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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-12-24

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

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

Wednesday, 24 December 2014 Issue No: 4844

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek Parliament fails to elect new President of the Republic in second round of voting
  • [02] Reactions to result of second round in presidential election
  • [03] PM Samaras' statement after 2nd round of presidential elections
  • [04] Chances of doing the right thing have increased, Venizelos said after meeting PM Samaras
  • [05] SYRIZA leader Tsipras: PM Samaras will not be offered a blank cheque
  • [06] The country is one step closer to national elections, SYRIZA says
  • [07] Voting down Dimas' candidacy and holding national elections, is the only way to a policy change, SYRIZA says
  • [08] ANEL leader Kammenos: People have nothing to be afraid of
  • [09] There won't be any leak in the third round, ANEL leader Kammenos says
  • [10] Independent MP Alexopoulos to participate in the second round of presidential elections
  • [11] Independent MP Tatsopoulos says he will vote 'present' in the third round of presidential elections
  • [12] 'When you ask for consensus, you must also offer it' independent MP Giovanopoulos says
  • [13] 'The presidential election starts now,' independent MP Economou says
  • [14] DIMAR deputy Founta turns independent
  • [15] DIMAR on MP Founta's decision to become independent
  • [16] DIMAR leader says he has discussed possibility of cooperation with SYRIZA in general elections
  • [17] SYRIZA and DIMAR leaders to meet after the third round of voting, SYRIZA spokesman Skourletis says
  • [18] DIMAR leader Kouvelis stresses the need for the country to turn the page
  • [19] Appeal by eight MPs is still on the table, DIMAR parliamentary spokesman Tsoukalis said
  • [20] KKE leader: People must organise their struggle
  • [21] 'I have a clear conscience' independent MP Boukouras said
  • [22] PASOK leader Venizelos says Papandreou's place is in PASOK and on its ballot
  • [23] ND MP Mihelakis congratulates SYRIZA MEP on his stance; says election of president still possible
  • [24] National elections would hurt the economy, independent MP Mellas says
  • [25] Amendment on two-month extension of loan agreement voted in Parliament
  • [26] SYRIZA continues to lead over ND, says opinion poll
  • [27] SYRIZA's political secretariat meets
  • [28] Supreme Court forwards tax-calculation complaint about FinMin to Parliament
  • [29] Deputy Sports Minister asks all sports centres to conduct audits
  • [30] Communist Party officials meet with the teachers' union to discuss their requests
  • [31] Environment, health ministries warn against needless use of fireplaces
  • [32] Stability and security are above parties, Public Order Min Kikilias says
  • [33] 'To Potami' leader Theodorakis and Independent MP Lykoudis to give joint press conference on Wednesday
  • [34] Greek budget primary surplus rose to 3.566 bln euros in Jan-Nov
  • [35] National consensus is the only way out, SEV says
  • [36] Tourist arrivals break 20-million 'barrier', boosting revenues 10.6 pct
  • [37] OTE Telecoms renews CEO's contract for 3.5 years
  • [38] Building materials' prices down 2.4 pct in Nov
  • [39] Bank of Greece releases list of primary dealers in bond market
  • [40] Greek stocks end 1.69 pct lower
  • [41] Greek bond market closing report
  • [42] ADEX closing report
  • [43] Foreign exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [44] Six customs officials being prosecuted on smuggling charges
  • [45] To Potami leader Theodorakis visits Agia Sofia Children's Hospital
  • [46] Fair on Wednesday Politics

  • [01] Greek Parliament fails to elect new President of the Republic in second round of voting

    The Greek Parliament on Tuesday failed to elect Stavros Dimas as president of the Hellenic Republic in the second of three rounds of voting for the presidential election.

    Dimas did not gain the support of 200 MPs needed to be elected in the second round, as 168 deputies voted in favour of his candidacy and 131 MPs did not support him and voted 'Present'.

    No deputy differentiated from his parliamentary group's decision; namely, Dimas was supported by 127 New Democracy (ND) and 28 PASOK deputies - the two parties that had proposed Dimas - while the 71 deputies of SYRIZA, the 16 MPs of Golden Dawn, the 12 deputies of KKE and the 9 Democratic Left (DIMAR) lawmakers voted "present." From the 12 Independent Greeks (ANEL) deputies, 11 voted "present" while one -Maria Kollia-Tsarouha - was absent.

    A different stance was taken by certain independent deputies, whose number increased after the resignation of Niki Founta from DIMAR parliamentary group.

    Stavros Dimas was voted by independent deputies who had also supported his candidacy in the first voting - former DIMAR MPs Spyros Lykoudis, Grigoris Psarianos and Katerina Markou, former PASOK MP Christos Aidonis and former ANEL MP Giorgos Davris.

    Another eight deputies voted for Dimas in the second round - former Golden Dawn deputies Stathis Boukouras and Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, former ANEL deputies Mika Iatridi, Panagiotis Melas, Costas Giovanopoulos and Yiannis Kourakos, former ND deputy Giorgos Kassapidis and former DIMAR MP Vassilis Economou.

    The independent deputies that voted "present" in the first round kept the same stance in the second round as well - former ND deputy Byron Polydoras, former SYRIZA MP Petros Tatsopoulos, former PASOK deputies Mimis Androulakis, Theodora Tzakri, Markos Bolaris and Theodoros Parastatidis, former ANEL deputies Vassilis Kapernaros, Chryssoula Giatagana and Rachel Makri and former DIMAR MPs Paris Moutsinas, Odysseas Voudouris and Niki Founta - the latest one to resign from DIMAR parliamentary group.

    Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis announced that the third round of voting will be held next Monday, December 29 at 12.00. In the third round, 180 votes are required for the election of the President. Following failure in the third voting to elect a president, the country goes to national elections.

    [02] Reactions to result of second round in presidential election

    The result of the second round of voting to elect Greece' president, which again fell short of the mark on Tuesday but with an additional eight votes compared to the first round, was met with mixed reactions from ministers and MPs in statements to the ANA-MPA.

    Those supporting the ruling coalition government appeared confident of a good result in the third and final round, while opposition MPs continued to see the goal of 180 'yes' votes in the crucial third vote as distant.

    Education Minister Andreas Loverdos described Tuesday's result as "good and even very good but not enough" and said an additional effort would be needed.

    "There are grounds for hope and there must be more political deliberations and initiatives that are transparent, public - as up until now - in all directions so that we have the desired result. The majority of Greek citizens does not want elections and that is how Parliament will vote," he said.

    According to Interior Minister Argyris Dinopoulos, "third time will be the charm," while state deputy Dora Bakoyannis noted that the result of the second vote was clearly larger and "there is hope that wisdom will prevail".

    Deputy Health Minister Leonidas Grigorakos said the margins were getting narrower, however, and that the president will be elected "with great difficulty," while noting that there was "still time" for initiatives on the part of the government.

    Deputy Health Minister Katerina Papacosta, on her part, predicted success in electing a president in the third round on Monday, "because this is demanded by the Greek people, the needs of the economy and the safe course of the country".

    She noted that the prime minister had already given an address in which consensus was key, taking an initiative that included key institutional issues, such as revising the Constitution, creating a 'national team' for the negotiation with Greece's creditors and appealing for the participation of broader forces in the new government.

    "It is now up to the other sides - and by this I mean my colleagues in Parliament individually at this point - to accept the request for consensus that was accepted by the prime minister, and which now awaits for the signature of those that asked for it. Otherwise they cancel the essence of their own request," she said.

    New Democracy Parliamentary spokesman Adonis Georgiadis welcomed the result as a "great step forward" and appeared confident that a president will be elected in the third round.

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary spokesman Panagiotis Lafazanis, conversely, said the result clearly confirmed that there was no chance of electing a president in the present Parliament.

    "This was shown by both votes held until now. The third vote will also fail in terms of electing a president - and that is certain," he said.

    His colleague Thodoris Dritsas also saw the result as confirmation of the "impossibility of the governmental effort, which has led the country to great upheaval and anomaly" from which resort to the polls were the only safe escape.

    "Whatever they do, they are far from the goal of 180 MPs, unless the overthrow the political geography of Parliament," he added.

    According to the MPs in the bloc of independent deputies, some like Christos Aidonis hailed the result as a "great achievement" and an indication that a president will be voted in the third round, while others like Yiannis Kourakos foresaw difficulty in gathering the 180 votes necessary.

    Vassilis Economou, among those that voted for the ruling coalition's candidate Stavros Dimas, said Tuesday's result was "a great step forward" and that the crucial vote was on Monday, "when everything begins".

    Among those voting against Dimas, Vyron Polydoras said he would not change his vote and Rachel Makri predicted that the third round would again fail to elect a president, leading the country to elections.

    Petros Tatsopoulos said the result was "as anticipated" and added that the result of the third round would also be "as anticipated".

    [03] PM Samaras' statement after 2nd round of presidential elections

    Each deputy will be faced with the Greek people's anxiety in the third round of the election for a President of the Republic, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said after the end of the second round.

    Samaras also called on all deputies to consider their responsibilities and not lead the country to a national adventure.

    "Despite any differences and the mudslinging by Tsipras and Kammenos, more deputies today voted for Stavros Dimas as President of the Republic," Samaras said.

    "I hope that in the third voting we will avoid the national risk and the national adventure...Each deputy will be faced with the Greek people's anxiety and the country's interest," he noted.

    "Each one will assume his or her own responsibilities and the responsibility of his or her vote as to the consequences, the stability, the normalcy and the country's future. There is no 'present' vote in the third round," he added.

    [04] Chances of doing the right thing have increased, Venizelos said after meeting PM Samaras

    The head of the junior party in Greece's ruling coalition, PASOK leader and Government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at Maximos Mansion, the government headquarters, to discuss the result of the second round of voting for a new president of Greece. Afterwards, he underlined that "a very important step was made today toward consensus, prudence and stability," adding that "we have been fighting for a long time to achieve the self-evident. The people want stability, they do not want elections, they want us to safeguard what was gained through painful efforts, their achievements and the steady course of the economy."

    "I wouldn't say that there is certainty as regards the election of the president of the republic in the third round of voting but, today, the chances of doing the right thing have increased greatly," Venizelos said.

    Responding to a question on whether the government will undertake another political initiative, he said that the initiative of consensus, understanding, prudence, the initiative on the responsibility each one has is always open and this is obvious, self-evident and ongoing.

    As regards the meeting he had earlier with former prime minister George Papandreou, he said that he undertook the initiative to have another discussion with him, as he had done a few weeks ago when they met at the foreign ministry.

    "We had a talk on what is also self-evident, namely, to safeguard the unity of the party, which is the guarantor of national stability," Venizelos underlined.

    He noted that his effort and obligation focus on unity and, as president of PASOK, he will continue on this path.

    Venizelos said that he told Papandreou that his place is on the party ballot, whenever the next national elections take place, adding "we want them to be held later." He said that he received no specific answer and that he will not stop the efforts.

    An Administrative Reform Council meeting, chaired by the prime minister and attended by Venizelos, had preceded their meeting in Maximos Mansion.

    [05] SYRIZA leader Tsipras: PM Samaras will not be offered a blank cheque

    Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in statements on Tuesday, after the end of the second round of the presidential elections, said "Neither the parliament nor the people will offer to Mr.Samaras a blank cheque to continue the memorandum and to implement the prior actions of the austerity that cut the pensions, increase the price of the medicine and loot the society. The country will turn the page in the New Year. We will succeed with democracy, a strong mandate for real negotiation and optimism."

    [06] The country is one step closer to national elections, SYRIZA says

    The country is one step closer to the elections, according to SYRIZA leading party members' estimates after the second voting for the election of a President of the Republic.

    The 168 votes in favour of Stavros Dimas were expected by the main opposition, which considers that some more deputies may be added to this number. However, it expressed confidence that the 180 votes needed for the election of the President in the third round will not be gathered.

    According to SYRIZA sources, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' statement after the end of the second round of the presidential election is "extremely scaremongering" which gives an idea of the government's tactics until the third voting.

    The same sources said that the prime minister's statement does not only aim at the third voting, but it is also a sign of the polarization climate that will prevail in the country if a President is not elected and a pre-election campaign starts.

    [07] Voting down Dimas' candidacy and holding national elections, is the only way to a policy change, SYRIZA says

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Tuesday strongly criticised the government, noting that the translation of the updated memorandum was just seven months late but left no doubt as regards the new commitments undertaken by the Samaras government or the openly said lies in the propaganda on the end of the memorandums.

    SYRIZA pointed out that the changes in social insurance system, labour relations and VAT come as a follow-up to the memorandum crime and, linking the issue with the presidential election, noted "it is obvious that the voting down of Dimas' candidacy and holding national elections is a one-way street for a policy change, and only a new government can negotiate in favour of the country's interests rejecting the bankruptcy memorandums."

    [08] ANEL leader Kammenos: People have nothing to be afraid of

    "The Greek people should be certain that hope returns. With Christmas and the country's liberation from the policies imposed by the foreign conquestors. They have nothing to be afraid of. The smile will return," Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said after the end of the second round of the presidential elections.

    "ANEL party is standing and will continue to stand on its feet," he stated.

    [09] There won't be any leak in the third round, ANEL leader Kammenos says

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos on Tuesday stated that there will be no leak from the Independent Greeks in the third round of the Presidential elections.

    He added that Independent Greeks deputy Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha was absent from the voting because of health reasons, clarifying that she remains adamant on her position not to vote for President.

    [10] Independent MP Alexopoulos to participate in the second round of presidential elections

    Independent and former Golden Dawn MP Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, who was absent from the first vote for President of Republic, will take part in the second round that will be held Tuesday noon.

    Asked whether he will vote for president or not, Alexopoulos refused to answer saying that he does not want to make public his decision until the moment he is called to vote before the parliament plenum.

    [11] Independent MP Tatsopoulos says he will vote 'present' in the third round of presidential elections

    Independent deputy Petros Tatsopoulos on Tuesday after the the conclusion of the second round of presidential elections said he will also vote 'present' in the third round of the election of a President of the Republic.

    [12] 'When you ask for consensus, you must also offer it' independent MP Giovanopoulos says

    "The country needs enlightened leadership. When you ask for consensus, you must also offer it," independent MP Constantinos Giovanopoulos, who voted for Stavros Dimas, said adding that he believed there was room for common sense.

    Asked what changed since the first voting, from which he abstained, he replied: "There was not something that made me change (my stance). My stance in the first voting was a cry for the need for understanding."

    [13] 'The presidential election starts now,' independent MP Economou says

    "(PM Antonis) Samaras' turn towards consensus was today fruitful. The presidential election starts now," independent deputy Vassilis Economou, who voted for Stavros Dimas, said on Tuesday.

    Asked if there is "a movement by independent deputies to this direction", he replied "It is all and should be about politics."

    [14] DIMAR deputy Founta turns independent

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) deputy Niki Founta on Tuesday sent a letter to the Parliament President notifying him of her decision to resign from DIMAR parliamentary group and become an independent deputy.

    "The deputy's political stance and beliefs have been significantly different, for over a year now, from the party's central line," a statement said, adding that this was a difficult but necessary decision for reason of political and personal consistency.

    [15] DIMAR on MP Founta's decision to become independent

    "Parliament deputy Niki Founta with her decision to become independent has chosen her own path. The Democratic Left continues on its own path," opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) on Tuesday announced.

    DIMAR former MP Niki Founta had announced her decision to leave the party's parliamentary group and turn independent in a letter addressed to the parliament president on Tuesday morning.

    [16] DIMAR leader says he has discussed possibility of cooperation with SYRIZA in general elections

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) leader Fotis Kouvelis opened the door for cooperation with main opposition SYRIZA during his speech to DIMAR's Executive Committee and the party's parliamentary group concluded after midnight.

    According to sources, Kouvelis said that he had a phone contact with Alexis Tsipras without saying when, adding that they have discussed the possibility of cooperation between their parties at the general elections.

    The same sources said that Kouvelis did not get into details, but several members and some deputies expressed their opposition on the grounds that DIMAR will risk being absorbed by SYRIZA.

    Regarding the deputies stance at the second round of the election for a President of Republic, it will be the same and they will vote 'present' as they consider that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' proposal has not changed the conditions.

    MP Thomas Psiras who has signed, together with Nikos Tsoukalis and Niki Founta a letter supporting the consensus solution, was absent from the meeting.

    [17] SYRIZA and DIMAR leaders to meet after the third round of voting, SYRIZA spokesman Skourletis says

    Greek Parliament fell in line with the people's demand to prevent the current government from implementing more measures, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Tuesday.

    According to Skourletis, "Greek Parliament, with its vote, fell in line with the society's demand not to allow the present government to proceed with the implementation of the new measures and prior actions included in (Finance Minister Gikas) Hardouvelis' email. I rule out the likelihood that the 180 votes (needed in the third round of voting in parliament for the election of the president) will be secured. It isme obvious that the artificial euphoria created after the prime minister's statement yesterday did not bring anything new." He said the additional votes from the second round are "votes that were secured since last week."

    Speaking on "Parapolitika" private radio station, he added that "it is really sad that members of the government and the prime minister himself are resorting to an unprecedented scaremongering. Having elections and giving the people the opportunity to decide about their own fate and evaluate governments is not a hazardous undertaking."

    Asked if the cooperation framework between SYRIZA and opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) has been clarified, he responded that "both political forces agree that the present parliament should not elect a president and that the country should be led to elections," adding that a meeting between SYRIZA and DIMAR leaders, Alexis Tsipras and Fotis Kouvelis respectively, is scheduled to take place after the third round of voting is completed."

    Skourletis also said that no discussion has been held on whether DIMAR MPs will be included on SYRIZA's ballot and predicted that national elections will be held on January 25 or a week later.

    [18] DIMAR leader Kouvelis stresses the need for the country to turn the page

    Democratic Left (DIMAR) deputies' refusal to vote for the government proposal on the presidential election translates into their refusal to contribute to the maintenance of the current policies, DIMAR leader Fotis Kouvelis said in a statement on Tuesday after the conclusion of the second round of voting for a President of the Republic.

    "The place and the society need to turn the page. Political change is necessary," Kouvelis added.

    [19] Appeal by eight MPs is still on the table, DIMAR parliamentary spokesman Tsoukalis said

    "The appeal made by the eight MPs is still on the consultations table," opposition Democratic Left (DIMAR) parliamentary spokesman Nikos Tsoukalis on Tuesday told ANA-MPA.

    Tsoukalis expressed bitterness, as he said, because main opposition Radical Left Coalition "(SYRIZA) did not respond (to the proposal) even by just saying 'no'."

    He characterised the outcome of the second round of voting in the presidential election as "expected", adding that "the necessary majority in parliament (for the election of the president) is very hard to be secured (in the third round) and that the country is heading to national elections."

    [20] KKE leader: People must organise their struggle

    "Before the stench of a system that cannot be cured, before the political exchange of the other parties, before the blackmails and government and main opposition SYRIZA's delusions, the people can react with the organisation of their struggle, with the organisation of the popular alliance and with an even stronger this time Communist Party (KKE)," KKE secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas said after the conclusion of the second round of the Presidential elections.

    [21] 'I have a clear conscience' independent MP Boukouras said

    "We need to move forward with stability for the sake of the Greek people. I have a clear conscience. I supported Stavros Dimas, who comes from my region and I am very proud of my action," independent deputy Stathis Boukouras, who voted for Stavros Dimas in the second round of the presidential elections, said.

    "I simply shouted the name of my fellow countryman Stavros Dimas," he said.

    [22] PASOK leader Venizelos says Papandreou's place is in PASOK and on its ballot

    Ruling coalition junior partner PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday met with former prime minister George Papandreou in Parliament for roughly 20 minutes. According to sources, the meeting, held at the initiative of Venizelos, was set yesterday in a communication between the offices of the two men.

    PASOK sources said that in today's meeting, Venizelos asked Papandreou not to split the party and to contribute to unity, underlining that "PASOK's unity is a national and moral obligation."

    Venizelos told Papandreou that his place is in the party and on its ballot "to fight the battle of the national elections united, whenever they take place."

    The meeting did not yield any results according to sources on both sides. On Papandreou's side, they said the discussion dealt with the prospect of early elections and current political developments but that the former premier insists on the positions and proposals for curbing the party's decline that he has expressed in a letter to Venizelos and considers that he has not received any substantial answer to this question.

    [23] ND MP Mihelakis congratulates SYRIZA MEP on his stance; says election of president still possible

    Ruling coalition New Democracy (ND) MP and former interior minister Yiannis Mihelakis on Tuesday congratulated main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MEP Manolis Glezos for his stance on a statement made by independent MPs Odysseas Voudouris and Theodoros Parastatidis targeting other independent MPs and their vote.

    Referring to the statement made by the two MPs, Mihelakis noted that "the effortless adoption of any allegation made and its use as a political weapon can also harm those using such methods," adding, however, that "there are voices in the opposition that still have reason."

    Referring to Manolis Glezos, he said that he made a public statement in which he underlined that these are practices unbecoming the rationale of the Left and urged his party not to include the two MPs in question among its candidates for parliament in the next elections.

    As regards the presidential election, Mihelakis said that "the mathematics of parliament allow it namely, the preconditions are still here" for the election of the president and called for patience until December 29 when the third round of voting will take place.

    He ruled out the likelihood of another presidential candidate being proposed in the third round of the vote and noted that Stavros Dimas' candidacy is excellent.

    Mihelakis accused SYRIZA, and the rest parties of the opposition, of intransigence, noting that it isolates them from society which according to opinion polls, believes that early elections will not be the solution to the problems.

    [24] National elections would hurt the economy, independent MP Mellas says

    Indepedent deputy Panagiotis Melas on Tuesday said he voted for Stavros Dimas because national elections would hurt the economy.

    Asked to comment on the third round of the presidential elections, he said: "I do not know (what will happen). Deputies are bound. They are not independent."

    [25] Amendment on two-month extension of loan agreement voted in Parliament

    The amendment on the two-month extension of the loan agreement with the country's international lenders late on Monday was voted by majority in Parliament.

    Health Minister Makis Voridis said that some want to bring the discussion back to the loan agreement, while the government has closed the issue. Main opposition SYRIZA MP Panagiotis Kouroumblis said that this was the darkest period of a government that is leaving so that the salvation of the Greek people can start.

    PASOK MP Yiannis Koutsoukos stressed the importance of extending the loan agreement and concluding the agreements so that the country is protected. "For reasons of national interest, we have to proceed with consultation to protect the sacrifices of the people," he said adding that the world needs to understand that no problem can be solved if the country collapses.

    Communist party KKE parliamentary spokesman Thanassis Pafilis noted that the country goes to elections amid scaremongering. "Scaremongering benefits everyone, because it makes people believe they have to compromise and scale down their requirements," he said.

    On behalf of Independent Greeks (ANEL), deputy Marina Chryssoveloni complained about the Parliamentary Ethics Committee and the way it handled the MP Pavlos Chaikalis' case. She also noted that the prime minister is not looking for partners, but for accomplices to the crime.

    [26] SYRIZA continues to lead over ND, says opinion poll

    Main opposition SYRIZA continues to lead over ruling New Democracy (ND) with 3.5 percentage points, according to an opinion poll conducted by Pulse RC for private TV Action24.

    Citizens believe that SYRIZA would win the elections if we had ballots now, however, current prime minister Antonis Samaras is more suitable for prime minister said 36 percent of the respondents with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras preferred by 29 percent and 32 percent said none of the above.

    According to the poll results the main opposition party comes first with 28.5 percent, ND with 25 percent in third place is PASOK-Democratic Party with 6.5 percent followed by to Potami and Golden Dawn with 5.5 percent and the Communist Party (KKE) with 5 percent, Independent Greeks with 3.5 percent. 5.5 percent of the respondents said the will vote for another party and 15 percent did not answer or said they will cast blank.

    The geographical coverage was nationwide and was conducted between 19 and 21 December 2014

    [27] SYRIZA's political secretariat meets

    The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) political secretariat met on Tuesday following the second round of elections in Parliament that failed to elect a Greek president, and discussed current developments.

    The main opposition concluded that the country will go to national elections, as it does not foresee a parliamentary majority of 180 MP votes achieved in the last round, on December 29, and said they expected political tension to rise by then. It also said it would hold another meeting on December 30.

    Issues discussed also involved were relations with Democratic Left (DIMAR) and Independent Greeks (ANEL) parties. SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was not in attendance.

    [28] Supreme Court forwards tax-calculation complaint about FinMin to Parliament

    The Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) forwarded to Greek Parliament two complaint files - one involving Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis - and two to the European Parliament, involving complaints over Greek Eurodeputies.

    The Greek Parliament is being called on to decide whether Hardouvelis should be called to face liability under the "ministerial responsibility" clause over charges of violating Criminal Code article 244, in the way the new single tax on properties (ENFIA) was introduced. The complaint of "oppression" by imposing taxes filed by the Greek Taxpayers Association in September relates to initial ENFIA notifications to taxpayers that showed a gross miscalculation error (later adjusted). The article stipulates that "a staff person who knowingly collects taxes, customs fees or fees, or other tax-related or court fees or any rights which are not owed is punished by a jail term."

    Parliament must also look into the second complaint, concerning Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Deputy Nikos Karathanassopoulos, who in July 2010 joined protesters to block access by garbage trucks to the Patras sanitary landfill (XYTA) and parked his car across the path. The body will need to decide if his immunity merits lifting in order to be prosecuted.

    KKE Eurodeputy Sotiris Zargianopoulos' case will be examined by the European Parliament, also in terms of lifting immunity. The MEP is accused of entering illegally a civil service (a building of former public broadcaster ERT-3) in March 2010 and brush off orders of officials to leave the building. During his presence there he interrupted the news cast to read a strike announcement by KKE-affiliated labour union PAME.

    The Europarliament will also look at lifting immunity for New Democracy MEP Thodoris Zagorakis, on charges of recklessly causing physical harm when, as president of PAOK sports club, he neglected to take necessary measures to secure handles on a metal staircase, leading to the injury in the hand of the stadium's caretaker.

    [29] Deputy Sports Minister asks all sports centres to conduct audits

    The Deputy Sports Minister Yiannis Andrianos on Tuesday sent a letter to the presidents of national athletics centres around the country, asking them to produce audit reports for their centres from chartered accountants.

    According to a press release published by the general secretariat of athletics, the minister explained that the purpose of the audit is to establish the exact financial situation of all sports centres.

    [30] Communist Party officials meet with the teachers' union to discuss their requests

    A team of officials from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), headed by Nikos Sofianos and Kyriakos Ioannidis, met on Tuesday with the board of the high school teachers' labor union OLME, the party said in a statement.

    During the meeting, the union presented its requests and positions on various issues, including the gradual redundancy of public servants, their evaluation plan and the drastic cuts of funding in education.

    The Communist Party representatives, on their part, noted the need to organise the fights of the teachers, in cooperation with the parents and students, in order to "stop the reactionary reforms in education and return all the losses incurred by the teachers in the past few years."

    [31] Environment, health ministries warn against needless use of fireplaces

    The health and environment ministries on Tuesday issued a warning to the public to limit the needless of use of open fires in fireplaces as much as possible over the Christmas holidays.

    According to weather service predictions, conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday tended to favour an accumulation of airborne pollutants in the atmosphere and avoiding use of fires will contribute to protecting public health.

    [32] Stability and security are above parties, Public Order Min Kikilias says

    "The stability and security of Greece are above petty politics and parties and the national interest should be a priority for all," Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias said after the completion of the second voting to elect a President of the Republic.

    [33] 'To Potami' leader Theodorakis and Independent MP Lykoudis to give joint press conference on Wednesday

    'To Potami' party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Wednesday will give a press conference at the Old Parliament building in Athens in the presence of independent and former Democratic Left MP Spyros Lykoudis.

    According to party sources, Theodorakis and Lykoudis will refer to their co-existence in the party.

    Financial News

    [34] Greek budget primary surplus rose to 3.566 bln euros in Jan-Nov

    The Greek government on Tuesday announced a primary budget surplus of 3.566 billion euros in the January-November period, up from a primary surplus of 2.778 billion euros in the same period in 2013 and a 2015 budget target for a primary surplus of 2.875 billion euros.

    A Finance ministry report said that the state budget recorded a cash deficit of 1.827 billion euros in the 11-month period, from a deficit of 3.155 billion euros in 2013 and 2015 budget target for a deficit of 2.533 billion euros.

    Net budget revenues totaled 45.928 billion euros in the January-November period, down 2.4 pct from a 2015 budget target, while regular budget net revenues totaled 41.774 billion euros, down 2.2 pct from 2015 budget targets. Tax revenue totaled 39.552 billion euros in the 11-month period, down 1.7 pct from budget targets, with property tax revenues surpassing targets by 0.1 pct, capital transfer tax revenues surpassing targets by 7.7 pct, income tax revenues higher by 2.7 pct, VAT on oil products revenues surpassing targets by 4.9 pct and special energy consumption tax revenues surpassing targets by 1.5 pct.

    Tax returns totaled 3.074 billion euros, up 205 million euros from a 2015 budget target. Public Investment Program revenues totaled 4.154 billion euros, down 203 million euros from 2015 budget targets.

    State budget spending totaled 47.755 billion euros in the January-November period, down 1.828 billion euros from 2015 budget targets, with regular budget spending at 43.207 billion euros (down 1.327 billion euros from targets) reflecting a cut in primary spending by 1.121 billion euros and a reduction in defense spending by 155 million euros. Regular budget spending were down 7.0 pct compared with the same period in 2013.

    Public Investment Program spending totaled 4.547 billion euros in the 11-month period, down 500 million euros from budget targets but up 598 million euros from the same period in 2013.

    [35] National consensus is the only way out, SEV says

    The need for national consensus that constitutes "the only way out today" and the agreement of the political parties on four national strategy directions for the economy, was underlined by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) in an announcement on current political developments issued on Tuesday.

    SEV warned of the risk of entering a new round of recession "which is visible and major," adding that "also visible, is the prospect of maintaining sustainable economic growth after 5 years of sacrifices."

    According to SEV, the environment of uncertainty and insecurity created by the political tension "freezes" the real economy, turns enterprises and citizens into hostages of limited liquidity once again and undermines public revenues. "Such a dangerous setback affects all of us but mostly the financially weak," SEV underlined.

    SEV called for national consensus on four points: the establishment of a national committee to negotiate public debt; the agreement of political parties on a constitutional revision by the next parliament; the commitment of the political powers on the country's European course; and the utilisation of European policies for economic growth (ECB liquidity, EU investment programme) based on private investments.

    "We are going through times of major turbulence. The European family provides geopolitical and development guarantees to a country with Greece's characteristics. Our prosperity depends on the substantive reform of the state and the economy that only the European prospect can ensure. The negotiation for a better future presupposes a strong economy; and a strong economy is built based on a plan and with a spirit of cooperation, realism and hard work," SEV concluded.

    [36] Tourist arrivals break 20-million 'barrier', boosting revenues 10.6 pct

    Tourist arrivals jumped 21.9 pct to top the 20 million "barrier" in January-October 2014, boosting travel industry revenues by 10.6 pct in comparison with the same period in 2013, the Bank of Greece reported on Tuesday. Total travel revenues for the period amounted to 13,013 million euros, according to BoG figures.

    The increase in revenues was largely due to a rise in arrivals, since average spending per trip was down 9.0 pct. Net revenues from travel services contributed by 61.4 pct to net revenues from services and offset a 73.1 pct trade deficit.

    Tourism revenues from Eurozone residents reached 5,229 million euros, up 10.4 pct over the previous year, while revenues from EU28 countries not in the Eurozone were up 23.7 pct. Revenues from Germany were down 3.1 pct, falling to 1,807 million euros, while revenues from France were up by 27.7 pct at 1,140 million euros. Revenues from the United Kingdom reached 1,567 million euros, up 18.4 pct.

    Among non-EU countries, revenues from Russia were down 13.2 pct at 1,154 million euros, while revenues from the United States increased by 11 pct to 604 million euros.

    The largest increase in arrivals was from Germany (8.8 pct) and France (27.4 pct), followed by the UK (12.9 pct).

    Arrivals from Russia fell by 8.1 pct and arrivals from the U.S. increased by 29.2 pct to 562,000.

    [37] OTE Telecoms renews CEO's contract for 3.5 years

    Greece's biggest telecoms company OTE approved on Tuesday the amendment and renewal of Chief Executive Michael Tsamaz's contract for an additional 3.5 years, until the date of the company's 2018 annual general meeting.

    According to a press release, the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of OTE also decided to enter into separate agreements between OTE S.A. and OTE Group companies on the one hand and controlling shareholder Deutsche Telecom AG (DTAG) and Telekom Deutschland GmbH (TD GmbH) on the other, to offer in 2015 services specified in the approved "Framework Cooperation and Service Agreement".

    [38] Building materials' prices down 2.4 pct in Nov

    Building materials' prices fell by 2.4 pct in November, compared with the same month last year, while prices remained unchanged from October, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that steel pipe p rices fell 7.4 pct in November, window prices fell 5.6 pct, diesel oil prices fell 5.5 pct, interior door prices eased 4.7 pct, wooden floor prices were down 4.0 pct, cement prices fell 3.5 pct, plastic pipes were down 3.0 pct, while electricity prices rose 4.9 pct, brick prices rose 3.3 pct and tiles rose 1.5 pct.

    [39] Bank of Greece releases list of primary dealers in bond market

    The Bank of Greece on Tuesday announced the list of 22 banks selected as primary dealers in the domestic electronic secondary bond market.

    The banks are:

    ALPHA BANK SA

    BANCA IMI SPA

    BARCLAYS BANK PLC

    BNP PARIBAS SA

    CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS LTD

    COMMERZBANK AG

    CREDIT SUISSE SECURITIES (EUROPE) LTD

    DEUTSCHE BANK AG

    EUROBANK ERGASIAS SA

    NATIONAL BANK

    GOLDMAN SACHS INTERNATIONAL BANK

    HSBC BANK PLC

    ING BANK NV

    JP MORGAN SECURITIES PLC

    MERRILL LYNCH INTERNATIONAL

    MORGAN STANLEY & Co. INTERNATIONAL PLC

    NOMURA INTERNATIONAL PLC

    ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND PLC

    SOCIETE GENERALE

    PIRAEUS BANK

    [40] Greek stocks end 1.69 pct lower

    Greek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange after a second vote in Parliament failed to elect a new Greek president on Tuesday. Turnover remained at very low levels with investors remaining on the sidelines, as the market will remain close for the next five days and will reopen on Monday (December 29), when the third and last vote is scheduled in Parliament.

    The composite index fell 1.69 pct to end at 853.20 points, after falling as much as 2.62 pct during the day. Turnover was a low 61.94 million euros. The Large Cap index fell 1.43 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.41 pct lower.

    Folli Follie (1.07 pct), Grivalia Properties (0.66 pct) and OTE (0.64 pct) were top gainers, while Terna Energy (6.58 pct), PPC (6.14 pct), Viohalco (5.82 pct) and Ellaktor (5.44 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Insurance (1.43 pct), Commerce (1.07 pct) and Real Estate (0.78 pct) scored big gains, while Health (7.22 pct), Utilities (4.98 pct) and Financial Services (2.77 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 64 to 40 with another 19 issues unchagned. EKTER (19.76 pct), Pasal (19.05 pct) and PC Systems (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Attikat (16.67 pct), AXON (16.67 pct) and F.G.Europe (9.98 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -2.21%

    Insurance: +1.43%

    Financial Services: -2.77%

    Industrial Products: -1.77%

    Retail: +1.07%

    Real Estate: +0.78%

    Personal & Household: -2.72%

    Food & Beverages: +0.17%

    Raw Materials: -3.03%

    Construction: -2.30%

    Oil: -1.76%

    Chemicals: -1.57%

    Mass Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -0.56%

    Technology: +0.07%

    Telecoms: +0.64%

    Utilities: -4.98%

    Health: -7.22%

    ?

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.46

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.81

    Coca Cola HBC: 15.91

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.90

    National Bank of Greece: 1.55

    OPAP: 9.50

    OTE: 9.50

    Piraeus Bank: 0.97

    Titan: 19.80

    Grivalia Properties: 7.60

    Aegean: 7.24

    [41] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 7.80 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 7.64 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.39 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.60 pct. Turnover was an improved 31 million euros, of which 10 million were buy orders and the remaining 21 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.328 pct from 0.329 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.249 pct from 0.252 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.174 pct from 0.176 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.079 pct from 0.081 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.024 pct from 0.026 pct.

    [42] ADEX closing report

    The January contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 3.13 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 6,163 contracts with 44,805 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 11,883 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,457), followed by Alpha Bank (1,853), OTE (1,177), Piraeus Bank (1,024), Eurobank (816), PPC (729), OPAP (493), Mytilineos (196), GEK (184), Ellaktor (169), Jumbo (140), Hellenic Exchanges (137), MIG (102) and Hellenic Petroleum (122).

    [43] Foreign exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.2213

    Pound sterling 0.7867

    Danish kroner 7.4408

    Swedish kroner 9.5031

    Japanese yen 146.8

    Swiss franc 1.2032

    Norwegian kroner 9.029

    Canadian dollar 1.4213

    Australian dollar 1.5027

    General News

    [44] Six customs officials being prosecuted on smuggling charges

    Six customs officials at the Second Customs Station, at northern Greece's largest port of Thessaloniki, are being prosecuted as of Tuesday on smuggling charges dated as far back as 2007 and loss of 651,000 euros to the state in duties and taxes.

    Thessaloniki chief corruption prosecutor Argyris Dimopoulos has filed charges against the six, who include the head of the customs station, supervisors and customs officials. A seventh person, working as customs broker and company representative, is being prosecuted as accessory after the fact.

    The case involves imports of Chinese and United States merchandise for which taxes and duties were not paid, to the benefit of a specific company. The customs officials are charged with receiving a total of 60 import forms submitted by the broker that were supplemented by inaccurate and fake documentation.

    The trail leading to the customs officials began with a report by the misdemeanours prosecutor of Thessaloniki, where the broker and his wife have been irrevocably sentenced for smuggling.

    [45] To Potami leader Theodorakis visits Agia Sofia Children's Hospital

    To Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Tuesday visited the Oncology Department in Agia Sofia Children's Hospital in Athens to deliver presents to young patients and wish them quick recovery.

    Department Director Sofia Polychronopoulou briefed Theodorakis on the major problems faced by the unit, including, medical and administrative staff shortages and the absence of an organised information exchange policy with hospitals abroad.

    Weather forecast

    [46] Fair on Wednesday

    Fair weather an winds from variable directions are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 4 on the Beaufort scale. Fair in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 03C-16C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 06C-18C. Fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 06C-19C. Sunny over the islands, 10C-19C. Fair in Athens, 07C-19C; the same for Thessaloniki, 05C-15C.

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