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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-06

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

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

Friday, 6 February 2015 Issue No: 4879

CONTENTS

  • [01] Schaeuble, Varoufakis 'agreed to disagree' after meeting in Berlin
  • [02] FinMin Varoufakis: The only thing we want is some time
  • [03] We agreed on starting consultations on a solution protecting the European interests, FinMin Varoufakis says after meeting with Schaeuble
  • [04] Greece might have a deal with its lenders by end of February, says Economy minister
  • [05] German FinMin Schaeuble-Greece belongs in the Eurozone
  • [06] Tsipras has phone contact with Draghi
  • [07] IMF looks forward to hear Greek government's proposal, ideas
  • [08] ECB to stop accepting Greek government bonds from Feb. 11
  • [09] Greek gov't says ECB's action "a political pressure"
  • [10] Gov't spokesman Sakellaridis calls for calmness after ECB's decision
  • [11] Greek Finance Ministry issues statement on ECB's announcement over ELA mechanism and Greek bonds
  • [12] Rallies held throughout Greece in support of the government after ECB decision
  • [13] President Putin invites PM Tsipras to Moscow
  • [14] Greece is among issues discussed between Obama and Merkel, White House spokesman says
  • [15] Greece will present its own road-map for exiting the crisis, PM Tsipras tells SYRIZA MPs
  • [16] ND calls PM Tsipras' speech at SYRIZA's parliamentary group meeting 'pre-election lies'
  • [17] Government to start presenting its policy statements on Sunday afternoon
  • [18] FinMin Varoufakis to meet with US Treasury top officials in Athens
  • [19] Gov't VP Dragasakis meets with US ambassador, top US Treasury officials
  • [20] French President Hollande: European governments will cooperate with the Greek one
  • [21] Economic growth prospects based on adhering to program commitments, Moscovici says
  • [22] Balance is the challenge for Greece, EU's Moscovici says
  • [23] Defence Minister Kammenos: German politicians statements that replace EU and NATO unacceptable
  • [24] Newly elected MPs sworn in
  • [25] Finance ministry denies revoking resignations of HRADF chairman, CEO
  • [26] GenSec for Transparency and Human Rights Sourlas says political will is necessary to combat corruption
  • [27] PM Tsipras to be briefed on OECD committee meeting by ND MP Bakoyannis
  • [28] Panos Kammenos chairs ANEL parliamentary group meeting
  • [29] New Democracy leader Samaras expresses concern over recent developments
  • [30] Potami leader Theodorakis says a consensus is necessary to handle the difficulties in the negotiation
  • [31] EU remains an alliance hostile to the people, KKE says
  • [32] ND and PASOK to vote for SYRIZA MP Konstantopoulou as Parliament President
  • [33] SYRIZA MP Konstantopoulou officially nominated for parliament president
  • [34] PASOK lashes out at ND leader Antonis Samaras
  • [35] Management audit in health ministry organisations
  • [36] Alt. Admin. Reform minister meets successful civil service exam candidates that were not given jobs
  • [37] Greek banks will not have any liquidity problems, JP Morgan report
  • [38] Greek banks' liquidity fully safeguarded, BoG says
  • [39] Greek economy to grow by 2.5 pct in 2015, Commission report
  • [40] European Commission report confirms the turn to economic growth, ND says
  • [41] Foreign investors accounted for 71.1 pct of ASE transactions in Jan
  • [42] Greek participation in "International Green Week" exhibition
  • [43] Greece to have strong presence in 2nd Grekland Panorama tourist exhibition
  • [44] Prefecture of Peloponnese opposes setting up a lignite mine in Kyparissia
  • [45] Theodore Veniamis re-elected chairman of Greek shipowners' union UGS
  • [46] Greek stocks end significantly lower
  • [47] Greek bond yields up
  • [48] Greek bond market closing report
  • [49] ADEX closing report
  • [50] Foreign exchange rates - Thursday
  • [51] Central Athens teachers report cases of malnutrition in schools after delays in free meals supply tender
  • [52] Power cuts caused by African dust in Samothrace, Alexandroupolis, Xanthi
  • [53] Municipal employees on work stoppage on Friday in Attica, Thessaloniki
  • [54] Prof. Miltiades Hatzopoulos made a member of Athens Academy
  • [55] 'Nissos Mykonos' to stop at Samos and Fournoi until 'Mytilene' ferry repaired
  • [56] Man arrested for gun possession near Thessaloniki
  • [57] Light tremor near Crete
  • [58] Clouds, rain on Friday
  • [59] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Schaeuble, Varoufakis 'agreed to disagree' after meeting in Berlin

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)

    "We haven't agreed completely or rather, as my spokesperson said being a diplomat, we agreed that we disagree," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday said after the 100-minute-long meeting with his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis, who pointed out that "it was not expected to agree," adding that "we didn't even agree that we disagree but we have agreed to enter consultations for a European solution."

    Schaeuble said that the discussion was intensive and pointed out that Greece has made big progress - "bigger than anticipated by analysts in the beginning," - underlining that there is still a lot that need to be done and that "Greece must cooperate" with the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF.

    The German minister said that credibility needs to be safeguarded and expressed reservations about certain of the measures announced by the new Greek government, which he said "are not in the direction we would have liked".

    He stated that "we respect the mandate received by the government" and explained that if the programme changes it will have to be ratified again by national parliaments. "It's not bad for someone to want to meet the mandate he was given but it is not realistic when this happens to the detriment of others," he noted, adding that all government have a mandate and an effort is made in Europe to find common ground.

    He said that Germany will do everything to ensure that Greece will be in a strong position in the future and expressed Berlin's will to help in the solution of issues concerning tax evasion and corruption, noting that he was pleased to listen to government announcements in this direction.

    On his part, Varoufakis repeated that all he asks is to be given time until May, to present a complete programme to the country's partners, and a bridging-programme in the meantime. He also pledged "reason, honesty and readiness for the implementation of effective reforms".

    "We ask for a chance to present our proposal" and reach a common ground for a new contract between Greece and Europe, he said and stressed that every possible effort will be made to ensure that the word "default" will disappear from the discussion.

    As regards the reforms, the finance minister pointed out that not all of the reforms included in the current programme are worthless, noting that they set the wrong priorities aiming at the base and not at the top.

    [02] FinMin Varoufakis: The only thing we want is some time

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)

    "The only thing we ask for is not to be put under pressure by means of an ultimatum. To give us time until the end of May or the beginning of summer to be able to put our suggestions for a solution on the table so we can talk about them with our partners," said, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD, adding that Greece and Europe could then make new agreements.

    Varoufakis said Greece was responsible for a lack of progress with reforms but that was not why the euro zone was experiencing deflation: "We're canaries in a coal mine. This one is very weak so he dies first but he isn't responsible for the poisonous gases" he said underlining that Greece is the first domino but is not responsible for the domino phenomenon. "It is a systemic crisis and we must deal with it systemically and not one against the other and to point our finger and say: what are you doing or what is he doing. We must think as European and to stick together and to restart the political tools" he said and referring to his meeting on Thursday with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble it is important a modus vivendi to be found because there is a huge gap between what the Greek government thinks and say and what others say that it thinks and says.

    He rejected the populism charges explaining that the government did not promise everything to everyone. However, he expressed the certainty that Mr. Schaeuble and Mr. Sapin (French Minister) well as every decent European will agree that is not right to have thousands of Greeks to go to bed hungry, as a result of Europe and the Greek government's mistakes in dealing with the deflation crisis.

    He supported that the crisis in Greek is not Greek but a crisis of the eurozone and asks for solidarity from the country's partners in order the crisis that costs to everyone to be faced and warned of the danger of nationalism referring to ultra-right party Golden Dawn rise which as he said is the third largest political power in Greece.

    Varoufakis has been hopping across European capitals this week to win support for Greece's plan to restructure debt and end austerity, which would involve swapping existing government debt for growth-linked or perpetual bonds. Referring to the haircut of the Greek debt he noted that as the European do not like the word 'haircut' the Greeks do not like the words "programme" and 'troika' and asked for solidarity and a chance in order the new government to reform the country.

    "We need to convince them we're serious about it and they need to give Greece the chance to flourish in Europe," he said.

    [03] We agreed on starting consultations on a solution protecting the European interests, FinMin Varoufakis says after meeting with Schaeuble

    We agreed on starting consultations with the final aim being a solution that will protect the European interests, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Thursday said in joint statements with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble after their meeting in Berlin.

    We did not discuss the possibility of a debt haircut, but the approach we should have to end the crisis. The Greek people want this humiliation to end.

    Varoufakis reiterated that the Greek government is asking for more time to present its positions to its partners and have in the meantime a bridge-programme.

    [04] Greece might have a deal with its lenders by end of February, says Economy minister

    Greece may achieve a deal with its international lenders for the country's next day by the end of February, Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis said during an interview with a private TV station on Thursday.

    Speaking to Mega TV, Stathakis said this agreement will concern the "bridging programme" which will lead within three months to a new deal with Greece's lenders based on growth and without a troika .

    The minister said that, at any rate, after July 1 there will be no need for a programme, while he also noted that any deal will secure in advance the agreement of Brussels because the country's intention is to respect the rules.

    [05] German FinMin Schaeuble-Greece belongs in the Eurozone

    We had a long and detailed discussion - not being always in agreement - but on the level of the two countries' traditional friendship, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday said in joint statements with his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis after their meeting in Berlin.

    We agreed that we will remain committed to a united Europe, Schaeuble said.

    There was a significant progress in the implementation of the programme in Greece, he noted adding that a lot of things still need to be done. Greece's belongs in the Eurozone, it must negotiate with the three institutions that support the bail-out programme, Schaeuble said.

    [06] Tsipras has phone contact with Draghi

    European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi called on the phone Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras late Wednesday to brief him on ECB's decision.

    According to government's sources, Draghi told Tripras that this decision does not affect Greece's financial system because it renews the Greek banks' liquidity via the ELA.

    The same sources said that the premier listened to him with attention and pointed out his commitment to the Greek people's recent mandate and on this basis he will continue to seek an agreement with the partners.

    [07] IMF looks forward to hear Greek government's proposal, ideas

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is looking forward to hearing from Greek authorities "on their proposals, their ideas," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters here on Thursday.

    Rice said that a meeting between Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the head of the IMF's European department Poul Thomsen in Paris over the weekend was "an acquaintance meeting" and noted that no further contacts have been scheduled so far". Responding to reporters' questions over Greece the IMF spokesman referred to "an agreed framework" regarding Greek debt.

    [08] ECB to stop accepting Greek government bonds from Feb. 11

    The European Central Bank (ECB) is suspending the eligibility of Greek government bonds as collateral for its liquidity operations, starting from February 11th.

    In a press release on Wednesday night, the ECB, which was having a governing council meeting earlier in the day, explained their decision saying that it is currently impossible to assume a successful conclusion of the current Greek program.

    The waiver allowed marketable debt instruments to be used in Eurosystem monetary policy operations despite the fact that they did not fulfill minimum credit rating requirements.

    "The Governing Council decision is based on the fact that it is currently not possible to assume a successful conclusion of the programme review and is in line with existing Eurosystem rules," the ECB said in a statement.

    The central bank also said Greek banks will receive liquidity from the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA). "Liquidity needs of Eurosystem counterparties, for counterparties that do not have sufficient alternative collateral, can be satisfied by the relevant national central bank, by means of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) within the existing Eurosystem rules," it said.

    "It is currently not possible to assume a successful conclusion of the program review" for Greece, it added.

    [09] Greek gov't says ECB's action "a political pressure"

    Greek government sources on Thursday said that a surprise move by the European Central Bank, late on Wednesday, to stop accepting Greek state bonds as collateral from February 11, was "an action of political pressure to rapidly sign an agreement" and referred to a Bloomberg report saying that the ECB's move will have very little impact on Greek banks.

    The banking system is fully safeguarded, the sources said, noting that Greek banks' liquidity is fully safeguarded from the Emergency Liquidity Assistsance mechanism. The same sources added that ELA's lending ability was raised by 10 billion euros. The government reassured it was focused on finding a solution which will be beneficial both for Greece and its European partners. Such a solution could come only through continuing negotiations in the framework of EU rules, the need to end a human crisis in Greece and restarting its economy.

    The sources said that the government guaranteed to the Greek people it would ensure both the economic and social stability in the country and that it was determined to honor a fresh election result. Hellenic Democracy does not intend to blackmail anyone but it will not be blackmailed also.

    [10] Gov't spokesman Sakellaridis calls for calmness after ECB's decision

    Government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Thursday called for calmness after the ECB's decision not to accept Greek bonds as of February 11. He underlined that the Greek banking system is shielded as it was also stated by ECB president Mario Draghi during his contact with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    Referring to the negotiations, he said that everyone agreed that time should be given to Greece. "We are going to a dialogue with a mood of understanding. Greece does not blackmail nor can it be blackmailed. It is determined to find a mutually beneficial solution," he underlined.

    He pointed out that the ECB's decision will be implemented on February 11, a day before the EU summit, meaning that a Eurogroup meeting cannot be ruled out and estimated that the ECB pressure is political and exerted to all sides so that an agreement can be soon reached. This pressure, he said, may lead to a mutually beneficial solution that will not violate the red line that the government has got in the form of the mandate by the Greek people.

    Sakellaridis underlined that there is no reason to worry as the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) mechanism will provide liquidity to the Greek banks and added that there are two options for the partners: Either persistence in the past or a transitory agreement with a view to finding a mutually beneficial solution.

    The aim is to have the negotiation concluded by end May provided that a bridge agreement has been reached. During its policy announcements, the government will make clear its positions, time schedules and priorities along with the course of the negotiations, the government spokesman noted, stressing that the government respects the popular mandate.

    Sakellaridis stated that they have not been asked to give written assurances. Asked whether they are bound by the decisions of the previous government, he said that the state has continuity, but the irrational policy does not.

    He concluded that a negotiation with "a gun to our head" is not in the interests of anyone.

    [11] Greek Finance Ministry issues statement on ECB's announcement over ELA mechanism and Greek bonds

    The Greek Finance Ministry early on Thursday issued a response to the European Central Bank's (ECB) announcement on the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) mechanism and the Greek bonds.

    "The Governing Council of the European Central Bank decided to refer the Eurosystem counterparties, seeking to secure liquidity by using Greek securities as collateral, to the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) mechanism.

    This decision does not reflect, under any circumstances, any negative developments in the country's financial sector and comes after two days of substantial stabilization. According to the ECB, the Greek banking system remains adequately capitalized and fully protected through its access to ELA," the ministry said.

    "The ECB, by taking and announcing this decision, is putting pressure on the Eurogroup to move quickly to the conclusion of a new mutually beneficial deal between Greece and its partners.

    The government daily widens the scope of its negotiations with partners and institutions it belongs to, it remains unwavering in the targets of its social salvation programme, which the Greek people approved with their vote and it is negotiating with the aim of drafting a European policy that would terminate once and for all the hitherto self-sustaining crisis of the Greek social economy," it added.

    [12] Rallies held throughout Greece in support of the government after ECB decision

    Thousands of people of different ages rallied on Thursday at Syntagma Square in central Athens and other Greek cities in support of the Greek government, following the decision of the European Central Bank on Thursday to stop accepting Greek government bonds as collateral.

    Similar rallies were also held in the northern city of Thessaloniki, in front of the White Tower and in Heraklion and Chania in Crete.

    "The ECB decided today to stop accepting Greek bonds. Greek banks are now relaying on ELA. We won't accept the new blackmail. We won't accept the return of the memorandum. We won't accept the destruction of society and the continuation of the destruction of our country," the invitation to the rally posted on Facebook said.

    Protesters carried banners with slogans: "No more blackmail. We're winning our lives back." Participants also expressed their satisfaction for the complete absence of riot police.

    "It's our duty to support the effort taking place, I couldn't stay in my house," participant Maria Petridou told ANA-MPA. "We experienced unprecedented and difficult times, drenched in lies and depravity; now a new day is dawning," she added.

    The roads around Syntagma square remain closed for cars, except Filellinon Street.

    A new rally has already been planned for February 16 in Thessaloniki, at the White Tower, in support of the Greek delegation that will be in Brussels to negotiate on Greece's debt.

    [13] President Putin invites PM Tsipras to Moscow

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA / Th. Avgerinos)

    The situation in Ukraine and other international issues, among them, "the South Stream and Turkish Stream pipeline projects, dominated a telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin announced.

    Putin invited Tsipras to visit Moscow on May 9 when celebrations will take place, commemorating the peoples' victory over fascism. On his part, the Greek prime minister underlined the importance he attributes to the fight against Nazism, expressing his intention to accept the invitation.

    The Russian leader's top foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov said that Putin congratulated Tsipras on his victory in last month's general elections and on the assumption of his duties as the new prime minister of Greece.

    The discussion was very warm and constructive, he said, noting that President Putin invited Tsipras to Russia. He also said that the will for a more active development of bilateral relations was reaffirmed.

    The Russian ministers of foreign affairs and defence have already invited their Greek counterparts to visit Moscow.

    [14] Greece is among issues discussed between Obama and Merkel, White House spokesman says

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    U.S. President Barack Obama is in "close contact" with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a number of issues, including Greece, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday.

    Earnest said Obama will meet Merkel on Monday, during her visit to Washington, and that the "situation in Ukraine will include a large part of their conversation."

    He also commented on the upcoming visit of Vice-President Jo Biden to Brussels and Munich, where he'll meet with European leaders, noting that there will be talks "on the improvement of security and economic assistance towards Ukraine and the adoption of harsher economic sanctions against Russia."

    [15] Greece will present its own road-map for exiting the crisis, PM Tsipras tells SYRIZA MPs

    Addressing the first meeting of SYRIZA's Parliamentary group, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised the coalition government that his party dominates will engage in tough negotiations and put a final end to the troika and its policies. He stressed that Greece will present its own road map for an exit from the crisis and a for a "new social contract in our shared European home, without landlords and tenants."

    Greece will no longer take orders and will have its own voice and negotiating strength, he added, pointing out that in just one week the government had succeeded in changing the agenda of the talks talking place in Europe.

    Austerity, he stressed, is not a founding rule of the European Union.

    Tsipras also underlined that it was the government's obligation not to allow the citizens to be deceived again, repeating that the agreement with the people will be upheld.

    The Greek premier sent a message to "all those, within and outside the country, that have a strategic plan to undermine Greece and push the theory of an 'interim', to respect democracy and not undermine the country's future."

    He also promised "lightning action" to strike down clientelism, corruption and graft through sweeping changes.

    Tsipras said that the new government is moving within a European framework, respects the rules and asks of everyone to do the same. He expressed strong concern over the things currently being said, at a time when far-right forces were becoming stronger in Europe.

    It was not the Greek government's intention to blackmail anyone, but "neither to be blackmailed or threatened, because it is democracy in Europe that cannot be blackmailed," he said. Tsipras also advised all sides, "even the proponents of the harshest policies," not to underestimate the intelligence of European citizens.

    Greece wanted neither charity nor 'trusteeship', he clarified, noting that deliberation had begun and both Europe and Greece need time. "Anyone that does not understand this, does not offer a service to our common future," he added, repeating that the government would do everything to change things around and not betray the voters' trust. According to the Greek premier, the government guaranteed an end to sacrifices, especially pointless sacrifices without results, as well as people's savings and a European course for the country.

    In a message to Greece's creditors, he underlined that Greece was not a threat to any balance in Europe. "On the contrary, the new governments comes to restore balance to Europe," he added and warned MPs to be careful "because you are a part of the people's contemporary history, you are the voice of social struggles and you must not forget this."

    Tsipras underlined the need to end the humanitarian crisis in the country, stressing that SYRIZA would not serve the financial markets and sell off state property. He also expressed satisfaction with the results of polls showing that public opinion showing satisfaction with the government's moves and stressed that there was a carefully worked-out strategic plan for the negotiation and a vision for the country's reconstruction.

    Commenting on the results of his meetings in European capitals in the last few days, Tsipras said he had presented his positions and his plan for a new deal, underlining that the government has already gained allies that had not been won in the last five years.

    "Greece is no longer the wretched partner that listens to homilies about studying hard and doing its homework, it has a voice and proposals," Tsipras noted, adding that he was waiting to hear the German side's proposals as "we have not heard anything specific".

    In the last few years, Greece has been living through a nightmare, with the implementation of a failed programme, and "no sane person wants this nightmare to continue," Tsipras underlined. In spite of this, he added, there was a caste of people within and outside Greece that had served and continued to serve this "experiment" of inhuman policies and wanted victory for the neoliberal viewpoint, underlining that the choice made by Greeks on January 25 ruled out a return to the 'years of hardship'.

    [16] ND calls PM Tsipras' speech at SYRIZA's parliamentary group meeting 'pre-election lies'

    New Democracy spokesman Kostas Karagounis accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of spreading pre-election lies during his speech at Syriza's parliamentary group meeting earlier on Thursday and urged him to realize the pre-election period is over and everyone's first priority must be Greece.

    "So he should drop the pre-election lies and face the post-election reality with seriousness. When he speaks the truth, we'll back him, when he lies, we'll be against him," the spokesman said.

    [17] Government to start presenting its policy statements on Sunday afternoon

    The government will start presenting its policy statements on Sunday at 18:00 (local time), it was announced after the end of the first government council meeting on Thursday.

    During the meeting, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras briefed ministers on the meetings he held with the leaders of France, Italy and Cyprus and on his talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, and his positive impressions, government sources said.

    The council also evaluated ECB's move on Wednesday and discussed the views of ministers on the policy statements which will start on Sunday with a speech by Tsipras and are expected to be completed on Tuesday night.

    Concerning today's meeting between Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble, the same sources said the government will be briefed extensively by the minister and Deputy Minister of International Economic Relations, Efklidis Tsakalotos after they return from Berlin.

    At any rate, the source said, "We keep the positive elements from this meeting, we know there are disagreements but we are optimistic that there will be a mutually beneficial solution."

    According to information, the government council will convene again on Saturday.

    [18] FinMin Varoufakis to meet with US Treasury top officials in Athens

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Friday at noon will meet with US Treasury Department officials, including the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia Daleep Singh.

    The meetings of US Treasury Department top officials in Athens will start on Thursday afternoon with Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis, while a meeting with Economy Minister George Stathakis has yet to be finalised.

    [19] Gov't VP Dragasakis meets with US ambassador, top US Treasury officials

    The meeting between Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis and the US ambassador to Greece David Pearce, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Department of Treasury Daleep Singh and the head of the Office for Europe and Eurasia of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Lea Bouzis took place in a very positive climate.

    During the introductory meeting, Dragasakis presented the government's programme concerning ways to deal with the humanitarian crisis, the new fiscal framework included in the new national reform programme and the issue of the writing down public debt.

    The US delegation listened to the presentation with interest.

    [20] French President Hollande: European governments will cooperate with the Greek one

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira) - "We must reach an agreement with Greece so that Greeks have a framework to make reforms, to pay their debt and to find the European solidarity," French President Francois Hollande said during a press conference on Thursday adding that this must start very soon.

    Referring to ECB's decision on the Greek banks he said: "It was a decision that will have repercussions. It was a fair move. It transferred the responsilities to the countries and the governments and the decisions to the Eurogroup. It also means that the Greek government should present a framework for its reforms."

    "I am totally aware that the 'forever austerity' as a line on the horizon can't be a solution neither for the Greeks nor for the Europeans," he added.

    He also estimated that the European governments will cooperate with the Greek one so that an agreement can be reached.

    Asked whether the fact that he has repeatedly spoken of respect to the Greek people's choice could be interpreted as his intention to support the Greek government's position, he noted:

    "The people expressed themselves and sent a message, which is 'No' to the endless austerity. Moreover, they stated their commitment to the Eurozone. If the new government had announced it did not wish to remain in the Eurozone or if it had taken measures contrary to the European rules, then the whole issue would have been different," he said.

    "The ECB decision inevitably makes Greeks and Europeans sit around the table so as to draft a programme. If the words of the past are annoying, then let' s change them, let' s talk on a framework for action," he concluded.

    [21] Economic growth prospects based on adhering to program commitments, Moscovici says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    "Economic growth prospect for Greece is based on work hypothesis of adhering to the program," Economic Affairs Commissioner Pier Moscovici said, presenting the European Commission's economic forecasts for EU member-states in the period 2014-2016.

    "Uncertainty shadows recovery," is the title of the European Commission's report on Greece, which showed that Greek economic growth in 2015 would almost double compared with Eurozone's average growth rate. The report noted that the Greek economy began growing in the second quarter of 2014 boosted by private consumption and higher exports. However, it noted that uncertainty over policy course was affecting confidence and could affect recovery.

    The Commission stressed that after six years of recession, the Greek economy returned to growth rates in 2014, with the real GDP growing by 0.4 pct in the second quarter, on an annual basis, and by 1.6 pct in the third quarter, thanks to higher private consumption, good export performance and mostly thanks to tourism and shipping. Investments grew in the third quarter of 2014 for the first time since 2008.

    Growth trends were stronger in the second half of 2014, the report said, noting that snap general elections affected confidence and investments. The economic confidence index fell to 98.9 points in December, the lowest since April, while economic growth is expected to reach 1.0 pct on an annual basis, although uncertainty was expected to affect growth rates in the first quarter of 2015.

    The Commission stressed that forecasts was based on the condition of fully implementing commitments included in a Greek program. On this basis, private consumption could benefit from lower oil prices and an improvement in the available income of households. Exports growth is projected to accelerate in 2015, supported by a euro currency depreciation, competitiveness benefits and an improving business environment in the country. Investments are expected to rise markedly on the condition that there is a stable political environment in the country. Real GDP is expected to grow by 2.5 pct this year and 3.6 pct in 2016. The country's current account balance is expected to fall to 2.0 pct of GDP in 2014 and 1.5 pct in 2015, and to 0.9 pct of GDP in 2016 on the condition that external commerce continued to grow supported by structural and institutional reforms.

    Unemployment is projected to fall from 26.8 pct in 2014 to 25 pct in 2015 and 22 pct in 2016, reflecting strong growth rates and the success of employment programs

    The inflation rate will gradually rise from -1.4 pct in 2014 and to return to positive rate in 2016.

    The Commission said that Greece's fiscal condition continued improving. Fiscal adjustment achieved in the last few years markedly improved the country's fiscal position, with a primary surplus of 1.7 pct of GDP in 2014. The Commission said the fiscal deficit will no longer be affected by one-off measures such as a recapitalization of Greek banks and projected a fiscal deficit of 2.5 pct of GDP in 2014.

    The European Commission noted that EFSF will contribute in preserving low interest rates for a long period, despite the high levels of Greek public debt. Risks facing the fiscal level are linked with a temporary worsening of tax revenues.

    [22] Balance is the challenge for Greece, EU's Moscovici says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    The balance between the respect to the Greek people's democratic choice and the respect to Greece's commitments is the challenge of the constructive contacts that are underway, EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pier Moscovici said.

    Asked on the ECB's decision not to accept Greek bonds as collaterals, he said that the Commission is taking that into account, stressing however that the Greeks banks still have access to liquidity.

    Contacts will continue, he noted, at the EU summit on February 12 and the Eurogroup on February 16 where 'some decisions' must be taken. Moscovici did not rule out the possibility of discussing the Greek issue at the upcoming G20 ministerial meeting in Istanbul.

    Despite the downwards revision of growth estimates from 3.0 percent to 2.5 percent in 2015, the Commissioner said that what is important is that growth returns and that will help reduce the debt, the deficits and the inequalities while boosting employment. However, he warned against the existent uncertainty which can affect the economic recovery if basic commitments are not met. For that reason, he said, we need to move on based on the country's stay in the eurozone and having in mind that there is room for maneuvering both for the eurozone and the government from which we expect specific proposals aiming at a mutually acceptable solution.

    Regarding the troika, he said that the presence of the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF is necessary, while he reassured that there are ways to work together. Moscovici also implied that a discussion on its future form is underway.

    [23] Defence Minister Kammenos: German politicians statements that replace EU and NATO unacceptable

    Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Thursday said that "German politicians attitudes and statements that take the place of EU and NATO's institutional bodies are not only unacceptable but also blackmailing" commenting his German counterpart Ursula von Der Leyen estimations that Greece is putting at risk its position in the NATO with its approach to Russia.

    "They undermine the European institutions except if Germany's aim is to dissolve the European Union and the NATO" added Kammenos who reminded that "Greece was always on the allies' side when they intercepted the German occupation troops" noting "however, Greece does not want to substitute Germany in its privileged relations with Russia."

    [24] Newly elected MPs sworn in

    The deputies that were elected in the January 25 national polls were sworn in on Thursday morning, with MPs being able to choose between taking a religious and a civil oath.

    The religious part of the procedure was officiated by the Archbishop Ieronymus, who wished parliamentarians among others wisdom and unity.

    Deputies from SYRIZA and communist KKE - with the exception of Liana Kanelli- took a civil oath.

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis did not attend the opening session of the new parliament, as he is travelling abroad.

    The composition of the new House is as follows: 149 SYRIZA deputies and 13 Independent Greeks (ANEL) deputies (coalition government), 76 New Democracy MPs, 17 Golden Dawn MPs, 17 Potami deputies, 15 KKE deputies and 13 PASOK MPs.

    [25] Finance ministry denies revoking resignations of HRADF chairman, CEO

    Greece's finance ministry on Thursday denied press reports claiming it had revoked the resignations of senior staff at the country's privatisation agency, the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF). According to the ministry, the fund's chairman and CEO had simply been asked to stay on in their positions until the following week, in order to deal outstanding issues chiefly to do with the dates of submission of binding offers that are currently underway.

    [26] GenSec for Transparency and Human Rights Sourlas says political will is necessary to combat corruption

    Political will is all it takes to tackle tax evasion, illegal trade and illegally earned income, justice ministry General Secretary of Transparency and Human Rights George Sourlas on Thursday underlined in an interview with ANA-MPA.

    Sourlas, who has issued a briefing note with corruption case files and proposals to combat financial crime attached, underlined that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' decision to upgrade the endeavor against corruption by appointing Panagiotis Nikoloudis Minister of State for Combatting Corruption is a proof of his determination to solve the problem.

    The goal to bring 3.0 billion euros into public coffers a year that was announced during the election campaign by the prime minister is absolutely feasible, he said, considering that the revenues lost annually as a result of fake invoices and the illegal fuel trade amount to 3.5 billion euros. Referring to the offshore companies, he noted that it is impossible to calculate the annual loss of public revenues.

    [27] PM Tsipras to be briefed on OECD committee meeting by ND MP Bakoyannis

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet with New Democracy (ND) MP Dora Bakoyannis at 18:00 hours on Thursday to be briefed on the session of the OECD committee on European security in which she participates.

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has already been briefed on the issue by Bakoyannis.

    [28] Panos Kammenos chairs ANEL parliamentary group meeting

    Defence Minister and Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos on Thursday chaired a meeting of his parliamentary group, during which he briefed his deputies on the parameters of the government coalition with SYRIZA.

    According to ANA-MPA sources, Kammenos said that ANEL would support the government choices but they will insist on the red lines that were set before the elections and called his deputies to intervene and express their opinions. He added, however, that when issues, which are related to the red lines and have been clarified, are raised then there should be a coordinated position.

    During the meeting, ANEL deputies expressed their views, including Kostas Zouraris who referred to the migration issue and Elena Kountoura who touched upon the citizenship one.

    [29] New Democracy leader Samaras expresses concern over recent developments

    New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday, during the first meeting of the party's parliamentary group after the Jan. 25 elections, expressed his concern over the recent developments and defended his policy while criticising the first moves of the new government.

    "What government ministers say is either a preparation for a confrontation with the European Union or a preparation for a change of stance," Samaras said and underlined: "If the government chooses to continue our policy in its own way, we will support it. If it implements what it has promised, there will be difficult times for Greece. We have already warned and these warnings apply in full."

    "If the government chooses to 'steer the ship onto the rocks', then we will oppose to it. If they try to destroy scheduled reforms, then we will also oppose it," he added.

    Samaras referred to the ECB's decision, saying that it caused concern, as European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that the country is in danger of default if it does not abide by its commitments, adding that the country is in the most critical moment of its recent history. "We are always a party of national responsibility. From the position of the main opposition, we will support what is right and criticise what is wrong. We will not hesitate to vote for something that is right, or to vote against something that is wrong," he said.

    "The government of New Democracy has successfully dealt with Greece's recovery. We took over chaos and handed over a state; we got the country out of the crisis, although this has not been recognised by some [that are] petty-minded," Samaras noted.

    In an assessment of the election result in relation to the difficulties his government had to deal with, Samaras said: "New Democracy lost the elections, but stood on its feet... it suffered a small loss compared to the percentage it got in 2012."

    Finally, during the meeting of New Democracy's parliamentary group, Yiannis Plakiotakis was elected new secretary of the party.

    [30] Potami leader Theodorakis says a consensus is necessary to handle the difficulties in the negotiation

    The ECB decision puts bank liquidity at risk, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis on Thursday told Reuters news agency, adding that a big battle should be fought in the Eurogroup to turn the game around, expressing optimism that it can be done.

    He said that national consensus is necessary to fight and win the battle in the Eurogroup, calling on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to undertake an initiative to reach an understanding with the rest of the political parties.

    Theodorakis also stressed that the time has come for the government to abandon its maximalist positions and return to reality.

    [31] EU remains an alliance hostile to the people, KKE says

    "The European Union isn't changing, as the government promised. It remains an alliance hostile to the peoples and any negotiations [conducted] by its rules will lead to new anti-popular commitments," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) commented on Thursday, regarding the government's negotiations with Greece's creditors.

    "The path of confrontation and disengagement from the EU, a unilateral write-off of the debt with the people sovereign in the economy and in power, is the only path for ridding the people finally and irreversibly from memorandums, supervisors and anti-popular policies," KKE said.

    [32] ND and PASOK to vote for SYRIZA MP Konstantopoulou as Parliament President

    New Democracy has decided to support the candidacy of SYRIZA deputy Zoi Konstantopoulou as Parliament President on Friday, party spokesman Kostas Karagounis said.

    PASOK is expected to do the same.

    [33] SYRIZA MP Konstantopoulou officially nominated for parliament president

    SYRIZA's parliamentary group decided in Thursday's meeting to officially nominate MP Zoi Konstantopoulou for parliament president.

    It also nominated the following members for various posts in parliament:

    - First Vice-President, Alexis Mitropoulos

    - Second Vice-President, Giannis Balafas

    - Third Vice-President Despina Haralambidou

    For parliament Deans:

    - Nasos Athanasiou

    - Giorgos Pantzas

    For parliament secretaries:

    - Panagiota Dritseli

    - Danae Tzika

    - Zisis Zannas

    - Vasilis Tsirkas

    Also, SYRIZA selected Christos Mandas for parliamentary group secretary, and also:

    - Nikos Filis, Thanasis Petrakos and Olga Gerovasili for parliamentary spokesmen and spokeswoman

    - Kostas Athanasiou for parliamentary group director

    - Vasilis Hatzilambrou as Coordinator of the Audit Committee of Government Work

    [34] PASOK lashes out at ND leader Antonis Samaras

    Every day the party of New Democracy proves that it did not understand anything as regards the major effort made in the past few years, the PASOK press office on Thursday underlined.

    The announcement was issued in response to ND leader and former prime minister Antonis Samaras' address before his party's parliamentary group, according to which, in June 2012 ND had to deal with chaos and that the ND goal should be to keep the PASOK supporters who voted for ND in the recent general elections.

    PASOK pointed out that ND had been participating in the government since November 2011 and not since June 2012, pointing out that 80 pct of the fiscal and structural goals included in the adjustment programme had been met by June 2012, while the rest were met after June 2012 by a coalition government formed with PASOK.

    [35] Management audit in health ministry organisations

    Health & Social Insurance Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis on Thursday met with health services and welfare inspectors SEYYP head Stavros Evangelatos and ordered him to carry out management audits covering the past three years in the Hellenic Center for Disease Control & Prevention (KEELPNO), the national drug rehab agency OKANA, the National Centre for Health Operations (EKEPY) and the National Transplant Organisation.

    Sources told ANA-MPA that the minister has made it clear that crosschecks will increase and intensify.

    [36] Alt. Admin. Reform minister meets successful civil service exam candidates that were not given jobs

    Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos on Thursday met a delegation representing individuals that were not given a job in Greece's civil service after successfully passing the civil service examinations set by the Supreme Council for Public-Sector Staff Selection (ASEP).

    During the meeting, Katrougalos said the failure to hire them in accordance with ASEP decisions and irreversible court decisions was a scandal that "offends legality and the state of law". He said that an agreement was made during the meeting to restore legality, noting that there would have to be a reprogramming and repositioning at each individual ministry, based on new needs that have arisen.

    "They accepted this in good faith, realising that the issue for us is not the issue of justice on an individual basis but the need to reorganise public administration so as to cover immediate and pressing needs," he said.

    The representatives of the Panhellenic Association of Unappointed ASEP Candidates criticised the previous governments for their tactics in "holding in some way hostage the people that had believed in the meritocracy and reliability of the state and sat the ASEP exams."

    Financial News

    [37] Greek banks will not have any liquidity problems, JP Morgan report

    Greek banks will not have any problem in draining liquidity following European Central Bank's decision not to accept Greek bonds as collateral, as banks will use the ELA mechanism, JP Morgan said on Thursday.

    In a report, the US investment bank said an agreement between Greece and the Eurozone must be reached before the end of May. JP Morggan said that Greek banks will cover their biggest part of liquidity from ELA, with only a small part through ECB's mechanism, as banks still have the ability to offer some securities as collateral, such as bonds from the EFSF. This change will have some impact since borrowing from ELA is more expensive (with an interest rate of 1.55 pct instead of 0.05 pct of the ECB), but liquidity will be available.

    ECB's decision puts pressure on the Greek government but it will not leave banks without funding as this could lead to Greece's exit from the Eurozone, JP Morgan said, adding that if borrowing through ELA became huge, an interim measure could be putting controls on capital movement.

    [38] Greek banks' liquidity fully safeguarded, BoG says

    Greek banks' liquidity is fully safeguarded after Wednesday' s decision by the ECB, as liquidity will be offered through the Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Yiannis Dragasakis, the government's vice-president, whom he briefed over the latest developments in the banking system, Stournaras said that the ECB's decision to stop accepting Greek state bonds as collateral from February 11 could be lifted in the future, as had happened again in the past, after the country reached an agreement with its creditors.

    [39] Greek economy to grow by 2.5 pct in 2015, Commission report

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)

    Greek economic growth rate is expected to reach 1.0 pct in 2014, rising to 2.5 pct in 2015 and 3.6 pct in 2016, the European Commission said in its economic forecast report released here on Thursday.

    The Commission, however, noted that these forecasts were based on the condition of fully implementing commitments included in an economic adjustment program.

    Economic growth in the Eurozone is projected to reach 0.8 pct in 2014, 1.3 pct in 2015 and 1.9 pct in 2016, while for the EU is projected economic growth rates of 1.3 pct in 2014, 1.7 pct in 2015 and 2.1 pct in 2016.

    The unemployment rate is expected to fall from 26.6 pct in 2014 to 25 pct in 2015 and 22 pct in 2016 in Greece, while in the Eurozone the unemployment rate is projected to fall from 11.6 pct in 2014 to 11.2 pct this year and 10.6 pct in 2016.

    Greece's fiscal deficit is projected at -2.5 pct of GDP in 2014 and to return to surplus of 1.1 pct in 2015 and 1.6 pct in 2016. The country's public debt is expected to fall from 176.3 pct of GDP in 2014 to 170.2 pct this year and to 159.2 pct in 2015, while the inflation rate is projected to ease from -1.4 pct in 2014 to -0.3 pct this year and to return to positive ground (0.7 pct) in 2016.

    Investments are projected to rise from 0.8 pct in 2014 to 8.4 pct in 2015 and 15 pct in 2016.

    [40] European Commission report confirms the turn to economic growth, ND says

    The recent positive course of the Greek economy, as reflected in the European Commission's report, must continue, New Democracy (ND) spokesman Costas Karagounis said on Thursday, underlining that the government's and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' responsibility is huge.

    He called on the prime minister "to safeguard the sacrifices of the Greek people and quickly enter an agreement with our partners, stabilise the political environment and restore the country's credibility and image abroad," noting that "ND will support the government if it moves within this framework".

    Referring to the European Commission report unveiled today, he stressed that the Greek economy's turn to economic growth, achieved after six years, by the Samaras government is reaffirmed most emphatically.

    [41] Foreign investors accounted for 71.1 pct of ASE transactions in Jan

    Foreign investors raised their participation in the capitalisation of the Athens Stock Exchange to 49.5 pct at the end of January, from 45.9 pct a month earlier (their participation however eased to 61.1 pct in January from 61.5 pct in December, excluding the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund).

    Greek investors held 30.5 pct of the market's capitalisation. Foreign investors, however, were net sellers in January, with capital outflows totaling 24.7 million euros, while Greek investors were net buyers, with capital inflows of 24.30 million euros.

    Foreign investors accounted for 71.1 pct of transactions in the market in January (up from 66.2 pct the previous month). The value of transactions totaled 2.142 billion euros in the first month of 2015, up 4.3 pct from December and down 0.6 pct from January 2014. Average daily value of transactions were 107.11 million euros, up from 102.68 million in December, while the number of active investor codes rose to 28,532 from 25,827 in December.

    The market's capitalisation was 38.26 billion euros at the end of January, from 45.70 billion a month earlier and 60.85 billion euros in January 2014.

    [42] Greek participation in "International Green Week" exhibition

    Thirteen Greek companies introducing new nutritional proposals participated in the largest consumer exhibition in Europe on the food and beverages sector "International Green Week" in Berlin.

    The presentation of the Greek products was under the new brand of the company GREAT "Great Greek Goods" and attracted thousands of visitors, said a Greek-German Chamber's announcement.

    Among the products promoted apart from the olive oil, feta cheese, wine, honey, halva, traditional pies and meat products were caramelised nuts, biological cookies, natural cosmetics, spiroulina and others.

    In the Greek pavilion participated: BIOselect, CANDIA NUTS SA, DEAR CRETE - KALABOKIS SA, GREAT - Trade Exhibitions and Exports, HELLENIC SPIRULINA NET, KRITI FEINKOST GmbH, LYRARAKIS WINES, MAM FOODS, NOVACERT, OLIVE SPA, ORANGE VALLEYS - KONSTANTINOY ELENI, REGION OF CRETE and TRADITIONAL HANDMADE HALVA.

    [43] Greece to have strong presence in 2nd Grekland Panorama tourist exhibition

    Greece will demostrate a strong presence in the 2nd Grekland Panorama tourist exhibition, which is to take place on February 13-15 in Sweden. Crete, Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Rhodes and Peloponnese will attract visitors' interest in a unique travel and taste fair dedicated to Greece.

    A total of 165 exhibitors from the private sector and local organizations will take part, according to North Events organiser.

    The exhibition will be hosting several parallel cultural activities designed to support and promote Greek Culture in Sweden. Visitors will have the opportunity to attend five unique performances with the Apology of Socrates - "SOCRATES NOW" , with Swedish subtitles for the public in Stockholm.

    For the first time the Swedish public will have the opportunity to attend the internationally recognized classic Plato trial of Socrates, a monologue by the renowned and award-winning performer - Professor Yannis Simonides.

    [44] Prefecture of Peloponnese opposes setting up a lignite mine in Kyparissia

    The prefecture of the Peloponnese expressed on Thursday its opposition to the setting up of a lignite mine in Kyparissia, in the region of Messinia, noting that some individuals are trying to cause anxiety to local citizens and present themselves as the sole protectors of the region.

    The prefecture, apart from expressing its opposition, stated that the set-up of a mine "is completely against the plans of the prefecture and the municipal authorities for the development of the region, which is clearly oriented towards an agricultural economy and tourism."

    It also said the public consultation process follows specific rules and laws which everyone needs to respect and added: "We consider some people's request to prolong the public consultation as particularly 'suspicious', accepting their 'inability' to participate in it according to the established processes, and we expect with great political interest their clear answer for the use or not of lignite as a raw material for the production of energy."

    [45] Theodore Veniamis re-elected chairman of Greek shipowners' union UGS

    Theodore Veniamis was re-elected chairman of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) for another three years at its annual general meeting on Thursday in Athens. Addressing the meeting, he highlighted the benefits of shipping for Greece's economy, including an inflow of foreign exchange, creating jobs and improving its status on the international economic and political scene.

    He noted that shipowners had voluntarily offered to help Greece during the crisis with an offer of 420 million euros to boost state coffers over the next four years, while respecting the Constitutional and legal framework, as well as making a substantial contribution through various charities and organisations.

    He also cited an IOBE report saying that the sector directly and indirectly created more than 190,000 jobs in Greece, while having the potential to offer even more, he added.

    [46] Greek stocks end significantly lower

    Greek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, in the aftermath of an ECB decision to lift a waiver on accepting Greek state bonds as collateral for offering liquidity to Greek banks. The composite index ended 3.37 pct lower to 819.50 points, after falling as much as 9.43 pct early in the session. It was the first decline in the market after a three-day rally which pushed the index 17.47 pct higher. Bank shares were at the focus of selling activity. The Large Cap index fell 4.48 pct and the Mid Cap index dropped 2.66 pct.

    Turnover was a heavy 151.83 million euros.

    Titan (2.01 pct), Coca Cola HBC (1.43 pct) and Jumbo (0.57 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Piraeus Bank (14.97 pct), National Bank (12.31 pct), Eurobank (9.70 pct), OTE (6.32 pct) and Terna Energy (5.62 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Food (1.43 pct) and Personal Products (0.32 pct) moved higher while Banks (10.04 pct), Telecoms (6.32 pct) and Health (4.99 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -10.04%

    Insurance: unchanged

    Financial Services: -2.89%

    Industrial Products: -1.28%

    Commerce: -0.68%

    Real Estate: -1.56%

    Personal & Household: +0.32%

    Food & Beverages: +1.43%

    Raw Materials: -0.56%

    Construction: -0.22%

    Oil: -2.64%

    Chemical: -0.67%

    Mass Media: unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -4.44%

    Technology: -1.60%

    Telecoms: -6.32%

    Utilities: -4.51%

    Health: -4.99%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.374

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.27

    Coca Cola HBC: 14.90

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.05

    National Bank of Greece: 1.14

    OPAP: 8.43

    OTE: 8.15

    Piraeus Bank: 0.642

    Titan: 21.30

    Grivalia Properties: 7.70

    Aegean Airlines: 7.80

    [47] Greek bond yields up

    Greek state bond prices fell and yields moved higher following ECB's surprise decision to stop accepting Greek bonds as collaterals turning Greek banks to the ELA mechanism for liquidity. The DBRS credit rating agency on Thursday said it put Greece's debt under revision citing risks in the financial stability and debt sustainability, a Bloomberg report said.

    The 10-year benchmark bond yield rose to 10.38 pct, up 70 basis points from Wednesday. The 10-year bond yield was 8.41 pct on Friday 23 January ahead of the Greek elections. The three-year bond yield rose to 17.81 pct, up 149 bps.

    [48] Greek bond market closing report

    Greek state bonds came under renewed pressure in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, with bond yields rising further. The three-year benchmark bond yield rose to 16.90 pct from 16.3 pct on Wednesday, while the five-year bond yield rose to 13.49 pct from 13.06 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 9.79 pct from 9.09 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 10.16 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.36 pct. Turnover was a thin 6.0 million euros, of which 4.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 2.0 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-monthr ate eased to 0.262 pct from 0.263 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.196 pct from 0.197 pct, the six-month rate was 0.132 pct, the three-month rate was unchanged at 0.055 pct and the one-month rate fell to zero from 0.001 pct.

    [49] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.15 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 24,236 contracts with 50,444 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 65,132 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (28,111), followed by Alpha Bank (10,885), Piraeus Bank (16,844), Eurobank (11,338), OTE (1,971), PPC (1,895), OPAP (1,800), Mytilineos (419), GEK (432), Ellaktor (252), Hellenic Exchanges (229), MIG (279), Titan (102) and Jumbo (128).

    [50] Foreign exchange rates - Thursday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.141

    Pound sterling 0.7482

    Danish kroner 7.4456

    Swedish kroner 9.4579

    Japanese yen 133.98

    Swiss franc 1.587

    Norwegian kroner 8.637

    Canadian dollar 1.429

    Australian dollar 1.4616

    General News

    [51] Central Athens teachers report cases of malnutrition in schools after delays in free meals supply tender

    Appearing before the City of Athens municipal council on Thursday, teachers at central Athens schools reported cases of malnutrition among the children they teach following serious delays in an international tender for the supply of some one million euros in foodstuffs for a free meals programme.

    They said the delays had prevented the Municipal Nursery from plans to prepare 10,500 servings a day for distribution in daycare centres, schools and municipal soup kitchens. Since last October, the supply to the Municipal Nursery is covered exclusively through donations, meaning that only 4,500 meals can be prepared each day. These are distributed in daycare centres, with no free meals offered in schools, while the soup kitchens have been taken over by a catering firm that did the job in the past.

    Two teachers representing the area's teachers' unions described the situation in central Athens as "tragic" and said teachers were being asked to teach children that are hungry, with Dimitris Mariolis of the 'Ambelokipoi' teachers' union citing a case where a child had not eaten for two days. He noted that 1,200 meals had been distributed to children in schools the previous year, while applications put in at the start of the present school year - head teachers rather than parents - had gone up by another 600.

    Athens Mayor George Kaminis promised that the problem will be resolved by the end of next week and he attributed the delay in the tender, which has been blocked for a year, on bureaucratic obstacles. The deputy mayor fo children Maria Iliopoulou said that the terms of international tenders imposed by the European Union - including the large amounts required as letters of guarantee - excluded many suppliers and created strong competition among the few suppliers meeting the criteria, while the system also reduced flexibility.

    [52] Power cuts caused by African dust in Samothrace, Alexandroupolis, Xanthi

    The frequent power cuts experienced since the beginning of February at the island of Samothrace in northern Greece, the southern side of Alexandroupolis and a part of Xanthi have been caused by the African dust carried by wind to Greece.

    According to a press release issued by the municipality of Samothrace, the problems in power supply are very serious, with some power cuts lasting more than 19 hours, while the voltage keeps fluctuating, causing problems to electrical appliances and computers.

    Specifically in Samothrace, schools remain closed on Monday, as the management couldn't turn on the heating in the building and difficulties have persisted since then.

    The director of Macedonia-Thrace's Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DEDDHE), Anastasios Mizamidis, told ANA-MPA that the dust is deposited on the insulators found on the power utility company's (PPC) power poles and, along with humidity, it lowers their insulating capacity.

    He said it's a rare problem and difficult to deal with because dust can be deposited again even after cleaning, because of humidity. Mizamidis said however that many power poles have been replaced and electricity has been mostly restored.

    [53] Municipal employees on work stoppage on Friday in Attica, Thessaloniki

    Attica municipality workers will walk off their jobs on Friday from 11.30 until the end of the morning shift in support to their federation POE-OTA general council which is being tried for the sector's labour actions in October 2011 against cuts in wages.

    Local Administration employees will hold a protest at 12.00 outside the Athens Courts.

    A similar work-stoppage has been called for Thessaloniki municipal workers, who will walk off their jobs from 12.00 until the end of the morning shift and will hold a protest outside the city's courts at 12.00.

    [54] Prof. Miltiades Hatzopoulos made a member of Athens Academy

    Professor Miltiades Hatzopoulos, former chairman of the National Hellenic Research Foundation and research director at the Research Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity, was on Thursday made a member of the Athens Academy in the 'Ancient Greek History' section of the Arts and Letters Order. Hatzopoulos was born in Athens in 1944.

    [55] 'Nissos Mykonos' to stop at Samos and Fournoi until 'Mytilene' ferry repaired

    The ferry company "Hellenic Seaways" on Thursday announced that the car ferry "Nissos Mykonos" will carry out one additional stop at the islands of Samos and Fournoi each week, until damage to the engines of the NEL ferry line ship "Mytilene" is completed at the end of February.

    The "Nissos Mykonos" currently sails from Piraeus to the islands of Syros, Mykonos, Agios Kyrikos, Vathy (Samos), Chios, Mytilene, Limnos and Kavala every Tuesday and Friday. It will add an additional journey on Mondays, also stopping at the islet of Fournoi.

    The "Mytilene" developed engine trouble three nautical miles off Evdilos and arrived delayed in Karlovasi on Samos, to let off passengers bound for the island. It then remained in the harbour for inspection by its shipping register and was given leave to continue the journey to Piraeus for repairs.

    [56] Man arrested for gun possession near Thessaloniki

    A 56-year-old man was arrested on charges of gun possession in a rural region near Thessaloniki, northern Greece, police announced on Thursday.

    Police raided an auto repair shop in the region of Xiropotamos two days ago and found a sizeable arms cache hidden in a truck, including hand grenades, pistols, assault rifles, brass knuckles and tens of thousands of cartridges. Police searches conducted in the auto repair shop, the suspect's house and another car he owns revealed more guns and ammunition.

    The investigation into the case continues.

    Meanwhile, a Court of Appeals ruling that found the 56-year-old guilty of grievous bodily harm and illegal gun possession is pending against him, according to police.

    [57] Light tremor near Crete

    A light earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale was recorded at 18:17 on Thursday in the sea region of Ierapetra, off the coast of Crete.

    According to the Geodynamic Institute of the Athens National Observatory, the epicentre of the quake was located 375 km south-southeast of Athens and 31 km west-southwest of Ierapetra.

    The quake jolted the eastern part of Crete and Iraklio.

    Weather forecast

    [58] Clouds, rain on Friday

    Clouds, rain and northeasterly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 02C-13C. Same weather in the eastern parts with temperatures between 08C-15C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with rain in the morning and temperatures between 06C-17C. Partly cloudy over the islands, 12C-18C. Clouds with rain in the morning in Athens, 08C-17C; the same for Thessaloniki, 07C-12C.

    [59] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: War of positions in Berlin.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Rendez-vous at the Wall.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Draghi's (Mario, European Bank president) bomb presses the banks' liquidity.

    ESTIA: Austere life and new taxes.

    ETHNOS: Night siege from ECB and Berlin.

    IMERISSIA: Negotiations at a crucial point.

    KATHIMERINI: Head on collision with Berlin.

    LOGOS: Positive messages for viable solution.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Wall from Berlin.

    RIZOSPASTIS: The new government's 'agreement' will have antipopular terms.

    TA NEA: Free besieged.

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