|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 3 February 2015 Issue No: 4876
 The replacement of the troika is a mature and necessary development, PM Tsipras saysNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
The new Greek government is disposed to make radical changes, but "is not a new government that will want to make steps 'in the air', without first examining what its choices will bring," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday, after joint statements with the Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades following their meeting in Nicosia.
Asked by ANA-MPA if his government will proceed with the delimitation of its Exclusive Economic Zone with Cyprus, will give the Muslims of Thrace the right to elect their mufti and will allow the creation of a mosque in Athens, the prime minister said: "The steps we need to take in the upcoming period will have to be careful steps."
"Radical is what can give security, perspective and continuity," Tsipras said, adding that when you want to make a breakthrough, you must have secured continuity after this breakthrough.
The prime minister said that in cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus, "recognizing that the initiative to solve the Cyprus problem is in the hands of the Republic of Cyprus, the Greek government will strongly support the decisions of the Cypriot government, the elected government of the Cypriot people."
Tsipras said there was no thought of taking a loan from Russia adding that Athens is in a "meaningful consultation and negotiation with its EU partners and those who have given loans to the country, and the country has obligations towards them." Our first and sole objective is to come to a mutually acceptable and beneficial solution to the issues that are currently open in the negotiation with our partners, he said.
Asked about Grexit and if there is a solution in case creditors refuse the new agreement that the government seeks, Tsipras said "I want to assure you that the new Greek government will make the best use of the fresh, popular mandate. It is a strong mandate to negotiate and make demands safely, within the European context."
The prime minister stressed the need for a shift at a European level in order to return to an agenda of growth, employment, social cohesion. "As far as it concerns the intimidation scenaria, these belong to the past," he said.
In that regard, the Greek prime minister said: "The EU and the eurozone without Greece and Cyprus are both crippled at their easternmost edge, the edge that today more than ever needs to be stable and safe. "Greece and Cyprus are pillars of security and stability in a troubled geopolitical environment of the wider region," he underlined.
Anastasiades, on his part, said that Cyprus and Greece will work together with those EU countries and partners that agree with the view that emphasis should be given to growth, which was promoted particularly during the Europarliament elections.
"(EU Commission President Jean-Claude) Juncker's programme included the need to create growth conditions, which led to the recent announcements on the allocation of 300 billion euros," he noted. Anastasiades said we should now consider, taking into account the strong mandate given to the new Greek government, "how the group of states that share the need for turning to growth will turn theory into actions. Therefore, we stand on the same line regarding the need for changes that would be to the greater benefit of European citizens."
Asked whether he believed we are close to the replacement of the troika by another monitoring body, Tsipras said: "I believe this is a mature and necessary development for Europe. Mature, because since the relevant survey was conducted in the European Parliament, almost all institutional players in Europe have admitted that this mechanism does not have democratic institutional legitimacy on a European level. Necessary, because now more than ever, Europe needs a breather. Of course, [this must come about] through joint understanding, common steps, agreement on our basic principles and our basic fundamental commitments to the things that are binding for us and constitute establishment decisions of EU treaties."
Tsipras added that Greece and Cyprus can become a bridge of peace and cooperation between the EU and Russia.
Responding to a question by a Turkish-Cypriot journalist, the premier said that his message to the Cypriot people, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, is "a message of unity and cooperation" and added that through unity and cooperation we can secure peace and prosperity for this island.
 Greece and Cyprus 'pillars of stability' in SE Mediterranean, Tsipras saysDuring the joint statements made earlier by the two leaders, Tsipras had stressed that Greece's negotiation on the terms of the new economic agreement is based on equality and within a European framework.
He added that the successful conclusion of the negotiation will be beneficial not only to Greece and Cyprus but to other EU countries, so that growth can return.
He noted that Cyprus and Greece are not just two small EU and Eurozone countries. "They may be crippled but they are pillars of peace and stability in the southeastern extremity of Europe," he stressed.
Tsipras said it was not a coincidence that his first official visit abroad was to Cyprus "with which not only do we share historic ties but also a common future."
"Despite the crisis that has burdened the Greeks and the Cypriots with unfair sacrifices, Greece and Cyprus are two main pillars of stability," Tsipras noted.
He added there was a high level of cooperation and coordination as far as the efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus issue is concerned, which he said should be viable and fair.
"The Cyprus issue is the cornerstone for the Greek-Turkish relations and the consolidation of stability in the region," Tsipras said.
He stressed that Greece would support Cyprus' efforts for a solution within the framework of the United Nations and the existing agreements, on the basis of a bizonal, bi-communal federation and a single citizenship.
The talks fully confirmed our common views on bilateral relations, Tsipras said.
He also noted that he visited Cyprus during a difficult time, with the violation of its sovereign rights in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and stressed that the Turkey's action in dispatching the 'Barbaros' survey vessel to the area was a flagrant violation of the international law and undermined the necessary talks.
In order for talks to continue, Tsipras said, Turkey must respect international law and not make threats. He added that a solution, which will secure the continuity of the Cyprus Republic in the framework of its membership in the EU and will allow the cooperation of all parties, will set positive powers free and create new standards for all.
Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades wished Tsipras best of luck in his new mission.
He noted that the visit proves Greece's interest and support to the Cyprus state and Hellenism and that the talks reaffirmed the commitment to a solution which will be based on European principles and values and will safeguard human rights.
"We agreed on issues of coordination of our efforts in order to address Turkish challenges and start a dialogue with the prospect of conclusion. It has been reaffirmed that relations between Greece and Turkey go through the Cyprus issue and cannot coexist with challenges against Cyprus," Anastasiades said.
It is also self-evident, he said, that the hydrocarbons in the Cyprus' EEZ belong to the state and that after the solution the revenues from their exploitation will benefit all of Cyprus' legal residents.
He added that during the talks it was ascertained that their common position was that with the cooperation of other countries, the pursuit of Cyprus and Greece will be a EU that aims at economic growth and prosperity.
Anastasiades said it was agreed that the implementation of reform policies, which are appropriate for each country, is necessary and concluded by saying that they decided to establish an ongoing dialogue to further deepen bilateral relations so as to deal with international and European challenges.
Tsipras arrived at the Presidential Mansion at 10.00 where he was welcomed by Anastasiades.
 Greece and Cyprus remain two significant pillars of stability, PM Tsipras says after meeting with Cyprus President AnastasiadesThe Cyprus issue is the cornerstone for the Greek-Turkish relations and the consolidation of stability in the region, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday noted in joint statements with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades after their meeting in Nicosia.
Tsipras referred to the high level of cooperation and coordination of the Greek and Cypriot government and noted that the economic crisis has burdened Greece and Cyprus, which, he said, remain two significant pillars of stability.
He also spoke of the violation of sovereign rights in Cyprus' EEZ. The dispatch of the 'Barbaros' research vessel is "a flagrant violation of the international law and undermines the bilateral talks," he stressed.
 Cypriot party representatives meet in Nicosia with visiting Greek PM TsiprasNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, on an official visit to the Cyprus Republic, met separately on Monday with party representatives.
Democratic Party (DIKO) leader and chair of the parliamentary finance committee Nicolaos Papadopoulos asked of Tsipras to order an investigation into the sale in Greece of Cyprus bank branches in 2013, which he called "the greatest scandal in the history of the Cyprus Republic," and received the latter's assurance that an investigative committee in Greece will examine all issues related to the "haircut" of the Greek debt and may within that framework include the issue.
Parliament president Yiannakis Omirou said that the new government sent out the message that the EU must change from austerity to growth and the creation of new jobs and new circumstances of social cohesion.
Democratic Rally (DISY) believes there is no party ideology before serving the national interest, its deputy chairman Lefteris Christoforou said after meeting with Tsipras. "We stressed the Greeks everywhere ought to unite to face either national or economic problems that show up" and said it would continue its friendly cooperation with all Greek governments.
Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) Secretary General Andros Kyprianou said after meeting with Tsipras that he would visit Athens soon to talk in greater depth about the government's economic plans. "The stance that there must not be blind obedience to the troika (of Greece's creditors) is gaining ground, following recent developments," he said.
A delegation from the Movement for Social Democracy (EDEK) headed by deputy chairman Marinos Sizopoulos suggested the founding of a joint think-tank that would deal with Turkish expansionism, the economic crisis and the exploitation of hydrocarbons.
The European Party (EVROKO) proposed the strengthening of Hellenism in the area and long-term planning.
 Greece and Cyprus are united by history and the struggle for the future, says PM TsiprasNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Greece and Cyprus are united by the history of the Greeks and the struggle for the future, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the Cypriot Parliament on Monday and called on Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to "stand on Greece's side in its struggle within Europe for the creation of the conditions for growth and prosperity in Greece and all the people of Europe."
The premier reassured the parliament that efforts to find a just and viable solution to Cyprus' issue is a common goal and added he started his European tour from Nicosia because the two countries are also "united in their effort to uphold international law in the region which has been flagrantly violated by Turkey in an effort to create faits accomplis."
Tsipras said the Cyprus issue is an open issue of invasion and occupation and noted that Cyprus' as well as Greece's security and international standing depend on its resolution.
He also said a just a viable solution to Cyprus' issue, based on the decisions of the United Nations, forms a main crucial aspect of Greece's foreign policy.
To this end, Athens supports talks "that aim at transforming the Cypriot Republic into a bizonal, bicommunal federation, with a single international presence, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship."
"The channels of diplomatic communication with Ankara must remain open," he noted and added the Turkish-Cypriot leadership must make an effort to resolve the problem without following Turkey's provocative actions.
Tsipras made a particular mention for the humanitarian issue of the missing persons, stressing that "Greek-Cypriots, Greeks and Turkish-Cypriot citizens are suffering."
On his side, the President of the country's parliament, Giannakis Omirou, welcomed the Greek premier and said his visit is particularly important and reaffirms the close and unbreakable bonds between Greece and Cyprus.
Omirou expressed the Cypriot people's deep gratitude for Greece's unwavering support and alignment to the country's long-standing struggle for the vindication and freedom of Cyprus, adding that conditions require vigilance and alertness.
The parliament's president also accused the international community of limiting itself to exhortations and a policy of equal distances when dealing with Turkey's arrogant and expansionary policy, a tactic that equates the victim with the perpetrator and for pressuring Cyprus to restart talks without stopping Turkish provocations.
Commenting on the Greek crisis, Omirou said Greece and Cyprus will continue their efforts to exit the crisis by contributing as equal partners and constructively when dealing with serious issues that concern and in times divide the European Union.
 PM Tsipras briefs Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus on the Greek government's prioritiesNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday praised the social work performed by the Church of Cyprus and thanked Archbishop Chrysostomos because "the Church of Cyprus stood by the most vulnerable people of Greek society and of the Greek people, who are going through an ordeal during the past four years as a result of the crisis and the political choices that have unduly tested most of the middle class and income earners in Greece."
Tsipras briefed the Archbishop on the priorities of the Greek government and stated that "enlightened spiritual leaders should fight against hatred because religions are meant to unite peoples and not to divide them."
He also wished that the efforts for the necessary interfaith dialogue will continue in an era when religious hatred leads to trouble with the rise of fundamentalism and fanaticism.
The prime minister also noted the efforts made by the archbishop towards interfaith dialogue, religious freedom and the preservation of cultural heritage on all of Cyprus.
On his part, the archbishop thanked Tsipras for his visit and wished him success in his work because "his success will be the success of the Greek people," noting that in their meeting they exchanged views on all issues.
Earlier, the prime minister visited the cemetery in the Nicosia central jail where fighters for the liberation of Cyprus from the British were interred (Fylakismena Mnimata), where he was formally received by Justice and Public Order Minister Ionas Nicolaou. Tsipras toured the memorial and met with relatives of those interred there.
Tsipras was received by EOKA 1955-1959 freedom fighters at the cemetery's main gate. A memorial service was held followed by a wreath laying ceremony and a minute of silence. Wreaths were laid by the prime minister and by the Cypriot justice minister on behalf of Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades. The ceremony was attended by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Minister of State Nikos Pappas and the ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus.
Before departing the prime minister signed the visitors' book, writing "the heroism and sacrifice of the fighters in the Cypriot struggle constitute an eternal source of inspiration for Hellenism. The vision of the freedom fighters for a Cyprus united and free of occupation forces are timelier than ever, as is our desire to see the Cypriot people free and united again looking to the future with optimism."
 Greek PM Tsipras in CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Alexis Tsipras is visiting Cyprus in his first visit abroad as Greek prime minister.
Tsipras in the morning arrived at Larnaca airport, where he was welcomed by Cyprus Republic Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
Cyprus government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides, commenting on Tsipras' visit, appeared confident that his contacts in Cyprus would have very positive results.
He said there would be an open and sincere dialogue on how several issues and mainly the Cyprus one are dealt with and noted that his visit signals the new beginning of the enhanced cooperation between Nicosia and Athens.
On economic issues, Chistodoulides said that the circumstances and the policies Cyprus and Greece implemented are different; however, he expressed the hope that Greece's dialogue with its lenders would have a positive outcome adding that in such a case Cyprus would also benefit.
Moreover, he said that Tsipras would also meet a couple of non-government bi-communal organization, dealing with the Cyprus issue.
Tsipras is accompanied by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and State Minister Nikos Pappas.
As part of his visit, the Greek premier is expected to 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 is expected to visit Rome on Tuesday.
 Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias meets his Cypriot counterpart in NicosiaForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who is accompanying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on an official visit to the Republic of Cyprus, had a long meeting on Monday at the Cypriot foreign ministry in Nicosia with his counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, the foreign ministry said in Athens.
During the meeting, which took place in a warm climate, they discussed the course of the Cyprus issue and bilateral, regional and international issues, while emphasis was also put on analysis of geopolitical developments in the region and the further deepening of institutional cooperation between Greece and the Republic of Cyprus.
 Greece and Cyprus working together to get rid of troika, former Cypriot president Christofias saysNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Greece and Cyprus are working jointly to get rid of the troika, former president of the Cyprus Republic Dimitris Christofias said on Monday, after meeting with visiting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday.
Christofias said the meeting was cordial and among friends and that Tsipras had briefed him about Greece's intentions while he had updated him about the Cyprus issue.
He expressed the certainty that "the new Greek government will consistently support the struggle of the Cyprus people against the expansionist policies of Turkey" for a solution to the Cyprus issue as that is described in the United Nations resolutions for a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.
Asked whether something could possibly change in austerity in Europe, he said, "The people are fed up with the neocolonial policies of (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and whoever her colleagues are. It is time for the European peoples to assume the responsibility for their own fate."
 PM Tsipras to present his arguments against the troika to Italy's RenziAthens is pleased with the comments made on Monday by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Rome on Tuesday.
Renzi he told RTL Radio on Monday that the debate in Europe had to switch to growth. "We want to shift the debate on economic policy away from austerity and rigor toward growth and investment."
The government assessed this comment as a positive starting point for a "productive discussion" between the two premiers.
Government sources said Tsipras is expected to note that "we are ready to proceed with reforms in the direction of fiscal balance and social justice," and he will also say that this takes time and fiscal space.
The premier will also tell Renzi the "turn towards growth and investments cannot come through the troika which blocks them" and that Europe "must finally trust its institutions and its bodies."
 First reaction to PM Tsipras' statements last Saturday is positive, European Commission spokesman saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
The European Commission's first reaction to the statements made by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday, January 31, was positive, Chief Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Monday said.
Schinas confirmed that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will meet here with the Greek prime minister at 09:30 (local time) on Wednesday, February 4.
He also said that on Sunday, February 1, an informal meeting was held in Paris between Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis at the latter's request. In the meeting they had the opportunity for a first exchange of views that was described as "constructive" by the Commission spokesman.
He explained that the European Commission showed a special interest in the Greek prime minister's statement last Saturday that "soon we will be able to reach a mutually beneficial deal for Greece and all of Europe" and "no side wants a clash and it was never in our intentions to act unilaterally on the issue of the Greek debt". The European Commission spokesman noted that Juncker will have a discussion with the Greek prime minister on the basis of the aforementioned statement and he is ready to hear the plans of the new Greek government.
On the troika and the likelihood that this would either have a different structure or be abolished, Schinas cited a recent statement by Juncker in the European Parliament that a greater democratic legitimacy, accountability and control over the troika's operation will be necessary in the future. In any case, Schinas said, the European Commission is waiting for the clarification of the Greek government's positions and does not wish to make any guesses as to what will happen.
"Any agreement presupposes the unanimity of the 19 member-states of the eurozone," the European Commission spokesman concluded.
 UK's Osborne meets Greek FinMin Varoufakis, says Greek stand-off 'biggest risk' to global economyLONDON (ANA-MPA/ I. Karipidis)
Talks between British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis held here on Monday were conducted in a "very good and constructive" atmosphere, a source in the British Treasury afterwards told the ANA-MPA.
Varoufakis, who had a 45-minute meeting with Osborne earlier in the day, left the meeting without making any statements to the press. A joint announcement is expected to be issued later.
According to Reuters news agency, meanwhile, Osborne on Monday said that a stand-off between Greece and the euro zone over Greek debt was fast becoming the biggest risk to the global economy.
"We had a constructive discussion, and it is clear that the stand-off between Greece and the euro zone is the greatest risk to the global economy," Osborne said after meeting Varoufakis in London.
"I urge the Greek finance minister to act responsibly but it's also important that the euro zone has a better plan for jobs and growth," Osborne added.
"It is a rising threat to the British economy. And we have got to make sure that in Europe as in Britain, we choose competence over chaos."
According to a British foreign office source, the timing of the meeting is very important because Britain has been looking for allies in the EU for some time and wishes a change in EU treaties to ease London's commitments toward Brussels. Therefore, it is a very good opportunity for the UK to ally with another EU member state for radical reforms within the European Union, the British foreign office source told ANA-MPA.
Varoufakis is in London in the context of the Greek government's contacts seeking to brief European governments on the measures it intends to take to solve the problems of the Greek economy. Later in the evening, Varoufakis will meet with City of London officials to brief them on the Greek government's positions.
 Greece must stop being Eurozone's festering wound, says VaroufakisGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Monday he had agreed with his British counterpart George Osborne that it was necessary to end the "pretense" that had led to Greece being a burden on the rest of Europe.
"(We have) a determination to put an end to the extended pretense cycle which has rendered Greece a festering wound on the side of the euro zone," Varoufakis said in a television interview with Britain's Channel 4 News.
"Even for Britain, which is not a member of the Eurozone, (this) is a great concern because the deflationary crisis in Europe certainly doesn't augur well for the British economy," he said.
Concerning his meeting with Osborne, Varoufakis said it was "a very constructive meeting. Actually, it was a breath of fresh air."
"My feeling after leaving Downing Street is that we have a very constructive relationship. We had a great meeting and despite out differences we want to find common ground. I believe we've already found it," he added.
 FinMin Varoufakis to FT: Greece will opt for debt swap, rather than writeoffGreece will not call for a writeoff of its debt but request a "menu of debt swaps," including two types of new bonds, new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told the Financial Times (FT) on Monday.
According to the daily, Greece "unveiled proposals on Monday for ending the confrontation with its creditors by swapping outstanding debt for new growth-linked bonds, running a permanent budget surplus and targeting wealthy tax-evaders."
Varoufakis told the FT that the two types of bonds would include bonds indexed to nominal economic growth and replacing European rescue loans, on the one hand, and "perpetual bonds", replacing Greek bonds owed by the European Central Bank, on the other. The proposal, he told the FT, would be more acceptable to other countries who objected to any plans for a "haircut".
"What I'll say to our partners is that we are putting together a combination of a primary budget surplus and a reform agenda," he was quoted as saying, adding that "I'll say, 'Help us to reform our country and give us some fiscal space to do this, otherwise we shall continue to suffocate and become a deformed rather than a reformed Greece'."
Varoufakis said the government would maintain a primary budget surplus - after interest payments - of 1 to 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product, even if this meant Syriza, the leftwing party that dominates the ruling coalition, would not fulfil all the public spending promises on which it was elected.
In terms of tax collection, the finance minister said the government would target wealthy Greeks who had not paid their fair share of taxes during the nation's six-year economic slump, which he described as "going for the head of the fish, then (going) down to the tail."
According to official sources, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to announce the government's policy programme on the weekend and the details of their economic plan to their EU partners before the end of February.
"Whatever our partners think about our being from the radical left, we're serious about reform, serious about being good Europeans and serious about listening. The only thing we shall not retreat from is our view that the current unenforceable programme [agreed with our creditors] needs to be rethought from scratch," Varoufakis was quoted as saying.
According to the FT, Varoufakis is on a European tour that is aimed at winning support for a renegotiation of the 245bn euro bailout programme that began in 2010 with emergency help from the EU and International Monetary Fund.
The minister said Greece hoped to secure a four-month "bridging programme", to stretch from now until June 1, under which the ECB would promise to keep Greece's financial system afloat by continuing to supply liquidity on favourable terms.
Rather than ask for 7bn euros in aid that was to have been paid to Greece last year if it had met fiscal policy and structural reform conditions set by its creditors, the government would request only 1.9bn euros, the FT said, equivalent to the profits earned by the ECB from its purchases of Greek government bonds after the 2010 rescue, according to Varoufakis.
"Our mandate gives us a right to do one little thing - to have a few short weeks to propose our own ideas to the ECB, the eurozone partners and the IMF," he was quoted as saying. "The notion that previous Greek governments signed on the dotted line on programmes that haven't worked, and that we should be obliged to just follow that line unswervingly, is a challenge to democracy."
 U.S. Treasury officials expected in AthensNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
A mission of U.S. Treasury officials is expected to visit Athens soon for talks with the Greek government, as part of a series of missions on issues of crisis debt, according to sources in Washington, DC.
The members of the Treasury mission are experienced in missions abroad with U.S. Vice President Jo Beiden and Secretary of State Jack Lew. Their visit was decided in consultation with the White House and they are expected to visit other European capitals as well.
Greece's loan issue and the overall eurozone situation is expected to be part of the agenda in the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House next week.
 EU's Juncker wants to scrap troika's mission to Greece - HandelsblattBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker wants to scrap the troika mission, German daily Handelsblatt on Sunday reported in its website.
"First, the Greeks caused a lot of fuss last week. The messages from Athens became more conciliatory during the weekend. And now the European Commission president Juncker is ready for a compromise. And Berlin will probably follow," the report said.
According to sources of the newspaper, Juncker is planning to scrap Greece's troika. "We have to find an alternative quickly," the report added citing Commission sources.
"Juncker agrees with the main demand of the new Greek prime minister," the author of the article noted adding that the German government is in principle willing to agree on the reforming of the troika. "We could give up the review visits to Athens, which are perceived by the Greeks as degrading and instead set more general financial and political targets for Greece," the newspaper said citing German government sources. Such a concession is possible but only if the new Greek government accepts the hitherto agreed path of reforms and austerity, it added.
Juncker, according to Handelsblatt, wants to support Tsipras on another point. "The head of Commission shows understanding that the new Greek Prime Minister wants to raise the minimum wage," the author of the article said adding that Juncker remains firmly opposed to the possibility of Greek debt haircut.
 The troika belongs to the past, Jens Bastian, former EU Task Force member, saysVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
The troika of Greece's lenders - International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission and European Central Bank (ECB) - "belongs to the past under its current form," economist Jens Bastian, a former member of the EU Task Force for Greece from 2011 to 2013, said on Monday.
In an interview to Austria's public radio, Bastian said the indications coming from Brussels that the form and mission of the troika will change are already apparent, and stressed the need to reexamine the IMF's role from a European angle, especially as it is odd that the IMF is member to a troika related to Eurozone countries that should be managing their problems among them.
Bastian said he supports a European solution and that other European institutions - such as the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in London - might be incorporated in a body that will no longer be called a troika. Its mission would be to help countries change through supervision and the provision of advice. A negotiation to find European solutions and weaken the mission of IMF must be the main focus in the following weeks, he added.
The fact that the Greek side has requested the services of investment bank Lazard, which had in the past successfully advised other countries in how to write off their debts is interesting, he said, and could help Greece strengthen its economic diplomacy as it is a firm with international prestige.
 No reason to deviate from the troika, the German government says; No to unilateral changes, says Germany's finance ministryBERLIN (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)
There is no need to deviate from a tried and tested mechanism, the German government's deputy spokesperson Christiane Wirtz on Monday said referring to the troika, while German finance ministry spokesperson Marianne Kothe pointed out that the cooperation of a eurozone country - that needs assistance - with the troika is legally regulated and cannot change unilaterally.
Wirtz added that the German government is not aware of any thoughts by the European Commission to deviate from the troika mechanism, whereas the finance ministry spokesperson said that the Greek bailout programme is focused on the promotion of economic growth and employment and not just on austerity measures, as in other eurozone countries.
Kothe noted that fiscal sustainability is an important ingredient, stressing that the legal agreements with Greece have not changed because of the elections.
On the likelihood of a visit by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Wirtz stated that he is welcome in Germany, clarifying that, as far as the substance in concerned, this does not mean that "we will not talk bluntly".
 European Parliament Greens/EFA Chair levels criticism at new Greek governmentVIENNA (ANA-MPA/ D. Dimitrakoudis)
The co-chair of the European Parliament's Greens/European Free Alliance group Rebecca Harms on Monday directed strong criticism at the new Greek government following a meeting here with the Austrian Greens financial spokesman Werner Kogler.
Harms expressed surprise at the SYRIZA party's decision to form a government coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) and the dearth of women ministers in the "so-called progressive government." She was also doubtful concerning the new government's first decisions, which she said indicated "a left faithful to statism".
Among those decisions, she criticised announcements that laid-off public-sector staff would be rehired, noting that the laying off of staff without a reform programme was wrong but to rehire them on the same basis was equally wrong.
In addition, she warned Athens not to attempt to link EU policy toward Russia with austerity terms for Greece, saying that there could be no "Russia-austerity" trade-off.
Noting that the current EU presidency was held by Latvia and the President of the European Council was from Poland - both countries with a strong stance against Russia - she queried whether the Greek government fully appreciated "the fact that we need respect toward all partners in Europe".
In their statements, both Harms and Kogler said that a reduction of Greece's debt would be difficult, if one took into account the other countries with high debt, and said that they were in favour of examining the expediency of troika terms but without arresting the course of reform in Greece, which they said should be reinforced with measures for growth.
With regard to Greek claims for German war reparations, the EP Greens group chair said she was in favour of talks on this and noted that negotiations were currently taking place with Jewish communities in Greece. At the same time, she noted that Germany had done a lot on the level of European solidarity in recent years and she advised against an "anti-German polemic" for reasons of domestic policy.
 Young European Greens call for end to austerity and a 'haircut' for GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
The Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG), via its spokesman Michael Bloss, on Monday called for an end to austerity and cuts in social spending for Greece, adding that a haircut of Greek debt was "necessary and unavoidable".
A FYEG announcement said it was "incomprehensible that poverty is increasing, hospitals are closed and a whole generation is left in agony just for the sake of paying back debt to banks."
Shifting away from the "dictatorship of debt and focusing on the much needed social-ecological transformation of society will be a cure for the Greek society and for the whole of Europe," the announcement adds.
According to FYEG, a large part of the debt owed by the Greek state was "illegitimate" and had been used by corrupt elites, while the burden was now forced onto the rest of society.
At the same time, the Young European Greens expressed concerns about the participation of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party in the government, stressing that some of the positions expressed by ministers raised questions about the progressive nature of the decisions taken.
 Belgian PM Charles Michel calls on the Greek government to clarify its programmeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Monday called on the Greek government to clarify its programme while he also expressed his support of European integration.
Addressing the annual meeting of the heads of the country's diplomatic missions, the Belgian prime minister expressed his support of European integration and of the eurozone as a response to rising Euro-skepticism which, as he said, can undermine the European idea, Belga news agency reported.
As regards Greece, he called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who will visit Brussels on Wednesday, "to clarify his programme," and said that "the Greeks should lay their cards on the table."
Referring to the state of the European economy, he noted that "the economies of the eurozone can become fairer and more competitive if labour market obstacles are lifted. These obstacles protect those who have a job but they limit the chances of the unemployed and the young. The restrictions in having access to the market of goods and services, that keep prices unnaturally high for the benefit of the few, should be reduced because they hamper entrepreneurship".
 Cooperation with Israel will continue, says Kammenos after meeting with Israeli ambassadorDefence Minister Panos Kammenos had a one-hour meeting with Israel's ambassador to Greece Irit Ben-Abba Vitale on Monday.
"I met with Israel's ambassador with whom we discussed continuing our cooperation in defence. Greece's cooperation with Israel is very important and of course the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean. We will continue the cooperation on the political and military level," the minister said.
The meeting was also attended by Israel's Defense Attach? to Greece, Colonel Yuval Gerbi and the Director of the Defense ministry's diplomatic office Eleftherios Karagiannis.
 FM spokesman responds to statements by Turkish Cypriot community leader ErogluInternational organisations and the international community - except for Turkey - recognise a single state on the island of Cyprus, the Cyprus Republic, Foreign Minister spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said on Monday, in response to comments by Turkish Cypriot community leader Dervis Eroglu.
"International law, international legality, the resolutions of the UN and the EU, the whole of the international community, with the exception of Turkey, recognise one state in Cyprus: the Republic of Cyprus. A single state with a single international personality, a single citizenship and a single sovereignty, comprising the two communities - the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities," Koutras said.
The comment was made in response to questions by members of the press as regards statements made by Eroglu on the "existence also of a Turkish Cypriot people in Cyprus, apart from the Greek Cypriot people."
The Turkish Cypriot community leader "would do well to come into line, a long last, with the international legal order and contribute to the resolution of the Cyprus issue, thus also providing his good offices to the Turkish Cypriot community," the foreign ministry spokesman said.
Alternate Rural Development Min Apostolou asks the immediate recording of damages from extreme weather conditions
Alternate Minister for Rural Development Vangelis Apostolou on Monday asked the Hellenic Organization of Agricultural Insurances (ELGA) to immediately record the damages farmers and cattle breeders have suffered in the areas affected by extreme weather conditions so that compensations are paid on time.
According to the president of ELGA Vassilis Exarchos, officials of the organisation have already visited the affected areas, and if it is needed additional ELGA staff will also travel to the area to speed up the inspections. He also reassured that the necessary funds for the timely payment of compensation are in place.
The political leadership of the ministry, which is closely monitoring developments, will also travel to the affected areas.
 Defence minister to send army engineers to help flood-damaged areasNational Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Monday ordered the Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGS) chief Lieut. Gen. Christos Manolas to immediately deploy personnel and equipment of the Army Engineers Directorate to assist in the restoration of flood-damaged areas in Epirus, northwestern Greece.
Kammenos had earlier been contacted by Epirus Regional Authority head Alexandros Kahrimanis, who briefed him on the extent of the damage caused by Sunday's torrential rains, which included the collapse of the historic Plaka Bridge in Tzoumerka, a traditional, single-arch stone bridge built in 1866, and the serious damage suffered by a bridge at Koboti in Arta, where one of the concrete supports has given way.
 KKE Europarliamentary Group tables question on flooding projects, compensationThose who were affected by the recent floods should be compensated immediately and fully, the Europarliament Group of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Monday through a question tabled by MEP Kostas Papadakis.
In his question, Papadakis said such catastrophes are repeated every time it rains strongly, and criticised what he called "the so-called excuse of 'extreme weather conditions' by all governments is used to cover up the full lack of foresight, prevention and planning to deal with flooding and of water drainage projects and infrastructure, which results in the tragic loss of life and great material losses painfully affecting working-class people."
He accused Greek governments and the EU of ignoring working-class needs since EU funds are provided to profitable companies while projects to prevent flooding are not chosen, termed "non-productive". He therefore asked the Parliamentary committee whether it plans to take any measures to restore property and what that is, and whether projects to prevent flooding have been included in EU funding, as well as what stage their construction is at.
 Potami MEPs request EU relief funds for regions hit by floodsTwo European Parliament Members of the Potami party submitted a question towards the European Commission on Monday, asking it to release funds for the reconstruction of the regions of Greece which were severey hit by extreme weather.
Miltos Kyrkos and Giorgos Grammatikakis said the prefectures of Arta, Etoloakarnania, Evritania and the valley of Acheloos suffered extensive damages caused by torrential rain and gale-force winds in the past two days.
The MEPs noted that heavy rainfall led to the evacuation of villages, landslides, traffic disruptions in major road networks, power cuts, damages to houses, infrastructure, cultivated land and local businesses, as well as on many cultural monuments in those regions.
The MEPs mention in particular the destruction of the historical bridges of Plaka in Epirus, northwestern Greece, built in 1860 and of the bridge of Korakou in Evritania, built in 1515.
For them, the two MEPs ask the Commission to consider activating the EU Solidarity Fund to assist the stricken regions of Greece.
 Government guarantees the pensions, Alternate Social Insurance Minister Stratoulis says"If there are any difficulties, we have a plan to deal with them and have sufficient financing," Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis on Monday said in an interview with ANA-MPA WebTV.
Stratoulis confirmed that the restitution of previous losses on pensions "will be gradual and based on the numbers of economic recovery."
Asked on how social securities' revenues will increase, he replied: "The coffers of the social security funds will be boosted if our plan for economic recovery, the restart of the economy succeeds, which we believe it will."
Stratoulis noted that the ministry already has a list of big debtors to social security funds and will publish them. However, he stressed that the main thing is to use all legal and political means to collect these debts.
Regarding the administration of social security funds, he said: "Changes will be made, but on time, because our priority is to stop the destruction of pensions and the plans for new pension reductions and the retirement age increase as of 1/1/2015 provided by the memorandum legislation."
The full interview is available at ANA-MPA website.
 Defence minister tells Alpha radio armaments procurements files will be reopenedNational Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said on Monday he wanted to reopen all cases dealing with armaments procurements, recent and old, and would seek to bring people who cheated the Greek state of millions of euros to justice.
In an interview to private radio station Alpha, Kammenos said, "All files will be reopened; none will be overlooked. We do not plan to hide anything... We cannot have the Greek people bleeding on one side and others hosting parties with armaments (funds) on the other... If some armaments procurements (cases) need to go to the prosecutors, they will go."
The minister noted that the armed forces' general staffs should not be handling armaments programmes. "It's not possible to have each (defence) minister's counsellors become the managers of armaments systems - at any rate, half of them are in jail," he said.
Asked to comment on the submarine procurement programme, he said they were needed but that would not stop the government from locating individuals who made the state lose millions. "Of course we will not stop at (former defence minister Akis) Tsohadzopoulos," he said, "he paid for everything he did, there are more people. Nobody will enjoy immunity, I can assure you of that."
 Alt. Citizen Protection Minister Panousis: Chemicals are not for chasing pensioners and teachersAlternate Citizen Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis announced the disengagement of 1,500 to 2,000 police officers for the guarding of person-targets.
"The policeman of the neighbourhood and the patrols on foot will continue to exist," he said on Monday to VIMA FM.
At a query on the use of chemicals in demonstrations, the minister said that these things must stop.
"To use chemicals means that things are at an extreme condition during which the opposite side is using different kind of weapons from pieces of marble to anything else. Then you can examine the possibility (of using chemicals).Chemicals should not be used to chase pensioners and teachers. If you have information, or you have something unpredictable, it goes without saying that police will be near but not with guns. Only if something happens or there is information that the other side is preparing to do something. If we send the police whenever 10-15 thousand people gather then we should have police at the square, round the corner, in the office. Everywhere!" he added.
 Alt. Environment minister: ''Our aim is to save Greek wetlands'The government's aim is to save Greece's wetlands and ensure free access for all, Alternate Minister for the Environment Yiannis Tsironis said on Monday, marking the World Wetlands Day.
"Our aim is to save the precious natural capital of Greek wetlands and ensure free public access and the values of recreation, research and education they offer us," Tsironis said.
The minister dedicated this year's World Day to the small wetlands found on islands and the salt works of Kitros, Naxos and Aegion and the lagoons of Corfu, Korission and Lefkimmi, which were "targeted by HRADF (Greece's privatization agency) despite the fact that they form part of the European network Natura 2000 and the National System of Protected Areas."
 Gov't negotiation is part of the war of powerful interests, KKE says"It is becoming increasingly obvious that the negotiation of the new government is part of the war of powerful interests in the EU, with the active involvement of the US, regarding who will be the winner of the crisis and debt management, with the people, as always, being the victims," the communist KKE party said in a statement on the government's negotiations.
"This is why the people need to draft its own line of struggle for the recovery of losses and the claim of real changes that would meet their needs," it added.
 Greek and French Navy co-training in Myrtoo SeaA co-training between the Greek and the French Navy took place in Myrtoo Sea from January 29 to February 1.
According to a Navy General Staff announcement, in the exercise participated the frigates 'Nikiforos Fokas' and 'Adrias' and the submarine 'Pontos' for Greece as well as the frigate FS Montcalm with an assisting aircraft from France.
"The co-training focused on technical issues of anti-submarine warfare, aif defence, anti-aircraft guns and manoeuvring with the participation Greek airforce," according to a Greek Navy's announcement.
 Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Min Lafazanis meets DEPA, DESFA managementsProductive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Monday held a new round of meetings ahead of the government's policy announcements.
The minister met with the managements of natural gas company DEPA and the National Natural Gas System Operator DESFA, which are not to be replaced for the time being according to ministry sources. The minister has already announced that DEPA privatization plans have been scrapped.
On the contrary, the secretary general for Industry George Stergiou is expected to be replaced.
Lafazanis is also scheduled to meet representatives of Public Power Corp (PPC) labour union GENOP-DEH. The government, by decision of the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, has already lifted the back-to-work order that was in effect for PPC employees.
 Gov't Vice-President Dragasakis meets with Piraeus Bank's headGovernment Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis on Monday met with president of Piraeus Bank Michalis Sallas.
According to sources, the two officials discussed matters regarding the Greek economy's potential for development, the procedure for the restart of the economy and the contribution of the banking system.
 Energy Minister Lafazanis meets with power company staff federation GENOP repsThe PPC S.A. staff federation GENOP is not some kind of guild, it is the soul of the Public Power Corporation "and I emphasize the word 'public'," Productive Reconstruction, Environment & Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Monday said after meeting with the federation's board.
Lafazanis noted that the dialogue with the company employees in order to shape a new energy strategy based on security, sufficiency and cheap energy will continue and underlined that he had a substantive and productive meeting with the representatives of the PPC employees.
 Greek PMI fell to 48.3 points in JanGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 48.3 points in January, from 49.4 in December, reflecting deteriorating conditions in the manufacturing sector. The PMI index, compiled by Markit, fell to its lowest levels in the last 15 months in January, below the 50-point level for the seventh time in the last eight months.
A decline in manufacturing production -the first in three months- was the basic reason for the decline in the PMI, while incoming works fell at the fastest rate since October 2013 for the fifth consecutive months, reflecting political uncertainty during the pre-election period.
Markit said the January figures showed a further weakening of demand for Greek products both in the domestic and external markets, as new export orders fell further although at a slower rate compared with December. Inventories fell in January, while manufacturers cut their purchases in raw materials. The January figures showed an increase in employment for the second successive month.
Pending works volume, fell in the first month of 2015 at the fastest rate in the last 18 months. Sale prices fell significantly in January, while inflow prices fell for the first time in four months and delivery times were extended for the second successive month.
The PMI measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Greek economic sentiment index down in JanGreece's economic sentiment index fell further to 95.3 points in January, from 98.9 in December, to its lowest level since February 2014, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.
The report showed a change in expectations between consumer and enterprises, with all production sectors recording a weakening of expectations because of the pre-election period, while consumer sentiment recovered following December's decline.
More analytically, business expectations in the manufacturing sector worsened further in production forecasts, while forecasts over new orders and demand fell slightly.
In the services sector, business expectations over current level of demand and short-term demand were negative.
In the retail sector, positive expectations over current sales improved slightly, although forecasts deteriorated over short-term sales developments and negative expectations over inventories remained unchanged.
In the construction sector, employment prospects were better, while the already very negative index in pending works expectations doubled in January.
Consumer confidence showed that households' expectations over their financial situation and the general economic situation over the next 12 months improved in January, along with intentions to save money and forecasts over unemployment.
 Greek stocks end 4.64 pct higherGreek stocks ended strongly higher in the first trading session of February in the Athens Stock Exchange, recovering after last week's 14.10 pct plunge of the composite index. Traders said a positive change of climate in current negotiations between the new government and the country's partners-creditors encouraged sentiment in the market. Bank shares were at the focus of buying interest, particularly Eurobank, following the government's reassurance that it will respect private shareholders in banks and will support banks' share value.
The composite index jumped 4.64 pct to end at 755.42 points, off the day's highs of 765.50 points. Turnover was a heavy 116.35 million euros. The Large Cap index rose 4.66 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.38 pct higher.
Eurobank (14.55 pct), GEK Terna (13.71 pct), Mytilineos (9.34 pct) and National Bank (9.19 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Grivalia Properties (2.53 pct) and Coca Cola HBC (1.46 pct) were the only ones to end lower.
Among market sectors, Health (9.10 pct), Commerce (9.06 pct) and Raw Materials (9.02 pct) were top gainers, while Food (1.41 pct) and Real Estate (0.13 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 92 to 34 with another 11 issues unchanged. Pairis (25 pct), Medicon (19.65 pct) and Kreka (19.55 pct) were top gainers, while Pasal (19.35 pct), Dionic (18.75 pct) and Teletypos (18.0 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +5.39%
Industrial Products: +2.86%
Real Estate: -0.13%
Personal & Household: +5.81%
Food & Beverages: -1.41%
Raw Materials: +9.02%
Mass Media: Unchanged
Travel & Leisure: +6.22%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.330
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.12
Coca Cola HBC: 14.21
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.86
National Bank of Greece: 1.01
Piraeus Bank: 0.52
Grivalia Properties: 7.70
Aegean Airlines: 7.38
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek state bond prices remained under pressure pushing yields to higher levels in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 10.49 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 10.79 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.30 pct, while the three-year bond yield rose to 19.7 pct from 18.77 pct on Friday, and the five-year bond yield rose to 15.3 pct from 14.9 pct over the same periods, respectively. Turnover was a thin 6.0 million euros, all sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to 0.271 pct from 0.270 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.202 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.134 pct from 0.132 pct, the three-month rate edged up to 0.055 pct from 0.054 pct and the one-month rate rose to 0.003 pct from 0.001 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.85 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 14,608 contracts with 48,500 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 48,788 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (14,272), followed by National Bank (12,427), Piraeus Bank (8,252), Eurobank (7,954), PPC (1,609), OTE (1,142), OPAP (1,008), GEK (421), MIG (362), Ellaktor (259), Mytilineos (222) and Hellenic Exchanges (109).
 Foreign exchange rates - MondayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.131
Pound sterling 0.7526
Danish kroner 7.444
Swedish kroner 9.3672
Japanese yen 133.06
Swiss franc 1.0519
Norwegian kroner 8.7225
Canadian dollar 1.4332
Australian dollar 1.4523
 Evros area braces for more flooding as river rises and dam opens in BulgariaAuthorities in northeastern Greece's Evros prefecture will be on alert throughout the night for flooding, as the volume of water in the Ardas river, a tributary of Evros River, is rising continuously, they said on Monday.
Deputy regional director for Evros Dimitris Petrivits told ANA-MPA that authorities had built metre-high levees randomly in the Kastanies settlement, at the borders with Bulgaria, that will be easy to strengthen during the night if need be.
Petrovits said the influx of water was increasing continuously after neighbouring Bulgaria authorities decided to open the Ivailograc dam to relieve the flooding after torrential rain, and said that Wednesday would be the most critical day, with the water reaching its highest volume in the Ardas. He added that the water takes approximately 12 hours to travel from Bulgaria to Greece.
The section of the National Road at the borders with Bulgaria is off access from flooding, while the customs office at Kastanies is also shut down.
 Plaka bridge will be rebuilt, Alt. Minister Spirtzis saysAfter visiting the site of the fallen Bridge of Plaka in Arta, which collapsed as a result of the extreme bad weather over the weekend, Alternate Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis on Monday promised that the traditional stone-built bridge, considered one of Arta's local landmarks, will be rebuilt.
"It is a wager for the country, for our cultural heritage, of the fact that we want to continue to be proud that we are Greeks. It is a message for our national dignity: the bridge will be rebuilt," he said.
The minister reported that in the short time since the bridge's collapse on Sunday morning, several people had sought to provide assistance, including experts from the National Technical University of Athens, the regional sector of the Technical Chamber, companies involved in the construction of the Ionian Highway and ordinary citizens wishing to help to restore the monument that was a symbol of the region's history and culture.
According to Spirtzis, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had expressed personal interest in the matter, as had Alternate Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis, who had taken immediate steps to send an team to review the damage to the bridge. The alternate minister noted that as soon as the weather improves and the phenomena abate, teams will conduct a full inspection and he appeared confident that funds will be found to rebuild the bridge.
The NTUA has already announced that it will be sending a team of university staff to assist in the restoration of the historic bridge and that the university is at the disposal of the authorities to ensure the use of cutting-edge technology and know-how in efforts to rebuild the 150-year-old bridge.
Offers of financial assistance have come from Nikolaos K. Loulis, owner of the Loulis Mills S.A. industrial concern. According to Epirus Region governor Alexandros Kahrimanis, the Loulis family hails from the region and his ancestors had financed the construction the same bridge twice.
Talking to the ANA-MPA, Loulis confirmed his intention to contribute financially to rebuilding the historic bridge originally financed by his family, saying he considered it a "moral obligation to both the history of our family and to the region from where we started out our business activity."
The bridge's collapse has also been reported by the Turkish media, who showed strong interest since its construction took place in 1866, at a time when the region was under Ottoman rule in the time of Sultan Abdulaziz.
The historic Bridge of Plaka, situated in an area of northwestern Greece known as Tzoumerka, on Sunday collapsed as a result of the torrential rain in the area. The bridge was constructed in the 18th century is the largest single-arch bridge in the Balkans.
 Hellenic Navy helicopter rescues three women cut off due to landslides; Klepa village evacuated (ADDS)A Hellenic Navy S-70 Aegean Hawk helicopter on Monday extricated three women from the village of Klepa in Aitoloakarnania, western Greece. The village had been cut off as a result of landslides due to the bad weather and one of the women rescued had serious health issues as a result of recent surgery.
The helicopter was requested by the central search and rescue coordination centre.
The remaining residents of the village were later evacuated to safety after Western Greece Region and Nafpaktos municipality teams, assisted by members of the 6th EMAK disaster response unit, successfully opened the road leading to Klepa.
According to Western Greece Region governor Apostolos Katsifaras, the regions worst hit in the region are in Aitoloakarnania, especially in the mountains above Nafpaktos and the Thermi municipality, noting that there was a rockfall or landslide every 500 metres along the area's road network. He stressed that authorities in the region, as well as the police and fire brigade, were making every effort to provide aid to residents, while Public Power Corporation technicians were working indefatigably to restore power.
 Flu outbreak death toll rises to 27, authorities reportTwo more people died from flu in Greece during the weekend, raising the total number to 27, authorities said on Monday.
Patients who have been hospitalized in intensive care units since the start of the flu season have reached 86. Of those, 41 continue to be monitored in those units.
 Super League resultsPAS Yiannena defeated Kerkyra, and Xanthi defeated Levadiakos (both by 2-1) on Sunday's game of the Super League.
The results are as follows:
Panionios- Panthrakikos, 2-1
Kalloni-Asteras Tripolis, 1-0
PAS Yiannena-Kerkyra, 2-1
Veria-Olympiakos (1/2, starts 19.30)
Atromitos-OFI, 3-0 (without game)
Ergotelis-Niki Volou, 3-0 (without game)
Standings after 21 weeks of play:
1. Olympiakos, 48 (20 games)
2. PAOK, 46
3. Panathinaikos, 43
4. Asteras Tripolis, 35
5. Panetolikos, 35
6. Atromitos, 33
7. Xanthi, 31
8. PAS Yiannena, 31
9. Veria, 30 (20 games)
10. Kalloni, 27
11. Kerkyra, 25
12. Platanias Chanion, 22
13. Panthrakikos, 21
14. Levadiakos, 21
15. Panionios, 19 (20 games)
16. Ergotelis, 1 (19 games)
17. OFI*, 10
18. Niki Volou, 7
(* OFI has been penalised with 10 points)
 Partly cloudy on TuesdayPartly cloudy and westerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 03C-13C. Partly cloudy in the western parts of the country with temperatures between 07C-14C. Same weather in the eastern part with temperatures between 06C-15C. Clouds and rain over the islands, 10C-17C. Mostly fair in Athens, 06C-14C; the same for Thessaloniki, 05C-11C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: New contract with Europe.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Hard landing to the European reality.
ETHNOS: US President Barack Obama's meaningful intervention.
NAFTEMPORIKI: New political agreement.
TA NEA: Towards troika's gr(exit).
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