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

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

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

Friday, 12 December 2014 Issue No: 4834

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras addresses New Democracy parliamentary group
  • [02] PM's speech a 'doomsday rhetoric recital,' SYRIZA comments
  • [03] FM Venizelos meets German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel
  • [04] German foreign minister says he supports 'powers that have led Greece to progress'
  • [05] FM Venizelos to chair meeting of BSEC member-state Foreign Ministers on Friday
  • [06] FM Venizelos to meet with Turkish FM Cavusoglu on Friday
  • [07] EU Commissioner Moscovici to visit Greece on Dec. 15-16
  • [08] EU Commissioner Moscovici will show support to Athens during visit to Greece
  • [09] IMF team to return to Athens in January, says deputy spokesman
  • [10] SYRIZA will not participate in the Constitutional Revision Committee, Tsipras tells Parliament president
  • [11] 'History does not move in a straight line...maybe, SYRIZA will be a catalyst,' SYRIZA spokesman says
  • [12] SYRIZA's Vitsas on agreement with the troika
  • [13] Government spokeswoman Voultepsi lashes out at SYRIZA
  • [14] DIMAR secretary reiterates that his party will not vote for President
  • [15] SYRIZA, ANEL parliamentary groups to meet ahead of the presidential election
  • [16] KKE leader says antipopular measures will be implemented regardless of election results
  • [17] Admininstrative Reform min Mitsotakis on election of President of Republic
  • [18] Two ANEL MPs says that they would change stance and vote for President under certain conditions
  • [19] Former PM Papandreou criticises current gov't and main opposition
  • [20] Independent MP Tatsopoulos calls for ND-SYRIZA 'understanding' for early elections in 2015
  • [21] Supplementary Pension Fund real deficit at 188 mln euros, labour minister tells Parliament
  • [22] Deputy FM Gerontopoulos in Brussels on Thursday
  • [23] Venizelos on Palestininan Authority Minister's death
  • [24] Parliament postpones issue of invitations for media licenses tender until end of 2015
  • [25] Former Finance Minister Papaconstantinou to be brought before Special Court
  • [26] Parliamentary committee passes draft bill on land appropriations
  • [27] Greek unemployment rate fell to 25.7 pct in September
  • [28] Sharp rise in registered unemployed who stopped looking for work in October, OAEE says
  • [29] PPC S.A.-European Investment Bank sign agreement on electricity production projects
  • [30] Law on residence permits for property owners brings 65 mln euro investments in Greek real estate market
  • [31] A Greek debt write-down should have taken place in 2010, says former IMF official
  • [32] Construction of three missile boats for navy to go ahead at Elefsis shipyards
  • [33] REDS calls off merger with Yalou Commercial and Tourism S.A.
  • [34] JASPERS to play enhanced role in new NSRF projects, development minister tells annual JASPERS conference
  • [35] Greek fruit promotion campaign in Arab countries
  • [36] Intralot-Succesful launch of the Irish national lottery
  • [37] Real per capita consumption in Greece at 83 pct of EU average in 2013, Eurostat reports
  • [38] Building activity up 7.2 pct in Sep
  • [39] Further heavy losses as stocks slide 7.35 pct on the Athens exchange
  • [40] Greek bond market closing report
  • [41] ADEX closing report
  • [42] Foreign exchange rates - Thursday
  • [43] Antikythera excavation sets an example of public-private partnership, Culture Minister Tassoulas says
  • [44] Protection mechanism in Evros region in a state of readiness; KKE statement
  • [45] Large quantity of Khat drug confiscated
  • [46] European Court convicts Greece for unlicensed landfill in Kiato
  • [47] New postage stamps will 'sing' traditional Greek carols
  • [48] University of Thessaloniki honours Byzantine studies Prof. Albrecht Berger
  • [49] Athens Journalists' Union celebrates founding centenary with exhibiton
  • [50] Increase in visitors to museums and archaeological sites
  • [51] Short-circuit smokes up Parliament building corridors during off-time
  • [52] Shops nationwide to open on Sunday
  • [53] Rain on Friday
  • [54] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras addresses New Democracy parliamentary group

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday levelled harsh criticism against main opposition SYRIZA, while speaking to New Democracy's Parliamentary group.

    "SYRIZA makes foreigners again talk about a Grexit," Samaras said. "We managed to pull the country out of the greatest crisis and now some are threatening to take it back there. All deputies have a political responsibility. Some of them doubted the primary surpluses, the country's return to the markets, the exit from the memorandum, and they were proved wrong. Now they are doing something even worse. They are trying to cancel Greece's success. We will not let them do so," Samaras underlined.

    The prime minister noted that the government's success was also recognised by the Eurogroup. "Europe decided to support us with a credit line that will allow us to borrow. The last review should be concluded. We are very close to that without taking strict measures that we do not need and that would affect the first steps of growth," he noted, adding that SYRIZA is always citing the polls, but forgets the most important factor, the fact that people do not want elections, they do not want to halt the country's course, they do not want to go back. "The people's stance shows that they have a clear view and that they will punish those who will drag the country to elections. A prolonged election period translates into paralysis for the country," he said.

    "SYRIZA told us that it has an alternative policy. Eventually, they submitted a programme disputed even by their own people ... A few days ago they visited London ... As soon as foreigners learned what their intentions are, they were horrified. All this while trumpeting that they will not vote for a president of [Hellenic] Republic and blackmailing other deputies. This caused political instability and hurt the country and its exit from the memorandum. This situation led some of the lenders to request things that could not be done. That is why we decided to hold the presidential elections a month and a half earlier than expected. Everyone is aware that SYRIZA has a policy of confrontation with Europe that will lead Greece to a crisis and may spread to Europe," Samaras stressed.

    "SYRIZA has one enemy: a modern, democratic Greece, free from old sins. Every deputy will have to explain why he allied himself with the forces of opposition. Deputies ought to comply with the Consitution's spirit and decide whether they will keep the country in Europe or let it enter into a confrontation with European institutions. Greece will be able to continue developing as long as it meets its fiscal targets and carries out reforms," he said.

    Regarding Stavros Dimas' candidacy, he said that it was excellent. "Some are trying to weaken it by spreading rumours that he will not be a candidate in all three voting procedures. With the recent agreement, Greece will be covered until late February. As soon as a president is elected and the review is completed, we will ask for debt support and will sign the new agreement with the help of the credit line," he added.

    He made special reference to the constitutional revision, which is necessary, as he said, for important reforms to be implemented.

    "If a president is not elected, everything will be up in the air, populism will prevail... SYRIZA is in panic, it is seeking elections that it does not want and power that it doesn't know how to handle," the Greek premier pointed out.

    "Truth and responsibility are our weapons. Everyone should assume his own responsibilities. Nobody will hold Parliament to account for not electing a president. However, everyone will accuse it of casting the country into a new dangerous adventure if a president is not elected. In the coming days we will all be judged by developments that will appear after a few weeks... Citizens are watching us, they know what is happening and eventually, what is best for the country will prevail," he concluded.

    [02] PM's speech a 'doomsday rhetoric recital,' SYRIZA comments

    Main opposition SYRIZA on Thursday slammed a speech given by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to his party's Parliamentary group as a "doomsday rhetoric recital" and a "admission of his upcoming defeat" with respect to collecting the 180 deputies needed to elect a president and the subsequent need to call elections.

    "With a doomsday rhetoric recital - one of the many - the prime minister hopes that he will rally at least his own deputies for the election of the president," SYRIZA said in a statement.

    It also criticised Samaras "for not hesitating to ask markets to attack the country" and added: "He is mistaken if he thinks that the 'warmed-up meal' of an exit from the Eurozone will terrorise society, which is suffocating under the anti-societal policies of the memorandum."

    "SYRIZA presents the only plan for the exit from the crisis, the only realistic proposal of negotiation to restart the economy and put the society back on its feet. Samaras and his party represent chaos and fear; SYRIZA represents hope and stability," the statement concluded.

    [03] FM Venizelos meets German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - F. Karaviti)

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, currently on a visit to Berlin, on Thursday met German Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Economy Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel, the head of Germany's SPD party. The meeting focused on economic, trade and energy cooperation issues, particularly with respect to renewable energy sources and innovative enterprises.

    "The primary issue is for the SPD and its MPs to help in the German Parliament so that we have approval before Christmas of an extension of [Greece's stability] programme for two months for technical reasons and Greece's transition to the new era via the precautionary credit line," Venizelos said in statements to the Greek state television channel NERIT after the meeting. He said that Gabriel's response had been very positive on this point.

    "We talked about Greece's real economy, about bilateral cooperation, investment opportunities and the need to create jobs," Venizelos said, noting that this discussion had been a "natural continuation" of his talk on Wednesday with Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. "I think he confirmed in the clearest way the decision of the Eurogroup, which sends a very positive message for Greece, a message that we can proceed in an orderly fashion to an exit from the memorandums and to the start of a new phase," he said.

    During the meeting, Venizelos and Gabriel agreed to continue preparations for business delegations to be sent by the two sides, while Venizelos briefed Gabriel on the details concerning the election of Greece's new president and asked for his support when the German government brought a request to approve a two-month extension of the existing stabilisation programme for Greece to the German Federal Parliament next week.

    [04] German foreign minister says he supports 'powers that have led Greece to progress'

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday it is important for the powers that be which ensured Greece's progress in the past months to be able to continue on this path, adding that real progress has been made in the country.

    "I promised that Germany would continue to support the bold Greek reform process. And I'm very happy, and you more than me, that in this path real progress was achieved in the past months, if not years," Steinmeier told his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos, shortly before meeting with him in private in Berlin.

    "We are now we are dealing with a situation that slightly surprised us all. Greece is facing important decisions. Decisions which we are of course monitoring closely here in Germany," the foreign minister said.

    He added that from Germany's point of view, it was important for those who secured Greece's progress in reforms to continue on this path and most importantly "for those powers to unite for the difficult weeks to follow so that they are able to complete what they started."

    On his side, Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos spoke of the progress made by Greece on implementing reforms, while he commented on the upcoming election for Greek president, saying "the sense of duty will allow a President of the Republic to be elected by consensus and avoid early elections."

    Venizelos said electing a president will allow the government to complete the processes during the two-month extension of Greece's bailout programme (to end-February 2015) and continue with 18 months of governing, during which the Greek economy will be able to take off.

    "If early elections are not avoided, every citizen will be called to make a responsible choice," the foreign minister added, noting that "it would be a shame to cancel out our sacrifices ourselves."

    [05] FM Venizelos to chair meeting of BSEC member-state Foreign Ministers on Friday

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will chair the Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the member states of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on Friday, 12 December 2014, in Thessaloniki, according to a Foreign ministry announcement.

    Following the proceedings of the Ministerial Meeting, which will mark the end of Greece's six-month Chairmanship of the Organization, Venizelos will participate in a press conference, at 13:00, together with the Secretary General of BSEC and the heads of the Romanian and Moldovan delegations, whose countries, together with Greece, make up the BSEC Troika.

    [06] FM Venizelos to meet with Turkish FM Cavusoglu on Friday

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday will meet with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who will be participating in the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of BSEC member states.

    The meeting will take place in Thessaloniki, at 08.30, according to a Foreign ministry's announcement.

    [07] EU Commissioner Moscovici to visit Greece on Dec. 15-16

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici in a message posted on Twitter announced that he will pay a two day visit to Greece on Monday and Tuesday (December 15-16).

    We are at the side of Greece and its people as they promote reforms aimed at boosting employment and growth, he said.

    [08] EU Commissioner Moscovici will show support to Athens during visit to Greece

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira)

    EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Thursday in an interview with radio station Europe 1 referred to his visit to Greece on Monday.

    Asked on the aim of his visit to Greece, Moscovici said: "First of all, there is a programme that has a two-month horizon for the implementation of reforms. Secondly, my aim is to show my support, because the Greek people have made great efforts, we stand by them but that does not mean that efforts will stop."

    He acknowledged that deficits shrank by 10 percent and the country had a primary surplus this year. "It has been hard for Greeks but they now see the exit of the tunnel provided that they continue reforms. This is the message that I will convey. Europe, Eurozone are at the side of Greece but Greece has to proceed with reforms," he said.

    [09] IMF team to return to Athens in January, says deputy spokesman

    The negotiating team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will return to Athens in January and its aim is to successfully complete the sixth Greek bailout review, the deputy spokesman of the IMF William Murray said on Thursday, during a press conference at the Fund's headquarters in Washington.

    "We expect to return with the negotiating team in January. Our intention is to return to Athens in January," Murray said.

    Answering many questions on Greece, the spokesman refused to make any comments on political developments in Greece and repeated the Fund is cooperating with Greek authorities for the completion of the sixth programme review.

    Murray said the IMF knows Greece wants to replace the current programme with a precautionary credit line clarifying that the country has not made an official request which may be submitted after the completion of the current review.

    Asked whether Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras informed the IMF chief Christine Lagarde of his political initiatives, the spokesman said he couldn't confirm this information or whether IMF officials have contacted the leader of main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras.

    Murray also declined to comment on how the Fund visit could be affected if the government ends up having early elections in January.

    [10] SYRIZA will not participate in the Constitutional Revision Committee, Tsipras tells Parliament president

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday in a letter to the president of the Parliament made known his party decision not to participate in the Constitutional Revision Committee.

    "Mr President, I inform you on behalf of SYRIZA's parliamentary committee that in the current phase and ahead of the election of the President of Republic from the current Parliament, SYRIZA deputies will not participate in the Constitutional Revision Committee to be formed for the revision of the Constitution," Tsipras said.

    He also underlined that "in essence, for the purposefulness of the opening of the debate on the constitutional revision in this phase and if national elections do not precede, we have expressed our view - in Parliament - in the recent debate on the 2015 budget."

    [11] 'History does not move in a straight line...maybe, SYRIZA will be a catalyst,' SYRIZA spokesman says

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was very clear on Wednesday, SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis on Thursday told Mega TV.

    "He sent a message to the markets. He said 'come to our country', 'cannibalise it', because that is what my party's interests call for. What are my party's interests? 'To use doomsday rhetoric, to generate terror and fear to sway Greek voters' and let Samaras continue this policy," Skourletis said commenting on the markets' reaction.

    "Samaras was forced to initiate this procedure in haste; this was not part of his initial planning. Why was he forced? Following popular outcry and being under pressure...What do the things that Samaras said yesterday - namely, that the country risks exiting the euro - have to do with what he said a month ago...that we have effectively put the era of the memorandum behind us; and then have (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble come and tells us that we have the review for the last tranche ahead of us with all the measures attached to it...Then a different evaluation on the precautionary credit line will follow, which will be accompanied by another monitoring regime and new austerity measures. They are concealing all that," he said.

    Asked whether the troika's review will be concluded, he said: "We will enter a new negotiation phase on all those issues. We will consider all that in the context of the negotiation." He explained that a SYRIZA government will conduct a comprehensive negotiation, adding that the best message to send to the markets was to have a plan against the crisis.

    "Right now a viable, realistic plan is the one starting from the core of the problem, which is the debt crisis in Greece. When the prime minister does not touch upon that, what does he say? That I don't have a plan," Skourletis said.

    Asked how SYRIZA will respond if the Europeans reject its plan, he replied that "this question, albeit a real one, cannot be answered without considering the whole situation and looking into how one's own plan can be organised."

    "So I repeat, to break this down further, have we realised that in such a discussion that begins for the first time, what will go on the European table will not concern Greece alone? We must add the Greek problem to the Italian problem and then the French problem and all these together can highlight the main issue for Europe, which is the 'central strategy' against the economic crisis," he added.

    "It has been proven in practice that the Stability Pact does not work. It has been proven in practice that the extreme Germany-oriented austerity policies are currently making Europe sink, marginalising it as they also dismantle it on all levels: social state, democracy, cohesion. What happened a few weeks ago in the cases of France and Germany? The Stability Pact was circumvented. A political force will exist that will act as a catalyst."

    Responding to a remark that France and Italy were unable to put the European problem "on the table", he noted that "history does not move along straight lines; history can have turning points. And every time there is a catalyst. Well, maybe, SYRIZA is this catalyst. We are attempting it. It seems to act this way up to point. Look what happened in the Euroelections...look what happened in Spain. We don't only have a domino of economic effects."

    Asked whether there is an agreement for the Democratic Left to participate jointly with SYRIZA in the national polls, he noted: "Of course not. No one has decided that, nor has this issue been raised. Any discussions that have taken place are known; the agenda is known. SYRIZA fully respects DIMAR's procedures. Therefore, what we are interested in is the official position of the party. I also heard DIMAR's secretary, who said they are discussing and have their own procedures. There is a convergence on the need to speed up elections, to defeat this policy and not have a president of [Hellenic] Republic elected by the current Parliament."

    [12] SYRIZA's Vitsas on agreement with the troika

    "We will not stick to the timetable of two month period agreed with the lenders; we do not recognize the agreement in the first place," the secretary of SYRIZA's Central Committee Dimitris Vitsas told Skai.

    According to skai.gr, Vitsas wondered: "We will not recognize the agreement, so what will they say? That you have 15 days to recognize it? "

    Commenting on German Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's statements that Greece "Greece can continue depending on the solidarity of Europe and Germany" but it would have to remain on a reform track, Vitsas said that Schaeuble "pretends he has forgotten the parameter of a fresh mandate by the Greek people, which will bring different thoughts to the EU and hopefully to Schaeuble."

    [13] Government spokeswoman Voultepsi lashes out at SYRIZA

    Government spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi on Thursday strongly criticized main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) for comments made online in response to the Athens Stock Exchange drop according to which "the stock market plunge constitutes proof of the international markets' certainty that the Left is poised for a major victory".

    Citing several other examples of statements made by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and party cadres, which she characterised as "erratic", she concluded, "what conclusion can be drawn by the MPs and the people?"

    [14] DIMAR secretary reiterates that his party will not vote for President

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) does not want to contribute to the extension of the impasses and the current government conservative policies and for this reason its deputies will not vote for President of Republic, the party secretary Thanassis Theoharopoulos said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Thursday.

    "Our decision, the decision of all our 10 MPs not to vote for President of Republic, will apparently lead to early elections. DIMAR has clarified that a change of policy is necessary for the country which needs a new progressive governance that will be able to carry out the necessary changes the country needs," he said.

    At a query on a possible cooperation with SYRIZA in case of early elections, Theoharopoulos answered "DIMAR has opened a debate with other political forces among them and main opposition SYRIZA on the potential existence of a progressive governance. That's all we discuss and nothing more."

    Finally, he did not rule out a meeting between DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras although it has not been scheduled so far.

    [15] SYRIZA, ANEL parliamentary groups to meet ahead of the presidential election

    A chance meeting took place in parliament on Thursday between opposition Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos and main opposition SYRIZA leader's political office director Nikos Pappas, according to an ANEL announcement.

    During the meeting, that lasted only a few minutes, they agreed that the parliamentary groups of the two political parties will meet ahead of the vote in parliament for the election of the new Greek president.

    [16] KKE leader says antipopular measures will be implemented regardless of election results

    Whether the present government gets an extension to rule or the main opposition SYRIZA comes to power after national elections, Greece's lenders, the EU's continuous memorandums and large capital will remain in the country, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Thursday in central Greece's city Karditsa.

    "The people should not hold their breath over whether the votes will work out in the parliamentary elections," he said, adding that the speeding up of the election for Greek president is concurrent with the new measures being prepared against wages and social insurance, making the dream of a pension and insurance unfulfillable. The measures will be implemented regardless of who becomes Greek president, he said.

    The measures that are coming have been decided already and are part of EU strategy as laid out in "Europe 2020", he said, and charged all parties with propaganda that there would be no more measures except structural changes.

    [17] Admininstrative Reform min Mitsotakis on election of President of Republic

    Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, speaking on Skai radio station, stressed the need for independent deputies to thoroughly consider the repercussions of their vote.

    "Independent deputies, who will determine the election of a President of Republic, will have to carefully consider the consequences of their vote. They must abide by the oath to the Constitution," Mitsotakis said adding that the Constitution "does not connect the election of a President with the intention of a party to cause early elections."

    He reiterated that Dimas will be a candidate in all three votings. He also accused main opposition SYRIZA of its stance as "SYRIZA officials, such as Nikos Pappas, think highly of Dimas and even SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has said that he is one of the two New Democracy officials he appreciated. So we appreciate Dimas, we think he is a good candidate, but we do not vote for him as we want to overthrow the government."

    Mitsotakis underlined that the markets' nervous reaction is related to the fact that a party against "free market" is likely to win the elections.

    The minister concluded that the "election of Dimas as President of Republic will be equivalent to the restart of the reform programme."

    [18] Two ANEL MPs says that they would change stance and vote for President under certain conditions

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) MPs Maria Kollia-Tsarouha and Pavlos Chaikalis on Thursday left the possibility to change their stance regarding the voting or not of President of Republic open.

    Speaking on "Parapolitika" private radio, Kollia-Tsarouha said that a great number of her colleagues are trying to make her change her mind and to vote for President. "My stance could change if something tremendous happened; a national issue, a national danger," she said adding that "I am determined not to vote but the political time is very long. However, under the current conditions, and I am crystal clear on that, I will not vote for President".

    On his part, MP Pavlos Chaikalis stated "It is not a matter of who is candidate. We have reached the decision at the party's congress that we will not vote for President. However, I don't know what will happen tomorrow. There may be a war, banks' ATMs may be empty of cash. So far, ANEL's solid parliamentary group has decided "no". I do not know if this position will change. The party's bodies will decide it...You always leave a parameter open, because I want to be reliable" he said.

    [19] Former PM Papandreou criticises current gov't and main opposition

    Former prime minister George Papandreou blamed the government leaders and the main opposition leader on Thursday for the situation in Greece, accusing them of competing on who will get rid of the loan memorandum first instead of spending the time to help Greece get out of the crisis.

    Speaking of the moving forward of the Greek presidential election date, Papandreou said that "all democratic political forces of the country ought to assume their responsibilities immediately and without second thought, to form the conditions for a wider consensus."

    The former PM said he supported the election of a new president by the current Parliament, followed by a national unity government, and expressed the hope that Greece is not led to national elections, which would be caused by irresponsibility.

    [20] Independent MP Tatsopoulos calls for ND-SYRIZA 'understanding' for early elections in 2015

    Former SYRIZA and now independent MP Petros Tatsopoulos on Thursday called on the two main parties, ruling New Democracy and main opposition SYRIZA, to reach an '11th-hour' agreement on the new president, coupled with a proposal of "national understanding" for early elections that will be supported by all sides

    "SYRIZA itself has said that under other circumstances, it would vote for a president of the Republic. Regardless of whether I was elected with SYRIZA, I say that on the part of the centre-right and on the part of the centre-left there are many worthwhile cases and very worthy people that could be very good presidents; we are, in any case, talking about an office whose funtion in Greece is purely formal and has no value, since [the president] has no responsibilities. I can, therefore, next to the name of [current candidate Stavros] Dimas list another 50 names, both centre-right and centre-left," Tatsopoulos said to the radio station Vima FM.

    He also noted that none of the eight MPs that tabled a proposal concerning the presidential election had said that they would vote for a president "come what may".

    "It is not too late, however, even now, even at the 12th hour on December 28, for there to be a proposal of national understanding that both SYRIZA and ND will vote for and everyone else, except for the fascists...and for us to go to early elections with this proposal within 2015," he said.

    [21] Supplementary Pension Fund real deficit at 188 mln euros, labour minister tells Parliament

    The labour ministry estimates that the real deficit of the Unified Supplementary Pension Fund (ETEA) now stands at 188 million euros, Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said in a document sent to Parliament on Thursday. He said this amount was expected to be covered by ETEA's cash reserves and securities.

    The minister noted that the figures supplied by ETEA to the Eurozone support mechanism and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cited a much larger deficit of 480 million euros up to September 2014 and explained that this deficit was "the result of an increase in the flow of paying out backdated benefits."

    "The 2014 financial year is the first year that ETEA is fully operational and, taking into account that the last funds were added to it in March 2013, there was an accumulation of obligations from the years 2009-2013. Based on the figures, the amount of these backdated benefits is close to 292 million euros for the first nine months of 2014," he said, adding that ETEA's real deficit was thus 188 million euros and could be covered by its existing resources.

    The document was sent to Parliament in response to a question tabled by independent MP Vassilis Kapernaros, who asked to be informed if supplementary pensions had been cut as a result of the fund's deficit.

    According to Vroutsis, the rate of issue of supplementary pensions in 2014 was almost double that in 2013, with roughly 1.075 million pensioners currently receiving an ETEA pension, with a monthly cost ranging from 230-250 million euros depending on the amount of backdated pensions that needed to be paid out.

    [22] Deputy FM Gerontopoulos in Brussels on Thursday

    Deputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos will travel to Brussels to participate on Thursday and Friday, 11 and 12 December 2014, in the proceedings of the European Union's Council of Development Cooperation Ministers.

    Issues on the agenda include migration, gender equality, the development of the Ebola virus epidemic, and the EU's post-2015 development agenda.

    [23] Venizelos on Palestininan Authority Minister's death

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday made the following statement on the death of Palestinian Authority Minister Ziad Abu Ein:

    "We are deeply grieved at the death of Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Ein during a peaceful demonstration and tree planting at the West Bank village of Turmussaya, on the occasion of events marking International Human Rights Day. We express our condolences to his loved ones, to the Palestinian Authority and to the Palestinian people for their unwarranted loss.

    We are certain that the Israeli authorities will carry out an immediate, transparent and credible investigation into the conditions under which Ziad Abu Ein's death came about.

    Finally, we call on all sides, under the current tense conditions, to show self-restraint and responsibility, and to intensify their efforts to avoid further escalation of the tension."

    [24] Parliament postpones issue of invitations for media licenses tender until end of 2015

    The government extended the deadline for the issuing of a tender invitation granting operation licenses to radio and TV stations until December 31, 2015, the government spokeswoman said on Thursday.

    The year-long extension was granted with an amendment voted in parliament, as the original deadline expires at the end of the current year.

    Asked by main opposition Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis why there was a delay, Sofia Voultepsi, who recommended the amendment, explained that licenses are not granted by the government but by the National Radio and Television Council (ESR).

    The spokeswoman also blamed "many people in this room and from SYRIZA" who are blocking the operation of ESR by not allowing a new member to fill an empty seat in the Council.

    Voultepsi said that to fill this seat, the parliament's Conference of Presidents will have to agree "almost unanimously" and called on all party representatives to allow someone to be hired.

    "If this doesn't happen, if ten people in a room who participate in the Conference of Presidents cannot agree on the members of the ESR, I just can't leave the radio and television stations hanging," she added.

    [25] Former Finance Minister Papaconstantinou to be brought before Special Court

    Former Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou with a non reversable decree will be brought before the Special Court according to the law on ministers liability in connection with the so-called Lagarde list.

    Papaconstantinou's relatives (non-political persons) alleged to be involved in the Lagarde list will be not sent to the Special Court, the Judicial Council of the Special Court said on Thursday.

    The former minister is facing charges of document forgery and attempted breach of trust but will not be indicted for violation of duty.

    The trial must start within the next two months.

    [26] Parliamentary committee passes draft bill on land appropriations

    The Committee of Production and Trade passed in principle a draft bill by the environment ministry in Parliament on Thursday related to appropriations of land lying within a town plan and related transactions in land and cash.

    The draft bill was voted by ruling coalition parties New Democracy and PASOK, and voted down by main opposition SYRIZA and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). Independent Greeks (ANEL), Democratic Left (DIMAR) and Independent Democratic Deputies expressed reservations about whether they would pass it in the final vote, pending legal improvements the ministry promised. Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) did not participate in the discussion.

    Financial News

    [27] Greek unemployment rate fell to 25.7 pct in September

    Greek seasonally adjusted unemployment rate eased to 25.7 pct in September, from 28 pct in September 2013 and 26 pct in August 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the number of unemployed people totaled 1,241,114 in September, while the number of employed people totaled 3,589,280, up 2.3 pct compared with September last year and up 1.6 pct compared with August 2014.

    The number of unemployed people fell by 123,115 in September, 9 pct down compared with September 2013 and down 0.1 pct compared with August 2014. The economically non-active population totaled 3,293,357 in September, down 0.2 pct on September 2013 and down 1.7 pct compared with August 2014.

    The unemployment rate among women was 29.5 pct (down from 32.1 pct in September 2013), while among men it was 22.8 pct (down from 24.8 pct last year).

    The unemployment rate among young people aged 15-24 was 49.8 pct in September, from 57.3 pct in September 2013, in the 24-34 age group it fell to 36 pct from 36.6 pct, in the 35-44 age group it fell to 22.5 pct from 24.2 pct, in the 45-54 age group it fell to 18.9 pct from 21 pct, in the 55-64 age group it remained stable at 16 pct and in the 65-74 age group it fell to 8.9 pct from 9.2 pct.

    Among the country's regions, Macedonia/Thrace (27.4 pct in September from 30 pct in September 2013), Attica (26.5 pct from 29.1 pct) and Epirus/Western Macedonia (26.1 pct from 29.1 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, followed by Thessaly/Central Greece (25.8 pct from 26.7 pct), Crete (24.6 pct from 24.9 pct), the Peloponese/Western Greece/Ionian Islands (24.1 pct from 25.5 pct) and Aegean (21 pct from 21.8 pct).

    [28] Sharp rise in registered unemployed who stopped looking for work in October, OAEE says

    The number of registered unemployed Greeks actively looking for work showed a slight rise of 1.83 pct in October 2014, according to the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAEE) on Thursday.

    Conversely, the employment promotion and vocational training agency said that the number of unemployed people who said they were not looking for work in October spiked by 24.25 pct (to 168,334) compared to the previous month, while the number of subsidised unemployed dropped by 9.61 pct, to 100,399.

    In numbers, the registered unemployed reached 847,843 people in October compared to 832,618 in September. Of the former, 453,044 (or 53.43 pct) have been registered as unemployed at OAEE for 12 or more months, while 394,799 (or 46.57 pct) have been registered for less.

    In the breakdown per gender, most of the unemployed (60.65 pct) are female. In terms of age, most unemployed (40.49 pct) are aged 30-40. In terms of education level, 48.93 pct are high school graduates.

    Among the registered unemployed for October, those classified as "Greek citizens" comprise 797,204 people (or 94.03 pct), those as "[other] EU member-states" comprise 12,146 people (or 1.43 pct) and "citizens of third countries" comprise 38,493 people (or 4.54 pct).

    Of all registered unemployed not looking for work in October (the 168,334), 67,828 (or 40.29) have been registered at OAEE for 12 months or more and 100,506 (or 59.71 pct) for less than 12 months.

    All subsidised unemployed for October 2014 who received paychecks within the month total 100,399 individuals over 111,072 in September. Of the total, 95,744 (or 95.36 pct) are regular and such categories of unemployed, whereas 4,655 (or 4.64 pct) have been working seasonally.

    [29] PPC S.A.-European Investment Bank sign agreement on electricity production projects

    The Public Power Corporation S.A. (PPC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Thursday signed an 80-million-euro loan agreement for investments in the period 2014-2019 in new electricity production projects on non-interconnected islands, part of a total financing line of 190 million euros.

    The investments include the construction of a new thermoelectric power plant of 115 MW net capacity in the southern part of the SE Aegean island of Rhodes that will ensure the long-term energy supply of the island while achieving high environmental standards.

    Also, the construction of development projects in 17 Autonomous Power Plants on several islands, including Santorini, Lesvos and Kalymnos, among others, to increase the installed capacity in order to secure the energy supply of these islands, replace the old technology units with new ones, friendlier to the environment, and upgrade and modernize the existing plants' equipment and infrastructures.

    Addressing an event on the signing of the agreement for the financing of electricity production on 18 islands in the north and east Aegean, Dodecanese, Cyclades, and the Diapontia island complex (smaller islands in the Ionian Sea), Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis underlined that investments of 10 billion euros in energy infrastructures, renewable energy sources and smart meters are being planned for the next 6 years until 2020.

    These investments include the connection of most of the Cyclades with the mainland interconnected system of Greece. The first phase of the project will concern the islands of Andros, Naxos, Syros, Tinos and Mykonos and will be completed in 2016, as well as the connection of Crete with an estimated budget of 800 million euros, Maniatis said, adding that smart metres will also be installed in households nationwide.

    The 80-million-euro agreement signed today concerns the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, Lesvos, Samos, Kalymnos, Serifos, Kythnos, Limnos, Skyros, Kos, Karpathos, Ikaria, Astypalea, Othonoi, Erikouses, Donoussa, Megisti and Anafi.

    On his part, EIB President Werner Hoyer said, "we are continuing our strong support in key sectors for growth and jobs in Greece through lending, blending and advising. We support investment to improve the people's living and economic conditions with the upgrading of the electricity production on several non-interconnected Greek islands. This is a further step to ensuring security of electricity supply of the Greek islands, following the 65-million-euro agreement we signed in September to support the connection of the main Cyclades islands with the mainland interconnected system of Greece".

    "Our support to the country goes beyond lending. As non-financial support, EIB is, since some years, offering technical assistance services in Greece in a variety of areas through experts detached in the Greek administration," EIB Vice President Wilhelm Molterer added.

    PPC S.A. Chairman and CEO Arthouros Zervos noted that as of the end of November 2014, the outstanding amount of the EIB loans to PPC Group amount to 2.2 billion euros.

    "EIB's support to PPC over the last years, within a difficult economic environment, has been of major importance, being the primary source of injection of new, long term funding for infrastructure projects which are strategic for the enhancement of the financial and environmental performance of PPC Group, while, at the same time, also supporting the country's competitiveness and security of supply," the PPC chairman pointed out.

    [30] Law on residence permits for property owners brings 65 mln euro investments in Greek real estate market

    Some 65 million euros have been invested by foreign nationals in the Greek real estate market, after the implementation of the law granting residence permit to property owners in the country, according to data submitted to the Parliament by Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos.

    According to the minister, after the passing of the law, third country nationals bought around 65 million euro of property in Greece so as to be granted a residence permit.

    The law (4146/2013) was passed in 2013 and aimed at boosting domestic real estate market. It introduced the possibility of granting a five-year residence permit to property owners in Greece as well as members of their families.

    Under the latest statistical data on third country nationals residing legally in Greece on a residence permit, the Greek authorities have issued 791 residence permits to property owners and members of their families. Moreover, 223 residence permit applications have been filed pending approval.

    Russians make up the majority of the 791 new property ownership cases, followed by Chinese nationals, according to the ministry's data. The same applies for pending applications, the minister's data showed, with Russia and China showing the greatest interest in buying Greek property under the specific legislative framework.

    "Comparing the programme with those of other EU member-states in the wider Mediterranean region and taking into consideration the fact that in the January-June 2014 period, the signing of real estate purchase contracts was not possible as the capital gains tax could not be calculated, opting for and adopting this initiative is considered very positive for the Greek economy," Dinopoulos said.

    Considering the up-to-date positive experience and evaluating the interest of potential investors, the Interior Ministry is putting forward a number of improvements to the programme with a draft law which will be tabled to Parliament in the next period of time, according to the ministry's document.

    The ministry's data were sent to the Parliament following a query by Independent Greeks deputies.

    [31] A Greek debt write-down should have taken place in 2010, says former IMF official

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) should have insisted in 2010 that Greece stops repaying its old debt and renegotiates a write-down with all its creditors, the former deputy director of the IMF's European department, Susan Schadler, told Austrian paper Kurier on Thursday.

    "The IMF should have insisted, even from the summer of 2010, that Athens stops repaying its old debt and renegotiates with all its lenders a debt write-down - and immediately," she said.

    Schadler warned that one must always be on guard because the market climate can change abruptly. She also blamed the Fund for succumbing to political pressure in 2010 and abandoning its rules by getting involved in a bailout programme, when everyone knew the economic forecasts for Greece were too optimistic.

    In another part of the interview, the former IMF official said: "What's the point of paying the big banks and burdening tax payers?" adding that a quick debt write-down would have clarified the situation earlier, while the long delay protracted the miserable economic situation in Greece and didn't stop its spread in other European countries.

    Schadler said she still has doubts Athens will be able to lift its huge debt in the longterm because, to achieve this, it will have to maintain high economic growth rates and surpluses for many years.

    Greece's European partners may have helped the country with the interest rates, however this will not help much because it is quite obvious these loans will not be fully repaid, she added.

    [32] Construction of three missile boats for navy to go ahead at Elefsis shipyards

    A National Defence amendment calling for the completion of three new Roussen Super Vita 62m fast-attack missile craft for the Hellenic Navy by the Elefsis shipyards and other related projects, including the guarantee of jobs at the shipyards, was passed by Greek Parliament on Thursday.

    The amendment also calls for the completion of the programme to build the remaining three craft, the repair of the upgraded missile boat "Mykonios" (Combattante III) and the continued operation of the shipyards.

    "This amendment relates to a very specific issue," National Defence Minister Nikos Dendias told Parliament when introducing the bill, " the amendment of an agreement between the Greek state and the shipyards with British Aerospace, over the building of the missile boats; the purpose of this amendment essentially is the payment of workers who are now observing us from the visitors' stands."

    The amendment will benefit the state, he said, because there is no other way of resolving the issue of the incomplete ships; the delay in tabling the amendment is attributed to the lengthy negotiations with the foreign company, he added. The bill was included in a Transport, Infrastructure and Networks bill voted in Parliament on Wednesday.

    [33] REDS calls off merger with Yalou Commercial and Tourism S.A.

    REDS SA on Thursday announced the cancellation of a planned merger with its subsidiary Yalou Commercial and Tourism SA, saying the boards of the respective companies decided to suspend the merger proceedings in meetings on Wednesday, after reviewing and re-evaluating the data and the new business plans of the group.

    [34] JASPERS to play enhanced role in new NSRF projects, development minister tells annual JASPERS conference

    Greece is extending its cooperation with the EU Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions JASPERS mechanism, Development and Competitiveness Minister Costas Skrekas said on Thursday, in his opening addressing to the JASPERS annual conference for national and European participating institutions taking place in Athens

    Skrekas said that the 2014-2020 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) created the right conditions to extend this cooperation even further, since it allows proposals for the joint funding of major projects to be examined by an independent evaluator, which will then make a recommendation to EU agencies for their approval.

    "For the projects to be proposed by Greece, this role will be undertaken by JASPERS," he said, adding that this would help speed up the rate of approval and implementation of important projects.

    In addition to JASPERS, the European Investment Bank will play a decisive role in the implementation of major developmental projects, Skrekas added. He announced that a contract for such a major project will be signed within a few hours, with the EIB agreeing to extend a loan of 80 million euros to the Public Power Corporation (PPC) for the construction of new power production units on 18 Greek islands not connected to the national grid.

    [35] Greek fruit promotion campaign in Arab countries

    The promotion of Greek farm products in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar is guaranteed through a three-year, 4-million-euro community programme, it was announced in a presentation of Greek fruits in Abu Dhabi organized by a consortium of 10 farm cooperatives.

    Fresh and preserved fruits (peaches, nectarines, kiwis, apples, pears, cherries and apricots) produced by a total of 6,500 farmers comprising 10 farm cooperatives and groups of farmers, eight in the prefecture of Imathia and two in the prefecture of Kozani, north and northwest Greece respectively, were presented in an event held in an Abu Dhabi hotel.

    The cooperative representative underlined the quality characteristics of Greek fruits and announced that they will be distributed under the brand name GReat Fruits.

    [36] Intralot-Succesful launch of the Irish national lottery

    Intralot on Thursday announced the successful transition of the National Lottery of Ireland to its cutting-edge central system and terminals. Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) is officially the new operator of the National Lottery for the next 20 years having won a competitive tender process with a bid of 405 million euros.

    Intralot Ireland, a subsidiary of the Intralot Group, has been selected as the technology partner of PLI, in order to provide set up, maintenance and support of new lottery software platforms and terminals.

    Under the new Licence, PLI had until the 30th June 2015 to complete the transition; however the ambitious transition programme began in March this year. Intralot and Camelot Global supported and assisted PLI to deliver the transition programme successfully and months ahead of schedule.

    The transition to Intralot's system was completed on Sunday November 30th morning and the Lottery's Points of Sales were connected to the new central system. Intralot has provided its state-of-the-art Photon terminals, which will facilitate the growth of sales through the lottery's extensive retail network. The new interactive lottery portal has also been successfully launched and is now available at www.lottery.ie. Players will have increased options to play online, on their mobiles and tablets.

    [37] Real per capita consumption in Greece at 83 pct of EU average in 2013, Eurostat reports

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    Greece's real consumption per capita was 83 pct of the European Union average in 2013, while GDP per capita was 73 pct of the EU average, according to figures released by Eurostat on Thursday. Real consumption per capita is defined as the consumption of goods and services by citizens.

    Based on Eurostat's revised figures for 2013, real consumption per capita expressed in the Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) ranged from 49 pct (Romania) to 136 pct (Luxembourg) of the EU 28 average.

    In terms of GDP per capita, also expressed in PPS, the highest values were in Luxembourg (257 pct of the EU28 average), followed by Ireland (130 pct) and Austria (128 pct), while the lowest values were in Bulgaria (45 pct) and Romani (55 pct).

    [38] Building activity up 7.2 pct in Sep

    Private building activity rose by 7.2 pct in September and fell 3.3 pct in terms of volume in the January-September period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, said that building activity fell by 11.0 pct in building permits in September, and rose by 7.2 pct in volume, compared with the same month last year. In the nine-month period building activity fell by 17.7 pct in permits and by 3.3 pct in volume, compared with the same period in 2013.

    [39] Further heavy losses as stocks slide 7.35 pct on the Athens exchange

    Greek stocks suffered another day of spectacular losses that pushed the bourse to new annual lows on Thursday, while the bearish climate extended to the bond market, where the yield of the 10-year bond spiked to above 9.0 pct. Rising concern about domestic political developments has made investors skittish about the country risk and led to a new sell-off of Greek paper.

    The composite index of the market fell below 850 points, shedding 65.73 points in a 7.35 pct dive to end at 827.98 points, the lowest close since July 2013. Turnover was again high at 180.27 million euros. The composite index recorded accumulated losses of 20 pct in the last three sessions and is down 28.79 pct since the start of the year, while losses since the highs in March amount to 39.54 pct.

    The Large Cap index nosedived 7.69 pct and the Mid Cap index fell by 6.11 pct lower. Motor Oil (+0.44 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher; Piraeus Port Authority (-14.44 pct), Piraeus Bank (-13.89 pct), GEK Terna (-13.22 pct), Folli Follie (-12.45 pct), MIG (-12.31 pct) and Jumbo (-11.83 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses. The National Bank of Greece (NBG) also recorded a new historic low after losing 9.38 pct.

    All sector indices ended lower, with the biggest losses in Health (-13.26 pct), Commerce (-12.44 pct), Personal Products (-10.68 pct) and Travel and Leisure (-9.80 pct).

    Decliners led advancers by 105 to 21, with another 17 issues unchanged. Kreka (19.75 pct), Sfakianakis (19.75 pct) and Levenderis (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while ELGEKA (-28.00 pct), Karamolegos (-26.77 pct) and SIDMA (-19.76 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -8.82%

    Insurance: -5.00%

    Financial Services: -6.55%

    Industrial Products: -6.90%

    Retail: -12.44%

    Real Estate: -5.11%

    Personal & Household: -10.68%

    Food & Beverages: -1.38%

    Raw Materials: -9.43%

    Construction: -6.31%

    Oil: -2.67%

    Chemicals: -4.66%

    Mass Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -9.80%

    Technology: -4.25%

    Telecoms: -8.74%

    Utilities: -9.12%

    Health: -13.26%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.46

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.46

    Coca Cola HBC: 16.64

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.78

    National Bank of Greece: 1.45

    OPAP: 8.21

    OTE: 8.35

    Piraeus Bank: 0.93

    Titan: 18.75

    Grivalia Properties: 8.12

    Aegean: 7.30

    [40] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 7.92 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 7.00 pct on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.58 pct (after rising to 9.02 pct earlier in the session) and the German Bund 0.66 pct. Turnover totalled 30 million euros, of which 5 million euros were buy orders and 25 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank rates, interest rates did not show significant change. The 12-month rate stayed level at 0.328 pct, the nine-month rate stayed level at 0.254, the six-month rate was at 0.179 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.082 pct from 0.083 pct and the one-month rate stayed at 0.022 pct.

    [41] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 2.39 pct at the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday.

    Volume on the Large Cap index totalled 18,425 contracts with 35,400 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 59,485 contracts, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (15,667), followed by Eurobank (12,175), Alpha Bank (6,640), Piraeus Bank (10,125), PPC (2,986), MIG (2,117), OTE (2,204), GEK (2,723), OPAP (991) Ellaktor (772), Mytilineos (713), Grivalia (376), ELPE (338), Hellenic Exchanges (317), Jumbo (249), Terna Energiaki (239), Folli Follie (202), METKA (151), Titan (103) and Motor Oil (101).

    [42] Foreign exchange rates - Thursday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.2428

    Pound sterling 0.7927

    Danish kroner 7.4387

    Swedish kroner 9.3575

    Japanese yen 147.2

    Swiss franc 1.2012

    Norwegian kroner 9.006

    Canadian dollar 1.4281

    Australian dollar 1.5056

    General News

    [43] Antikythera excavation sets an example of public-private partnership, Culture Minister Tassoulas says

    Culture Minister Constantinos Tassoulas announced that the underwater excavations at the Antikythera shipwreck site will resume in May 2015, addressing an academic event on the results of the first phase of the excavations and future planning, hosted by the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation.

    "The Antikythera shipwreck is among the most fascinating and exciting halls of the largest museum in the world, lying at the bottom of the Aegean Sea," Tassoulas said, noting that "the underwater excavation will bring to light new magnificent findings".

    Tassoulas praised the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation for its support to the endeavor and congratulated the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, Hublot Swiss watches, the Hellenic Navy and the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the ministry of culture for their effective cooperation in this ambitious project, noting that it sets an example of public-private partnership.

    Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation will continue to be among the main sponsors of the project for another five years.

    [44] Protection mechanism in Evros region in a state of readiness; KKE statement

    Eastern Macedonia-Thrace civil protection agencies and the Evros Regional Unit mechanism are in heightened state of readiness to ensure a swift response in case the level of the water of Evros River in northeast Greece increases dangerously, placing inhabited regions at risk, it was announced on Thursday.

    Evros Deputy Regional Governor Dimitris Petrovits told ANA-MPA that the water level remains steadily above six metres, noting that levees are monitored on a 24-hour basis.

    Commenting on the flooding in a number of regions, mainly in northern Greece, opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) underlined that "they highlight the criminal responsibility of the ND-PASOK coalition government and the state agencies," noting that "they have not financed the construction of infrastructure projects necessary for the protection of the environment and human lives despite the fact that they were aware of the urgency of flood protection projects".

    [45] Large quantity of Khat drug confiscated

    A large quantity of the drug "Khat" was confiscated by Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) in cooperation with the customs of International Athens Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" while a 63 year-old man was arrested who was responsible for importing the drugs from several African countries via mail.

    According to a Finance Ministry announcement, on 1 December 2014 Athens Airport customs employees located and confiscated 68 kilos and 860 grams of the narcotic substance Khat in 8 mail packages from Nairobi.

    On December 8 and after the arrest of the 63 year-old pensioner, customs employees found 12 more packages from Nairobi with the same narcotic of total weight 108 kilos with recipient the arrested.

    Two more packages from Ghana containing Khat and weighing 18 kilos with recipient the pensioner were also located on 11 December at the Athens airport.

    The investigation revealed that the arrested received the packages and propelled them to the US.

    Authorities said that in the period August 2014-December 2014 the suspect had sent sixteen times packages via mail to the US.

    [46] European Court convicts Greece for unlicensed landfill in Kiato

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Court of Justice on Thursday convicted Greece for allowing the operation of an unlicensed landfill in the area of Kiato in northern Peloponnese that violates EU environmental laws.

    According to the court's ruling, following an investigation, it was revealed that the landfill was operating without a license since 2002. It was also revealed that the space used as a landfill didn't comply with EU operation regulations and based on an opinion submitted by the governor of Peloponnese in December 11, 2012, environmental law was being violated.

    The court also said the operation of the landfill resulted in a considerable degradation of the environment.

    [47] New postage stamps will 'sing' traditional Greek carols

    Postage stamps that "sing" traditional Greek Christmas carols through a QR code read by mobile phones will be released on Friday by the Hellenic Post (ELTA), it was announced on Thursday.

    The QR code on the triangular "singing" postage stamps of the new collectible "Children's Christmas" series - for domestic or international correspondence - can be read by new technology mobile phones allowing the traditional Greek Christmas and New Year's carols to travel across the world.

    The carols are sung by Typaldos Children's Choir.

    [48] University of Thessaloniki honours Byzantine studies Prof. Albrecht Berger

    Byzantine Studies Professor Albrecht Berger at Munich's Ludwings-Maximilian Universitaet on Thursday was declared corresponding fellow of Thessaloniki's Aristotle University (AUTh) Centre for Byzantine Research.

    He received the title "in academic recognition of his work as a teacher and of his valuable contribution as a researcher and author to the science of Byzantine history, literature and civilization for which he has won international acclaim as one of the leading researchers of the Byzantine era in the world." His areas of study include Byzantine hagiology and the topography of Constantinople.

    Professor Berger is also the publisher of the journal Byzantinische Zeitschrift (the leading journal in Byzantine Studies), president of the German Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies, corresponding fellow of the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, a Senior Fellow in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks and a member of numerous academic associations.

    [49] Athens Journalists' Union celebrates founding centenary with exhibiton

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will inaugurate an exhibition commemorating the centenary of the Athens Journalists' Union (ESIEA) on Sunday.

    The exhibit celebrates the signing of the founding charter of ESIEA on December 14, 1914 and will include rare archival material from the Union's collection. It will also include art pieces loaned to the Union by artists and documentaries, as well as raise the issue of the role of journalists in today's world as well as their contribution to society and democracy.

    The Union has also collaborated with the Greek Postal Service (ELTA) to issue two series of stamps, one honouring its former presidents and another to commemorate outstanding journalists.

    [50] Increase in visitors to museums and archaeological sites

    Visitors to Greek museums in August 2014 increased by 22.5 percent, and revenues from entrance tickets rose by 27.1 pct compared to the same month last year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.

    It also said that for January-August 2014, there were 22.2 pct more visitors to museums and revenues rose by 28.1 pct, compared to the same period last year.

    In terms of archaeological sites, ELSTAT said, that the number of visitors rose by 17.2 pct in August while revenues increased by 8.8 pct in comparison with the same month last year.

    In the period January-August 2014, the number of visitors in archaeological sites rose by 21.6 pct and revenues increased by 14.2 pct.

    [51] Short-circuit smokes up Parliament building corridors during off-time

    The peristyle and corridors of the Parliament building filled with smoke when a short-circuit in the parliamentary television station's cooling machines led to a meltdown of plastic around transformers.

    The melting plastic released fumes that reached up beyond the basement and ground floor. The accident occurred when Parliament was not in session and the building was mostly empty of deputies and staff. There were no injuries reported.

    [52] Shops nationwide to open on Sunday

    On Sunday, December 14, shops nationwide will open from 11:00 to 20:00, according to an announcement on Thursday by the Hellenic Retail Business Association (SELPE).

    Weather forecast

    [53] Rain on Friday

    Heavy rain and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 06C-12C. Light rain in the western parts with temperatures between 8C-18C. Rain in the eastern parts with temperatures between 10C-14C. Storms over the islands, 12C-17C. Rain in Athens in the morning, 10C-14C. Partly cloudy with a chance of light rain in Thessaloniki, 07C-12C.

    [54] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: SYRIZA's seal on the day-after

    DIMOKRATIA: A ridiculous state

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Solidarity has won

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Reach a consensus on the country just as you did with Nikos Romanos

    ESTIA: A blunt blackmail by SYRIZA

    ETHNOS: A third round strategy for Samaras-Tsipras

    IMERISSIA: Economy is a swirl. Political instability 'freezes' the markets

    KATHIMERINI: Warnings by two former prime ministers

    LOGOS: Calmness after the storm

    NAFTEMPORIKI: EU Commission gives a precautionary line of political support

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