Visit our archive of Documents on The Cyprus Problem A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Friday, 15 November 2019
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-10

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

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

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 Issue No: 4882

CONTENTS

  • [01] It is in everyone's interest to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, PM Tsipras says
  • [02] All countries in the Eurozone must remain in the Eurozone, Faymann says after meeting with Tsipras
  • [03] Greek gov't to present five-point package in Eurogroup
  • [04] US President Obama discusses Greek issue with Chancellor Merkel (adds)
  • [05] French FM Sapin calls for the safeguarding of Greece's funding
  • [06] EU Commission working on finding a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and Europe, spokesperson says
  • [07] Don't assume euro zone will simply accept your plans, EU's Juncker tells Tsipras-Reuters
  • [08] Germany's stance on Greece's programme is known, gov't spokepersons say
  • [09] Foreign Minister Kotzias attends EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels
  • [10] Foreign Minister Kotzias to meet Russian counterpart on Feb. 11
  • [11] Finance Minister Varoufakis addresses parliament; ND parliamentary spokesman's response
  • [12] EuroWorking Group's Wieser and EC's Costello conclude talks with Finance Ministry
  • [13] European Parliament's Socialists and Democrats urge EU and Greece to agree on new plan
  • [14] S&D Group president Gianni Pittella said:
  • [15] S&D Group vice-president responsible for economic and monetary affairs Maria Jo?o Rodrigues added:
  • [16] FinMin Varoufakis comments on the course of the negotiations with Greece's partners
  • [17] Commission denies Greek press reports of Juncker letter
  • [18] Parties' rapporteurs debate on government's policy statements in Parliament
  • [19] Potami, ANEL, Golden Dawn comment on government's policy announcement
  • [20] Policies do not change, KKE's Papariga says
  • [21] Ministers and deputies comment on government's policy statements
  • [22] Alt. Admin Reform minister says revoking illegal dismissals will not burden budget
  • [23] Alternate Citizen Protection Min Panousis refers to a new era in police-citizens' relation
  • [24] Alt. Minister for Social Solidarity outlines plans to rebuild 'collapsed' social state
  • [25] Government to restore wage injustices for army officials, says Defence Minister Kammenos
  • [26] Alt. Shipping Minister outlines priorities in Parliament
  • [27] Justice Minister Paraskevopoulos announces changes in the administration of justice
  • [28] 'We don't want you to end up as a 'left-wing interval'," ND's Mitsotakis says
  • [29] Alt. Defence Minister Isichos says the social role of the armed forces is a priority
  • [30] Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Ukraine and Greece's role in interview with 'Der Spiegel'
  • [31] Turkey will not withdraw Barbaros from eastern Mediterranean, Hurriyet reports
  • [32] SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos proposes special discussion on Greece in European Parliament
  • [33] ALDE leader Verhofstadt says Greek WWII reparations claims go against the European spirit
  • [34] Alt. Health Minister Xanthos says 'we will ensure the survival of the public health system'
  • [35] KKE leader attacks SYRIZA, says more 'painful compromises' will be made
  • [36] The bridge programme is a huge mistake, says PASOK president Venizelos
  • [37] OECD urges reforms in five key areas for Greece in 'Going for Growth 2015' report
  • [38] 2014 primary surplus lower than expected, Mardas says
  • [39] Government VP presents main proposals for Greek bans to banking union president
  • [40] Moody's downgrades five Greek banks
  • [41] Finance ministry says will use any means necessary to fight tax evasion
  • [42] Gov't Vice-President Dragasakis meets with bank officials
  • [43] Greek trade deficit up 6.4 pct in 2014
  • [44] Industrial production down 2.7 pct in 2014 on average
  • [45] Car registrations up 12.8 pct in Jan
  • [46] Greek stocks end 4.75 pct lower
  • [47] Greek bond market closing report
  • [48] ADEX closing report
  • [49] Foreign exchange rates - Monday
  • [50] Bad weather hits Greece with snow and low temperatures
  • [51] Flu outbreak death toll rises to 36, authorities report
  • [52] Police rescues seven irregular migrants trapped on islet in Evros
  • [53] Ban on ferry departures from Piraeus and Lavrio to the Aegean islands
  • [54] Snowfall on Tuesday
  • [55] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] It is in everyone's interest to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, PM Tsipras says

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday briefed Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on the Greek government's plan to "lift the temporary impasse" as submitted to the country's partners.

    Tsipras clarified that this plan does not burden European taxpayers at all. In joint statements with the Chancellor after their meeting, Tsipras said that he was optimistic that an agreement with Greece's partners will be reached, adding: "It is in everyone's interest to reach a mutually beneficial agreement."

    "We have not until today, in any case, heard any specific and viable alternative proposal to this plan and I do not believe that there is any serious reason why there should not be an agreement between Greece and the partners apart from political reasons - a political choice to insist on a mistake and a denial of the operation of democracy," he said.

    If the two sides were led to an impasse for such reasons, he warned, "I think that it will be a decision to torpedo our common European future and I believe that no one has any such intention."

    Tsipras said that the Greek government has submitted a realistic plan because its intention is not to enter into a confrontation with the country's EU partners but to work hard in order to ensure a common European future with social cohesion, solidarity and prosperity.

    The Greek premier also noted that the crisis in Europe was not a particularly Greek phenomenon, though Greece had found itself in the "eye of the hurricane", but one that concerned all of Europe and the Euro area. He noted that the Eurozone was now showing signs of stagnation and deflation "which are a trap for all those that know their economics." For this reason, he added, a joint European solution was needed for this joint European crisis, while it was in everyone's interests to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

    Hopeful that such a solution will be reached in the next few days, Tsipras also predicted that once Greece overcame the crisis, this would also mark the point when all of Europe would start to overcome the crisis. In the opposite case, he noted, since Greece was at the centre of a triangle of instability bounded by the Ukraine to the north, Syria to the southeast and north Africa to the southwest, it was necessary for everyone for Greece to remain a pole and area of stability in this fragile region, so that everyone had an interest in achieving a viable, mutually acceptable solution.

    He said the new Greek government will soon submit to its partners a specific plan for lifting the temporary impasse over the implementation of a new four-year programme of reforms and growth, which will be put forward for consultation and will not burden European tax-payers by even one euro. This plan will envisage that Greece stops asking for new loans and that a viable solution is find that will enable it to meet its financial obligations through a return to growth, he said, stressing that this was the only way.

    In order for this plan to be achieve, he added, an interim agreement was needed for a bridging programme lasting from the end of the current programme on February 28 until June 1, which would allow Greece the necessary fiscal space and necessary time for reforms for the government to begin implementing its programme.

    He promised that this will include a raft of reforms that will make a "clean break" with the country's chequered past, with measures to fight corruption, tax evasion, to reorganise the public sector and make it more efficient and less bureaucratic, open up markets to competition with a modern anti-oligarchic legislative framework.

    Commenting on the Austrian Chancellor's statement that those who bet on Greece's failure, we will be proven wrong, Tsipras said that "they are playing with fire and the risk of strengthening the extreme right in Europe."

    Government sources in Athens reported that the meeting went well, with the Austrian chancellor stressing the need to find a mutually beneficial agreement between Greece and its EU partners. Faymann also judged the Greek side's positions realistic and reasonable, the same sources said, while stressing that Greece must provide its creditors with assurances that it will meet its loan obligations, so that a temporary bridge agreement can be agreed.

    The Austrian chancellor said he was in favour of such a bridge agreement and would support this position at the upcoming EU summit, the source added.

    Faymann and Tsipras also agreed on the issue of Russia, with both the Austrian chancellor and the Greek prime minister in favour of dialogue on a diplomatic level between the EU and Russia, as opposed to stepping up sanctions, the source said.

    [02] All countries in the Eurozone must remain in the Eurozone, Faymann says after meeting with Tsipras

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/ D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The shared goal of Greece and Austria is that all countries currently in the Eurozone will be in the Eurozone at the end of this year and in years to come, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said on Monday. Speaking during joint statements with visiting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the chancellor stressed that it was important for the European Union, as a union of peace, to seek to have a common currency that he said was an "inseparable part of this cooperation".

    He said that EU leaders have an obligation to create a powerful base within the EU for all its members and for this reason, there can only be one goal, which was to find a jointly find a solution within the Eurozone for Greece.

    Faymann said that in talks with Tsipras, they noted that the commitments and framework must be respected and that there should be no additional cost for tax payers. He said that a solution might be found between the agreements made in the past and the great efforts of the new Greek government. He noted, however, that this was not happening at present and expressed his concern, stressing that a way must be found.

    The Austrian chancellor said that Tsipras raised an issue that Austria also agreed with, which was how things might be done differently and a new way found so that the commitments and framework might be respected. He said that this hinged on fighting fraud, tax evasion and creating financial structures capable of achieving this. Fighting corruption and establishing a state of law would enhance the security of investors and profit the country, he said.

    Faymann emphasised the importance of enhancing the credibility of a state of law, noting that this was not the sole duty of the Greek prime minister but a common European obligation. He noted that the bailout of banks had prompted a major mobilisation to preserving financial flows, adding that the same energy must now be shown in fight fraud, boosting employment, especially among the young, and to guarantee education for people in Europe suffering as a result of unemployment and waiting for prospects, not just financial but in all areas.

    [03] Greek gov't to present five-point package in Eurogroup

    The Greek government will bring a five-point package during Wednesday's extraordinary Eurogroup meeting, sources at the finance ministry said on Monday. They said the aim was to reach an agreement by the following Eurogroup meeting on February 16 and to give the government the necessary time by the end of August to draft a new contract, which will replace the memorandum.

    The sources said the Greek proposal envisages:

    - a bridge agreement until the end of August and from September 1st to have a final contract between Greece and its partners,

    - a 30 pct of "toxic" commitments of the memorandum, such as a dismantling of the labour market, will be replaced by 10 reforms to be recommended by the Greek government in cooperation with the OECD. These reforms will not include a reform of the pension system.

    - changing targets for primary surpluses, starting this year. The government believes that a target for a budget primary surplus of 3.0 pct of GDP in 2015 was not realistic and must be reduced to 1.5 pct of GDP, given the fact that the primary surplus for 2014 was 1.49 pct of GDP.

    - begin a negotiation on the country's public debt through a swap menu

    - immediately dealing with a humanitarian crisis in the country.

    The government insists on the immediate disbursement of 1.9 billion euros in profits from Greek bond holdings owned by the European Central Bank, raising a ceiling on the issuance of Treasury bills by 8.0 billion euros and a flexible ELA. It also demands the exploitation of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund's 11 billion euros reserves, resolving a problem with non-performing loans and covering the country's funding needs through the disbursement of an installment of 7.2 billion euros from its creditors.

    Finance ministry sources said the Greek proposal was not "radical" but "uncrossable lines" remained in order to end austerity and a self-reinforcing crisis, while they added that this bridge agreement could be named a "technical extension" by the country's partners. The Greek government plan also includes exploiting state assets, encouraging the privatisation of Piraeus Port and noted that privatisations not yet completed will be checked.

    The same sources said that a meeting between Greek authorities and the head of the Euro Working Group and the representative of the European Commission on Sunday examined technical details of the ongoing negotiations.

    [04] US President Obama discusses Greek issue with Chancellor Merkel (adds)

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA / P. Panagiotou)

    Greece and economic growth in the eurozone were among the issues discussed in the meeting on Monday between US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.

    In a joint news conference after the meeting, the US president said as regards Greece "I look forward to hearing Angela's assessment of how Europe and the IMF can work with the new Greek government to find a way that returns Greece to sustainable growth within the Eurozone," adding that such growth is critical to the global economy and the United States.

    On her side, the German Chancellor referred to Wednesday's Eurogroup and stressed that "what's important is what Greece will bring to the table," adding that "since 2010 Germany aims at keeping Greece within the Eurozone. However, basic rules remain the same: you should try (Greece) and the rest will show solidarity. Programmes are the basis for talks. I always say that Greece must present a sustainable programme and then we will talk."

    [05] French FM Sapin calls for the safeguarding of Greece's funding

    French Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Monday asked for the safeguarding of Greece's funding "but within the framework of the "European rules."

    "We must safeguard the funding, without which Greece will be at the mercy of whatever state of the markets' panic , but we can't say simply that we "are financing, we are financing" stated Sapin upon his arrival to Istanbul where he will participate in the G20 meeting.

    Sapin also said that the respect to the European rules is a prerequisite for support to Greece is.

    [06] EU Commission working on finding a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and Europe, spokesperson says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    The European Commission is working on finding a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and Europe, EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said during a regular news briefing in Brussels.

    Asked on the visit of the Eurogroup Working Group president Thomas Wieser and the representative of the European Commission Declan Costello on Sunday in Athens, Schinas said their visit was a preparatory one ahead of the February 11 Eurogroup. Asked to comment whether there has been any progress in the talks between the two EU officials and the Greek authorities, Schinas was reluctant to give a specific answer and said that at this point the Commission is making every possible effort on a technical level to prepare the upcoming Eurogroup so that its meeting can take place in the best possible conditions.

    He added the EU Commission was in close contact with all the parties involved in the negotiation and was working constructively on finding a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and Europe. He concluded by saying that the final decision on Greece will be taken unanimously by the 19 member-states of the Eurozone.

    On Wieser and Costello's visit, Commission sources said there was a slight progress in the talks. The discussions with the Greek government, the sources said, were constructive and each side presented its own red lines. The same sources estimated that a mutually beneficial solution is feasible before the February 16 Eurogroup.

    [07] Don't assume euro zone will simply accept your plans, EU's Juncker tells Tsipras-Reuters

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday advised Greece's new government not to assume the euro zone would simply accept all the promises Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made to Greek voters about scrapping economic reforms, Reuters news agency said.

    Speaking before talks with Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) - junior partners in Angela Merkel's coalition - Juncker told reporters that Tsipras had "only partly addressed" Brussels' concerns about his plans in a speech in Athens on Sunday.

    Tsipras laid out plans to dismantle the austerity programme prescribed by Berlin and ruled out any extension of the bailout, setting himself on a collision course with his EU partners, according to Reuters.

    [08] Germany's stance on Greece's programme is known, gov't spokepersons say

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)

    The German government's stance on the Greek bailout programme remains unchanged, Finance Ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe said referring to the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' policy statements.

    Kothe referred to the extraordinary Eurogroup meeting on Wednesday, during which, she said, the Greek government will probably present the details of its proposal.

    "Our stance on the conclusion of the programme and the obligations that have been agreed is known. The programme should have been concluded as it has been agreed," she said.

    "Greece has the opportunity in the Eurogroup to make its position more specific," deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter.

    Berlin has not changed its stance on Greece's demands regarding the World War II occupation loan and reparations.

    Asked to comment on Tsipras' reference to the issue in Parliament, Streiter said that the German government has repeatedly made its position known. He added, however, that until now the Greek side has been mainly expressing thoughts and noted that the policy statements relate mainly to domestic issues.

    [09] Foreign Minister Kotzias attends EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Monday participated in a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels that focused on developments in Ukraine.

    Based on the directions of the previous council meeting, the EU foreign ministers drew up a list of individuals that have played an important role in the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine who will be faced with measures and sanctions. The list is not expected to be made public before next Monday and a lot will depend on the outcome of the talks between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine this week.

    Referring in general to foreign policy issues in Europe, the foreign minister said that the answer is not always the imposition of sanctions and embargo. He also noted that vision, values and social justice are missing as regards security and peace in Europe.

    Developments in the Middle East, in Lebanon and Libya in particular, were also discussed at the FAC meeting.

    The Greek side requested a general discussion on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean to take place at the next informal Foreign Ministers Council in Riga, Latvia, with an emphasis on a cohesive policy that will include training, social benefits and cultural monument protection programmes. The request was accepted by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and will be included in the daily agenda of the informal meeting in Riga on March 6-7.

    The foreign minister also said that today he will depart for Berlin, where he will meet with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier following the latter's invitation. The meeting will focus on issues concerning Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and foreign fighters.

    [10] Foreign Minister Kotzias to meet Russian counterpart on Feb. 11

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Russian diplomatic sources confirm that Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on February 11.

    The news was reported by two Russian news agencies, ITAR-TASS and Interfax, and confirmed by Greek diplomatic sources in the Russian capital.

    "Following a request by the Greek side, the meeting of the foreign ministers of Greece and Russia, which was initially planned for later in February, has been brought forward and the Russian side happily accepted the request," Russian sources told ANA-MPA answering a relevant question.

    [11] Finance Minister Varoufakis addresses parliament; ND parliamentary spokesman's response

    "The end of the crisis will not come if we say one more 'yes' to the existing programme. The existing medicine is toxic and the attendant doctor is aware of that and admits it in private but continues to administer the medicine because of the commitments undertaken," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Monday underlined in parliament.

    "We demand a new discussion on the essence of the problem because the policies they demand us to swallow are part of the problem and not the real medicine," Varoufakis said, asking again for a transitional agreement that will give time to the Greek government to present its proposals on debt negotiation.

    "I will enter the negotiation keeping in mind that I represent the 40 pct of the people that voted for us and the 60 pct that did not vote us. I will keep in mind the emotionally charged calls 'not to back out' and find a solution," he said.

    New Democracy (ND) parliamentary spokesman Kyriakos Mitsotakis responded that he saw in Varoufakis' address "a turn to political realism", adding that "if you really want more time you could ask for an extension to the existing programme".

    Mitsotakis said that "the alliance of the South" SYRIZA was aiming at "has collapsed", noting that SYRIZA's policy has no allies in Europe. He suggested a negotiation aimed at the restructuring of the debt and the reduction of the size of the primary surpluses demanded by the country's creditors.

    [12] EuroWorking Group's Wieser and EC's Costello conclude talks with Finance Ministry

    EuroWorking Group president Thomas Wieser and the representative of the European Commission Declan Costello left from Athens early Monday.

    The two officials had arrived in Athens on Sunday to hold talks with the Finance Ministry and to assist in the best preparation of the Greek positions ahead of the extraordinary meeting of the Eurogroup on Wednesday, February 11.

    [13] European Parliament's Socialists and Democrats urge EU and Greece to agree on new plan

    The European Parliament's Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group on Monday urged the EU and the new Greek government to negotiate a "reform and reconstruction plan for Greece, replacing the current bailout programme designed by the Troika".

    In a political document adopted today in Strasbourg, the Socialists and Democrats argued that the future plan must be a joint plan, genuinely responding to the concerns of the Greek people, while remaining acceptable to other EU governments and institutions, and the people they are accountable to.

    "Therefore it should be negotiated between the Greek government and the European Commission and Council, under the supervision of the European Parliament."

    [14] S&D Group president Gianni Pittella said:

    "We demand that the EU institutions and not the Troika negotiate a global plan with the Greek government.

    "Europe should ensure that Athens is given enough fiscal flexibility to be able to implement progressive reforms, revive the economy and begin to reduce unemployment, poverty and the large social inequalities that weigh down upon the population.

    "It is clear that the Tsipras government must play a constructive role in this unavoidable debate - or face disaster. We realise that we cannot deal further tough blows to an exhausted country. What we can do, however, is ask Greece to make serious and, up to a point, stringent commitments as regards the public sector, tax policy and the fight against corruption."

    [15] S&D Group vice-president responsible for economic and monetary affairs Maria Jo?o Rodrigues added:

    "Greece's problem is also Europe's problem. Greece should get more time to repay its debt, so that more money is left in its budget to support a new agenda of progressive reforms and investment.

    "The size of Greek public debt - over 170% of GDP - is partly the result of the flawed Troika programmes, based on austerity, massive cost-cutting and wrong economic forecasts. It would be cruel to demand a huge budgetary surplus from Greece in the decades to come, just to keep the current repayment schedule. The EU needs to ease the debt burden by lowering interest rates and allowing more time for repayment, so that the country can also invest in building a healthy economy.

    "In exchange, the Greek government should be fully committed to implementing ambitious progressive reforms. These reforms should be centred on modernising the public administration, improving tax collection, stepping up fight against tax avoidance and corruption, investing in education and building a functioning welfare and health system.

    "How the Greek crisis is handled will tell a lot about how the eurozone is able to deal with its economic and social problems. After years of suffering, Greece and the whole Economic and Monetary Union need different economic policies, focused on growth, investment and social cohesion. The eurozone needs stronger common instruments and more solidarity, otherwise it will face even bigger financial and political problems than it has up to now."

    [16] FinMin Varoufakis comments on the course of the negotiations with Greece's partners

    "There is no conflict. Discussion and deliberation, as we always do in the European family," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Monday told reporters on his way to his office when asked to comment on the course of the negotiations.

    [17] Commission denies Greek press reports of Juncker letter

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Spinthourakis)

    A European Commission spokesperson on Monday denied reports in the Greek press about a letter sent to Athens by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, claiming no knowledge of such a letter.

    The spokesperson said that the Commission's talks with the Greek side and the other parties involved are ongoing and that no agreement has been reached to date.

    [18] Parties' rapporteurs debate on government's policy statements in Parliament

    Political parties' rapporteurs on Monday addressed the Parliament Plenum in the second day of the debate on the government's policy statements, launched by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday evening.

    SYRIZA secretary Dimitris Vitsas referred to the context of the negotiation and noted that "the government's vocabulary does not include the words submission and bluffing." "We respect the rules of the context we are trying to change; but respect is not weakness," he added.

    New Democracy's George Koumoutsakos said that the government should "set its clock to reality" and accused it of insisting on pre-election bluriness. "We will not give our support to the unknown and the blurriness expressed by the coalition government," Koumoutsakos said.

    Ilias Kassidiaris, representing Golden Dawn, accused the government of performing a somersault and said that after the elections "there has been no reference to a debt haircut or to the cancellation of the memorandum."

    Potami deputy Antigoni Lymberaki described the premier's speech as "wishful thinking." She said there was no other reference to the economy apart from combating tax evasion and claimed the "new government's policies were being identified with New Democracy and PASOK's ones."

    Communist KKE party has denied any support or tolerance to the new government, deputy Nikos Karathanassopoulos said. He also criticized the Finance Minister's reference to "living simply" saying that the "government demands a lower bar, while it called the people not to offer their support to this policy."

    PASOK's Leonidas Grigorakos called on the government, which he said "has promised a lot", to adjust to the European environment. He said his party despite its mistakes handed over a country that was standing on its feet and accused the government of not having any programme, plan or method ahead of the negotiations.

    The debate will carry on until late in the evening, with the focus being on the new ministers who are expected to present their programmes in detail as well as their priorities. The debate will be concluded late on Tuesday with deputies being asked to give a vote of confidence to the government.

    [19] Potami, ANEL, Golden Dawn comment on government's policy announcement

    The government's policy announcements were "an essay of pre-election ideas," Potami party said in a statement adding that Prime Minister Alexis "Tsipras should finally tell citizens not what he was dreaming of before the elections but what will take the country out of the impasse."

    "The Prime Minister's speech justifies the expectations of the Greek people," Independent Greeks (ANEL) spokesperson Marina Chrysoveloni said. "Our country now has governors who stand on their own feet and make Greeks proud," she noted.

    "Tsipras announced there would be a new memorandum under a different name," Golden Dawn said in a statement. "Golden Dawn will fight hard against any government decision that will constitute a national retreat," it noted.

    [20] Policies do not change, KKE's Papariga says

    The government is moving in the direction of becoming a pawn of the imperialists, former communist party (KKE) secretary general and party State Deputy Aleka Papariga said in her speech on the policy statements in the Parliament on Monday.

    Referring to the programme of the governing party, she said that SYRIZA will not change its stance since "its programme is anti-labour, anti-popular, and social democratic in condition of crisis ... accompanied by slogans of hope and popular deceit." She also underlined that policies do not change.

    Papariga noted that the people's dignity cannot be identified with any government option and characterised the government's policy statements on NATO's strategy "very poor".

    [21] Ministers and deputies comment on government's policy statements

    A number of ministers and deputies in statements to ANA-MPA commented on the government's policy statements.

    Dimitris Stratoulis

    The policy statements "satisfied the overwhelming majority of the Greek people," Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis said. "Although many of them did not vote for us, they support the difficult negotiation that the country's new government is carrying out. I believe the message has been sent; we cannot be blackmailed, we are not afraid, we will not back down."

    Aristidis Baltas

    "The (universities) administrative employees are being reinstated. We are considering their way of reinstatement. We have the model of the Technical University of Athens which has worked out just fine, so that there is no fiscal cost. This is the direction that more or less we will move to," Education minister Aristidis Baltas said.

    Nadia Valavani

    "I believe these are historical moments and these statements have a historic dimension," Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani.

    Theano Fotiou

    "The most dramatic moment was in the end when the prime minister appeared to be moved," Alternate Social Solidarity Minister Theano Fotiou said.

    Terens Quick

    "The prime minister did what was self-evident; he sent a message to all directions that the recovery of the national sovereignty, the relief of the households and the development of the market are the main goals," Deputy State Minister Terens Quick said.

    Yiannis Amanatidis

    "We are implementing our pre-election pledges. As a government we will implement our programme focusing primarily on dealing with the humanitarian crisis and bringing back hope and dignity to our country," SYRIZA deputy Yiannis Amanatidis.

    Andreas Loverdos

    "Tsipras is the prime minister of recession," PASOK deputy Andreas Loverdos said.

    Dimitris Kremastinos

    "If all these lead the country to investments and growth, then the statements are acceptable. I will say no more, because in the case of policy statements every one wishes that the targets are met," PASOK deputy Dimitris Kremastinos said.

    The full statements are available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA website.

    [22] Alt. Admin Reform minister says revoking illegal dismissals will not burden budget

    Revoking the dismissal of those illegally laid off will not add any extra burdens to the state budget, Alternate Administrative Reform Minister George Katrougalos clarified on Monday, in statement to the radio station Vima FM. He said the measure will be covered from the existing budget set aside for public-sector hiring, as voted for by the previous government, and was simply "correcting an injustice".

    He underlined that he took over the ministry to make real changes to the Greek state, stressing that the real problem had never been the absolute numbers of state-sector employees but how these people were used.

    "First, I will break up the clientelist state and, secondly, I will launch a process of real mobility...the issue is how to get more people to the places where we currently have the greatest needs," he said. According to Katrogalos, the previous government had created a "pseudo-mobility, without having made a record of where the real needs are."

    With regard to public sector general directors, he clarified that no one will be moved at the moment since ther term is due to expire in three months, at which time a new system for selecting senior management will have been set up, adding that there were "extremely deep injustices on this level."

    On the effort to combat tax evasion and ensuring that the wealthy pay their way, he said this would be done through an 'asset registry' and noted that the wealthy did not only include the 'oligarchs' but also "my colleagues the lawyers and the rich doctors".

    He said the government's priorities at this time were health, education, inspection mechanism and social insurance issues, and noted that the last installments of the 2014 ENFIA property tax must be paid "since these will finance the coming year".

    [23] Alternate Citizen Protection Min Panousis refers to a new era in police-citizens' relation

    Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis during the second day of the debate on the government's policy statements on Monday referred to a new era in the relation between the police and the citizens.

    His proposals - primarily institutional - focused on the social recognition, education, and secured status of the policeman.

    "We cannot have police without police officers having a high sense of self-esteem, social recognition and secured status. The modern policeman does not play hide and seek with the thieves ... but has to deal with the empire of crime. In order for him to be our friend and guardian in the streets, schools, businesses. We must entrust him with the strategic role and not just the executive role and to educate him appropriately," Panousis said and stressed the need to start "a new era in the relations between police and citizens."

    Regarding the stance of the police in demonstrations, he noted: "The Greek police should understand that collective action does not constitute a factor of public disorder, but a social function. To the extent that the police facilitate the exercise of the citizens' democratic rights, the relation between the police and the citizens will improve. Of course, this does not mean that the police will not deal drastically with crime cases, if this is deemed necessary."

    There will also be a review of the police organization framework, change of disciplinary law, use of the municipal police, upgrading infrastructure, and meritocracy in appraisals and transfers, he said.

    He also referred to the reduction of the number of policemen guarding politicians and celebrities.

    Panousis underlined that the proposals are primarily institutional, adding that those with a financial burden, have been priced and will be funded by NSRF and European funds.

    [24] Alt. Minister for Social Solidarity outlines plans to rebuild 'collapsed' social state

    Addressing Parliament during the second day of the debate on the government's policy statements, Alternate Social Solidarity Minister Theano Fotiou on Monday said that recent years had seen a collapse of the social state in Greece. She said that the ministry's primary goal was to bring a network of emergency measures to protect the victims of the crisis.

    Among these, she listed access to power and food for those without income, stressing that the first step will be to draw up lists of those in need. Another priority will be to provide shelter to the homeless and special travel cards for the long-term unemployed, as well as those living below the poverty line.

    In addition, the government will restore the Christmas bonus and 13th pension for those with a monthly pension less than 700 euros, free medical care for the uninsured without jobs, lower taxes on heating oil as opposed to diesel and subsidies for heating.

    She said the list of those eligble for benefits will be compiled very quickly, at the level of local authorities, with the assistance of the Church of Greece and various charities and aid organisations, though clarifying that this cooperation had "no room for Fascsim and Nazism".

    "Our aim is to create an umbrella of social solidarity networks on a local and regional level," Fotiou told Parliament.

    The minister said that the now abolished Worker Housing Association will be restored as the Social Housing Organisation and utilise empty apartments and other unused state property, and also pledged measures against child poverty, which she said approached "an embarrassing 36 pct".

    [25] Government to restore wage injustices for army officials, says Defence Minister Kammenos

    Restoring the wage injustices of army executives and retired officials, taking beneficial measures for children whose families have been affected by the crisis is the defence ministry's priority, Minister Panos Kammenos said on Monday during the parliamentary debate on the government's policy statements.

    "We will implement the Council of State's decision. Justice is the institution and pillar of Democracy and no government can refuse to implement the decisions of Greek Justice," the minister said, adding that people are the government's priority.

    Kammenos also said he will create mechanisms to audit procurements. He said he intends to amend the provisions of the law on procurements, noting that it doesn't make sense to buy 20 helicopters, to have received 11 of them and use only two. "For this case alone, they brought me maintenance contracts worth 71 million euros to sign and payment contracts worth 110 million euros. I won't sign them and the audit won't stop. There will be fines for all the violations of armament contracts wherever they come from," he said.

    "The party is over. Those who used Greek people's money will pay, however high they may be."

    To this end, he added, he initiated the establishment of an Internal Affairs Service that will have audit jurisdiction to all units and he has also ordered to open the drawers of ministers.

    The minister also noted he will promote a fair and transparent framework for promotions, transfers of army staff as well as measures to assist officials whose families are just above the poverty line.

    [26] Alt. Shipping Minister outlines priorities in Parliament

    Alternate Minister for Shipping Thodoris Dritsas promised action to drastically reduce unemployment among Greek seamen, in his statements during the second day of a debate on the government's policy statements in Parliament on Monday.

    A second priority will be to ensure that all ferry services are carried out as scheduled and on time, he added.

    He linked the fight against unemployment among sailors with the "urgent need to increase the reciprocation of shipping capital to Greek society," starting with jobs but also extending to other areas. He confirmed that the government intended to stop the further privatisations of Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports and, where private exploitation of ports and marinas was already established, he clarified that these must respect labour rights, protect the environment, allow the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises and act with transparency.

    On this front, he said an urgent issue was the management of ship wastes in order to "eradicate untransparent practice of monopolies," citing a recent incident of attempted bribery of the Corfu port authority.

    He also highlighted shipping safety and prevention of accidents as a key government priority.

    [27] Justice Minister Paraskevopoulos announces changes in the administration of justice

    Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos on Monday during policy statements in Parliament announced major changes in the administration of justice.

    "The Constitution will practically be on top of the hierarchy of rules of law" which means that "the tactics of a memorandum or a rule being above the Constitution have no place in the policy and the administration of justice," Paraskevopoulos said.

    In the same context, "the adaptation of national legislation to international documents or directives will proceed based on the country's obligations while weighing up the social needs and above all the Constitution."

    "Before crime, a zero tolerance policy has no place," he said. "Justice will be strictly enforced against those guilty of major crimes and tolerance will be shown for misdemeanors". The juvenile prisons "will be basically abolished," he noted.

    He also announced the abolition of high security prisons, an institution deemed "problematic" as "it qualitatively changed the sentence but this change was not based on judicial discretion, the terms affected the majority of prisoners, while the lack of prisoners' communication reached the level of deprivation of human rights."

    Other measures announced by Paraskevopoulos was the reduction of the cost for citizens to appeal to justice, the claim of the occupation loan and German war reparations for the period of Nazi occupation, the revision of the Constitution, the investigation into tax evasion lists, the review of draft codes of civil and criminal law and finally the expansion of the institution of "partnership agreement" of same-sex couples.

    [28] 'We don't want you to end up as a 'left-wing interval'," ND's Mitsotakis says

    New Democracy (ND) doesn't want the new government of Alexis Tsipras to end up a "left-wing interval" because that would be very bad news for the country, the party's parliamentary spokesman Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a debate in parliament over the government's policy statements on Monday.

    "We have absolutely no intention of seeing you end up as a 'left-wing interval', because that would mean negotiations have collapsed and the worst case scenario for the country," Mitsotakis he said, adding his party will support the efforts of the new government, provided they aim towards returning the country to growth and they don't jeopardise its European path.

    "I'm glad you realized that a real negotiation is tough. That it takes place behind closed doors with European representatives you had denounced and that it demands real arguments," he noted.

    Mitsotakis also said that there's a very tight time limit to find an honest solution without risking the country's European path and added: "If you want time, all you have to do is ask for an extension of the programme. You know well from your European tour, that we don't have the allies we hoped we would. It was proven that there's no alliance of the south and they are actually the toughest."

    The ND spokesman also said the mandate SYRIZA received from the people was to achieve a better deal for Greece and "not to lead the country to a collision."

    Mitsotakis concluded his speech saying that his party can agree to a realistic framework and support the reforms the country needs. "We won't agree on everything, but we can agree on a basic framework. If you do this, the 76 ND MPs will support you. If you don't, responsibility will be all yours."

    [29] Alt. Defence Minister Isichos says the social role of the armed forces is a priority

    Alternate Defence Minister Kostas Isichos pledged that the implementation of reforms and the drawing up of an institutional framework in the sector of armaments will ensure transparency and the armed forces' effectiveness.

    Addressing Parliament on Monday, the second day of the debate on the government's policy statements, he also said that the wages and pensions of the uniformed services will be gradually restored, noting that in the past four years the uniformed personnel saw their wages and pensions cut up to 43 pct.

    Isichos said that the social role of the armed forces in dealing with the humanitarian crisis is the government's priority, noting that the vulnerable groups of the population will have access to the healthcare sector infrastructure of the military.

    He also made a special reference to the defence industry and the seven state-owned plants, noting that they were negatively affected by across-the-board personnel cuts.

    As regards the real estate property of the armed forces that is under the jurisdiction of the country's privatisation agency TAIPED, he spoke about partnerships with local administration to ensure that the property assets in question will be used to serve the efforts made to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

    Referring to preferential treatment in the case of conscripts' transfers, he said that clientelism practices will end.

    [30] Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Ukraine and Greece's role in interview with 'Der Spiegel'

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)

    Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias outlined Greece's positions concerning Ukraine and Greece's own potential role as a "bridge" between the EU and Russia in an interview with the German magazine "Der Spiegel" published on Monday.

    Under the headline "We are poor but we have the same rights," Kotzias said that Greece wanted to act as a bridge, "but one having its foundations in Europe" and denied any links with far-right elements in Russia. Regarding Greece's initial objections to the EU stance against Russia, Kotzias said that the objections mainly centre on the fact that Greece's government had not been consulted before a supposedly "unanimous" EU decision was issued in its name, rather than any strong pro-Russian stance.

    "On my first day at the ministry, I read that there was a unanimous EU decision on the Ukraine and Russia. We called the Commission. They said, 'no problem, we'll predate your agreement by one day.' Obviously, the previous government allowed this behaviour toward it. I told them that they cannot seriously mean that. If I accepted, Greece would lose its rights. Instead of apologising, they started a campaign that presented us as pro-Russian and dependent on Russia...We are a poor country, a small country in crisis, but an equal country. We are full of debts but not without rights," he said.

    He also highlighted Greece's position as the centre of a sensitive triangle of destabilised countries, noting that a destabilisation of Greece will form a line of instability stretching from Russia via the Ukraine and the Balkans to the Middle East and North Africa.

    [31] Turkey will not withdraw Barbaros from eastern Mediterranean, Hurriyet reports

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)

    Turkey rejected a call by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to withdraw Turkish research vessel Barbaros from areas of the eastern Mediterranean which have been characterised as part of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Monday, citing "official sources" of the country's foreign ministry.

    "The change of government in Greece does not lead to a change of Turkey's policy in Cyprus," a source told the paper, adding that this has already been made known to Athens.

    Tsipras had stated the request for the withdrawal of Barbaros during his official visit to Cyprus about a week ago.

    [32] SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos proposes special discussion on Greece in European Parliament

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/ N. Roussis)

    SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos on Monday called for a special discussion on the situation in Greece in the European Parliament, in a proposal submitted to European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

    Glezos said that he was asking for this so that "nobody in the European Parliament can express opinions about Greece without these having the approval of the Parliament." He criticised Schulz for "going to Greece and expressing some views about the situation [there] without having consulted with the European Parliament or obtaining its approval. Did you express your own opinions or those of others?"

    Schulz noted that the MEP's proposal had been submitted too late and suggested that he address the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group, which must submit a relevant proposal to the EP's Conference of Presidents.

    [33] ALDE leader Verhofstadt says Greek WWII reparations claims go against the European spirit

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    The EU Parliament Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) leader Guy Verhofstadt on Monday said that Greece's claims as regards the forced loan extracted from Greece by the Nazi occupation regime in WWII and war reparations are "against the European spirit".

    In a written statement the former prime minister of Belgium underlined that "by claiming WWII reparations (Greek Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras undermines the fundamentals of European integration. He seems to have forgotten that former enemies made a vital choice to cooperate and build on a common future after the second WW. By doing that, they repaired the mistake that was made in the Versailles Treaty after the First World War."

    According to Verhofstadt, "Tsipras' claims are very unhelpful and will only make it more difficult to find a compromise. Instead of breathing new life into the phantoms of the past, he should put all his efforts into building a new future for Greece. Revenge should not make part of this common European future."

    "Last week's European tour by Tsipras and Varoufakis made one thing clear - the European partners expect a serious and solid reform plan. Only if the Greek government comes up with such a plan, I believe that an extension of the maturity of the loans and a revised interest rate should be on the negotiating table. Greece's future is in Europe," he concluded.

    [34] Alt. Health Minister Xanthos says 'we will ensure the survival of the public health system'

    All citizens will have access to a public national health system, patient rights will be protected, corruption will be tackled, the hospital procurement system will be transparent based on strict rules, while all primary and secondary healthcare services will be upgraded and reinforced, Alternate Health Minister Andreas Xanthos on Monday said in parliament.

    Addressing parliament on the second day of the debate on the government's policy statements, he said that "everything possible will be done in cooperation with the doctors and all National Health System employees to ensure that the public health system will survive and the patients' dignity will be safeguarded."

    He also said that free access of the uninsured to medical care, exams, medicines and hospital care, is a top priority.

    Xanthos pledged that an emergency plan will be implemented to support and reinforce the public health system, involving all sector employees, hospitals, clinics, and infrastructure, while pending personnel hirings will be finalised as soon as possible.

    The alternate health minister put an emphasis on the abolition of waiting lists in ICUs, noting that all ICUs will be in operation and more will be created.

    [35] KKE leader attacks SYRIZA, says more 'painful compromises' will be made

    The prime minister has given oaths of allegiance to the people and things that are responsible for this country's comedown, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas said on Monday in Parliament, during the second day of the debate on the government's policy statements.

    He predicted that a new programme with Greece's EU partners was in the wings that "will make the people bleed" and that a new painful compromises awaited.

    "In these 15 days since the elections and the formation of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, and through the prime minister's speech, it is confirmed that the government is trying to balance on a tightrope, trying to satisfy with words both the domestic groups and the European monopolies that determine the fates of the EU and the Eurozone," he said.

    After setting a high tone before the elections, SYRIZA was now finding it hard to bring its supporters down to land in the harsh reality imposed by an "alliance of wolves", in which SYRIZA declared itself a fervent loyal partner, Koutsoumbas added. "You cannot be with the working class, the people and with the plutocracy," he said.

    [36] The bridge programme is a huge mistake, says PASOK president Venizelos

    The president of PASOK Evangelos Venizelos on Monday criticized the government for the tactic it is following and described Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' presentation of the government's policy statements as "a speech for domestic consumption with a lot of vagueness."

    In his speech during the ongoing debate on the government's policy statements in parliament, Venizelos described the bridge programme the government is requesting as a huge mistake that will be at the expense of the national economy, not because Greece's partners cannot grant it "but because we'll be left hanging inside the memorandum without any creditworthiness."

    The president of PASOK warned that with its policy, the government may create a financial bomb that will be against the country, creating dependencies mainly from the European Central Bank, which, as he noted, "one fine Thursday pulled the plug on Cyprus' bank deposits."

    "Is this what you want? (ECB chief Mario) Draghi pulling the plug and living Cyprus' experience?" he said and added "Grexit has once again become the main story. Mr (David) Cameron yesterday held a meeting in London and spoke of Greece again."

    Financial News

    [37] OECD urges reforms in five key areas for Greece in 'Going for Growth 2015' report

    In its 'Going for Growth 2015' report unveiled on Monday, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) made recommendations for reforms in five key areas to boost growth in Greece.

    The top three priorities "according to indicators," that are cited in the report are enhancing the efficiency of labour market policies and the social safety net as a means to reduce unemployment, removing remaining regulatory barriers to competition and improving the quality and efficiency of the education system at secondary and tertiary level.

    Noting action taken in each area, it made recommendations for further reforms, such as strengthening activation programmes, introducing a full-scale minimum income scheme and restructuring Public Employment Services to improve the labour market.

    It recommended further simplification of licencing procedures for businesses and fewer administrative burdens for exports, as well as monitoring implementaion of laws to open up closed professions and proceeding swiftly with a privatisation programme.

    It welcomed more flexibile curricula and evaluation of schools and teachers in secondary education, saying that evaluation of educational institutions and teachers must proceed swiftly. It called for schools that were more autonomous and accountable and full implementation of 2012 laws for higher education, including performance-based funding for universities and completion as scheduled for external evaluation of higher institutions.

    Two more key priorities, according to the OECD, are improving the efficiency of public administration and also the efficiency of the tax system to reduce widespread tax evasion.

    It suggested rapid action to establish an evaluation system of staff performance based on clear individual objectives and further development of e-government. It also called for greater efficiency of tax collection, more effective audits through better cross-checking procedures and speeding up court procedures to strengthen enforcement.

    [38] 2014 primary surplus lower than expected, Mardas says

    "Regular budget revenue fell by around 1.0 billion euros in 2014. For reasons unknown, the country was deprived of 1.0 billion euros in community funds, we lost community funds. It is probably due to bureaucratic reasons, which means that we are to blame, not others," Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said on Monday. Referring to the country's primary surplus, which was envisaged to reach 5.3 billion euros, he said this was closer to 2.9 billion euros, while referring to the state budget deficit, it was estimated to reach 4.4 billion euros.

    Speaking in Parliament, during the ongoing debate on the government's policy statement, Mardas said the new government will strive for better supervision of public spending, strengthen the monitoring of budget execution and a more efficient management of the general government's cash surpluses. The minister also added that action will be taken to strengthen the ability of cash management and public debt management by the Public Debt Management Organisation. Commenting on wage policy, Mardas said the ministry planned to re-examine a regulatory framework for the Single Payroll System seeking to limit "injustices and weaknesses in the system". Mardas announced the installation of a new software program that aimed to further reduce the delays in awarding pensions. "We are the state's wallet and are in close cooperation with the Public Revenues Secretariat-General," Mardas said, adding that agencies, such as the Economic Chamber of Greece, will have advisory role in the ministry.

    In order to achieve targets set in budget revenue and spending there must be close cooperation with all government ministries, Mardas said and stressed there were phenomena of overspending by municipal authorities, as municipalities were buying at higher prices in comparison with the rest of the market. The government will introduce an e-catalogue service which will help municipalities to save money. Referring to public revenues, Mardas there will be an intervention to combat smuggling of fuel, cigarettes and informal commerce.

    [39] Government VP presents main proposals for Greek bans to banking union president

    Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis on Monday discussed the government's main proposals for the Greek banks and the banking system to the president of the bank employees' union OTOE Stavros Koukos, during their meeting.

    According to a press release by OTOE, Dragasakis made a general reference to the proposals and priorities for the banks, giving special emphasis on two directions:

    - Supporting the real economy and investments through a new architecture that will give banks a role in growth.

    - The banking system must become a pillar in the fight against tax evasion, corruption and vested interests.

    Dragasakis discussed the need to create a Bank of Investments to promote economic development, using the Loans and Deposits Fund as its base and including actions that will focus on supporting the farming sector, issuing special purpose bonds etc.

    According to OTOE, the government vice-president also discussed creating a body to manage non-performing loans that would have two aims:

    -Establish the regulatory framework inside which the banks would manage NPLs

    -The direct management of a department for NPLs

    Concerning the operation of banks, Dragasakis said the State will intervene through the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) as well as the rights it has through the bank stocks it holds.

    He also said he will reorganize HFSF, noting that it may be turned into a Societe Anonyme.

    The president of OTOE spoke of the need to change the operation of the banking system, so that it promotes growth for the benefit of society, the economy and employees.

    [40] Moody's downgrades five Greek banks

    Moody's downgraded five Greek banks on Monday, citing heightened uncertainty about the new government's ability to reach an agreement with its lenders before the end of the current support programme, which expires at the end of February.

    The ratings agency said it downgraded the long-term deposit and senior debt ratings of Piraeus Bank (to Caa2 from Caa1), National Bank of Greece (to Caa2 from Caa1), Alpha Bank (to Caa2 from Caa1), Eurobank Ergasias (to Caa3 from Caa2) and Attica Bank (to Caa3 from Caa2).

    "A possible deadlock in the government's negotiations with official creditors could place at risk its own liquidity and funding needs, limiting its ability to support the banks in case if need," Moody's said in a press release.

    The agency also considers that there may be a reduction in the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund's (HFSF) capacity to support the banks in case of need, the agency added.

    The ratings were placed on review for further downgrade. Moody's placed Greece's Caa1 sovereign rating on review for downgrade on February 6.

    [41] Finance ministry says will use any means necessary to fight tax evasion

    The finance ministry said on Monday it will use any means necessary to audit and investigate the cases concerning tax evasion both domestically and abroad, according to a press release.

    The comment follows reports in media which claim the names of 86 Greeks are missing from the so-called "Lagarde List" and were discovered during a world-wide investigation by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Le Monde newspaper and other large news networks.

    [42] Gov't Vice-President Dragasakis meets with bank officials

    Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis on Monday had an unofficial meeting with high-ranking bank officials.

    According to sources, the two sides agreed on cooperating more closely on a number of issues, such as promoting reforms, enhancing transparency, restarting the development process and dealing more effectively with bad loans in people and the economy's benefit.

    Bank officials, the same sources said, noted that there smooth conditions exist in the domestic banking sector while liquidity is at satisfactory levels.

    On his part, Dragasakis briefed the bank officials on the government' s policy statements.

    [43] Greek trade deficit up 6.4 pct in 2014

    Greece's trade deficit grew 6.4 pct in 2014, after a 26.9 pct increase recorded in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.976 billion euros in December, up 13.3 pct from the same month in 2013 (excluding oil products, the value of imports grew 18.2 pct).

    The value of export-deliveries totaled 2.198 billion euros, up 4.3 pct from December 2013 (excluding oil products the value of exports grew 16 pct).

    The country's trade deficit totaled 1.778 billion euros in December, from 1.401 billion in December 2013, an increase of 26.9 pct (excluding oil products the trade deficit grew by 21.4 pct).

    In the January-December 2014 period, imports totaled 47.707 billion euros, up 1.8 pct from 2013 (excluding oil products imports grew 7.0 pct), while exports totaled 27.118 billion euros, down 1.4 pct (excluding oil products exports grew by 0.1 pct).

    The country's trade deficit totaled 20.529 billion euros in 2014, from 19.294 billion in 2013, an increase of 6.4 pct (excluding oil products the trade deficit grew by 15.9 pct).

    [44] Industrial production down 2.7 pct in 2014 on average

    Greek industrial production fell by 2.7 pct in 2014 on average, after falling by 3.8 pct in December, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said the industrial production composite index fell 3.8 pct in December, compared with the same month in 2013, and attributed this development to a 13.2 pct drop in mining production, a 2.1 pct increase in manufacturing production (reflecting mostly an increase in food, tobacco, paper, oil products, repair and installation of machinery and equipment). Electricity production index fell 18.6 pct and the water production index rose 4.3 pct in December.

    The industrial production average index in the January-December 2014 period fell 2.7 pct, compared with the previous 12-month period.

    [45] Car registrations up 12.8 pct in Jan

    Car registrations grew 12.8 pct in January, making a positive start in the year, with car sales (new and used ones) totaling 10,289 vehicles, from 9,121 in the same month last year (the rise in passenger car sales was 9.9 pct). Car registrations were up 18 pct in January 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    Motorcycle registrations, however, fell 6.1 pct in January to 1,941 units, from 2,068 in January 2014. Motorcycle sales were up 8.2 pct in January 2014.

    [46] Greek stocks end 4.75 pct lower

    Greek stocks came under heavy selling pressure in the first trading session of the week, amid a significant deterioration of the climate in the domestic bond market in the aftermath of the government' s policy statement unveiled in Parliament and the country's credit rating downgrade by S&P on Friday. Bank shares were at the focus of pressure. The composite index fell 4.75 pct to end at 765.22 points, off the day's lows of 754.11 points. The Large Cap index dropped 5.79 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.54 pct lower. Turnover was a moderate 85.78 million euros, while the market's capitalisation fell by 2.5 billion euros.

    PPC (0.58 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while Piraeus Bank (14.05 pct), Ellaktor (11.06 pct), National Bank (9.80 pct), Eurobank (9.63 pct) and Jumbo (7.69 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Chemicals sector was the only one to move upwards (7.06 pct), while Banks (9.81 pct), Personal Products (7.48 pct) and Raw Materials (6.35 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 92 to 23 with another 17 issues unchanged. Haidemenos (30 pct), AXON Holdings (18.18 pct) and NEL (10 pct) were top gainers, while Compucon (20 pct), Teletypos (19.51 pct) and Boutaris (18.92 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -9.81%

    Insurance: -4.38%

    Financial Services: -5.10%

    Industrial Products: -3.66%

    Commerce: -2.00%

    Real Estate: -1.58%

    Personal & Household: -7.48%

    Food & Beverages: -2.85%

    Raw Materials: -6.35%

    Construction: -2.96%

    Oil: -3.41%

    Chemical: +7.06%

    Mass Media: unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -5.71%

    Technology: -4.40%

    Telecoms: -6.01

    Utilities: -1.16%

    Health: -3.64%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.310

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.18

    Coca Cola HBC: 14.60

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.86

    National Bank of Greece: 1.01

    OPAP: 8.24

    OTE: 7.66

    Piraeus Bank: 0.52

    Titan: 22.00

    Grivalia Properties: 7.60

    Aegean Airlines: 7.15

    [47] Greek bond market closing report

    Greek state bond prices came under strong pressure in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with prices falling significantly and bond yields soaring to record-high levels. The three-year bond yielded 21.6 pct and the five-year bond yielded 16.4 pct. The 10-year Greek benchmark bond yielded 10.23 pct, up from 9.90 pct on Friday and the German Bund yielded 0.34 pct with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rising to 9.89 pct from 9.53 pct on Friday. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were slightly changed. The 12-month rate was stable at 0.261 pct, the nine-month rate unchanged at 0.196 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.131 pct from 0.132 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.051 pct from 0.053 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.001 pct from 0.002 pct.

    [48] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.30 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,272 contracts with 50,553 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 43,520 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (11,748), followed by National Bank (11,432), Piraeus Bank (8,252), Eurobank (6,426), MIG (1,156), OTE (849), PPC (1,052), OPAP (735), Mytilineos (418), GEK (438), Jumbo (259), Hellenic Exchanges (124), Titan (120), Jumbo (259) and Ellaktor (144).

    [49] Foreign exchange rates - Monday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.1275

    Pound sterling 0.7415

    Danish kroner 7.4685

    Swedish kroner 9.3672

    Japanese yen 133.72

    Swiss franc 1.0428

    Norwegian kroner 8.6145

    Canadian dollar 1.4094

    Australian dollar 1.443

    General News

    [50] Bad weather hits Greece with snow and low temperatures

    Snowfall and freezing temperatures have hampered traffic in several parts of the country as a result of the new wave of bad weather that has hit Greece as of early Monday.

    Snow chains are necessary in the region of Domokos in Fthiotida, central Greece, while the Lamia-Amfissa national motorway is open.

    The Elefsina-Thiva provincial road in the region of Mandra, as well as part of the Athens-Thiva old national motorway in the region of Fichthi-Agia Sotira, are closed due to heavy snow. Cars moving on Parnitha Avenue will need snow chains.

    Cars moving on Kalamata-Sparta national motorway, between the 28th and 42km, need snow chains, while the civil protection mechanism is on alert to deal with the heavy snowfall expected in the region of the Peloponnese, southern Greece, later in the evening.

    In northern Greece, snow chains are necessary for cars using the road network in the administrative units of Kozani, Florina (except for the low altitude region of the municipality of Amynteo), Kastoria, Ioannina and the provincial road network in Halkidiki.

    Earlier in the day, two EasyJet flights from London and Berlin had to land at Athens' International Airport instead of Thessaloniki due to bad visibility.

    A ban on ship departures for central and southeastern Aegean islands is in effect at the ports of Piraeus and Lavrio due to the strong winds blowing in the region, expected to reach speeds up to 9-10 Beaufort.

    [51] Flu outbreak death toll rises to 36, authorities report

    The total number people that have died from flu in Greece has risen to 36, authorities said on Monday.

    Patients who have been hospitalized in intensive care units since the start of the flu season have reached 99. Of those, 35 continue to be monitored in those units.

    Scientists advise against the use of antibiotics, but recommend that patients see a doctor if symptoms persist.

    High-risk groups, such as elderly people and kids with chronic health problems will have to be particularly careful, scientists said.

    [52] Police rescues seven irregular migrants trapped on islet in Evros

    A police and an emergency rescue unit (EMAK) succeeded in extricating seven irregular migrants from an islet in the Evros River in northern Greece where they had been abandoned by a migrant trafficker.

    Authorities used two boats to transport the migrants on the shore, where they were offered first aid and were given dry clothes and food.

    As it was revealed, the unknown trafficker abandoned them on the islet in the Orestiada region on Sunday, as they were trying to cross the border to Greece. The men were quickly spotted and a rescue operation was set up to rescue them.

    [53] Ban on ferry departures from Piraeus and Lavrio to the Aegean islands

    A partial ban on ferry departures from the ports of Piraeus and Lavrio for the Aegean islands of Cyclades and Dodecanese was imposed due to strong winds blowing in the Aegean. The wind velocity is expected to reach 9-10 on the Beaufort scale.

    Ferry departures from the port of Rafina are, for the time being, carried out normally.

    Greek Coast Guard advise passengers that are due to travel to the islands to contact their travel agents before departure.

    Weather forecast

    [54] Snowfall on Tuesday

    Snowfall, storms and strong northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 10 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy and snowfall in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from -04C-05C. Snow or sleet in the western parts with temperatures between 03C-08C. Partly cloudy and snowfall in the eastern parts with temperatures between 01C-06C. Rain and storms over the islands, 04C-10C. Snowfall in Athens that will start to fade in the evening, 02C-04C. Possibility of snowfall in Thessaloniki, -02C-03C.

    [55] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: The guns on the table.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Our dignity is non-negotiable.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: He (Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras) is heading to a crash and is seeking...bridges.

    ESTIA: The country is getting into a huge adventure.

    ETHNOS: Hard line in the bargaining with the lenders.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Resounding 'no' to extension.

    TA NEA: 86 names are missing from the Lagarde list.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS


    Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    ana2html v2.01 run on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 - 20:46:41 UTC