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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-06-24

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

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

Tuesday, 24 June 2014 Issue No: 4690


  • [01] Economic team focuses on the prior actions for the disbursement of the 1 bln euro tranche in June
  • [02] FM Venizelos chairs EU-Turkey Association Council
  • [03] 'The new selection system for general managers will be fair and objective,' Admin. Reform Minister says
  • [04] Draft bill for senior public-sector staff selection tabled in Parliament
  • [05] Reports on wage reductions or increases in public sector are just considerations, Adm.Reform minister says
  • [06] Private sector wages cannot be further reduced, ESEE head says
  • [07] Committee proposes Ekaterini Savvaidou as new Public Revenues General Secretariat head
  • [08] Energy regulator sends letter to Environment ministry over energy auctions consultation
  • [09] 'We will gradually start settling all issues' in health, minister Voridis says
  • [10] Fast-track draft bill on spatial planning tabled in Parliament
  • [11] Parliament committee passes in principle draft law to fund six wind farm projects
  • [12] Transparency is a national duty, general secretary of transparency & human rights Sourlas says
  • [13] Education minister holds meeting with teaching union representatives
  • [14] Foreign Ministry Secretary General Mitsialis to hold political consultations with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Sinirlioglu
  • [15] SYRIZA MEP on Central Committee's decisions and PPC privatisation
  • [16] SYRIZA spokesman refers to possible alliances
  • [17] SYRIZA, DIM.AR reject "small PPC" plans
  • [18] PASOK on Tsipras' statements for the submarines
  • [19] Justice minister meets with US counterpart Eric Holder in Athens
  • [20] Lawyer in the armaments kickbacks case released after testifying
  • [21] Golden Dawn MP Mattheopoulos receives extension to testify on June 30
  • [22] Defence minister receives Kuwaiti ambassador
  • [23] Labour Minister: The diffficult times are over
  • [24] Crisis has forced Greek youth into low-skill, low-prospect jobs, EU Commission report says
  • [25] Tax collection targets in major cases are being accomplished, Finance ministry says
  • [26] 'Small PPC' draft bill to be tabled in Parliament on July 2
  • [27] Tax returns filed at slow pace, finance ministry officials say
  • [28] Gas Station Owners ask for a generous reduction of heating oil tax
  • [29] Protected natural gas consumers category extended to include additional groups
  • [30] Russian Railways interested in privatised Greek railway if cleared of debts, Yakunin says
  • [31] German magazine holds large conference on Rhodes to promote travel to Greece
  • [32] Environment minister addresses start of EU Permanent Cadastre Committee meeting in Athens
  • [33] Lidl to inaugurate its largest logistics complex in Europe, at Thessaloniki
  • [34] Tourism revenues increased 28 pct in January-April
  • [35] 'Regal Princess' docks in Piraeus, meets warm welcome
  • [36] Greek stocks end sharply lower under strong pressure
  • [37] Greek bond market closing report
  • [38] ADEX closing report
  • [39] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [40] Most Greek families do not plan to go on summer vacation this year, INKA survey reports
  • [41] World's largest solar boat to assist in underwater mapping of ancient Argolid
  • [42] More are involved in the major heroin trafficking ring, Shipping and Aegean Minister Varvitsiotis said
  • [43] Environment minister meets with marine mammal specialist Ric O' Barry
  • [44] Greek film "Mikra Anglia" awarded at Shanghai Film Festival
  • [45] First heatwave of summer to hit the country as of Tuesday
  • [46] 'Spartakos' labour union to launch rolling strikes over 'small PPC'
  • [47] AIDS spreading through drug injection is on a downward trend in Greece
  • [48] Coast Guard arrests cigarette smugglers after high-speed sea chase
  • [49] New ferry link from north Evia to Sporades islands
  • [50] Briton arrested on Zakynthos island for reportedly raping British woman
  • [51] Fair weather on Tuesday
  • [52] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Economic team focuses on the prior actions for the disbursement of the 1 bln euro tranche in June

    The first six prior actions, which should have been met in May, so as that the 1 billion euro tranche is disbursed in June, are as of Monday the economic team's first priority.

    Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis considers that the goal to complete the six prior actions before the arrival of the troika in Athens (expected on July 8) is feasible, since some of these actions have already been implemented or are very close to their implementation.

    The first six prior actions are:

  • The adoption of the law on the open market (already completed)

  • The adoption of a law on the licencing framework (implemented)

  • Updating the list of parafiscal charges

  • The adoption of a code of conduct for members of the government to limit corruption (to be implemented)

  • The issue of a joint ministerial decision by the Finance and Justice ministries on the Action Plan regarding debt collection

  • The adoption of a law to reduce the pharmacists' profit margin.

    Greece, then, needs to proceed with the implementation of the other six prior actions for the disbursement of the second "small" tranche of 1 billion euros, which was scheduled to be released in July. The government aims at having completed the specific actions by mid-August, so that the tranche be released in September. The bill for the "small PPC" as well as actions regarding the social security system and in particular the supplementary funds are even more important.

    Officials of the economic team underlined that the country must fully meet its obligations in order to be able to set its own priorities and issues in discussions with the creditors' representatives.

    [02] FM Venizelos chairs EU-Turkey Association Council

    The Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday chaired the EU-Turkey Association Council in Luxembourg, during which he expressed the confidence that the full respect of Copenhagen's political criteria and the community acquis by Turkey can give an impetus to the accession negotiations with the EU.

    According to Venizelos, during the Council the European Union pointed out to the Turkish side the need for full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol as well as for progress in the relations between Turkey and EU country-members.

    The Council welcomes the resumption of talks on the Cyprus issue under the auspices of the United Nations, highlighting that Turkey's commitment and contribution with specific measures is still of major importance.

    Venizelos added that the EU stressed the need for relations of good neighbourhood, the maintenance of which is a crucial point in the accession process. It also asked for the immediate ratification and implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement on the readmission, noting that the EU and the Greek presidency expect Turkey after the presidential elections to promote in a decisive and dynamic way the accession negotiations, which will pave the way for Ankara's European future.

    EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule mentioned that accession negotiations can move forward in a decisive way only if there is progress in reforms and the issues related to Cyprus. On the Additional Protocol, he noted that its implementation can breathe new life to the accession procedure with the opening of several chapters and the closing of some others in a relatively short period of time. Moreover, he expressed his concern on the lack of independence of the judicial system and asked for full freedom of expression with emphasis on the internet. He also insisted on the need to deal effectively with corruption cases.

    EU Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke of his country's determination to promote reforms, expressed Ankaras' discontent as 17 negotiation chapters are still "frozen" and asked that the rest of the chapters open without further delay. Last but not least, he underlined that there can be no political obstacles in the accession negotiations.

    [03] 'The new selection system for general managers will be fair and objective,' Admin. Reform Minister says

    The new selection system for public-sector general managers will be objective, fair, and will link for the first time the candidate's qualifications with the job's requirements, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday in an interview with ANA-MPA WebTV.

    "We came up with this system after a long consultation process, incorporating the best practices from abroad in order to choose the leaders of public administration in a manner different from that in the past. Away from any partisan manipulation and through a framework that allows you to get away from past practices," Mitsotakis noted and added: "The selection system of high-level staff, particularly general managers, is not open to candidates from the private sector. It is only open to public-sector employees."

    Asked about the abolition of the public-sector point system for advancement, he said: "We will abolish the point system in the traditional sense, which played an important role in shaping the final decision in the selection of the candidate. The point system remains as the first stage of the basic selection method, i.e. whether or not a candidate meets the requirements as identified by the relevant council. The point system was a useful system in a period when we had to move from a completely untransparent system to another system, which would at least be objective. I do not believe, however, that it was sufficiently fair as to always select the best candidate for each position."

    Regarding the mobility scheme, Mitsotakis underlined that this would finish at the end of 2014 along with the quantitative layoff targets. "We have made it clear and it is also an agreement that I personally negotiated with the troika. The mobility scheme has already been completed, 25,000 employees have been placed under that programme, lots of them have been re-hired, some others are in the process of being re-hired and others will be made redundant. But this chapter will end in 2014, and we do not have quantitative targets for layoffs in 2015. This is rather important because it will give us the possibility to focus on essential and quality reforms."

    "We hope that we will have created a real labour market for the public sector by 2015, where job openings will be advertised with absolutely transparent procedures and all candidates will have the same treatment. This happens to some extent with the existing system. Our aim is to map the full range of special provisions, and many of them will be abolished so as to have a single labour market as far as it regards transfers in the public sector, and disconnect this process from the fear of layoffs," he stressed.

    Asked about reports that the government is considering changing - by the end of the year - the uniform public-sector wage scale system, Mitsotakis said: "It is too early to talk about changes in the wage scale of public sector employees and it is too early because we will work with the General Accounting Office on various scenarios, for example, on whether the wage scale can be connected to the new evaluation system that will apply as of 2015 and if there is any possibility to connect additional wage benefits with the employees' performance. All these scenarios are under consideration and are scenarios for correcting distortions that exist even today in the uniform wage scale system and these corrections must be the starting point to move to the next step."

    [04] Draft bill for senior public-sector staff selection tabled in Parliament

    The administative reform ministry's draft bill for a new system of public-sector management staff selection was tabled in Parliament on Monday.

    The key changes introduced by the bill are the abolition of the solely point-based system that favoured "static" qualities - such as educational qualifications and certificates - for one giving greater weight to written examinations and "structured interviews" in selecting candidates, while the process also envisages greater involvement of the Supreme Council for Public-sector Staff Selection (ASEP) at all stages of the process.

    The ministry stressed that the new system will ensure hiring based on merit and put an end to advancement based on the criteria of seniority and "partisan" promotions.

    "The aim is to select the most appropriate employees for each position of responsibility. To identify, in other words, the dynamic criteria and special skills a civil servant must have for each specific position of responsibility," it added.

    To ensure that the process is fair and objective, the interviews will be "structured" and test each candidate's specific skills using the same method, while the interviews will be carried out by experienced and certified staff that will be proposed by ASEP, including selected evaluators originating in the private sector, the ministry said.

    [05] Reports on wage reductions or increases in public sector are just considerations, Adm.Reform minister says

    Reports on payment reductions or increases in the public sector are scenaria under consideration, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told SKAI radio station on Monday, adding that he is not ready yet to elaborate on them.

    All these reports are considerations and not specific proposals, he said. However, he acknowledged that the difference between the salary of a new employee and that of a general manager is particularly small and if this needs to change, "we should find the funds because the budget's funds are specific."

    Mitsotakis also noted that a performance bonus should be given to employees having met their targets and ruled out the possibility of layoffs or placement under the mobility scheme of those with low performance.

    As far as layoffs in the public sector are concerned, he said they were specific obligations, adding that special focus will be given to the evaluation process and the mobility scheme in private entities of the public sector. He added that 240,000 persons have left the public sector over the last five years.

    [06] Private sector wages cannot be further reduced, ESEE head says

    There are five axes so that social partners can make proper use of the dialogue and maintain a minimum level of understanding, the head of the Greek commerce confederation ESEE Vassilis Korkidis said at an event organized by the Labour Ministry and EUROFOUND on social dialogue, held at Zappeio hall as part of the Greek EU presidency.

    According to ESEE, Korkidis said, there should be an agreement on five points:

    A substantive Social Dialogue is under the present circumstances an essential prerequisite to solve critical problems.

    The institutional enhancement of the role of social partners will contribute to the strengthening of the Social Dialogue and the formulation of specific policy proposals.

    Salaries in the private sector of the economy cannot be further reduced at a time when they contribute to consumption.

    Reducing the high non-wage costs can increase net wages and boost the low levels of employment.

    It is necessary to deal with the funding gap of our insurance fund with the freezing and the capitalization of the debt of the self-employed fund OAEE and subtract the corresponding insurance time from all 'unemployed' merchants.

    [07] Committee proposes Ekaterini Savvaidou as new Public Revenues General Secretariat head

    Finance Minister Ghikas Hardouvelis proposed at a cabinet meeting that Ekaterini Savvaidou, an official of PwC-Hellas specialising in fiscal and taxation law, be appointed head of the Public Revenues General Secretariat following the recent resignation of Haris Theoharis and a committee review, according to a ministry announcement on Monday.

    Savvaidou is a lawyer with extensive experience in the private and public sector. She is a Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) lawyer and senior manager at the PwC-Hellas consulting company.

    She graduated from Athens University's Law School and holds graduate and doctorate degrees from French universities and completed graduate training courses at Harvard University on comparative taxation policy.

    The search committee convened three times (on June 17, 21 and 22) and reviewed a total of 75 applications submitted for the post. The Committee drew a list of 8 finalists, who were invited for a personal interview on Sunday June 22, and agreed unanimously on Savvaidou.

    [08] Energy regulator sends letter to Environment ministry over energy auctions consultation

    The Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) sees an impasse in the public consultation for cheap energy from Public Power Corp.'s (PPC) lignite-fired and hydroelectric plants under the plan to be implemented as of autumn.

    Offering energy from cheaper resources, accessible only by PPC, is considered a measure that will boost competitiveness in electric energy market. Nevertheless, its implementation has caused tension between PPC and energy consumers. As a result, RAE on Monday sent a letter to the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministry asking for further instructions.

    The cause of the dispute relates to the energy sale price: PPC says this should be determined through auctions with a minimum price which will guarantee that the production cost will be covered and the company will earn a reasonable profit. According to the company, that price should be set at 60 euros per Megawatt hour.

    Nevertheless, industrial consumers associations are in favour of an administered price and ask that this be set at 30 euros per Megawatt hour.

    In its letter to the ministry, RAE sees an impasse in the procedure and notes that the further processing of the proposal is meaningless unless "all involved parties realize and accept the main object of this effort, which is the actual opening of the retail market to competition and to the benefit of all consumers."

    [09] 'We will gradually start settling all issues' in health, minister Voridis says

    Health Minister Makis Voridis on Monday stressed the need to increase expenditure on health through an internal redistribution of the budget.

    Voridis told ANT1 TV station that he would continue the work of the previous leadership of the ministry and acknowledged the previous minister Adonis Georgiadis' efforts and achievements.

    "We will gradually start settling all the issues," he said. Regarding the National Organisation for Health Care (EOPYY), he said that the situation is better compared to the past but "a lot of things still need to be done."

    On drugs and the participation of the insured in medicine cost, he noted there should be "a balance between the insured and the tax payer."

    Regarding the deregulation of drugs, he noted "there is enough competition to bring down the prices" and pointed out that the whole system should be improved to secure transparency and that no money would be wasted.

    [10] Fast-track draft bill on spatial planning tabled in Parliament

    Alternate Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Nikos Tagaras on Monday tabled the ministry's draft bill on spatial and town planning in Parliament, using fast-track procedures reserved for urgent legislation.

    "In the last months at the environment ministry, we all worked to complete a legislative initiative that simplifies the procedures, helps citizens and companies, protects the environment. We set as our main target the decentralisation of functions and acceleration of spatial and town planning," he said.

    He said the target was to cut the time needed for the approval of such plans, which will henceforth go through decentralised administration, down to a matter of months, whereas until now it could take up to three years. It will also speed up the process for the inclusion of areas in the town plan, reducing this to two years from five to 20 years.

    Tagaras said that the new legislative framework will precisely define the responsibilities and levels of planning and control, avoiding overlaps, while collecting all results of planning at all levels in a single electronic data base at the ministry. It will also simplify planning and reduce the number of planning levels from seven to four, while all processes will be centrally monitored and evaluated and must be completed within specific deadlines in an organised way.

    It will also update land-use systems, which Tagaras said had become outdated by significant changes in lifestyles, new forms of entrepreneurship and modern social-economic reality.

    Tagaras withdrew from the draft bill articles on building cooperatives and private urban planning, as well as all other non-urgent legislation, which will be tabled as separate legislation subject to normal Parliamentary procedures.

    [11] Parliament committee passes in principle draft law to fund six wind farm projects

    A draft bill calling for state funding of six large private wind farm projects, worth more than 50 million euros, was passed in principle by Parliament late on Monday, based on votes of the two coalition parties, New Democracy and PASOK.

    The projects are collaborations of the Kopelouzos and Mytilineos groups, two of which involve the German-based Enercon company, which is involved in a court case with the Greek state.

    Discussion at the Production and Commerce Committee of Parliament began with its chair, ND deputy Giorgos Vlachos, calling for its processing under emergency procedures, without hearings of agencies involved. The proposal raised the ire of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Panagiotis Lafazanis, while Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarachi noted that all pending issues must be included in the development law by June 30, the deadline of the present regional funding period.

    SYRIZA deputy Litsa Amanatidou-Paschalidou pointed out that state funding for these farms would amount to 94 million euros, while they would only create 6 new job openings. "They should be funded, but not by Hellenic Fund for Entrepreneurship and Development (ETEAN)," she said, referring to the state-backed Fund. Mitarachi responded that the projects include all of the large-scale proposals made from 2012 to the present day, and cover the whole gamut of the investment law, which includes works promoting renewable energy sources.

    Defending the objection that the German company's trial case has not ended, the minister said that they would not affect the present decision. "The only thing being done today," he said, "is that Parliament is ratifying the state's participation in funding private sector projects."

    [12] Transparency is a national duty, general secretary of transparency & human rights Sourlas says

    The improvement of transparency-promoting "Diavgeia" government website further reinforces the effective operation of the institution of transparency, General Secretary of Transparency & Human Rights Giorgos Sourlas said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday.

    Referring to his recent meeting with Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on combating corruption, Sourlas said that the minister is at the core of the efforts made to modernise and reform the political system.

    He noted that efforts were focused on combating mismanagement and red tape, underlining the importance of the Diavgeia programme and saying that this became more realistic and effective under Mitsotakis.

    Speaking in his capacity as the honorary president of the Association of Relatives of Soldiers Killed in 1940-41, he pointed out that it shows disrespect for the dead to be leave them unburied on the mountains of Northern Epirus in south Albania.

    Referring to the association, he said that the national parliaments of Greece and Albania have authorised the organisation to collect and bury the remains of the soldiers who fell on the battlefield in 1940-41 during WWII, noting that 7,976 soldiers were killed on the mountains of southern Albania.

    [13] Education minister holds meeting with teaching union representatives

    Education Minister Andreas Loverdos called for continuous dialogue with teaching union representatives, following a meeting with the public high schools' teachers federation (OLME) on Monday.

    The teachers called on the minister persistently to commit himself that he will not sign the act concerning the layoffs of the 85 teachers who did not submit an application for their absorption into administrative services in the public sector. They also stressed that layoffs are expected to reach as many as 400 due to the situation created with the abolition of specialties.

    "There is no question of me saying that the job evaluation process is being frozen. We are facing strong public opinion and it is right. Evaluation relates to who contributing to (the education of) our children", he said.

    Earlier, at his first briefing to education reporters, Loverdos said there is no time for far-reaching plans, stressing that he will intervene correctively wherever necessary. He also announced that he selected a teacher in active service and current principal, Takis Christakis, as his office's director.

    On Wednesday morning the Education minister will be giving an across-the-board press conference.

    [14] Foreign Ministry Secretary General Mitsialis to hold political consultations with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Sinirlioglu

    Within the framework of the regular political consultations between Greece and Turkey, the Foreign Ministry's Secretary General, Ambassador Anastassis Mitsialis, with meet in Istanbul on Tuesday, 24 June, with the Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, according to a Foreign ministry's anouncement.

    The political consultations between the two sides, following the 2nd Meeting of the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council, will cover a wide range of bilateral issues, as well as issues of regional and international interest.

    Secretary General Mitsialis will also visit His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

    [15] SYRIZA MEP on Central Committee's decisions and PPC privatisation

    SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis on Monday said the decisions taken by the party's Central Committee for a two-sided opening are decisions of a victorious strategy.

    "People await for actions, extroversion, rallying and seriousness from us. What has been agreed by the Central Commmittee during the weekend is whether we will look for bilateral openings to all directions - apart from New Democracy, PASOK and Golden Dawn's neonazi - so as to change the course of this country. Now the issue is for all of us to put this into action. The issue is not for SYRIZA to stop having different opinions within the party and stop discussing them. To the contrary," he said.

    Asked on the privatization of Public Power Corp, he noted: "What the government is about to do with PPC is not applicable in the vast majority of European countries, it is addressed to third-world countries. Here, they are simply trying to put it forward through fast track procedures and at a low price. The claim that PPC's privatization would result in lower prices is not true. The privatization is underway and prices have been going up. According to the government's pledges, they will go even higher and people can see that in their bills."

    [16] SYRIZA spokesman refers to possible alliances

    The two-day meeting of SYRIZA's Central Committee was one of the "most productive and crucial ones ever", the party's spokesman Panos Skourletis on Monday told Sto Kokkino radio station.

    "Many of the problems, the biggest ones that the Greek society faces today, go through the fastest possible overthrow of the government. Then another way, an equally difficult one, is paved but with a positive prospect - I am referring to the period after the overturning of the government," he said.

    "We evaluated the catalytic impact of (SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras' candidacy on political developments in a positive way, not only in Greece but also in Europe. This candidacy was the vehicle to communicate not only the Greek problem but also to showcase the alternative proposal for Europe," he said.

    Skourletis also referred to the issue of alliances saying that "the answer should not be easy... or one-sided."

    The party needs to "move and intervene on all levels," he said if it is to formulate a majority bloc of political and social forces.

    He explained that SYRIZA would try to prevent the setting up of a 180 deputy group in the parliament, noting that this is "not one-sided... we are not indifferent to an effort made by systemic forces to rebuild the fragmented spectrum of the centre-left."

    He also said the discussion underway is not "about the unity of the left", it is about "the day after" for the "formation of a new government bloc of leadership." SYRIZA, he said, addresses the "forces of the left" but "we build our alliances in a way that they are nor one-sided, that they are not looking at one direction."

    [17] SYRIZA, DIM.AR reject "small PPC" plans

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) energy sector head Thanassis Petrakos on Monday asked for the withdrawal of the draft bill on the Public Power Corporation spinoff known as "small PPC" and, referring to a government meeting to take place on the issue, accused PASOK - one of the two coalition government partners - of hypocrisy.

    Petrakos noted that SYRIZA will not recognise the creation of the "small PPC" - the selloff of 17 pct of Public Power Corporation S.A. (PPC S.A.) by state privatization agency TAIPED - or the privatization of Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE).

    Opposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) expressed support to the deregulation of the energy market, while rejecting the selloff of ADMIE networks and the splitting off of PPC which are presented as prerequisites for the disbursement of the next loan tranche to Greece.

    [18] PASOK on Tsipras' statements for the submarines

    PASOK on Monday attacked main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras on his speech at the party's Central Committee and particularly on the issues of presidential election, the submarines and the Skaramanga shipyards.

    More specifically, PASOK accused SYRIZA of being "afraid" that the parliament will elect the President of the Republic in March "and thus the country's efforts to exit the crisis will be completed and will bear fruit" as well as of a "desire" to keep the country under the memorandum with an unsustainable debt "so that they have a reason of political existence."

    They also accused Tsipras of being "hopeless and desperate" trying to "hide the strategic defeat in local elections behind a blind and technical attack without a target" while seeing PASOK and its leader, which is the stability pillar, as a main opponent.

    Furthermore, PASOK noted that if there was something against the rules in the period 2010-2011, they would have found it.

    Although the issue was clarified immediately by justice, PASOK said, "the vulgar exploitation by Mr.Tsipras does not stop" adding that "SYRIZA is therefore causing a serious institutional problem which must be thoroughly considered."

    [19] Justice minister meets with US counterpart Eric Holder in Athens

    Justice Minister Charalampos Athanasiou on Monday met with American counterpart Attorney General Eric Holder in the framework of the EU-USA ministers' meeting on issues related to justice and internal affairs, which will take place on Wednesday June 25 at Zappeion Hall in Athens as Greece wraps up its EU presidency.

    "Greece is one the most important US allies," Holder said and stressed that "between our countries there is a relation that we deeply appreciate. This is not my personal opinion, but President Obama's position."

    Athanasiou stressed that he is optimistic that the EU and the USA will manage to reach an agreement in relation with all the issues concerning personal data, and thus safeguard people's rights and public security.

    The US Attorney General was accompanied by US Ambassador to Greece David D. Pearce.

    [20] Lawyer in the armaments kickbacks case released after testifying

    Corporate lawyer Spyros Metaxas, a permanent resident of Switzerland who is accused of money-laundering in the defence ministry armaments kickbacks case, was released on Monday after testifying before the examining magistrates for corruption.

    According to the indictment, Metaxas is accused of acting on behalf of another defendant in the case, Defence ministry former alternate director for armaments purchases Antonis Kantas, now in custody, by setting up offshore companies to channel illegal payments made to Kantas.

    Metaxas, who denied all charges against him, testified before three examining magistrates for corruption, namely, Gavriil Mallis on money-laundering charges involving 1.4 million euros in kickbacks for the purchase of submarines; Spyros Georgouleas for the purchase of 24 artillery systems and Vassiliki Brati for money-laundering concerning the purchase of 16 air defence systems and 4 Ericsson Microwave Systems, for which case particularly he will have to post a 100,000-euro bail.

    Metaxas told the examining magistrates that he acted within the law pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (ALMA) and accused Kantas, who has testified against him, of "inventing scapegoats". He noted that he can prove that everything Kantas has said against him before the examining magistrates are nothing but blatant lies that will turn against him like a boomerang.

    [21] Golden Dawn MP Mattheopoulos receives extension to testify on June 30

    Golden Dawn MP Anestis Mattheopoulos, who was summoned on Monday by the examining magistrates to testify on charges of participating and leading a criminal organisation, asked and received and extension to testify on June 30.

    The examining magistrates gave the extension to Mattheopoulos following a motion for the recusal of the examining magistrates and the prosecutor handling the Golden Dawn case.

    The motion filed by Golden Dawn secretary general Nikos Mihaloliakos, who is remanded in custody, against magistrates Ioanna Klapa and Maria Dimitropoulou as well as against prosecutor Isidoros Doyiakos has essentially "frozen" the investigation until the ruling of the judicial council.

    According to sources, Mihaloliakos' motion relates to the indictment by the lawyer of independent deputy Stathis Boukouras, Alexis Kougias, who claimed his client was under pressure from the magistrates to testify against his co-defendants so as to be treated in a more favourable way.

    [22] Defence minister receives Kuwaiti ambassador

    Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday received Kuwaiti Ambassador to Greece Raed Abdullah Sayed Rajab Al Rifai, the ministry announced.

    Financial News

    [23] Labour Minister: The diffficult times are over

    Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Monday speaking at a Congress on social dialogue said that following tight timetables and having reversed adverse predictions, "we can now say with certainty that the difficult period has passed and that Greece's final exit from the crisis is only a matter of time."

    According to Vroutsis, the reforms in employment and social security have brought a simple, operational and flexible development framework in labour market, business and employment, establishing institutions, rules and procedures according to the best European models.

    "We have tidied up the country's social security system by strengthening its tax collection base and creating a more consistent and responsible social security conscience to the citizens and the enterprises. We have planned and developed informatic systems and networks that upgrade our strategic and business competence and at the same we offered solutions to a large number of problems that we face in our every day life," Vroutsis noted.

    Referring to the salaries, Vroutsis argued that "our main target should not be any more the wage restraint policy, which was a temporary and inevitable tool in the first period of the adjustment, but it cannot be the main pillar of the policy. Neither in Europe nor in Greece. We should focus on the continuous and dynamic inrease of productivity so that salaries and wages start an upward trend with respective raises.

    The Congress on social dialogue was co-organised by the Greek EU presidency and the Eurofound at the Zappeion Mansion in Athens.

    [24] Crisis has forced Greek youth into low-skill, low-prospect jobs, EU Commission report says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    Young people in Greece have in recent years been forced to settle for low-skill jobs that are not in line with their qualifications and have minimal prospects of advancement, such as shop assistants or waiters, according to report on job vacancies in the EU released by the European Commission in Brussels on Monday.

    The Commission's report noted a rise in temporary and part-time employment during the crisis, with a drop in the number of hirings for low-skill jobs between 2008 and 2012 but an increase in job opportunities in highly skilled professions, especially IT, sales and health.

    The European Commission report placed EU member-states in three main categories, based on prevailing conditions in the labour market.

    The first group was comprised of the countries worst hit by the crisis and the economic recession, including Greece, Spain and Portugal. This noted that young people with "average skills" were having to turn increasingly toward low-skill jobs with poor career prospects.

    The second group included countries less affected by the crisis, such as Austria, Sweden and Germany, where the number of hirings was marginally lower but the correspondence between qualifications and jobs skills was preserved.

    The third group included countries such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, where there was a shortage in certain highly-skilled jobs.

    The report found that the average level of employment throughout the EU in 2012 was 2.6 pct lower than in 2008, with only five member-states (Austria, Belgium Germany, Malta and Sweden) recovering pre-crisis levels of GDP and employment.

    Available job vacancies throughout the EU were reduced by 19 pct in the EU on average, while hirings fell by 14 pct. The downturn in hirings was even sharper in southern and eastern member-states of the EU and exceeded 25 pct in Greece, Spain, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

    For young people aged 15 to 29 years old, those hardest hit were those with low qualifications and skills, with hiring in this category dropped by 31 pct in the EU as a whole between 2008 and the first half of 2013 and by 45 pct in Greece, Spain and Slovenia.

    There was a rise in flexible work offered, with 58 pct of EU-wide hirings in 2012 involving temporary or part-time jobs. According to the EU Commission, this indicates that job seekers are forced to accept more flexible job positions. For jobs requiring basic skills and qualifications, 71 pct of hirings in the EU and 70 pct in Greece involved temporary contracts, with the Commission warning of possible negative repercussions of such work on employees' careers.

    [25] Tax collection targets in major cases are being accomplished, Finance ministry says

    The 2014 targets and particularly the first quarter ones regarding tax collection from audits in big companies and wealthy citizens have been accomplished, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis said in a document tabled in parliament.

    "The target for the total number of completed Great Wealth and Corporate audits has been significantly met," he added.

    In a document dated June 17, Mavraganis cites data by the General Secretariat for Public Revenues for the first four months of the year "which will be soon published", as he said, and show a upward trend in the accomplishment rates of the aforementioned targets.

    Mavraganis was responding to a question submitted by Democratic Left deputy Asimina Xyrotiri.

    [26] 'Small PPC' draft bill to be tabled in Parliament on July 2

    A draft bill to privatise the "small PPC" - a spinoff of the Public Power Corporation - will be tabled in Parliament on July 2, according to government sources on Monday.

    The decision came at a meeting at the government headquarters of Maximos Mansion chaired by Minister of State Dimitris Stamatis which focused on clarifying all open issues regarding the "small PPC". The meeting was attended by the relevant minister and PASOK officials.

    According to the same sources, it was agreed - inter alia - that the work and social security status of PPC staff will be upheld, that local communities will be safeguarded and that "small PPC" will include 30% of PPC's assets and liabilities.

    The decision comes right before Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis escorts Premier Antonis Samaras to the European Summit - expected to discuss energy issues - by Friday, while early next week the minister will be visiting London in order to present the concessions round for hydrocarbon exploration in the Ionian Sea and the island of Crete.

    [27] Tax returns filed at slow pace, finance ministry officials say

    Only 56 pct of taxpayers have filed income tax returns a few days before the expiration of the June 30 deadline set by the ministry of finance, it was announced on Monday. Of the estimated 5.7 million tax returns, only 2.5 million have been filed so far via the online TAXISnet system.

    General Secretariat for Information Systems (GSIS) officials noted that taxpayers are filing returns at a slow rate, below the capacity of the TAXISnet system that can process up to 20,000 tax returns per hour namely, as many as 170,000 tax returns per day.

    According to GSIS figures, a total of 133,000 tax return statements were filed electronically last Tuesday, dropping to 128,000 on Wednesday and to 124,000 and 114,000 on Thursday and Friday respectively.

    [28] Gas Station Owners ask for a generous reduction of heating oil tax

    The Federation of Greek Gas Station Owners is asking for a generous reduction of the special consumption tax on heating oil as of next winter in a letter to Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis, saying that otherwise state revenues would not increase as consumers would opt for alternative solutions.

    The latest reports over a 8-10 cents decrease in the price of heating oil are not only "unacceptable but enrage consumers and gas station owners," the federation says adding that they are asking for a genuine dialogue on the price of oil based on the households' needs and not on the troika's prior actions and determined measures.

    [29] Protected natural gas consumers category extended to include additional groups

    Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou on Monday announced the addition of seven new groups of natural gas consumers to the "protected consumers" category. Under national and Community legislation, supply of natural gas to protected consumers will continue without interruption in periods of high demand and supply crisis.

    Until previously, only households were included in the protected consumer category but this has now been expanded to include healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and health centres, schools and day-care facilities, airports, refuelling stations for public transport and waste collection vehicles, public-sector services, all small and medium-sized enterprises with annual contractual consumption of less than 10,000 MW hours, and teleheating facilities supplying heating to domestic clients or the above categories, provided these do not have the option of alternative fuel and are linked to a natgas distribution network.

    An environment ministry announcement said the ministerial decision will reinforce security of supply to these categories in cases of a disruption in the supply of natural gas or extremely high temperatures.

    [30] Russian Railways interested in privatised Greek railway if cleared of debts, Yakunin says

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/ Th. Avgerinos)

    Russian Railways are interested in acquiring Greek state firms that undergo privatisation provided these are relieved of their current high debt burden, Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin said in an interview to the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

    "The initial deal - not with us ut with potential investors - was that these debts will be undertaken by the government and covered with the help of the European Union. On these terms, yes, we can be interested," he said, noting that these debts amounted to about 800 million euros.

    According to ITAR-TASS, Yakunin said the offer price for Greek assets "corresponds to the Russian Railways view of a fair price" without naming what this was. Russian Railways had previously participated in a tender for the acquisition of the Greek trains operator TRAINOSE and the Greek rolling stock maintenance company Rosco, in a consortium with the Greek firm GEK Terna, while they had also expressed an interest in combining these with the acquisition of Thessaloniki's port in order to create a combined transport network.

    In statements to Greek media, Yakunin had said that Russian Railways had also examined the modernisation of the Greek railways, combined with a new railway route via neighbouring countries to Europe.

    "Such a project would generate new income and cover its costs. Such a project would have great interest for us," he added, noting that for this reason the Russian side was interested in having the rights to use not just the railway network but also the infrastructure through which goods were moved.

    Commenting on the interest expressed by the Chinese in Thessaloniki port, or the prospects of collaboration with western partners, Yakunin said Russian Railways was "not interested in the operation of the port. Regarding the port's infrastructure, we will collaborate with our western partners that have the relevant experience. The issues raised by the Chinese are known to us. The Chinese allow themselves to approach such investments on a long-term basis."

    On the possibility of layoffs in the case of a Russian acquisition, Yakunin said that the discussion was premature but noted that Russian Railways had investigated and found the Greek railway to be "in a dismal state," adding that you cannot run a company "as if it were an old people's home or a social welfare shelter".

    "It is better to create highly specialised well-paid jobs than to continue an unhealthy situation," he said, adding that even Greek public opinion was convinced of the need to make changes to the Greek railways and for the staff to be cut down to those necessary.

    [31] German magazine holds large conference on Rhodes to promote travel to Greece

    One of the biggest tourist events to promote German tourist travel to Greece, organised on an annual basis by the FVW professional tourist magazine at different tourist destinations every time, will be concluded in Rhodes on Tuesday with the cooperation of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT), the Southern Aegean region and Protour (Organisation for the promotion of Rhodes Tourism).

    FVW is part of a German-based media group specialising in tourism and business travel.

    Greece was in the front line this year, and particularly Rhodes, where the FVW Rhodos Workshop is being held as of June 19 with the participation of about 50 representatives of travel offices from Germany as well as agencies and businessmen of the Southern Aegean tourist sector.

    The sessions on the theme of "The extension of the tourism period and the improvement of tourist arrivals and revenues from the market of Germany" were opened on Monday by EOT Secretary General Panos Livadas, representing Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni.

    Livadas stressed in his address the importance placed by Greece on the German tourist market, saying that "2013 was the year of the return of German tourists. Travel revenues amounted to 1 billion 900 million euros, an increase of 14.9 percent, while arrivals neared 2.3 million (up 7.5 percent). Germany constituted 12.7 percent of the market share. The initial assessments are that 2014 will end with a 10 percent increase" of tourists from Germany.

    In Rhodes in particular, he said, 2013 ended with a 9.61 percent rise in arrivals from Germany (216,399), while in the first five months of 2014 arrivals increased by 32.74 percent.

    He also said that the portal visitgreece.gr was undergoing a big-scale updating, using EU funding, that would also introduce the German language as one of the user options.

    [32] Environment minister addresses start of EU Permanent Cadastre Committee meeting in Athens

    The Greek land cadastre is the greatest reform in Greek public administration for the past 150 years, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis stressed on Monday while addressing the Plenary Meeting of the Permanent Committee on Cadastre (PCC) in the EU. The meeting is taking place in Athens and chaired by Greece's National Cadastre & Mapping Agency S.A. (NCMA S.A.).

    Maniatis said the government was in the process of linking up all digitised public administration systems, from the land cadastre and town planning records to forests and mineral reserves, noting that the work scheduled to be carried out "is at least ten times that in all previous decades".

    He revealed that a draft bill was soon to be tabled in Parliament setting up the first permanent cadastre offices in the country - in Thessaloniki and in Piraeus - while the first contracts in tenders for specific areas will be awarded over the coming weeks.

    Maniatis said that all private and public-sector real estate deeds were currently held in some 400 deed offices around the country but by 2020 they would be cut down to just 16 regional land cadastre offices.

    "Greek citizens, potential investors and Greek public administration will be able to confidently answer the foremost questions: 'where can I do what'?," Maniatis stressed, noting that after the project was completed, the public would be able to obtain full information on their private property assets via the internet from their home.

    During the plenary meeting, the Greek side presented the national cadastre programme budgeted at 560 million euros, which will seek to record, secure and utilise 65 pct of the territory in the country in order to add to the other 35 pct for which a land cadastre record is already being created.

    The total budget for the Greek cadastre is calculated at over 800 million euros by 2020, when the project is scheduled to be complete, creating an additional 12,000 new jobs.

    The plenary meeting is taking place at the Zappion building in Athens and will end on Wednesday.

    [33] Lidl to inaugurate its largest logistics complex in Europe, at Thessaloniki

    Lidl Hellas will officially inaugurate on Thursday at Sindos, Thessaloniki (northern Greece) a 200,000 sq.m. logistics complex - including a 60,000 sq.m. storage facility - the largest of its kind for the company in Europe. The inauguration will mark the completion of a 130 million euros' investment programme by Lidl Hellas in Greece within a year.

    The new Sindos facilities, which incorporate modern technologies, have already begun operations, housing the central services of Lidl Hellas and employing more than 400 workers. The inauguration of the Sindos logistics complex is the most recent of a series of such facilities at Thiva, Patras, Trikala and Athens. It will be replacing the logistics complex of Lidl at Gefyra, Thessaloniki.

    [34] Tourism revenues increased 28 pct in January-April

    Tourism revenues jumped 28 pct reaching 900 million euros in January-April 2014, while tourist arrivals increased 21.1 pct compared with the same period last year exceeding 1.9 million, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said on Monday.

    Tourist arrivals from the EU 28 reached 1,022 million, up 23 pct compared with the same period in 2013. Arrivals from third countries increased 19 pct to 893,000, while arrivals from eurozone countries increased 15.3 pct and arrivals from other EU countries increased 32.9 pct.

    Tourist arrivals from France dropped 9 pct, while arrivals from Germany and the UK increased 14.8 pct and 44.2 pct respectively.

    Arrivals from Russia increased 54.2 pct at 37,000 and arrivals from the United States rose 24 pct at 58,000

    As regards tourism revenues, the biggest increase, 32.4 pct at 412 million euros, was recorded from countries outside the EU 28, while tourism revenues from EU 28 countries increased 25.3 pct to 446 million euros compared with the same period in 2013.

    A considerable increase of 32.7 pct at 34 million euros was recorded in tourism revenues from Russia, while tourism revenues from the United States increased 2.1 pct to 50 million euros.

    [35] 'Regal Princess' docks in Piraeus, meets warm welcome

    The world's newest cruise ship, the "Regal Princess" launched in May, received a warm welcome on its arrival at Piraeus Port on Monday, at a ceremony led by Piraeus Port Authority President and CEO George Anomeritis, who noted that cruise ship arrivals to the port had jumped from a mere 662,357 in 2004 to nearly 2.3 million in 2013.

    Anomeritis highlighted the high quality and internationally certified services offered by Pireaus port, which could now meet the needs of even the largest cruise ships exceeding 330 metres and had made cruises a central activity, with more than two million cruise passengers arriving each year.

    Monday's welcoming ceremony was held on board the "Regal Princess" with Captain Edward Perrin and his officers receiving the guests and exchanging gifts with Anomeritis, Medcruise President Stavros Hatzakos and the head of the Union of Cruise Ship Owners and Associated Members Theodoros Kontes.

    [36] Greek stocks end sharply lower under strong pressure

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with shares under strong pressure and a negative climate after last week's extended rally. The composite index fell 2.72 pct to end at 1,270.38 points, after sinking as much as 3.05 pct mid-session. Turnover was a moderate 105.61 million euros.

    The Large Cap index fell 2.92 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.51 pct lower. Viohalco (0.68 pct) and Intralot (0.48 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Piraeus Bank (-6.67 pct), Jumbo (-4.41 pct), Mytilineos (-3.55 pct) and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (-3.33 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.

    The Mass Media (2.01 pct), Insurance (1.49 pct) and Health (0.84 pct) sectors scored gains, while Personal Products (-3.44 pct), Raw Materials (-3.36 pct) and Telecommunications (-3.33 pct) suffered the biggest losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 76 to 42 with another 24 issues unchanged. Medicon (19.87 pct), SATO (14.09 pct) and Akritas (10.00 pct) were top gainers, while Axon Holdings (-19.77 pct), Atti-kat (-10.53 pct) and ANEK (-10.42 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -3.03%

    Insurance: +1.49%

    Financial Services: -2.25%

    Industrial Products: -0.64%

    Commercial: -2.60%

    Real Estate: -0.10%

    Personal & Household: -3.44%

    Food & Beverages: -2.78%

    Raw Materials: -3.36%

    Construction: -2.44%

    Oil: -1.58%

    Chemicals: -0.81%

    Media: +2.01%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.71%

    Technology: -2.16%

    Telecoms: -3.33%

    Utilities: -2.98%

    Health: +0.84%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.73

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.59

    Coca Cola HBC: 17.13

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.21

    National Bank of Greece: 2.82

    Eurobank Properties : 9.20

    OPAP: 13.19

    OTE: 11.60

    Piraeus Bank: 1.68

    Titan: 24.52

    [37] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 4.66 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 4.61 pct the previous Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.97 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.31 pct. Turnover was a low 10 million euros, which represented a single buy order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates remained largely unchanged. The 12-month rate stayed level at to 0.489 pct, the nine-month rate at 0.397 pct, the six-month rate rose marginally to 0.307 pct from 0.306 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.211 pct from 0.212 pct and the one-month rate eased to 0.105 pct from 0.108 pct.

    [38] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.04 pct at the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with 20.387 million euros' turnover. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 7,464 contracts worth 15.343 million euros, with 61,592 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 13,194 contracts worth 5.044 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,691), followed by Alpha Bank (2,543), Piraeus Bank (1,890), OTE (961), Eurobank (623), PPC (467), MIG (365), EYDAP (210), OPAP (212), Mytilineos (176), Ellaktor (168), GEK (154) and Hellenic Petroleum (121).

    [39] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.359

    Pound sterling 0.799

    Danish kroner 7.454

    Swedish kroner 9.128

    Japanese yen 138.46

    Swiss franc 1.216

    Norwegian kroner 8.324

    Canadian dollar 1.459

    Australian dollar 1.440

    General News

    [40] Most Greek families do not plan to go on summer vacation this year, INKA survey reports

    More than 75 out of 100 Greeks will not go on vacation this summer, the Greek Consumers Institute (INKA) said on Monday, releasing the results of a recent nationwide survey indicating that the high cost of summer holidays, as high as 2,700 euros for a four-member family for two weeks, is prohibitive.

    INKA announced that 75 out of 100 Greeks "will not even spend it at a summer home, as the reponse to whether they will go on vacation this year...is 'You must be joking!'."

    The survey was conducted by phone from June 2 to 16, over a sample of 791 people, of whom only 198 said they will go on extensive vacation. Traditionally, Greeks have summer homes they send their families to once the school year is over.

    Of the 25 pct that plan to go on vacation, 40 pct said they would not spend more than five days away, with their place of origin favoured above other destinations. They planned to stay at friends' summer homes (40 pct), or with relatives or friends (30 pct) or rent (30 pct).

    The survey also reported that the most popular destinations among Greek tourists are areas close to the sea, which is a preferred destination for 80 pct of all Greeks, while the rest prefer mountainous locations for their holidays.

    As to vacation abroad, trips by Greek nationals are expected to drop close to 52 pct.

    [41] World's largest solar boat to assist in underwater mapping of ancient Argolid

    The world's largest solar-powered boat, "MS Turanor PlanetSolar", will be arriving in Greece on August 1 as part of a joint archaeological project focused on underwater exploration off one of Europe's oldest human occupation sites, the Franchthi cave in the Argolid, southeast Peloponnese.

    The "TerraSubmersa" project, run by a join team of Greek and Swiss archaeologists, will explore the underwater terrain to identify a prehistoric village near Franchthi, a cave in continuous occupation for about 35,000 years, from Paleolithic to Neolithic times. The project is taking place in one of Greece's richest archaelogical areas, the Argolid, known for its major palatial complexes in the Bronze Age that include Mycenae and Tiryns and later, classical-era city-states and sites like Argos and the ancient-theatre site of Epidaurus.

    The "Turanor" will act as a laboratory base from August 18 to September 12, with staff carrying out geophysical measurements to reconstruct the original, above-water, topography of the area before it sank. They will be assisted by the "Alkyon" ship of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (ELKEThE), which is part of the project's collaborators. The other collaborators include the University of Geneva, the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece and the Greek ministry of Culture's Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities.

    The boat will set off on August 1, Swiss National Day, on successive stopovers at Eretria (southwest Evia island), Athens and Nafplio (Argolid), where they will be the focus of events open to the public.

    Following a meeting with Swiss Ambassador to Greece Lorenzo Amberg, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis said the that the "TerraSubmersa" project "constitutes a dive into the history of this country" and called the Argolic "the greatest open archaeological park of the world, which is now going to reveal the first prehistoric steps of Homo Sapiens in the Mediterranean."

    [42] More are involved in the major heroin trafficking ring, Shipping and Aegean Minister Varvitsiotis said

    Shipping & Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on Monday referred to the largest ever heroin haul seized in Greece, exceeding two tonnes, underlining that a major heroin trafficking ring in Europe has been busted.

    Speaking to the private radio station Vima FM, he said that the Coastguard had the information and provided the security forces, adding that there was cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), while there was no involvement of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

    "We will find more people in Greece and abroad involved in the ring," Varvitsiotis noted. He also said that the ring leader was Greek, adding that more suspects have been identified but haven't been arrested yet.

    [43] Environment minister meets with marine mammal specialist Ric O' Barry

    The regulatory framework related to cetacean and dolphins in captivity, in connection with initiatives taken by countries such as India and Cyprus to ban the captivity of dolphins and other sea mammals, dominated a meeting of Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis with Oscar-winning marine mammal specialist Ric O'Barry.

    According to the ministry, the discussion focused on maritime protected areas and the protection of species.

    O'Barry was featured in the Academy-Award winning documentary "The Cove"; he is in charge of the "International Marine Mammal Project" organisation and the founder of "Dolphin Project" environmental organization under the Earth Island Institute programmes.

    [44] Greek film "Mikra Anglia" awarded at Shanghai Film Festival

    The film "Mikra Anglia" directed by Pantelis Voulgaris was awarded at the international film festival of Shanghai.

    The Greek film received the Golden Goblet for best film, direction and best actress for Pinelopi Tsilika.

    The 17th Shanghai festival was held on June 14-22 and 15 films participated in the official competition section.

    Chinese actress Gong Li chaired the jury comprised by British director Sally Potter, South Korean director Im Sang Soo, Danish director Lone Scherfig, Chinese actor Liu Ye, Japanese director Shunji Iwai and Iranian actor Peyman Moaadi.

    The Chinese film "The Uncle Victory" directed by Zang Meng took the second award for best film.

    Mikra Anglia was filmed on Andros island and is based on the book "Mikra Anglia" by Ioanna Karystiani who is responsible for the screenplay adaptation.

    [45] First heatwave of summer to hit the country as of Tuesday

    The first heat wave of the summer is expected within the next days to hit the country with temperatures reaching 39C.

    The heat wave will initially hit Western Greece with temperatures escalating to 34C.

    On Wednesday temperatures will reach 36C-38C and on Thursday the heat wave will spread to the southern and eastern parts of the country, with temperatures going up to 39C.

    "The climate changes despite the fact that we do not observe it frequently in our everyday lives," said department director at the National Meteorological Center Chryssoula Petrou to ANA-MPA adding that temperatures will start to fall as of Saturday when northerly winds will cool down heat-stricken areas.

    [46] 'Spartakos' labour union to launch rolling strikes over 'small PPC'

    Public Power Corp.'s (PPC) "Spartakos" labour union, which represents mainly employees of Western Macedonia units, said it would launch 48hour rolling strikes when the debate of the bill on the so-called "small PPC" starts.

    The union refers to the "mother of all battles" and calls on "all employees, institutional entities, pensioners, unemployed and every citizen of this country to rally, participate in a meaningful way and express their support."

    The bill to create the so-called "small PPC" by splitting off and selling production plants that represent 30 percent of the company's productive capacity and a corresponding share of customers has already been tabled in Parliament. It will be discussed by the relevant parliamentary committee on Thursday.

    [47] AIDS spreading through drug injection is on a downward trend in Greece

    AIDS spreading among Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in Greece is following a declining trend compared to 2011, according to findings by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP).

    The Centre said that its epidemiological data show a drop of AIDS spreading in this vulnerable group, based om 2013 data. Moreover, during the first four months of 2014, 39 HIV infections were recorded, down from 150 HIV infections in the first four months of 2013.

    Despite the improving situation, HIV infection among drug users remains a public health issue, which requires vigilance and active intervention in order to contain it.

    The Health Ministry has set up a special committee to confront the issue of HIV epidemic among IDUs, which convened on Monday for the first time.

    [48] Coast Guard arrests cigarette smugglers after high-speed sea chase

    The Hellenic Coast Guard immobilized two boats transferring smuggled cigarettes onto a larger vessel in the sea area outside Marathoupoli at western Messinia, southwestern Peloponnese early on Monday, after a high-speed sea chase involving two patrol boats.

    In one of the immobilized boats, authorities found 23,000 packets of smuggled cigarettes, arresting a Greek and two persons of foreign nationality, all of whom were taken to the Pylos port authority, in charge of the preliminary inquiry.

    The Coast Guard did not give further details of any goods seized and arrests made on the second immobilized boat.

    [49] New ferry link from north Evia to Sporades islands

    Anes Ferries on Monday announced a new ferry link between Kymasi harbour in northern Evia and the islands of Skopelos and Skiathos in northern Sporades group. The new service will greatly reduce the distance by both road and ferry boat for local residents and Attica residents, as well as the overall cost of the journey.

    The new service was launched last Friday, in a ceremony conducted by the Mantoudi, Limni and Agia Anna Mayor Anestis Psarros.

    [50] Briton arrested on Zakynthos island for reportedly raping British woman

    A 57-year-old Briton was arrested on the island of Zakynthos for allegedly raping a 19-year-old female tourist, also from Britain, at the Laganas area of the Ionian island.

    The rape was reported to the police by the young English woman.

    A case file was drawn up against the man, who was brought before a prosecutor in Zakynthos.

    Weather forecast

    [51] Fair weather on Tuesday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Fair weather throughout the country with temperatures in the north ranging from 16C-33C; 17C-34C in the south and 19C-31C over the islands. Sunny in Athens, 20C-33C; the same for Thessaloniki, 19C-31C.

    [52] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Nazi from birth (refers to Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos and deputy Christos Pappas).

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: They have devastated EOPYY (National Heathcare System).

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The secrets to take your pension up to four years earlier.

    ESTIA: SYRIZA (main opposition) remains an extreme Left party.

    ETHNOS: Six changes in social security system in July.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Debate on the debt with haircut on expectations.

    TA NEA: Tsipras (Alexis, SYRIZA leader) makes 45 degree turn.

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