|Tuesday, 10 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-05-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 21 May 2014 Issue No: 4662
 PM Samaras: New Greece needs stability to become competitive and growGreece will return to its pre-crisis state in seven years, with an increase in its GDP, the opening of 770,000 new jobs, and prosperity spread among all citizens, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (below) said on Tuesday, during his key campaign speech at the Benaki Museum Annexe in Athens. "Until 2020, Greece will have recovered the prosperity it had before the crisis," Samaras said, and stressed that conditions would gradually improve for the ave-rage citizen. Samaras said that growth would begin in 2014, reaching 2.9% in 2015 and 3.7% in 2016, citing data from international organization and research centres.
Tourism was at the forefront of development, he noted, as was energy and research and technology, that would contribute the most to the creation of jobs, as would investments by foreign companies in Greece. "We reduced the debt and controlled interest rates without an intervening bankruptcy, with interest rates to be reduced further in the autumn. Greece has restored its credibility abroad," Samaras said, referring to Greece's renewed access to markets, adding that now "we are initiating a new Greece, of competitiveness, not of statism."
The main priorities of the plan he presented included the following: A reduction in unemployment, which will bring a rise in wages; a reduction in taxation in a way that would not affect the primary surplus adversely; a reduction in farming cost, to improve competitive ability; liquidity in business, with banks finding their own funding abroad; and promotion of reforms, including tax evasion and bureaucracy and the revision of the constitution to improve stability in the electoral system and limit the prime minister's terms in office. In his address, Samaras attacked main opposition SYRIZA, charging them with using the prospect of a new Greece as a campaign motto alone. "These are all the people who want instability...who for the past two years have voted down any reform attempt, every single article, who have no plan and who want to turn us back," the premier said. "The country is taking off. Greeks are being called to respond to the dilemma, next Sunday, of going ahead to growth or returning to the crisis," Samaras said, referring to the double elections on May 25, for the second round of local government elections and Europarliament elections. The premier included a review of the two years of his government and said it was the first time a modern and comprehensive national growth plan was being adopted, making special reference to energy and water resources. The audience included the Parliament president, ministers of National Defence, Justice, Public Order, Shipping and Labour, and deputies and Eurodeputies. Tuesday's address counts as New Democracy party's right to air time allocated to party leaders for a televised speech.
 PM Samaras' promises 'are misleading citizens,' SYRIZA chargesMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party criticised Prime Minister Antonis Samaras about his speech on growth on Tuesday evening, commenting that he is promising new jobs while his austerity policies and the memorandum have created 1.5 million unemployed. SYRIZA stressed in an announcement that the prime minister's promises are misleading citizens the same way Mavrogialouros did, an elitist politician portrayed in a classic Greek black and white film, and urged voters to prevent Samaras from continuing his destructive work, when they cast their ballots in this Sunday's elections.
 'Greece's macroeconomic performance is excellent,' Juncker tells NERIT interviewGreece in now returning to growth and this is very important, Jean-Claude Juncker, European People's Party (EPP) candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, told Greek state broadcaster NERIT in an interview on Tuesday. "Under Antonis Samaras' leadership, Greece managed to present a primary surplus that no one was expecting. Were I told about it two years ago, everybody would laugh," Juncker said, admitting that this was of little concern to the country's unemployed. "However, it is only through improvement in macroeconomics that the microeconomic reality will improve and new jobs created," he added. Juncker recalled that in his former capacity as Eurogroup president for eight years he did all he could to keep Greece in the eurozone, "unlike others, including governments, who were trying to kick it out." He added that if he were Greek he would be as proud of Greece as all Europeans are for them, as the country is achieving excellent results.
 City of Athens mayoral candidates to hold televised debate on Wednesday; no such prospect in Attica Region raceThe candidate mayors of Athens, Giorgos Kaminis and Gavriil Sakellaridis, the front-runners in the first round of local government elections last Sunday, will hold their first televised debate on Wednesday, to be aired on Athens-based private television station ANT1. There is no such prospect in the case of the Attica regional governor candidates, Yiannis Sgouros and Rena Dourou, it was announced on Tuesday. The candidate mayors of Athens are likely to hold more debates until the second round of local government elections next Sunday. Sakellaridis on Monday suggested that the dialogue should conclude with a publicly-held meeting in the amphitheatre of the Athens municipality radio station "Athens 9.84" attended by citizens who would pose questions on predetermined thematic units without the pressure of television time limits. He had also suggested that the discussion be aired on the City of Athens radio station, as well as on private television stations.
 Incumbent Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis says he is an independent candidateAthens mayoral candidate Giorgos Kaminis on Tuesday repeated that he is an independent candidate, in response to an announcement by government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, who offered the support of New Democracy (ND), one of the coalition government partners, to his bid for reelection to the City Hall. Speaking on ANA-MPA webTV, incumbent Athens Mayor Kaminis said that in last Sunday's first round of local government elections, he had the backing of 18 political parties and groupings, noting that he did not undertake any commitment toward any of them. Kaminis asked for the support of voters backing different political parties, including the ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) and clarified that he calls on GD voters to see "who fought for the city's interests and who is the one creating new prospects for Athens". Referring to his work as the mayor of Athens, he said that in his first term in office he managed to "tidy up the municipality" and in his next term he intends to "tidy up the city".
 Gov't spokesman: No national elections issue after euroelectionsGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou estimated that "the Greek citizens, with their vote, will safeguard the stability" speaking on Tuesday to private TV Mega adding that "national elections issue after the euroelections does not exist". "Stability is the wager in order the economy to be supported and to keep the investments" said Kedikoglou.
 Interior Minister Michelakis wants no exit polls in Sunday's elections; SYRIZA warns against 'public opinion manipulation attempts'Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis on Tuesday suggested through his website that no exit polls should be held during Sunday's elections until an investigation is carried out into the causes that led to the great deviation between exit poll results and the final voting count in last Sunday's local government elections. Commenting on twitter, he strongly criticized the polling companies because the exit poll results were leaked to the media while voting was still underway. Meanwhile, in a letter he addressed to the Association of Greek Market & Opinion Research Companies (SEDEA) on Monday, he underlined that an investigation should be carried out into the opinion polls held ahead of the elections. Commenting on next Sunday's second round of local government elections, Michelakis said that his positions on incumbent Attica Regional Governor Yiannis Sgouros are known and were made publicly. He noted that the candidacy of George Koumoutsakos was the best of all and underlined that, in his opinion, Attica has missed a great opportunity. Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), meanwhile, said that it will be relentless in its criticism of all those who attempt to exploit opinion poll problems politically or by creating impressions seeking to manipulate public opinion. SYRIZA Opinion Poll Committee head Kostas Poulakis noted the scientific and credibility problems observed in the opinion polls and underlined that the polling companies will also be judged in next Sunday's elections, together with the political parties and the candidates running.
 Marketing research association responds to minister on exit poll numbersThe Association of Greek Market & Opinion Research Companies (SEDEA) on Tuesday underlined that the exit poll analysis and forecast is a sample-based survey, noting that apparently this estimate by approximation probably did not serve the television media communication needs between 19:00 hrs and 22:00 hrs on Sunday evening, in terms of knowing vote results in advance. SEDEA responded to a letter addressed by Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis who on Monday asked that an investigation be carried out into the divergence from actual results of opinion polls held ahead of the elections and to his comments on Tuesday that exit polls would be likely banned this Sunday (May 25), when the runoff of local government and the Europarliament elections are held. According to the SEDEA announcement, exit polls are tools used globally to study the structure, correlations, vote movement and demographic composition of the election result. "This is the reason they are being systematically conducted in all advanced democratic countries," SEDEA announced. "At some point, we will hopefully come to use this tool in the way it was designed to be used and not strictly for the production of television programmes," it concluded.
 PASOK leader Venizelos calls for unity of the centre leftPASOK leader (and Government Vice President) Evangelos Venizelos sent a message of unity to all the forces of the centre-left "without hesitations and prejudices" in an statement to NEA newspaper ahead of the second round of the local administration elections and the euroelections on Sunday. Venizelos also noted the "constituitional obligation to fight against the supporters of nazism and violence".
 PASOK criticises SYRIZA over allegations that it is 'aligned with New Democracy'PASOK party, replying to a relevant announcement by the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) "alleging alignment between PASOK and New Democracy", accused SYRIZA of making "unsubstantive and provocative" announcements. The party, which is in a ruling coalition with New Democracy, added that anyone who "is perpetually trapped in a fantasy of assuming power by storm is unable to realise that there are capable, progressive, effective and unifying mayors and regional governors who are acceptable by wider social forces". In addition, the party said that what was worse was that this obsession and anxiety "are leading SYRIZA to 'leak' information to the media that creates a climate of pardon for the neo-Nazi and criminal and racist organisation of Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi)." It concluded with a question referring to the high vote count for the extreme-right party: "Is it entirely coincidental that Mr. Tsipras made no comment about Golden Dawn on the night of the first round, as other political leaders did?"
 Tsipras calls on voters to support SYRIZA in Euroelections; gov't spokesman respondsMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras, addressing a rally in the city of Patras on Tuesday, called on voters to support SYRIZA in the Euroelections. Tsipras criticised the government, saying that "we have before us an imposed and tottering government". He accused Prime Minister and New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos of "going ahead with electoral extortion when they tell the Greek people 'Vote for us because Merkel, Barroso, Juncker want us'," he said, referring to European leaders, and adding that "the government's purpose is to continue with new measures, new cutbacks, new taxes and a new looting and sellout of our country's wealth". During his address Tsipras referred to the results of the first round of the local government elections and stressed that "a great step was taken last Sunday for the country's good riddance from memorandums, savagery, guardianship and their political expressors" and that "Athens, Attica, a series of municipalities and regions gave their hopeful message. Young people, new forces, new ethics are breaking into local administration powerfully". Tsipras also stressed that "I am certain that all leftists, the communists who are aware how crucial unity was in the history of the working class movement, as well as all democratic citizens, regardless of differences and disagreements, will do their duty this Sunday". Responding to the speech, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that "Greeks are able to see and judge." The premier, he said, "presented a comprehensive growth programme. Tsipras and SYRIZA are repeating spooky messages," he said.
 ND and PASOK form a two-headed pro-memorandum party, SYRIZA saysMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday lashed out at the parties of New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, the coalition government partners, underlining that "their joint presence in the second round of the local government elections proves once again that they form a two-headed pro-memorandum party whose goal is to defend austerity and the creditors' interests". "No matter how hard they try to show that there are differences between them, the fact that they back the until-recently 'independent' local administration candidates, Giorgos Kaminis (Athens mayor candidate) and Yiannis Sgouros (Attica Regional Governor candidate) and their support to other candidates as well, proves that their moves are designed to ensure the stability of their irregular memorandum regime. However, they will not be able to avoid their imminent political defeat," a SYRIZA announcement underlined.
 SYRIZA leader Tsipras calls on voters to participate in the Europarliamen electionsThe first round of local administration elections sent a political message condemning government partners, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with daily "Efimerida ton Syntakton", while stressing the need to increase voter participation in the second round of the elections so that this government "leaves as soon as possible." Tsipras noted that citizens understand that the greater the lead is, the faster memorandum policies will come to an end. He also added that this message will force the government to call national elections.
 Greece will send a strong message of change on Sunday, SYRIZA leader saysROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis) Greece will send a strong message of change at the elections on Sunday, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said in a speech in Bologna on Monday. Tsipras is visiting Italy to support the Italian ballot ticket of the radical left "The Other Europe with Tsipras." According to the Italian media, around 12,000 people were gathered in Bologna's central square Piazza Maggiore holding with the red flags of "L 'Altra Europa" (The Other Europe). "To the clear dilemma of the ballot box: yes or no to austerity. To the clear wager of the elections: Which Europe? That of Democracy or that of Merkel? The only response that Ms Merkel is afraid of, the only response that the neoliberal European incumbent is afraid of is the response of the European Left," Tsipras said. SYRIZA leader also called on voters not to abstain from the elections. "Because Europe is at a historical crossroad, we ask every citizen to vote and not stay at home on Sunday," the Party of the European Left candidate for the European Commission said.
 DIMAR leader to hold press conference on WednesdayDemocratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis will hold a press conference ahead of the European elections on Wednesday, May 21, at 13:00. The conference will take place at "NOVUS" hotel in Athens.
 Independent Greeks leader criticises PM and the new growth modelThe growth that the prime minister is promoting will be achieved after the current government is overthrown, Independent Greeks (ANEL) party leader Panos Kammenos said on Tuesday in a campaign speech in Ptolemaida, western West Macedonia, referring to the premier's speech on the same night. "No pre-election promise can be kept by the same people who signed the memorandums," Kammenos said and wondered whether the government has understood what has happened in the country during the last three years, citing as example unemployment in Ptolemaida, where it reached 70 pct while businesses are going bankrupt one after the other. "We say yes to Europe of nation-states and no to the Europe of bankers," Kammenos underlined and stressed that the solution to the country's recovery is a government of national unity, whose members will not include those who bowed and scraped to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 Independent Greeks leader accuses PM of 'deceiving' Greek votersOpposition Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos, in comments on the new growth model for Greece unveiled by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, on Tuesday accused him of "deceiving" the Greek people. "For anyone that believes a lie the first time, the responsibility lies with the one telling the lie. For someone that believes the same person telling the lie a second time, then the fault is his own," Kammenos said in Florina. "Today, the prime minister had the nerve to announce 550,000 jobs to a people that he deceived through two 'Zappion' plans and 18 pre-election pledges, of which he kept none. The only thing that has validity for Samaras and the coalition government are the documents he has signed with [PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos] and the troika, to hand over the country and impoverish Greeks. We will overthrow them," Kammenos said, during a tour of Kastroria and Florina, where he visited a Public Power Corporation plant.
 KKE 'the strength and hope of people,' party leader Koutsoumbas saysCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas, addressing a rally in Thessaloniki on Tuesday, said KKE is the strength and hope of the people. Koutsoumbas criticised the New Democracy party and the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), saying "the former one with extortions and the latter with false bravado on the EU's conference in Cannes" are doing what they can "to obscure the truth". The KKE leader called on people to trust their own experience from the decade-long two-party polarity, "going from New Democracy and PASOK to ND-PASOK and SYRIZA", claiming further that the three parties "wanted to persuade people to pardon all who are responsible for their dramatic state, whether they are in the government or in the opposition." None of them, he said, "remains untried in policy whom we must try now - they have all been tried". Koutsoumbas went on to say that the EU has decided on "permanent memorandums" and that "whoever bows to capitalism will cut salaries and pensions to no limit...The growth they promise will be based on blood-stained surpluses and starvation salaries". He warned the Greeks to "be vigilant when they see that the EU and the United States as well as governments of neighbouring countries are trying in various ways to rekindle existing or nonexistent minority issues in Greece as well". Koutsoumbas concluded by saying "for all these issues, the KKE will be waging a struggle daily here in Greece and in the EU, in the European Parliament, with the Eurodeputies that we shall elect on Sunday".
 Ecologists-Greens/Pirates urge support for Greens in upcoming EuroelectionsThe Ecologists-Greens and the Pirate Party, who are running on a joint ticket in these elections, on Tuesday held a press conference to present their positions at the Beach Volley facilities on Athens' coast - a site selected in light of upcoming legislation and controversial regulation for private-sector exploitation of Greece's beaches, which was slammed as "disastrous". Speakers stressed that the Ecologists-Greens and Pirate Party did not have a "populist message" and emphasised that there could be "no saviours, unless we take matters into our own hands" and Greece starts to develop a productive base and put out its own goods. They said the 'Greens' proposal was based on an alternative economic model built around green cities, reduced dependence on fossil fuels, an agricultural economy not dependent on foreign goods and a strong welfare state. The news conference also stressed the party's pro-Europe stance, on the grounds that no country could now stand alone in an environment where multinationals were in a position to buy up entire governments. At the same time, they added, they were not in favour of the current version of Europe and emphasised that the role of the European Parliament was vital. The representative of the Pirate Party noted that it had increased its strength threefold since its appearance on the Greek political scene two years earlier, working primarily via the internet.
 Potami party campaign ad 'insulting' to women, left-wing parties sayMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday strongly criticised a Potami party campaign ad that they said was "insulting" to women and presented them talking about politics only through veiled sexual references. The ad starts off with a young woman stating that it's her "first time" and then switches to a slightly older woman, who says its "not my first time but I haven't done it in a while," in each case meaning the first time to cast their vote. Both then say that they will vote for the 'Potami' party. Commenting on Twitter, SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis said the ad was "vulgar and offensive to women" and that Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis should have it withdrawn immediately. The SYRIZA youth group also objected to what it perceived as sexual references and accused Theodorakis of having "links with the deep state of Bobolas and the morals and aesthetics of Berlusconism." The ad also came under fire from the Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party's gender equality sector, which accused Potami of an "extreme version of sexism". Candidates running under the Potami party ticket have also disagreed with the ads as sexist.
 Gov't spokesman denies any plan to further reduce minimum wageGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Tuesday denied there was any plan to further reduce the minimum wage in Greece. Following his initial response, the spokesman later issued an announcement clarifying that press reports about a supposed statement made by European Commissioner Maria Damanaki were erroneous and the result of a technical glitch. "The statement that certain media erroneously reported was made today by Mrs Damanaki has not been made. It is clear that there is not the slightest possibility of reducing the minimum wage in Greece," Kedikoglou stressed. According to the spokesman, the confusion was caused by past statement made by Damanaki to a radio station and which mistakenly published again as Tuesday's news in the online version of a newspaper. In earlier statements, the spokesman had referred to agreements with Greece's European partners and the troika "at the highest level" that the minimum wage will not be reduced. "On the contrary, the gradual improvement of the national economy opens the way for a corresponding rise in wages," he added. The news reports had quoted Damanaki as saying a reduction of the minimum wage to improve competitiveness was still "open" for the European Commission.
 Greece, China to sign memorandum of maritime cooperation during Chinese premier's upcoming visit to AthensForeign Ministry's secretary general of International Economic Relations Panagiotis Mihalos and a delegation of China's State Oceanic Administration agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding on maritime cooperation between Greece and China and the organization of a forum on Maritime Cooperation, which will take place during the visit of the Chinese premier to Greece, June 18-20. The agreement was reached during a meeting on Monday regarding Greece and China's interstate cooperation and the further deepening of their relations especially after the visit of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to China in May 2013.The head of the Chinese delegation Chen Lianzeng referred to the role of the State Oceanic Administration as well as of the research centres and institutes under its supervision and briefed the Greek side on the delegation's visit to the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research. Mihalos noted that the forum on Maritime Cooperation will be organized by the Development Ministry assisted by the Foreign Ministry. It will focus on issues of economic, trade and investment cooperation, while a special session will be dedicated to shipping cooperation.
 Those without health insurance to have free access to state health system, minister saysAll Greeks who have lost their state insurance capability will have free access to the Primary National Health Network (PEDY) and will be admitted to hospitals as emergency cases at a secondary level, Deputy Health Minister Antonis Bezas announced on a morning television programme aired by the state channel NERIT on Tuesday. "It is the state's obligation to ensure every citizen's access to a minimum package of health services," he said. Bezas underlined that access to PEDY health centres was now free to all citizens, including those lacking state insurance. This meant that they could have medical examinations, prescriptions and diagnostic tests for free, where this was available. In addition, emergency cases where the life of the uninsured person was at risk would be admitted to hospitals and the cost of care covered via a special account, he said. He also announced the extension of health books by one year for elderly farmers not covered by health insurance.
 Culture Minister to chair EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council in BrusselsCulture and Sports Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos will chair the EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council in Brussels on Wednesday, with talks focusing on issues related to cultural heritage as a strategic resource for a sustainable Europe. The EU ministers' conclusions will underline the important role of cultural heritage in economic development and social cohesion in a period of crisis in Europe while they will also discuss the EU Work Plan for culture after 2014 and will address the challenges that cultural policy faces and how the new Work Plan for culture will respond to the issue. In addition to athletics, it will be the first time Sports ministers will discuss issues of gender equality in connection with sports which is a fundamental principle of the EU. In addition they will focus on the second Work Plan for sport and financial, social and environmental sustainability issues related to important athletic competitions.
 Deputy FM Kourkoulas meets with SESMA officialsDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas on Tuesday met with the President of the Hellenic Association of Management Consulting Firms (SESMA) Pantelis Koukos and the Coordinator of Advisory Committee Stavros Damianidis. According to a ministry announcement, the discussion focused on the cooperation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, in order to enhance the extroversion of the companies in the industry. The two sides also agreed to organize a series of events aimed at informing SESMA companies on specific markets and programmes of their interest. SESMA represents 53 companies employing 2,500 specialized staff, with an annual turnover over 250 million euros.
 Independent MPs Boukouras, Alexopoulos to testify on the GD caseIndependent MP Stathis Boukouras, originally elected with the ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD), is to appear before the two examining magistrates investigating the GD criminal organization case on Wednesday to testify on the new charges filed against him in the context of the specific case file, it was announced on Tuesday. Boukouras, who is currently being held on remand as a leading member of a criminal organisation, will testify before the examining magistrates on felony charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives with the intent of supplying a criminal organisation. According to sources, Boukouras will ask for more time to prepare his testimony. He denies all charges against him and repeats that the illegal gun possession charges are unfounded because the gun found in his house was legally in his possession. Also appearing before the two magistrates before the end of the week is another former GD MP that subsequently turned independent, Chrissovalantis Alexopoulos, who again faces charges as a leading member of a criminal organisation. Alexopoulos, who denies any involvement in criminal acts, became an independent MP underlining that the practices implemented by GD are an insult to the principles of patriotism. He also said that he began thinking of leaving GD soon after the murder of young musician Pavlos Fyssas in Keratsini. Meanwhile, Supreme Court Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani has forwarded a request by the Anti-fascist Movement Lawyers' Initiative to the Athens Court of Appeal prosecutor to launch an investigation into cases in which ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) members are involved but have not been led to justice yet. The lawyers Thanassis Kambayiannis, Kostas Skarmeas and Takis Zotos asked for proceedings to begin in response to a pogrom launched by GD members against migrants soon after Manolis Kandaris' murder in May 2011 in downtown Athens. The Initiative cites evidence including photos, video footage, press reports and eyewitness accounts that are enough for the Greek authorities to arrest GD members and ultra-right groups that committed a series of criminal acts.
 PM Samaras to attend Battle of Crete anniversary event on WednesdayPrime Minister Antonis Samaras will attend the main event commemorating the 73rd Anniversary of the Historic Battle of Crete, at Maleme airport, Hania, at 18:30 on Wednesday. Parliament President Vangelis Meimarakis, Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and the leadership of the three branches of the Armed Forces will also be attending the event.
 Greece has regained its credibility, FinMin Stournaras saysRecession is coming to an end and Europe's exit from the crisis is obvious, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said adding that Greece can look to the future with greater optimism. "The country has secured its place in the eurozone and regained its credibility in the international markets," Stournaras said during a dinner of the European Securities and Market Authority summit on Monday. The numbers of the general government in the first four months of 2014 show that the fiscal performance will exceed the targets, he added. Referring to the European economy, the Greek Finance minister said that the most recent economic data suggest that the recovery has gained momentum and that the outlook for this year is better. According to Stournaras, fiscal adjustment is relaxing, confidence is gradually returning to the European economy and GDP is returning to a growth track.
 German FinMin on 100 mln euros for financing SMEs in GreeceBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti) Credits amounting to 100 million euros would be provided through KfW to finance small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Greece "to enable (them) to overcome financing difficulties." "Greece has walked a difficult path that demanded a great deal from the Greek citizens," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said. "These efforts deserve great respect. The reform efforts are beginning to produce results now," he added, acknowledging the efforts of Greeks. As the German Finance minister noted, "We must improve growth conditions now. The SMEs in particular must be able to be financed better. I am doing all I can for this." According to the relevant announcement, "Businesses can make investments with this (capital) that have been on hold for some time and that are of decisive importance for maintaining and creating jobs and training." The loans, it was stressed, will be given to the enterprises by the German state KfW development bank, through Greek banks. "Germany guarantees these loans. The Greek government is participating on the same scale", the announcement said.
 Greek investment fund IfG to start handing out loans from September, ministers announceIn a press conference on last week's founding of a Greek investment fund - the Institution for Growth (IfG) in Greece - in Luxembourg, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday announced that the fund will start disbursing money to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as of September. Hatzidakis said that Greek SMEs will be able to receive loans of up to one million euros via the fund, especially from its first sub-fund for the financing of SMEs, at interest rates that are expected to be between 1-3 pct lower than market rates. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras noted that after the German bank KfW, the way was open for other investors to participate in the IfG, while this would be a financing solution for Greek SMEs.
 Greek real GDP to grow 0.5 pct this year, surveyGreece's real Gross Domestic Product will grow by an annual average rate of 0.5 pct this year, the Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) said on Tuesday. In a report, KEPE said that this estimate signalled that 2014 will become a transition year for the Greek economy, as it is leaving behind a long-term recession which started in 2008 and returning to growth rates. This recovery reflects a significant progress made in balancing public finances, a stabilisation in the financial sector, promoting significant structural reforms and boosting competitiveness, which in turn led to an improvement of the domestic economic climate and enhanced the country's credibility. The Greek economy will begin growing from the second quarter of 2014, KEPE said predicting a 0.1 pct growth rate in the second quarter, an 1.0 pct growth rate in the third and an 1.4 pct growth rate in the fourth quarter of the year. KEPE said the country's real GDP could grow further this year from a recovery in investments, although it said that risks were associated with developments in a crisis in Ukraine or domestic developments which could delay promotion of structural reforms.
 IMF to meet May 30 over next loan tranche to GreeceNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday announced that its board of trustees will convene on May 30, in the framework of the Greek programme's fifth review. IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice handed his report to the board of trustees who will decide about the release of the next loan tranche to Greece. The EU, he said, have stressed that talks related to the Greek debt will initiate within the second quarter of the year. Rice also said that IMF technical staff will be in Greece either in June or July, as well as after the summer, with the exact date pending.
 OAED announces programme for unemployed youthThe Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) on Tuesday announced that procedures in connection with the hiring of approximatelly 10,000 unemployed persons between 30 and 66 years old will be completed during the following two weeks. The employment programme, which was introduced in March, is funded by OAED and offers full-time employment and insurance for one year, while it funds each employee with 450 euros per month for each employee, with the rest of the salary paid by the employer. Last December OAED co-funded in association with the European Social Fund another programme for the unemployeed youth which gave the opportunity to 2,000 individuals up to 35 years of age, to engage in entrepreneurial activities, with emphasis given to innovation. It was announced that the participants will receive the first installment out of 10,000 euros that the programme offers as funding in order to initiate their own business. OAED also announced that procedures in connection with children summer camps and the social tourism programmes for the unemployed and their families are completed. "These programmes show that the social state exists and is being rebuilt on a solid foundation," said Labour, Social Security and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis while OAED governor Thodoris Abatzoglou stressed that the programmes' will enhance tourism-oriented businesses around the country.
 Twin statistical surveys on innovation, R&D indicators launched in GreeceTwin surveys seeking to collect reliable data on domestic innovation and business research and development indicators have been launched simultaneously in Greece, it was announced on Tuesday. One survey is being conducted by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and the second by the National Documentation Centre (NDC). An NDC announcement said that more than 4,500 businesses have been asked to fill in questionnaires designed to create a reliable record and official statistical indices in critical sectors for growth. The two surveys will record the potential and needs of Greek businesses in terms of research and innovation, while the results will be sent to Eurostat and form the basis for designing national, regional and European policies on financing instruments and action to support innovation and R&D efforts. As of this year, based on the new European Accounts System, R&D spending will be recorded as standing capital and be calculated in national GDP figures. The survey "Innovation in Businesses' will collect data on innovation in products, goods and services, in processes, organisation and marketing over the years 2010-2012.
 National Bank's new shares begin trading in ASEThe new National Bank shares resulting from a share capital increase plan began trading in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with Alexandros Tourkolias, the bank' s chief executive officer, ringing the opening bell in the market during a special ceremony. Addressing the ceremony, Tourkolias said that National Bank, following its capital fortification and taking advantage of its unique liquidity position, will move dynamically to support the Greek economy, while he stressed that the introduction of the bank's new shares in the market was a landmark in National Bank's strategy. This strategy, he noted, envisages a further increase in the participation of the private sector in the bank. "With our recent capital boost, we will raised the private sector's participation in our shareholding base to 43 pct from 16 pct, while our Core Tier1 rate will rise to 18.2 pct by autumn and our equity capital factor will rise to 11.7 pct, when the European average rate is 10 pct," the Greek banker said. Socrates Lazaridis, chief executive of Hellenic Exchanges, addressing the ceremony, noted the significance of National Bank's successful share capital increase plan. "For our market it is also significant that the bank drained 2.5 billion euros from the market without having any systemic risk from short selling activity." He underlined that the Greek market was ranked third worldwide in settlement efficiency. National Bank raised 2.5 billion euros from the market through issuing 1,136,363,637 new shares at a price of 2.20 euros per share.
 Piraeus takes over as host of European Maritime Day 2015The Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) took part in European Maritime Day events taking place in Bremen on Monday and Tuesday. On behalf of the City of Piraeus and the PPA, which will be hosting European Maritime Day in 2015, PPA General Director Stavros Hatzakos officially took over responsibility for EMD 2015 from Bremen's mayor. PPA CEO and board director Giorgos Anomeritis said that the theme of the 2015 EMD, agreed after talks with the European Commission, will be "Coastal Cities and Regions: Machines for Sustainable Growth". He said this was a topic that will link ports with the cities in which they operate and whose joint creative course can lead to growth paths.
 Olive oil and honey could help lift Greece out of recession, Bloomberg saysGreek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is calling on manufacturers of traditional foods and beverages, from fish-roe producers to honey makers, to play a bigger role in transforming the country into an export economy, Bloomberg news agency said in a report. The agency is citing a statement by Samaras to industry representatives last week in Lesvos, that food and beverage companies need to catch up with export-oriented industries like fuels and do more to help pull the country out of a six-year recession. More Greek food companies should focus "on processing agricultural produce in order to bring Greek products to international markets," Samaras said, adding that "today, 200 large companies account for 85 percent of production while 17,000 small and medium-sized companies have huge potential." Greek exports of agricultural products including food, beverages and vegetable oils rose 3.5 percent by value in 2013 to 4.75 billion euros, according to the Panhellenic Exporters Association, the report said. At around 17 percent of the total value of Greek exports, the food and beverage industry trails fuels and industrial goods like machinery and chemical products. Some food producers like olive-oil and flame-roasted red pepper maker Gaea Products SA started business by only focusing abroad while others have used exports to offset the shortfall in Greek sales. "Survival depends on successfully exporting the best products of Greek Mother Earth," Chief Executive Officer Aris Kefalogiannis said in an interview. Gaea gets 82 percent of its sales outside Greece. Its international sales grow on average 18 percent a year and the company sells to 26 countries, including Germany and the U.S., where its Gaea Kalamata product last month won a gold medal at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. While Christos Papadimitriou, CEO of Papadimitriou CC SA, a southern Greek maker of products from balsamic vinegar to mustard, says domestic sales have returned to "pre-crisis levels," the company plans to stay focused on foreign markets, where sales now outpace revenue from Greece. "All our products are developed with a primary focus on our foreign markets' needs," Papadimitriou said. Carpo Hellas founder Kostas Kontopoulos gambled in December 2011, at the peak of the crisis, that he could make a profit selling luxury foods, including dried fruit and nuts. "Everyone was frightened and told me I was crazy to launch a store in the middle of such an unstable period," he said. The success of his formula, where customers are encouraged to taste before buying, led to a new store in London's Piccadilly neighborhood last year and plans for openings in Rome, Paris, Milan and the Middle East. A retail presence abroad rather than just exporting is important because of "the brand awareness we are gaining," said Thomas Douzis, CEO of Thessaloniki-based Ergon, which opened its first combined grocery and restaurant store in Greece in 2012 and its first foreign outlet in London last year.
 Industrial turnover index down 1.1 pct in MarchGreece's turnover composite index in the industrial sector fell 1.1 pct in March this year, compared with the same month in 2013, after falling by 11.5 pct in the 2013/2012 period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 26 pct increase in the mining turnover index and an 1.4 pct decline in manufacturing turnover. The domestic market turnover index fell 0.2 pct in March, while the external market turnover index dropped 2.2 pct.
 Korinth Pipeworks says turnover up in Q1Korinth Pipeworks on Tuesday said its consolidated turnover jumped to 48.5 million euros in the first quarter of 2014, from 29.8 million in the corresponding period last year, while gross earnings totalled 5.3 million euros, up 8.5 pct from 2013. Consolidated EBITDA totaled 900,000 euros in the January-March period, from 2.3 million euros in 2013, while pre-tax results showed a loss of 3.2 million euros from earnings of 1.0 million euros in the three-month period last year. After tax and minorities losses totalled 3.3 million euros (0.0269 euros per share) from a loss of 2.3 million euros (0.0185 euros per share) in the first quarter of 2013. Net borrowing was 29.8 million euros, down from 32.5 million euros.
 Kalamata airport welcomes new direct flights from Germany on Condor AirlinesCondor Airlines began direct flights to and from Kalamata airport, in southern Greece, and German cities, as the tourist season is gearing up towards the peak summer arrivals. Condor, a part of the Thomas Cook group, will fly every Tuesday morning from Dusseldorf and Munich and every Thursday from Frankfurt and Stuttgart, until the end of September 2014. The first flights to arrive from Germany on Tuesday included one from Munich, arriving at Kalamata at 9:25 with 93 passengers, and another from Dusseldorf at 10:15, with 65 passengers. Kalamata airport welcomed both with a booth promoting traditional Peloponnesian products, set up by the Chamber of Messinia, and with a buffet of local sweet or salty products and wine, provided by wine producers, while maps and tourist information were handed out by city staff. Airport chief Dimitris Mandilaris said the airport would also offer direct flights to Paris and Warsaw and additional flights from Russia.
 Apartment prices down 7.5 pct in Q1, BoG reportApartment prices continued falling in the first quarter of 2014, although at a slower rate, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. The central bank, in a report, said that apartment prices fell by an average 7.5 pct in the January-March period, compared with the corresponding period last year, after falling by an accumulated 22 pct in the 2012-2013 period. The central bank said that according to revised data, the average annual rate of change was -10.3 pct in 2013 (Q1: -11.5 pct, Q2: -11.7 pct, Q3: -9.2 pct and Q4: -8.6 pct), compared with -11.7 pct in 2012. More specifically, the year-on-year rate of decline in prices was 7.6 pct for "new" apartments and 7.5 pct for "old" apartments in the first quarter of 2014. According to data broken down by geographical area, apartment prices are estimated to have declined year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014 by 10.6 pct in Athens, 7.4 pct in Thessaloniki, 5.3 pct in other cities and 3.8 pct in other areas of Greece. Residential property transactions (appraisals) conducted with Monetary Financial Institution intermediation for any reason came to 3,903 in the first quarter of 2014, down from 3,933 in the previous quarter. Year-on-year, residential property appraisals fell by 63.3% in the first quarter of 2014. According to revised data, the number of appraisals in 2013 reached 24,100 recording a significant drop of 22.2% year-on-year (2012: 30,964). The volume of residential property transactions (appraisals), expressed in total square metres, declined by 63.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014, while for the whole of 2013, based on revised data, this volume declined at an average annual rate of 23.1%. Finally, the value of residential property transactions (appraisals) conducted with Monetary Financial Institution intermediation dropped by 66.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014. In 2013, the average annual rate of change was -29.4% (revised data).
 Greek stocks jump 4.95 pct on TuesdayGreek stocks ended spectacularly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, recovering more than half of the ground lost in the previous three sessions during which the composite index of the market fell by 9.47 pct. The index jumped 4.95 pct to end at 1,119.30 points, off the day's highs of 1,128.16 points. Turnover was a huge 268.291 million euros. The Large Cap index rose 4.66 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.16 pct higher. All blue chips moved higher with Korinth Pipeworks (10.14 pct), PPC (9.79 pct), Frigoglass (9.38 pct), GEK Terna (9.35 pct), Ellaktor (7.46 pct), Mytiilneos (7.46 pct), OTE (7.01 pct) and Piraeus (6.47 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day. National Bank's share price rose 1.42 pct on the debut of its new shares in the market, in heavy volume of 123.422 million euros. All sectors moved upwards, with Insurance (10.48 pct), Utilities (8.33 pct), Raw Materials (7.24 pct) and Telecoms (7.01 pct) scoring the biggest gains.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: +4.26% Insurance: +10.48% Financial Services: +5.31% Industrial Products: +4.18% Commercial: +5.94% Real Estate: +4.37% Personal & Household: +3.33% Food & Beverages: +1.26% Raw Materials: +7.24% Construction: +6.57% Oil: +3.20% Chemicals: +3.64% Media: Unchanged Travel & Leisure: +4.67% Technology: +6.94% Telecoms: +7.01% Utilities: +8.33% Health: +3.83%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows: Alpha Bank: 0.63 Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.32 Coca Cola HBC: 16.85 Hellenic Petroleum: 5.34 National Bank of Greece: 2.14 Eurobank Properties : 8.02 OPAP: 10.90 OTE: 10.38 Piraeus Bank: 1.48 Titan: 20.70
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 5.45 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 5.54 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 6.80 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.35 pct. Turnover was a moderate 34 million euros, of which 26 million were sell orders and the remaining 8.0 million euros were buy orders. In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed to lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.585 pct from 0.586 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.496 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.407 pct from 0.409 pct, the three-month rate was 0.318 pct and the one-month rate was 0.256 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a small premium of 0.08 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 42.365 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 17,083 contracts worth 30.473 million euros, with 60,379 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 28,656 contracts worth 11.892 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,765), followed by Alpha Bank (4,214), Piraeus Bank (2,862), Eurobank (2,203), MIG (699), OTE (3,942), PPC (3,217), OPAP (543), Mytilineos (594), Hellenic Petroleum (122), Metka (179), GEK (296), Ellaktor (190), Intralot (109) and Hellenic Exchanges (159).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank: U.S. dollar 1.370 Pound sterling 0.814 Danish kroner 7.464 Swedish kroner 9.029 Japanese yen 138.88 Swiss franc 1.222 Norwegian kroner 8.136 Canadian dollar 1.492 Australian dollar 1.479
 British envoy on Corfu for the 150th anniversary of the Ionian Islands unity with GreeceBritish ambassador John Kittmer will visit on Tuesday the island of Corfu to represent the UK in the celebrations of the 150 anniversary of the Ionian islands incorporation and unity with Greece. "I am very happy to visit again the island of Corfu by representing UK in the celebrations of the Ionian islands incorporation with Greece. The passing over of the Ionian island from the British protection and their unity with Greece was held under the spirit of dialogue and through negotiations without political or military disputes. This cordiality continued between the UK and the Ionian islands. The strong bonds that link us are reflected in the British heritage on the islands as well in the Britons' love for the islands that choose to visit or settle down" said Kittmer. The British envoy will address two events in the afternoon organised by the British Embassy at the Asian Art Museum housed in the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George as well as at the Corfu Reading Society. On Wednesday, Kittmer will take part in the official celebrations that will be held on Corfu island.
 Soprano Sonia Theodoridou charms audience at Greek Embassy in ViennaVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis) Greek soprano Sonia Theodoridou gave a recital on Tuesday at the historic building housing the Embassy of Greece in Vienna that was organised by the new ambassador to Austria Chryssoula Aliferi. Theodoridou, who waived her fee, carried the audience into singing along on a sampler of works by modern Greek composers of orchestral and popular works, and was accompanied by Orchestra Mobile under the direction of her husband, maestro Theodoros Orfanidis, with David Nachmias on the piano. Speaking to the ANA-MPA, the soprano said that it was everyone's duty to contribute in any way they could during these times of crisis, "to show the real personality of our country, and mostly to give a hopeful message that even at hard times we remain strong, optimistic, present, and steadfast in our courage." Theodoridou was born in Veria, northern Greece. She studied at the National Conservatory and, with a scholarship in memory of Maria Callas, followed further studies at Cologne and London. She has performed at the most important operas and festivals in Europe on a wide repertory. The recital was in the context of Greece's EU Presidency and was attended by diplomats, international organisation representatives, Metropolitan Arsenios and Exarch of Hungary and Middle Europe and leaders of the Greek community.
 Red Cross in Thessaloniki calls for humanitarian aid to support Serbia's flood victimsGreek Red Cross is asking Thessaloniki citizens to offer humanitarian aid to support the flooding-hit people of Serbia. Following a request by Serbia's Consul General in Thessaloniki Sinisa Pavic, emergency supplies are being gathered as of May 20 to relief those affected by the flooding. The Greek Red Cross is asking people to offer clothes, socks, underwear, mattresses, bed linen, flashlights and torch batteries, personal care and hygiene products as well as water, blankets, long term food, baby food, powder milk, canned products and medical supplies. Residents of Katerini, Northern Greece, are also gathering emergency supplies, which are expected to be transferred to Serbia on Wednesday.
 Specialist indicates that levelled restaurant in Nea Erythrea was firebombedThe police announced on Tuesday that an explosion that on Thursday levelled "La Scala" restaurant in Nea Erythrea, a northern Athens suburb, on Thursday was a result of an explosive device, according to a specialist called in after no cause could be found. The expert concluded that the explosion was a result of an explosive device detonation because of a crater discovered under the debris in the store's entry hall. The case was turned over to the police's anti-extortion unit. All angles are being investigated, as a relative of former Defence secretary general Yiannis Sbokos lives on the first floor. Sbokos himself, who is in custody for alleged involvement with the armaments kickbacks scandal, had been the target of a similar attack when an incendiary bomb had been left at his home in the northern suburb of Kifissia on April 17.
 Speedboat disembarks undocumented migrants on KosCoast Guard located and arrested thirteen undocumented migrants late Monday at the area of Psalidi on Kos island. According to local residents who called the local authorities, a speedboat disembarked the migrants and afterwards set sail for the Turkish coasts.
 Police inquiry into ballots found by cleaner at Peloponnese polling stationPolice on Tuesday opened up a case file and started an inquiry into the ballots found by a cleaner at a school being used as a polling station in the Peloponnese, on the morning after the first round of local government elections. The cleaner working at the Makrisia department in the Andritsaina-Krestena municipality found the 11 election envelopes under a desk after the election was over. Seven of them contained ballots and four were empty, while the envelopes were also stamped, signed and numbered. The police were alerted, who launched an inquiry and also informed the public prosecutor in Ilia and the appropriate election officials. In a similar incident, one of the judicial representatives at a Patras polling station forgot to take a sack full of ballots with him when he left and this was later found by cleaners, who assumed it was waste paper and placed it into a recycling bin. The judicial representative realised his mistake and returned shortly afterward, finding the ballots without complications.
 Guitar festival in Karditsa in JulyGreece's largest guitar festival will be held July 4-6 in Karditsa, central Greece. The most important Greek guitar players (solists and professors) will take part in the festival. Guitar players from abroad (Italy, Serbia and Croatia) have expressed interest in participating in the festival.
 Overcast on WednesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 14C-26C. Same weather in the central and in the south, 14C-28C. Sunny over the islands, 16C-24C. Fair in Athens, 17C-27C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 14C-26C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailiesAVGHI: New Democracy and PASOK disregard the message of the elections.
DIMOKRATIA: The riddles of the second round of the local administration elections.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The six day war.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' choices failed.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Positive sign for the euro ballot.
ESTIA: Alarm bell for Sunday.
ETHNOS: The vote of the first round of the local administration elections under the microscope.
IMERISSIA: Economy 'weighs' the ballot's message.
KATHIMERINI: Convergence in public and secret deliberations.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Business growth with 15+7 billion euro capitals.
RIZOSPASTIS: The people need a strong Communist Party (KKE) the day after the elections.
TA NEA: Code "Unity"- Vote invitation to ELIA.
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