|Friday, 22 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-12-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 10 December 2014 Issue No: 4832
 Stavros Dimas candidate for President of RepublicFormer EU Commissioner and former minister Stavros Dimas (L) will be candidate for President of the Hellenic Republic in all three votes, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced on Tuesday.
With the election of the President of the Republic, the situation will have cleared out and the country will enter the post-memorandum era, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said. In his message, Samaras explained the decision to speed up the process for the election of President as well as to appoint Dimas as candidate.
 After the election of the President, Greece will enter the post-memorandum era, PM Samaras saysFormer EU Commissioner and former minister Stavros Dimas will be candidate for President of the Hellenic Republic in all three votes, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced on Tuesday.
With the election of the President of the Republic, the situation will have cleared out and the country will enter the post-memorandum era, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said. In his message, Samaras explained the decision to speed up the process for the election of President as well as to appoint Dimas as candidate:
"The election of the President of the Republic has lately become a pretext for early elections blackmail. Therefore, while we were financially stable and we finally started to recover, clouds of political instability once again appeared in Greece along with political uncertainty for Greece abroad. The government, as it ought to do, decided to remove this uncertainty and fully restore political stability, speeding up the election of the President of the Republic!
Besides, the Eurogroup's decision on Monday to approve Greece's credit line and give a technical extension of two months for the conclusion of the new agreement shows that Europe is now realizing that Greece will get to the next day. And this is very positive for the country ...
Therefore, with the election of the President by the Greek Parliament by the end of the month, the clouds will have gone away and the country will be ready to officially enter the post-memorandum era.
Together with the Government Vice President, we chose the best candidate for the Presidency of the Republic: Stavros Dimas, a former minister and MP, EU Commissioner, who has been honored with special distinctions, especially in the field of Environmental Protection, a man appreciated by the Greek society and respected by the international community and who obviously will be a candidate in the three presidential votes, if needed.
Stavros Dimas is admittedly a person that unites, but also inspires. He unites citizens beyond partisan preferences and inspires seriousness, trust and respect.
With the election of the new President, Greece - perfectly stable both economically and politically - will be in all respects ready to proceed to the next day; (the day) of calmness, stability and development."
 Candidate President of the Republic Dimas' statementCandidate President of the Republic Stavros Dimas earlier on Tuesday said he thanked the prime minister, the government vice-president, the parties' parliamentary groups and "all those who regardless of whether they will vote for me or not said nice things."
Asked whether he called on other parties to vote for him, he responded that he wished to contribute - and this was his objective- to the unity of the Greek people.
"Yes, I hope so," he responded when asked if he thought the 180 deputies necessary for the election of the President would be found.
 Gov't Vice President Venizelos on Dimas' candidacy for President of the RepublicGovernment Vice President and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, speaking at a party event on Tuesday, said the choice of Stavros Dimas as candidate for President of the Republic was made after careful consideration, between himself and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Venizelos noted that Dimas was "a personality that fully meets the requirements of the presidential office," being a moderate politician with a long career and experience within government, a distinguished EU environment commissioner and someone that was able to act as a regulator of democracy, a representative of national unity and a symbol for consensus.
"I believe he is the most suitable successor for Karolos Papoulias," he stressed.
Venizelos said the government is fighting for stability so that, in the new year, the negotiations can be completed in best way for the country. In the case that Parliament is unable to elect a president, he added, PASOK was "not afraid of general elections".
"If the opposition wants to trigger them, if public opinion does not react and impose the election of the president...we will say exactly what has happened," he noted, expressing his irritation "with this offensive theory that we imposed measures that we might have avoided." He emphasised the people had put up with difficult experiences "in order to avoid an incomparably more difficult experience."
Venizelos also rejected suggestions that the government had pushed up the presidential election in order to take harsher measures, saying that precisely the opposite was true and that it was seeking in this way to prevent unfounded and disproportionate demands from Greece's creditors.
"We will not depart from this line. The country does not need additional austerity measures, it cannot take any more wage and pension cuts. The country needs reforms and changes to the state, to public administration, education and justice but it also needs social cohesion and sensitivity, support for employment and investments," he added.
He said the decision was made so that the country could deploy all its forces and arguments in the complex talks with its partners as it made the transition to a new regime, the precautionary credit line that was neither a loan nor a memorandum and did not entail close supervision by the troika.
According to Venizelos, Monday's Eurogroup had confirmed this transition to a new regime and expected all the negotiations and procedures for entering the new phase to be completed by the end of February 2015.
 ND's Asimakopoulou, SYRIZA's Pappas comment on Dimas' candidacy for President of the RepublicNew Democracy spokeswoman Anna Asimakopoulou on Tuesday referred to the nomination of Stavros Dimas as candidate President of the Republic.
"Mr. Dimas is an exceptional man...I think he is absolutely the right man for this institution and post," she said.
The head of SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' office Nikos Pappas noted he also thought highly of him and added that "As we have said, this is not about specific persons. There is no way we are going to vote for him. Mr. Dimas had his door open when he was minister, contrary to others. I think that in any case we could say a good word, but the dilemmas are historical ones."
 Stavros Dimas candidate for President of Republic-CVStavros Dimas was born in 1941. He studied law at the Athens University and political and economic science in London and New York. He has worked at a Wall Street firm and as a World Bank executive.
In 1975, he was appointed deputy governor of the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank. He was also member of the negotiating committee for the accession of Greece to the European Economic Community (EEC).
He was first elected deputy to the Greek Parliament under the New Democracy party in 1977. He served as New Democracy's parliamentary spokesman between 1985 and 1989.
Between 1989 and 1991, he served as Agriculture and then as Industry, Energy and Technology minister. In January 1995, he was appointed secretary general of New Democracy's parliamentary group.
In March 2004, he was appointed European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, taking over the role from the previous Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, while in November 2004 he assumed the environment portfolio.
In July 2010, he was appointed New Democracy vice president for the sector of Economy, Development and Competitiveness, Shipping, Energy, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, Health, Social Policy and Government Programme. In November 2011, he was sworn in as Foreign Minister in Lucas Papademos' interim coalition government.
He is married and has three children.
 Election rhetoric causes political instability, government spokeswoman saysThis situation could not go on any longer, the government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi said on Tuesday, regarding the speeding up of the Greek President's election.
The election rhetoric causes political instability, she told ANT1 TV and noted: "We asked for things to calm down, for the election rhetoric to be terminated, for the negotiations to be concluded and then have elections."
Asked on the announcement of the name of the candidate President, she said "there are no plans for the announcement of the name today" and added this would be scheduled in the coming days. Voultepsi, however, made no reference to the name to be proposed or which party or field the candidate president would come from.
Regarding the 180 deputies required for the election of the President, once again she appeared confident that "they will be found."
"In my view, this number will be certainly found," she said and noted that dilemma the Greece society is now faced with related to whether "the country will continue its course or turn backwards."
 SYRIZA spokesman Skourletis on the acceleration of the presidential election processThe government is in essence "dragged to the speeding up of the process for the election of the Greek President," SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Tuesday in an interview with ANA-MPA.
"It was a forced choice, after the government found that its plans came to a deadlock and all its approaches and reports regarding the exit from the memorandum have been cancelled. In an effort to present a new story to the Greek people, which, however, will hide those agreed with the troika, the government hastily goes into this process for the election of the President of the Republic," he said.
Skourletis cleared out that SYRIZA will not be involved in a debate over the name of the candidate President. "It is the first time that the person who will be named has very little importance considering the actual political issue. The dilemma is clear: whoever of the deputies takes the responsibility in favour of the person nominated, he or she authorises Samaras to continue the memorandum policy," he noted.
Main opposition spokesman said that "the dynamic to be developed in the next few days will secure a parliamentary majority to SYRIZA" adding that "memorandum policies will not exist under a SYRIZA government."
The full interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA website.
 Acceleration of the election of a Greek President is welcome, SYRIZA's Milios saysThe speeding up of the election of a Greek President is welcome, the head of main opposition SYRIZA's economic policy section Yiannis Milios said on Tuesday, speaking on VIMA FM.
"We have already stated that the procedure must be quickly wrapped up. We believe that the government will not gather the necessary 180 deputies for the election of a President of the Republic and the completion of its programme, which, we consider, devastating. That is why we consider it is not a matter of who the candidate will be," he noted.
Regarding the extension of the memorandum and the precautionary support line, he said: "We do not endorse any of these two requests, because even the precautionary line, as it has been planned, equals the continuation of the austerity. With our own government, it is a matter of popular sovereignty to end austerity and the Greek people will be called to vote for this. National sovereignty is above any troika in Europe and therefore we will start a negotiation procedure in order to have a sustainable solution in the debt issue...It is therefore in the interest of both sides not to have another credit event or financial crisis and for that reason negotiations will continue in order to find a new framework that will respect the needs of the Greek people."
 To Potami comments on Dimas' candidacy for President of the RepublicThe Potami party on Tuesday commented on Stavros Dimas' candidacy for President of the Republic and said it was a "calling in the reservists". It also noted that "the old political system was unable to overcome itself" as Dimas, albeit an honest and moderate politician, was "entrenched in the tight boundaries of the partisan system."
According to its statement, Potami "has proposed to the parliamentary parties to come to an understanding and choose as President a citizen that will express the dynamics of the Greek society and not a former politician. But (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras and (Government Vice-President Evangelos) Venizelos have the rationale of 'calling in the reservists' while SYRIZA refuses to say who should be elected as President as it appears to be interested only in ministerial posts."
The important thing, however, would be for the coalition government and SYRIZA to clearly present their plans for the coming difficult months, Potami concluded.
 To Potami party on the acceleration of presidential electionsThe government's decision opens the way to an ominous and unpredictable future, To Potami party on Tuesday commented on the speeding up of process for the election of President of the Republic.
"Problems can wait or at least that is what the authority loving politicians believe," the party said in a statement adding that the citizens once again see the power contenders behave as party leaders.
To Potami said it is ready for elections and reiterated its position for a political agreement on the election of a powerful President as well as Constitution and electoral law revisions that would limit the immunity of politicians and would assist in the renewal of the parliament. On the contrary, the party noted, the old parties draft policies based on the interests of their parties, refusing to agree even on the time of elections.
 German finance minister applauds decision to move up election for Greek presidentGerman Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday said the Greek government's decision to move up the election for president was a good one and hailed the reform efforts implemented by the coalition's leaders.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Schaeuble hinted that he was informed by the Greek premier to move up the election and praised the efforts of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos to consolidate Greece's fiscal health.
The German minister also described Samaras as a determined personality who has contributed significantly to the recovery of the Greek economy.
 Economics Commissioner on early presidential election decisionBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Whatever the decision of the Greek Parliament, there are ways to go forward, European Commission for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said in Brussels on Tuesday, adding that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras appears to know where he is going with his decision to speed up the Parliament's elections of the next Greek president.
Responding to press questions, Moscovici said that the Greek Parliament would make the final decision, and said of Samaras, "I have the sense he knows where he's going, we shall see now. Whatever the decision of the Greek Parliament is, there are ways to go forward. I believe, therefore, that the markets must feel more secure compared to their reaction today."
Moscovici said that the EU is following the situation carefully and that it appreciates the huge efforts the governments of Greece made to strengthen and improve the economy.
 Administrative Reform Min: Acceleration of presidential elections a correct decision"The government's decision to speed up the presidential elections is a right decision because it clears up the political landscape. There was political uncertainty that affected the negotiations with the troika," Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday to RealFM.
Mitsotakis said that "the dilemmas are very simple, either we elect a President of Republic and the government continues and completes its negotiation and the transition from the memorandum era to the era of total independence is held smoothly or we are led to early elections with unknown repercussions".
He also underlined that "the government's positions are not unknown to the citizens. The government is responsible to apply a series of restructuring interventions. It has already sent its estimates to the troika on the 2015 fiscal gap...The government in a responsible way has secured that the country will be covered for the next two months and that banks will continue to have access to liquidity from the European Central Bank".
Finally, he noted that the next eight days will be difficult, of deep reflection for the deputies that will finally judge whether a president will be elected or not and charged main opposition SYRIZA for its stance. "The Constitution does not say that the presidential election can be used as a lever to overthrow the government. This is an interpretation that SYRIZA gives to the Constitution."
 Electing a Greek President is possible, Interior Minister Dinopoulos saysHaving a President of the Republic being elected is possible in theory and in practice, Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos stated to Vima FM on Tuesday.
He also rejected SYRIZA's argument on defection. "The issue of defection - so that you can see for yourselves how ridiculous this argument is - cannot be raised in an open voting procedure. This is what the English call contradiction interni. They contradict each other. The voting for the President of the Republic is not secret, as it was the case until the mid '80s. It is open, and in an open voting, how is it possible to have any transaction or defection?" he wondered.
Referring to the speeding up of the election of a President of the Republic, he said: "In politics, one should never be surprised."
"It is clear that over the last few hours and days, after the budget debate, the policy followed by SYRIZA and the extreme positions it adopted ... could only lead to a specific decision. It is a decision of responsibility and I and all my colleagues in Parliament are called to take a significant decision. Do we want stability, normalcy? The final exit from the Memorandum? Or the adventure? The country is finally coming out of the Memorandum. If it comes out in December or early February, it makes no difference. What Greeks want is normalcy and stable steps to exit the Memorandum," he added.
 Present Parliament must election president, MP Kaklamanis tells ANA-MPAFormer Parliament president and PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday emphasised that a new Greek president must be elected by the present Parliament, in an interview with ANA-MPA.
"The present Parliament and its MPs are obliged to elect a president of the republic because neither democracy nor the people, especially in light of the poor state of the majority, could otherwise cope," he said. Regarding the clause that calls for early general elections if Parliament is unable to elect a president, Kaklamanis stressed that this "presupposes that the parties act responsibly."
In this context, he deplored the things being said currently about those that would or would not vote for a president, noting that someone leaving a party to become independent and then joining another party in order to be elected might face accusations of being bought.
Sections of the interview are available on the AMNA WebTV.
 Golden Dawn says its MPs will vote against the presidential candidateOpposition ultra-right Golden Dawn (GD) on Tuesday announced that its MPs will vote against the "memorandum president of the republic" and will be present in parliament as dictated by the constitution.
An announcement issued by the GD press office underlined that the party's "parliamentary group and the illegally imprisoned MPs will vote down the memorandum president of the republic and will be present in parliament as dictated by the country's Constitution".
GD also underlined that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras "will not stand a chance of collecting the 180 deputy votes necessary and in the oncoming general elections GD will be reinforced and the only true national opposition".
 Independent MP Melas says he is 'positive' on Dimas candidacy for presidentIndependent MP Panagiotis Melas, formerly of the Independent Greeks, on Tuesday indicated that he took a positive view of Stavros Dimas' candidacy for president, when asked by reporters after the prime minister's announcement.
"I am moving in a positive direction," the MP replied in response to questions.
 Independent MP Kapernaros says Dimas candidacy 'changes nothing' in his positionIndependent MP Vassilis Kapernaros on Tuesday indicated that the choice of Stavros Dimas as candidate for the next president "changed nothing" with respect to his position, in a message posted on Facebook.
"I remain steadfast in my position. Nothing changes as a result of Stavros Dimas' selection. The rest are ...mere scenarios," he said.
'The catastrophic actions of the bipartisan government of the memoranda will be terminated on Dec 29' Tsipras says
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday said the government's decision to speed up the election of the Greek President was a desperate move.
Addressing an event on SYRIZA's proposal for tourism, he said "all sides acknowledge the political stalemate" and noted: "The speeding up of the procedures for the presidential election by a parliament that is politically delegitimized and unable to give the broad consensus that the legislation requires for the election of the Greek President is effectively equal to the speeding up of the processes that will lead to the popular verdict."
Tsipras said that "on December 29 the catastrophic actions of the bipartisan government of the memoranda will be terminated" and that "the new year will bring the popular ruling and a strong mandate for a government of social salvation led by SYRIZA."
"The speeding up of the processes - which in effect the main opposition has been asking for sometime now and which the government rejected as a so-called proposal of destabilization and uncertainty - yesterday became the initiative of the government out of necessity and not by choice. Because, its policy has now reached destructive stalemates; because the society's reaction to this policy has now become universal...In this respect, the speeding up of developments is an important popular and democratic victory," Tsipras said.
He also estimated that "in the upcoming elections, there will be a confrontation of two distinctive alternative political plans for our country: on one hand, (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras' plan that wants to turn the Memorandum into a regime. This is also described in the e-mails to the troika and the revelations on the social security system, the cuts, the new taxes. On the other hand, it is SYRIZA's political plan, with specific and firm steps, with confidence and security, from the first day of the new governance, just as we described it in the Thessaloniki International Fair."
 Tsipras: SYRIZA is ready to govern the countryMain opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday stressed that his party was ready and ripe to take over the governance of the country and that the new year will be "a time of change and hope for Greece and Europe".
"SYRIZA will provide solutions for the benefit of the people and the country," he said, while referring to the recent developments at a SYRIZA event on tourism. The country was heading toward a confrontation where the dilemmas would be whether austerity must continue or not, whether VAT on medicine should be raised, whether lay-offs should be liberalised and the EKAS benefit for poor pensioners should be abolished.
He urged Greek men and women to display "democratic vigilance" and to convert their reaction into a force for change. "It is not the markets that determine the right of people to dignity," he said, adding that voters were being "terrorised" by the spectre that the "torture of new measures" might continue.
With respect to the tourism sector, the main opposition leader said the goal was to reinforce quality, alternative tourism and boost entrepreneurship involving small and medium-sized businesses, which he said were the sector's "backbone". He countered accusations that SYRIZA was populist, especially with regard to tourism, and said this charge better suited the government which referred to tourism as the country's "heavy industry" and the next minute proposed to the country's lenders that Greece increase VAT on hotel stays.
He said SYRIZA would adopt a different model on tourism from that followed at present, which he said prevented the diffusion of income throughout society, and would instead seek to support local economies. In this context, he referred to the founding of development banks under state and social control that might finance tourist and other activities of the secondary and tertiary sectors of Greece's economy.
Expressing his disagreement with the 'all-inclusive' tourism packages, meanwhile, Tsipras emphasised the need to boost local demand and also opposed concessions of state property while referring to a fair taxation system.
The event was then addressed by SYRIZA's head for tourism policy Mihalis Kritsotakis, who expressed support for the existence of a tourism ministry but said that SYRIZA would eliminate overlapping responsibilities and support the Greek National Tourism Organisation, which would be responsible for drawing up a comprehensive medium-term plan for promoting Greece's tourism sector.
Among SYRIZA's plans, he added, were to stop privatisation programmes and draw up a new spatial plan that redesigned land use terms, a public "social" agency for ferry services, a national airline and the cancellation of the current legal framework for exploiting regional airports.
 Venizelos: Government changed strategy after State Budget debateGovernment Vice President and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos late on Monday said, speaking to MEGA TV, that the government's strategy in September was the vote of confidence and the presidential election to be held in February, but, the opposition parties raised the tension which culminated during the State Budget debate.
Main opposition SYRIZA, as he stated, gave an extreme, irresponsible and undermining picture of the economy that the foreigners use in order to raise absurd demands.
Venizelos admitted that if a President is not elected on December 29, then the country will do not have a normal government and no negotiation will be able to proceed. This danger exists, he said, adding that everyone including the people, should assume their responsibilities.
He charged the main opposition that it does not only ask for elections but disputes the continuation of the state and asked how the market will react in the mid-period, if a president is not elected and until the general elections are held.
Venizelos admitted that if the State Budget's execution fails, then additional measures will be imposed, but it is not possible the government itself to anticipate its failure and attributed troika's insistence on Budget revision to the fact that there are statements for unilateral moves and non-continuation of the State and all these worry our lenders. He opined that if a President is elected, there will be a clear political and economic period of 16 months in which spectacular changes will take place in the country.
Referring to the IMF's presence from the start of the memorandum, Venizelos said that he disagreed with its presence in Greece but added that many believed then that the European Union did not want the IMF. The truth is, he said, that the powerful European countries and mostly Germany, wanted the IMF's presence in Europe's core because they did not trust the European Commission which did not prevent the crisis. The lack of confidence in the Commission, he noted, is still existing adding that the European Central Bank (ECB) always agreed with the IMF.
Regarding Greece's relation with IMF in the future, he said that if we proceed with a precautionary support line then we will ask, and we already are in negotiations, to render the IMF's current programme precautionary until 2016.
Moreover, he said that there will not be a negative change in the law for the 100 installments, the VAT rates for the islands will not change and the mass layoffs will not be allowed.
 Venizelos in Berlin on WednesdayGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will pay a two-day visit to Berlin on Wednesday where at around 17:15 he will meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
On Thursday, he will meet with Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and. with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Venizelos and Steinmeier will give a joint press conference at 16:30 (Athens time).
 FM Venizelos meets with US Ambassador PearceGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with US Ambassador to Greece, David Pearce.
The meeting focused on bilateral issues and regional developments in the greater region.
 ND parliamentary group to convene on ThursdayNew Democracy's (ND) parliamentary group will convene on Thursday at 13:30 to discuss the latest developments after government's decision to speed up the presidential elections.
 Interior minister slams municipalities for 'misleading, distorted or unbalanced' budgetsMunicipalities are submitting budgets that are not balanced, as required by law, misleadingly balanced or incompatible, presenting both a balance and a surplus, Deputy Interior Minister Giorgos Dolios charged on Tuesday, speaking at a PASOK party congress on local government.
Although, he said, towns and cities increased the collection of taxes impressively within the last three years due to very good performance of tax collection mechanisms - with collection rising from 60% of central independent funding in 2011 to over 100% in 2013 - the problem of balanced budgets was widespread and of great concern.
Dolios was particularly critical of nonperforming loans (NPLs), calling for "an end to covering for free-loaders" such as a multi-million-euro debt the city of Athens had to EYDAP, the water company, of which 32 million euros were included in NPLs. "Who paid for this debt?" he asked, "It was paid by Kastellorizo island, the Evros region delta, the whole country... The municipalities did not say a word. They didn't say anything in Parliament. This must stop."
Speaking about municipal budgets and the cities' and towns' inability to draw up balanced budgets, the minister said, "This month I am watching in horror several municipalities which cannot balance their budgets," which he said would lead to loss of funding. The problem lay he said in court decisions favouring litigants over expired contracts. The issue especially related to debts incurred by municipalities' legal entities which were shut down or merged with municipalities, thus transferring their debts to the latter. "We are talking about colossal debts," he stressed, "that cannot be brought under the 100-installment plan," a recent programme for NPLs introduced by the government to deal with massively outstanding debt to the state or social insurance funds.
Dolios charged municipalities with presenting false balanced budgets. "They balanced them with fake loans they have not taken out, but included them in budgets by municipal council decisions... We are finding out budget revisions are not being inspected," he said, adding that "while municipalities have few revenues, they continue their expenditures based on the initial, false budget."
There must be a system of fiscal health, he urged, which must be applied along three lines - restricting municipal expenditures, using the assistance of the Loan and Consignment Fund and setting up a special account with the collaboration of the finance ministry.
Dolios also referred to the redivisioning of the country through the Kallikrates plan, which he said had created a hierarchy between cities and regions that had distorted the relation between the two local government levels, something that had to be corrected in some way. The distortion affected EU funding programmes whenever some city projects depended on elected regional directors.
 Almost 20,000 applications filed so far for Minimum Guaranteed IncomeSome 19,900 applications for the Minimum Guaranteed Income, concerning 26,800 beneficiaries had been filed until December 8, according to Labour ministry data.
Moreover, 65 percent of the applicants have declared zero income in the last 12 months, 25 percent of the applicants declared income up to 2,000 euros and 10 percent between 2,000 and 5,000 euros.
According to the data, 65 percent of Greeks who filed a Minimum Guaranteed Income application declared they had no property.
Almost half of the applicants (49 percent) are aged between 41 and 65; 8.5 percent are 18-25 years old, 37 percent are 26-40 years old and 5 percent are above 65.
 Public order ministry document on hate crimes in Greece forwarded to parliamentPublic Order & Citizen Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday forwarded to parliament figures on crimes with possible racist motives for the period after 2009.
A total of 109 cases with a possible racist motive were reported in the period 2009-2012. Since their establishment in 2013, the Divisions and Offices against Racist Violence have handled 109 cases (82 in the greater Athens region, 10 in Thessaloniki and 17 in the rest of the country). The assailants were 33 private individuals, 18 organised groups, 37 police officers and 21 unidentified culprits.
In the first half of 2014, a total of 31 such cases were reported (27 in the greater Athens region, two in Thessaloniki and two in the rest of the country). According to the public order ministry document, the assailants were five private individuals, five organised groups, 13 police officers and eight unidentified culprits.
The public order minister pointed out that a mechanism recording racist incidents has been set up at the ministry of justice, as well as a unified database for the immediate notification of international organisations and the monitoring of relevant cases. Also, evidence reported to the responsible Greek Police agencies is gathered twice a year and forwarded to the ministry of justice to be further processed.
The document was forwarded in response to a relevant question tabled by opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) MP Maria Giannakaki.
"Morally unacceptable to use women and children as a shield," Athens Mayor Kaminis says on the Syrian protest in Athens
The health of the Syrian refugee children should be protected, Athens Mayor George Kaminis said on Tuesday, on the margins of the inauguration of the social apartment building in downtown Athens.
Speaking to the media, Kaminis said that city services were prevented from transferring families from Syria - among the Syrian refugees who have set up camp opposite Parliament - to accommodation in City of Athens shelters, underlining that it is "morally unacceptable for anybody to use women and children as a shield in order to promote a demand".
The Syrians protesting at Syntagma Square are demanding travel documents to go to other European countries of their choice and apply for political asylum there.
"There are families with small children at Syntagma Square," the mayor said, noting that "the endurance of these people and their health are being tested by the weather conditions".
He said that he had announced last week that the municipality is ready to host families with children, underlining "this is what we actually tried to do today" when a municipality bus went there to pick them up.
The Athens mayor said that "they were hampered", noting that "it is morally unacceptable for anyone to use women and children as a shield to promote an unattainable demand, namely, to get travel documents without going through the asylum process first. They should, at least, respect the health of these children. The shelter is still available. I call on them to think about it again and not assume the terrifying responsibility of placing the health of children at risk".
 National Penal Registry unveiledThe National Penal Registry was unveiled on Tuesday at a special event at the Bank of Greece (BoG) building in Athens.
The project constitutes a comprehensive information system created to ensure that the citizens' criminal records will be filed and managed in a modern and systematic way by the 165 first instance courts, first instance court prosecutors, courts of appeal and courts of appeal prosecutors in 63 cities nationwide.
It is aimed at simplifying internal procedures for justice ministry agencies, limit expenditures and ensure speedy and effective service.
 Supreme Court Prosecutor rejects Romanos' petitionSupreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Vassiliki Theodorou on Tuesday rejected the petition of jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos asking that it reverse a Piraeus Misdemeanours Court Justices Council ruling that had rejected his request for educational furlough.
Romanos had requested to attend classes for a course at an Athens Technological Educational Institute (TEI), to which he was admitted after sitting university entrance exams in the summer.
The public prosecutor decided that there are no reasons to reverse the ruling of the Piraeus Misdemeanours Court Justices Council.
 Jailed hunger striker Romanos' lawyer on the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor decision rejecting his client's petitionThe lawyer of jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos on Tuesday commented on the Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Vassiliki Theodorou's decision that rejected his client's petition asking that a Piraeus Misdemeanours Judicial Council ruling denying him educational furlough be reversed.
"Another link keeping Nikos Romanos alive has been broken. The only hope now, is the rider to be discussed in parliament today. This is Romanos' last hope so that he won't start a thirst strike. The electronic bracelet is also a solution," his lawyer Frangiskos Ragoussis said.
"I believe that the state will show its humane face at this final moment," he noted, adding that "if he starts a thirst strike the damage caused in one to two days will be irreversible and nobody wants that. Those in power should proceed with the enactment of a provision for Nikos Romanos' case".
According to the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor's decision, the Judicial Council, against the ruling of which Romanos had appealed, had interpreted and implemented the educational furlough provisions correctly. The deputy prosecutor also ruled that the arguments made on behalf of Romanos were unfounded.
 Opposition parties SYRIZA, ANEL agree on electronic bracelet proposal for RomanosMain opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday responded positively to the Justice Minister's proposal that jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos could use an electronic bracelet to attend classes at the university once the programme is implemented.
"We believe the Justice Minister's statement yesterday is in the right direction," the party's rapporteur Stavros Kontonis said in Parliament, during the discussion on the draft bill that includes amendments to the penal code.
Kontonis said that granting a prisoner an educational leave can only have positive results and that it is a matter of responsibility to keep Romanos alive. "We must try to avoid a fatal ending (to his hunger strike) and make sure he is allowed to continue his studies," he added.
Commenting on the same subject, Independent Greeks' (ANEL) rapporteur Marina Chrysoveloni said her party agrees to the amendment.
"For humanistic reasons and for a sense of justice, we say 'yes' to the amendment," she said, adding that all parties should avoid any exploiting the issue for political gain, accusing main coalition partner New Democracy and SYRIZA that they tried to benefit from the case.
 Sit-in protest in Thessaloniki in support of hunger striker RomanosA group of individuals on Tuesday morning occupied the administration building of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in support to jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos.
The institution's vice rector Theodore Laopoulos told ANA-MPA he did not know whether the occupiers are university students or not.
 Parliament to vote on electronic tagging for prisoners on WednesdayThe parliament is expected to vote on Wednesday, at noon, on the amendment proposed by Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou that will allow jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos to wear an electronic bracelet and attend classes at the university, once the law is implemented.
Main opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) asked for a roll-call vote and said the amendment doesn't clearly specify that the measure on electronic tagging of prisoners will be implemented in Romanos' case.
 Eight opposition MPs sign rider on educational furloughs to inmatesA rider tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by six MPs from main opposition SYRIZA, one from DIMAR and an independent deputy proposes that educational furloughs should be granted to all inmates, regardless of the crime for which they have been sentenced.
According to the rider, "the furloughs will be granted by the Prison Council and only by exception can such a request be rejected."
"Educational furloughs will be mandatory for inmates who have been admitted to educational institutes nationwide regardless of whether they are in custody pending their trial or are serving a prison sentence and regardless of the crime they are charged with," according to the rider tabled.
"The decision denying an educational furlough should be justified specifically and in detail based on real facts that should be clearly stated, proving safely and beyond any doubt that if an educational furlough is granted will hurt or put at immediate risk a higher legitimate right," it is underlined.
The rider clarifies that if the request is rejected, the inmate can ask to be escorted by a prison educator or use the electronic bracelet option in cases in which the measure is deemed necessary to ensure that the conditions of the furlough will not be violated.
The rider is signed by SYRIZA MPs Zoi Konstantopoulou, Stavros Kontonis, Tassos Kourakis, Vassiliki Katrivanou, Maria Bolari and Christos Karagiannidis, DIMAR MP Yianis Panoussis and independent MP Rachel Makri.
 Special guard is accused of embezzlement targeting his police stationA special guard serving at a Thessaloniki police station was suspended from duty after being accused of embezzlement at his station's administrative office, it was announced on Tuesday.
An investigation carried out by the Greek Police Internal Affairs Division showed that the 28-year-old guard had gradually removed the amount of 8,470 euros from the office's safe.
The case file will be forwarded to the responsible prosecutor while a internal inquiry was also ordered for the imposition of disciplinary sanctions.
 Energy Minister Maniatis asks European Commission for DESFA privatisation approval speed-upBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis discussed the speeding up of the privatisation process of DESFA - Greece's natural gas grid operator - at a meeting with European Commission Vice-President responsible for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic, on the sidelines of the Council of Energy Ministers held on December 8 and 9 in Brussels.
Maniatis said they discussed the approval of DESFA's buyout from SOCAR by the European Commission's competitiveness agency, as the Commission on November 5 requested a three-month allowance before it issues a decision on the deal's compatibility with existing laws.
The minister said he requested a speeding up of the process because of DESFA's role in strengthening energy security in Europe.
Maniatis, along with his Cyprus Republic counterpart Giorgos Lakkotrypis, met with Sefkovic as well on natural gas reserves in East Mediterranean and stressed the importance of the natural gas corridor (East-Med Corridor) involving Israel, Cyprus, the island of Crete, mainland Greece and Italy.
The corridor has a comparable capacity to that of the North Corridor (8-12 bcm) and can provide an alternative source and route in Europe, the two ministers said. The project at this time is at a point where the entity carrying out the feasibility study will soon be selected.
Maniatis further met with his Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts and all committed to building the first part of the Vertical Corridor (Greece-Bulgaria) that could potentially link the Aegean Sea with Baltic countries.
 Private sector to cover export credit insurance as of January 1, German Economy ministry saysGermany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy confirmed the report that the special arrangement for German exports to Greece will be valid until December 12, 2014, according to a briefing paper by the Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs of the Greek Embassy in Berlin.
The German government, in a move initiated by the private sector, plans as of January 1, 2015 to cancel the special arrangement on Greece (effective as of April 2012) on the full coverage of short-term export credit insurance with state guarantees of the German state. Private insurers are ready as of January 1 to assume, apart from the short-term guarantees, the outstanding short-term government guarantees as well.
 Greek inflation rate at -1.2 pct in NovemberGreek inflation rate remained negative at -1.2 pct in November from -1.7 pct in October and -2.9 pct in November 2013, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
Greece's harmonized inflation rate was -1.2 pct in November, from -1.8 pct in October and -2.9 pct in November 2013.
 Stocks plummet in landslide losses for Athens bourse, unmatched since 1987Greek stocks were in free fall in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, recording the largest slide seen on the Athens bourse since 1987. The plunge, accompanied by a deteriorating climate in the bond market, came in the wake of announcements that the presidential election was being pushed up to December, and the looming spectre of early general elections. The risk that Greece will be plunged into political uncertainty increases the country risk and led foreign investors to wholesale selling of Greek stocks, with bank shares particulary hard hit.
The composite index of the market nosedived to stop just shy of the 900-point level, shedding a record 132.24 points - or 12.78 pct - to end at 902.84 points, up from a low of 898.93 points mid-session when it was losing 13.15 pct. The index has posted accumulated losses of 22.34 pct since the start of 2014 and has lost 34.08 pct since the highest point of the year in March, when the bourse stood at 1,369.56 points. Turnover rose sharply to 212.73 million euros.
The Large Cap index posted epic losses of 12.93 pct and the Mid Cap index ended even lower, falling by 13.12 pct. All stocks lost ground, with the heaviest percentage losses suffered by MIG (-23.69 pct), PPC (-23.08 pct), NBG(-20.49 pct), Terna Energiaki (-17.88 pct), Piraeus Bank (-16.42 pct), Viohalco (-16.25 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (-15.98 pct) and Ellaktor (-15.77 pct).
All sectors lost ground, with the heaviest losses in Utilities (-20.63 pct), Banks (16.62 pct), Financial Services (-15.86 pct) and Health (-15.84 pct).
Decliners far outpaced advancers by 121 to 10, with another 9 issues unchanged. AXON Holdings (20 pct), Perseus (16.86 pct) and Yalco (10.06 pct) were top gainers, while G.E. Demetriou (-30.00 pct), Attica Bank (-27.47 pct) and MIG (23.69 pct) were top losers.
 Athens Stock Exchange: Heavy lossesEquity prices were posting heavy losses on Tuesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 10.83 percent, standing at 922.95 points at 13:30 am and turnover at 66.04 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE Large Cap index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 9.24 percent, and the FTSE/ASE Mid Cap index was down 10.66 percent.
Of the stocks traded, 8 were up, 107 were down and 4 were unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -15.86%
Industrial Products: 2.042.76
Real Estate: -6.06%
Personal & Hygiene: -10.08%
Food & Beverages: -6.39%
Raw Materials: -14.14%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Travel & Leisure: -12.55%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, National Bank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.49
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.80
Coca Cola HBC: 16.72
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.05
National Bank of Greece: 1.63
Piraeus Bank: 1.12
Grivalia Properties: 8.58
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 6.94 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 6.52 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.63 pct and the German Bund 0.69 pct. Turnover totalled 44 million euros, with buy orders totalling 2 million.
In interbank rates, interest rates did not show significant change. The 12-month rate remained at 0.329 pct, the nine-month rate shrank to 0.252 from 0.254, the six-month rate dropped to 0.177 pct from 0.179 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.082 pct from 0.081 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.024 pct from 0.022 pct on Monday.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 1.08 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday.
The FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed at 292.16 points, registering losses of 12.93 pct.
Volume on the Large Cap index totaled 23,309 contracts with 38,686 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 58,206 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (14,198), followed by Alpha Bank (13,248), Piraeus Bank (9,851), Eurobank (6,614), MIG (2,692), PPC (3,575), OPAP (1,247), OTE (2,500), GEK (588), Mytilineos (720), Hellenic Petroleum (209), METKA (138), Motor Oil (127), Ellaktor (531), Viohalco (67) and Frigoglass (52) .
 Foreign exchange rates - TuesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.2369
Pound sterling 0.79015
Danish kroner 7.4403
Swedish kroner 9.3004
Japanese yen 148.02
Swiss franc 1.2021
Norwegian kroner 8.8105
Canadian dollar 1.4166
Australian dollar 1.4903
 Ecumenical Patriarch to pay official visit to Corfu on WednesdayEcumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos (Bartholomew) is due to arrive on Wednesday at 11:00 on Corfu, after accepting the invitation of the Metropolitan of Corfu Nektarios on the occasion of the island's patron-saint Aghios Spyridon's day on Thursday, December 12.
The Ecumenical Patriarch will be accompanied by the Metropolitan of Imvros Cyril and the Metropolitan of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalaia Paisios while a delegation of the Church of Greece will also attend the celebration.
The last official visit of an Ecumenical Patriarch on the island was 51 years ago in 1963 by Ecumenical Patriarch Athinagoras.
A series of events will be held on the island during the 4-day official visit of Vartholomeos.
 City of Athens opens 'Social Apartments' for nine families, renovated by P>he City of Athens on Tuesday officially opened its new 'Social Apartments' to nine families with small children (up to 12 years old) that were previously living in "precarious housing" and who will each be spending Christmas at their new home in an apartment building in Neos Kosmos.
The building had been donated to the municipality by a private individual in 2008 and had stood empty, unused and in very poor repair since that time. The firm P&G then stepped in and undertook the cost to renovate, repair and fully furnish the apartments in the building, was was opened to the media on Tuesday.
It includes functional apartments of about 55-60 square metres, each having bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. The building also has a common room for use by all residents, equipped with a television, computers and a play area for children.
The apartment building will form part of the 'Social Housing Network', a municipal programme launched a few months earlier at an apartment building on Bouboulinas street. The aim of the programme is to provide temporary shelter to families at risk of becoming homeless, while the municipality also provides free individual and specialised services to help these families be reintegrated in society.
Families with small children, one-parent families, pregnant women and the elderly will be given priority, based on general and income criteria established by the municipality.
According to Athens Mayor George Kaminis, finding the families homes was just "half the job" and the other half was to create the conditions that would allow these people to find work and then move on to find their own homes.
 Medical laboratory and clinical laboratory doctors in Thessaloniki to suspend services to EOPYYAs of Wednesday, December 10, medical laboratory and clinical laboratory doctors in Thessaloniki will deny services to individuals insured by the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY), demanding outstanding payments, it was announced on Tuesday.
Clinical doctors contracted with EOPYY have suspended services to the organisation's patients since yesterday.
The Thessaloniki Medical Association announced that doctors protest against the health sector cuts, the mandatory rebate and the automatic clawback of payments. They also demand outstanding payments by EOPYY.
 Author Menis Koumandareas' funeral held on TuesdayThe funeral of author Menis Koumandareas, who was found murdered in his Athens' apartment on Saturday, December 6, was held on Tuesday.
The eulogies were given by poet Dimitris Kalokiris, who announced the introduction of "Menis Koumandareas" award for up-and-coming writers, by authors Vangelis Raptopoulos and Thanos Foskarinis and by his close friend Chloe.
 Two men convicted of illicit antiquities trade in Macedonian treasure caseTwo men received heavy prison sentences on Tuesday after being convicted by a court in the northern city of Thessaloniki for smuggling of antiquities in a case that was first revealed on October 2011.
One of the defendants was sentenced to 20 years of prison, while the second received 8 years and was released conditionally, pending his appeal.
The two men were arrested by police in 2011 as they were preparing to sell several ancient artifacts valued at 11.5 million euros that were part of a large Macedonian treasure which they had hidden in the area of Gerakarou, near Thessaloniki.
The case was revealed to police after the ministry of culture received an anonymous letter revealing the men's connection to illicit antiquities trade.
Among the treasures recovered by police were four helmets, golden masks and mouthpieces, a glass vase, clay and metallic vessels, clay figurines, rosettes and other golden objects, including a section of a golden diadem with embossed decoration, and fragments of an iron sword with decoration.
One of the antiquities smugglers also showed police the two archaic tombs from which they stole most of the objects.
The artefacts were so important that after they were confiscated, they were transferred to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens where they were officially presented.
 Phoebus the tiger on his way to San Diego from Trikala, central Greece, for operationPhoebus the tiger left the Trikala Zoo in central Greece late on Tuesday afternoon for San Diego, California, to be operated on for hip dysplasia at a specialised centre.
Athina, his sister who died last year, suffered from the same condition, according to the Trikala municipal authority in central Greece. They said Phoebus was also suffering from depression.
The city officials said that the funds to operate on the tiger were collected through an online effort launched last spring by David Barnes, former director of Animalaction (former Greek Animal Welfare Fund, GAWF).
Animal lovers worldwide, most of them from the UK, raised the amount of 7,779 GBP, while the rest of the money necessary for the trip were donated by BBC, to a total of 11,500 GBP.
A team of specialists in the presence of a vet placed Phoebus in a transport cage; he had to be sedated after refusing to enter the cage.
A BBC television crew and David Barnes visited Trikala Mayor Christos Anastassiou on Tuesday morning. His interview and the entire procedure of Phoebus' transfer will be aired on BBC prime time on Friday (December 12).
 Health ministry passes regulation requiring that second-hand goods be disinfected before saleIn view of a growing market in second-hand goods, which are either donated or sold, the health ministry on Tuesday issued new health and hygiene regulations governing the founding and operating a business for the sale, lease or trade in used goods.
Health Minister Makis Voridis signed the new regulation, which requires that all second-hand clothing and other goods be disinfected before sale in order to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases and to protect public health.
Standard legislation worldwide said that second-hand goods for sale must be in good condition, repaired and clean, while consumers are advised to clean them carefully before use.
 Island of Poros under emergency after torrential rainThe island of Poros, off the eastern coast of the Peloponnese, was declared under emergency on Tuesday following torrential rain on Monday night.
The Attica region civil protection agency declared the emergency after inspecting the flooding, while a unit of engineers from the regional directorate are also on the island to help with damages.
 Clouds, rain on Wednesday:Clouds, rain and winds from variable directions are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 05C-12C. Same weather in the western parts with temperatures between 08C-17C. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in the eastern parts with temperatures between 08C-16C. Rain over the islands, 12C-18C. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in Athens, 10C-14C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 8C-10C.
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