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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-07

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

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

Tuesday, 7 April 2015 Issue No: 4929

CONTENTS

  • [01] Committee on public debt concludes first round of discussion in Parliament
  • [02] Greece intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors, FinMin Varoufakis says
  • [03] 'We had an extremely productive discussion, FinMin Varoufakis says
  • [04] IMF's Lagarde didn't request specific measures from FinMin Varoufakis, ministry sources say
  • [05] Greece's exclusion from QE program burdens two previous governments, FinMin says
  • [06] Varoufakis unveils five-point proposal for Greek debt restructuring
  • [07] Economy Minister Stathakis on bad loans
  • [08] Meeting chaired by PM Tsipras to discuss government work concludes
  • [09] Former PM criticises government over committee to investigate debt
  • [10] The problems of justice dominated meeting between PM and heads of the country's supreme courts
  • [11] PM Tsipras' meeting with EU Commissioner Avramopoulos postponed for Tuesday
  • [12] National defence ministry holds event focused on German reparations to Greece
  • [13] Ministries coordinate to draw plan for migration flow at Aegean Islands
  • [14] Foreign ministry dismisses Turkish press reports about terrorism
  • [15] New Democracy to vote against draft law on abolishing high security prisons
  • [16] Government must focus on deteriorating economy, Potami says
  • [17] PASOK on Varoufakis' meeting with Lagarde
  • [18] Swiss banker detained over armaments kickback contracts; received extension for testimony
  • [19] Gov't has not included a VAT hike in its list of reforms to creditors, says spokesman
  • [20] Assistant chief of Rosselkhoznadzor: Twenty Greek food production companies to be granted the right to export to Russia
  • [21] Parliament approves appointment of Panagiotakis as CEO of power utility PPC
  • [22] Inspectors for undeclared labour at Airport businesses joined by minister
  • [23] Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem says Holy Light to travel to Greece
  • [24] Municipality of Aristotelis calls for calm after clashes outside the gold mine in Skouries
  • [25] Culture, Tourism ministries discuss attracting foreign film and TV productions to Greece
  • [26] Vicky Stamati, Tsohatzopoulos' wife, wants to give additional, 'revelatory' testimony
  • [27] Gyaros' exceptional maritime ecosystem may become refuge for monachus monachus
  • [28] 4.3-magnitude tremor hits off Karpathos island
  • [29] Super League results
  • [30] Rain on Tuesday
  • [31] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Committee on public debt concludes first round of discussion in Parliament

    Parliament completed the discussion about Greece's public debt, which began two days ago after the founding of an investigation committee that will look into the events leading up to Greece's entry into bailout programmes and austerity memorandums.

    During discussion, Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said that official data showed the German debt related to WWII reparations totalled 278.7 billion euros, of which 10.3 billion was the so-called forced loan (which Germans at the time forced Greece to give them). All the rest is related to reparations to individuals or infrastructures, he said, mentioning that in the Paris Conference of 1946 the amoung had been set at 341.2 billion dollars at the time.

    Several ministers took the floor during the sessions and pledged to collaborate with the committee, which was set up following a proposal by Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou. Its first session, on April 4, was attended by President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    According to a site set up for the committee, its role will be to conduct investigations and request information of public and private legal entities including documents, while Parliament has the power to limit the committee's authority.

    [02] Greece intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors, FinMin Varoufakis says

    The executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde said she welcomes Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' confirmation that the loan payment due would be made on schedule.

    "I welcomed confirmation by the minister that payment owing to the Fund would be forthcoming on April 9th," Lagarde said after the meeting with Varoufakis.

    Lagarde said that the IMF will continue working with the Greek government to help Greece return to a sustainable development path as well as to boost employment.

    As she said, she has agreed with the Finance Minister that effective cooperation is in the interest of all, underlining that the continuous uncertainty over a possible bankruptcy is not in the interest of Greece.

    Lagarde also expressed her content over Varoufakis' pledge to improve the cooperation between the technical staff and the authorities.

    The Greek Finance Minister said after the meeting that Greece "intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors." He also told reporters that the government plans to "reform Greece deeply" and that it seeks to improve the "efficacy of the negotiations" with its creditors.

    [03] 'We had an extremely productive discussion, FinMin Varoufakis says

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    "We had an extremely productive discussion about reform proposals," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said after a meeting with the IMF managing director Christine Lagard early on Monday.

    "Our government is a reformist government," Varoufakis said. He also told reporters that the government plans to "reform Greece deeply" and that it seeks to improve the "efficacy of the negotiations" with its creditors.

    "Having an opportunity to discuss the reform programme here with the IMF and the director is an excellent step towards that direction," he underlined.

    The Greek Finance Minister also said that "Greece is a founding member of the Bretton Woods, the IMF, and maintaining and improving lines of communication, as we are doing, is essential to us especially as the IMF is a partner to Greece's attempt to exit the crisis of the last five years."

    Asked whether the negotiation way will change, Varoufakis said that the procedure that has started in the Brussels Group and the technical staff in Athens will be more productive, will have thematic units, with the view to concluding the agreements as soon as possible and more efficiently.

    The Greek Finance Minister underlined that Greece "intends to meet all obligations to all its creditors, ad infinitum."

    [04] IMF's Lagarde didn't request specific measures from FinMin Varoufakis, ministry sources say

    International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde has not asked Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to take specific measures during their meeting in Washington on Monday, ministry sources said, refuting reports in foreign media claiming she requested a cut in early retirement and an increase in VAT.

    The same sources clarified that it was the Greek side which requested the meeting.

    [05] Greece's exclusion from QE program burdens two previous governments, FinMin says

    A European Central Bank decision to exclude Greece from its quantitative easing program would be implemented regardless of the outcome of a general election in the country and the negotiating policy adopted by the new government, Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis said on Monday.

    In a report transmitted to Parliament, in response to a question by ND deputy Nikos Dendias alleging that the current government was leading the Greek economy to a credit squeeze at a time when ECB was flooding the Eurozone with 1.1 trillion euros, the Greek FinMin noted that "the responsibility for the exclusion of Greece from a QE program was fully upon the two previous governments which accepted and amended the terms of a second memorandum".

    Varoufakis reminded comments made by ECB's president Mario Draghi -made on January 22- according to which Greek state bonds were excluded from ECB's QE program regardless of the outcome of an ongoing negotiations or the policy of the current Greek government.

    In the report, the Finance minister underlined that ECB would buy bonds of a member-state worth up to 1/3 of bonds in circulation and noted that Draghi stressed that Greek state bonds held by ECB (bought in the period 2010-2011 in the framework of a SMP program) were considered as bonds in circulation and as their value surpassed 1/3 of Greek bonds in circulation, Greece was excluded from the QE program. He added, that only after repayment of bonds in the SMP program, currently held by ECB (worth 6.7 billion euros), maturing during the summer, Greece would be eligible to participated in the QE program.

    "It is clear, therefore, that a decision by ECB to exclude Greece from a QE program would be valid regardless of the government formed after the January 25 elections and its negotiating policy," Varoufakis said.

    He added, however, that ECB's decision was at least odd since Greece was suffering from a deflation (-1.3 pct in 2014). "The country would not have been excluded from the program if ECB had acknowledged a simple fact: the bonds of the SMP program held by ECB have been withdrawn from capital markets (they are not in circulation). If there were still in circulation they would have been included in a PSI program in 2012 (which did not happened after a recommendation by ECB), Varoufakis said, adding that "the safe conclusions to be reached are that the responsibility for the exclusion of Greece from a QE program was fully upon the two previous governments which accepted and amended the terms of the second memorandum, while it also proved the need for a strong negotiating policy that only the current government has dared to begin with the aim not only to safeguard liquidity for the market but to exit the Greek economy from the crisis.

    [06] Varoufakis unveils five-point proposal for Greek debt restructuring

    "There has to be an agreement in principle in the April 24th Eurogroup meeting, as envisaged by a February 20 Eurogroup agreement," Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in an interview with "Naftemporiki" daily financial newspaper on Monday.

    In the interview, the Greek FinMin said that a five-point agreement with Europe was necessary to make the Greek public debt viable. a) logical levels of primary surpluses (around 1.5 pct instead of a 4.5 pct accepted by previous governments), b) a debt restructuring (without necessarily a haircut) which would link repayments with nominal GDP growth rates, c) an investment package by the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund exclusively designed for Greece which should be distributed mostly to the private sector with new non-bureaucratic procedures, d) an efficient restructuring of non-performing loans through the set up of a Bad Bank with the use of remaining funds of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund and e) fundamental reforms offering breathing space to creative citizens and enterprises.

    Varoufakis said that negotiations with the country's creditors will end when an honorable agreement would be reached, offering the Greek economy the prospect of a real stabilization and of fundamental growth. "The government is in agony, as citizens are, over a credit squeeze in market which is the result of creditors' policy towards the country and struggles to complete negotiations the soonest possible. At the same time, however, we are not going to condemn the country, as previous governments did, in a long-term squeeze by accepting terms and measures that guarantee such a prospect," the Finance minister said.

    "It is obvious that our government is faced, at least on liquidity, with an impressively different way compared with a previous Greek government. This policy of discrimination is threatening the principle of non-intervention by institutions to the domestic politics of a Eurozone member-state. Beyond that, institutions are complex organizations. Their practices are not always in line with the will of their top officials as in many bureaucracies several times middle level executives follow their own agendas.

    Varoufakis said that Euro Working Group meetings were the field of exchanging views on technical issues and procedures. The negotiations are taking place in the Eurogroup and several times on the sidelines of Eurogroup meetings. Commenting on what the Greek government was expecting from its trips to China and Russia, Varoufakis stressed: "As I have said several times before, the solution to the crisis of the Greek social economy was an issue for the European family and must be found within the EU framework. Forging closer relations with countries outside Eurozone and the EU, which have common interests with Greece, and the will to promote them on the basis of cooperation and mutuality, was an entirely different chapter.

    The Greek Finance Minister categorically dismissed scenarios of a Grexit, saying that "anyone who examines such plans or discusses even their prospects offers very bad services to Europe".

    He noted that the government has sent a list of reform proposals to the Brussels Group in the framework of an ongoing negotiation, but the real question was what was the proposal of the other side. The negotiation will come closer to its completion when there was an answer to this question, Varoufakis said, adding that the Eurogroup meeting of April 24 should reach an agreement in principle, as agreed in the Eurogroup meeting of February 20.

    Referring to the PSI program, Varoufakis said that it will live in history as a sad episode, where a country implemented a huge haircut but that the same time its public debt remained non-sustainable. "We are not going to condemn the country, as previous governments did, to long-term credit squeeze by accepting terms and measures that guarantee such a prospect," he said, adding that what was needed then it was simple: first a haircut and then a bailout agreement along with real reforms. In the case of the first memorandum the government did exactly the opposite. And when the time of the second memorandum arrived, the haircut came too late and was designed in a catastrophic way, by leaving outside of the program bonds held by ECB, by implementing a haircut on pension funds, burdening the country's public debt with money used for bank recapitalization, by allowing a bank recapitalization with addressing the non-performing loans issue, etc.

    Commenting on his relation with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, the Greek minister said "all our meetings have been held in an excellent climate and with the straightness called by circumstances. As I have confessed to him, I am honored to have met and negotiated with a person who is a capital in the history of the European Union. I would like to believe that in this framework he could visit Greece either before or after an honorable agreement was reached which will restore Greek citizens' vision of Eurozone as a field of prosperity and democracy, common for all Europeans.

    Varoufakis categorically dismissed talk that he considered to resign from his post. "Not for a moment. When we accepted government responsibility, all our colleagues and comrades we knew that we were taking over in conditions of designed squeeze, aimed to overthrow the first government of the Left. In such circumstances, the role of a Finance minister is something between a lightning rod and an electric chair. Having this in mind nothing surprised me," he noted.

    Commenting on the 2015 budget, Varoufakis said that the ministry has designed non-recessionary measures which could fill a gap in the 2014 budget since the primary surplus proved to be much smaller than initial estimates. He added that tax revenue in March surpassed expectations and that an installment measure on overdue tax debt offered impressive results so far.

    [07] Economy Minister Stathakis on bad loans

    The government expects the procedure for the bad loans settlement to be concluded in about six months, according to a document by Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis and was sent to the Parliament on April 2.

    According to the minister, there will be a legislative amendment aimed at the radical relief of debtors and a comprehensive settlement of private debts with solid social criteria and with a view to creating the conditions so that bad loans can become performing and be serviced in the best way possible.

    The minister said this plan includes two parts: the setting up of a fund to which the loans of over-debted poor households will be transferred and the reform of the current law on the business loans of small and medium-sized companies.

    However, the "technical aspects and requirements of this regulation are being considered while a consultation with all involved parties is underway. There procedures are expected to be completed in approximately six months."

    The document was a response to a query submitted by New Democracy deputy Anna Karamanli on whether business that hold Greek government bonds which underwent a "haircut" can make use of the bad loans settlement.

    Moreover, the minister noted that the government has submitted a proposal for the setting up of an investigation committee that would look into the events that led up to the country's entry in the two bailout agreements as well as into the conditions under which the PSI was carried out, a development that led to the write down of the reserves of the social security funds, the economic catastrophe of small bondholders and to the need for the recapitalization of the banks.

    He also noted that there would be an investigation into the banks' mergers and acquisitions, the selection criteria for the systemic banks and any other relevant issues including the operation of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF).

    In a separate document signed by the minister and submitted to parliament on April 1, following a query by SYRIZA MP Ilias Kostopanagiotou on property foreclosures, Stathakis reiterated that a legislative amendment on the issue is imminent.

    [08] Meeting chaired by PM Tsipras to discuss government work concludes

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday chaired a meeting to discuss issues relating to ongoing government work and the premier's trip to Moscow.

    The meeting was attended by Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis, Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani and Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis, while the cabinet's General Secretary Spyros Sagias also participated.

    [09] Former PM criticises government over committee to investigate debt

    The coalition parties SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL) tabled the proposal for an investigative committee on the debt to cover up the complete disappointment of the Greek people's expectations, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said in Parliament on Monday night.

    Samaras warned that the government has no right to work divisively at the worst time for the economy, when there is no liquidity and the search for it is agonising and while government officials proclaim the inevitability of a credit event.

    The investigation of the committee must include the period from 1981 and include the coalition government of SYRIZA, the former prime minister said, and charged the government with leading the country to a new memorandum or a fatal accident.

    [10] The problems of justice dominated meeting between PM and heads of the country's supreme courts

    The resolving of the problems of Justice as well as of issues related to the malfunction of public administration and the respect of personal and social rights dominated a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the presidents of the country's supreme courts.

    According to a prime minister's office announcement, Tsipras during the meeting said that the government is prepared to work hard to solve the accumulated problems in Justice, taking into consideration not just the speeding up of the administration of justice but also the restoration of the citizens' confidence in the institutions.

    [11] PM Tsipras' meeting with EU Commissioner Avramopoulos postponed for Tuesday

    A scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos at 17.00 is postponed for Tuesday, it was announced by the premier's office on Monday.

    The meeting will be held instead at 10.00 at Maximos Mansion.

    The reason for the postponement is that Tsipras will attend the debate on whether to set up a committee to investigate the events leading up to Greece's entry into bailout programmes and austerity memoranda at the Parliament's plenum later in the afternoon, his office said.

    [12] National defence ministry holds event focused on German reparations to Greece

    The outstanding obligations of Germany from World War II were the key issue at an event held Monday to commemorate Germany's declaration of war against Greece in 1941, at the national defence ministry.

    The event opens a series of initiatives at the ministry to present hidden archives and start the process of German reparations to Greece, based on newly-provided data by Wehrmacht, National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told the political and military leaders of the ministry, the members of the Parliament committee for German reparations and the National Council claiming German reparations, all of whom attended the event.

    Kammenos said that Greece paid a disproportionate price in terms of its population during WWII, in the "war of competing interests," Kammenos said, and allies who supported Greece's growth must recognise that it has sacrificed everything.

    Among other things, the minister said the ministry had moved to bring wages and pensions of armed forces personnel back to their original state (of June 2012), and said the amounts were reclaimable from armaments programmes but would not have retroactive force.

    He also said that an agreement with the United States to upgrade navy airplanes (no more than five aircraft) was necessary for NATO missions.

    [13] Ministries coordinate to draw plan for migration flow at Aegean Islands

    An interministerial working group will draft a new national action plan to manage the increased refugee flows to the Aegean Islands, the government announced on Monday.

    The group includes experts from the ministries of interior, shipping, health, migration policy and civil protection, coordinated by the ministry of interior and the office of Alternate minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou.

    According to information, the members of the group will submit their proposals in a fortnight, in order to apply coordinated efforts for migration issues in the Aegean area.

    [14] Foreign ministry dismisses Turkish press reports about terrorism

    The foreign ministry on Monday dismissed Turkish press reports claiming that there is a supposed link between recent terrorist attacks and Greece.

    "The heavy death toll Greece has paid due to terrorism precludes even commenting on such reports, which have long and far surpassed the limits of the most imaginative and bizarre conspiracy theories," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Koutras said.

    [15] New Democracy to vote against draft law on abolishing high security prisons

    Main opposition New Democracy is against the draft bill for the abolition of high security prisons which the government has brought to Palriament and will vote it down, with the exception of one article on bullying, parliamentary group spokesman Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday, during an interview with municipal radio station ATHINA 984.

    Mitsotakis accused the government of using the draft law "to redeem some debts towards extreme anti-establishment groups with which it was, if not in communication while in serving in the opposition, in very good terms with."

    He said the bill includes "interest-serving provisions, like the one providing for the release of Savvas Xiros, a hardened murderer, terrorist, convicted to multiple life sentences."

    Commenting on Finance Minister's Yanis Varoufakis meeting with IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Washington, Mitsotakis said it is very positive that the minister reassured the Fund's head that Greece's debt instalment will be repaid in time. "If this happened [if Greece didn't repay its loan tranche] we would be the first developed country to default against the IMF with unpredictable catastrophic consequences for the economy."

    [16] Government must focus on deteriorating economy, Potami says

    Communication ploys have to stop and everyone must focus on the continuing sinking of the real economy, Potami party said on Monday, commenting on the visit of Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to Washington DC and his meeting with the IMF chief Christine Lagarde there.

    "To keep postponing the possibility of an 'accident' from week to week does not constitute victory," it said, and called on the government to promote agreement with its partners and improve collaboration between technical experts and the government officials, as promised by Varoufakis, in order to have the fiscal review move faster.

    It also cited Varoufakis as saying Greece will pay the April 9 installment due the IMF on time, and will be paying all obligations on time, adding that ministers' threats about the possibility of stop payments should be "crossed off".

    [17] PASOK on Varoufakis' meeting with Lagarde

    PASOK on Monday issued a statement on Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' meeting with the IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Washington, wondering over the usefulness of the visit considering the outcome that was announced.

    "Can a government official frankly tell us why Varoufakis had to make this urgent visit to Washington and meet Lagarde if the aim was to make a statement like the one that come out? Was this whole scene necessary so that the government can assure the IMF that it would properly pay the April 9 installment? Could this be otherwise? Couldn't they just say this over the phone?" PASOK said in a statement.

    "Was it necessary to have this meeting early on Holy Monday so that the government can agree that it would facilitate the troika's technical team to conduct the due diligence?in Athens? Now that the government seems to be coping with the Holy Week, maybe they can think of something for the week after. Unfortunately, this is how things stand: Extend every week for another week the strategic entrapment of the government which has strained the national economy," PASOK added.

    [18] Swiss banker detained over armaments kickback contracts; received extension for testimony

    Swiss banker Jean-Claude Oswald, who was arrested at the United Arab Emirates on international warrants over bribery related to money laundering from armaments kickbacks in Greece, received an extension on Monday to prepare his testimony before two Greek corruption investigators; he is being held pending trial.

    Oswald will testify before investigators Nikolaos Tsironis and Vassiliki Brati, who are investigating armaments procurements from German-based Wegmann, Swedish-based Ericsson and Brazil-based Embraer. He has also been called as witness before corruption investigator Gavriil Mallis, who is looking into kickbacks from antiballistic missile Asrad systems from German-based STN Atlas.

    According to the case, Oswald - a former banker at Dresden Banker and then at BNP Paribas - allegedly played a major role in laundering large amounts of money involved in state procurement agreements. He and an officer below him, Fanis Lyginos, are facing similar accusations.

    Oswald had already been called to testify with others over two large-scale contracts, involving Greek telecoms company OTE agreement (8002) with Siemens and the purchase of submarines.

    Financial News

    [19] Gov't has not included a VAT hike in its list of reforms to creditors, says spokesman

    The government has not included in its proposed list of reforms towards its creditors an increase of VAT for any Greek island, but the issue is being debated, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis told private radio station Real FM on Monday.

    "On the Greek government's side, there is no increase of the VAT for any island in the list of reforms submitted [to creditors]," Sakellaridis was quoted as saying by the station.

    "But the discussion is open - which is what has been said by [Alt. Finance Ministers] Mrs [Nadia] Valavani, and Mr [Dimitris] Mardas - for some specific islands which wouldn't suffer financially or touristically by a VAT hike. But we have not, in any way submitted such a proposal to the institutions and to Brussels Group," he added.

    Asked about the meeting between Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and IMF head Christine Lagarde, the spokesman said it was the Greek minister who requested the meeting.

    "Mr Varoufakis had planned a trip to Washington to meet with officials from the US finance ministry -meetings which will take place today - and since he was visiting Washington, our side asked to hold this meeting with Mrs Lagarde."

    Asked whether the social insurance system or labour relations were discussed, Sakellaridis said: "These were not the only two issues - they discussed the entire reforms programme submitted by the government to Brussels Group and the institutions, one of which is the IMF, and there was an in depth discussion on the overall framework of reforms proposed by the Greek government."

    "Obviously these issues were discussed and the Greek side and Mr Varoufakis stressed that the government cannot back down on these issues," he added.

    [20] Assistant chief of Rosselkhoznadzor: Twenty Greek food production companies to be granted the right to export to Russia

    Twenty Greek food production companies will be given the 'green light' to export products to the Russian market, when the embargo is lifted, Assistant chief of Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) Alexey Alekseenko on Monday said at a phone contact with ANA-MPA.

    Rosselkhoznadzor inspection parties will be in Greece as of April 20 and for two weeks and will conduct on site checks to the Greeks veterinary services as well as to 20 Greek dairy, fishery and meat companies.

    Alekseenko said that Greece will be the first country that will be checked with Cyprus and Hungary to follow.

    [21] Parliament approves appointment of Panagiotakis as CEO of power utility PPC

    Manolis Panagiotakis was officially approved on Monday as the new President and CEO of state-owned power utility PPC, securing the vote of the coalition parties.

    Main opposition New Democracy and the Communist Party voted against his appointment, while Golden Dawn, To Potami and PASOK voted "present".

    Speaking before the parliamentary Commission for Public Utilities, Panagiotakis said he favours the inclusion of lignite in Greece's energy mix, as well as improving the staffing and developing of PPC-Renewables.

    He also noted he is against the partial or full privatization of PPC but, when asked, distanced himself from the recent collective labour agreement signed by the previous company leadership and PCC's workers union.

    On his side, Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said that "no February 20 agreement includes privatisations or chopping up public energy companies. These are part of the past. All public energy companies will not be sold."

    [22] Inspectors for undeclared labour at Airport businesses joined by minister

    Labour inspectors held extensive checks for undeclared labour at businesses operating at the Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos", in the presence of Labour Minister Panos Skourletis on Monday.

    Skourletis was accompanied by Hellenic Labour Inspectorate (SEPE) special secretary Apostolos Kapsalis.

    According to a ministry announcement, the presence of the two officials during the inspections "symbolises the particular weight given to the Hellenic Labour Inspectorate". In the next few months, it said, the Inspectorate will be instrumental in implementing the new structural framework promoted by the ministry in labour relations and work conditions.

    General News

    [23] Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem says Holy Light to travel to Greece

    The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem assured on Monday that the Holy Light will travel to Greece this year as well, following a request made by the Greek Union of Atheists to abolish the annual air transport for economic reasons.

    "Concerning the claims of the Union of Atheists that the transport of the Holy Light from Jerusalem to Athens ant the rest of Greece should be abolished, I want to state that their position proves the fact that it is only people of darkness who are afraid of the Light and I assure them that, despite their opposition, the Holy Light will arrive to our country this year too," the spokesman of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem Giorgos Vasileiou said.

    The Union of Atheists described in a letter the air transport of the Holy Light to Greece as an "unnecessary luxury" and had requested the relevant ministries to abolish the transport and distribution "of the so-called 'Holy Light' on Greek State expense."

    [24] Municipality of Aristotelis calls for calm after clashes outside the gold mine in Skouries

    The municipality of Aristotelis, in Halkidiki, northern Greece, has called for calm and an end to recriminations, insults and rivalries, following clashes between two opposing groups of protesters outside the gold mine in Skouries on Sunday.

    Tension escalated on Sunday when two groups of protesters - mine workers at Canadian-owned company Hellas Gold which support the investment and citizens who oppose the operation of the mines - hurled stones at each other with the police making use of tear gas.

    The municipality said in a press release on Monday that the rivalries "are worsening an already tense climate and are deepening the rift within the local society."

    "The municipal authority condemns the sad incident in Skouries, the announced interruption of traffic and the role of workers as the 'angered custodians and pressure lobbyists' of the mining company. We also condemn the destruction of property which took place in the city of Ierissos, the verbal abuse and violence wherever it comes from," the municipality said, adding these incidents are condemnable and cancel every effort to find a solution to the important problem facing the region.

    The municipality also called on the government to take decisions to resolve the problem and restore peace in the region.

    Earlier on Monday, the local office of the main coalition party SYRIZA demanded the immediate removal of Halkidiki's police commissioner, as well as of the police officer in charge of Sunday's operation during the two protests.

    "The police's operation plan on Sunday targeted once again the movement," SYRIZA said in a press release. "The employees of EL Dorado not only were they not prevented from reaching the area where they would demonstrate, but they were left undisturbed to attack with stones and planks to the crowd that had gathered," it added.

    The party also called on the Civil Protection Ministry to take responsibility for its actions.

    [25] Culture, Tourism ministries discuss attracting foreign film and TV productions to Greece

    Alternate Minister for Culture Nikos Xydakis discussed forming an institutional framework to attract foreign film and television productions to Greece in a meeting with Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Monday.

    The ministers discussed how to co-ordinate to work of the two ministries more effectively to achieve the best possible promotion of Greece's cultural heritage and maximize produced wealth, according to a ministry press release.

    They also talked about attracting foreign visitors for various cultural activities which will not be limited to museum visits and improving the services offered in archaeological sites by establishing the electronic tickets.

    Xydakis and Kountoura also discussed forming a work group to promote contemporary Greek culture through the presence of the Greek Tourism Organization in large international exhibitions and through the creation and exchange of content for the tourist site visitgreece.gr and the Culture ministry's website.

    The ministers also said the work group could list cultural and other events scheduled throughout the country to promote them in advance.

    [26] Vicky Stamati, Tsohatzopoulos' wife, wants to give additional, 'revelatory' testimony

    Vicky Stamati, wife of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos - both of whom are serving sentences in Korydallos Prison over n armaments kickbacks and money laundering case - will give an additional testimony at the Attica General Police Headquarters in Athens, according to her lawyer, "revealing more about people and issues around the case."

    Frangiskos Ragousis, lawyer of Stamati, who had escaped from an Athens psychiatric hospital and was later found wandering, said that it was her wish to provide the testimony before special prosecutors Isidoros Dogiakos and Grigoris Peponis "for reasons of trust" instead of before the criminal appears court, as law provides.

    The specific court is hearing former prime minister Costas Simitis and members of the government council at the time - including Evangelos Venizelos, Vasso Papandreou, Yiannos Papantoniou and other top-level military officials - on April 29. The witnesses were called following a request by Tsohatzopoulos.

    [27] Gyaros' exceptional maritime ecosystem may become refuge for monachus monachus

    A maritime ecosystem of exceptional natural beauty and unique ecological value was revealed by a scientific research that was held in Gyaros island seabed by the Sea Geology and Natural Oceanography laboratory of the University of Patras for WWF Hellas within the framework of the programme Cyclades Life.

    The research found that over 50 percent of the mapped area of 24 square kilometres is covered by prairies of Poseidonia (Mediterrenean tapeweed) and dense coral formations, two very important habitats that testify the health of the coastal environment and constitute a refuge for the reproduction of a large number of sea species.

    Cyclades Life programme started in July 2013 and will run until 2017. The programme's aim is the creation of a refuge and a protection park for the Mediterrenean seal (monachus monachus) at the region of Gyaros jointly with the societies of Syros and Andros islands.

    [28] 4.3-magnitude tremor hits off Karpathos island

    A 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Karpathos island in the Dodecanese on Monday, according to the Geodynamic Institute of Athens.

    The tremor, which struck at 19.42 local time (16.42 GMT), was felt in eastern Crete and its epicenter was located 33 klm southeast of Karpathos. The focal depth was at 10 klm.

    Soccer

    [29] Super League results

    Atromitos defeated Kerkyra by 2-1 on Monday's game of the Super League.

    The results are as follows:

    Platanias-Veria 1-0

    Panathinaikos-Asteras Tripolis 2-2

    Levadiakos-OFI 3-0 (no game)

    Kalloni-Niki Volou 3-0 (no game)

    Panionios-Panetolikos 3-0

    Ergotelis-Panthrakikos 2-1

    PAOK-Xanthi 2-1

    PAS Yiannena-Olympiakos 3-1

    Atromitos-Kerkyra 2-1

    Standings after 30 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiakos 67 (29 games)

    2.Panathinaikos 59

    3. PAOK 57

    4. Asteras Tripolis 52

    5. PAS Yiannena 50

    6. Atromitos 49

    7. Xanthi 46

    8. Panetolikos 43

    9. Kerkyra 40

    . Kalloni 40

    11. Panionios 38

    12. Veria 37

    . Levadiakos 37

    14. Panthrakikos 34 (29 games)

    . Platanias Chanion 34

    16. Ergotelis 28

    17. OFI 13

    18. Niki Volou -6

    Notes:

    OFI was penalised by subtraction of 10 points, Panathinaikos by 3 points; and Niki Volou and OFI have withdrawn from the games

    Weather forecast

    [30] Rain on Tuesday

    Rain and thundershowers in most of Greece for Holy Tuesday except the south, with snowfall on high elevations. Northerly winds 4-6 Beaufort. Temperatures from 3C to 18C. In Athens, the same, with westerly-northwesterly winds 3-5 Beaufort. Temperatures from 10C to 16C. In Thessaloniki, the same. Northwesterly winds 4-5 Beaufort. Temperatures from 6C to 16C.

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

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Trap to media-tycoons.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Who are in danger of getting their pension at the age of 62 instead of 55".

    ESTIA: We divert from Europe.

    ETHNOS: Finance Minister Varoufakis' meeting with Lagarde (Christine, IMF chief) a barometer.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Five proposals for the debt. Lenders' demands the 'key' in the negotiation.

    TA NEA: What seeks the government, of US are afraid of.

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