516 pct, the six-month rate was 0.431 pct, the three-month rate was 0.336 pct and the one-month rate was 0.266 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 1.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising significantly to 65.080 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 29,760 contracts worth 55.109 million euros, with 57,228 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,358 contracts worth 9.971 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (17,827), followed by Alpha bank (3,934), Piraeus Bank (1,449), National Bank (4,330), MIG (1,641), OTE (2,872), PPC (1,554), OPAP (683), Coca Cola HBC (279), Hellenic Exchanges (353), Mytilineos (504), Hellenic Petroleum (1,97), Motor Oil (135), Metka (166), GEK (357), Ellaktor (185) and Intralot (176).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.376
Pound sterling 0.815
Danish kroner 7.464
Swedish kroner 9.015
Japanese yen 140.31
Swiss franc 1.221
Norwegian kroner 8.139
Canadian dollar 1.497
Australian dollar 1.468
 Greeks pessimistic about next 12 months, Eurobarometer showsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
Greek men and women continue to be pessimistic about their prospects in the next 12 months, according to a Eurobarometer survey carried out on March 15-24 and published on Monday, though less so than in the previous EU survey of this type.
Based on the results, 56 pct of Greeks believe that the economic situation in Greece will deteriorate, 7 pct less than in a November survey. Conversely, 16 pct see the situation improving, up 3 pct since November.
This is more than double the EU28 average, where 25 pct (down 5 pct since November) believe the situation will get worse, compared with 24 pct (up 3 pct since November) that see things improving.
Based on the Community survey, 97 pct of Greeks (compared to 65 pct of Europeans) consider that the state of their country's economy is bad. A further 60 pct of Greeks believe that the situation will get worse in the next 12 months in terms of employment (29 pct of EU citizens) and 14 pct that it will improve (23 pct in the EU). Roughly 24 pct of Greeks believe that their personal situation in terms of employment will deteriorate over the next 12 months (9 pct in the EU) and 14 pct that it will improve (19 pct in the EU).
Nearly two thirds of Greeks, or 65 pct, consider unemployment to be the country's biggest problem (compared with 49 pct in the EU), followed by the economic situation (47 pct of Greeks, 29 pct of EU citizens) and high taxes (21 pct of Greeks, 12 pct of EU citizens).
On a personal level, high taxes are a major issue for 35 pct of Greeks (17 pct in EU28 countries), followed by unemployment for 28 pct (21 pct of EU28 countries), the state of their household (29 pct of Greeks, 16 pct of EU28 citizens) and price hikes (23 pct of Greeks, 38 pct of EU28 citizens).
 Many Greeks that worked in Germany are now eligible for a German state pensionGreeks that have worked in Germany but did not meet the necessary requirements for a German state pension can now be eligible for one due to changes in the country's pension system.
The main change relates to the increase of the time spent raising children, who were born before 1992, to two from one year, according to the participants of an event organized by "Hellenic Silverstars" association members. This extra year can be counted in the five insurance years required for a pension from the German state.
"Hellenic Silverstars" vice president George Papadopoulos told ANA-MPA that this development sets new standards for many people who now live in Greece and have no access to benefits or other payments they are entitled to as due to long distances or changes in the law they are not adequately informed on any new data.
"There are many people whose applications to receive pension from the German state were rejected. There are also many people who were discouraged and did not even file an application," he said.
Papadopoulos also referred to the role of the association and said it was established earlier this year by people who had lived in Greece and Germany and when they returned home they decided to help others who faced problems with their retirement process and their settlement in the two countries.
 Samos tragedy survivors arrive in PiraeusThe 32 survivors of a tragic shipwreck off the coast of Samos, in which 22 undocumented migrants were drowned and another seven are still missing, arrived onboard of "European Express" at Piraeus port on Monday morning.
The survivors include seven Syrian nationals, 24 Somalis and a woman from Eritrea. The 12 bodies recovered from the shipwreck were also transferred on the same route.
 Forty undocumented migrants rescued off MytileneCoast Guard authorities on Monday collected 40 undocumented migrants who on board of a dinghy at the sea region of Mytilene. They have now been transferred to the island's Port Authority.
 Athens National Observatory signs agreement with European Space AgencyGreece will host the first European center of collection and redistribution of data from Earth observation satellites Sentinel, the "Copernicus" programme, on the premises of the National Observatory of Athens.
The agreement - the first in Europe - was signed on Monday during an international conference at the Eugenides Foundation between the President of the Observatory Professor Kanaris Tsiganos and the Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Professor Volker Liebig on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). Similar agreements between the ESA and other countries are expected to be signed in the future.
The developing European satellite Earth observation program "Copernicus" and the plethora of its useful applications, contributing to the improvement of public services, dealing with various social and environmental problems and presenting new business opportunities in Europe, is the topic of the international two-day event.
The General Secretary for Research and Technology Christos Vasilakos noted "Greece's strong interest in the programme "Copernicus" and assured that the country will participate in the wider European effort through specialized science base, research institutes, private companies in the scientific and technology sector, as well as existing and planned infrastructure.
 Envelope containing bullets sent to Supreme Court Prosecution (ADDS)An envelope that contained three 7.72-mm bullets was delivered by post to the Supreme Court's Prosecution Office on Monday.
The alleged sender used the surname "Alepoudellis," which is the real surname of renowned poet Odysseas Elytis, born on the island of Lesvos - where Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani also hails from.
The envelope contained a note referring to relatives of prosecutors, examining magistrates and ministers, who have been involved in several cases, without giving any further details. In the note, the unknown sender asked for the release of imprisoned persons, again without specifying any names.
"If in 15 days you have not released those unjustly remanded in custody in this dirty affair, then in the space of 20 months, either the minister, or the prosecutor or the magistrate involved in the case will mourn people close to them, regardless of age and sex. This period of time will be required to locate these targets. Injustice will wipe out families," the note read.
The envelope underwent a scan on arrival, revealing the presence of the three bullets, and then opened by the Supreme Court's security personnel, who found the threatening note. Both the letter and the bullets were handed over to the counter-terrorism squad, which has been mobilised in response.
 Strong quake jolts IgoumenitsaAn earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale was recorded on Monday at 3.54 am. The quake's epicentre was located 32 km north of Igoumenitsa, Northwestern Greece. No damage has been reported so far.
Greek Archaeologists Association calls 24hour strike for Tuesday
The Greek Archaeologists Association will hold a 24-hour strike on May 13 to protest against the employees' mobility scheme which ends on May 21.
They will gather outside the Culture ministry at 09.30 and hold a march to the Administrative Reform ministry.
 Overcast on TuesdayCloudy weather with variable winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and possibly local showers in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging between 14C and 28C. Scattered clouds in the central parts and possible local showers in Western Greece, 11C-29C. Scattered clouds over the islands, 15C-26C. Same weather in Athens, 15C-29C; cloudy weather and possibly local showers in Thessaloniki, 14C-26C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailiesEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: 7 out of 10 citizens dissatisfied with the current situation
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Cement on the seashore for the sake of Ellinikon
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: When should public sector employees, uniformed staff make use of an express pension procedure
ESTIA: Naive voters
ETHNOS: Road map for high school exams
NAFTEMPORIKI: The single tax on real estate
TA NEA: "Storm" over seashore buildings
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