|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-02-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 18 February 2015 Issue No: 4889
 PM Alexis Tsipras nominates ex-ND minister Pavlopoulos to Greek presidencyPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday nominated Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former New Democracy (ND) minister, for presidential candidate, underlining that in this crucial period the people's social unity is necessary on political and state level.
Addressing the ruling majority SYRIZA parliamentary group, he said that a broad consensus is necessary to meet current challenges, pointing out that the selection of the presidential candidate cannot be independent from the present conjuncture. Referring to Prokopis Pavlopoulos, he said that he has a proven democratic sensitivity and enjoys broad recognition in society and in Parliament.
Responding to proposals by SYRIZA party cadres who were in favour of a leftist candidate, Tsipras said that the Left was never arrogant in crucial times and never claimed high distinctions for itself.
Tsipras strongly criticized Germany's stance, in particular German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's, hinting that the target is to undermine the government. He said that in three weeks since the general elections the people feel like they are living and breathing in a different country. The huge problems were not overcome, the wounds have not healed but the people do not feel humiliated anymore, they feel proud and dignified, he underlined.
He expressed satisfaction for the rallies held in support of the government, saying that they send a clear message to Europe that Greece is present and is giving a fight to break free from the trap of austerity and debt.
Referring to yesterday's Eurogroup, Tsipras said that the first text was accepted in principle by the government but this was overturned by Schaeuble. He said that the German finance minister lost his self-control and spoke in a derogatory manner about the Greek people, noting that Schaeuble "should feel sorry for the peoples who walk with the heads down and not for those who hold their heads up high and demand," adding that "he should respect and honour such peoples."
The prime minister also criticised a cartoon published in the government-friendly newspaper Avgi, showing Schaeuble in a Nazi uniform, noting that nobody has the right, not even as a joke, to play with the ghosts of history.
Tsipras underlined that his government will implemented its policy statements and announced that the draft bill for the protection of the primary residence banning the sale of of loans to speculators will be tabled under very urgent procedures soon after the election of the new president of the republic. He also said that all election campaign pledges concerning the settlement of overdue debts to the public sector and social insurance funds in up to 100 installments will be met. Moreover, a draft bill putting an end to the labour's dark ages and the deregulation of the labour market by reinstating the community acquis through collective labour agreements, will be tabled soon.
As regards the course of the negotiations, he said that the government moves with self-control and determination and repeated that the government wants a solution and not a rift expressing the hope that a solution will be found.
 Presidential candidate Pavlopoulos speaks to press after meeting with PM TsiprasThe proposal to be the main coalition party SYRIZA's candidate for Greek president is a special honour full of responsibility, Prokopis Pavlopoulos said after meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Mansion on Tuesday.
After the meeting, Pavlopoulos, a former New Democracy minister, said that the candidacy will give him the opportunity to humbly contribute to the struggle for Greece and Europe, the latter as a union envisioned by its founders which can also find its principles and values again, after losing them in recent years.
Asked whether he expected this proposal, he said no, and that it is best in life not to expect something but let life bring it.
 Greece to table request for a six-month extension to the bailout loan agreementBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris, M. Aroni)
Greece intends to table a request for a six-month extension to the loan agreement on Wednesday (tomorrow), sources said on Tuesday.
The same sources say Greece will request an extension until the end of August and the relevant explanatory letter which will accompany the request will be based to large degree on the European Commission's proposals included in the so-called "Moscovici document" which was leaked to the press on Monday.
If the explanatory letter submitted satisfies Greece's European partners, then Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem will call an extraordinary meeting on Friday.
Eurozone sources say that for the funding of Greece's loan agreement to continue, the country will have to accept some terms and conditions and Dijsselbloem, along with Greece's partners, will examine whether these conditions are included in the Greek request.
The same sources said Athens does not want a rift with Europe and is willing to find a solution and that the main issue now is for the content of the request to satisfy all sides.
 We know how to look for a solution through disagreement, Greek FinMin Varoufakis saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The next step is a responsible step; Europe will continue discussions to increase possibilities and reach a very good result for the European citizen, either being Greek, Dutch or German, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Tuesday arriving at the ECOFIN Council meeting.
In Europe, we know how to discuss in order to reach a very good and decent solution through the initial disagreements, he noted.
The head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem expressed the hope that the Greek side will submit a request for an extension to the programme and once it has done so, he noted, we can allow flexibility within the programme which can be included in the Greek authorities' political priorities. We have to consider whether the programme remains on track which is the best way to move forward, he said and noted it was up to the Greeks, whom we cannot force into anything.
We are ready to work with the Greek side in the next two days, Dijsselbloem concluded.
 PM Tsipras in contact with Cyprus Republic President Anastasiades, call to JunckerNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Cyprus Republic President Nicos Anastasiades spoke with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday on Greece's negotiations in Europe about its fiscal programme.
Following an agreement between the two leaders, Anastasiades spoke with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about the issue, the Cypriot Republic government speaker said.
"I am not saying I am optimistic, but the hope is that everyone understands what Jean-Claude Juncker included in his campaign programme - the need for growth and to create new jobs, which would replace austerity or strict austerity," Anastasiades said, adding that Cyprus' consistent position is to support Athens.
A negative development for Greece will not have repercussions for Greece, he said in response to questions. "The decisions of the Eurogroup in 2013 may have been the last link in the chain of repercussions for Cyprus," he said. He also noted that the Greek bank subsidiaries in Cyprus are under constant supervision by the central bank so that Cyprus' economy is protected.
 PM will brief whoever political party leader wishes to be informed on the developmentsPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will brief whoever political party leader wishes to be informed on the latest developments, stated on Tuesday government officials.
PASOK party has already requested an official briefing while the head of Potami party Stavros Theodorakis responded to main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, who called for the cooperation of all the Europe-friendly parties on the government's handlings, that Potami believes that government is responsible for the deliberations and it is the one that should brief the political parties and create the conditions for a common stance.
The government is committed to seeking a mutually beneficial solution, but will not accept ultimatums, gov't sources say
The government is committed to seeking a mutually beneficial solution with its European partners and the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will brief whoever political leader wishes to on the developments, according to government sources.
More specifically, the sources said that the Greek government remains firmly committed to seeking a mutually beneficial solution with its European partners, through the continuation of the negotiations, and also believe that the finding of such a solution is totally feasible.
Furthermore, the Greek government will not accept ultimatums and is determined to honor the popular mandate and history of democracy in Europe, as "the memorandum has caused a humanitarian crisis and has led the economy into a deadlock. Its immediate end is not only dictated by the outcome of the elections, but also by common sense."
According to the same government sources, the document submitted on Monday by Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem included some points that could not be accepted by the Greek government, such as:
- "The Greek authorities have made it clear that they intend to successfully complete the programme taking into account the Greek government's plans."
- "The Greek authorities have expressed their firm commitment to refrain from any unilateral action or movement and will work in close agreement with the European and international partners, particularly in the area of tax policy, privatization, labor market reforms, economic sector and the pensions."
"On this basis, the Greek authorities have expressed their intention to request a six-month technical extension of the current programme as a transitional step."
Moreover, they said the text which would be the basis for discussion at the Eurogroup meeting and on which the Greek side was in principle positive, had propulsive points, such as:
"The Greek government (...) announced its intention to take extraordinary measures to ensure a fairer and more efficient tax system and constrain the humanitarian crisis.
"Measures to reduce the debt burden and achieve a further sustainable reduction of Greek debt per GDP ratio should be considered along with the commitments of the Eurogroup in November 2012."
"These form a basis for an extension of the current loan agreement, which could take the form of a [four month] interim programme, as a transitional step towards a new pact for growth for Greece, which will be conducted and completed in this period."
According to the same sources, special attention should be given to the observations of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in a New York Times article.
"The point is that now, more than ever, it is crucial that Europe's leaders remember the right history. If they don't, the European project of peace and democracy through prosperity will not survive," Krugman said in his article.
"About those reparations: The basic story here is that Britain and France, instead of viewing the newly established German democracy as a potential partner, treated it as a conquered enemy, demanding that it make up their own wartime losses," he wrote.
The lenders' demand for the full repayment of their debts from devastated economies ("real Greek GDP per capita fell 26 percent from 2007 to 2013, compared with a German decline of 29 percent from 1913 to 1919," Krugman wrote) destroy the economies of those countries, according to the economist.
The achievement of higher primary surpluses would lead Greece to deep recession, Krugman wrote according to the government sources.
"Put it all together, and attempting to cough up the extra 3 percent of GDP the creditors are demanding would cost Greece not 3 percent, but something like 8 percent of GDP," Krugman wrote in his article.
 The government cannot be blackmailed with ultimatums, its spokesman Sakellaridis says"The government cannot be blackmailed with ultimatums," government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis told MEGA TV on Tuesday, referring to Monday's Eurogroup meeting.
The pressure on what will happen next is on the other side, he stated. "The pressure right now is not only on the Greek side. The other side is also stressed and anxious about what will happen. We are confident. There is no bluff on the table, we do not play poker," Sakellaridis underlined.
"We will not be dragged by anyone through ultimatums and blackmail," he noted. As for the negotiation, he said that the aim of the Greek government "is the commitment to a mutually beneficial agreement" adding, however, that in order to have a mutually beneficial agreement, both sides must agree.
Sakellaridis also stressed that the Greek government has shown all these weeks its willingness for common ground and consensus. "When we entered the Eurogroup meeting yesterday we saw that this did not apply to the other side and this is extremely worrying," he said.
Sakellaridis reiterated that the government requires a political solution rather than a debate on equivalents, while referring to the text of EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici he said that what is important is that it talked about the humanitarian crisis in Greece "leaving the option for measures and actions" against it.
Regarding the request for an extension of the programme, the government cannot ask for an "extension of a programme that generated policies which are just the opposite" and added: "Let them insist, we cannot do anything on that. We are bound with the popular mandate. We cannot talk about the lack of credibility of the political system. We will not request an extension to a programme which is the memorandum and is simply called a programme."
He assured, however, that contacts and consultations will continue so that a solution is found immediately, because it is in nobody's interest for this kind of negotiation to take too long.
Finally, with regard to the ECB, the government spokesman said that the ECB president Mario Draghi has made it clear that there is no problem with Greece and the Greek banks. "I do not believe that there will be any financing problems with the Greek banks. Absolutely not. We are in full collaboration, consultation, contact, communication, whatever other word you want to use, with the ECB and Mr. Draghi. There are assurances that the co-financing of banks will continue uninterrupted and there is absolutely no problem with the Greek banking system," he said.
 Those who want to humiliate the Greek government should think more prudently, Europarliament Vice President Papadimoulis says"Those who want - for political reasons - to humiliate the Greek government and to send a message of wider pan-European significance, should think more wisely, more prudently," the Vice President of the European Parliament Dimitris Papadimoulis said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Tuesday.
"I am optimistic that a mutually acceptable solution, an honest, propulsive compromise will be found in the coming days," he added.
"A rupture is in nobody's interest, as it will hurt not only Greece, but the eurozone too, even the global economy... We are aiming at a mutually acceptable solution in the interest of all, both Greece and the eurozone. Those who speak of a rupture, and even a final rupture, they hasten," he said. "The previous (government) used to sign prepared texts, some of the deputies even confessed that they voted for them without having read them," Papadimoulis, who is also a SYRIZA MP, said.
Asked on the European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici's document, he stated: "Moscovici's document may have been unofficial, but it exists and shows the way to a mutually acceptable solution. For 50 years now, the political leaders and technocrats in Brussels have acquired the know-how and have become experts in finding commonly acceptable compromising solutions where there are disagreements. Much effort has been made and it is in the interest of all to be concluded in the coming days."
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 "We will not succumb to this blackmail" Sports Minister Kontonis says"We will not succumb to this blackmail," Deputy Sports Minister Stavros Kontonis stated on Tuesday referring to the outcome of Eurogroup's meeting on Monday.
"It is a matter of pride," he noted to ANT1 TV adding that "we are ready to make an honourable compromise but we will not accept ultimata of this kind that remind other situations".
The Sports Minister said that a climate showing a solution can be found existed, but "since Monday morning the German stance has showed that it is on the course of torpedoing whatever consensual solution."
"The fact that (German Finance Minister, Wolfgang) Schaeuble was touring the German radios launching charges against the Greek people, indicated a negative development in the Eurogroup."
 State min Flambouraris expresses optimism over an agreement with the partnersState minister for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris on Tuesday in statements to realfm appeared optimistic that there will be an agreement with the country's partners.
He also appeared reassuring over the possibility of Germany insisting on the ultimatum and the country eventually facing liquidity problems. "I can understand this; fear and concerns are understandable. I want to reassure the people that there is no such case; I believe - and this is what the whole procedure all this time, the last 20 days, has indicated - that a solution will be definitely found halfway to the interest of both, of the Greek people and the European peoples," he noted.
 EU Commission has only a plan A, namely the reaching of an agreement among the 19 eurozone member states, its spokesperson saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission has only a plan A and that is the reaching of an agreement among the 19 eurozone member states, EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said on Tuesday.
The Commission, Schinas noted, will be the mediator in the consultations so as to facilitate the reaching of an agreement among the eurozone countries. "The final decision will be taken by the 19 eurozone member states," he said.
EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici's spokesperson Annika Breidthardt, when asked on the draft joint announcement - which Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said was presented to him by Moscovici just before the Eurogroup meeting and to which the Greek government reportedly agreed - said that the draft joint announcements fall within the Eurogroup and its president Dijsselbloem's jurisdiction.
Breidthardt added that as it always happens in such cases, during the Eurogroup meeting on Monday many draft plans were presented aimed at reaching a final agreement, which eventually was not achieved. She added that the Commission contributed to those deliberations and had constructive talks with the Greek minister.
She also reiterated Moscovici's statement, saying that the first step that needs to be taken is the request for an extension to the existing programme by Greece along with the "flexibility" and the commitments attached to it and the second step is the negotiation of the core issues of the existing programme. She concluded by repeating Moscovici's statement that we must be logical, not ideological.
 Commissioner Dombrovskis: EU interested in finding a solution benefitting both sidesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Union is strongly interested in finding a solution to the Greek fiscal issue that will benefit all, Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday in Brussels.
Speaking at a press conference after the Ecofin meeting, Dombrovskis said that Greece's difficult reforms "bore fruit last year and it is very important that the country continues to build on that success." Any deviation from that course would have negative repercussions, he said.
"There is strong political will to find a solution that will benefit all," he said, "as long as it is done within the existing framework and all keep to their commitments." He also said there is no ultimatum, but the general belief is that the best for Greece and Europe would be the extension of the current programme. There is also a willingness to address some of Greece's concerns so that some sort of flexibility is included in the current fiscal programme, he added.
 Government denies reports on new elections if there's no deal with lendersGovernment sources on Tuesday denied reports claiming that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will call national elections if there's no agreement with the country's international lenders.
Elections were held on January 25 and the popular mandate was expressed in the clearer possible way, the same sources said.
 New Democracy will support presidential candidate Prokopis PavlopoulosMain opposition New Democracy will support majority ruling SYRIZA's candidate for president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the party spokesman Kostas Karagounis said on Tuesday.
"For the presidential election in December, we had nominated the vice-president of New Democracy Stavros Dimas, an expert in European issues, a moderate politician and a former foreign minister," Karagounis stated in a press release.
"Today, SYRIZA nominates Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former minister and party MP of New Democracy, a pro-European figure and a moderate politician. It goes without saying that ND will support the candidacy of its top party official. We are certain Prokopis Pavlopoulos will carry out his obligations in full," he added.
 To Potami nominates professor Nikos Alivizatos as its presidential candidateOpposition To Potami party on Tuesday nominated National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA) Constitutional Law professor Nikos Alivizatos as its presidential candidate.
Announcing the nomination, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis said that Alivizatos is "an ardent advocate of human rights, a university professor who enjoys great recognition."
He also said that he is a scientist widely recognized in Europe and an active citizen free of political party affiliations.
Accepting the nomination, Alivizatos said that "in the current circumstances as shaped following the general elections, everybody has an obligation to contribute to efforts made to resolve the unprecedented problems the country faces," noting that only broad consensus can bring positive results.
 PASOK will vote for Potami presidential nominee, professor AlivizatosThe opposition PASOK parliamentary groupon Tuesday decided to support the Potami party nominee for Greek president Nikos Alivizatos and vote against the SYRIZA-ANEL candidate for "deeply political reasons," following a recommendation by party leader Evangelos Venizelos.
A PASOK parliamentary group announcement underlined that the party is firmly in favour of a broad institutional and national consensus and has proven it by shouldering a disproportionally heavy load. It also underlined that it is one thing to have institutional consensus as regards the president of the republic and another to use the presidential election to show that SYRIZA and ND coincide when, in essence, the preconditions for a true national consensus are absent.
The country lacks strategy even though many citizens in good faith think that the government is in a tough negotiation, the PASOK parliamentary group statement added.
Following the announcement, professor Alivizatos called and thanked Venizelos in person and the PASOK parliamentary group for the honour of supporting his candidacy.
 Golden Dawn will not vote for Pavlopoulos as Greek presidentExtreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party will not vote for the government's candidate Prokopis Pavlopoulos for Greek president, it announced late on Tuesday.
In its announcement, the party described him as "an outstanding representative of the old-party, sinful and memorandum-supporting status quo."
 How Greek Parliament will vote for Greek president on WednesdayIn Wednesday's parliamentary election for Greek president, the winning candidate needs to collect a three-fifths majority out of the 300 deputies, or 180 votes, according to the Constitution.
The current government, which arose from the failure of the previous parliamentary session to elect a president and the declaration of national elections, will not have to collect the 200 votes required in the previous session. If no candidate collects 180 votes, the election by deputies must be repeated within five days. The winning candidate in that case will need the absolute majority of all deputies, or 151 votes.
If that also fails, a third round is allowed - again within five days - between the two people who received most votes, and the round is won by the candidate who collects a majority.
In these elections, the Constitution and the Parliament's Rules of Order require deputies to vote by roll call. They will have only two choices (naming the candidate they support or declaring "present"), as voting "against" or justifying one's selection is not allowed.
Majority ruling party SYRIZA has proposed Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a former New Democracy minister; both junior coalition member Independent Greeks (ANEL) and former majority ruling party New Democracy (ND) have stated they will vote for him, making it most likely he will win the vote. SYRIZA has 149 deputies, ND 76 and ANEL 13, totalling 238.
Following the electoral result, Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou will go to the winning candidate's location of choice to announce the results. The Greek president must assume his duties the day after the end of the current president's, which is in March.
Before assuming his duties, the new president must take the following oath of office before Parliament: "I swear (in the name of the holy, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity) to safeguard the Constitution and the laws, to ensure their faithful observance, to defend the national independence and territorial integrity of the country, to protect the rights and liberties of the Greeks and to serve the general interest and the progress of the Greek people."
 PM Tsipras to meet with President Papoulias, To Potami and PASOK leaders on Wed.Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion a 12:00 on Wednesday.
The PM's office also announced Tsipras will meet with To Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis (at 13:00) and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos (at 14:00) to inform them about developments in Greece's negotiations on its fiscal programme.
 PM Tsipras' phone contactsPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday had a phone contact with Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis in order to brief him on the Eurogroup meeting.
Tsipras also spoke on the phone with President of Republic Karolos Papoulias and European leaders.
 PM Tsipras' office contacts PASOK for briefing over Eurogroup proceedingsThe office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras contacted the office of PASOK party president Evangelos Venizelos to arrange a briefing on developments of the government's talks with the Eurogroup on Greece's fiscal programme, according to PASOK on Tuesday.
Venizelos' office said that both sides will be in touch later on Tuesday after their respective parties' parliamentary committees meet so that Tsipras may brief Venizelos.
Several parties have requested a government briefing on the negotiations over the bailout programme in Brussels in the past few days.
 Law to protect indebted families from losing their homes will be tabled on ThursdayThe government plans to table a law in Parliament on Thursday to protect main residences from confiscation and being auctioned off by creditors, according to sources on Tuesday.
In a speech in Parliament to announce the government's candidate for Greek president, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras mentioned the government's priorities, saying that protection from auctions is a priority. Economy ministry sources said the purpose of such a law, which is in the final stages, will protect 95 pct of indebted householders who are in danger of losing their homes because they are unable to cover their debts. They added it will be tabled under emergency procedures.
Protection of overdue borrowers will depend on three factors: total assets owned; annual family income; and the total of bank deposits.
The government decided to change plans, from a temporary freeze of auctions for two or three months to an immediate legislation banning auctions, on conditions, to reduce anxiety among borrowers.
 Draft law on overdue debt settlement to be tabled in Parliament on WednesdayThe government is expected to table the new legislative settlement for the payment of overdue debts in up to 100 installments in Parliament on Wednesday.
Alternate Finance Ministers Nadia Valavani and Dimitris Mardas will hold a press conference, on Wednesday, at 12.00, to present the draft law.
The new settlement will provide among others large discounts in fines and debtors' surcharges, elimination of the one million euro debt ceiling in order for citizens to be eligible to participate in the settlement and removing bureaucratic obstacles so as to attract as many debtors as possible.
 ND parliamentary group meeting postponedMain opposition New Democracy (ND) parliamentary group meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday has been postponed due to the latest developments at the Eurogroup, said a party announcement on Tuesday.
The new date of the meeting will be announced shortly.
 ND Political Council to meet on WednesdayThe opposition New Democracy (ND) Political Council will hold an informal meeting at 11:00 hours on Wednesday chaired by party leader Antonis Samaras.
The meeting will focus on current political developments.
 KKE on Pavlopoulos' nomination for president, gov't negotiations in BrusselsThe prime minister is preparing the ground for the signing of a new agreement with the EU and the country's creditors, taking advantage of the people's anxiousness to get rid of anti-popular policies, an informal comment by opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday underlined in response to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' address before the ruling SYRIZA party parliamentary group.
According to the KKE comment, "the prime minister rushes to announce the government's first legislative initiatives that are nothing but a drop of water in an ocean of enabling laws and memorandums, which KKE will seek to abolish in the immediate future through a draft bill and a roll-call vote."
Referring to Prokopis Pavlopoulos' nomination as SYRIZA's candidate for the Greek presidency, KKE underlined that he is a New Democracy cadre and former minister, adding that the KKE MPs will vote "present" in Parliament during the presidential election tomorrow (Feb. 18).
An announcement issued earlier by KKE underlined that, in essence, the SYRIZA-ANEL government fully accepts the substance of the previous commitments to the eurozone - the so-called reforms at the expense of the people.
 To Potami leader Thedorakis briefs KKE leader Koutsoumbas about presidential candidateTo Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis on Tuesday spoke with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Dimitris Koutsoumbas to inform him personally that his party will propose Nikos Alivizatos for Greek president.
According to a KKE brief, Koutsoumbas noted the party's stance related to the presidential election, regardless of who the candidates proposed will be.
 PASOK lashes out at the governmentPASOK calls on the government to present in a formal, clear and comprehensive way its positions, party officials said, so that PASOK as an opposition party can also offer its help.
However, the officials said, the government instead of "implementing a comprehensive forward policy, it is looking for language pretexts to take it backwards."
According to PASOK, the government has fully backed down from its pre-election pledges on the country's debt. It is also trying to avoid giving the impression that it is continuing the policy of the previous government and claims its stay in an extraordinary regime, which will not be called "a loan agreement" but "a bridge agreement." The officials added that the government has been "systematically avoiding any reference to the existing IMF programme, effective until March 2016," and has not referred to the pending tranches of the IMF economic aid.
 PASOK: the government accepts third memorandumThe government moves full sail ahead on a third memorandum while insisting that it is in the middle of tough negotiations, opposition PASOK sources on Tuesday said, commenting on the "Moscovici plan" which Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said that he was ready to sign.
The same sources said that by accepting the plan presented by European Commissioner on Economy Pierre Moscovici, the government leads the country to a major retreat compared with the stage of the negotiations on December 29, 2014 under the previous government.
They underlined that the previous government had technically extended the loan agreement for another two months to enter a much more comfortable phase for the country, that of the precautionary credit line, instead of an interim programme like the one sought by the government, which PASOK calls "Memorandum No 3".
The sources also referred to the current IMF programme and citing a statement made yesterday by IMF chief Christine Lagarde, they underlined that the government has accepted it as it is.
 Changes in local administration are necessary and appreciated, KEDE head saysSetting up a stable self-governance model is a necessary condition for the country's growth prospects, the president of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) George Patoulis said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
Patoulis referred to the recent changes in the local administration that Interior and Administration Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis announced and said they were "necessary, positive and appreciated." He noted, however, that the "documented proposals" of KEDE should be taken into account for any changes that will be implemented.
The full audio interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA website.
 Alternate FM Chountis meets Russian ambassadorInternational relations and the willingness of Greece and Russia to strengthen and widen their bilateral talks dominated a meeting on Tuesday between Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis and Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrey Maslov.
According to a ministry announcement, the two officials also discussed the preparation of the Greek prime minister's visit to Russia.
Chountis on Wednesday will meet the Ambassadors of Turkey Kerim Uras and Slovakia Peter Mihalko.
 Alt. FM Chountis to meet with Turkish and Slovak ambassador on WednesdayAlternate Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis will meet on Wednesday with the Turkish Ambassador to Greece Kerim Uras at 12:30 and with the ambassador of Slovakia Peter Mihalko at 14:00.
Both meetings will take place at the Foreign Ministry.
 Greek economy remains deep into deflation in JanThe Greek economy remained deep into deflation in January, with the inflation rate at -2.8 pct in the first month of 2015, from -2.6 pct in December and -1.5 pct in January 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to monthly price increases in fresh vegetables (23.8 pct), fresh fish (2.3 pct), alcohol (2.3 pct) and olive oil (1.7 pct) and to price declines in petrol (5.9 pct), heating oil (9.0 pct), lamb (4.1 pct) and poultry (2.0 pct). On an annual basis, prices rose in fresh vegetables (14.2 pct), electricity (4.9 pct), tobacco (3.5 pct) and olive oil (3.5 pct) and fell in heating oil (31.5 pct), petrol (16.1 pct), natural gas (3.6 pct), potatoes (22.8 pct), sugar (18.1 pct) and clothing/footwear (2.9 pct).
The consumer price index fell by 2.8 pct in January, after an 1.5 pct decline recorded in the same month last year. This development was attributed to a 0.5 pct decline in food/beverage prices, a 2.9 pct fall in clothing/footwear, an 8.0 pct drop in housing prices, a 2.3 pct fall in durable goods, an 1.2 pct decline in health prices, a 6.9 pct fall in transport, an 1.3 pct decline in entertainment, a 3.1 pct fall in education, a 0.7 pct fall in hotel/coffee/restaurant and 2.4 pct decline in other goods and services.
On the other hand, prices rose by 2.7 pct in alcohol and tobacco.
The inflation rate fell 1.4 pct in January from December, while the country's harmonized inflation rate was -2.8 pct in January, from -1.4 pct in January 2014.
 Greek budget records cash primary deficit in JanGreek state budget recorded a cash primary deficit of 149 million euros in January, from a primary surplus of 812 million euros in the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, attributed this development to lower regular budget revenues to 3.13 billion euros in the first month of 2015, from 4.46 billion in January 2014, while regular budget spending eased to 3.2 billion euros from 3.609 billion over the same months, respectively.
In January 2015, the central government cash balance recorded a deficit of 217 million euros, compared to a surplus of 603 million in January 2014.
 Economy Minister Stathakis, Alt. Tourism Minister Kountoura meet with Ryanair's chief commercial officerEconomy, Infrastructure, Shipping & Tourism Minister Giorgos Stathakis and Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Tuesday met with Ryanair Holdings Chief Commercial Officer David O'Brien who outlined the airline's plans to further expand its activities in Greece within the next few years.
The minister briefed O'Brien on the government's priorities in the sector of air transport and its plans to extend the country's tourism season.
 Labour minister Skourletis: 'Our aim is to reverse damages against employees'Detecting undeclared work, providing better services for citizens and the protection of workers form part of the policy framework represented by the Body of Labour Inspectors, Labour Minister Panos Skourletis said on Tuesday, during a speech on "Simplifying procedures and upgrading services for the Body of Labour Inspectors".
"It's a bit hypocritical to talk about simplifying procedures and asking the body to play its role when during the previous years the policy framework that was created completely deregulated labour relations," the minister said.
Skourletis said the aim of his ministry is to restore the biggest damages against the rights of employees, the collective labour agreements and the body's ability to play its role.
To do this, the ministry plans to employ more staff so that the body can perform its duties, be friendly both towards employers and employees and be incorporated in a comprehensive plan that will bring changes to the workplace.
"We want the obvious; to abandon a policy which proved devastating, antisocial, which marginalized the country and made it synonymous with a humanitarian crisis," the minister said.
Commenting on the ongoing negotiation with Greece's international lenders, Skourletis noted: "We realize that against this argument, there are no strong counter-arguments from our partners that are based on reality, except one: To question the hegemony of certain political forces. But this is a political issue."
 Ryanair aims at doubling passenger traffic through Macedonia airport by 2018More than three million passengers, double the number forecast for this year, are estimated to travel yearly with Ryanair planes to and from Thessaloniki in three years from now, if the plans of the low-cost airliner come to fruition, David O'Brien, the company's Chief Commercial Officer said in a press conference on Tuesday.
O'Brien said the company's aim is to increase the number of passengers travelling through "Macedonia" International airport by 500,000 per year by 2018.
Ryanair's three-year target for Greece in general is to reach 10 million passengers from 5 million today which, if accomplished, will bring Greece additional revenues of 3 billion euros from tourism, the CCO noted.
"Macedonia" airport has "huge potential for growth", O'Brien said, adding his company plans 17 routes for this summer and 105 weekly flights.
"Thessaloniki has a population of about one million and 5.2 million passengers are handled annually through its airport (from all companies). The airport in Dublin which has the same population, handles 21.5 million passengers," the executive said.
"From these numbers you understand something is not going right. This is very negative for Greece which could achieve bigger growth and employment thanks to tourism, given it is estimated that for every 1,000 tourists, one new job is created in the airport," he added.
Part of the problem, O'Brien said, is the high airport fees, an issue which he raised in his meeting with Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister, George Stathakis and the Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.
"In Athens in particular, the cost is 36 euros per passenger. Thessaloniki is not so expensive but geographically it is very far from the rest of Europe," he added and described the new ministers as "very pragmatic".
Ryanair's CCO also favoured re-launching the tender for the lease of 14 regional airports. "I think the tender must be re-launched with new conditions," he said, adding that "instead of a premium, the tender must be connected with targets on passenger traffic. Airports should be given to the one who can guarantee most traffic." He noted that Greece needs more than 1.5 billion euros.
O'Brien continued to say that "the only thing worse than a state monopoly is a private monopoly" that will only care about passenger traffic in the summer months when Greece needs 12-month tourism.
 Greek households' available income down in 2013Greek households lost 13.9 billion euros from their gross available income in 2013, with their available income falling by 10.2 pct, compared with 2012 from 136.5 billion to 122.6 billion euros, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this negative development to a 10.7 pct decline in workers' earnings in 2013 and a 12.2 pct decline in social benefits. Final consumption spending by Greek households and non-profit organisations servicing households fell by 3.6 pct in 2013 to 129.9 billion euros from 134.7 billion in 2012.
In a report, the statistics service said that gross fixed capital investments by non-financial companies fell 1.0 pct to 7.5 billion euros in 2012, while the rate of gross fixed capital investments as a percentage of Gross Added Value grew to 13.3 pct in 2013 from 12.8 pct in 2012.
In 2013, the country's external balance of goods and services recorded a deficit of 5.4 billion euros from a shortfall of 8.7 billion in 2012.
 Greek stocks end significantly lowerGreek stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, although the market performed better than expected in the aftermath of a negative outcome in a Eurogroup meeting on Monday. The composite index fell 2.45 pct to end at 838.61 points, off the day's lows of 819.52 points. The index rose 0.20 pct early in the session. The Large Cap index dropped 3.92 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.89 pct lower. Turnover was a strong 143.56 million euros.
Ellaktor (4.57 pct), Terna Energy (3.01 pct) and Motor Oil (2.84 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (9.02 pct), Alpha Bank (8.61 pct) and OPAP (8.36 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The Technology (1.29 pct), Chemicals (0.76 pct) and Construction (0.47 pct) sectors scored big gains, while Travel (7.37 pct), Telecoms (7.32 pct) and Banks (6.36 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 65 to 47, with another 25 issues unchanged. Haidemenos (29.84 pct), Hatzikraniotis (24.65 pct) and Vioter (19.50 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farms (20 pct), Dionic (19.23 pct) and Ionian Hotels (17.24 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -2.39%
Industrial Products: -1.63%
Real Estate: +0.03%
Personal & Household: -3.57%
Food & Beverages: -1.26%
Raw Materials: -0.79%
Mass Media: -1.96%
Travel & Leisure: -7.37%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.32
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.98
Coca Cola HBC: 15.98
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.84
National Bank of Greece: 1.18
Piraeus Bank: 0.57
Grivalia Properties: 8.00
Aegean Airlines: 7.50
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek state bond prices remained under pressure on Tuesday on market worries over developments in negotiations between the Greek government and its Eurozone partners on a new economic programme for Greece.
The three-year bond yield rose to 18.6 pct on Tuesday, from 17.08 pct the previous day, and the five-year bond yield jumped to 15.39 pct from 14.45 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 9.62 pct from 8.94 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.98 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.36 pct. Turnover was a thin 12 million euros, of which 4.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 8.0 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was unchanged at 0.258 pct, the nine-month rate stable at 0.186 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.127 pct from 0.128 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.047 pct from 0.048 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 0.001 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.28 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 51,717 contracts with 50,754 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 78,084 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (22,782), followed by National Bank (19,069), Alpha Bank (16,265), Piraeus Bank (13,949), OTE (2,283), PPC (1,178), OPAP (1,121), Mytilineos (351), Hellenic Exchanges (340), GEK (222), Hellenic Petroleum (219), MIG (218), Ellaktor (128), Jumbo (121) and Motor Oil (72).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank on Feb. 17:
U.S. dollar 1.141
Pound sterling 0.743
Danish kroner 7.444
Swedish kroner 9.216
Japanese yen 137.87
Swiss franc 1.063
Norwegian kroner 8.572
Canadian dollar 1.412
Australian dollar 1.459
 Escape attempt foiled at Amygdaleza detention centreA fire broke out, possibly from a short-circuit in a hot water heater, in a container serving as housing at the Amygdaleza detention centre north of Athens on Tuesday, leading to incidents.
Some undocumented migrants set fire to a second container while others tried to escape; they were prevented by police outside the centre, who had been called in along with the Fire Brigade.
Incidents ended when the detainees returned to their cells shortly after 8:00 p.m.
 No tram services on Wednesday between 10.00 and 13.00Athens tramway will not be running on Wednesday between 10.00 and 13.00 as employees hold a work stoppage to participate in a general meeting of their union.
 Sleet and low temperatures on WednesdaySleet and north-northeasterly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Sleet and light snowfall in the northern parts of the country and temperatures ranging from -02C-05C. Partly cloudy in the western parts with temperatures between 04C-13C. Sleet in the eastern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 02C-07C. Sleet and light snow over the Aegean islands and Crete, 06C-10C. Sleet in Athens, 03C-06C. Light snow in Thessaloniki, 0C-05C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Schaeuble's (Wolfgang, German Finance Minister) torpedo.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Greece resists.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 96-hour deadline for agreement or... accident.
ESTIA: Handlings for 'memorandum' wrong.
ETHNOS: Fierce clash.
IMERISSIA: Dramatic hours.
KATHIMERINI: Eurogroup's ultimatum.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Agony after the failure.
RIZOSPASTIS: People have other 'red lines'.
TA NEA: Negotiation goes to extra time.
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