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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-04

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

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

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 Issue No: 4877

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras: Greece has specific proposals to meet its debt obligations
  • [02] ND criticises Prime Minister Tsipras for statements in Italy
  • [03] PM Tsipras receives congratulatory phone call by Bill Clinton
  • [04] PM Tsipras concludes visit to Cyprus
  • [05] FinMin Varoufakis refers to 'extremely useful' meeting with his Italian counterpart Padoan
  • [06] Varoufakis to meet with ECB President Draghi on Wednesday and with German Finance Minister Schaeuble on Thursday
  • [07] We have not changed our stance on Greek debt, gov't spokesman Sakellaridis says
  • [08] Gov't issues clarification over FinMin Varoufakis statements
  • [09] ANEL on the reactions to the finance minister's statements
  • [10] Potami party on the government's negotiations with EU partners
  • [11] KKE MP says government proposal on debt will not favour the people
  • [12] PASOK says gov't 'is making a definitive turn on the debt issue'
  • [13] High-ranking US Treasury official to head technical team in Athens visit
  • [14] Eurogroup 'likely' to meet on February 11 to discuss Greece
  • [15] The expression of the Greek people's democratic will should be taken into account, EU Commission head Juncker says
  • [16] Greece cannot play France off against Germany, French FinMin tells Reuters
  • [17] German Chancellor Merkel says 'the Greek government is still processing its position'
  • [18] ECB considering leaving troika, German paper Handelsblatt reports
  • [19] Independent Greeks leader Kammenos: We will not vote for bills that are against our principles
  • [20] Defence minister to visit Moscow; analysts see expansion of collaboration
  • [21] Defence Minister Kammenos meets with the ambassadors of Russia and the United States
  • [22] Alternate Defence minister meets with Russian ambassador, visits defence plant in Egio
  • [23] ND spokesman on SYRIZA officials' ''contradictory statements''
  • [24] Gov't spokesman on New Democracy's statement
  • [25] Productive reconstruction minister to visit Epirus areas damaged by extreme weather
  • [26] Alternate Culture min Xydakis meets with Epirus local officials on flood-damaged areas
  • [27] Former gen. sec. for transparency attacks Potami MP Theoharis' track record on offshore firms taxation
  • [28] Hirings will be made where necessary, Alternate Min for Administrative Reform says
  • [29] Turkish press on PM Tsipras' meetings with Turkish Cypriot NGOs during Cyprus visit
  • [30] 'We want national strategy and national consensus' PASOK leader Venizelos says
  • [31] Deputy Macedonia-Thrace Minister replies to comments by Thessaloniki mayor
  • [32] Government to extend home-owners' protection from foreclosures, Economy Minister Stathakis says
  • [33] No government appointees for Decentralised Administration general secretary positions, KEDE says
  • [34] Justice Minister orders preliminary examination over prisoner's death
  • [35] Public hospital doctors and staff face charges of overpricing consumables
  • [36] EU Commission proposes 8.7 million euro aid from Globalisation Fund to help media workers in Greece
  • [37] Government VP Dragasakis meets with HFSF leadership
  • [38] ND spokesman urges government to reconsider its decision to re-examine hydrocarbon tenders
  • [39] Copelouzos Group, Fraport, VTB complete project in Pulkovo airport
  • [40] Greece ranks 92nd in Net Index list
  • [41] Grivalia Properties signs buy and lease back agreement with Sklavenitis Group
  • [42] Alpha Trust-Andromeda reports losses in 2014
  • [43] Blue Air to offer flights from Athens to Larnaca as of January 19
  • [44] Greek minister calls for reduction of domestic fuel prices
  • [45] Passenger traffic at Athens International Airport jumps 28 pct in January
  • [46] Greek stocks jump 11.27 pct higher
  • [47] Greek bond market closing report
  • [48] ADEX closing report
  • [49] Foreign exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [50] Charred body found on board Norman Atlantic ferry
  • [51] Supreme Court: Front-seat passenger in car with intoxicated driver is 30 pct responsible in case of accident
  • [52] Albanian man arrested for murder committed 21 years earlier
  • [53] Dead body of unknown man found in Serres; death attributed to criminal act
  • [54] POSPERT union plans rally outside premises of former ERT on Feb. 11
  • [55] Partly cloudy on Wednesday
  • [56] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras: Greece has specific proposals to meet its debt obligations

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

    The Greek elections brought a message of hope for an entire generation which is suffering from the crisis and demands more attention, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told journalists on Tuesday evening, following a meeting with Greek premier Alexis Tsipras in Rome.

    "Alexis Tsipras' success is based on a message of hope and not in fear. We have the same age, though different experiences," Renzi said during the joint press conference.

    The two leaders had a one-hour meeting, of which the last 20 minutes were spent without their delegations.

    The Italian premier noted Tsipras will participate in the European Council next week and that a close cooperation with the European institutions is important. He said reforms are needed, but the innovations of European policy also have to be taken into account.

    "We didn't get into a breakdown of the Greek proposals but Italy has every intention to cooperate bilateraly as well as in all other for a," Renzi said.

    On his side, Tsipras thanked Renzi for the constructive climate and noted "there has to be a common struggle with the same values and responsibility so that the new generation can find its hope again."

    The Greek premier reiterated the need for time to form a plan for the reconstruction of the economy with sweeping reforms. "Because in Greece the rich don't pay taxes and there's a client state and corruption," he noted.

    He also explained Greece will not create new deficits and Athens does not want to create rifts in Europe. "We want solidarity and social cohesion and a return to the founding values of Europe," he said.

    Asked by ANA-MPA, Tsipras said it is necessary for Europe to change and he clarified the new government is open to alternative proposals.

    "It is right to have fiscal balance but Europe needs more research, investments and culture," Renzi said, adding his country supports the adoption of a different approach to European policy by all partners.

    The Greek premier continued by explaining the government has specific proposals on how it will meet its debt obligations without deficits and loans and noted European citizens and creditors have nothing to fear.

    At the end of the joint press conference, during the traditional exchange of gifts, Renzi offered Tsipras an Italian tie, asking him to wear it "when Greece exits the crisis."

    Tsipras answered that when the country leaves the crisis behind it he will wear it and offered the Italian premier a CD with traditional songs from villages of Southern Italy (in the Puglia region) that still speak a Greek dialect.

    [02] ND criticises Prime Minister Tsipras for statements in Italy

    New Democracy (ND) party criticised Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for negative publicity of Greece abroad, following the premier's statements in Italy on Tuesday during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi that he would fight widespread corruption in Greece.

    "Representing our country abroad, Tsipras called Greece a corrupt country, like George Papandreou did," ND spokesman Costas Karagounis said, referring to the former PM.

    "We call on Tsipras and his coalition government - in view of the coming negotiations - to follow at last the path of seriousness and responsibility for the good fo the country," he said.

    [03] PM Tsipras receives congratulatory phone call by Bill Clinton

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

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras received a congratulatory phone call from former US president Bill Clinton while in Rome. The premier is expected to meet Clinton during the event hosted by his foundation, the Clinton global initiative (CGI) in the summer in Greece.

    [04] PM Tsipras concludes visit to Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited the military camp of the Hellenic forces in Cyprus ELDYK, in his last stop of his visit to the island.

    Tsipras talked with officers and soldiers and noted that ELDYK was committed to defending in Cyprus the values of freedom, independence and justice based on international law. He added it was important that they served in a country like Cyprus, the significance of which is known and expressed his content over the combat effectiveness of the unit.

    Before visiting the military camp, Tsipras laid a wreath at the cemetery of mainland Greeks and Cypriot Greeks who died during the Turkish invasion of 1974 (Tymvos Makedonitissas). Tsipras had the chance to talk with relatives of missing persons and assured them that the Greek government will do its best in international fora and on a European level regarding the fate of their beloved ones.

    The Greek premier on Tuesday is visiting Rome.

    [05] FinMin Varoufakis refers to 'extremely useful' meeting with his Italian counterpart Padoan

    ROME (ANA-MPA/ Th. Andreadis)

    Emerging from a meeting with Italian Economy and Finances Minister Pier Carlo Padoan on Tuesday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis described the meeting as "extremely useful" in statements to reporters.

    He said the two sides had a discussed a 'road map' for the next few years and issues raised during his talks in Paris and London, which must be examined during his meeting on Wednesday with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and on Thursday when he meets his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble.

    "We will use whatever tools are necessary in order to reduce the debt and make the economy sustainable, so as to stop the self-reinforcing crisis," he said. According to the minister, what mattered was the essence and not the name that will be given to the solution for reducing the debt and returning to growth, without creating further malignancies. He ended by expressing confidence that a solution will be found.

    [06] Varoufakis to meet with ECB President Draghi on Wednesday and with German Finance Minister Schaeuble on Thursday

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

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday told journalists here that on Wednesday he will meet with European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi and the day after with Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

    He said that he is in Rome to discuss the roadmap that will lead to a definitive solution of the Greek crisis and that the reactions of his interlocutors in London and Paris were extremely positive and encouraging.

    The finance minister also underlined that the new government will keep public finances in order and that its programme will not be a simple photocopy of the election campaign pledges. As regards the immediate strategic moves, he underlined "we do not want the 7.2-billion-euro tranche but we will ask the ECB to give us the profits from the Greek state bonds amounting to 1.9 billion euros."

    [07] We have not changed our stance on Greek debt, gov't spokesman Sakellaridis says

    The government's firm position is that the Greek debt is not sustainable and that is the reason why its write-off is required, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Tuesday told ANT1 TV.

    Sakellaridis stressed that the government has not changed its stance, which may have disappointed some people.

    He underlined that the write-off can occur in several technical methods and one of them is "the technical method presented by (Finance Minister Yanis) Varoufakis to British investors". However, he said, the government is concerned with rendering the debt sustainable, to help the Greek society breathe.

    Referring to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' contacts with Europeans, Sakellaridis said that the government has strengthened Greece's negotiation position.

    As for the candidate President of Republic, he said that the government's proposal will soon be announced. "When the prime minister returns and the parliament opens, there will be an announcement of the candidate and we will smoothly proceed with the election of the President of Republic," Sakellaridis noted.

    Regarding the possibility of a meeting between the Greek prime minister and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said that the Greek side has not made any moves yet. "This has not been finalised, the Greek side has not done any moves in order to plan a meeting between Tsipras and Merkel. If there is such a meeting, you will be informed. It is a long time until February 12," he concluded.

    [08] Gov't issues clarification over FinMin Varoufakis statements

    The Greek government on Tuesday offered clarifications over statements made by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis during a meeting with a group of investors in London.

    In an announcement, the government stressed that because wrong interpretations are made over the Finance Minister's statements to investments in London, Yanis Varoufakis clarifies: "If we need to use euphemism and tools of financial mechanism to get Greece out of its debt-slavery, we will do it. The essense, however, is one. The Greek public debt will be sustainable, the prospect of real growth will open and the Greek people will breathe at last. The government and the Finance minister will not back down, no matter how much our determination makes someone sad."

    [09] ANEL on the reactions to the finance minister's statements

    The government's goal is to take the burden of a huge non-manageable debt off the shoulders of the Greek people, Marina Chrissoveloni, spokeswoman for Independent Greeks (ANEL), the junior partner in the SYRIZA-led coalition government, said on Tuesday.

    Referring to the reactions to the statements made by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on the Greek debt, she said that the Greek people "relegated to the opposition in Parliament those who maintained that the public debt is manageable and sustainable," adding that "the national-purpose government seeks to win a positive result for the country without mocking the Greeks."

    Chryssoveloni urged those "who are concerned today about the terminology of the negotiation" to ask former prime minister Antonis Samaras "what he meant when he was saying that Greece will receive 'debt assistance' in the form of new loans."

    [10] Potami party on the government's negotiations with EU partners

    Potami party on Tuesday called for "straight talk" in Greece's negotiations with its EU partners on the loan agreement, in response to statements made by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Efklidis Tsakalotos on the way the debt will be handled.

    Negotiations with the lenders need straight talk and no ploys, the party announced and welcomed the new statements made by Varoufakis and Tsakalotos on the way the debt will be handled which it called "an approach towards reason," compared to previous approaches insisting on a writeoff of a large part of the debt..

    "We propose to the government's economic staff - especially ahead of tomorrow's meetings with (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble and (ECB President Mario) Draghi - to make its proposals even clearer," Potami underlined.

    The party proposed fixed bilateral loans, drastic extension of payment, adequate grace period and mainly a reduction of primary surpluses to below 2 percent in order to secure development funds. "What will definitely affect the negotiation and our future is our own national plan of reforms to change Greece, not easy promises of state jobs or a postponement of the few investment activities," it added.

    [11] KKE MP says government proposal on debt will not favour the people

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has been steadfast in criticising both the previous and the present government's proposals relating to Greece's debt, KKE MP and press office head Yiannis Giokas said on Mega television channel on Tuesday. He said that both the ND-PASOK proposals for an extension and lower interest rates, and SYRIZA's proposal for a debt haircut 'that is now apparently being abandoned', would lead to new measures and terms that were unfavourable for the people in the framework of an agreement.

    "The latest developments show that the solution that is now proposed by SYRIZA is close to that proposed by the previous government, which SYRIZA then criticised," Giokas said.

    According to the KKE MP, the government's negotiation was taking place "in the framework of a generalised war between competing interests" within the Eurozone and the EU, with the direct involvement of the United States. "It is naive for anyone to think that the [U.S. President Barack] Obama statements, by those that have ravaged the entire planet, are [prompted] by a sudden concern about the living standards of the Greek people," he noted. According to Giokas, there were forces - such as France, Italy and the U.S. - that want austerity to be relaxed not in order to raise wages and pensions, nor in order to improve social services for workers, but in order to "save funds that will be given as assistance to capital for investments, in order to boost its profits."

    The Greek government was part of this effort, he added, and the essence was that Greece will be in a programme, as all members of the government have admitted. This was not a change in the favour of the people, he said, since this would mean restoring all that was lost.

    [12] PASOK says gov't 'is making a definitive turn on the debt issue'

    PASOK on Tuesday commented on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' recent statements to Bloomberg, as well as on statements made by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, noting that "the government is making a definitive turn" on the debt issue.

    The party's press office announcement underlined that "the government is abandoning the easy and irresponsible rhetoric on unilateral actions and cessation of payments and, in essence, accepts the agreed framework shaped since February 2012."

    "What's important is to move safely within the framework of the only feasible and safe national strategy which was implemented by us," the PASOK announcement underlined.

    [13] High-ranking US Treasury official to head technical team in Athens visit

    The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Department of Treasury, Daleep Singh, will head the American mission of experts who will visit Athens in the coming weeks to discuss about the country's economic situation, a U.S. official announced on Tuesday.

    The exact mission of the team has not been clarified but it will stay in Athens "for many days", the official added.

    Singh worked at Goldman Sachs where he traded emerging market debt and currencies.

    [14] Eurogroup 'likely' to meet on February 11 to discuss Greece

    Eurozone finance ministers are "likely" to hold an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on February 11, on the eve of the European Council, to find a common solution concerning Greece's request to relieve its debt, a source close to the talks told AFP on Tuesday.

    According to the source, it was "very likely" that the Eurogroup meeting would be held next Wednesday, but that a decision would be taken on Thursday after a euro working group meeting, during which the preparatory work for the minister's meeting will take place.

    The meeting would be the first after the comments made by new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who clarified that he plans to "put his ideas on the table" in front of his counterparts.

    The meeting will give Eurozone the opportunity to clarify its position concerning Greece, which wants to lessen its massive debt and end austerity policies. But this ambition meets with the categorical opposition of many countries and especially Germany, which presents itself as the custodian of fiscal orthodoxy in the EU.

    Other countries have also made it clear that they don't want to make any concessions, including Finland, the Baltic countries, Netherlands, but also Portugal and Spain.

    Eurogroup president Jeroem Dijsselbloem said the Eurozone has to deal with the issue in a "very pragmatic way."

    "There's a new government, they won (the elections), they have very different ideas, it's on that basis that we must negotiate... It will definitely take some time," he told Dutch television.

    [15] The expression of the Greek people's democratic will should be taken into account, EU Commission head Juncker says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday said the expression of the Greek people's democratic will should be taken into account and congratulated the Greek people on "their courage".

    In his address in the annual meeting of the European Parliament and the national parliaments on the European Semester, Juncker said that those who win the elections in Greece and other countries should in their turn consider the rest of the EU people as well as their beliefs.

    He also acknowledged the need for some differentiation in policies, clarifying however: "We will not overturn everything just because we had an election result."

    Juncker also referred to the initiatives taken by the Commission before the Greek elections on the 315 billion euro investment programme and the decisions on the flexibility of the Stability Pact.

    "I comprehend what has happened in Greece and I am telling you that what the EU Commission did took place before the lesson that some people say we took from the result of the Greek elections," Juncker said.

    [16] Greece cannot play France off against Germany, French FinMin tells Reuters

    France's Finance Minister Michel Sapin warned Athens against any attempt to play Paris off against Berlin over Greece's debt crisis, saying a Franco-German agreement was key to striking a deal that would help Greeks and ensure they met their commitments, according to Reuters news agency.

    Greece's demand for time to negotiate a "new deal" with its EU peers is reasonable as long as it comes up quickly with the basis for a reform plan that can be gradually beefed up, Sapin told Reuters in an interview a day after he met Athens's new finance minister.

    The new government must start by offering commitments to the European Central Bank to ensure its banks keep getting liquidity, Sapin said at the Reuters Euro Zone Summit.

    "There is no point in playing eurozone countries against each other, and especially not France and Germany because ... a solution that helps Greece while making sure it meets its commitments will have to go through an agreement between France and Germany," Sapin said late on Monday.

    Sapin said he had never had closer contact than now with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble, "to avoid any misunderstanding or tensions."

    "These are things that we must explain in a friendly way and that Greek authorities can understand," he said.

    Paris and Berlin do not see eye-to-eye on all aspects, however. While Germany has said it sees no reason to scrap the "troika" of EU, ECB and IMF inspectors who oversee compliance with bailout agreements, which the new Greek government rejects, Sapin said new tools with new names could be put in place. That is one of the issues that needs to be discussed, he said.

    Sapin said Greece would not get a free ride. Athens says it does not want an extension of its 240-billion euro bailout when it expires on Feb. 28 and has asked for one month to come up with proposals and further time to strike a deal.

    "That timetable seems reasonable if there is a minimal political framework that is gradually spelled out," he said. "The ECB and European partners cannot give without anything in return."

    The first step would be a deal with the ECB on liquidity assistance, then Greece would need to either accept a prolongation of its existing deal with its EU partners or strike a new one on a new program, Sapin said.

    While France has opened the door to allowing Athens more time to repay its debt, Sapin reaffirmed its opposition to any debt cancellation: "There will be no haircut."

    Sapin welcomed the Tsipras government's commitment to a negotiated deal with its EU partners. But after a hectic first week during which ministers said they would cancel some privatization plans, he urged Athens to be careful not to spook foreign investors it will need to get back to growth.

    Sapin played down a comment by British finance minister George Osborne that a stand-off between Greece and the eurozone over Greek debt was fast becoming the biggest risk to the global economy.

    The eurozone is now much better equipped to deal with such issues than when the Greek debt crisis began five years ago, Sapin said, adding: "I'm afraid that the British finance minister has not quite perceived all the changes that have taken place since then in the eurozone."

    [17] German Chancellor Merkel says 'the Greek government is still processing its position'

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said that she doesn't want to comment on everything that is being written every day, adding that "it is clear that the Greek government is still processing its position."

    "This is more than understandable, if we consider that this government came into office just a few days ago," she said, commenting on statements made on Monday by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as regards the Greek debt.

    Germany's Vice Chancellor and Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel, in statements he made to Bild newspaper in an article entitled "Why rich Greeks don't pay", called on the EU to actively support Greece in the battle against corruption.

    He suggested that the EU countries could "freeze" the bank accounts Greek tax evaders keep abroad "until they pay their taxes," while CDU parliamentary group deputy chairman Michael Fuchs underlined that "the time has come for Greece to tax its shipowners."

    CDU domestic policy expert Wolfgang Bosbach noted that the Greek state has almost completely relieved shipowners from the obligation to pay taxes, underlining that given this, "Greece cannot expect the eurozone taxpayers to cover the millions of lost revenues that will be created."

    On his part, CDU MP Karl-Georg Wellmann said that before reaching out to the Germans for economic assistance it would have been preferable that the Greeks should turn to their own millionaires.

    German Taxpayers' Association President Reiner Holznagel underlined that it is time for the tax collection mechanism in Greece to be mobilised, noting that the rich Greeks will have to pay.

    [18] ECB considering leaving troika, German paper Handelsblatt reports

    The European Central Bank is considering withdrawing from the "troika" of international lenders that governs Greece's international bailout, German business daily Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday, according to Reuters news agency.

    The debate about whether to withdraw reflects concerns within the ECB that its large-scale sovereign bond-buying plan, announced last month, could lead to conflicts of interest, Handelsblatt reported.

    "The ECB will use the chance to exit," the paper quoted a German government source as saying.

    Without citing a source, Handelsblatt also reported that the International Monetary Fund would like to leave the troika sooner rather than later, leaving the European Commission as the sole remaining participant.

    Handelsblatt reported that Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker believed the troika did not have a bright future, and that he was thinking about a concept with more democratic controls.

    [19] Independent Greeks leader Kammenos: We will not vote for bills that are against our principles

    Defence Minister and Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos on Tuesday, speaking to ANT1 TV, said that if a draft law is against his party's principles and red lines, they will not vote it.

    Kammenos, who is also leader of the junior party that participates in the government, said ANEL will participate in all cabinet's decisions and clarified that "the relation between that State and the Church will not change because this is a red line for his party. He also raised objections to the granting of Greek citizenship to migrants' children.

    He noted that "this government is a national sovereign government that will not be ruled with an email and by foreign centers, but will follow the Greek people's orders.

    Moreover, he announced the review of all armament programme contracts and committed to total transparency.

    Finally, he estimated that a positive climate exists worldwide for a solution to the debt while on the relations with Russia he said that they are institutional and that the cooperation will continue.

    [20] Defence minister to visit Moscow; analysts see expansion of collaboration

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Furthering the military and defence industry collaboration between Greece and Russia will be the focus of the forthcoming visit of National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos to Moscow following an invitation by his counterpart Sergei Shoigu, according to the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.

    Drawing on analyses by Russian experts, the agency quoted Russian Defence Ministry public council member Igor Korotchenko as saying that Russia has a lot of experience in the defence industry, as it has provided Greece with several systems and air-defence systems such as S-300, and could provide more such as landing craft.

    Other experts, such as Anatoly Tsyganov, head of the Military Forecasting Centre, said that Greece and Russia might be interested in exchange visits of warships to ports of Greece and Russia.

    [21] Defence Minister Kammenos meets with the ambassadors of Russia and the United States

    Defence Minister Panos Kammenos had separate meetings on Tuesday with the ambassadors of the United States and Russia.

    Bilateral issues concerning the sectors of defence and the military dominated in the meeting with US Ambassador to Athens David Pearce.

    Kammenos said that they reaffirmed the continuation of bilateral cooperation in the context of NATO, the further strengthening of cooperation in the defence industry sector and the exchange of training programmes for the armed forces.

    Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrey Maslov invited the defence minister to visit Moscow in the immediate future.

    Their discussion focused on pending agreements between the two countries' defence ministries, strategic cooperation potential and the organising of festivities in the context of the Greek-Russian Friendship Year celebrations in 2016 to take place in Greece and Russia.

    [22] Alternate Defence minister meets with Russian ambassador, visits defence plant in Egio

    Alternate National Defence Minister Costas Isychos met with Russian Federation Ambassador to Athens Andrey Maslov on Tuesday and discussed collaboration between the two countries.

    The get-acquainted meeting of the new minister was also attended by new Deputy Minister Nikos Toskas.

    On Tuesday, Isychos and Toskas also visited the Hellenic Defence Systems (EAS) unit in Egio, northern Peloponnese, and were briefed on issues relating to the industry plant.

    The minister said the government wanted to save and expand the defence industry through a single agency that would cover the armed forces' needs and their exporting activity. He said plans included expanding the industry's clientele through the help of Greek embassies globally. He also said that collective labour agreements would return to Greece.

    Staff employees asked for more workers to be hired in order to cover all orders immediately and raw materials or spare parts from abroad. The minister said he would be meeting shortly in Athens to plan future steps and thanked them for their efforts to save the plant from shutting down.

    [23] ND spokesman on SYRIZA officials' ''contradictory statements''

    New Democracy spokesperson Costas Karagounis commenting on the ''contradictory statements'' by government officials said: "A few days after the elections and before the policy announcements, the Tsipras-Varoufakis government, via the talkative (Finance Minister) Mr. (Yanis) Varoufakis, confesses outright that:

    First, the debt write-off is no longer on the table, going back on what they had been saying up until now.

    Secondly, that it will not meet its pre-election pledges.

    On the other hand, (Alternate Social Security Minister Dimitris) Stratoulis noted that:

    First, the debt will be written-off and secondly, SYRIZA' pre-election pledges will be fully met.

    Somewhere in between, the government spokesman (Gavriil) Sakellaridis agreed with Mr. Stratoulis citing Mr. Varoufakis.

    The government must immediately make its official position known, ahead of the crucial negotiations on the country's course."

    [24] Gov't spokesman on New Democracy's statement

    New Democracy's bewilderment is reasonable, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said on Tuesday regarding New Democracy's earlier statement.

    "Citizens understand that for the first time the Greek government negotiates. For the first time, Europe is discussing the end of austerity while 10 days ago it was discussing the further reduction of salaries and pensions," Sakellaridis said.

    "New Democracy's bewilderment is reasonable as the new reality totally proves the pre-election scaremongering and its insistence on supposedly one-way austerity road wrong," he added.

    Alt. Min. for Infrastructure Spirtzis on the extensive damages caused by torrential rains in parts of the country

    Our priority was to ensure that people's lives will not be at risk, Alternate Minister for Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Christos Spirtzis told ANA-MPA on Tuesday, a day after the unprecedented rainfall that caused extensive damage in the regions of Epirus, Western Greece and Evros in the northeast. He noted that according to forecasts, the bad weather will continue.

    Spirtzis said that "inflexible legislative frameworks will have to be simplified," noting that the overlapping authorities of government ministries hamper the immediate solution of the problems. He also said that regional authorities and the municipalities are exclusively authorised to deal with natural disasters.

    "We, as a government ministry, offer assistance by dispatching staff and experts to the regions hit to ensure that people's lives will not be at risk," he said, noting that "until now this was made possible with great difficulty considering the intensity of the weather phenomena."

    As regards the amounts earmarked for compensation to the people affected and the question tabled in the European Commission by SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis on the activation of the Solidarity Fund, he said that "the existing legislative framework will be used for now and later we will consider additional moves."

    Referring to the historic Plaka Bridge in Tzoumerka, a traditional, single-arch stone bridge built in 1866, that collapsed as a result of Sunday's torrential rains, he said that the monument will be restored.

    He also underlined the lack of infrastructure in the greater region of Arta designed to handle such emergencies, noting that "reforms, necessary for the country and society, will be implemented in order to be able to move forward, have a productive structure and prevent such consequences caused by extreme weather phenomena from being repeated."

    [25] Productive reconstruction minister to visit Epirus areas damaged by extreme weather

    Productive Reconstruction Alternate Minister Vangelis Apostolou, responsible for rural development, will be visiting all areas of Epirus, Greece's northwestern section, affected by adverse weather.

    Apostolou will hold several meetings, with Epirus district manager Alexandros Kachrimanis, agricultural insurance agency representatives and animal husbandry and veterinarian authorities to coordinate the assessment of losses in crops and animals.

    [26] Alternate Culture min Xydakis meets with Epirus local officials on flood-damaged areas

    Alternate Culture Minister Nikos Xydakis on Tuesday met with local officials from northwestern Greece, which was severely hit by extreme bad weather during the weekend.

    North Tzoumerka mayor Yiannis Sendeles, Epirus deputy governor Perikles Vassilakis as well as officials from Epirus associations informed the Alternate minister about the damage caused to the historic Plaka bridge, a 19th-century single-arch stone bridge that collapsed on Sunday, and the coordination of its restoration works.

    Moreover, a group of specialists from the National Technical University of Athens and the Culture Ministry on Wednesday will visit the affected areas for inspection.

    "The Plaka bridge is an emblematic monument of great architectural significance, a characteristic example of the Epirus and Greek modern culture," Xydakis said after the meeting. He also noted that authorities are making every effort so that the monument be restored to its previous condition.

    The bridge was constructed in 1866 is the largest single-arch bridge in the Balkans.

    In the meantime, the Greek Navy, following a request by the Civil Protection general secretariat offered an S-70 helicopter so that a doctor and a technician can be sent from the city of Karpenisi to the mountainous region of Agrafa.

    [27] Former gen. sec. for transparency attacks Potami MP Theoharis' track record on offshore firms taxation

    In an attack on Potami party MP and former general secretary for public revenues Haris Theoharis on Tuesday, former general secretary for transparency at the justice ministry George Sourlas accused his former colleague of pushing through measures that led to a writeoff of taxes and fines owed by offshore companies engaging in "triangular transactions" before his departure from the previous government.

    He claimed that Theoharis, who served as general secretary for public revenues under the former ND-PASOK coalition government before he was removed and joined the Potami party just before the elections, had attempted via a circular issued 10 months before his resignation "to interpret the law in such a way so that taxes, fines and surtaxes amounting to hundreds of millions of euros were not collected."

    Sourlas was replying to recent statements by Theoharis, who claimed that he had received threats as general secretary in his efforts to collect taxes and that "he had resisted up to a point but then had to leave."

    According to Sourlas, the Theoharis circular had marked the start of repeated efforts to have the 2010 law changed through amendments, which despite the warnings of the general secretary for transparency were passed and allowed "the sinful regime of triangular transactions through offshore companies to continue."

    [28] Hirings will be made where necessary, Alternate Min for Administrative Reform says

    "The hirings will be made where necessary," Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos said on Tuesday, adding that health, education and inspection mechanisms are the main priorities of the 15,000 hirings to be made in 2015.

    Katrougalos told Skai TV that the government has taken over profound injustices from its predecessors, but "until the economy recovers, the salaries of public sector employees cannot be improved."

    The Alternate Minister said he is a "sworn enemy of the lifting of the permanent labour status (of public sector employees)", accused the former government of having done counter-reforms and argued that the "evaluation was a disguise for layoffs."

    Moreover, he underlined that "no public sector employee will lose his job", adding that the government "will implement a fair evaluation and mobilisation system that will not translate into layoffs." He also noted that 3,500 employees will return to the public sector.

    On the issue of former national broadcaster ERT, he stressed that there should be justice and stood in favour of a public broadcaster and not a clientele and government TV.

    [29] Turkish press on PM Tsipras' meetings with Turkish Cypriot NGOs during Cyprus visit

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)

    Turkish press highlighted the meeting new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had with Turkish Cypriot non-governmental organisations (NGOs) during his visit to Cyprus on Monday.

    According to pro-government daily "Sabah" (and its English-language edition, "Daily Sabah"), Tsipras asked the members of NGO "Famagusta Initiative" to help in the reunification of island.

    In an article headlined "Tsipras breaks with tradition by meeting Cyprus Turks," the daily quoted Okan Dagli, a Cyprus Turk who attended the meeting and said, "The meeting may only be symbolic but it marks the first in history. Many prime ministers arrived here but none spared time for us. They did not even accept our request to meet. This is a significant occasion. Means to defuse the problem between the two communities in Cyprus were discussed. We came to the conclusion that solution serves the benefit of both sides."

    Another Cyprus Turk participant, Niyazi Kizilyurek, also told Daily Sabah that during their meeting, the Cyprus Turks had a chance to convey the problems of the Turks residing in the island.

    According to the paper, Tsipras said that Greece's support to Greek Cyprus will continue in Cyprus reunification talks as he underscored that a just and sustainable solution on the island is of the utmost importance for Turkish-Greek relations, the EU and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    [30] 'We want national strategy and national consensus' PASOK leader Venizelos says

    "We want to be serious, organised, rallied and get out of the memorandum and return to normality. I do not want the government to fail. We want to have a national strategy and national consensus," PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos late on Monday said in an interview with STAR TV.

    More specifically, he said that we have to exit the memorandum and not extend it, move to the precautionary credit line and to the precautionary IMF programme. "We have the obligation to support the new government, especially its international activity," he underlined. Venizelos cleared out that the programme SYRIZA presented in Thessaloniki cannot be implemented and estimated that the new government will very quickly become aware of its responsibility, will change stance and will come closer to PASOK's positions regarding the national strategy.

    Venizelos also argued that there is no negotiation right now, but it is a "game of impressions" and regional contacts.

    Regarding US President Barack Obama's statements on Greece, he said that he did not say anything new. It was just a statement that verbally supports the country, he said, but it will not have any impact on IMF's stance.

    Regarding the proposal of SYRIZA to set up an investigating committee for the memoranda, Venizelos said: "It is a good idea, we will vote for it and we will participate."

    Moreover, Venizelos said he was definitely leaving PASOK's leadership.

    [31] Deputy Macedonia-Thrace Minister replies to comments by Thessaloniki mayor

    Deputy Interior Minister for Macedonia-Thrace Maria Kollia-Tsarouha, in a reply to comments made by Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris that the 'Macedonia-Thrace Ministry' was "a form of flattery for the 'natives' of northern Greece", on Tuesday said the mayor appeared ill-informed about the ministry's real powers.

    "It is clear that there is a lack of information about the real authority, powers and goals of the deputy ministry, which we will soon make clear. The deputy Macedonia-Thrace ministry is a government body, in other words it constitutes a direct link between the citizen of northern Greece with the government of the country. It is not some kind of decentralised administration or regional authority that executes orders. It is a balancing mechanism that strengthens the government's role in northern Greece," she said in an announcement.

    She noted that the need and importance of the ministry should have been highlighted more in recent years and that this was one of her personal commitments. "Possibly its reinforcement will meet with resistance from various local authorities of the city, who consider that their own power is reduced in this way, when in reality exactly the opposite in happening," she added.

    The announcement ended by assuring Boutaris that there will be impeccable cooperation with him for the good of the city.

    [32] Government to extend home-owners' protection from foreclosures, Economy Minister Stathakis says

    The government will extend measures protecting home owners from the foreclosure of their homes with legislation to be tabled in Parliament within days, Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis announced on Tuesday.

    "The government intends to legislate immediately for an extension of the deadline of the law concerning the protection of primary residences," the minister said, adding that this was the first priority in plans to create an overall framework for the management of non-performing home mortgages and business loans.

    [33] No government appointees for Decentralised Administration general secretary positions, KEDE says

    The government does not intend to appoint political personnel to serve as general secretaries for Greece's seven Decentralised Administrations, Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) President George Patoulis said on Tuesday after a meeting with the interior ministry's leadership.

    The seven bodies, created via the merger of two or more prefectures, were founded in 2011 after prefectures became elected administrations instead of being appointed by the government and retained duties and authorities over which central government wanted to retain control.

    Patoulis said the ministry's leadership has decided that the duties normally exercised by general secretaries, who were normally appointed by successive governments, will be taken over by general directors in a bid, among others, to save money. He said this arrangement would be for a transitional period of two months, until the government prepares a plan for transferring the decentralised organisations responsibilities to local authorities and giving local government real autonomy, without "the long arm of the state".

    KEDE is now awaiting for the prime minister to present the government's policy statement in Parliament, after which Interior - Administration Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis is expected to brief KEDE's board. Voutsis made no statements after the meeting.

    [34] Justice Minister orders preliminary examination over prisoner's death

    Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos on Tuesday ordered an urgent preliminary examination into the circumstances of the death of a 52 year-old Greek prisoner in Domokos jail.

    The minister expressed his deep sorrow to the relatives' victim. The victim was sentenced to 25-year imprisonment for a series of undocumented migrants trafficking.

    Moreover, Paraskevopoulos speeds up the hiring of two doctors in Domokos prison.

    [35] Public hospital doctors and staff face charges of overpricing consumables

    The prosecution pressed charges against six doctors and eight members of a public hospital's administration staff for a case of overpricing consumable supplies that resulted to 3 million euro losses for the Greek State.

    Financial News

    Gov't will seek to gradually create 300,000 jobs over a 2-year period, Deputy Min for Combatting Unemployment says

    The government will seek to gradually create 300,000 new jobs over a two-year period, Deputy Minister for Combatting Unemployment Rania Antonopoulou on Tuesday said.

    Referring to community service programmes, Antonopoulou said that the aim is for those programmes to be initially extended from 5 months to 9-11 months, while the 500 euro salary will follow the increase in the minimum wage, as this will be determined after the agreement of the social partners.

    She made clear that the salaries of subsidized labour will not be competitive to the labour market and added that the front-loaded programmes will continue as they are and if there are any changes, they will be announced after 4-5 months.

    "The main target is to link the programmes to the needs of the labour market while aiming at the country's production reconstruction," the Deputy Minister said adding that special emphasis will be given to local needs.

    [36] EU Commission proposes 8.7 million euro aid from Globalisation Fund to help media workers in Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)

    The European Commission on Tuesday proposed that an economic aid of 8.7 million euros be granted through European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to media sector workers in Greece.

    More specifically, the Commission has proposed to mobilise the EGF to help 1,633 workers made redundant in the media sectors (publishing, programming and broadcasting) in Attica (Greece).

    The measures co-financed by the EGF would help the workers find new jobs by providing them with active career guidance, training and vocational training, specific advice towards entrepreneurship, contributions to business start-up and a variety of allowances.

    Greece applied for support from the EGF following the dismissal of 1,633 workers in the media sector (928 workers in 16 programming and broadcasting enterprises and a further 705 workers in 46 publishing enterprises). These job losses were the result of the global financial and economic crisis which has deeply affected the Greek economy.

    Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility commented: "Today's decision will help to prepare over 1,600 people for new jobs. Greek workers are going through a difficult period and we must use all the tools we have at our disposal to provide assistance. I am happy we have been able to respond positively to Greece's request for EGF support to the redundant workers".

    The proposals now go to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for approval.

    [37] Government VP Dragasakis meets with HFSF leadership

    Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis on Tuesday had a meeting with the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) Chairman Christos Sclavounis at the vice-presidency's offices.

    There followed a meeting between Dimitris Liakos and Kerasina Rautopoulou, both members of the government's economic team, and HFSF CEO Anastasia Sakellariou at the HFSF.

    The discussion mainly focused on a briefing regarding issues relating to the HFSF, such as attracting foreign investments, an HFSF announcement said.

    According to sources, meetings between the government and the managements of two of the country's four systemic banks, National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank, will take place in the coming days. These will take place in the context of a discussion concerning the role of the banks in the country's developmental process.

    Meetings have already been held with Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

    [38] ND spokesman urges government to reconsider its decision to re-examine hydrocarbon tenders

    Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis on Tuesday urged the government to reconsider its decision to re-examine tenders for oil and gas drilling concessions in Greek territory, announced earlier by the energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.

    Karagounis said that the tenders organised by Greece over the last three years, covering 20 blocks and 100,000 square kilometres within the country's maritime zones, most of which were outside Greece's territorial waters, were the first of this magnitude in Greece's history.

    He stressed that these tenders have been published in the European Union's gazette and had the EU's full recognition of Greek jurisdiction. According to Karagounis, this international tender was a "uniquely significant success for Greece" on both economic and political terms, while opening up huge prospects for the country's future energy role.

    All this was officially known to the present government, making the new minister's decision "incomprehensible," the spokesman added, noting that it effectively led to the cancellation of the tenders.

    "We warn that the cost of the country will be huge, since its credibility will be shaken, both geopolitically and toward potential investors," he added, urging the government to reconsider and build on the positive things it had inherited from the previous administration.

    [39] Copelouzos Group, Fraport, VTB complete project in Pulkovo airport

    With the inauguration ceremony of a new terminal station Russian authorities completed a reconstruction of Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg. The ceremony was held in the presence of Russian Federation Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, the governor of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavschienko, VTB's chairman Andrey Kostin, the chairman of Fraport Dr Stefan Schulte and the chairman of Copelouzos Group, Dimitris Kopelouzos.

    Fraport, Kopelouzos and VTB Capital, a member of VTB Group and one of the biggest bank groups in Russia, jointly took over the development, reconstruction and operation of Pulkovo airport for a period of 30 years.

    The project included the building of a new passenger terminal, modernizing existing installations, new roads, new buildings for commercial use such as shopping centres, a five-star hotel and parking, among others. The project was budgeted at 1.2 billion euros, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Russia and Europe. The Pulkovo airport has a capacity of servicing 18 million passengers annually.

    [40] Greece ranks 92nd in Net Index list

    Greece ranks 92nd among 196 countries in the Net Index list, based on OOKLA data, with the Glyfada region enjoying the fastest Internet in the country, the Federation of Greek IT and Communication Enterprises said on Tuesday.

    In a report, SEPE said that the average Internet connection speed in Greece was 9.64 Mbps, ranking the country in a better position than Italy, Cyprus and Albania, but in a much worse position compared with several other European countries.

    Singapore enjoys the fastest Internet in the world, with an average speed of 103.99 Mbps, followed by Hong Kong (96.30 Mbps), South Korea (76.88 Mbps) and Japan (67.83 Mbps). Sweden, Holland, Lithuania and Switzerland are among the top 10 countries with the fastest Internet. On a global basis, the average Internet speed was 22.04 Mbps, while in the Eurozone average speed was 27.3 Mbps. Glyfada (17.24 Mbps), Voula (17.04), Serres (13.87), Alexandroupoli (13.5) and Komotini (11.46) were the top Greek cities. Athens ranked 16th, followed by Thessaloniki with average Internet speed rates of 9.89 Mbps and 9.87 Mbps, respectively.

    [41] Grivalia Properties signs buy and lease back agreement with Sklavenitis Group

    Grivalia Properties on Tuesday announced it has reached an agreement with Sklavenitis Group for the acquisition and lease back of a portfolio of nine stores recently purchased by Sklavenitis from Makro Cash & Carry Wholesale SA.

    Under the agreement, Grivalia will pay 60 million euros for the purchase of the portfolio while the leasing agreement has an initial annual lease of 5.7 million euros. The portfolio includes two real estate properties in Athens, two in Thessaloniki and one in Heraclio (Crete), Patras, Larisa, Volos and Xanthi.

    The agreement will be completed following a legal and technical inspection of the properties.

    [42] Alpha Trust-Andromeda reports losses in 2014

    Alpha Trust-Andromeda, a Greek-listed closed-end investment fund, on Tuesday reported after tax losses of 1.57 million euros in 2014, from profits of 1.23 million euros in 2013. Gross income was -1.04 million euros last year, reflecting losses from securities evaluation in fair value and transaction losses.

    The company's return was -14.56 pct last year, significantly lower compared returns of -31.18 pct of the Large Cap, -33.75 pct of the Mid Cap and -28.94 pct of the composite index in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The company's assets totalled 9.32 million euros, while internal share value was 22.32 euros and its market share price 17.33 pct - a discount of 22.36 pct.

    [43] Blue Air to offer flights from Athens to Larnaca as of January 19

    Blue Air will be flying between Athens and Larnaca, on Cyprus, seven times weekly starting on January 19, it announced, expanding the schedule to ten flights for the summer season.

    Officials of the low-cost airline said on Tuesday that the new schedule out of Athens, along with that of Thessaloniki, completes the airline's European flight schedule, which includes 35 cities and four hub cities (Bucharest, Bacau in Romania, Torino and Larnaca).

    The company filled in the scheduling void left between Greece and Cyprus by Cyprus Airlines, which stopped services on January 9 and is under liquidation. The officials said the Athens-Larnaca flights served over 600,000 passengers annually.

    Blue Air next next hopes to connect Athens with Tel Aviv.

    [44] Greek minister calls for reduction of domestic fuel prices

    Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Tuesday called for a reduction in fuel prices, announced a 20 pct cut in natural gas prices (in two installments) in the next few weeks and said that electricity power prices would fall.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Hellenic Petroleum chairman Yiannis Papathanasiou and Yiannis Costopoulos (CEO), Lafazanis said there was no plan to reduce a special consumption tax on fuel and stressed that efforts will focus on combatting smuggling through specific measures in the framework of the government's policy statement.

    Commenting on Hellenic Petroleum, Lafazanis said that the 35 pct equity stake controlled by the Greek state will return from Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund to the state and the latter will exploit this critical and strategic equity stake to play a positive role in the company. The Greek minister underlined that Hellenic Petroleum was a giant, by Greek standards, which could play an essential role for the safety, supply and reduction of oil product prices.

    Lafazanis said that the new government will implement a new energy strategy and noted that Greece will stop being anyone's satellite, able to draft its own policy based on the development and production priorities. "We will implement a multi-dimension and multi-level energy strategy, will have energy relations on all four horizons," he said.

    Commenting on the future of hydrocarbon research tenders, he left the door open for extending deadlines for a current tender covering the Ionian Sea and south Cretan Sea regions. One of the scenarios examined by the government was to change the model of tender to enable the Greek state to participate in production and research spending. The framework for the tenders in the regions of Aitoloakarnania, Northerwestern Peloponnese and Arta will remain the same.

    The Greek government will try to maximise benefits from a TAP natural gas pipeline project and a privatisation of DESFA will depend on the decision by the European Union's competition authority, Lafazanis said after a meeting with the ambassador of Azerbaijan in Athens, Rachman Mustayev. "We had reservations over the terms of the TAP project regarding Greek interests," the minister said, adding that "We always stressed that we supported the project as it will be for the benefit of the country and of the wider region, contributing to energy security and adequate supply for the wider European area. The government will seek to maximise benefits for the country and of course for Azerbaijan. There will be a discussion for the best possible outcome".

    Lafazanis added that the Greek government seeks to strengthen and upgrade relations with Azerbaijan in all economic sectors.

    The Azeri ambassador told reporters that the meeting was very constructive and added that cooperation will continue for the benefit of both countries.

    [45] Passenger traffic at Athens International Airport jumps 28 pct in January

    Passenger traffic at Athens' International Airport (AIA) "Eleftherios Venizelos" increased 27.95 pct in January compared to the same month last year, reaching 975,000 passengers.

    The number of domestic travelers jumped 43.9 pct to 375,994, versus 261,361 in January 2014, while international passengers also continued to increase, recording a 19.6 pct rise to 599,461 versus 501,075 in the same period last year.

    Greek travelers continued to increase in January reaching 28 pct, with domestic trips involving the bulk of their trips (51 pct). The number of foreign visitors travelling exclusively to Athens rose by 32pct, a development which "reaffirms the attractiveness of Athens as a destination, even during the winter period."

    AIA also said the total number of flights rose by 17.1 pct to reach 10,749 last month. Breaking down the number, domestic flights increased 15.9 pct to 4,662 last month, versus 4,023 in January 2014, and international flights jumped by 18 pct to 6,087 versus 5,158.

    The airport attributes this rise to the largest number of flights and seats available by airline companies during the current winter flight schedule.

    [46] Greek stocks jump 11.27 pct higher

    Greek stocks soared and bond prices recovered strongly the day after Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis presented its proposals for the restructuring of Greek public debt. The composite index of the market ended at 840.57 points, up a spectacular 11.27 pct, off the day's highs of 843.72 points. The index is up 16.43 pct in the last two sessions more than erasing last week's losses (14.10 pct), while the market's capitalisation rose by 6.9 billion euros. The Large Cap index jumped 12.46 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 11.44 pct higher.

    Turnover was a huge 219.05 million euros. All blue chip stocks ended higher, led by National Bank (20.79 pct), Piraeus Bank (18.37 pct), Eurobank (18.25 pct), Jumbo (17.58 pct), Terna Energy (17.45 pct), Ellaktor (17.30 pct) and OTE (14.88 pct.

    Among market sectors, only the Media ended lower (-10 pct), while Banks (17.96 pct), Personal Products (17.67 pct), Telecoms (14.88 pct) and Financial Services (14.23 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 104 to 30, with another 8 issues unchanged. Moda Bagno (29.93 pct), Fieratex (20.87 pct) and National Bank (20.79 pct) were top gainers, while PC Systtems (19.67 pct), Dionic (17.31 pct) and Attikat (17.24 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: +17.96%

    Insurance: +3.73%

    Financial Services: +14.23%

    Industrial Products: +8.57%

    Commerce: +6.75%

    Real Estate: +4.25%

    Personal & Household: +17.67%

    Food & Beverages: +5.54%

    Raw Materials: +11.26%

    Construction: +7.42%

    Oil: +11.04%

    Chemical: +3.00%

    Mass Media: -10.00%

    Travel & Leisure: +13.49%

    Technology: +7.05%

    Telecoms: +14.88%

    Utilities: +10.40%

    Health: +5.95%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.37

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.69

    Coca Cola HBC: 15.00

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.12

    National Bank of Greece: 1.22

    OPAP: 9.13

    OTE: 8.88

    Piraeus Bank: 0.62

    Titan: 20.80

    Grivalia Properties: 7.90

    Aegean Airlines: 8.08

    [47] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 10.49 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 10.60 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.05 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.30 pct. Turnover was an improved 27 million euros, of which 15 million were buy orders and the remaining 12 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.266 pct from 0.271 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.199 pct from 0.202 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.132 pct from 0.134 pct, the three-month rate was unchanged at 0.055 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.001 pct from 0.003 pct.

    [48] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.60 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 28,225 contracts with 50,598 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 87,128 contracts, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (22,890), followed by National Bank (22,394), Eurobank (15,782), Alpha Bank (14,168), OTE (2,970), PPC (2,869), OPAP (1,348), MIG (1,120), Mytilineos (583), Ellaktor (517), GEK (418), Hellenic Exchanges (375), Motor Oil (239), Hellenic Petroleum (205), METKA (168) and Titan (150).

    [49] Foreign exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.1376

    Pound sterling 0.75395

    Danish kroner 7.4118

    Swedish kroner 9.3672

    Japanese yen 133.48

    Swiss franc 1.0526

    Norwegian kroner 8.637

    Canadian dollar 1.4316

    Australian dollar 1.4799

    General News

    [50] Charred body found on board Norman Atlantic ferry

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

    Authorities found a charred corpse on the Norman Atlantic ferry, where a deadly fire broke out on December 28 while it was sailing west of the Ionian island of Corfu.

    The body was found in the ship's car hold, where probably the fire broke out, and was taken to Bari so that coroners can conduct an autopsy.

    The autopsy, will take a lot of time as a DNA test will be required.

    This is the first body to be found on board after Norman Atlantic was towed to Italy. At least 10 persons lost their lives in the maritime accident, while 18 are still missing.

    [51] Supreme Court: Front-seat passenger in car with intoxicated driver is 30 pct responsible in case of accident

    The Supreme Court's Fourth Division ruled on Tuesday that the individual who agrees to take the front passenger seat in a car while being aware of the fact that its driver is intoxicated will be 30 pct responsible in case of a car accident.

    The country's highest court also ruled that individuals driving their cars under the influence of alcohol or other substances will not be covered by insurance, although the insurance company will still have the obligation to compensate the damaged parties (including relatives) and then claim the amount it has paid, from the driver.

    The Supreme Court ruled on a case concerning four individuals who got in a car after consuming food and wine to go to Sitia, on the island of Crete, but on the way the driver lost control of the car and crashed, causing the death of the front-seat passenger from internal bleeding.

    According to the ruling, the deceased knew that the driver had consumed alcohol and had impaired driving capacity. Therefore, the deceased, who knowingly endangered himself, was responsible for 30 pct of the injuries sustained because of the crash.

    The relatives of the deceased had claimed compensation in court for emotional distress and funeral expenses. The Supreme Court ruled that the compensation they will receive will be reduced by 30 pct due to the co-liability of the deceased.

    [52] Albanian man arrested for murder committed 21 years earlier

    A 44-year-old Albanian national was arrested in Krystallopigi, Florina for a murder committed 21 years ago in Kavala, Greek authorities said on Tuesday.

    The suspect was arrested as he crossed the border into Greece by police at the Krystallopigi border crossing, when they realised that there was an outstanding arrest warrant against him. The warrant was issued by a Kavala public prosecutor for a murder committed in 1994, as well as for illegally carrying and using a weapon. According to the warrant, the suspect attacked and fatally injured a fellow Albanian national with an axe over a financial dispute.

    He will be led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday morning.

    [53] Dead body of unknown man found in Serres; death attributed to criminal act

    The dead body of an unidentified man was on Tuesday found behind a stand of canes in a field, near the old Tholos-Dravisko road in the municipality of Nea Zichni, Serres. The body was found by a local livestock farmer, who called the police.

    According to the coroner, who examined the body on the scene, the man was a victim of a criminal act and his death was the result a severe blow to the head. Local police authorities noted that the victim had a number of tattoos, among them one saying 'Varna', which possibly indicate that the victim is a foreign national and perhaps a Bulgarian.

    He was described as a man of about 45-50 years of age, 1.65 metres in height, with curly hair styled as a mullet and beard.

    Serres Police have launched an investigation into his death.

    [54] POSPERT union plans rally outside premises of former ERT on Feb. 11

    The Greek National Broadcaster's (ERT) staff union, POSPERT, along with the group Coordination against Closures and Layoffs, are planning a rally outside the premises of the former broadcaster on February 11, at 17:30.

    "We will have to fight again now to ensure all the promises will turn into action, for everyone, without any exceptions, without conditions and soon," they said in a press release.

    Weather forecast

    [55] Partly cloudy on Wednesday

    Partly cloudy and southerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 02C-14C. Partly cloudy with possibility of rain in the western parts of the country and temperatures between 06C-17C. Possibility of rain in the eastern parts with temperatures between 06C-18C. Clouds with a chance of rain in the morning over the islands, 10C-18C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 06C-15C; the same for Thessaloniki, 02C-13C.

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

    AVGHI: Cracks in the Berlin's Wall.

    DIMOKRATIA: Fever over Greece's drama.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: SOS Berlin calls Rome.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Varoufakis' (Yanis, Finance Minister) bombs over the debt and the privatisations.

    ETHNOS: Tax offices and Financial Crimes Squad check storm.

    IMERISSIA: 48 crucial hours.

    KATHIMERINI: The huge game with Greece.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: The plan for the debt.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Negotiation intergraded in the war of EU's powerful interests.

    TA NEA: Germany against all.

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