|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-12-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 9 December 2014 Issue No: 4831
 Gov't proposes Dec. 17 as presidential election date, spokeswoman saysPrime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, after consulting with the President of the Republic, asked the President of Parliament to speed up the process for the Presidential election so that the relevant vote is held on December 17, government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi said in a written announcement on Monday.
 President of the Republic roll-call vote dates set as December 17, 23 and 29The process for the election of President of the Republic at the Parliament's plenum will open with a vote on December 17 ; prior to that, presidents of parliamentary groups will have had the opportunity to submit the name of their candidate by letter to the president of Parliament.
A presidential candidate will have to collect at least 200 votes during the first roll-call vote on December 17. If this number is not reached, a second round of voting must be held after a minimum of five days. The second roll-call vote also requires a 200-MP majority to pass through Parliament.
If the second round is also not successful in electing a President, lawmakers will have a third and final chance five days later. In the last round of voting, the winning candidate must secure 180 votes, otherwise the cabinet must resign within 10 days and early national elections be declared.
According to information late on Monday, President of Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis set the dates of the three rounds as December 17, 23 and 29.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to announce the government's candidate for the position.
 Main opposition SYRIZA welcomes speeding up of process for election of PresidentMain opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Monday welcomed the government's decision to expedite the process for the election of a new President of the Republic.
"The expedition of the vote for a President of the Republic is expected and welcomed, as it brings closer the only prospect for redemption for the people and the country, which is to resort to elections," SYRIZA said in a statement after the government announced in would hold the first round of voting in Parliament on December 17.
The main opposition said Sunday's vote on 2015's state budget proved the government cannot achieve the necessary majority of a minimum of 180 MPs required by the constitution to elect the President. "The decision - in agreement with the troika - to speed up the process is a desperate attempt to hide the new measures and to force lawmakers to vote," SYRIZA said, adding that "they will not succeed."
 Eurogroup approves extension of Greece's fiscal adjustment programme to end-Feb. 2015BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Greece will get a two-month extension, to the end of February 2015, to complete its fiscal adjustment programme, Eurogroup officials said on Monday evening.
According to statements by Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem and EU Commissioner for Economics and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, the services of the troika of Greece's lenders - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - will prepare an interim report on the state of negotiations with Greece, while the Greek government will officially submit the request for the two-month extension on Tuesday. The extension request must be approved by national parliaments of eurozone members formally.
Moscovici confirmed that a technical team from the troika will be returning to Athens on Tuesday as well.
Greece's fiscal adjustment programme review must be completed by the end of February 2015 to allow the country to apply for an enhanced conditions credit line (ECCL).
Dijsselbloem expressed confidence that the final review of the fiscal programme would be concluded within two months, leading to the disbursement of the last tranche (1.8 billion euros) of the loan to Greece.
 FinMin Hardouvelis 'satisfied' over Eurogroup's extension of fiscal programme to end-Feb. 2015BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis expressed satisfaction in Brussels over the decision of the Eurogroup convening Monday evening to give Greece a two-month extension to end-February 2015 for the final review by the troika of its lenders and the completion of the fiscal adjustment programme.
Speaking after the Eurogroup meeting, Hardouvelis said, "I am satisfied because there is disengagement [from negotiations] and we have another two months to complete the review, something that can be carried out without stress and with the right analysis."
The services of the troika of Greece's lenders - the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund - will prepare an interim report on the state of negotiations with Greece, while the Greek government will officially submit the request for the two-month extension on Tuesday. The extension request must be approved by national parliaments of eurozone members formally.
The conclusion of a positive review to the programme will also lead to the disbursement of the last tranche (1.8 billion euros) of the loan to Greece.
In Brussels after the meeting, EU Commissioner for Economics and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici confirmed that a technical team from the troika will be returning to Athens on Tuesday, while Greek government sources said he was likely to visit Athens before Christmas.
Greece's fiscal adjustment programme review must be completed by the end of February 2015 to allow the country to apply for an enhanced conditions credit line (ECCL).
 EU Commissioner Moscovici on Greek fiscal programme extension: 'The most sensible decision'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said after a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on Monday evening that he was happy over an "agreement in principle" to extend the Greek fiscal adjustment programme for two months to the end of February 2015.
At a press conference, Moscovici said that Greece had achieved significant reforms and fiscal adjustment under the most adverse conditions, and reiterated the European Commission's intent to stand by the country. Greece's fiscal deficit fell from 15% of the GDP in 2009 to 1.6% of the GDP in 2014, he said, while the 2015 budget was expected to be balanced.
After a primary surplus for 2014, he said, 2015's primary surplus will be the second highest in Europe, following Germany's. He warned however that the country must continue structural reforms and fiscal adjustment, adding that "progress was not as quick as one would hope, or as much as it should have been to complete the review in the next few days," which is why the extension was seen as necessary. "This is the most sensible decision that could be made," he said.
Responding to earlier reports that he would be visiting Athens, he said it would happen soon but declined to specify whether it would be before Christmas or not.
 EU Commissioner Moscovici calls on for further assistance to Greece and continuation of the reformsEU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Monday, in an interview with German newspaper S?ddeutsche Zeitung, called on for further assistance to Greece and continuation of the reforms, Deutsche Welle reported.
According to an online report, Moscovici noted that he speaks every day with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos and IMF chief Christine Lagarde on the situation in Greece.
Moscovici underlined that Samaras is aware that only if everything agreed is implemented and new "obligations" are accepted, can Greece receive further aid. The common target is that Greece can stand on its feet, "but we agree that Greece needs further help, if anything, to protect the eurozone," the Commissioner stressed adding that Greece's desire for the IMF to leave cannot be fulfilled. "It is important that the IMF stays, we need it for the credibility of the reforms in Greece," he said.
According to S?ddeutsche Zeitung, EU wants to "close" the Greek issue in the coming days. "If we do not reach an agreement with the Greeks, a new eurozone crisis is waiting us on January 1," EU sources stated.
Moscovici said that an extension after the New Year is likely, referring probably to a "technical extension" of the Greek programme. The EU Commissioner also confirmed that the Commission's intention is to agree on a "precautionary credit line" for Greece.
Suddeutsche Zeitung noted that the extension of the Greek programme requires the approval of the German parliament. The vote could take place on December 19, at the last scheduled meeting before the Christmas holidays. However, if there is no direct agreement with the troika regarding the evaluation of the Greek programme, an extraordinary meeting is likely to take place someday between Christmas and New Year.
It is highly unlikely that Bundestag will reject the extension of the Greek programme. Besides the two Greek programmes already adopted provide for a total of 240 billion euros and the German government considers that "an additional amount of ten or twelve billion euros would be the lesser evil compared to a possible failure of the reforms," according to S?ddeutsche Zeitung. Especially when "Greece is finally starting to recover financially after six years of recession."
 Troika technical teams returning to Athens on TuesdayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The technical teams of the EU Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika representing Greece's lenders will be returning to Athens on Tuesday, well-informed sources at the Greek finance ministry said here on Monday.
The same sources said that this development was considered an important step toward entering the "final straight" in the negotiations.
 Government spokesperson Voultepsi on the outcome of the Eurogroup meetingGovernment spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi was optimistic about the outcome of today's Eurogroup meeting, speaking on Real FM private radio on Monday.
"We expect progress to be made based on what the Eurogroup has already mentioned, which has called for speedy conclusion of the evaluation agreement that will have to be completed before the end of December," she said.
Voultepsi added that "Mr. Moscovici himself has said that we want to move toward Greece's exit from the difficulties it faces. Therefore, it is a shared belief that the country has to move to the day after; this is what our partners have said many times. This is the solution sought; to complete the evaluation and discuss the exit agreement".
Asked about the opening date for the presidential election procedure, she said that she has no specific date.
She criticised main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) for its stance, noting that they "cannot promise everything to everybody by saying anything that comes to mind; to mislead the people; to say that when SYRIZA takes over it will solve all problems. It will hit a wall. It will see that there is no money and will go to the memorandum. There is no other solution. There is no other way".
 We are entering a new memorandum phase, SYRIZA spokesman says"The government finally comes out wounded. Most people understand that we are entering a new memorandum phase, where we will have either an extension of the memorandum for a year, or this will have the name of the credit line, under supervision, that is another kind of memorandum regime," main opposition SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis told VIMA FM on Monday.
Skourletis also said that "the government will not manage to overcome the hurdle of the presidential elections. I think everything is pointing at elections in February or March."
Referring to hunger striker Nikos Romanos, Skourletis said: "I will not comment on Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' statements on Sunday. Because they sounded a bit creepy."
SYRIZA spokesman expressed his hope that after the meeting with the hunger striker's father earlier in the day, there will be some mature thoughts. "We have run out of time. I hope he will reconsider it ... His (Romanos') demand must be met. There is a law that gives imprisoned people the right, provided they have submitted an application, to attend their studies. This is provided by the law. We should not try to change it so as not to satisfy a fair demand," he stressed.
Regarding Samaras' speech in the Parliament on Sunday, he said among others: "For the thousandth time he showed that his only option is scaremongering and fear."
 An extension of the memorandum for a few months will not be a national disaster, ND's Georgiadis saysAn extension of the memorandum for a few months will not be a national disaster, New Democracy parliamentary spokesman Adonis Georgiadis said on Monday in an interview with ANA-MPA, noting, however, that this is his personal view.
"Certainly, it will be ideal if Greece could achieve a one-month technical extension and a simultaneous exit to the markets through the credit line. This is the ideal development and we all hope that the government will achieve it. However, it will not be a national disaster if there is an extension for a few months. What is important is that the transition from the old era to the new one to be done safely, to 'close' the agreement and that the time schedule regarding the exit from the memorandum is clearly set. This is the major issue. The government has to overcome the political uncertainty, which indeed makes the negotiation rather difficult. This is the truth," he explained.
Georgiadis also noted: "It is in our common interest, Greece's and the troika's, to settle that issue and Greece to turn page. It would be a great success for them too. On the other hand, we must acknowledge that the political uncertainty in the country, provokes, and more specifically the fact that in case of elections, we may have a new government which intends, as it says, to overturn all the laws that led us to primary surpluses and balanced budgets. So it is reasonable to be concerned and to raise the bar in order to cover their backs."
The full interview of Adonis Georgiadis is available for subscribers to ANA-MPA website.
 DIMAR leader Kouvelis on the number of deputy votes necessary to elect president of the republicOpposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis on Monday said that it will be very difficult for the present parliament to elect a new president of the republic.
Speaking on Real FM private radio, he said that the 180 deputy votes necessary for the present parliament to elect the president of the republic will not be collected, regardless of the statements made by certain MPs saying that they will adopt a different stance in the election of the president, despite the fact that they have voted against the state budget. He repeated that DIMAR will not vote for a new president for as long as there is no political consensus, because consensus is a necessary element of the presidential election.
He confirmed that two of his party's MPs have adopted the position that an agreement on the election of the president should be reached now and that general elections should be scheduled to take place in 2015.
Kouvelis said that it will be very difficult for the government to reach an agreement with the lenders in the next 2-3 weeks, regardless of whether it will be called a memorandum or not, and did not rule out early elections.
He said that a post-election scenario of a great coalition, like in the case of Germany, is impossible, noting that if SYRIZA does not get the percentage it claims the country will be governed by caretaker governments or special national purpose governments.
Kouvelis met in the morning with DIMAR MP Niki Founta, who has signed the text of the eight MPs that suggests election of president of the republic by the present parliament, promotion of constitutional revision and agreement on a timetable for general elections. Their meeting focused on political developments and the stance of DIMAR.
 Energy Minister Maniatis to participate in EU Energy Ministers Council on Tuesday, BrusselsThe evaluation of the Europe 2020 strategy and the policy framework for Energy and Climate 2030 will be discussed among others at the EU Energy Ministers Council to be held on Tuesday in Brussels, with the participation of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis.
The Council is also expected to adopt the conclusions on the completion of the EU Internal Energy Market.
Furthermore, the Italian presidency and the European Commission are expected to brief the participant ministers on the EU International Energy Relations, while the delegations of Latvia and Slovakia, respectively, will present the programme of the incoming presidency and the position of Slovakia on the future of the European Atomic Energy Forum.
 Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation general assembly on Dec.8-10The Greek Parliament is organizing the 44th general assembly of the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on December 8-10, according to a Parliament announcement.
The president of the Greek Parliament Evangelos Meimarakis will open the proceedings on Tuesday, at 10.00. Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will address the meeting.
Eighty parliamentarians from 11 member states of the Organisation (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Greece), representatives of international organizations and ambassadors are expected to attend the proceedings.
A press conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, at 18.30.
 FM Venizelos briefs acting Cyprus president Omirou on results of Greece-Turkey cooperation council, Ankara visitNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/ A. Viketos)
Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday briefed Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Yiannakis Omirou - currently standing in for Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades while the latter recovers from heart surgery - on the results of the Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council that ended on Saturday and Venizelos' recent visit to Ankara.
According to a written statement issued by Cyprus government spokesman Christos Christodoulidis the briefing was conducted over the telephone and Omirou underlined Nicosia's standing position "for an immediate end to Turkish provocative actions with the Cyprus Republic's Exclusive Economic Zone and for Turkey to actively show respect for the Cyprus Republic's sovereign rights, so that the resumption of talks on the Cyprus issue is made possible."
FM Venizelos briefs the Acting President of the Republic of Cyprus, Yiannakis Omirou, on the 3rd Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council
Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday briefed the Acting President of the Republic of Cyprus, House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, on the Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council that took place in Athens on December 5-6, and on his previous visit to Ankara, according to a ministry announcement.
Venizelos underscored that the core of the issue is always the recognition of the existence, the national sovereignty and the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus. Thus, what is of primary importance is that the violation of the Cypriot EEZ and continental shelf by the Turkish vessel Barbaros cease, making possible the reopening of the intercommunal talks, the announcement added.
 President Papoulias' visit to Algeria concludedPresident of Republic Karolos Papoulias' visit to Algeria was concluded on Monday.
Earlier in the day, the Greek President was toured at the old town of Algiers (Casbah) and in the afternoon he will return to Athens. On Sunday, he met with his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Boudeflika and afterwards the two countries' delegations had a broad discussion.
"...With my dear friend and President Boudeflika, we found out that our cooperation, in many areas, can be effective and fruitful. We agreed that in some areas there is much room for development among them the area of hydrocarbons, the tourism sector which, if some bureaucratic difficulties are overcome, the Greek-Algerian tourist agreement can be signed even tomorrow, or the agriculture sector, the construction sector and hydropower projects. We also agreed for Greek and Algerian entrepreneurs to meet and have consultations and cooperation on a regular basis," Papoulias noted.
Papoulias and the Greek delegation attended a dinner hosted by the Algerian President on Sunday evening.
 SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Dritsas says his party is ready for elections at any timeMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Thodoris Dritsas on Monday commented in Thessaloniki that the state budget vote "is the beginning of the end for the government" and did not rule out the likelihood of snap elections if the government sees that it cannot secure the votes of 180 MPs needed to elect a new president of the republic, adding that his party is ready for elections at any time.
The government's goal is to elect a new president of the republic before announcing the agreement with the troika of the country's lenders, he said, expressing the view that the agreement is almost complete and includes new measures which the government does not want to reveal at this hour to the parliament and society.
"It became more obvious than ever ...that the exit from the memorandum means a new memorandum," he said.
As regards the prime minister's meeting with the father of hunger-striking prison inmate Nikos Romanos, Dritsas noted that "the fact that the meeting would be inconclusive was announced in advance yesterday in Parliament by Antonis Samaras," characterising the premier's approach to the issue as "sad".
Accompanied by party cadres and MPs, the SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman visited the port of Thessaloniki and met with the management and employees of Thessaloniki Port Authority S.A. (THPA SA).
In a press conference that followed, he said that there is no transparency in the THPA S.A. privatisation, noting that neither the parliament nor the local community have been adequately briefed. He said that the country's privatisation agency TAIPED seeks to hand a majority share of THPA S.A. to a business group in a non transparent way and did not rule out relevant developments in January. He stressed that SYRIZA, with THPA S.A. employees and local organisations, will do everything possible to prevent such a development. He said that SYRIZA is not bound by such a privatisation and, if elected to the government, it will restore the public character of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki because they are the pylons of the reconstruction of the country's production sector.
Later in the evening, Dritsas will address a SYRIZA event on the international geopolitical environment and geostrategic changes.
Gov't seeking 'period of grace' from troika before it must announce new measures, SYRIZA's Milios tells ANA-MPA
The government was essentially asking Greece's creditors for a "period of grace" so that new, painful measures are not announced now, the head of main opposition SYRIZA's economic policy section Yiannis Milios said on Monday, in an interview with ANA-MPA.
"The government's aim is to convince some MPs to vote to extend the lifespan of this government through the presidential elections and consequently to continue austerity policies. The budget reveals the essence of the government policy and does so, in fact, through an attempt to veil it, to hide the measures that are going to come in the period that immediately follows. The budget is up in the air from every standpoint," Milios said.
He also noted that at a time when the budget and this policy could only "scare up" 155 votes in its favour, it would be excessive to consider that the government would be able to find 180 MPs to vote for the president and essentially for an extension of the same policy, "unless other peculiar things are happening".
"It is our estimate that it will be impossible to find 180 MPs that will support the government camp and the continuation of this policy," he added, calling for an agreement as quickly as possible to resort to the polls, since this would help normalise the climate and that things went smoothly.
"The artificial extension of the memorandum is a neologism, which is trying to cover things up...As long as the Samaras-Venizelos government remains, the longer the austerity policy will be maintained. If this government stays until 2016, we will have memorandums until then," he said.
Milios also noted that SYRIZA did not have a "magic wand" and could not work miracles, stressing that a change of course could not come about without the participation and intervention of the people.
"Nevertheless, SYRIZA does have an alternative programme. What we are promising is not that everything will return to the level of 2008 but the democratic reform of the state and above all, a tackling of the humanitarian crisis," he added.
The full interview in Greek is available on the ANA-MPA website.
 Christofilopoulou on PASOK unity, presidential electionDeputy Administrative Reform Minister Evi Christofilopoulou, one of the members of Greece's coalition government originating from the junior partner PASOK, said in an interview with the state television channel NERIT on Monday that opinions within PASOK were largely in alignment when it came to major issues.
"On the major issues having to do with the negotiation to wrap up the [troika] review and settling the debt we don't seek important political differences between PASOK members," she said.
Referring to the presidential election, Christofilopoulou stressed that "the 180 MPs must be found in order to stabilise the country, to go to a constitutional revision and a discussion on the settlement of the debt."
Asked whether PASOK would support a right-wing candidate, specifically former premier Costas Karamanlis, the deputy minister indicated that PASOK could vote for a president originating from the right "or, even better, one from the Left". She pointed out that PASOK had in the past supported Kostis Stephanopoulos as president, who came from a conservative background.
"There is one main criterion: that he can unite the Greeks," she added.
She also indicated that PASOK will support the amendment allowing prison inmates denied educational furlough to pursue their studies using distance-learning methods: "It is something that should have been done before the [Nikos Romanos] case arose. This type of measure is not personal. We have an obligation to support education in general and the schools that operate within prisons, since these are measures for reintegration."
 Former PM Mitsotakis opposes early elections, calls constitutional revision necessaryFormer Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis in an interview with Parliament Channel underlined the need for constitutional revision, pointing out that the country needs a minimum of consensus. He said that he opposes early national elections and that the President of the Republic should be elected directly by the people.
"Anyway, I would like to repeat that we should not have [early national] elections. I personally believe that elections should not take place. This government should serve its four-year term," he said, adding that in the meantime, constitutional revision should take place.
He repeated that the president of the republic should be elected directly by the people and the procedure should be disengaged from the likelihood of early elections.
"To say one thing that proves how right I am, the upheaval Greece is going through right now is created by the fact that the constitution adopted after the restoration of democracy has many weaknesses, as I have already said, and links the election of the president with the likelihood of early elections," he noted.
"Things would have been simple; the government, this or any other government that would express the European majority in today's parliament would continue undisturbed, if there was no presidential election issue. Why not have the president elected by the people, and be done with it?" Mitsotakis underlined.
 Opinion poll gives SYRIZA 5 pct lead over New DemocracyMain opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) was given a 5 percentage point lead over ruling coalition leader New Democracy in a nationwide Pulse RC opinion poll for Action 24 TV station, carried out on December 5-6.
Asked about which party they intend to vote whenever elections are held, SYRIZA took the lead with 27 pct and ND came second with 22 pct. Support for the remaining parties was as follows: PASOK 6.5 pct, To Potami and Golden Dawn 6 pct, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 5.5 pct, Independent Greeks (ANEL) 3.5 pct and Democratic Left (DIMAR) 1 pct.
A further 5 pct supported "other parties", 8 pct said White/Abstention, while 9.5 pct of participants were "undecided" or didn't answer.
In reply as to who is the most suitable for prime minister, current premier Antonis Samaras took the lead with 32 pct, with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras getting 29 pct. A 38 pct of respondents said "none of the two," while 1 pct didn't answer.
Asked "Independently of who you'd vote for, who do you think would win if elections were held next Sunday?" 63 pct said SYRIZA, 24 pct said ND and 4 pct said another party. A 9 pct didn't answer.
The poll's geographical area was nationwide.
 High-level Chinese gov't officials to visit Athens on TuesdayA three-member high-level government official delegation from Guangxi Qinzhou Free Trade Port Area Administration Committee will visit the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
The main purpose of the meeting is to exchange views between the two organisations in order to further promote business and trade relations between Greece and China.
The representatives of the Chinese organisation will present the benefits and the advantages of the Free Zone area to the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber.
 EU Commissioner Avramopoulos meets with Interior Minister DinopooulosEuropean Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday met with Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos and expressed to him the Commission's satisfaction over Greece's stance on the migrants' issue.
The two officials 'inaugurated' an open line for continuous exchange of information over the immigration and the political asylum considering the political condition in the Middle East as well as Greece's geographical position.
Avramopoulos said that the EU is very satisfied because "Greece fulfills its commitments as these are provided by the European Pacts despite the pressures it receives."
The Greek Commissioner announced that the conditions and prerequisites for the adoption of a new New Map for Migration are beginning to form in the EU with focus on the legal migration and the political asylum.
 PM Samaras' meeting with Romanos' father fruitlessPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday met with the father of hunger striker Nikos Romanos.
Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou also attended the 20-minute meeting.
According to sources, Samaras told Romanos' father: "As a parent I share the concern for the health of your child, but as a prime minister that respects the separation of powers I cannot in any way interfere in Justice."
Athanassiou analyzed the legal framework for detainees and convicts and the new law for distance learning and he explained to him that institutionally he does not have the right to intervene in the relevant organs of justice.
On his part, Romanos' father said that no solution has been found so far.
"I think that they will discuss it again and I hope that a solution will be found. I am asking them to accept my son's demand and from a human perspective, speaking as a father, I am asking them to find a solution to the problem," he said.
 SYRIZA leader Tsipras expresses support for hunger striker Romanos after meeting fatherMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday expressed his support to hunger striker Nikos Romanos at a half-hour meeting with the 21-year-old's father, Giorgos Romanos.
"Human life has supreme value. It cannot be scorned and crushed in the 'Clashing Rocks' of the government's and Justice's jurisdictions. At a time when a young man's life is in grave danger, who is claiming his right to education, no one is entitled to act like a Pontius Pilate," Tsipras said after the meeting which took place after a request by Giorgos Romanos.
Nikos Romanos, jailed over a bank robbery, has been on hunger strike since November 10 after a rejection by authorities of his request to attend classes at a university.
 Hunger striker Romanos could qualify for electronic bracelet when the programme starts, says Justice ministerJailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos will be able to take advantage of the regulation pertaining to the electronic tagging of prisoners (the electronic bracelet) when the programme is implemented, Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou said in Parliament on Monday.
Nikos Romanos, convicted for a bank robbery, has been on hunger strike since November 10 after a rejection by authorities of his request to attend classes at a university.
The minister also urged the parents of 21-year-old prisoner to convince him to attend classes with distance learning, as this is the best the government can do at the moment.
Answering a question submitted by main opposition SYRIZA party MP Tasos Kourakis, who had argued that the amendment which will be tabled by the government on Tuesday allowing an inmate to pursue studies through distance learning is worsening the situation, Athanassiou said: "Why is the amendment worsening things? The point is to allow someone to be granted an educational leave to study. He is given a second chance in case the Councils reject the person's application."
Athanassiou also said the law doesn't allow the minister to intervene in the decisions of judicial bodies and asked the SYRIZA MP to point out if there is anything he could have done which he hasn't.
 Ioannina, Chania town halls occupied in support of RomanosThe town halls of Ioannina, northwestern Greece, and Chania, Crete, on Monday are under occupation in support of jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos.
Protesters in Chania's town hall asked for access in the computers while they said that the building will be occupied until Romanos' demands are satisfied.
Twenty-one-year-old Romanos has been on hunger strike since November 10 after he was refused a furlough to attend classes. He is serving a sentence for a bank robbery.
 SYRIZA holds event on tourism on TuesdaySYRIZA's Tourism Department and Audit Committee of Tourism Parliamentary Work on Tuesday will hold an event entitled "SYRIZA's proposal for tourism" according to a SYRIZA announcement.
The event will take place at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), at 12.30.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will deliver a speech, at 12.45.
 Independent Greeks' spokesman levels criticism against governmentIndependent Greeks (ANEL) spokesman Terens Quick on Monday levelled harsh criticism against the government.
"When lies have no end, then we talk about political fraud. After the counterfeit budget was voted, New Democracy and PASOK now tell the Greeks that an extension of the memorandum does not matter while the troika is demanding new painful measures," Quick said in a statement.
"Hold elections and leave," he added.
 KKE's Koutsoumbas meets with Hellinikon Citizens' CommitteeOpposition Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Monday was briefed on developments concerning the promoted privatisation of the site of the former Greek airport at Hellinikon, in greater Athens, in a meeting with representatives of the Citizens' Committee for the Metropolitan Park of Hellinikon held at the latter's request.
Koutsoumbas repeated that KKE backs the creation of a state-funded multi-theme park and expressed his party's support to the efforts against the Metropolitan Park's privatisation and commercialisation.
 Former Cyprus minister Michaelides testifies in armaments kickback caseTestimonies by defendants of armaments procurements kickbacks began at an Athens course on Monday with that of former Cyprus Interior minister Dinos Michailides.
Michailidis and his co-defendants are charged with bribery in the purchase of TOR-M1 Russian antiaircraft missiles on behalf of Akis Tsochatzopoulos, a former PASOK minister now in jail. Also charged are Michailides's son Michalis, businessman at large Fouad al-Zhiyad, former council of state Anastassios Sofos and his wife Maria Sofos.
This particular trial, which began in May, is part of a larger case related to armaments kickbacks. The four defendants are charged with facilitating kickbacks from al-Zhiyad which allegedly ended up in Tsochadzopoulos' offshore companies and accounts. Michailides has been named by Tsochadzopoulos' cousin Nikos Zigras, another person involved in the case, as transferring the funds for the jailed former minister in suitcases, in person.
Michailides rejected the charges, saying he did not know Tsochadzopoulos well and that Zigras is lying.
The court case will continue on Wednesday.
 Suspect for MP bribery receives extension to testify on FridayThe public prosecutor Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos investigating allegations of MP bribery gave Giorgos Soukouris, who was named by Independent Greeks MP Stavroula Xoulidou, an extension to testify on Friday.
According to Xoulidou, he had hinted that she might receive a sizeable amount of money if she agreed to break the party line and participate in a vote for a new president in the present Parliament.
Xoulidou testified that Soukouris had suggested that her vote for a new Greek president might earn her two to three million euros and had also dropped hints that the now independent MP Panagiotis Melas, who quit the Independent Greeks party in the wake of these allegations, had accepted the bribe.
Soukouris rejected the claims adding that the only contacts he had with New Democracy party had to do for issues relating to ethnic Greeks from Albania.
 Lawyers, court bailiffs abstain from duties in protest against Civil Procedure Code amendmentCourt bailiffs nationwide will abstain from their duties beginning on Wednesday, December 10 in protest against a justice ministry-sponsored draft bill amending the Civil Procedure Code, it was announced on Monday.
The court bailiffs' federation demands that the controversial draft bill be withdrawn and also calls on the ministry of finance to proceed with the immediate payment of arrears.
Lawyers nationwide protesting against the Civil Procedure Code amendment will abstain from their duties as of today.
 Tourism minister receives heads of HATTA, hoteliers' chamberTourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on Monday received the head of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels Giorgos Tsakiris and the head of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) Lysandros Tsilidis, who briefed her on their discussions on issues relating to interaction between the two bodies and on the development of Greece's tourism sector.
Among others, they referred to the prospects for the registry of HATTA members in the hoteliers' chamber and its action and contribution toward Greek tourism, with Tsakiris noting that an attempt was being made to broaden the chamber's base and make it more representative.
Kefalogianni referred to the need to combine forces in the tourism sector and to the need for understanding, a collective approach and undertaking action to improve the quality of Greece's tourism. He also praised the dynamic role that the chamber can have and hailed the management's efforts in the direction of progress.
In statements afterward, they referred to the inclusion of HATTA members in the hoteliers' chamber, with Tsilidis noting that this had been one of HATTA's long-standing aims and Tsakiris saying they would work together for the good of tourism and the country's economy.
 Northern Greece Business Index up in NovNorthern Greece Business Index 500 (NGBI 500) improved further in November to -10, from -15 in October and -26 in November last year, according to a report released by Interview on Monday. The NGBI 500 index, based on a sample of 500 enterprises in Northern Greece, showed that a 19 pct of businessmen in the region said their situation was good, up from 16 pct in October, while a 49 pct said their situation was satisfactory. A 32 pct of respondents said their situation was bad, up from 30 pct in October. Interview attributed the November improvement to the start of intense negotiations between the Greek government and the troika with the aim to agree on a precautionary credit line for the day after the end of the memorandum.
The report showed that a 20 pct of businessmen based in Northern Greece estimated that their situation would be better in the next six months, up from 14 pct in October, while a 54 expected things to remain the same and 26 pct things to deteriorate.
Employment forecasts remained bleak with a 10 pct of respondents intended to make new hirings in November, from 17 pct in October, while dismissal intentions rose to 14 pct in November from 7.0 pct in October. A 76 pct of Northern Greece enterprises said they would keep their workforce unchanged.
A 24 pct respondent businesses said their turnover rose in November, up from 22 pct in October, while a 40 pct said their sales shrank (unchanged from October) and a 35 pct said their turnover remained stable in November (38 pct in October).
 Free training of the unemployed provided by Microsoft and OAEDUnemployed registered with the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) will have access to Microsoft's international platform IT Academy in the context of the "Information Academy" programme implemented by OAED in cooperation with Microsoft, it was announced on Monday.
The programme is expected to be launched soon and through a special code, participants will have free access to a number of services, including the courses offered. The option of downloading the courses will also be available.
 Greek exports up 7.0 pct in OctGreek exports and imports grew in October, official figures showed on Monday. A report by Hellenic Statistical Authority on the country's merchandise trade, showed that the value of import-arrivals totaled 4.272 billion euros in October, up 1.9 pct from the same month last year (excluding oil products the value of imports rose 3.1 pct). The value of export-deliveries totaled 2.512 billion euros in October, up 7.0 pct from the same month last year (excluding oil products the value of exports rose 3.6 pct).
 Greek stocks ended slightly higherGreek stocks edged higher in the Athens Stock Exchange with investors remaining on the sidelines ahead of the results of a crucial Eurogroup meeting. The composite index of the market rose 0.20 pct to end at 1,035.09 points, off the day's highs of 1,048.63 points. Turnover fell to 75.64 million euros.
The Large Cap index rose 0.16 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.87 pct higher. MIG (6.41 pct), Viohalco (5.73 pct), Grivalia Properties (2.87 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.48 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Athens Water (2.46 pct), Coca Cola HBC (2.35 pct), OPAP (1.79 pct) and Jumbo (1.72 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Food (2.32 pct), Oil (2.28 pct) and Personal Products (1.61 pct) suffered heavy losses, while the Insurance (4.93 pct), Health (3.27 pct) and Real Estate (2.55 pct) scored big gains.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 70 to 44, with another 23 issues unchanged. Sfakianakis (20 pct), Mohlos (19 pct) and NEL (17.86 pct) were top gainers, while Medicon (19.83 pct), Selonda (12.63 pct) and Bitros (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +1.22%
Industrial Products: +2.03%
Real Estate: +2.55%
Personal & Household: -1.61%
Food & Beverages: -2.32%
Raw Materials: -0.05%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Leisure & Travel: -1.55%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Piraeus a Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.57
Public Power Corp (PPC): 7.54
Coca Cola HBC: 17.86
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.82
National Bank of Greece: 2.05
Piraeus Bank: 1.34
Grivalia Properties: 8.97
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 6.52 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 6.47 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.24 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.72 pct. Turnover was a low 12 million euros, of which 11 million were sell orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.329 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.254 pct, the six-month rate was 0.179 pct, the three-month rate rose to 0.082 pct from 0.081 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.022 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 5,658 contracts with 38,871 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 17,764 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,142), followed by Alpha Bank (3,091), Piraeus Bank (2,713), Eurobank (2,206), MIG (2,026), PPC (1,523), OPAP (815), OTE (660), GEK (260), Mytilineos (181), Hellenic Petroleum (115), METKA (128), Motor Oil (104), Ellaktor (97), Viohalco (95) and Frigoglass (94) .
 Foreign exchange rates -MondayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2258
Pound sterling 0.7845
Danish kroner 7.4401
Swedish kroner 9.3058
Japanese yen 148.45
Swiss franc 1.2023
Norwegian kroner 8.7975
Canadian dollar 1.4027
Australian dollar 1.4789
 Sweeping Greek antiquity travelling exhibition to open December 12 in CanadaOTTAWA (ANA-MPA/I. Frangouli)
The largest travelling exhibition on ancient Greeks, "The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great," will open at the Pointe-a-Calliere Montreal Archeology and History Museum in Ottawa on December 12.
The Montreal museum will show the exhibit until April 26, 2015, after which it will travel to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Ottawa (June 5-October 12), Chicago's Field Museum (Nov. 24, 2015-April 10, 2016) and the National Geographic Museum, Washington DC (may 26-Oct. 9, 2016).
The exhibition includes over 540 antiquities and plaster casts from 22 Greek museums showing objects representing 5,000 years of history, from the Neolithic period around 6,000 BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the accepted end of the Classical age and the beginning of the Hellenistic era.
There are nine sections to the show titled as follows - Preamble: Man in the prehistoric Aegean; Agamemnon and the Mycenaeans' world; Heroes and aristocrats; Athletes and Olympic Games; Kouroi and korai; Leonidas, the king of Sparta; Athenians and Democracy; Philip II and Alexander the Great; and Dawn of a new world, showing the Hellenistic figurines from the Archaeological Museums of Pella and Veria, in Macedonia.
Montreal's museum will inaugurate the exhibit with a gala organised jointly with the Greek Community of Greater Montreal on December 10, to be followed by a press conference on December 12. The show will open to the public on December 12.
In preparation for the last two years, the travelling exhibition was organised on the Greek side by former ambassador to Canada Eleftherios Angelopoulos, the Greek ministry of Culture, Canadian Ambassador to Athens Robert Peck and Canadian Museum of History president and CEO Mark O'Neill.
 Coroners say Menis Koumandareas was strangledThe two coroners that made the post-mortem examination of the body of Menis Koumandareas, who was found murdered in his apartment on Saturday in Athens, said that the writer was strangled with bare hands.
Moreover, according to evidence, the perpetrator hit Koumandareas on the face and the abdomen before killing him.
 Preliminary investigation into a video showing police violenceThe General Police Directorate of Attica on Monday ordered a preliminary investigation into a video showing a police officer being extremely violent against an arrested person.
The video was broadcast by the media during protest marches in the memory of Alexis Grigoropoulos, who was shot dead by a policeman six years ago.
Greeks' relationship with corruption 'on track to becoming genetic', says national coordinator against corruption
The national coordinator for the fight against corruption, Ioannis Tentes, said on Monday that the relationship between Greeks and corruption is on track to becoming genetic.
"Greeks have a peculiar culture of tolerance towards corruption...The relationship between Greeks and corruption is on track of becoming genetic," Tentes said during an event organised at the War Museum in Athens to mark the International Anti-corruption Day.
The national coordinator said this is not the fault of citizens who feel "defenceless and addresses the situation fatalistically", however people need to change mentality and behaviour when it comes to corruption.
"Citizens must believe there is hope. We have to change and turn the passive behavior into active behaviour. We have to motivate citizens to report corruption," Tentes said at the event titled "The modern Media in managing corruption."
He also said the mass media must inform the public on corruption and contribute in the change of culture "to awaken citizens but also to uncover cases of corruption."
The General Secretary for Transparency Giorgos Sourlas discussed the need to end "the status of lawlessness and lack of transparency in the operation of mass media," as it was reported by the parliamentary Committee of Institutions and Transparency.
Sourlas also said the government must also end a 20-year abeyance concerning the legality of the operation of broadcasting stations, saying the audit and transparency department of the supervisory and regulatory administrative authority for TV and radio (ESR) is not operating.
"The reason why there are no audits conducted at media companies is because for the last 19 years no one has issued a ministerial decision outlining the wages of auditors," he said.
 Greek app Bookukoo helps users 'trade' useful or interesting booksA new app called Bookukoo that was developed in Greece is designed to help book lovers find and 'trade' titles so that they can renew their libraries and find new reading material without buying new books. The app was designed by software engineer and Harvard graduate Panagiotis Kouretas, who spoke to ANA-MPA about his idea and said Bookukoo was a non-profit app that he was first inspired to develop while doing his national military service.
"Cooped up in a room several hours a day, I did a lot of reading. After finishing a book, though I was willing to share it with others, I found that there was no way. Ideally, I was looking for an application that was easy to use, that I could use through my mobile phone, which would take into account my location and allow me to come into contact only with individuals within the army camp. Because there was no such tool to covery these needs I decided to make my own," he said.
According to Kouretas, Bookukoo was similar in concept to other apps, such as bookcrossing, paperback swap and others, but each of these had some drawback, so he proceeded to design Bookukoo. He said his app was ideal for three major categories of readers - students, who could trade no-longer needed text books and study aids for books that they wanted, classic 'bookworms' constantly looking for new reading material and families with children, who could find a new home for books their children had outgrown.
Kouretas said that 1,000 people had already downloaded his application and more than 100 had created their 'lending library' with more than 700 books currently available in various areas of Greece and also with Greeks in Belgium, Istanbul and London.
 Outrage at Thessaloniki municipality after bailiffs confiscate city vehicles over unpaid debt to supplierThessaloniki municipal officials on Monday expressed complete outrage after court bailiffs armed with a payment order confiscated five of the city's vehicles and three pieces of heavy machinery to satisfy claims linked to an old debt owed by the municipal authority to a private supplier.
Tension erupted when the two bailiffs first called at the Thessaloniki City Hall on Monday morning and attempted to confiscate furniture and money from the municipality's coffers. After they were unsuccessful, they then headed to the municipality vehicle compound in Finikas, where they confiscated five vehicles and three machines.
Talking to ANA-MPA, Thessaloniki's Deputy Mayor for Finances Hasdai Kapon referred to "unacceptable behaviour" and "unbelievable gall" on the part of the two bailiffs, noting that they payment order they used to justify the seizures was linked to invoices issued in 2006, at a time when the municipality was run by the previous administration, and concerned procurements of uniforms for the municipal police.
The claim is for the sum of 49,000 euros but is disputed by the current administration for variety of reasons, while the municipality has filed for a suspension of the payment order and a temporary stay of its execution.
 Large number of contraband cigarettes found in abandoned freighterPort Authorities on Monday announced that they found a large number of contraband cigarettes in the freighter "Amaranthus". The ship was found last week abandoned at Porto Vromi, Zakynthos island.
Authorities said that they found 981,000 packets of contraband cigarettes in 1,932 cartons.
 Rescue operation for stranded migrants in Evros River successfulAn EMAK search-and-rescue team on Monday successfully carried out an operation to pick up 30 irregular migrants stranded on a shoal in the middle of the Evros River at Lavara, where they were earlier abandoned by a Turkish migrant trafficker.
An EMAK team assisted by the coast guard and with the support of the Civil Protection service transported the 30 migrants, 26 from Pakistan and four from Bangladesh, in two boats. Despite their ordeal and the difficult weather conditions in Evros on Monday, all the rescued migrants were reported to be in good health.
 Twenty five undocumented migrants trapped in River EvrosTwenty five undocumented migrants have been trapped on a River Evros' islet near the Greek-Turkish borders. A rescue operation is currently underway.
Deputy local governor of Evros region Dimitris Petrovic said to ANA-MPA that they do not know how the migrants got trapped at the specific spot but probably, as he said, they were swept away by the flooded river.
 Former president of national sports centre held on charges of embezzlement, money-launderingThe up-to-recently president of National Youth Sports Centre "Agios Kosmas" in Athens is accused of misappropriating the amount of 800,000 euros while holding the post, it was announced on Monday. The defendant, who will be held in custody pending his trial, is accused of several counts of embezzlement against a public law legal entity and of money-laundering.
In his testimony before Prosecutor for Corruption Konstantinos Sargiotis, he blamed his addiction to gambling for his actions. According to evidence presented to the examining magistrate by the defendant, in the 500 days he was in charge of the sports centre he had visited repeatedly the casinos in Parnitha and Loutraki. Specifically, he had visited the Regency Casino Mont Parnes a total of 200 times during that period.
Based on the investigation, the defendant who had the administrative control of the sports centre from August 2013 until August 2014, had misappropriated the 800,000 euros in a period of one month.
The case was led to justice following an audit carried out on an order by Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Andrianos in response to complaints made by sports centre employees last August who had been left unpaid.
 Brazilian man arrested at Athens airport over five kilos cocaineA 40-year-old Brazilian man was arrested at Athens international aiport on Monday after he was found to be carrying roughly five kilos of cocaine in his luggage.
Police believe the suspect is part of a large cocaine-trafficking ring bringing drugs from Latin American countries to Europe, including Greece.
The man arrived on a flight from Sao Paolo via Dubia and was carrying 251 cylindrical packages of cocaine, with a total weight of 5,227 grammes, placed within socks and hidden in 10 metallic chocolate boxes.
The suspect was led before an Athens public prosecutor.
 Aegean cancels flights to Brussels due to Belgian strike actionAegean Airlines on Monday announced the cancellation of four flights to Brussels due to strike action by Belgian unions and the cancellation of all flights to Brussels on December 15, during a general strike taking place in Belgium on that day.
The company said that it will try to contact all passengers on the cancelled flights and try to help them reach their destination using other flights in the network on alternative days. For more information, passengers are advised to visit the airline's website or call the numbers 801 11 20000 (from a landline) and 210 6261000 (from a mobile phone).
 Ten arrested for incidents in Thessaloniki to be tried on WednesdayA Thessaloniki police court on Monday gave 10 individuals arrested in Thessaloniki until Wednesday to prepare for their trial over the violent incidents that took place in the city last Saturday, during and after a protest march held to commemorate the shooting of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos by a policeman six years ago in Athens. All face misdemeanour charges.
Another seven suspects, held for violating the law on hooded individuals, were led before an examining magistrate to testify. One of them was released without conditions after his testimony while the rest, who are still detained, will testify tomorrow.
A number of young people gathered outside the Thessaloniki Court in a show of support for those arrested.
 Greek Ombudsman holds event on combating tortureAn event entitled "Combating torture and ill-treatment: International Experience and Prospects" was organised on Monday on the occasion of the new responsibility of the Greek Ombudsman as a National Mechanism of Torture Prevention.
"The Greek state is particularly sensitive to issues of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of people deprived of their freedom," Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou said in a letter which was read at the event.
 Clouds, rain on TuesdayRain and storms and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 08C-12C. Partly cloudy in the western parts with temperatures between 10C-16C. Rain in the morning in the eastern parts with temperatures between 08C-15C. Rain and storms over the islands, 12C-19C. Clouds and possibility or rain in the morning in Athens, 10C-14C. Heavy rainfall in Thessaloniki, 8C-10C.
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