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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-12-11

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

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

Thursday, 11 December 2014 Issue No: 4833

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek PM Samaras: Greeks don't want early elections, SYRIZA tries to block the country's path
  • [02] Venizelos, Schaeuble in Berlin call for completion of Greece's fiscal programme
  • [03] Successful outcome of current Greek programme pivotal, German Finance Minister Schaeuble says
  • [04] Eurogroup Working Group completes teleconference on Greek programme extension
  • [05] PM Samaras' letter proposing Dimas as presidential candidate delivered to Parliament
  • [06] First round of vote for new Greek president on Wednesday, Dec. 17
  • [07] Greece's decision to elect President of Republic "can help remove uncertainties in the markets", EU spokesperson says
  • [08] If a Greek President is not elected, the burden will fall on the citizens, Labour min says
  • [09] SYRIZA'sTsipras sees parliament failure to elect new president
  • [10] SYRIZA spokesman Skourletis says 'the majority needed for president's election does not exist'
  • [11] DIMAR leader said his party deputies will not vote for President of Republic
  • [12] DIMAR will vote in an orderly way at the election for President of Republic, its parliamentary spokesman says
  • [13] ANEL leader Kammenos on Dimas' candidacy for Greek President
  • [14] Independent MP Kapernaros says has not decided yet what to do in the Greek President's election
  • [15] Independent Greeks MP Chaikalis says he will not vote for President of Republic
  • [16] Independent MP Moutsinas says he will not vote for Greek President
  • [17] Independent MP Davris considers voting for President of Republic
  • [18] MPs should do what is beneficial to the country, ESEE head says
  • [19] SYRIZA 'will not take unilateral decisions in Europe'
  • [20] 'If SYRIZA comes to power, we will go bankrupt' ND's Georgiadis says
  • [21] KKE general secretary Koutsoumbas on the political developments
  • [22] SYRIZA query on the redesign of the Russian pipeline
  • [23] Room for more improvement in local government, Admin. Reform Minister tells Parliament
  • [24] Parliament votes in favour of removing immunity from prosecution of four Golden Dawn MPs
  • [25] FinMin queries state council on taxation of National Bank properties
  • [26] Constitution Revision Committee to convene on Tuesday
  • [27] Transport, telecoms and public works draft bill voted in principle
  • [28] Main opposition SYRIZA leads over ND by 4.8 pct in Alco poll coming out Thursday
  • [29] Romanos stops hunger strike; amendment allows him to attend classes
  • [30] Romanos to remain in hospital until his health stabilises-hospital
  • [31] President Papoulias has phone contact with PM on Nikos Romanos' case
  • [32] Tsipras speaks on the phone with Greek President and Gov't Vice-President on Romanos' case
  • [33] Halandri and Zografou mayors charged over failure to supply employee data for staff evaluations
  • [34] Gov't VP Venizelos says respect for human rights and basic liberties is a priority
  • [35] Administration building of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki still under occupation
  • [36] Private clinics suspend decision to deny services to those insured by EOPYY
  • [37] KKE condemns Israeli attack on Palestinian demonstrators
  • [38] Development minister to activate NSRF programmes giving 100 mln to SMEs, start-ups by unemployed
  • [39] SYRIZA query on the redesign of the Russian pipeline
  • [40] Tax burden in Greece fell slightly in 2013, OECD report shows
  • [41] Central Macedonia region governor warns that VAT hike on hotel stays would be 'disastrous'
  • [42] ECB funding to Greek banks rises in November
  • [43] Private sector employees federation calls 24hour strike in stores on Dec. 14
  • [44] Industrial production down 0.7 pct in October
  • [45] Stocks 1.01 pct end lower, contain earlier losses
  • [46] Greek bond market closing report
  • [47] ADEX closing report
  • [48] Foreign exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [49] State of emergency declared in areas of Evros due to flooding
  • [50] Five thousand years of Greek history in archaeological exhibition in Montreal
  • [51] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits Corfu
  • [52] Cycladic Museum exhibition 'Beyond' to open on Thursday
  • [53] 40 Syrian refugees from Syntagma sit-in apply for political asylum
  • [54] Prosecutor calls for breach of faith charges against IKA governor Spyropoulos
  • [55] No support for children during crisis, childhood watchdog reports at Human Rights' Day event
  • [56] Parliament vice-president Markoyiannakis discharged from hospital
  • [57] Explosive device found outside bank
  • [58] Rain on Thursday Politics

  • [01] Greek PM Samaras: Greeks don't want early elections, SYRIZA tries to block the country's path

    Greeks don't want early elections and will punish those who try to force them, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said at an event organised by the Hellenic Conferederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), adding lawmakers will have to behave responsibly. The premier attacked the main opposition for its persistence on the issue of the Greek president. "They try to block the country's path with threats of early elections, using as a 'vehicle' the election of a new President of the Republic and violating the spirit of the constitution." He stressed that for months now, some people have been causing instability and creating uncertainty abroad, which the government dissolved by bringing forward the presidential election by a month and a half. "We didn't have the right to do anything else. The (European) Commission described the move as a democratic decision. It was an act of responsibility," Samaras stressed and said that the political scene must clarify now and lawmakers have a responsibility to recall what happened, what the repercussions of their actions will be and then take their decision. "People don't want elections, the markets don't want elections, stock markets are falling because they're afraid of the opposition's plans," the prime minister noted, reminding his audience that the opposition supports a closed economy and statism and threatens to push the country out of the Eurozone. Samaras said lies were told, including accusations of attempted bribery of MPs to vote for a president, in order to single out those who decide to vote in favour of the governmet's candidate. "Ideological terrorism will not succeed. Now they're spreading rumours that Stavros Dimas (the government's candidate) will not be a candidate in all three rounds of voting. People will punish the one who is trying to force early elections," he said. "Populism destroyed the country and statism destroyed the economy," Samaras said, adding that the country is now entering a new era. "Some people are giving the ultimate battle to stop it and return us to the bankrupt past. It is the time of truth and responsibility for everyone. What's at stake these days is normality and growth," the prime minister said in his speech, expressing his certainty that truth and democratic responsibility will win and Greece will quickly move forward. The Greek premier then made a brief review of the government's work and continued to say that in three to four years, Greece will reach one of the top positions in global competitiveness. He said recession ended, growth is returning and unemployment is falling steadily. Samaras also stressed that Greece recorded the biggest growth in the third quarter of 2014 in the Eurozone and the country forayed into the markets two years earlier than expected. The government's target has always been to exit the bailout programme earlier than anticipated and it succeeded, he noted. "Greece is standing on its own feet and some people are trying to cancel that."

    [02] Venizelos, Schaeuble in Berlin call for completion of Greece's fiscal programme

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti) Greece has left a difficult time behind and succeeded in its reforms, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Berlin after meeting with Greek Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday. At joint statements after the meeting, Schaeuble said, "Greece has left difficult years behind it. These years are successful; the reforms made a lot of progress. Today, Greece is, economically and as regards fiscal indicators, in a better position that most thought possible three of four years ago. This shows that the course of solidarity and reforms was the right one. It was a tiring path for the Greek people, but it was worth it." Speaking about the Eurogroup's decision to grant Greece a two-month extension to complete its fiscal adjustment programme - a decision that must be finalised by national parliaments of eurozone states - the German minister said that the Eurogroup is "prepared for a successful outcome of the programme, to provide a preventive line of credit, but this is a step for after the successful completion of the current programme." The extension of the programme to the end of February instead of December 31 will allow Greece to complete it and the troika of Greece's lenders to provide the final evaluation before the last loan tranche is released. Adding that "the targets that have been met are encouraging for everyone," Schaeuble asserted that "Greece can continue to depend on the solidarity of Europe and Germany." In his statements, Venizelos said, "Thanks to European solidarity, but mainly thanks to the efforts of Greek society itself, the Greek economy is now in a completely different position," stressing that it "has shown a primary surplus, a positive growth rate, and a stable banking system." Lauding the German minister's support and efforts as "a decisive figure in the Eurogroup" and "the most authoritative collocutor one can have," the Greek minister added that political stability in Greece was "the major issue." A "clear political horizon" is needed, he added, to complete the fiscal programme, therefore the election for Greek president was moved forward by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and himself. The elections, he said, will allow the government to "have at [its] disposal 18 months - up until the end of the parliamentary term - to ensure that the Greek economy takes off." Completing the programme would bring the completion of the troika's evaluation so that the country can "transition to a completely different status: the status of a line of credit, protective armor for the Greek economy, but under completely different conditions," he said.

    [03] Successful outcome of current Greek programme pivotal, German Finance Minister Schaeuble says

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti) Future plans for Greece's economy depend on the successful completion of the current fiscal adjustment programme, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stated on Wednesday just before his meeting with Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, adding that the Eurogroup has expressed willingness to grant a precautionary credit line if the programme is successfully completed. "This, however, is a step that will be made after the programme is successfully completed," he reiterated, adding that Greece should continue on this path. He said that the successes so far are encouraging, for everybody, to continue on this path and he underlined the big steps of progress made by Greece, noting that the path of solidarity and reforms was painful but the right choice. On his part, Venizelos referred to the issue of political stability explaining that the decision to speed up the election of the Greek president was made to clear up the political situation and, in case of a successful outcome, the government to be able to work unhindered to achieve the lift-off of the Greek economy. "The partners know that the Greek people are ready to meet the challenge of the day after, the day after the memorandum," Venizelos underlined.

    [04] Eurogroup Working Group completes teleconference on Greek programme extension

    The Eurogroup Working Group completed a teleconference meeting to discuss Greece's smooth transition to the preventive line of credit (enhanced conditions credit line, ECCL) on Wednesday evening. The Group will convey to European parliaments the Greek formal request for an extension of its fiscal adjustment programme to end-February. Greece has also committed to implementing the memorandum of understanding's provisions in order for the troika of the country's lenders to complete the fifth and final evaluation. A favourable completion of the evaluation will lead to the disbursement of the last loan tranche of 1.8 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) programme.

    [05] PM Samaras' letter proposing Dimas as presidential candidate delivered to Parliament

    A letter from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras officially proposing New Democracy's Vice-President Stavros Dimas as the candidate for Greece's presidency was delivered to the special secretariat of Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis on Wednesday. In this, Samaras informs Meimarakis that "in accordance with article 140 of Parliament Regulations, the New Democracy Parliamentary group proposes Mr. Stavros Dimas as candidate for president of the Hellenic Republic."

    [06] First round of vote for new Greek president on Wednesday, Dec. 17

    The first round of the roll call vote in parliament for the election of the new Greek president will take place at 19:00 hours on Wednesday, December 17, it was announced. A day earlier, on December 16, the parliament's plenum will set the deadline for the report of the parliamentary Committee on the Constitution's revision, according to a decision on Wednesday by the conference of Parliament presidents.

    [07] Greece's decision to elect President of Republic "can help remove uncertainties in the markets", EU spokesperson says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni) The decision of the Greek authorities on the process of electing a President of Republic "can help remove uncertainties in the markets and sends a strong signal to Europe," the European Commission spokesperson Annika Breidthard said. Asked about the presidential election process, the spokesperson of the Committee said: "The Commission is taking notice of the decision of the Greek government to begin the process of electing a president next Wednesday, December 17. As you know, three votings are provided. This is a democratic decision of the Greek authorities and the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. This decision may help remove uncertainties in the markets. It is a strong signal to Europe that Mr. Samaras decided to present Mr. Stavros Dimas, former Commissioner and dedicated European, as a candidate. The choice now lies with the Greek Parliament and the Greek people."

    [08] If a Greek President is not elected, the burden will fall on the citizens, Labour min says

    If a Greek President is not elected "the burden will fall on the citizens' shoulders," Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis during the presentation of the annual report on commerce by Greece's commerce confederation ESEE. The report showed that for the first time in 2014 commercial businesses have posted pretax profit of 1 billion euros while in the years of the crisis (2008-2014) 100,000 enterprises closed down and 220,000 jobs were lost. Moreover, labour relations in the commerce sector have become more flexible. Part-time employment in trade has almost doubled; there are about 52,000 part-time employees, with 70 percent of them being young people and women. Temporary employment is also on the rise, ESEE report said, with 65 percent of those employed on a temporary basis claiming they were obliged by employees to work few hours as they were unable to find a stable job. ESEE will publicly present the report at 18.30.

    [09] SYRIZA'sTsipras sees parliament failure to elect new president

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday said the country is entering a crucial period which will culminate in the last round of voting for Greek president on December 29. Speaking at a meeting of SYRIZA's secretariat, which convened to discuss the political developments after the government called an early presidential election, Tsipras expressed his certainty that pressure will be exerted on lawmakers to vote for a president in between the three rounds of voting. Party officials noted that it is possible to have different results in the first two votes from the third and last round, but argued that it will be impossible for the government to secure the 180 votes required by the constitution. The president of SYRIZA also said the party must be in political and organizational readiness as the country is clearly heading for elections. To this effect, the party is preparing to attract independent MPs to vote against the government's candidate for the presidency, Stavros Dimas. Tsipras also said the party needs to form a body that will respond to comments and interventions voiced by EU officials and foreign dignitaries relating to political processes. He said many European governments are clearly siding with the government although they are required to keep an equal distance from all parties. He noted that the party needs to strengthen the participation of the people in all its processes and build a movement of resistance against efforts to blackmail and terrorize them. This includes comments insinuating that Greece will exit the Eurozone if the opposition takes power, Tsipras said. He also asked party officials to juxtapose the party's programme to that of the government and also said SYRIZA must prepare now the legislative interventions of the next government.

    [10] SYRIZA spokesman Skourletis says 'the majority needed for president's election does not exist'

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis on Wednesday expressed certainty that the necessary majority of votes for the election of Greece's new president by the present Parliament cannot be secured and that the country will be led to general elections. Referring to the government's decision to speed up the procedure for the election of the new president, Skourletis said in a scheduled press briefing that the government, forced by developments, was trying to ensure a "dignified defeat" that will be manageable in the forthcoming general elections. On the nomination of Stavros Dimas, he said that the candidate selected was of lesser importance at the moment, noting that the dilemma raised was whether Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will be allowed to continue the current policy or whether SYRIZA's plan will be implemented, based on a fresh mandate by the people. He criticised the prime minister, saying that "based on the policy he implements he is proven to be unreliable, has no plan and acts in an opportunistic manner to the detriment of the country's interests and once again tries to deceive the Greek people." Skourletis said that in the next two months the government will attempt to organise its own political dilemmas and hide its commitments to the lenders as they are expressed in Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis' mail, which was not refuted. On the debt issue, he said that the negotiation will begin not for the sake of SYRIZA or Greece, but because a discussion has to open in Europe "on its policies of the dominant economic strategies". The debt's structure (most of the debt is institutional, to the ECB and European states' central banks) "allows us to open a discussion with a political approach," he said. Skourletis denied the rumors that DIMAR President Fotis Kouvelis will be a presidential candidate in the third round of the election in parliament, noting that DIMAR's and Kouvelis' stance on the issue is clear. On the likelihood that ultra-right Golden Dawn MPs will support Stavros Dimas' candidacy, Skourletis responded that it will be unprecedented to use their votes for the election of Greece's president. A meeting of SYRIZA's Political Secretariat focusing on the party's election campaign was scheduled to take place at noon, while regional party conferences in Crete, Thessaly and Peloponnese will take place during the weekend.

    [11] DIMAR leader said his party deputies will not vote for President of Republic

    "Democratic Left (DIMAR) deputies have pledged that they will not vote for President of Republic in the current parliament, because the implemented policy does not offer the conditions of a consensual procedure," the party's leader Fotis Kouvelis told private TV SKAI on Wednesday. Moreover, Kouvelis rejected press reports that preannounce DIMAR's dissolution and its incorporation to main opposition SYRIZA's ballot tickets and called them "figments of political imagination." He clarified that DIMAR is ready to discuss the conditions of a progressive governance for the country with SYRIZA under the condition of its political and organisational autonomy and reiterated that he is open to the possibility to meet with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras as well as with political groups such as the Ecologists-Greens. Moreover, Kouvelis estimated that the government's decision to speed up the presidential election procedure is in essence only a governmental move to declare general elections.

    [12] DIMAR will vote in an orderly way at the election for President of Republic, its parliamentary spokesman says

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) will vote for a President of Republic, in principle, in an orderly way, the party parliamentary spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis said on Wednesday in an interview with ANA-MPA. However, he refused to comment on whether there will be any differentiations. "I cannot promise anything about it," he said. Tsoukalis reiterated his view that the "the institution of the President of the Republic was raised as a major issue in polarization and partisan ambitions" and he estimated that "unfortunately, a President of Republic will not be elected." The full audio interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.

    [13] ANEL leader Kammenos on Dimas' candidacy for Greek President

    The candidate for Greece's presidency Stavros Dimas is still a New Democracy vice-president, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos on Wednesday told Real FM. "He has applauded all (prime minister Antonis) Samaras' choices, he was a member of (Lucas) Papademos' government that conducted the PSI and supported the troika's stay in the country and the catastrophic policy that has led to the loss of public and private property. Mr. Dimas, I believe, cannot get the required number of deputies," he said. He also said he believed "Dimas was a choice of defeat by Samaras." Asked why he referred to the political developments that took place in 1965, he said "I say that because right now there is pressure on independent deputies - and not only on them - by a variety of means that are illegal, undemocratic and fall outside the boundaries of the Constitution. They are pressures that have to do with blackmail or incentives or in other ways that are not legal or accepted in a democratic country." Asked if he has been the recipient of the sort of pressures he described, he said: "I have been under a lot of pressure, on a daily basis, with unbelievable offers...We will not succumb, however." He said this kind of pressure comes from businessmen and "friends, with and without quotation marks". Asked if this pressure was accompanied by financial 'offers', he said: "If I could prove that to justice, I would say yes. Initially, they are offers which, at this point, leave all possibilities open. And I want to make clear that we, the Independent Greeks, will not be brought to our knees, we cannot be blackmailed." Asked whether there has been an extortion attempt, Kammenos said: "Clearly, when the financial crimes squad SDOE is checking nine out of 12 deputies; when we are being pushed for so-called investigations into meaningless issues; when we have deputies that have left ANEL and had their bank accounts confiscated and are unable to carry out any financial transactions. I have personally asked the prosecutor to investigate all that."

    [14] Independent MP Kapernaros says has not decided yet what to do in the Greek President's election

    Candidate President of the Republic Stavros Dimas is a nice man, but from a political point view an "inert material," Independent deputy Vassilis Kapernaros told ANA-MPA in an interview. He noted he still has not made up his mind as to what he will do at the election of the Greek President. "I have nothing to reproach this man with, but the name Dimas means nothing to me. Therefore I wait, I converse with my own people and on that day I will make my decision and will make my view known," he said and added that most of his friends urge him not to vote for a President. He noted that he did not associate the elections with the Greek President. "The President of the Republic (election) should have a sense of consensus and for this reason the lawmaker has set a threshold of 200 deputies in the first two votes and not 180; nevertheless, some people -in the past- turned this into a 'blackmail' mechanism in the hands of the opposition so that it can push the government for elections. This is what is happening; all the more now by an opposition that does not make a counter-proposal for a President. We see several tactics and tricks. For this reason, I am cautious and I wait... The government is probably throwing in the white towel; you shouldn't think, however, that the opposition, in spite of what it says, is ready to deal with all that. And the opposition sees that these are the kind of traps we see in the desert. I am under the impression that they had some sort of agreement on the President; they have come to some sort of understanding and have reached a common decision on a name, in exchange for the opposition to get a date for national elections within 2015. Maybe this is what will happen, who knows. We will just have to wait."

    [15] Independent Greeks MP Chaikalis says he will not vote for President of Republic

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) deputy Pavlos Chaikalis on Wednesday clarified that he would not vote for President of Republic because he is bound by the decisions of his party's congress. "Nevertheless, I would not vote for Dimas (Stavros, candidate president). He is a person that I would not vote for. The decisions of the congress of a party, which has essentially functioned under democratic conditions and has reached a decision, are above persons ".

    [16] Independent MP Moutsinas says he will not vote for Greek President

    Independent MP Paris Moutsinas on Wednesday speaking to private radio VIMA FM said that he would not legalise this government's catastrophic policy by voting for President of Republic. Moutsinas also noted that "I act based on my conscience and the things I say. Right now, I can't see anything I could communicate politically with."

    [17] Independent MP Davris considers voting for President of Republic

    Independent deputy Giorgos Davris on Wednesday said that he is considering voting for a President of Republic. Davris, speaking to Athina 9.84 FM, said that "there is much speculation over that issue, and certainly not for the first time, for petty party reasons ... If elections solved the problems of the country - which is not true - we would have a surplus of 250 percent. Elections are held every two years in the country."

    [18] MPs should do what is beneficial to the country, ESEE head says

    Deputies should do what is beneficial to the country, the head of the Greek commerce confederation ESEE Vassilis Korkidis said on Wednesday. Korkidis, who spoke at the presentation of the annual report on commerce, said that the institution of the President of the Republic should not be discredited and described candidate President Stavros Dimas as a right choice. He also referred to the two-month extension that was granted to the country in order to wrap up its agreement with the troika and said "I hope Greece will be a winner." Regarding the consequences of political developments on the market, he said he did not expect any problems in the Christmas market as households' spending plans will not be affected at this point. He added, however, that if the political instability continues, then consumer behavior will change and this will have a negative impact on the sales season. SYRIZA leader political office director Nikos Pappas says

    [19] SYRIZA 'will not take unilateral decisions in Europe'

    ROME (ANA-MPA / Th. Andreadis-Syggelakis) "We will not take unilateral decisions in Europe and will keep public finances in order," said Nikos Pappas, a senior aide of main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in an interview in the Italian newspaper La Stampa. In a telephone communication with journalist Tonia Mastrobuoni, the head of SYRIZA leader's political office director said that if SYRIZA wins the general elections and forms a government "the Greek state will spend only the money it will be able to collect" and that "a negotiation with Europe will be launched". Pappas added that SYRIZA's goal is to guarantee to Europe "a stable government, a sustainable public debt and a plan of economic growth". The Italian newspaper underlined that in case of early general elections, a government by SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL) will have "a weak majority of 153 seats in parliament" based on the latest opinion polls. "Our percentage will increase by the time elections are held," Pappas underlined.

    [20] 'If SYRIZA comes to power, we will go bankrupt' ND's Georgiadis says

    "When we went bankrupt on May 6, 2010, many wondered 'when did the politicians tell us that we would eventually go bankrupt because we borrowed money? That being the case, I decided not to lie to people. Yes, if SYRIZA comes to power, we will go bankrupt. I have no doubt on this. It is very simple," New Democracy's parliamentary spokesman Adonis Georgiadis on Wednesday told Real FM. Asked why the country would go bankrupt and if a negotiation within the Eurozone by the new government would be ruled out, he said: "Yes, it is ruled out. We may have elections and in one and half month (SYRIZA leader Alexis) Tsipras may become prime minister. If I heard some rather rational things, then I would say these people are ready to proceed to some sort of compromise. They are saying they will not act unilaterally and at the same time that they will cancel the memorandum laws. This is a unilateral action."

    [21] KKE general secretary Koutsoumbas on the political developments

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Central Committee general secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Wednesday underlined that "developments call for immediate popular intervention to repel any anti-popular measures and prevent the people from being trapped between old and new saviours". "If the people remain spectators of all that will unfold before their eyes in the next few days it will be their loss," he noted, addressing a meeting between the KKE Parliamentary group and representatives of sports sector organisations.

    Deputy FM Gerontopoulos meets with Cyprus's Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Affairs of Overseas Cypriots Fotiou

    Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos on Wednesday met with the Republic of Cyprus's Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Affairs of Overseas Cypriots, Fotis Fotiou, and the Representative of the Greek Cypriot community to the Committee on Missing Persons, Nestoras Nestoros, according to a Foreign ministry announcement. During the meeting, which was also attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to Athens, Kyriakos Kenevezos, there was a discussion of the issue of missing persons, cooperation on Overseas Hellenism issues, and the promotion of Greek Language Day. The shared views of Athens and Nicosia and their excellent cooperation on Overseas Hellenism issues were once again reaffirmed, while Gerontopoulos stressed Greece's unflagging interest in the fate of the missing persons, expressing the Greek government's unwavering support for the work and mission of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, the announcement added.

    [22] SYRIZA query on the redesign of the Russian pipeline

    The government should take a clear stance in response to the proposals made by Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning the redesigning of a pipeline "close to the Greek-Turkish borders," according to a SYRIZA query tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. The question, addressed to the foreign minister, was signed by head of foreign policy for main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group MP Nadia Valavani and MPs Maria Triantafillou and Nikos Mihalakis. The SYRIZA MPs underlined that Greece should disengage from the unacceptable commitments imposed by the EU as regards energy and economic growth options that ignore the interests of the Greek people. The query referred to the stir that followed internationally, particularly in the EU, after the statements made by the Russian president during his visit to Turkey. They underlined that the policy followed by the memorandum governments until today on the issue of the pipelines and the Natural Gas System Operator (DESFA) is dictated exclusively by foreign centers and called on the government to take a stance in response to the "carefully stated but clear invitation issued by the Russian president to our country, so that it will not be left out of the relevant processes". The SYRIZA MPs also called on the government "to make it clear to the partners that Greece's interests come first, particularly at this hour, when Greek society is being tested in a violent way."

    [23] Room for more improvement in local government, Admin. Reform Minister tells Parliament

    More could be done to rationalise the structure of local authorities and their related municipal entities, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday. Speaking before a sub-committee set up to present proposals to the government on correcting the Kallikratis plan for local government, Mitsotakis said that there was still room for more improvement on the level of municipalities, in spite of recent reforms. He cited ministry figures, according to which Greece now had 116 local authority legal entities with fewer than five employees and another 126 such entities with six to 20 employees. "What is the point of an [agency] with two or three employees," he asked, saying that the merger of such cases with the main municipality structures needed to be examined so that they provided better services. Mitsotakis also referred to the need to go to the "next level" in terms of staff mobility and rationalising municipal structures. Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos said the Kallikratis plan had proved positive overall, with municipalities now able to make changes to local communities and contribute to issues of regional growth. Deputy Interior Minister George Dolios, however, warned against starting a discussion now, ahead of a possible pre-election period. He said the Kallikratis plan had not been adequately supported, either technically or politically, and was 'sabotaged' by being combined with fiscal austerity efforts, with municipalities now facing major problems in balancing their budgets.

    [24] Parliament votes in favour of removing immunity from prosecution of four Golden Dawn MPs

    A plenary session of Parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of stripping four Golden Dawn MPs of their immunity from prosecution so they might stand trial in individual cases against them. Specifically, MPs voted in favour of removing the immunity of Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris for revealing the contents of an illegal video recording a conversation with a former aide of the prime minister, Takis Baltakos, who was not aware he was being recorded at the time. The vote was carried by 219 in favour, 18 against and one abstention. Parliament also agreed, with 222 votes in favour, 13 against and three abstentions, to lift the immunity of Golden Dawn MPs Ilias Panagiotaros, Constantinos Barbarousis and Efstathios Boukouras so they might be tried for "pointless firing" into the air at the funeral of former Greek junta member Nikos Dertilis. The MPs voting against removing Kasidiaris' immunity in the roll-call votes, in addition to the MPs in Golden Dawn, also included Independent Greeks MPs Marina Chrysoveloni, Terens Kouik, Yiannis Dimaras, Costas Damavolitis, Marinos Ouzounidis, Pavlos Haikalis, Maria Kollia and Stavroula Xoulidou. Gavriil Avramidis abstained.

    [25] FinMin queries state council on taxation of National Bank properties

    The finance ministry queried the State Legal Council on Wednesday on whether the Bank of Greece (NBG) is obligated to pay the uniform tax on real estate property (ENFIA) on all property it owns. Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis asked whether NBG is exempted from taxes or fees, based on its founding charter, or whether it is subject to the ENFIA law. The Council is requested to decide whether the ENFIA tax regulation overrules the charter, which was included in an international agreement recognised by a 1927 law.

    [26] Constitution Revision Committee to convene on Tuesday

    The parliamentary Committee on the Constitution's Revision will convene on Tuesday to set the deadline for its report. The decision was reached by the Conference of Presidents on Wednesday.

    [27] Transport, telecoms and public works draft bill voted in principle

    A draft bill on transport, telecoms and public works was passed in principle at Parliament on Wednesday, after a discussion that related more to political developments and the elections of the Greek president than the legislation's contents. The bill passed this stage on the votes of the ruling coalition parties, New Democracy and PASOK, both of whose rapporteurs said it would resolve chronic issues. It was voted down by main opposition SYRIZA, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi), Democratic Left (DIMAR) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). Independent Greeks (ANEL) declared "present".

    [28] Main opposition SYRIZA leads over ND by 4.8 pct in Alco poll coming out Thursday

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) has a 4.8 pct lead over ruling coalition leader New Democracy (ND) in an opinion poll by Alco to be published on Thursday (Dec. 11) in the weekly "Pontiki" newspaper. Based on the results of vote intention, SYRIZA collected 28% of the votes and ND 23.2%. Extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) comes third with 5.4%, followed by PASOK (4.7%), the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and "To Potami" with 4.3% each and Independent Greeks (ANEL) with 3.3%. The rest of the votes are divided up as follows: "Other" 5.3%, Blank vote 3.4%, Refuse to vote 6.2% and Undecided 11.9%. The poll was held on December 8 and 9.

    [29] Romanos stops hunger strike; amendment allows him to attend classes

    Nikos Romanos on Wednesday stopped the hunger strike and started eating, according to "Giorgos Gennimatas" hospital sources. Romanos, who was on a hunger strike for 31 consecutive days, stopped after the Parliament voted for a Justice ministry's amendment allowing him to attend classes at the Technological Educational Institute to which he was admitted to wearing an ankle monitoring or so-called bracelet. According to same sources, his doctors started feeding him gradually from the mouth with specific food and in small quantities. Main opposition SYRIZA parliamentary spokesperson Zoi Konstantopoulou said she was glad at the Parliament's decision adding that it is a message of hope. "We withdraw the request for a roll call vote and call on Nikos Romanos to stop the hunger and thirst strike ... It is a huge victory of Nikos Romanos and above all of democracy and parliamentarianism," she stressed. New Democracy parliamentary spokesman Costas Karagounis spoke of a clear amendment that lifts all restrictions and covers the case of Nikos Romanos and other detained students. PASOK parliamentary spokesman Yiannis Koutsoukos referred to the efforts made by his party for an immediate and tangible result while sending the message that the right to life and education is above all. Independent Greeks (ANEL) parliamentary spokesman Marinos Ouzounidis spoke of a good ending after a difficult discussion. "The Parliament showed institutional and social sensitivity. We fought to achieve convergence and despite our differences, the issue was settled in favour of life," Democratic Left (DIMAR) parliamentary spokesman Yiannis Panousis said. Communist party KKE parliamentary spokesman Thanassis Pafilis said that it was a serious effort that brought results. On her part, Independent Democratic Deputies' Rachel Makri said that the problem was resolved in a positive way.

    [30] Romanos to remain in hospital until his health stabilises-hospital

    Nikos Romanos, the jailed 21-year-old who went on a hunger strike for 31 days, will remain in hospital until his health stabilises, "Giorgos Gennimatas" hospital, where he is being attended to under police guard announced on Wednesday. Romanos started eating again at 14:00, after the parliament voted for a Justice ministry's amendment allowing him to attend classes at the Technological Educational Institute to which he was admitted to wearing a monitoring device. The hospital said the refeeding process requires increased medical care as it poses serious risks for the health. Doctors started feeding him gradually from the mouth with specific food and in small quantities.

    [31] President Papoulias has phone contact with PM on Nikos Romanos' case

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras so as to be briefed on the developments regarding jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos. The premier briefed the President on the amendment that was submitted to Parliament and in general the legal framework applying in Romanos' case.

    [32] Tsipras speaks on the phone with Greek President and Gov't Vice-President on Romanos' case

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday had a phone contact with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos on the case of jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos. According to sources, Tsipras asked Papoulias to assist so that a solution will be found in Romanos' case.

    [33] Halandri and Zografou mayors charged over failure to supply employee data for staff evaluations

    A public prosecutor on Wednesday pressed charges against the mayors of Halandri and Zografou, two large suburbs in the greater Athens area, over their refusal to supply information on employees requested by the interior ministry in the context of a staff evaluation process and for the re-checking of staff contracts. The two mayors were charged with repeated counts of insubordination and dereliction of duty, based on the preliminary investigation into the case conducted by Appeals Court Prosecutor Calliope Dayanda, who was acting on instructions from the Supreme Court prosecutor. The investigation was requested based on evidence sent to the Supreme Court by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who forwarded a file that included reports by Public Administration inspectors saying that the mayors of Halandri, Zografou, Rendi-Nikaia, Larisa and Patras had refused to cooperate with inspections. The cases have been assigned to a misdemeanours' court judge.

    [34] Gov't VP Venizelos says respect for human rights and basic liberties is a priority

    Respecting human rights and basic liberties on a national and international level is a priority, Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Wednesday to mark the 66th anniversary of the UN Human Rights Declaration. Venizelos said Greece believes peace, security, stability, economic development and prosperity are inseparable from the respect for human rights, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law. The adoption from Greece's parliament of a law to combat racism and xenophobia proves the country's commitment to human rights, Venizelos said, adding that Greece is also actively promoting the country's candidacy for a permanent seat in the UN's Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2020.

    [35] Administration building of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki still under occupation

    A group of 50 individuals on Wednesday continued for a second day the occupation of the administration building at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in support to jailed hunger striker Nikos Romanos and the Syrian refugees. The university rectorship said it intended to notify authorities in writing of the new occupation, which, it said, "has nothing to do with the academic community, nor does it concern any students' demands". It also issued a statement to inform the members of the university community of the occupations in the previous days and the damage that has been so far caused in its premises.

    [36] Private clinics suspend decision to deny services to those insured by EOPYY

    The Association of Greek Clinics on Wednesday decided to suspend a former decision denying services to individuals insured by Greece's National Health Service (EOPYY) provided that the Health ministry meets its pledges. More specifically, the Association of Greek Clinics, after a meeting between Health Minister Makis Voridis and EOPYY president Dimitris Kontos, and the reassurances provided regarding the repayment of outstanding debt for April and overdue debts (excluding IKA social security fund), decided to suspend their previous decision according to which they denied services to individuals insured by EOPYY until December 19. The Association of Greek Clinics in November decided on the move to protest against the outstanding EOPYY payments to private health hospitals, which it claims total 100 million euros for 2006-2011, another 100 million for 2013 and over 80 million for 2014.

    [37] KKE condemns Israeli attack on Palestinian demonstrators

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday condemned the "atrocious attack by Israeli occupation forces on Palestinian demonstrators, north of the city of Ramallah," that resulted in the death of Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein, head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission. "This development highlights once again the criminal role of Israel" and "the responsibility of the United States and the EU that support the Israeli aggressiveness," KKE underlined, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.

    Financial News

    [38] Development minister to activate NSRF programmes giving 100 mln to SMEs, start-ups by unemployed

    Development and Competitiveness Minister Costas Skrekas and Deputy Development and Competitiveness Minister Odysseas Constantinopoulos on Wednesday approved the pre-release of invitations for the activation of two front-loaded actions under the 2014-2020 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), amounting to 100 million euros. The actions include one aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, with 50 million euros in funds for upgrading SMEs business organisation and operations, with emphasis on an export-orientation and penetrating new markets. This calls for investments ranging from 20,000 to 300,000 euros with the subsidy amounting to 40 pct of the total investment amount. In addition, there is the option of paying up to 40 pct of the total amount of public spending in advance. The second action, again worth 50 million euros, will assist the business plans of registered unemployed by covering their operating expenses and employment positions. This action is for projects ranging from 28,000 to 40,000 euros, providing 100 pct of the total budget of the investment and with up to 40 pct of the public spend payable in advance. More information is available at the websites: www.antagonistikotita.gr and www.espa.gr.

    [39] SYRIZA query on the redesign of the Russian pipeline

    The government should take a clear stance in response to the proposals made by Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning the redesigning of a pipeline "close to the Greek-Turkish borders," according to a SYRIZA query tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. The question, addressed to the foreign minister, was signed by head of foreign policy for main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group MP Nadia Valavani and MPs Maria Triantafillou and Nikos Mihalakis. The SYRIZA MPs underlined that Greece should disengage from the unacceptable commitments imposed by the EU as regards energy and economic growth options that ignore the interests of the Greek people. The query referred to the stir that followed internationally, particularly in the EU, after the statements made by the Russian president during his visit to Turkey. They underlined that the policy followed by the memorandum governments until today on the issue of the pipelines and the Natural Gas System Operator (DESFA) is dictated exclusively by foreign centers and called on the government to take a stance in response to the "carefully stated but clear invitation issued by the Russian president to our country, so that it will not be left out of the relevant processes". The SYRIZA MPs also called on the government "to make it clear to the partners that Greece's interests come first, particularly at this hour, when Greek society is being tested in a violent way."

    [40] Tax burden in Greece fell slightly in 2013, OECD report shows

    The 2014 Revenue Statistics report released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday found that the tax burden in Greece eased 0.2 percentage points in the previous year, from 33.7 pct in 2012 to 33.5 pct in 2013. The tax burden measures total tax revenues as a percentage of GDP. The corresponding figure for the OECD average was an increase of 0.4 percentage points from 33.7 pct to 34.1 pct. Since the year 2000, the tax burden in Greece has increased from 33.1 pct to 33.5 pct. During the crisis, the tax burden in the country increased by 2.6 percentage points, since in 2007 it stood at 30.9 pct of GDP. Over the same period, the OECD average in 2013 was slightly less than in 2000 (34.1 pct compared with 34.3 pct). The OECD report found that tax revenues from income, profits and gains fell to 7.7 pct of GDP in 2013, from 8.2 pct of GDP in 2012 but were higher than in 2007 (7.2 pct). The equivalent revenues were higher on average within the OECD, ranging from 12.4 pct of GDP in 2007 to 11.6 pct of GDP in 2013. Revenue from social insurance contributions in Greece were higher than the OECD average, at 10.8 pct of GDP in 2012 compared to 9 pct of GDP for the OECD as a whole. They were also tending to rise, from 10.6 pct in 2007 and 10.7 pct in 2011. Contributions by employers (4.8 pct of GDP in 2012) are slightly higher than that of employees (4.5 pct of GDP in 2012). Revenue from property taxes increased in the crisis years, rising to 1.9 pct of GDP in 2012 from 1.6 pct of GDP in 2007. In the OECD, by contrast, revenues from property tax fell from 1.9 pct in 2007 to 1.8 pct in 2012. Tax revenues from consumption came to 11.8 pct of GDP in 2012 in Greece, up from 10.4 pct in 2007, while the OECD average for the same figures was 10.2 pct and 10.1 pct, respectively.

    [41] Central Macedonia region governor warns that VAT hike on hotel stays would be 'disastrous'

    A VAT hike on hotel stays would be disastrous, Central Macedonia Region governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas warned on Wednesday, at a press conference organised by the Thessaloniki Hoteliers' Union and Marketing Greece to lauch the region's tourism publicity campaign. "Tourism cannot be the target of unpleasant surprises, such as the rumoured increase in VAT for hotels. No one must 'trim' a strategic advantage. The national economy does not benefit financially from either direct or indirect taxes. It needs more incentives, not measures, to grow. I believe that, event at the last moment, this will be understood by the government," Tzitzikostas said. The head of the Thessaloniki hoteliers' union Aristotelis Thomopoulos said any increase in VAT would be a 'tragic blow' in an industry whose customers were highly price sensitive and could easily go elsewhere. Responding to recent criticism of 'all-inclusive' hotel packages voiced by main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, Thomopoulos stressed that no politician or even prime minister could tell a business how to operate and what to do in a free market and that abolishing 'all-inclusive' packages was "not a serious proposal".

    [42] ECB funding to Greek banks rises in November

    Greek banks slightly raised their dependence from European Central Bank's liquidity mechanisms in November, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday. The central bank said that liquidity drained by Greek banks from the ECB totaled 44.9 bn in November, from 43.9 bn in October. It also said the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) mechanism remains inactive in the past few months.

    [43] Private sector employees federation calls 24hour strike in stores on Dec. 14

    The Federation of private sector employees declared a 24hour strike for Sunday 14 December in protest of the opening on shops on Sundays. "We continue our struggle against the Sunday opening of the stores and the abolition of Sunday holiday that leads hundreds of small and medium sized business to shut down and supports the multinational companies, the malls and the discount villages. Moreover, we oppose to the total reversal and the imposing of flexible working ways with salaries of poverty and abolition of our labour rights, our right to rest and to free time. We will not become the slaves of the 21st century," said the Federation in its announcement.

    [44] Industrial production down 0.7 pct in October

    Industrial production fell 0.7 pct in October, with manufacturing production rising by 3.5 pct in the month, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday. The statistics service, in a report, attributed this month's drop to a 5.5 pct fall in the mining production index and a 3.5 pct rise in manufacturing production. The electricity production index dropped 13.1 pct and the water production index rose 1.4 pct. The industrial production average index fell 3.1 pct in the January-October period this year, from a decline of 3 pct in the same period in 2013.

    [45] Stocks 1.01 pct end lower, contain earlier losses

    After heavy losses that echoed the previous day's spectacular slide and pushed the bourse another 4 pct down earlier on Wednesday, Greek stocks finally rallied and initial losses were significantly contained at the close of trade. The composite index of the market fell below the 900-point barrier, losing 1.01 pct to end at 893.71 points, up from a low of 863.21 points when the bourse was losing 4.39 pct. Turnover was high at 173.712 million euros. The Large Cap index fell by 1.24 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.52 pct lower. PPC (5.17 pct), Viohalco (2.99 pct), Aegean (2.70 pct) and MIG (2.63 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Motor Oil (-3.98 pct), Eurobank (-3.81 pct), Piraeus Bank (-3.57 pct) and Piraeus Port Authority (-3.57 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses. Among sector indices, gains were made in Utilities (3.11 pct), Commerce (1.07 pct) and Foods (+0.88 pct) while the biggest losses were in Health (-2.68 pct), Banks (-2.64 pct), Personal Products (-2.45 pct) and Chemicals (-2.33 pct). Decliners led advancers by 77 to 39, with another 18 issues unchanged. G.E. Demetriou (28.75 pct), Unibios (11.88 pct) and Hellenic Sugar Industry (10.00 pct) were top gainers, while ATTI-KAT (-20.00 pct), AXON Holdings (-20.00 pct) and Tzirakian Profil (-19.96 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -2.64% Insurance: unchanged Financial Services: -0.86% Industrial Products: 2.042.76 -1.85% Retail: +1.07% Real Estate: -0.63% Personal & Household: -2.45% Food & Beverages: +0.88% Raw Materials: -1.80% Construction: -1.34% Oil: -2.28% Chemicals: -2.33% Mass Media: Unchanged Travel & Leisure: -2.47% Technology: -1.49% Telecoms: -0.44% Utilities: +3.11% Health: -2.68%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows: Alpha Bank: 0.49 Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.10 Coca Cola HBC: 16.87 Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.05 National Bank of Greece: 1.60 OPAP: 9.21 OTE: 9.15 Piraeus Bank: 1.08 Titan: 19.43 Grivalia Properties: 8.59

    [46] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 8.68 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 7.63 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 7 pct and the German Bund 0.68 pct. Turnover totalled 15 million euros, with buy orders totalling 3 million. In interbank rates, interest rates did not show significant change. The 12-month rate fell marginally to 0.328 pct, the nine-month rate increased to 0.254 from 0.252, the six-month rate rose to 0.179 pct from 0.177 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.083 pct from 0.082 pct and the one-month rate shrank to 0.022 pct from 0.024 pct on Tuesday.

    [47] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.27% in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Large Cap index totalled 17,454 contracts with 37,481 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 36,282 contracts, with investment interest focusing on National Bank (11,489), followed by Alpha Bank (8,784), Piraeus Bank (6,369), PPC (2,715), Eurobank (2,396), OTE (1,274), GEK (964), MIG (856), Mytilineos (765), OPAP (663), Terna Energy (321), ELPE (313), Hellenic Exchanges (301), Motor Oil (140), Folli Follie (129), Ellaktor (115), Frigoglass (105), EYDAP (85), Titan (51) and Coca Cola HBC (13).

    [48] Foreign exchange rates - Wednesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank: U.S. dollar 1.2392 Pound sterling 0.78975 Danish kroner 7.4397 Swedish kroner 9.3276 Japanese yen 147.33 Swiss franc 1.2024 Norwegian kroner 8.8765 Canadian dollar 1.4186 Australian dollar 1.4846

    General News

    [49] State of emergency declared in areas of Evros due to flooding

    The General Secretariat for Civil Protection on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in several areas of Evros in northeastern Greece, due to extensive flooding caused by the collapse of levees and controlled high-flow releases to reduce the volume of water in the Evros River. The areas involved include settlements in Orestiada, Didimotichos, Soufli and Ferres where 8000 hectares were reported flooded by local authorities. Evros Deputy Regional Authority chief Dimitris Petrovits has fully mobilised the Evros Regional Unit's entire mechanism to respond in case the level of the water on the river increases to dangerous levels that place inhabited regions at risk. Turkish authorities at the border are also taking emergency measures and have been closing the Kastanies customs post at intervals due to extensive flooding in the neighbouring country, preventing the passage of cars.

    [50] Five thousand years of Greek history in archaeological exhibition in Montreal

    OTTAWA (ANA-MPA/ I. Frangouli) Culture Ministry secretary general Lina Mendoni will represent Greece in the inauguration of the exhibition "The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great" that will take place at the Museum Pointe-a-Calliere in Montreal on December 12. The exhibition includes over 500 finds from 22 Greek Museums and visitors will be acqainted with 5,000 years of history of the Greek civilisation, from the Prehistoric Ages until the Hellenistic Era.

    [51] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visits Corfu

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrived on the Ionian island of Corfu on Wednesday where he was formally received by local authorities and Church representatives. The visit is carried out following an invitation by the Holy Metropolis of Corfu. Upon his arrival, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that he was very moved by his visit to the island, noting that Corfu is "the crossroads of peoples and civilizations, neighbouring to the Italian and Albanian worlds". Bartholomew pointed out that the mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is vital for the entire world and not just for Orthodoxy, sending a message of "ecumenical rapprochement and cooperation". Soon after his arrival, the Ecumenical Patriarch visited the Saint Spyridon Cathedral where the sacred relics of Saint Spyridon are kept.

    [52] Cycladic Museum exhibition 'Beyond' to open on Thursday

    The archaeological exhibition "Beyond. Death and Afterlife in Ancient Greece" is to open its doors on Thursday at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, running until February 8, 2015. Through 120 objects for 21 Greek and international museums, the exhibition explores the beliefs of the ancient Greeks on the perennial mysteries that puzzle and continue humans to this day: the fate of the immortal soul after the death of the mortal body. The descriptions in the Homeric epics of the underworld as they were depicted on ancient works of different periods is the starting point of this exhibition. As epilogue, the Platonic concepts -which mark the shift of perceptions on the divine element- both as development and in contrast to the Homeric beliefs. The show will be divided into 5 thematic sections: The moment of death, Burial Customs, Homeric Hades, Bacchic-Orphic Hades and Platonic Hades. The exhibition, curated by Cycladic Museum Director Prof. Nicholas Stampolidis, was organised in collaboration with the Onassis Foundation (USA) and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports.

    [53] 40 Syrian refugees from Syntagma sit-in apply for political asylum

    Syrian refugees who have camped out across from Parliament since November 20 demanding travel documents to the EU have begun applying for political asylum, Secretary General of Population and Social Cohesion Angelos Syrigos said on Wednesday. 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. The issue came to a standstill after the government responded that the only thing it could do would be to issue them with political refugee status, which would allow them to travel to but not work in other EU countries. As of Wednesday, 40 have applied for political asylum and the number of applicants is expected to rise, Syrigos said, as he is expecting a list of 646 names to check against. According to unofficial counts, the Syrian refugees in Athens total 4,000. The simplified application process for political refugee status requires a passport, identification card or international driver's licence. Paperwork will take longer to process than the simplified procedures' two weeks for those without the required identification. The interior ministry has committed to housing, food and medical services for those who apply for political asylum.

    [54] Prosecutor calls for breach of faith charges against IKA governor Spyropoulos

    Social Insurance Fund (IKA) governor Rovertos Spyropoulos could face charges for breach of faith and aggravated fraud against the state, according to a proposal tabled to a Judicial Council by the prosecutor investigating the case of a supermarket chain with million-euro debts to the social insurance organisation, it was announced on Wednesday. The case file concerns a decision by Spyropoulos to lift the confiscation order of bank accounts that belonged to "Arvanitidis" supermarket chain even though the company owed to IKA 18 million euros in contributions. According to the prosecutor, the two company owners should be charged with moral complicity. The decision made by Spyropoulos to lift the confiscation of the bank accounts in question, caused damages to the social insurance organization, considering that within a few days after the decision, large amounts, that could have been impounded to repay the debt, disappeared from the company's bank accounts, the prosecutor underlined. Spyropoulos denies all charges against him, maintaining that all his actions were legal. He underlined that he asked that the confiscation order be lifted to give time to the company to settle its outstanding debts and backpay to its employees, enter a settlement with IKA and avoid bankruptcy.

    [55] No support for children during crisis, childhood watchdog reports at Human Rights' Day event

    Declarations pledging support for human rights and especially the rights of children have mostly remained on paper, with little or no tangible action taken for children's support, the head of the Athens University Observatory for the Study of Childhood Dimosthenis Daskalakis said on Wednesday, during an event in Athens to mark the 66th anniversary since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "Children are the first victims of the economic crisis and there is no mechanism for their support - not on a national, not on a European nor on a global level," said Daskalakis, a professor of sociology and dean of the Athens University Faculty of Education, at a seminar on "The repercussions of the economic crisis on children" that was organised by the Maragopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (MFHR) to mark the anniversary. "Children, as the citizens of the future, have inherited the debt created by previous generations," Daskalakis added, noting that today's children were experiencing change and regression in the economic but also in the social and cultural environment as they were growing up. MFHR Vice-President and former minister Gerassimos Arsenis similarly pointed to the "huge gap" between the declarations and the reality, noting that "the values of the Enlightenment are now called into question and essentially abolished as a result of capitalism and globalisation, where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer." He quoted figures from UNICEF showing that the number of children in Greece living in poverty had almost doubled from 23 pct to 40.5 pct in the period between 2008 and 2012.

    [56] Parliament vice-president Markoyiannakis discharged from hospital

    Parliament's 3rd Vice-President Christos Markoyiannakis, a ruling New Democracy MP, was on Wednesday discharged from the Onassio hospital and thanked "all those who showed their support in this, not so serious, health problem." Markoyannakis was admitted to the Onassio Hospital on Tuesday after suddenly feeling unwell but, after conducting tests, doctors diagnosed that he was suffering from supraventricular tachycardia, or heart palpitations, brought on by acute stress.

    [57] Explosive device found outside bank

    A bag containing an exposive device that was found outside a bank at the Athens suburb of Halandri was defused earlier on Wednesday. Police found the bomb following two phone calls at 5:30 on Tuesday to Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper and to the website "Zougla" warning that a bomb will explode in half an hour. Police's bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion and has cordoned off the area.

    Weather forecast

    [58] Rain on Thursday

    Rain, storms and northerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country and temperatures ranging from 06C-12C. Clouds and rain in the afternoon in the western parts with temperatures between 07C-17C. Heavy rainfall in the eastern parts and temperatures between 04C-16C. Rain and storms in the afternoon over the islands, 11C-19C. Clouds and heavy rain in Athens in the evening, 07C-15C. Partly cloudy with a chance of rain in Thessaloniki, 08C-10C.

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