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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-01-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 14 January 2015 Issue No: 4859


  • [01] Samaras: 'With what SYRIZA promises, the country will definately hit rock bottom'
  • [02] PM Samaras continues election campaign tour in Aitoloakarnania
  • [03] PM Samaras visits city of Agrinio, W. Greece, as part of campaign tour
  • [04] Samaras visits western Greek city of Arta
  • [05] Samaras tours Ionia Odos motorway
  • [06] Spain's PM Rajoy to meet with Samaras on Wednesday in Athens
  • [07] PASOK leader Venizelos speaks in Chalkida, Evia
  • [08] Venizelos says 'people should know the real facts'
  • [09] SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras: 'PM Samaras has already lost the elections'
  • [10] Elections will decide if Greece will end 'destructive austerity', Tsipras says in Drama
  • [11] Tsipras in Kavala: We will build the Greece of growth and hope
  • [12] SYRIZA leader Tsipras: We do not have a secret agenda or a plan B
  • [13] Greece can't pay debt if 'fiscal waterboarding' continues, Tsipras tells 'Handelsblatt'
  • [14] SYRIZA MEP Papadimoulis says his party does not want to leave the EU and the eurozone
  • [15] Government spokesman Anagnostou responds to SYRIZA leader's television interview
  • [16] Kouvelis denounces New Democracy and SYRIZA's polarisation
  • [17] SYRIZA leader 'has some nerve,' KKE sec gen says
  • [18] KKE leader rules out collaboration with or support of post-election government
  • [19] Potami, as the third strongest party, will impose cooperation, its leader Theodorakis says
  • [20] Potami leader slams 'unfair' state funding for party ad campaigns
  • [21] SYRIZA leads over ND, says opinion poll
  • [22] Europe is ready to do more if Greeks stick to their side of the deal, Eurogroup chief says
  • [23] Repeat elections will be disastrous for the country, Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis says
  • [24] ANA-MPA interview with SYRIZA Central Committee member and candidate MP Karitzis
  • [25] SYRIZA charges interior ministry with being 'under commission' to PM Samaras
  • [26] Athens University Rector Fortsakis heads ND State Deputies ballot ticket
  • [27] Papandreou's Movement of Democratic Socialists announces state deputies candidates
  • [28] FM Venizelos on comments being made in Germany with regard to war reparations and the occupation loan
  • [29] Questioning EU-euro framework the only way to change current policies, says ANTARSYA-MARS
  • [30] Greece among EU countries on high terrorism alert over seven jihadis
  • [31] Journalists cleared of charges in GD MP Kasidiaris' defamation suit
  • [32] CoS rules in favour of presidential decree on the reestablishment of municipal police
  • [33] Former minister asks to return bribe money to reduce possible sentence in Siemens scandal
  • [34] 'An accident could happen, and the whole idea is to avoid it,' FinMin Hardouvelis tells Bloomberg
  • [35] First seaplanes will start operating in 2015, Hellenic Seaplanes CEO tells ANA-MPA
  • [36] Greek-German Chamber urges parties to collaborate for long-term exit from crisis
  • [37] Greek crowdfunding platform 'WinnersFund' to launch full operation in February
  • [38] Greece lifts restrictions, cuts number of documents required in transit trade
  • [39] Greek inflation rate -2.6 pct in December
  • [40] Greek per capita GDP down 6.3 pct in 2012
  • [41] Aegean Airlines expand direct flight programme between Nicosia and Greece, western Europe
  • [42] J&P-Avax wins 125-mln-euro contract in Malta
  • [43] Greek stocks extend rally for third successive session
  • [44] Greek bond market closing report
  • [45] Foreign exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [46] Sea link with Aegean islands cancelled due to strong winds
  • [47] Abandonment of St. Vincent-flagged freighter
  • [48] Crew abandons St Vincent-flagged 'Mare', is taken to Crete
  • [49] Alexander the Great virtual museum to be completed end of 2015, archaeologist Kottaridou says
  • [50] Ecumenical Patriarchate officially canonises the Elder Paisios
  • [51] Hunting associations 'up in arms' over SYRIZA positions on hunting
  • [52] Train ticket discount for January 25 general election voters
  • [53] Mostly fair on Wednesday
  • [54] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Samaras: 'With what SYRIZA promises, the country will definately hit rock bottom'

    Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday evening continued his attack against main opposition SYRIZA, saying that with what the party is promising voters, Greece will definitely collapse.

    "They tell us the country has reached rock bottom but what's certain is that with what SYRIZA is promising, the country will definitely hit rock bottom. But people won't allow that," Samaras said in a speech at the "Anesis" local theatre of Agrinio, in western Greece.

    The premier and leader of New Democracy said his party will not gamble with Greece's future and people will not be fooled by promises of money that doesn't exist.

    "They are leading us to a confrontation with our partners, to bankruptcy, to an exit from the euro," Samaras warned, adding that Greece "has two roads: Either to set aside political uncertainty and promote growth, or descend into bankruptcy." He said SYRIZA officials are saying it themselves, that "you cannot ask money from the European Union and not follow its rules."

    Samaras also discussed tax cuts, saying his party proposes cutting income tax from 42 pct to 33 pct and taxes on business profits gradually to 15 pct. He also said the unified property tax ENFIA will continue to decrease in 2015, as well as the VAT's higher rates.

    "I guarantee there will be no more cuts in wages and pensions. I guarantee the main residence will remain fully protected. We will restore the lifelong pension to mothers with many children," he said.

    Turning his attention to security, the premier noted: "We put people's safety first, we want our borders to be guarded, respect for our culture. They want unarmed police officers; they want a Europe with open borderers and granting nationality to everyone."

    Samaras also called all Greeks, "above and beyond what separates us to join forces for a Greece within Europe which stands on its own traditions and makes large leaps into the future. These elections are the most crucial of the last decades. This is why together we'll win."

    [02] PM Samaras continues election campaign tour in Aitoloakarnania

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited the city of Messologhi, central Greece, on Tuesday after touring the northwestern province of Epirus in the context of his election campaign ahead of the forthcoming polls.

    He visited the city hall, met with local authorities and ordinary citizens and announced that initiatives will be undertaken to finance the construction of the archaeological museum, upgrade the local public hospital and the technical educational institute TEI.

    Before departing for the nearby city of Agrinio, Samaras took a walk in the city centre and discussed its problems with local people.

    The prime minister is scheduled to address an pre-election rally in Agrinio later in the afternoon.

    [03] PM Samaras visits city of Agrinio, W. Greece, as part of campaign tour

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with the mayor of Agrinio on Tuesday during a campaign tour in western Greece prior to the January 25 national elections.

    Mayor Giorgos Papanastassiou briefed the premier at the town hall on local road projects (especially the Ionia Road) and the need to the speed up construction, especially in the city's linkage with Ionia Road.

    Later on Tuesday Samaras is expected to deliver a speech at the "Anesis" local theatre.

    [04] Samaras visits western Greek city of Arta

    Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday visited the western Greek city of Arta as part of his tour in Epirus. Samaras met city mayor Christos Tsirogiannis and discussed local issues, the development of the area and projects underway.

    "Epirus is the starting point for a huge step towards development, a large part of the so-called Juncker package will be allocated to Epirus; this is our perspective," he said.

    He assured that Greek Agricultural Insurance Organisation (ELGA) compensations would be granted.

    He also said that emphasis should been given to the promotion of the tourist monuments of the region in conjunction with tourism development infrastructure projects. He noted that there are positive expectations and prospects for tourism and the tourism sector.

    [05] Samaras tours Ionia Odos motorway

    Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday visited the third and last part of the Ionia Odos motorway that links the northwestern Greek cities of Arta with Ioannina within the framework of his tour in Epirus.

    Samaras noted that "(the opening of the road) will be the end of the isolation and will bring major growth to the region" adding that "the project will continue".

    Epirus deputy regional governor Vassilis Psathas said that Ionia Odos is a road of growth.

    The map of Ionia Odos with the parts under construction was presented to Samaras. Nine interchanges, 8 bridges and a 900m tunnel are under construction, with deadline until December 2015.

    [06] Spain's PM Rajoy to meet with Samaras on Wednesday in Athens

    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday will visit Athens to meet with the Greek premier Antonis Samaras. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 10.00 at Maximos Mansion.

    [07] PASOK leader Venizelos speaks in Chalkida, Evia

    The Greek people will decide what wil happen the day after elections, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos during a speech in Chalkida, on the island of Evia, on Tuesday.

    Charging New Democracy that it is trying to "frighten Greek people that if they vote for (main opposition) SYRIZA everything will be lost in the country," he did not spare the main opposition party, either, criticising it for "falsely lulling people into thinking that Europe will wait for us to decide and that it has no objections to unilateral acts, while it calls on Greece not to fulfill specific obligations."

    Among other things Venizelos said that those who left the party will not be welcomed back if they do not join it now for elections. In addition, Greek citizens are lost in the lies, he said, but "now is the end of lying, it is the moment of truth."

    Recognising the achievements of stability in the economy, he said "it is very important to protect what we all achieved with great labour and sacrifice, the stable ground achieved that will allow us to take another step forward to complete the fiscal programme and move to the preventive credit line," and called on voters to help PASOK become the third party in elections and the guarantor of the country's European trajectory.

    [08] Venizelos says 'people should know the real facts'

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday underlined that political uncertainty will continue to be the biggest problem for the country if his party does not win a good place in the forthcoming elections "to be able to function as a guarantor of the necessary broad cooperation and the only secure and feasible national strategy".

    In an article posted on his personal website, Venizelos, whose party is the junior partner in the ruling coalition, underlined that "people have to know the real facts," indirectly criticising both New Democracy (ND), the leading partner in the coalition government, and main opposition SYRIZA for their tactics.

    He pointed out that the relation with the European Central Bank is always the secret, adding that the transition to the new phase of the precautionary credit line will have to be completed before the end of the two-month extension given to the programme.

    Venizelos underlined that "if we do not solve the pending issues with our partners, we will not receive the 10.7 billion euros of delayed 2014 installments or those predicted for 2015."

    [09] SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras: 'PM Samaras has already lost the elections'

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras "has already lost the elections and, thankfully for Greece, is leaving," main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday at the Concert Hall of Komotini, in northeastern Greece.

    Asserting that he was not coming to offer more privileges but to abolish them, Tsipras said that the Greek people were overcome by anger rather than fear. "The strategy of fear has fallen on deaf ears. Greece is not afraid, as much as Mr. Samaras and his extreme-right cohorts might try to instill it," he noted.

    The main opposition leader said that Greece's loan was non-viable ("There is no sensible person in all of Europe who seriously believes that Greece's debt is viable and must be paid off in full") and that top-level European officials are increasingly calling for a solution to Greece's debt and rejecting rumours that Greece can be expelled from the eurozone. Tsipras cited German press reports calling for another haircut of the debt, "contravening the propaganda up to now that there is no alternative" to managing Greece's loan.

    The climate in Europe has changed and everyone is ready to talk with a SYRIZA government, he said. Among other things, the SYRIZA leader referred to his party's programmes to support lower-income families and said the overall area of Thrace in northern Greece must stop being included among the poorest in Greece. "That's where the policies of New Democracy and PASOK kept it, for 40 years," he said but along with Macedonia the area could play a vital role in transport and energy between Europe and Asia.

    "I want to assure you that the Left is ready to respond to its historical truth, because we were not born yesterday. We come from far away and have a great tradition in democratic struggles, for which we are proud," he said, before presenting the party's candidates from the Rodopi prefecture.

    [10] Elections will decide if Greece will end 'destructive austerity', Tsipras says in Drama

    The January 25 elections were taking on "historic" importance since their result will decide whether Greece continues or ends the destructive course of austerity and memorandums, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras said during his tour of the northern Greek city of Drama on Tuesday.

    "SYRIZA is placing before the judgement of the Greek people the need to put an end to the destructive course, the country's painful slide, and to start, step by step, with difficulties that we will face with gritted teeth but also with pride, to heal the wounds of the memorandum, the wounds of the humanitarian crisis, creating a framework of justice and meritocracy," he said.

    He said that Greece was in the midst of a crucial electoral battle to decide whether to continue implementing measures that led nowhere or whether to first give the spark for a major and necessary change, a shift on a European level.

    "Our country today is not only experiencing an economic disaster, it is experiencing a tragedy that is taking on a humanitarian scale. I would venture to say that we are faced with a huge danger. The younger generation, the most dynamic part of Greek society, without future, without prospects, young scientists are leaving the country. The country is losing its most important human resource in order to be able to stand on its feet in the coming years," he stressed.

    Especially in Drama, he said that unemployment was at levels that were unacceptable in any European country and its young people were emigrating abroad when their area had significant growth potential.

    While in the city, Tsipras took a walk in the Drama shopping district and spoke with people in shops and cafes in the area, who presented their problems. In his discussions, SYRIZA's leader stressed the need for people to support the party's efforts and said that his aim was to restore people's dignity, in spite of the difficult circumstances. He then departed for the city of Komotini, where he is due to address a pre-electionr ally in the city at 18:30.

    [11] Tsipras in Kavala: We will build the Greece of growth and hope

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday, the first day of his visit to the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, accused Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of attempting to scare the citizens.

    Speaking to SYRIZA supporters in the city of Kavala, Tsipras said that Mr. Samaras and his associates attempt "with incredible lies to fool every social strata" adding that "the only thing they have not said yet is that if SYRIZA wins the elections there will be a mass kidnapping and it will steal your wives."

    "They are going to the policemen and tell them that if SYRIZA wins it will take your guns and you will lose your jobs...they are going to the hunters and tell them that SYRIZA will ban hunting, they are going to the Christians and tell them that if SYRIZA is elected it will forbid you to believe in God and will bring down the icons," he said and underlined "All these are actions of panic...they bring laughter to the people and downgrade the level of the campaign's controversy".

    Tsipras opined that with "black propaganda and with fear nobody moved ahead. We, with our policy, our programme and our arguments we will build the Greece of growth and hope".

    [12] SYRIZA leader Tsipras: We do not have a secret agenda or a plan B

    SYRIZA seeks the parliamentary majority and for this reason "I do not want to even think of a run-off," SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with STAR private TV late Monday.

    It is necessary, Tsipras said, that people give to his party a strong mandate to negotiate with Greece's partners and it has the experience and the knowledge to prevent the run-off scenario.

    He expressed his certainty for the victory and said that people will choose SYRIZA not because it has acquired a radical left ideology but because it will select the course of dignity.

    At a query if and with which parties he will cooperate if he does succeed a parliamentary majority, Tsipras said that his party will move based on its programme and suggested that he would prefer to have a vote of tolerance from the communist party (KKE). If a vote of tolerance or vote from KKE is necessary for SYRIZA to implement its programme, it would be inconceivable for KKE to refuse, however, it is something that KKE will decide, Tsipras said and ruled out the possibility of a cooperation with PASOK, the newly founded KIDISO and Potami for which he said that it seeks to become a supplementary power to the establishment and noted the difference between SYRIZA and Potami's positions.

    On the failure of cooperation with Democratic Left (DIMAR), Tsipras said that a sincere programmatic dialogue was held and that his party set as prerogative the programme it presented in Thessaloniki, however, cooperation did not exist. He clarified that this does not mean that cooperation between the two parties cannot be achieved after the elections.

    Asked if SYRIZA will finally choose to leave from the eurozone as a response to the pressure, Tsipras said that we should be mad to have such a plan. The discussion in Europe has changed and SYRIZA has been vindicated, he said, noting that his party does not have a secret agenda or a plan B.

    He expressed the certainty that Europe will accept SYRIZA's plan adding that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will take advantage of SYRIZA's rise in order a solution to be found and to present it as her own achievement.

    SYRIZA will ask for a debt restructuring with write-off of its largest part and a growth clause in order to become sustainable, he said. "We do not want consensus to continue the memorandum, but a policy that will be redemption for the country".

    Asked on whether he will accept an extension of the payoff period and reduction of the interests, Tsipras said that he will set the negotiation bar high.

    At a query if his earlier statement "no sacrifice for the euro" exists, Tsipras replied "euro with democracy, justice and solidarity."

    [13] Greece can't pay debt if 'fiscal waterboarding' continues, Tsipras tells 'Handelsblatt'

    In an open letter to the German newspaper "Handelsblatt" published on Tuesday, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras proposed a new agreement for the entire Eurozone "in which our people can breathe, create and live with dignity".

    Tsipras promised to tackle the "regime of corruption and kleptocracy" in Greece and stressed that the country's debt must be made sustainable by financing growth as the way out the of the crisis, as opposed to the "failed" alternative of austerity that simply recycled recession.

    He promised sweeping reforms to the operation of the state and public administration to promote transparency, a fair tax system and a crack down on the black economy, saying that Greece's debt cannot be serviced as long as Greece's social economy is under a regime of constant fiscal waterboarding.

    SYRIZA's leader also stressed that insistence on these dead-end and misanthropic policies that refuse to accept simple arithmetic were costing German tax-payers dearly at the same time as they were condemning Greeks to degradation and turning the two peoples against each other, damaging the vision of a united Europe.

    [14] SYRIZA MEP Papadimoulis says his party does not want to leave the EU and the eurozone

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA / N. Roussis)

    SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, speaking in the European Parliament on behalf of the Unified European Left Group (UEL) during the presentation of the European Council Summit conclusions (December 18-24, 2014) on Tuesday underlined that his party does not wish to exit the EU, the eurozone or the euro.

    He said that SYRIZA wants Greece to be a member of the EU and the eurozone and be able to escape the prolonged poverty and high unemployment, impose fair taxation and have economic growth.

    [15] Government spokesman Anagnostou responds to SYRIZA leader's television interview

    Government spokesman Stefanos Anagnostou on Tuesday underlined that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras is at odds with the truth and has reached the point of distorting what economic analyst Wolfgang Munchau has said.

    Referring to the interview of the main opposition party leader on STAR private television, Anagnostou said that Tsipras is the "patriarch of lying" and that the "Greek people have figured him out".

    Anagnostou said that Tsipras maintained in the interview that "recently the New York Times, Bloomberg and internationally acclaimed economic analysts said that Munchau - a conservative economist who is not a SYRIZA supporter - said that the only ones who are right about the debt in Europe are SYRIZA and Podemos in Spain. Everybody realises that what we suggest is not the dissolution of Europe. Our intentions are honest."

    The government spokesman underlined that to Tsipras' misfortune, Munchau refuted the SYRIZA leader in an interview with SKAI television aired at the same time, by saying that "it will be very difficult to negotiate a real haircut in the eurozone, as part of an agreement with Greece to remain in the eurozone. This is my criticism to SYRIZA's position when it says, we want a haircut. And this is what SYRIZA says in Greece: we want a haircut but we do not want to leave the euro. It is very difficult for someone to be certain that something like this is possible. It is not only the Germans who are opposed to it. Basically, Germany could be proven to be among the countries least opposed. If Greece asks for a haircut, Portugal will definitely not accept it. The Portuguese government would be unable to survive if a haircut was decided for Greece and not for Portugal. You should also think about Italy. Italy has a debt percentage almost as high as Greece's. Almost 140 of the GDP; and Italy is guarantor of the system, it is an ESM partner. If Greece had a haircut - let's say 90 pct of the debt - Italy would have suffered a blow. The ratio of the debt to Italy's GDP would increase to Greece's benefit. Therefore, Italy would most likely reject it as well. So don't look only at Germany."

    [16] Kouvelis denounces New Democracy and SYRIZA's polarisation

    "The artificial electoral polarisation and tension harms the country", the head of Greens-Democratic Left coalition party Fotis Kouvelis said on Tuesday.

    Kouvelis also said that New Democracy with its fear strategy scaremongers and equals the country's Eurozone membership with its own stay in government. At the same time, SYRIZA with maximalisms and ambiguities cannot guarantee by itself the stable course of policy change.

    "The country and society's interest requires the change of the implemented policies. This necessitates the existence of a realistic and credible political plan for a negotiation with Greece's partners with aim a new agreement," he said adding that his coalition party claims its presence in the parliament to actively support the political progressive change, in a realistic way, with a plan and a vision.

    [17] SYRIZA leader 'has some nerve,' KKE sec gen says

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras "has some nerve," communist KKE party secretary general Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Tuesday.

    "He is trying to blackmail those who feel leftist. It is unthinkable of him to ask KKE, in the name of the left, to jointly "save", as he said, the EU, the euro and the monopoly groups and for the people to forget everything that was taken away from them, everything they have lost," he said.

    [18] KKE leader rules out collaboration with or support of post-election government

    Strategic directions of several parties would allow the formation of a government, or even a large coalition, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Tuesday, but "the time is not politically ripe under the current polarisation."

    In an interview to private Mega TV, Koutsoumbas said the polarisation "may lead to loss of voters" and he reiterated that KKE would not collaborate with any party or support any government.

    The issue, he said, is not just what government is formed and how but how strong the popular opposition is, to support the labourer-popular movement in regaining lost rights and in putting an end to future measures.

    The EU cannot change, he said, and the party was addressing itself to 30 percent of the people "who see the whole development of the EU, from its founding to the present, and reach its conclusions."

    [19] Potami, as the third strongest party, will impose cooperation, its leader Theodorakis says

    SYRIZA's nightmare is to win the elections by a strong majority and form a single-party government, To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis on Tuesday said in response to a statement by main opposition party leader Alexis Tsipras that SYRIZA will win the necessary majority to form a government in its own right, rejecting cooperation with Potami.

    Referring to political alliances, Theodorakis said that "the decisions are made by the people and not by political party conclaves. Potami, expected to emerge as the third strongest party in the forthcoming general elections, will impose cooperation on the old system. The country cannot be an ungoverned state. However, we do not beg for cooperation. We cooperate, when we cooperate, to save the country."

    [20] Potami leader slams 'unfair' state funding for party ad campaigns

    The head of the 'To Potami' party Stavros Theodorakis on Tuesday said that the current system for allocating state funding to political party televised advertising campaigns made a mockery of equality before law.

    Replying to questions, Theodorakis said that the "old party system united - New Democracy, PASOK and SYRIZA - are trying to preserve their privileges and share out the television advertising time as follows: ND and SYRIZA each get 1.5 million, PASOK - 570,000, Golden Dawn - 430,000, Independent Greeks - 320,000, To Potami - 140,000. The 'government' parties... millions! To Potami 140,000!" Theodorakis said.

    He went on to express confidence that the difference will not finally be at the expense of his party and that "the more they advertise themselves, the more people will understand why they must vote for Potami. Nothing will slow our force. The time has come for us to come forward and change everything without demolishing the country!"

    [21] SYRIZA leads over ND, says opinion poll

    SYRIZA leads by 3 percentage points over New Democracy (ND) according to an opinion poll conducted by Rass for news website

    According to the poll results 30.2 percent of the respondents said they will vote for SYRIZA while 27.2 percent expressed preference for ND. In the first place was Potami with 5.8 percent followed by Golden Dawn with 4.8 percent, the Communist Party (KKE) with 4.4 percent, PASOK with 3.6 percent, Independent Greeks with 2.7 percent, KIDISO with 2.3 percent. 3.8 percent of the respondents said they will vote another party and 2 percent said they will cast a blank or will not vote at all and 13.2 percent said they have not decided yet.

    At a question who is more suitable for prime minister 42 percent expressed preference for current prime minister and ND leader Antonis Samaras, 32.9 percent for Alexis Tsipras and 23.3 percent said none of the above.

    The opinion poll was nationwide and was conducted between 11 and 12 January 2015

    [22] Europe is ready to do more if Greeks stick to their side of the deal, Eurogroup chief says

    The head of the group of Eurozone Finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Tuesday promised to work with the winner of the upcoming Greek election, but urged Athens to stick with austerity.

    "If Greeks stick to their side of the deal... if necessary, we are prepared to do more," Dijsselbloem told a small group of journalists after a private lecture in Tokyo, adding that "a lot" has already been done to rescue the country.

    "Whomever will be the new government, we will work with them," he said and added: "It does not upset our policies. It does not upset our cooperation with the Greeks."

    Dijsselbloem urged Greek voters to see the financial reality in their troubled nation.

    "It's crucial... that Greece is once again financially and economically independent," he said adding "a lot of effort has been put in, mainly by the Greek people. The recovery is starting. It would be a great waste if we were to allow that recovery to be lost again."

    [23] Repeat elections will be disastrous for the country, Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis says

    "We should first address the undecided voters who are waiting to hear how their lives will be better if New Democracy wins the elections and how we will capitalise the great sacrifices of the Greek people over the last years," Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday said speaking on Alpha 989 FM.

    According to Mitsotakis, "repeat elections will be disastrous for the country." He underlined that "the programme ends late February and we should have a government to negotiate the next day, in one way or another."

    He also said that "if Golden Dawn is the third party, the responsibility of the first party to form a government so that Golden Dawn will not get a mandate to form a government, is even greater."

    He also said that the Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax (ENFIA) can be reduced by up to 40 percent, adding: "We can do it, because we can conclude the deal with the troika and move to the next phase of the debate on the gradual reduction of tax rates."

    Moreover, Mitsotakis said: "Mr Tsipras openly says that if he cannot form a majority government, he will rule together with the communist party (KKE). The last Stalinist party in Europe! Is this the 21st century country we are dreaming of?"

    [24] ANA-MPA interview with SYRIZA Central Committee member and candidate MP Karitzis

    The "climate of fear and terrorism" is the last resort of a government that is becoming ever more isolated, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Central Committee member and candidate MP for the second Athens constituency Andreas Karitzis said on Tuesday, in an interview with ANA-MPA.

    The philosophy professor said that the results of the January 25 elections will signal "a sudden death of the forces that supported and identified their political arguments with the rationale of the one-way street," he said.

    The goal in these elections, he added, was for the Greek people to choose a sustainable strategy, to fight and demand and not move toward a month-by-month servicing of their obligations, which could lead to a "blind course resulting in a dead-end, deteriorating situation."

    Asked which parties SYRIZA might be prepared to collaborate with after the elections, he stressed that the main opposition was open to cooperation with anyone but not to changing the fundamental points of the policy unveiled at the Thessaloniki International Fair "because these five conditions are the minimum conditions in order for there to be a real, viable strategy for Greek society, which is now at a historic crux."

    He stressed that the party would not enter a discussion that would convert SYRIZA's policy platform into a "schizoid, contradictory proposal for the country, which will not be sustainable."

    [25] SYRIZA charges interior ministry with being 'under commission' to PM Samaras

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) accused the interior ministry of being "under commission to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras" in an announcement on Tuesday concerning the right of 18-year-olds to vote in national elections.

    SYRIZA was responding to an article in "Efimerida ton Syntakton" daily that cited a proposal by the Greek Ombudsman that would allow the 18-year-olds to vote (on January 25) by including them exceptionally in voting lists, which are updated once a year (in February).

    The main opposition party charged that the interior ministry had turned down that and another proposal because "it is under commission to Mr. Samaras, leaving the 18-year-olds purposely and entirely illegally out of the voting process." It is a "raw act of authoritarianism and vindictiveness against the younger generation - the fact youth has decided to break entirely from the former government parties is not a reason to exclude them from voting," it said.

    Government spokesman Stefanos Anagnostou charged SYRIZA with hypocrisy and trying to impress, despite the fact the party avoided tabling an amendment before Parliament was dissolved. The party, he said, is shedding crocodile tears and is responsible for voting indifference among 18-year-olds.

    [26] Athens University Rector Fortsakis heads ND State Deputies ballot ticket

    Athens University Rector Theodoros Fortsakis is heading New Democracy's (ND) State Deputies ballot ticket, according to a party announcement late on Monday. Minister of State Dimitris Stamatis is the second on the list followed by lawyer Niki Kerameos and independent MP Vasilis Economou, formerly of PASOK and later DIMAR.

    [27] Papandreou's Movement of Democratic Socialists announces state deputies candidates

    The Movement of Democratic Socialists, founded recently by former prime minister George Papandreou, announced its candidates for state deputies late on Monday.

    Heading the list is Elias Kikilias, former head of Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), followed by former government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis. There are seven women among the twelve candidates, who include the president of the Greek Forum of Migrants and the private secretary of the late PASOK founder and prime minister Andreas Papandreou.

    [28] FM Venizelos on comments being made in Germany with regard to war reparations and the occupation loan

    Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday made the following statement in reference to statements and comments being made in Germany with regard to war reparations and the occupation loan.

    "These matters have been raised and are being raised via diplomatic channels. Thus, they cannot be responded or resolved through unilateral statements in the news media; statements stemming from simple journalistic reports," he said.

    "Such weighty issues are dealt with only within the framework of international law, particularly between partners and friends with a historical memory and respect for international law," he added.

    [29] Questioning EU-euro framework the only way to change current policies, says ANTARSYA-MARS

    Questioning the framework of the Eurozone and the European Union is the only way to change current policies, the extreme left-wing coalition party 'ANTARSYA-MARS' (Anti-Capitalist Left Cooperation for Overthrow - Frontal Leftist Alignment) said in an announcement on Tuesday, presenting its election ticket for the upcoming elections on January 25.

    ANTARSYA participated in the local and European Parliament elections in 2014, winning 2.27 pct of the local government vote and nine out of 703 seats, while it received 0.72 pct of the vote and none of 21 seats in the European Parliament elections. Opinion polls in the run-up to the January 25 elections show support for ANTARSYA before announcing its collaboration with MARS running at around 1 pct of the vote.

    [30] Greece among EU countries on high terrorism alert over seven jihadis

    Greece is among EU countries put on alert by Europol for possible acts of terrorism by jihadis using cars packed with explosives, a Hellenic Police official said anonymously on Tuesday.

    The official said the warning was issued on Saturday and is in effect until January 17. It involves one or more of seven jihadis whose names and photographs are being circulated by Europol after the terrorist attacks in France. The European police agency is asking all EU members to notify it if any of the seven passed through border controls and be on alert in case they do.

    According to the information, the jihadis have been trained in Yemen and have connections in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

    Greece was not specifically mentioned in the alert, the official said, nor was any evidence as of this writing that any of them had passed through border controls in any EU country, but the information pointed at Belgium, Britain and Holland as countries with a higher likelihood of terrorism acts related to the seven.

    [31] Journalists cleared of charges in GD MP Kasidiaris' defamation suit

    The chief editor of the 'Efimerida ton Syntakton' newspaper Nikolas Voulelis and the journalist Dimitris Psarras were on Tuesday acquitted of all charges relating to a defamation and violation of privacy suit brought against them by the jailed Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris, who is currently in jail awaiting trial on charges that the party operated as a criminal organisation.

    The legal suit concerned an article and video published by the newspaper last December, in which Kasidiaris is shown acting the part of a police sergeant overlooking the beating of a prisoner by two supposed "police men".

    The public prosecutor in the case had earlier recommended a guilty charge for the two reporters, on the grounds that the expressions used in their criticism of the MP indicated contempt and exceeded the boundaries of proper conduct expected by journalists in the exercise of free speech, while the video was essentially play-acting and therefore a private moment that could be considered a part of a personal archive.

    The court, however, found that the article was not defamatory but "stern criticism" of a public figure and member of Parliament, whose purpose was not to vilify but to inform. It also found that the video did not meet the criteria to be considered part of an archive so the two journalists had not committed a violation of privacy.

    [32] CoS rules in favour of presidential decree on the reestablishment of municipal police

    A division of the Council of State (CoS) ruled that a draft presidential decree on the organization and operation of Municipal Police to reestablished within the Greek Police (ELAS) is legal, it was announced on Tuesday.

    According to the draft presidential decree, the reestablishment of the Municipal Police will burden the 2014 state budget with roughly 192,000 euros while the cost in the years to follow will be 214,000 euros.

    Five Municipal Police Divisions will be founded in Athens, one in Thessaloniki and one in South Aegean based on the island of Rhodes. In addition, 17 Municipal Police Offices will be established in the police stations, of Piraeus Municipal Theater, Egaleo, Amaroussio, Kifissia, Voula, Evosmos in Thessaloniki, Dramas, Kavala, Katerini, Edessa, Kozani, Ptolemaida, Larissa, Patras, Kos, Hania and Iraklion.

    The Municipal Police Department will be staffed by ELAS police officers, municipal police and civilian personnel and will operate on an 24-hour basis.

    Municipal Police will wear uniforms with ELAS insignia and will carry handcuffs, police baton and communication device allowing them to be in contact with their headquarters.

    They will be assigned with traffic police duties, check for violations in the operation of stores including nightclubs, commercial stores and supermarkets. Also, they will check for violations of building construction regulations and tourism legislation and will have the right to question suspects and perform neighborhood policeman duties, among others.

    [33] Former minister asks to return bribe money to reduce possible sentence in Siemens scandal

    Former PASOK minister Tassos Mantelis, who is on trial for accepting bribes and his involvement in the Siemens bribery scandal, on Tuesday said that he wants to return the money he received from the company in exchange for more favourable penal treatment by the court.

    Greek prosecutors have for years been investigating allegations that executives of the German international giant Siemens paid off politicians and officials at the then state telecoms operator OTE in order to be awarded a multi-million-euro contract in the run up to the Olympic Games of 2004.

    Mantelis was a director of OTE from 1985 to 1988, who also served as minister of transport and communications for PASOK from 1997 to 2000. He has been on trial since 2013 after he admitted receiving 230,000 euros (450,000 Deutschmarks) from Siemens in two tranches as a "gift" for choosing the company to digitise the OTE telecom's network.

    The former minister submitted a request to the court prosecutor, Panagiotis Panagiotopoulos, asking to return the amount to the so-called "fund of stolen money" in order to receive a milder sentence.

    The law in question provides for a drastic reduction of sentences, in some cases reducing a 20-year-sentence to a mere three years and a life sentence to 15 years in prison for those who caused financial damage to the State, "if the damage is eliminated."

    In his request, Mantelis and his daughter - who is not charged with any crime but was co-beneficiary of the bank account where the money was deposited - along with another accused, said 174,000 euros in his bank account have already been frozen and that Mantelis has deposited another 56,000 euros in the Loans and Deposits Fund in order to repay the total amount owed.

    He also asked that his sentence be reduced from the possible 10-20 years in prison he may receive without the benefits of the law.

    Four more people are on trial for the scandal: the businessman Giorgos Tsougranis, the tax official Antonia Markou, the former Siemens executive in Athens Ilias Georgiou and the former associate of the minister Aristidis Mandas.

    The four accused are facing different charges, including active bribery, done repeatedly at the expense of the State and money laundering.

    The law, however, exempts current and former state officials from benefiting from its provisions and the court's interpretation of the law in the case of Mantelis and the other four accused is therefore awaited with heightened interest.

    Financial News

    [34] 'An accident could happen, and the whole idea is to avoid it,' FinMin Hardouvelis tells Bloomberg

    The prospect of "leaving the euro area is not necessarily a bluff," Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

    "An accident could happen, and the whole idea is to avoid it," he added.

    The main challenge facing whichever government emerges from the January 25 vote will be to close the stalled review of Greek progress in meeting the terms of its financial rescue by the euro area and International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said. If that government is led by SYRIZA, it would be "prudent" to reverse its stance and negotiate an extension to the bailout before the aid supporting Greece expires on February 28, Hardouvelis said.

    The euro area, he said, has put defenses in place against a country leaving the single currency now shared by 19 members, meaning the prospect of exit can no longer be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations by any government.

    Hardouvelis also said that tax-revenue collection has slowed as a result of the electoral uncertainty.

    The Greek Finance Minister underlined that "breathing space" could come from further extending the duration of the loans, and taking advantage of liquidity conditions by transforming floating-rate loans to fixed rate, according to Bloomberg.

    [35] First seaplanes will start operating in 2015, Hellenic Seaplanes CEO tells ANA-MPA

    The first seaplanes will start to operate in 2015 if things go as planned and Greeks will be able to use them "to fly almost anywhere," Hellenic Seaplanes President and CEO Nicolas Charalambous said on Tuesday, in statements to the ANA-MPA.

    Charalambous underlined that over 40 water aerodromes throughout Greece were now in the licencing and construction phase, adding that a nationwide network will greatly boost tourism-sector jobs and also assist in the air-lift of patients from remote and otherwise inaccessible areas of Greece.

    In terms of attracting investments, Charalambous noted that Greece could become the "Maldives of Europe".

    "It is the destination that tourists all around the world want to visit, provided that they have a sense that no Greek government, whichever that might be, will cause them hardship during their holidays. Investments in tourism will not stop, whether we are in the euro or the drachma. What is needed is to give the right image abroad, that the effort being made to attract foreign investments cannot be interrupted every time by political developments," he said.

    He added that the transport costs using seaplanes will not be especially expensive, with a half-hour trip (for example, from Athens to the island of Serifos, or between the islands of Kos and Naxos) estimated at around 75-80 euros. He said the prices might be further reduced if economies of scale are achieved, with Hellenic Seaplanes planning to begin with four planes with 19 seats in 2015 and increase them to 20 by 2017.

    The company's business plan also aims to link Greece to neighbouring countries, such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy and Croatia, as soon as Greece's national network is developed.

    [36] Greek-German Chamber urges parties to collaborate for long-term exit from crisis

    Greek parties must come to a wide political agreement to build a basis for the long-term solution of the crisis and its greatest problem of unemployment, the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry said during an event in Athens on Tuesday.

    Chamber officials said that structural reforms must be completed and NSRF funds allocated solely to growth, in order to create job openings in the long term.

    In the event for the new year, the officials said that over 1,500 businesses and 27,000 visitors participated in exhibitions held in Germany the last three years through the Chamber, while its members had access to new markets through Germany's 83 bilateral chambers in other countries and 120 offices globally.

    They also mentioned the Chamber's interactive social network (ProGreece), the founding of an organisation to mediate and adjudicate in business conflicts, and in the exchange programme involving other agencies in the tourism market that is being expanded to other sectors of the Greek economy.

    [37] Greek crowdfunding platform 'WinnersFund' to launch full operation in February

    The Greek crowdfunding platform 'WinnersFund' on Tuesday announced that it intends to become fully operational within the first half of February, offering a new financing tool for new, innovative and export-oriented business ideas in the country.

    In a press conference, WinnersFund said it will launch its operation with three new ideas seeking funding with a high innovativeness factor: AlgaeFarms, SpreeadeHipp and Doxatos Farm.

    Introducing crowdfunding to Greece for the first time, WinnersFund hopes to provide alternatives to Greek entrepreneurs that are currently denied access to more traditional funding sources, while giving private and institutional investors an opportunity to invest in new and original business ventures.

    The online platform allows private individuals and businesses in the broader investment community to invest via a simple online process, directing the funds raised to businesses.

    [38] Greece lifts restrictions, cuts number of documents required in transit trade

    Greece lifted restrictions and reduced the number of documents needed for exported goods which use the country as a transit station, after a decision by the Secretary General for Public Revenues Katerina Savvaidou on Tuesday.

    The decision concerns the implementation of the customs procedure 42, which allows EU importers who are residing in Greece or another EU member-state to trade goods without paying VAT. The procedure is applied when goods imported from outside the EU into a member-state will be transported to another. In such cases, the VAT is due in the latter - the member-state of destination.

    The decision also allows authorized economic bodies residing in other EU countries to acquire a VAT/VIES in Greece and make use of the customs procedure 42 without having to set a tax representative.

    The implementation of the procedure ensures import taxes are paid and all formalities and approvals are completed.

    To ensure exemption from VAT, importers have to submit the relevant documents for verification and checks, like bank receipts, copies of full list of deliveries within the EU, or INTRASTAT declarations.

    The decision doesn't include products subject to excise duty and importers who have committed serious or repeated customs or tax offences.

    [39] Greek inflation rate -2.6 pct in December

    Greek inflation rate fell deeper into negative territory in December (-2.6 pct), from -1.2 pct in November, for an average deflation rate of -1.3 pct in 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, said that on a monthly basis price increases were recorded in fresh fish (2.5 pct), dairy/eggs (0.4 pct), lamb (2.7 pct), fresh poultry (2.7 pct) and medicines (0.9 pct), while price declines were recorded in heating oil (8.1 pct), petrol (6.6 pct), fresh fruit (6.7 pct) and fresh vegetables (3.6 pct).

    On an annual basis, prices increases were recorded in urban transport (10.6 pct), air travel (9.4 pct), electricity rates (4.9 pct), tobacco (3.3 pct), olive oil (3.3 pct) and feta cheese (1.3 pct), while on the other hand price decliners were recorded in fresh potatoes (23.2 pct), sugar (14.3 pct), heating oil (25 pct) and petrol (10.8 pct).

    The statistics service, attributed the 2.6 pct decline in the consumer price inflation in December to an 1.2 pct fall in food/beverage prices, a 3.9 pct decline in clothing/footwear, a 7.1 pct drop in housing, an 1.7 pct fall in durable goods, an 1.0 pct decline in health, a 4.2 pct fall in transport, an 1.7 pct decline in entertainment, a 3.1 pct fall in education, an 1.2 pct fall in hotel/restaurant and a 2.4 pct fall in other goods and services.

    The inflation rate fell 0.5 pct in in December, from November 2014, after a 0.9 pct increase recorded in the same period in 2013. The average inflation rate in the January-December 2014 period was -1.3 pct, compared with -0.9 pct in 2013.

    Greece's harmonized inflation rate was -2.5 pct in December, from -1.2 pct in November.

    [40] Greek per capita GDP down 6.3 pct in 2012

    Greek per capita GDP fell 6.3 pct or by 1,170 euros in 2012, compared with 2011, as a result of an imposed austerity policy in the country, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that Gross Added Value fell by 11.1 billion euros, or 6.1 pct in 2012 and the country's per capita GDP totaled 17.507 billion euros in 2012, from 18.677 billion in 2011, with all 13 regions in the country recording declines (Epirus 8.3 pct, Eastern Macedonia-Thrace -7.9 pct and Crete -7.9 pct recorded the biggest percentage declines).

    Gross Added Value fell to 171.216 billion euros in 2012 from 182.302 billion in 2011, with all 13 regions recording declines (Epirus -7.8 pct, Central Macedonia -7.6 pct and Crete -7.3 pct recording the biggest percentage declines). Attica (48.9 pct), Central Macedonia (13.4 pct) and Thessaly (4.9 pct) had the biggest share in Gross Added Value creation among the country's regions.

    [41] Aegean Airlines expand direct flight programme between Nicosia and Greece, western Europe

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    Aegean Airlines is stepping in to cover flights to and from Cyprus and link the island republic with additional cities in Greece and western Europe following the shutdown of Cyprus Airlines, it announced on Tuesday.

    In a press conference in Nicosia, Aegean Vice-Chairman Eftychios Vassilakis said the Aegean fleet would also acquire four new Airbus A320 aircraft as of March 30, and bring total annual capacity in schedules serving connections with Greece and another seven countries to over 1.5 million seats.

    The number of direct flights to and from Cyprus served by Aegean will increase to fourteen, he said, including destinations both in Greece and western Europe (London/Heathrow, Paris, Munich, Rome and Milan).

    Aegean's summer schedule will begin in April 2015, marked by increased regular flights from Nicosia to Athens and the introduction of a direct flight between Athens and Cyprus' city of Paphos. The new summer schedule also includes direct connections with islands - Heraklion (Crete) and Rhodes - with more islands such as Myconos and Santorini added in July and August. Eight to nine direct flights with destinations in Greece will depart Nicosia daily.

    Vassilakis said that Aegean has also applied for permits to inagurate flights to Israel and the cities of Kiev and Beirut.

    In addition, frequent-flyer programme participants in the former Cyprus Airlines Elite level will be given the option of transferring their miles credits to Aegean's Gold level of the Miles + Bonus programme. An additional 50 pct of miles credits will be offered on all direct routes from and to Cyprus in 2015 to all Miles + Bonus members, and to all new members from Cyprus who join the programme by February 28, he said.

    [42] J&P-Avax wins 125-mln-euro contract in Malta

    J&P-AVAX, a Greek-listed construction company, on Tuesday announced the signing of a contract - worth 125 million euros - to build an LNG energy station in Malta.

    The contract envisages the study, supply, construction and putting in operation (EPC) of a unit of importing, storaging and processing of Liquified Natural Gas for Electrogas Malta Limited, a consortium of GEM Holdings Limited, Socar Trading SA, Siemens Project Ventures GmbH and Gasol LNG Import Limited. The contract's maturity is 18 months.

    The unit will supply the region of Delimara with energy.

    [43] Greek stocks extend rally for third successive session

    Greek stocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, extending their rally for the third successive session. The composite index of the market jumped 3.26 pct to end at 835.40 points, gaining 9.68 pct in the past three sessions and reversing its 2015 losses. Traders said an improving climate in the domestic bond market encouraged investment activity for stock shares.

    Turnover was a moderate 84.59 million euros. The Large Cap index jumped 3.84 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.34 pct higher. Athens Water (-1.57 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end lower, while Jumbo (7.89 pct), Motor Oil (7.03 pct), National Bank (6.62 pct), Eurobank (5.82 pct) and Alpha Bank (5.53 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    The Technology (0.21 pct) sector was the only one to end lower, while Personal Products (7.05 pct), Banks (5.02 pct) and Travel (4.75 pct) scored heavy gains. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 75 to 36, with another 13 issues unchanged. Levenderis (22.22 pct), Kathimerini (19.51 pct) and AEGEK (11.63 pct) were top gainers, while AAA (17.03 pct), Alpha Astika (10.54 pct) and Heracles (10.45 pct) were top losers.

    [44] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 8.81 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market with the Greek bond yielding 9.28 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.47 pct. Turnover was a moderate 29 million euros, of which 27 million were buy orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate rose to 0.318 pct from 0.317 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.237 pct from 0.238 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.166 pct from 0.167 pct, the three-month rate was 0.071 pct and the one-month rate was 0.008 pct.

    [45] Foreign exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.1782

    Pound sterling 0.7767

    Danish kroner 7.4398

    Swedish kroner 9.4564

    Japanese yen 139.56

    Swiss franc 1.201

    Norwegian kroner 9.115

    Canadian dollar 1.4098

    Australian dollar 1.4441

    General News

    [46] Sea link with Aegean islands cancelled due to strong winds

    Ferries remain docked at the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio due to strong northern winds which in parts reach speeds of 9 to 10 on the Beaufort scale.

    Ship routes from Piraeus to Salamina island are conducted only with closed-type ferries.

    Services from the town of Volos in central Greece to the islands of Sporades and from Kyllini in western Greece to Cephalonia and Zakynthos as well as Corfu-Igoumenitsa sea link, Alexandroupolis-Samothrace and Rio-Antirrio are carried out normally.

    According to the Coast Guard, those who plan to travel are advised to contact their travel agents and port authorities for the latest updates.

    [47] Abandonment of St. Vincent-flagged freighter

    The captain of St. Vincent-flagged freighter "Mare" on Tuesday called for the abandonment of the ship due to the extremely strong winds (9-10 on the Beaufort scale) blowing in the sea region of Kolybari, Chania (Crete island).

    According to initial information the freighter is currently half nautical mile off the coasts of Kolybari. No water inflow has been detected.

    The ship with a six-member crew (all of foreign nationalities) has sailed from a Turkish port for Tunisia.

    The Greek authorities have already sent a Super Puma helicopter to the area.

    [48] Crew abandons St Vincent-flagged 'Mare', is taken to Crete

    The six crew members of the St. Vincent-flagged freighter "Mare" abandoned the ship on Tuesday and were taken to the island of Crete by a Greek Navy 'Sikorsky' rescue helicopter. The freighter had laid anchor about half a nautical mile from Kolymbari, Chania earlier on Tuesday due to the rough weather conditions and high wind speeds of 9-10 Beaufort blowing in the area.

    All six crew members were taken to Souda and reported to be safe and well. Three tug boats are expected to sail out to the "Mare" later on Tuesday in order to ensure the ship is not dragged away by the strong winds.

    The ship's Turkish captain, who had earlier described the situation on board the vessel as under control, finally asked Greek coast guard authorities to assist in its evacuation late on Tuesday afternoon. The 'Mare' is carrying 800 tonnes of loose cargo and 400 tonnes of packaged cargo. All the crew members are foreign nationals.

    [49] Alexander the Great virtual museum to be completed end of 2015, archaeologist Kottaridou says

    The virtual museum for Alexander the Great, which through the internet will present the personality and the legacy of the Macedonian king to the whole world, is expected to be completed at the end of 2015, archaeologist, head of the Imathia Antiquities Ephorate and initiator of the project Angeliki Kottaridou said on Monday at an event held at Ianos bookstore.

    A five hour documentary, seven thematic units, 304 objects which will serve as a starting point to unfold aspects of the Hellenistic world and 3,500 texts make up the virtual museum that will run through the centuries, from the beginning of Macedonia until the modern time references to Alexander the Great.

    Apart from the virtual museum, Kottaridou also referred to the Polycentric Museum of Aigai, the building of which will be completed this year.

    "The idea was to create an open museum that is in discourse with the visitors and embraces the whole region. We are creating units scattered around, a vast archaeological park of 50 hectares including the tomb cemetery," she explained.

    She also commented on the excavation at the ancient Amphipolis site. Kottaridi estimated that the tomb includes more than one phase and that the findings date back to the 2nd century BC.

    She also criticized the excavation team for "taking the hypothesis as a given fact", as she said.

    "The case of Amphipolis showed us some sociological boundaries and what happens when you consider a hypothesis a given case; the hypothesis that Alexander's family is there may be impressive to many people, but saying such a thing requires strong evidence. When you do so and you cannot support it, then you have a problem," she said.

    "If I say that this tomb is the biggest one that exists and it is not even a tomb but a natural hill, then I probably have a problem. This means I cannot tell what I wish for from reality. When I find a big hole in the grave, I know it's been tampered with or there is at least 95 percent probability it has been tampered with. If for four months I tell reporters it has not been tampered with and it has been so, then I have a problem. I do not care what the political leadership says; I, as a scientist, have a problem. "

    She also ruled out the possibility of Alexander the Great being buried in Amphipolis. "If there is something that we know, this is that Alexander the Great is not there. When I wrote this, many people told me this was upsetting as they wished he was buried there. I do not want to find the deceased Alexander, I am not interested in buried bones and I do not believe I will find any. I would rather look for his living memory," she noted.

    [50] Ecumenical Patriarchate officially canonises the Elder Paisios

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate's Sacred Synod on Tuesday unanimously decided to add the late monk Elder Paisios the Athonite to the list of Orthodox Church saints, at the recommendation of the Canonical Committee.

    Born Arsenios Eznepidis in Cappadocia in July 1924, the monk Paisios the Athonite died in July 1994 after becoming widely known for his life and works. He was baptised just a week before his native village left Turkey for Greece, by the local priest Arsenios that was later also canonised in his own right. He joined the all-male monastic community on Mount Athos in 1949, immediately after his release from national service, but briefly left for about a year to marry off his sisters before returning and spending the rest of his life as a monk on the Athos peninsula.

    He wrote four books that have been published by the monastery 'Evangelist John the Theologian' in Souroti, Thessaloniki dealing with the lives of saints, the monks of Mount Athos and 'Letters' published in 1994.

    [51] Hunting associations 'up in arms' over SYRIZA positions on hunting

    The Hunting Federation of Greece in an announcement on Tuesday said its meeting with main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras the previous day had done nothing to allay its concerns, since the party refused to change its current positions that "essentially abolish hunting" as a recreational activity.

    Despite Tsipras assurances that SYRIZA does not intend to ban hunting and his dismissal of such press reports as "false", the association claimed that the restrictions imposed by SYRIZA's programme, such as an increase in areas where hunting was banned and smaller hunting seasons, as well as its abolition of the 'hunting police' and downgrading the role of hunters' associations, amounted to an effective ban even though Greece had never had a conviction from the European Court of Justice over illegal poaching.

    [52] Train ticket discount for January 25 general election voters

    TrainOSE, the Hellenic Railways operational branch, on Tuesday announced a 30 pct discount on train tickets purchased by voters and election officials between January 22 and 28, ahead of the forthcoming January 25 general elections. Commuters will have to display their identity card or passport.

    The discount offer is not effective for online ticket purchases. Passengers who will buy their tickets prior to departure date will be given an additional 15 pct discount.

    Suburban railway passengers will be entitled to a similar discount.

    Weather forecast

    [53] Mostly fair on Wednesday

    Mostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Fair in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from -02C-13C. Same weather in the western parts with temperatures from 04C-16C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 01C-15C.Clouds and rain over the islands, 07C-15C. Mostly fair in Athens, 04C-15C; the same for Thessaloniki, -01C-12C.

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

    AVGHI: Samaras (Antonis, prime minister and New Democracy leader): Virgin Mary, help us...


    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Tsipras' (Alexis, SYRIZA leader) plan is unreliable and unsubstantiated.

    ESTIA: Prophetic article on Tsipras' rise.

    ETHNOS: All small political parties in the press.

    IMERISSIA: Controversy over the T-bills.

    KATHIMERINI: Treasury bills magic solution under conditions.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: State Budget a difficult puzzle.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Whatever the people had gained it gained it with struggles and with the Communist Party (KKE) in the front.

    TA NEA: The unbearable lightness of the ballot.

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