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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 2 February 2015 Issue No: 4875


  • [01] Prime Minister Tsipras leaves for Cyprus, his first visit abroad as the head of Greek gov't
  • [02] PM Tsipras: Our duty is the citizens' protection
  • [03] Potami on PM Tsipras' statements to Bloomberg
  • [04] PM Tsipras to meet with Jean Claude Juncker on Wednesday
  • [05] FinMins of Greece, France reach 'mutual understanding'; gov't spokesman statement
  • [06] Greece may reach agreement with creditors very soon, gov't VP says
  • [07] U.S. President Obama to CNN on Greece: 'Austerity is not effective; there must be growth'
  • [08] EU Commissioner Moscovici: EU is ready to cooperate constructively with the new Greek government
  • [09] Italy 'looking forward with great interest' to PM Tsipras' visit, minister says
  • [10] Danish MP Nikolaj Villmusen to ANA-MPA: SYRIZA victory a historic moment for Greece and for Europe
  • [11] FM Kotzias to ANA-MPA: Greece should not be treated as a pariah
  • [12] FM Kotzias spoke on the phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry
  • [13] Foreign Ministry announcement on the brutal murder of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by ISIS executioners
  • [14] FinMin Varoufakis: Greece needs some space, time and breathers
  • [15] Alt. Administrative Reform Minister Katrougalos: Reforms for the people and not for the lenders
  • [16] Yiannis Roubatis appointed head of National Intelligence Service
  • [17] KKE: Rift and disengagement from EU
  • [18] Economy Minister Stathakis: Settlement of bad loans among our first priorities
  • [19] Productive Reconstruction Minister Lafazanis: National and popular solid front
  • [20] Authorities assessing damages from torrential rain and gale-force winds
  • [21] Piraeus schedules for Crete and Cyclades resume operation Sun. evening
  • [22] Cloud of African dust over Athens
  • [23] Rain on Monday
  • [24] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Prime Minister Tsipras leaves for Cyprus, his first visit abroad as the head of Greek gov't

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    Alexis Tsipras will be visiting Cyprus on Monday in his first visit abroad as Greek prime minister.

    Tsipras will arrive around 08:00 at Larnaca airport, where he will be welcomed by Cyprus Republic Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

    He will then go to Nicosia to be welcomed by President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential mansion, where their private meeting will be followed by talks between the two countries' delegations. Statements by the two leaders will also follow.

    Later the Greek premier will lay wreaths at the cemetery of mainland Greeks and Cypriot Greeks who died during the Turkish invasion of 1974 (Tymvos Makedonitissas) and the cemetery in the Nicosia central jail where fighters for the liberation of Cyprus from the British were interred (Fylakismena Mnimata).

    Tsipras will then meet with Cyprus Archbishop Chryssostomos at his office and in the afternoon he will meet separately with the committee of relatives of people missing since the invasion of Cyprus; Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot organisations; President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou; and party leaders. He will then address the plenum of the parliament.

    His visit will be concluded with a formal dinner at the presidential mansion held in his honour by Anastasiades.

    [02] PM Tsipras: Our duty is the citizens' protection

    "The Greek government stands by our fellow citizens that are stricken by the extremely adverse weather conditions" said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after the conclusion of a broad meeting on the floods that was on Sunday at the Fire Brigade Operations Center "Our first duty today is to protect the citizens and tomorrow to repair the damages" he underlined.

    Tsipras noted that the human lives are the first priority adding that nobody was threatened and wished that nobody to be threatened. He called a sad incident that collapse of the historic Bridge of Plaka in Epirus adding that it will be restored.

    He called the weather conditions, particularly in Western Greece, unprecedented but fortunately, as he said, the State mechanism and the Citizens Protection functioned.

    Government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said that Infrastructures and Culture Ministries staff along with technicians will leave on Sunday for Epirus headed by Alternate Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis. He also said that Epirus and Evrytania regions have been declared in state of emergency adding that problems exist and in Evros region but are being closely monitored by the state mechanism.

    Government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis, Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis, Alternate Infrastructures Minister Christos Spirtzis, Productive Reconstruction Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis, Alternate Minister of Rural Development Vangelis Apostolou participated in the meeting.

    PM Tsipras to Bloomberg: Clear mandate for the end of austerity

    My duty to respect the Greek people's clear mandate for an end to austerity and for the return to a growth agenda does not, in any case, mean that Greece will not repay its debts to the European Central Bank and to the International Monetary Fund, said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Bloomberg in an e-mail statement on Saturday. "My obligation to respect the clear mandate of the Greek people with respect to ending the policies of austerity and returning to a growth agenda, in no way entails that we will not fulfil our loan obligations to the ECB or the IMF," Tsipras clarified.

    The deliberations with our European partners on the debt have just started; he said and noted that "despite the fact that there are different approaches, I am certain that very soon we will reach a mutually beneficial deal with the euro area nations that funded most of the country's financial rescue. No side wants a clash and it was never in our intentions to act unilaterally on the issue of the Greek debt.

    "What we need is time to breathe and create our own medium-term recovery program, which amongst other things will incorporate the targets of primary balanced budgets and radical reforms to address the issues of tax evasion, corruption and clientelistic policies," Tsipras said. "I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole."

    [03] Potami on PM Tsipras' statements to Bloomberg

    The Potami party in an announcement on Saturday on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' statements to Bloomberg noted "Alexis Tsipras in an attempt to calm down the Greek people accepted three things that Potami had said for long time. That we seek a mutually beneficial agreement for Greece and for the whole Europe, that we do not question our debt commitments to ECB and IMF and that we will not act unilaterally on the Greek debt issue".

    The country must leave as soon as possible from the 'grey zone of the anti-European rhetoric" and to proceed to radical reforms, to tackle the tax evasion and corruption and patronage, concluded Potami announcement.

    [04] PM Tsipras to meet with Jean Claude Juncker on Wednesday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet on Wednesday in Brussels with the president of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker.

    On Monday, Tsipras will visit Cyprus, on Tuesday he will be in Rome, on Wednesday in Brussels and Paris to meet with EC president and French President Francois Hollande respectively.

    Yesterday, (Saturday) Tsipras had a phone contact with ECB chief Mario Draghi with whom he discussed the latest developments. According to government's sources, the two top officials expressed their will a mutually accepted solution to be found.

    Later on Saturday, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem called Prime Minister Tsipras and told him that there was a misunderstanding during the joint press conference with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis adding that he does not wish to be created the sense that the negotiation will not continue.

    Finally, late at night and after his meeting in Strasbourg with the French President and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European parliament president Martin Schultz called Alexis Tsipras and briefed him on what they discussed clarifying that there was no negative reference over Greece.

    [05] FinMins of Greece, France reach 'mutual understanding'; gov't spokesman statement

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    The Greek government is seeking "a new contract" better called a "social contract," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in Paris on Sunday evening, at a press conference held jointly with his French counterpart Michel Sapin.

    The press conference followed a very cordial meeting between the two ministers, and in it Varoufakis reiterated that the immediate receipt of the last installment of Greece's loan is not a priority; he likened Greece with a drug addict who has been expecting his fix for five years.

    According to the timeline Varoufakis presented, the Greek government is calling for "breathing space" until the end of February to finalise its detailed proposals on reforms, the humanitarian crisis and the debt. Following that, and for six months, he plans to contact and talk with instititutional and Greece's credit officials to create a new "social contract." The aim is to complete the process by end-May, as there are obligations related to the European Central Bank bonds following immediately after.

    Sapin expressed his satisfaction for the substantive, almost two-hour working meeting he had with Varoufakis and reiterated several times France's willingness to stand by the new Greek government in its efforts.

    According to the French minister, their mutual understanding is based on the following elements: Greece is in and will remain within the eurozone; there is a joint aim for growth, especially for Greece - which has lost 25% of its GDP - to come through investments; and it must create an effective and just taxation system.

    On this latter point about taxation, Sapin said he will propose that the collaboration with the Greek government be augmented and specialists from France be available for consultation.

    The Varoufakis-Sapin meeting in France sends a message that a negotiation of the loan agreement with creditors will lead to a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and the European Union, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said in Athens.

    "The agreement of the two finance ministers in a series of pivotal issues proves that the stances of the Greek government are falling on fertile ground in Europe," he said, mentioning that this was the general outline of U.S. President Barack Obama's comments to CNN as well.

    The Greek people "can be certain that the government will honour the mandate it was given, with decisiveness and calmness."

    [06] Greece may reach agreement with creditors very soon, gov't VP says

    A political agreement with Greece's international lenders may be reached very soon, Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis said on Sunday night, speaking to private television station Mega.

    A political agreement will render the request for a technical extension of Greece's fiscal programme unnecessary, Dragasakis said, and will also cover the European Central Bank in anything related to bank liquidity, over which he said he was not worried.

    In addition, he did not rule out the possibility of the next steps being mapped out at the meeting that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will hold with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday in Brussels.

    [07] U.S. President Obama to CNN on Greece: 'Austerity is not effective; there must be growth'

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    When the economy is in freefall, you need a strategy of growth, not just pressuring a population that is suffering more and more, U.S. President Barack Obama said in interview to CNN, in response to a question about Greece.

    Asked whether he agreed with new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that "austerity is not effective," Obama said that you cannot continue to pressure countries in recession - at some point there must be a strategy of growth in order for these countries to be able to repay their debts and reduce some of their deficits.

    He said there is no doubt that the Greek economy was in urgent need of reforms, and that the collection of taxes in Greece is famously tragic. In order for Greece to become competitive in the global market, they should have put a series of changes in the pipeline. These changes, he said, are very hard to achieve if the people's living standard has droped by 25% - this cannot be sustained either by the Greek society or the political system.

    Obama expressed the hope that Greece will remain in the eurozone, which would require compromises on all sides. When the economic crisis showed up a few years ago, the United States had an active role in the effort to resolve it. Germany and others, he said, understand that it would be better for Greece to remain in the eurozone than leave it; it's a situation that the markets do not like.

    The U.S. president said he was concerned about growth in Europe and that fiscal discipline was significant, while structural reforms are necessary in many of these countries. He added however that the American experience is that the best way to reduce deficits is to restore fiscal balance, grow, and when you have an economy in free fall, there must be a strategy of growth and not just try to pressure a population that is suffering more and more.

    [08] EU Commissioner Moscovici: EU is ready to cooperate constructively with the new Greek government

    The European Commission seeks a 'solution and not a rift' with the new Greek government, said European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici to Agora newspaper on Saturday.

    "The European Union" said Moscovici, "is ready to cooperate constructively with the new Greek government" and reiterated that " both sides can found a solution with respect to the commitments" adding that "we do not want a rift to exist. We must reinstate a new cooperation" noted the French Commissioner rejecting the confrontations attitude between Athens and Brussels.

    [09] Italy 'looking forward with great interest' to PM Tsipras' visit, minister says

    ROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)

    The Italian government is looking forward to the visit to Italy of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras this coming week "with great interest," Deputy State Minister for European Union affairs Sandro Gozi told ANA-MPA on Sunday.

    "The Italian government is looking forward towards the visit of Alexis Tsipras in Rome with great interest," Gozi said, adding that the change of government "that took place in Athens is particularly important, and we are ready to hear with interest and sincerely the requests and proposals of the Greek government."

    The Italian minister added that Italy believes "the national elections are not just a democratic parentheses - a country must continue to follow the line the previous government has mapped out. It is clear we understand the value of the elections and therefore we are particularly interested in seeing what they will propose - both Alexis Tsipras and (Finance Minister) Yanis Varoufakis - about Greek-European relations, especially in terms of the new, great process for the political governance of the euro."

    Gozi said it is necessary to decide whether the right path for an alternative course would be to hold a summit about the debt, especially since many in Europe are against this solution, which needs the approval of at least 19 countries. The Italian government "wants to understand in detail what the Greek government proposes to the troika of its creditors as an alternative course and how Rome and other creditors can help."

    "It is obvious that the recipes adopted the last few years were inadequate. Otherwise, your country's public debt would have dropped, not risen, as it actually did, while we must have a viable social reality. But it's not what happened," he added.

    Italy "is one of Greece's creditors but wants to take a logical stance and not throttle its debtor," he stressed, asserting that "Tsipras and (Italian Prime Minister) Matteo Renzi, even if approaching things differently, represent the strongest messages of change and political innovation that Europe has expressed this past year.

    [10] Danish MP Nikolaj Villmusen to ANA-MPA: SYRIZA victory a historic moment for Greece and for Europe

    Danish MP of the Red-Green Alliance Nikolaj Villmusen underlined the need for the organisation of a European conference on the debt, in an interview with ANA-MPA WebTV.

    "There another way out from this crisis, it is not realistic to continue on this course. A European conference on the debt must be organised and this is something that is also discussed in Denmark and I believe that all the reasonable people can accept it" noted Villmusen.

    Referring to SYRIZA's win, he said "that it is a historic moment not only for Greece but for the whole of Europe as well as for us in Denmark. Many people are watching what is happening in Greece. They are not satisfied with the austerity policy that has failed not only in the southern part of Europe but also in the north that we have unemployment problems, the prosperity has stopped and the economy continues to go bad" he said.

    Nikolaj Villmusen's full interview is available for subscribers on ANA-MPA WebTV.

    [11] FM Kotzias to ANA-MPA: Greece should not be treated as a pariah

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said that "at the last European council, my colleagues understood that they can't treat Greece as a country-pariah because it owes money" in an interview to ANA-MPA Web TV referring to the results of the EU Foreign Ministers meeting with issue the sanctions on Russia. "To owe money does not mean I do not develop and abandon my rights in

    EU" noted Kotzias adding that "the experience I gained in the last five days, the first drafts plans and the negotiation itself, is that EU is obliged to make negotiations. You can't order if you do not want to take orders. That's the main thing I understood and I think that we won this negotiation.

    In the future we way lose another negotiation but we restored our country's sovereignty and the meaning of equality of each country-member within the EU. The negotiation, I received thousands of messages at the foreign ministry, gave to the Greek people a feeling of dignity, a feeling of confidence and a light air of optimism'.

    Kotzias noted that "Greece's exit from the crisis is not only a matter of financial markets. It is also that the citizen must feel good, to feel that he can contribute and to have its rights and to be able to make dreams for the future. I hope that history will prove that we added a small brick towards this direction at this meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers".

    Asked on the climate he encountered in Brussels, Kotzias noted "I think that because of the policy and tactics we followed and under prime minister Alexis Tsipras' instructions, we managed to pass our fundamental line 'we do not want additional sanctions on Russia' instead of being obliged to use our veto power. Of course the already agreed sanctions will continue but not an additional huge wave of sanctions wave and we preserved the European unity, there was not a rift on the issue or a rift against Russia. That's the reason why Mr.Lavrov invited me to visit Moscow and for this reason we had a discussion with him and for this reason there will be a discussion on the phone between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    "I must also say that I had a phone contact with US Secretary of State John Kerry who listened with great interest to the Greek government's position explaining to him that we do not wish to undermine the democratic rights of any society or side and we want to mediate but not to open fronts. We had a very pleasant discussion with Mr.Kerry and will meet very soon".

    The Greek Foreign Minister said that addressing the EU Foreign Ministers meeting he clarified that "we have a Greek minority in Ukraine and we introduced the final decision on a special note on the protection of the national minorities, a proposal on which we will be based to protect the Greeks of Ukraine. What was highlighted, because I received an invitation to visit Kiev and of course I have Mr.Lavrov's invitation, is that Greece should not become part of the problem or to break the historic relations with Russia but it can play an important mediation and promoting role in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, two European countries and Greece's friends".

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias interview is available for subscribers on ANA-MPA Web TV

    [12] FM Kotzias spoke on the phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Saturday morning had a phone contact with his US counterpart John Kerry, as he said to ANA-MPA Web TV on Saturday.

    The two top officials discussed all bilateral and international issues and agreed to meet as soon as possible.

    Kotzias' full interview will be on ANA-MPA Web TV on Sunday.

    [13] Foreign Ministry announcement on the brutal murder of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by ISIS executioners

    "The brutal murder of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by the executioners of the Islamic State is yet another heinous crime of this terrorist organization against innocent citizens. Greece was and is firmly against international terrorism.

    This inhuman act will not diminish the international community's efforts to combat the barbaric and blind terrorist activity of ISIS. We express our deep condolences to the family of the victim and to the people of Japan.

    In collaboration with the other countries participating in the international Alliance against the Islamic State terrorist organization, Greece will continue the efforts to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice" said the Foreign Ministry announcement on Sunday.

    [14] FinMin Varoufakis: Greece needs some space, time and breathers

    "The country wants space, time and breathers" says Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis adding that "there is no issue of tearing up the previous programme" in an interview to Saturday newspaper Agora.

    The Greek finance minister said that within the context of his meetings with his EU counterparts there will be a meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. He underlined that the Greek proposals on the debt have less cost to the European tax payers in comparison with the lenders' proposals and stated that "the State has continuity" clarifying that a number of agreements that have been made with private investors will not be touched.

    "We will not tear up the previous programme; there is not issue of asking for an extension of the previous programme. Europe is very skillful in finding euphemisms and phrases that satisfy everyone" noted Varoufakis adding that "what is really needed is a 'bridge' between the old programme, that we reject, and the new agreement after the completion of our negotiation"

    What we really want, said the Finance Minister, is a new 'fiscal space' some breathers, noting that "within the framework of this space and time we will be able to discuss and deliberate with our partners in order to reach a new agreement that will essentially put an end to the Greek problem and will make the Greek social economy sustainable".

    At a question if we will receive the installment, Varoufakis clarified "we will not take the tranche because it will mean that we accept the continuation of the programme. It is frequently said that there is a deadline on February 28; we believe that this is an arbitrary deadline; it is a product of the former government's political agreement with our partners. Where an issue will really exist is in June-July when the bonds that ECB has will mature. We want the negotiation, the deliberation to be completed until then and to have a new agreement in order to move afterwards on the right course".

    Varoufakis noted that "the government's aim is to present a specific reform programme. What I want to underline is that the State has continuity. Our commitments to investors that have invested in the country's productive web will remain untouched".

    [15] Alt. Administrative Reform Minister Katrougalos: Reforms for the people and not for the lenders

    "We will turn upside down the reforms plan" said Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos speaking to ANA-MPA Web TV. "We are doing the reforms for the people and for the State and not for our lenders" he added.

    "The plan of our reform is to upgrade the quality of the services to the citizen, to organise the administration in such a way that nobody will feel that is being threatened, nobody will have the feeling that evaluation will have a punishment character" clarified Katrougalos.

    On civil servants' evaluation, the minister said that "their union (ADEDY) has a different opinion and I invited them to tell them that for me they are my natural partners and that I will not administrate without their cooperation but at the end I will be the one that will legislate. So, I asked them to tell me their opinion and views on the evaluation. If they insist and do not bring me a proposal on the evaluation, then I will make a system with the characteristics I have told you, without having any intention to punish them because I really consider them my partners".

    Katrougalos noted that hirings are necessary in basic social services as in Health, Education and Welfare "We do not yet know how they will be allocated. We will not increase the minister's budget; if necessary I may use a small part from the already costed expense for the hiring of 15,000 civil servants planned by the former government. An injection of fresh blood to the Administration will be good because the state shrank by 1/3 in the last period. It did not shrink because there were layoffs but because many disappointed civil servants left voluntarily with early pension'.

    Finally, the minister said that he will keep the task force in his ministry but explained "As consultant and not as boss. That's the main difference. We are the masters of the reforms and whoever wants to assist us as a servant of our own plan and not the other way round".

    Alternate Minister George Katrougalos' full interview is available for subscribers on ANA-MPA Web TV

    [16] Yiannis Roubatis appointed head of National Intelligence Service

    Journalist Yiannis Roubatis on Saturday was appointed chief of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' decision.

    Roubatis was born in 1948 in Ioannina and studied in the USA. He is doctor of International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University.

    He was PASOK's eurodeputy from 1994-1999 and close associate to former PASOK founder Prime Minister Andrea Papandreou.

    In 1987 published the book "The US in Greece 1947-1967" based on his doctoral thesis for Johns Hopkins.

    [17] KKE: Rift and disengagement from EU

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in announcement on Saturday stated "People's final disengagement from the memorandums, the supervisors and the antisocial measures can't exist with variation of the so-called support programmes or with troika's substitution with other supervision mechanism as SYRIZA-Independent Greeks co-government seeks. What is needed is the rift and disengagement from the EU and the unilateral write-off of the debt with the people owner of the wealth they produce".

    Financial News

    [18] Economy Minister Stathakis: Settlement of bad loans among our first priorities

    A legislation for the settlement of the bad loans is among the government's first priorities, said Economy, Infrastructures, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis in an interview to Sunday newspaper Realnews also clarifying that the measure on the opening of stores on Sundays will be withdrawn.

    "We are seeking a radical relief of the debtors and a total settlement of the private debts with strong social criteria" said Stathakis and explained "we will focus on the households below the poverty line".

    The minister opined that "if we want to return to growth then the enlargement of the Public Investments Programme is of high importance. However, its orientation must change and must focus on small and medium sized infrastructure works that will be able to create economies of scale as well as to support the exports activity" he underlined.

    [19] Productive Reconstruction Minister Lafazanis: National and popular solid front

    We will insist on the write-off of the largest part of the debt, stated Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis in an interview to Agora newspaper and expressed his certainty that the government will succeed "what is necessary is a national and popular solid front".

    "SYRIZA's programme gives no room for discounts and cancellations, it will be applied to the end" he noted and revealed that one of the first draft laws he will bring to parliament will refer to the cancellation of the slicing of selling of the so-called 'small' PPC along with the cancellation of selling of the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE). "I stated that PPC's slicing in big and small and the selling of the latter will be cancelled. I stated that any further privatisation of PPC will stop. I underlined that the state will retain PPC's majority ownership and as a public company will be reconstructed and will operate will exclusively developmental, productive, social and environmental criteria" he underlined.

    Lafazanis clarified that "the sell off of the state assets and of the public companies are not compatible with a Left government and reiterated "End to troika and memorandums in Greece and gradually and to the implementation laws. From the first day the government has entered into a strong anti-memorandum course which will be completed regardless of how many clashes and contradictions with the domestic and European establishment and with the most aggressive circles of the financial capital are needed" .

    General News

    [20] Authorities assessing damages from torrential rain and gale-force winds

    Flooding following torrential rains and gale-force winds in many areas of Greece led to traffic interruptions on main roads, the collapse of a historic stone bridge and the pleas of a mayor in central Greece for authorities to place the respective areas under emergency measures on Sunday.

    Alternate Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Christos Spirtzis travelled to Arta, northwestern Greece, on Sunday following the order of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to coordinate efforts to cope with extensive damage due to the rains. After meeting with regional officials, he said the areas authorities were all placed on alert while schools would remain closed on Monday.

    Egnatia Road, the major road crossing the north, was flooded at the Kalamia-Kila section (or 200th km) of Kozani, southwest of Thessaloniki, after the heavy rainfall on Saturday night. Traffic has been diverted to the old National Road on Kila-Vateros. The management company said that the plumbing systems operated normally but the natural drainage receptors could not handle the excess of water.

    Roads collapsed in several northern areas, while the western and central mainland sustained heavy damages in several areas from flooding, collapsed structures and landslides. In western Greece, a historic bridge close to the city of Arta collapsed from risen waters on Sunday morning and nearby villages were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

    The Bridge of Plaka was the largest stone bridge in the Balkans, with an opening of its single arch measuring 40.20 metres and 21 metres tall at its apex. It was built in the 19th century, repaired in 1866 after its arch collapsed. It was best known as the location of a pact among all resistance forces against the Nazi occupiers, signed on February 29, 1944. It survived German airplane bombing and was used to celebrate Epiphany Day.

    In Achaia, northern Peloponnese, river Charadros had to be diverted to save villages from flooding, the deputy district manager Grigoris Alexopoulos told ANA-MPA. Mayor of Agrinio Giorgos Papanastassiou in western Greece requested that the area be placed under emergency because of flooding and landslides, which also occurred in various areas of Greece.

    [21] Piraeus schedules for Crete and Cyclades resume operation Sun. evening

    Authorities lifted the ban of boats leaving Piraeus for Crete and the Cyclades after gale-force winds had docked boats to the Aegean Sea, while boats at Rafina and Lavrio on the eastern and southern Attica respectively remained tied on Sunday evening.

    The National Meteorological Service foresaw a drop on strong winds, while authorities allowed runs to the islands in the Argosaronic Gulf only by covered boats.

    The Perama-Salamina island route is in operation, as are schedules from Volos in central Greece to the Sporades Islands in the northwestern Aegean; Alexandroupoli in northern Greece to Samothrace Island, and Igoumenitsa in western Greece to Corfu, the Ionian Island, Kyllini-Zakynthos island, and Kyllini-Cephalonia.

    Still out of operation are the routes of Nea Peramos-Salamina island, Agia Marina-Nea Styra and Arkitsa-Edipsos involving Evia island; Kavala in northern Greece and Thasos island, Igoumenitsa-Lefkimi and Rio-Antirio, a major link between the mainland and the Peloponnese.

    [22] Cloud of African dust over Athens

    The extremely strong southerly winds (up to 10 on the Beaufort scale) that blow over the country are responsible for the African dust that has covered the eastern and southern parts of the country.

    Flights to the Aegean islands were cancelled on Sunday due to limited visibility. The dust cloud that covers the wider area of Athens is expected to dissolve at Monday noon however it will remain over the islands of the eastern Aegean until Tuesday, said meteorologist Nikolaos Andritsos to ANA-MPA.

    Weather Forecast

    [23] Rain on Monday

    Rain and south-southwesterly winds are forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the morning in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 06C-13C. Rain and storms in the western parts with temperatures between 12C-15C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts and temperatures between 12C-16C. Clouds and rain over the islands, 13C-18C. Clouds and possibility of rain in Athens, 12C-16C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 06C-13C.

    [24] The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: The people support the negotiation.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Caution...iceberg!

    EPOCHI: Negotiation with real fire.

    ETHNOS: Tough February with clashes, manoeuevres and expectations.

    KATHIMERINI: Landscape of conflict with the eurozone.

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