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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-08

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

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

Wednesday, 8 April 2015 Issue No: 4930

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras to meet with President Putin on Wednesday
  • [02] Parliament passes proposal to set up investigation committee on how Greece entered into memorandums
  • [03] Partners and lenders cannot play with Greece, PM Tsipras says
  • [04] Changes in the EU migration policy dominate Tsipras-Avramopoulos meeting
  • [05] Varoufakis-Lagarde meeting held 'in excellent climate,' ministry announcement says
  • [06] Negotiations are continuing but Greece must now make a move, EU Commission spokesman says
  • [07] There's nothing odd about PM Tsipras' trip to Moscow, Alt. Minister Tsakalotos tells Bloomberg
  • [08] Greece's debt may be discussed at Putin-Tsipras meeting on Wednesday, Russian president's spokesman says
  • [09] Europarliament President Schulz: PM Tsipras must not break EU line on sanctions against Russia
  • [10] Defence Min. Kammenos: Greece cannot keep ISIS out if EU destabilises the country
  • [11] Opposition parties accuse Defence Minister Kammenos of defaming Greece after comments in paper
  • [12] FM Kotzias co-signs declaration at pentalateral meeting in Budapest
  • [13] FM Kotzias meets Turkish European Affairs Minister, Serbian counterpart in Budapest
  • [14] EU states won't lose a cent from their loans to Greece, says ForMin Kotzias
  • [15] We will terminate policies that devastated the country, Defence min says
  • [16] State Minister: We want a really independent public broadcaster
  • [17] Minister calls for review of operational costs of successors to ERT public broadcaster
  • [18] US official urges Athens to 'fully commit' to technical negotiations
  • [19] Justice ministry bill brings correctional system in line with European standards, government sources say
  • [20] FinMin Varoufakis to visit Paris
  • [21] Minimum wage to increase as of October, labour minister informs social partners
  • [22] President Pavlopoulos meets with Bank of Greece Deputy Governor Mourmouras
  • [23] Justice Min. Paraskevopoulos says State should hold dialog with hooded protesters
  • [24] Alt. Environment Minister meets environmental organisations in Greece, discusses protected areas
  • [25] Alternate FM Tsakalotos meets with Albanian Ambassador Dervishi
  • [26] Alternate, deputy defence ministers deny press reports of 'friction' within ministry
  • [27] Vicky Stamati gives additional testimony, refers to two PASOK members
  • [28] Swiss banker Oswald testifies to corruption prosecutor
  • [29] Gov't reexamining roadworks contracts, reviewing toll price policy in infrastructure projects
  • [30] Managing overdue debts, restructuring among top priorities of new PPC management
  • [31] EU asks four countries to provide details on banks' deferred tax assets
  • [32] Productive Reconstruction Ministry's announcement on Eldorado Gold
  • [33] Greek exports (excluding oil products) up 11 pct in Feb
  • [34] Alt. FinMin Mardas answers question on domestic payments by the State
  • [35] Overdue tax debt rose to 75.732 bln euros in Feb
  • [36] Greek computer market recovered in 2014
  • [37] Fairfax raises equity participation in Eurobank
  • [38] Productive Reconstruction Min to set up committee for energy cost reduction
  • [39] OTE repurchases 70.5-mln-euro bonds
  • [40] Tourist arrivals up 20.7 pct in 2014
  • [41] 2nd Greek-German foods forum to be held in Litohoro, Pieria on May 20-22
  • [42] Paperpack to pay dividend to shareholders
  • [43] Tobacco industry is overtaxed, Papastratos says
  • [44] Greek stocks end moderately higher
  • [45] Greek bond market closing report
  • [46] ADEX closing report
  • [47] Miners of Hellas Gold halt labour action until April 16
  • [48] Anti-establishment youths burn cars and rubbish bins in central Athens
  • [49] 25 million euros to municipalities for operational school costs
  • [50] Rain on Wednesday
  • [51] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras to meet with President Putin on Wednesday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is departing for Moscow at 16:00 on Tuesday on a working visit that will include talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday afternoon.

    The premier's visit will begin with the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 10:00 on Wednesday, followed by a meeting with Putin at the Kremlin at 13:00 that will last approximately an hour. There will follow talks with the participation of delegations from the two countries, the signature of bilateral agreements and joint statements by the two leaders.

    On Wednesday evening, Tsipras will meet the heads of expatriate Greek organisations and on Thursday deliver a lecture on "Greek-Russian relations and Europe. Challenges and Prospects" at the Moscow State Institute on International Relations (MGIMO) university.

    The Greek premier will then have successive meetings with Russia's State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

    [02] Parliament passes proposal to set up investigation committee on how Greece entered into memorandums

    The proposal of the government coalition parties to set up a committee that will investigate into how Greece entered into the memorandums passed in the Parliament plenary early on Tuesday with 156 deputies voting in favour of it.

    Seventy-two deputies of New Democracy and PASOK voted against it and 22 deputies (Potami and KKE) voted 'present'. Golden Dawn deputies abstained from the voting procedure although the general secretary of the party Nikos Mihaloliakos had earlier said that they would vote against it. In total 250 deputies voted.

    The president of the parliament Zoi Konstantopoulou suggested the committee to last at least six months until October 6, 2015.

    [03] Partners and lenders cannot play with Greece, PM Tsipras says

    "Greece, Mr Samaras, is not a subordinate and inferior country. You will soon see for yourselves that Greece has strong geopolitical dynamics - it is a sovereign country and partners and lenders cannot play with it," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the main opposition leader during his speech in Parliament in the early hours of Tuesday.

    Tsipras in his speech underlined that the proposal for an investigation committee does not seek to criminalize the neoliberal ideas of the memorandums, but to find out "whether beyond the implementation of a bad, obsessive and ideological choice, acts that had other, non-ideological motives were implemented."

    More specifically, they will look into the revision of the deficit, the decision of the Bank of Greece to increase the time for the settlement of Greek bonds from three to ten days, the change of memorandum regime in November 2011 and into how a Greek prime minister was overthrown after 37 years of parliamentary democracy, as well as into the PSI, the Agricultural Bank and the second bank recapitalisation.

    [04] Changes in the EU migration policy dominate Tsipras-Avramopoulos meeting

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday had a meeting at Maximos Mansion, with their statements reflecting a convergence of views on changes over EU migration policy.

    The main issue is the redistribution of migrants and in this context, the change of Dublin II and Dublin III, while they had common views on showing solidarity towards the countries of the European South that bear the brunt of the migration flows.

    Tsipras stressed the need for a national strategy regarding the addressing of the migration issue without any partisan expediency while Avramopoulos highlighted the concerns that prevail in the EU while calling on the Greek government to take adjustment steps on its policy over the issue.

    The premier said the EU migration policy is the "cornerstone" of the EU policy, as it is also a matter of humanitarianism and solidarity and stressed the need for the issue to be dealt with.

    Tsipras referred to the failure of the current EU policy noting that Greece due to political choices and decisions of the past has become a negative example. Regarding the way to deal with the issue, the premier spoke of a double solidarity; first, to the people that migrate and secondly to the EU countries that are migrant gateways.

    This solidarity, the premier said, should be turned into action with the revision of the Dublin II and III and through that, a better redistribution of asylum seekers, which is, as he said, a concern for the European Commission.

    Tsipras reiterated the need for a national strategy of migration without petty partisan expediency which legalizes the extreme rhetoric and basically favours extreme right, Golden Dawn and neo-Nazi.

    Avramopoulos said migration has turned into an international issue as it touched upon the country's geopolitical stance. He shared the premier's concerns for changes in Dublin II and III and noted that changes are also needed in the EU, which can start from the European Council. He agreed with the need for Greece to have a national strategy on migration and announced that next month he would present his report on migration and security.

    The Commissioner said this issue cannot be exploited as its sends the wrong messages abroad and asked the government to take as soon as possible the necessary steps so as to adjust to the new reality, noting that Greece is not alone and it has the solidarity of the EU.

    Negotiations

    The premier and the commissioner referred to the ongoing negotiations with the institutional partners. Tsipras said negotiations evolve and mature, that he received a message of friendship from Jean-Claude Juncker and added that he exchanged views with Avramopoulos so that negotiations can have tangible results.

    Avramopoulos stated that Greece's stability is a guarantee of security and noted that the negotiations are not connected with the migration issue. He spoke of the need for government cohesion and for making use of the so-called Juncker package and underlined that there cannot be a Greek government which would allow Greece to exit the hard-core of the EU.

    EU subsidies

    According to a note distributed by Avramopoulos' associates, Greece in 2014-2020 will get 460.7 million euros from the EU. Of these funds, 259.3 million euros will be allocated to migration, 166.8 million to the Internal Security Fund and 14 million to Internal Security.

    [05] Varoufakis-Lagarde meeting held 'in excellent climate,' ministry announcement says

    "The meeting with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, was held in an excellent climate without any 'demands' from the IMF side on any issue and without any hint of a 'hard' stance (from either side)," a finance ministry announcement said on Tuesday.

    In a detailed announcement on the outcome of a series of meetings held by Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis in Washington on April 5-6, the ministry that during a 2.5-hour constructive meeting with Lagarde, Varoufakis briefed the IMF's managing director on the Greek positions regarding reforms needed in the country, the fiscal policy to be promoted by the government over the next few years and the significance of a "smart" restructuring of the country's public debt that would be beneficial both for Greece and its creditors. At the same time, the Greek finance minister presented proposals for improving a negotiating framework to forge a climate of confidence between the IMF and the Greek government.

    The announcement said that Lagarde explained in detail that it was imperative for the Greek government to acknowledge the limitations of the Fund and to follow the procedures envisaged by its regulations, while she reiterated that in the case of Greece, the Fund was willing to show maximum flexibility in assessing the government's reform and fiscal proposals.

    The Greek minister presented all individual aspects of the Greek reality, covering interlinked issues, such as the labour market, pension system, banking system, investment prospects, exploiting public property, public administration, taxation and exports.

    "The discussion on all these issues did not have the nature of negotiation, but - and that's important - it evolved as a consensus and successful effort to better understanding Greek reality," the ministry said, adding that "the meeting was concluded with the joint belief that talks helped the quality of cooperation between the two sides and set up on a new, more efficient basis the organisation of negotiations. Regarding repayment of loans to the IMF, the Greek minister reiterated the government's position to fully respect all of its financial obligations, inside and outside its borders".

    The ministry announcement noted that Varoufakis also met with Nathan Sheets from the US Treasury Department and Caroline Atkinson from the US National Security Council. During these meetings, the Greek minister briefed US officials over the real situation of the Greek economy, the reasons why negotiations seemed to have been delayed and his meeting with Lagarde. He also presented the prospects and preconditions for a recovery of the Greek economy and the problems of inter-governance and macroeconomic management in the Eurozone. The US officials explained the importance given by the Obama administration to a honourable agreement between Greece and its partners and to preserving a single Eurozone. They also stressed that the US government wished to play an honest broker role to ensure that such a solution would be reached the soonest possible.

    [06] Negotiations are continuing but Greece must now make a move, EU Commission spokesman says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    Discussions with the Greek authorities continued during the weekend and will continue in the coming days and weeks, European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein on Tuesday said, adding that it is now up to Greece to make a move.

    He noted that there will be an assessment of the situation in relation to the ongoing negotiations during Wednesday's meeting of the Eurogroup Working Group.

    On Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' visit to Russia, spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said that the Committee does not comment on speculations regarding the possibility of changes in decisions taken on the issue of Russian imports from the EU.

    He also underlined that the European leaders on March 19 took a decision from which no member state has said that it deviates.

    Regarding the Russian embargo on the exports of fruit and agricultural products in general, the European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario said that the Commission expects the same treatment of all member states.

    [07] There's nothing odd about PM Tsipras' trip to Moscow, Alt. Minister Tsakalotos tells Bloomberg

    Russia is a friendly, Orthodox country with which Greece has good relations and there's nothing odd about Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' visit to Moscow, Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.

    "Greece is not the only country that sends people to Russia. Sometimes it's blown out of proportion what we're hoping for. It's a trip to speak to a traditionaly friendly country," Tsakalotos told the news agency.

    "It's not as if we're suddenly changing where we're focused on, which is the EU, the Eurozone. Our major concern is with Greece's relationship with its partners, creditors and this is not altered in any way by Alexis Tsipras visit to Moscow," he added, noting that Greece is an independent, sovereign country with independent foreign policy.

    Asked about Greece's funding needs, the minister said the government believes the issue has to be sorted out through the February 20 Eurogroup agreement and that its main concern is its relations with its partners as the country has not received any cash since August 2014.

    Tsakalotos also said the repayment of the IMF loan tranche "will happen" and that discussions between Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the Fund's head Christine Lagarde were held to make sure the final agreement will be viable and mutually beneficial.

    "We're going with the good scenario," he said when asked what Athens will do if an agreement is not reached in time.

    Asked whether the Greek government has any red lines, Tsakalotos said that every democratic government has them and thet for Greece these are further pension and wage cuts, a VAT increase and messures that aggrevate austerity.

    He also noted that Greece is an extraordinary situation when it comes to its debt repayment. "There's no other country that I know of that is paying back its debt from its own resources. It's very abnormal. So we have to get out of this situation soon."

    [08] Greece's debt may be discussed at Putin-Tsipras meeting on Wednesday, Russian president's spokesman says

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/ Th. Avgerinos)

    Greece's debt might well be among the issues discussed during a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is due to arrive in Moscow at 19:00 on Tuesday, Putin's press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

    "Indisputably, we don't rule out that all issues will be raised," Peskov said, but added that there "was no need for everything to be assessed financially" and that relations between Greece and Russia were exceptionally multi-level, while the upcoming talks would examine the "full range of relations".

    Meanwhile, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov clarified that Russia had not received any request for "new loans" from the Greek side and that the issue had not been discussed, commenting on press reports to that effect. His aide Svetlana Nikitina said that no meeting between Russia's finance minister and the Greek premier was planned during the latter's visit.

    An earlier report by the Russian financial paper "Kommersant" cited a Russian government source saying that there was a possibility that a loan to Greece might be discussed. The source had linked the loan and a planned discount in natural gas supplied to Greece to the reply received concerning Russia's expressed interest in the purchase of Greek state companies, such as the trains operator TRAINOSE and Thessaloniki port.

    According to "Kommersant," the Russian government source said that Moscow was ready to examine a discount in gas prices for Greece, which based on the contract were linked to that of the recently much reduced price for oil.

    "We are also ready to discuss the possibility of extending to Greece new loans. But here, in turn, we are interested in moves of rapprochement, especially in the acquisition by Russia of certain assets in Greece," the source said.

    According to the Russian news agency TASS, the last visit by a Greek prime minister to Moscow was that of George Papandreou in February 2010.

    [09] Europarliament President Schulz: PM Tsipras must not break EU line on sanctions against Russia

    European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras not to break the European Union line on sanctions against Russia, in his meetings with Russian officials in Moscow on Wednesday.

    Tsipras is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

    In an interview to German daily Munchner Merkur going on newstands on Wednesday, Schulz is quoted as saying, "Greece asks and receives a lot of solidarity from the EU, therefore we can ask for solidarity from Greece, and for this solidarity not to be cancelled unilaterally," he said.

    Schulz said that this was made clear to Tsipras during several talks. "He should base his actions in Moscow on this," the EU official said, as "the EU expects this from him as head of a state that is member to the EU."

    He criticised Greece's demand for German reparations from WWII saying, "I believe it's counterproductive to mix up these emotion-laden issues with the current economic crisis in Greece." The issue, the Europarliament president said, has been resolved legally and politically, as Berlin also believes.

    [10] Defence Min. Kammenos: Greece cannot keep ISIS out if EU destabilises the country

    National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos warned the European Union that "consistent" attempts by some European officials to cause a rift within the coalition government they may destabilize the country, which would mean that Athens wouldn't be able to control its borders adequately and keep jihadists out of Europe, according to an interview with The Times.

    The minister told the paper on Monday that by maintaining Greece stable, the West's front against the Islamic State (ISIS) is safe. But if the country is expelled or forced out of the eurozone, "waves of immigrants without papers, including radical elements" will stream from Turkey, and will head towards the heart ofEurope.

    And added: "This gross meddling into [Greek] domestic affairs isn't just unheard of by European standards, it's unethical and it's dangerous," the minister said. "If Greece goes, then a lot more than financial stability and the euro is at stake."

    [11] Opposition parties accuse Defence Minister Kammenos of defaming Greece after comments in paper

    National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos is defaming Greece and humiliating it globally, main opposition New Democracy said through its spokesman Kostas Karagounis on Tuesday, following comments made by the minister in an interview with The Times.

    Kammenos warned the European Union that "consistent" attempts by some European officials to cause a rift within the coalition government they may destabilize the country, which would mean that Athens wouldn't be able to control its borders adequately and keep jihadists out of Europe.

    "There is geopolitical cost as well, from such foolish statements," he said of the government, adding, "How long will they be isolating the country on all sides?"

    Potami party called on the government to respond, charging that "Kammenos has decided to bombard the rest of Europe with jihaddis - last time it he bombarded Berlin with them." It added, "the suggestions of ministers in Parliament to the press to 'ignore him' are not enough to reassure European public opinion, to which Kammenos is directing his threat."

    Kammenos' statements "are not just irresponsible, they are particularly dangerous," PASOK said, calling the minister for "constant showing off" with his statements. "What is the price the country must pay for SYRIZA-ANEL's national populism and cheap demagoguery?" it asked.

    [12] FM Kotzias co-signs declaration at pentalateral meeting in Budapest

    The foreign ministry officials of Greece, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Hungary and Turkey expressed support for commercially viable alternatives to natural gas transport from Turkey through their territories on to Central and Southeast Europe, at a meeting in Budapest on Tuesday.

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias represented Greece at the Pentalateral Ministerial Meeting between Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Serbia and FYROM on energy security in Central and Southeast Europe. The participating countries signed a joint declaration for the strengthening of energy cooperation.

    The declaration, expressing "political intent", says that participating countries will be able to "support the energy markets of Turkey, the EU, and the signatory parties in the EU's Energy Community Treaty through the Southern Corridor of Transport of Natural Gas" and to "develop new opportunities for the regional economic development through the interlinking of natural gas infrastructures of countries, with funding contributions from the EU."

    The declaration said other countries in the region could also participate if they wished so and "improve the operation of facilities for gas storage in order to improve exchanges, achieve seasonal balance and increase security in supplies, in case the gas transmission is interrupted."

    Kotzias has been in Budapest since Holy Monday (April 6) at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto. He has met or is scheduled to meet separately with Serbian FM Ivica Dacic, Turkish European Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir, FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the representative of the Greek national minority in the Hungarian Parliament, Laokratis Koranis, and members of the Greek community of Hungary.

    The Greek FM is departing directly for Moscow on Tuesday in order to participate in Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' visit to Russia.

    [13] FM Kotzias meets Turkish European Affairs Minister, Serbian counterpart in Budapest

    The most significant regional and international issues as well as cooperation issues of the two countries dominated a meeting on Tuesday between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias met with Turkish European Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir in Budapest on the margins of the pentalateral Meeting on energy issues between Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary and FYROM

    The two Ministers carried out a review of Greek-Turkish bilateral relations while special reference was made to energy cooperation between the two countries and jointly with the other countries participating in the pentalateral meeting, as well as to Turkey' s European perspective.

    Earlier in the day Kotzias also met Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dai  and discussed a wide range of issues and looked at the course of bilateral political and economic cooperation, with emphasis on the sectors of energy and transport. They also exchanged views on Serbia's European perspective, developments in the Western Balkans, and matters of international and regional interest.

    [14] EU states won't lose a cent from their loans to Greece, says ForMin Kotzias

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias reassured EU member-states that they will not lose one cent of their loan to Greece, according to an interview with Hungarian newspaper N?pszabads?g published on Tuesday.

    Kotzias is visiting Budapest to participate in a meeting between Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary and FYROM on energy issues.

    "Greece will repay its 450-million-euro loan tranche to the IMF within the week," the minister was quoted as saying by the paper.

    "In the last five years we've paid everything, despite the big crisis. Some member-states of the EU and some institutional bodies such as the ECB made big profits. These countries are always complaining that 'we're losing our money and we give Greeks too much [money].' No, no, they didn't give too much money. They gave us a loan which we're repaying with a 4-5 pct interest rate," he added.

    Kotzias also said Greece supports reforms which help the economy but not austerity measures, noting that the implementation of measures to fight tax evasion, battle corruption and tax the oligarchs in Greece must speed up.

    [15] We will terminate policies that devastated the country, Defence min says

    Defence Minister Panos Kammenos late on Monday in an interview with Star TV referred to the negotiation with the partners, the investigation committee for the memorandum, the Greek debt and Germany's stance.

    He stressed that the country's sovereignty, its mineral wealth, homes and businesses of Greek citizens will not be mortgaged. He did not say 'No' to an "honorable compromise" with the lenders, he added, however, that their failure to meet the agreements deprives the compromise of such features. He assessed based on the behavior of lenders that "they do not want an agreement." He reminded that the mandate of the Greek people summed up to the defense of the national sovereignty, the end of the internal devaluation and termination of the policy 'that devastated the country."

    If the lenders say no to what has been agreed, which include the payment of the tranches to the country, then we will pay the installments and we will make sure we develop the Greek economy, wherever possible, but this means "they chose the impasse", he said.

    He said if there are any dilemmas that will question the will of the Greek people, then "they will speak up through elections or a referendum." He said the county has got nothing during the last eight months, however it has been paying its tranches and at the same it operates. Regarding payments, he did not question "the IMF money that will be paid", but the ECB and the lenders. He added that the 'red lines' are further cuts in pensions and wages, mass layoffs as well as the privatizations of productive units, of the PPC, of OLP or the site of the former Elliniko airport. He ruled out the imposing of increased VAT on the islands.

    He lashed out at Germany saying it was after the country's political submission, as well as to send out a messaged that "Germany rules Europe."

    He also said that the government and the Finance minister have not agreed or signed anything binding for the country.

    Asked on the government's plan in case of rupture, he made clear that Greece does not want a Grexit and added that we will defend the sovereignty of the Greek people.

    He said that in such a case, the government would reach agreements with anyone it can, apart from the lenders and cited as an example countries such as the United States, Russia, China, India and Middle East countries.

    Asked on the joint exploitation of the mineral wealth of the Aegean with the US, he said he spoke of "internationally recognized rates of joint exploitation" and added that the declaration of the EEZ and the joint exploitation of the mineral wealth are associated with the strategic choices that the country will make.

    [16] State Minister: We want a really independent public broadcaster

    State Minister Nikos Pappas made a plea to all parties to keep a low profile with the opening of National Broadcaster ERT draft law procedure to the Standing Committee of Public Administration, Public Order and Justice. "We believe that the establishment of a reliable public television is in everyone's interest," he said in his opening speech.

    He underlined that the government "does not come to this debate with conditions of administration but it comes to have a substantial discussion aiming to the largest possible convergence and under no circumstances with conditions of a historic revenge and I believe that our attitude before all the staff proves it."

    "Our main target is to not only to restore a labour right. Our aim is to restore the society's right to public television with whatever that stands for," said Pappas adding that "with this draft law we attempt to set a new legal framework with respect to the Constitution and to build a new and competitive public broadcaster, the laid off staff to return to their positions and to have a really independent body."

    The committee will convene on April 15 to examine ERT's draft law.

    [17] Minister calls for review of operational costs of successors to ERT public broadcaster

    The operational cost of public broadcasting company Public Television (PT) and its successor, NERIT, should be checked for liabilities, as both cost the Greek people hundreds of millions of euros, Terens Quick, deputy minister of state for coordinating government operations said on Tuesday.

    Speaking at a parliamentary committee discussing the reopening of former public broadcaster ERT, Quick said that Minister of State Nikos Pappas should initiate an inquiry into the financial cost of the two entities, which succeeded ERT after it was shut down by the previous government in June 2013.

    "We are looking for the 300 million (to repay) the IMF (installment), and these went to NERIT," Quick said, calling on Pappas to look the distribution map of Digea - the digital network operator - "to see what the previous government signed" and see how it leaves remote northern sections of the country in the dark.

    He also called for a review of transmission bandwidths and their distribution as well as price listings that will rationalise fines between regions (e.g. metropolitan areas with rural areas).

    [18] US official urges Athens to 'fully commit' to technical negotiations

    A U.S. official urged Greece to "fully commit" to technical negotiations so that it can finalise economic reforms needed to unlock further bailout funds, a U.S. Treasury official said on Monday, according to Reuters news agency.

    Nathan Sheets, the Treasury's undersecretary for international affairs, sent the message in a meeting with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in Washington, the official said.

    [19] Justice ministry bill brings correctional system in line with European standards, government sources say

    The justice ministry bill currently being discussed in Parliament will humanise Greece's correctional system and bring it into line with European standards, government sources said on Tuesday. "It comes to reconnect the Greek State with the traditions of humanism and the Enlightenment, traditions that the memorandum government of [Antonis] Samaras provocatively trampled on, without making society in any way safer," the sources added.

    The government sources also accused main opposition New Democracy of "insisting on the bankrupt line of extreme-right danger-mongering that does only harm to the country."

    Emphasising that defence of human rights and the rule of law, as well as law and order, were pivotal to the government's aims, the same sources noted that the government considers maximum security prisons contrary to the founding principles of the rule of law, since they discriminated between prisoners based on the crime for which they had been convicted.

    With respect to measures to decongest prisons, the government emphasised that overpopulation and underfunding had made the country's correctional system "a disgrace" for the country and correctional in name only. In 2014, the number of prisoners reached 12,000, who were stacked into a system designed for just 9,800, making it the third most overcrowded in Europe.

    Among others, the draft bill seeks to replace imprisonment with reform and educational measures for juveniles on the grounds that juvenile correctional facilities serve has "breeding grounds" for future criminals, whose inmates are cut off from society. It is also more favourable to the release of very elderly, infirm or disabled inmates, especially in cases when imprisonment adversely impacts their health.

    The new legislation will seek stricter implementation of 2013 laws on drug offendors, which favours treatment and detox programmes over incarceration, noting that 2,994 of the 12,000 inmates in the system are being held for drug-related offences.

    Finally, it also includes measures designed to address bullying, making repeated harsh behaviour - not limited to physical abuse but including harm to an individual's physical and mental health - a penal offence for any age of victim.

    [20] FinMin Varoufakis to visit Paris

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira)

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Wednesday will be in Paris, according to sources. He is expected to meet with his French counterpart Michel Sapin and the OECD head Angel Gurria.

    [21] Minimum wage to increase as of October, labour minister informs social partners

    The minimum wage is to increase 10.91 pct to 650 euros gross a month and the daily wage for labourers to 29.05 euros as of October 1 this year, Labour Minister Panos Skourletis announced on Tuesday. In addition, age-based salary distinctions will be scrapped, Skourletis informed the social partners (trade unions and employee associations) in a letter that invited them to a trilateral meeting with the government on minimum wage and collective bargaining issues.

    The next step will be a return of the general minimum wage to 751 euros a month for employees and 33.57 euros daily wages from July 1, 2016, he said.

    Skourletis said that the ministry's goal will be to gradually restore the general minimum wage to the levels of February 2012, when the last general collective labour agreement was scrapped by law and the minimum wage reduced 22 percent generally and 32 pct for young people under 25.

    He clarified that the minimum salary will initially be set through legislation, after which collective bargaining would take over for further specification.

    With the letter, the minister also launched social dialogue on planned legislation to restore collective labour negotiations, salary rises linked to length of service, the introduction of collective bargaining on the level of business groups and laws enhancing the role of arbitration in labour issues.

    The planned changes include a number of measures that place emphasis on collective bargaining to determine labour conditions and measures giving weight to the collective agreement that is most favourable to the employees, including provision for collective bargaining in the absence of employer associations when this is signed with groups of individual companies that employ the majority of employees in a sector.

    The first meeting with trade unions and employees will take place at the labour ministry this Wednesday at 11:00 and, according to the minister's letter, will be "an initial discussion on the content of the planned legislative measures".

    [22] President Pavlopoulos meets with Bank of Greece Deputy Governor Mourmouras

    Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos met with the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Greece John Mourmouras at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday.

    Pavlopoulos congratulated Mourmouras on his new book "The double crisis" which he co-authored.

    "It was an exceptional work which justifies your appointment in the Bank of Greece in these crucial times," the President said.

    "It is a great honour to be here in these difficult times, to inform you of how things are going on the side of the Bank of Greece, but also in my capacity as professor," Mourmouras replied.

    [23] Justice Min. Paraskevopoulos says State should hold dialog with hooded protesters

    Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos reiterated his opinion that the State should hold a dialog with hooded protesters in an interview with a private broadcaster on Tuesday, an issue on which he disagrees with Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis.

    "There's a man under the hood. If someone shoots a hood, he will shoot a man," Paraskevopoulos told SKAI, adding that a dialog always makes sense when you have a human being in front of you.

    Commenting on the abolition of high security prisons, the minister said that criticism had already started from the first day the law was enforced, noting that 41 criminal lawyers had signed a document in which they argued against this type of prisons.

    He also said that abolishing an institutional model doesn't mean less safety.

    Asked about Domokos prison, Paraskevopoulos argued that because of its geographic location, it's not the safest detention centre and that if two convicts have to be detained in different prisons but both needed to be detained in a high security facility, they would both be led to Domokos.

    Replying to criticism on a bill that will speed up the release of convicts from prison, the minister said there will not be an automatic exit of people who are serving long sentences adding that prison worsens people's relation with criminality.

    [24] Alt. Environment Minister meets environmental organisations in Greece, discusses protected areas

    Alternate Minister for the Environment Yiannis Tsironis on Tuesday had a first official meeting with environmental and conservation groups in Greece, focusing on how best to preserve protected environments in the country.

    He stressed that a meeting with the finance ministry must be held soon "since [Greece] cannot be the only country on the planet that does not spend even one euro for the protection of its massive natural wealth."

    Groups attending the meeting included representatives of the World Wildlife Fund, Arcturos, Anima the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the Hellenic Society for Protection of the Environment and Culture Heritage, the Hellenic Ornithological Society, Prespes Protection Society, the Mediterranean SOS Network and several others.

    During the meeting, Tsironis noted that only 30 pct of Natura areas currently had any kind of management body and that EU funds would soon dry up to cover the costs for those that already exist.

    [25] Alternate FM Tsakalotos meets with Albanian Ambassador Dervishi

    Alternate Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos discussed ways of expanding bilateral relations with Albania during a meeting at the ministry on Tuesday with Albanian Ambassador to Athens, Dashnor Dervishi.

    Dervishi characterized Greece as a strategic partner and neighbouring country of vital importance for Albania, while Tsakalotos noted that international economic relations are now a priority for Greece, which he said has long been the most important investor in Albania.

    The Greek minister also briefed the ambassador on the course of Greece's negotiations with its partners in the EU and expressed his conviction that the negotiations will bring a positive result not just for Greece but for the wider region as well, including Albania.

    [26] Alternate, deputy defence ministers deny press reports of 'friction' within ministry

    Alternate Defence Minister Kostas Isichos and Deputy Defence Minister Nikos Toskas on Tuesday denied reports in the press about alleged friction within the defence ministry. They said there was no truth to "leaks" that they had opposed a Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) decision for an upgrade to naval cooperation aircraft.

    They attributed the reports to "centres undermining the government" and said it was yet another "construct, whose goal is to provide 'good services' to the plans - already known beforehand - to destabilise the government."

    [27] Vicky Stamati gives additional testimony, refers to two PASOK members

    Vicky Stamati, wife of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, - both of whom are serving sentences in Korydallos Prison over an armaments kickbacks and money laundering case - on Monday gave an additional testimony at the Attica General Police Headquarters in Athens.

    Stamati made an extensive reference to the reasons that led her to escape on Thursday 2 April from the Athens psychiatric hospital after the court turned down the fifth appeal for early release.

    According to sources, Stamati referred to two political persons from PASOK party that impinge the future of her husband and herself.

    Stamati's allegations on the two persons will be forwarded to the prosecution of the Supreme Court and if they are found criminally liable there will be sent to the five-member Court of Appeal for Felonies which conducts the trial of Tsohatzopoulos couple and their co-defendants in the cases of submarines and TORM1.

    [28] Swiss banker Oswald testifies to corruption prosecutor

    Swiss banker Jean-Claude Oswald on Tuesday testified to the anti-corruption prosecutor Gavriil Mallis on the purchase of ASRAD anti-aircraft missiles from German company ATLAS.

    Oswald, who is facing charges for involvement in four cases of money laundering, denied any involvement in the under investigation cases and argued that he is only involved with the opening of a bank account on behalf of former deputy director for procurements at the defence ministry Antonis Kantas. However, he claimed that he did not know that Kantas' money was coming from briberies.

    Oswald, who remains in custody after his arrest, will testify again at the central Athens court for the supply of propelled artillery from the German company WEGMANN and supply of radar flyer from the Swedish company Ericssson and Brazilian Embraer.

    Financial News

    [29] Gov't reexamining roadworks contracts, reviewing toll price policy in infrastructure projects

    The government will reexamine the contracts of five large-scale projects and the privatisation model of all tenders that have not resulted in contracts, Alternate Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Christos Spirtzis said in Athens on Tuesdsay.

    In an informal meeting with the press, Spirtzis said that the contracts of five large roadworks - Olympia Odos, E65, Ionia Odos, and the roads of Maliakos-Kleidi and Corinth-Tripolis-Kalamata - will be renegotiated, as "the concession model is a failed model, there is no single line [in the contracts] that guarantees the public interest."

    He stressed the projects would not stop, as the government was committed to completing them. Renegotiation he said would also take place for the Attiki Odos road project and the Rio-Antirrio bridge. "Infrastructures is a sector that can help Greece leave the crisis faster," he said.

    Among other things, he called the system setting toll prices "a foul cycle" and said negotiations with constructing firms and concessionaires would begin next month to change the contracts, as the current model is untenable. "As tolls rise, traffic flow drops, and as traffic flow drops, tolls rise," he said, adding that socially sensitive groups would be exempted from paying the tolls.

    Laid-off Athens Metro staff would be rehired, he said, to cover needs at the ministry, where certain departments have a supervisor but no staff, and underlined that demands of air-traffic controllers were fair and would be resolved, especially those calling for more staff and an upgrade of air traffic systems.

    Spirtzis mentioned that the government was considering retendering TrainOSE, the Hellenic Railways operational branch, with terms that would include the state as well as development terms for the railways network as a whole. He pointed out that for over 12 years no maintenance was carried out at the railroad. One of the government's goals was to "activate lines that have been abandoned or are out of operation, to improve the transport of merchandise domestically and to the Balkans."

    Privatisations without state participation will not proceed, he warned, and for this reason the government would begin negotiations with interested parties in ongoing tenders.

    He said he was opening negotiations with the temporary bid winner over the concession of the 14 regional airports and he stressed "there will be limits, and we will not give it all away."

    [30] Managing overdue debts, restructuring among top priorities of new PPC management

    The new Public Power Corporation's (PPC) priorities are managing overdue debts, restructuring the PPC group to streamline staff and utilising to the fullest extent possible the lignite production potential, the new board said on Tuesdasy.

    The new board assumed its duties at an emergency shareholders' meeting to approve the new CEO, Emmanouil Panagiotakis (also expected to be elected chairman of the board).

    PPC's overdue debts of over 1.8 billion euros pose a great problem for the company's liquidity and that of the energy market overall, the board said, with the possible solution being to find out the systematic late payers, especially those who can afford to do pay but do not. Debtors exceed 500,000, according to PPC officials, and identifying perennial late payers, whether business or private households, will be done based on the surface area of the building supplied with power and whether the amount consumed remains the same or not.

    Of the 1.8 billion euros, 350 million euros are owed by debtors who are simply overdue but not to the point of getting their service cut off, and the company expects to collect these; another 250 million are owed by country homes and shut-down businesses, which will be harder to collect.

    In terms of lignite-powered plants, the new CEO expects to complete the hiring of 600 personnel that has been approved.

    [31] EU asks four countries to provide details on banks' deferred tax assets

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    European Union regulators are scrutinising Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain's treatment of banks' deferred tax assets (DTAs) to see if they constitute potentially illegal state aid, the European Commission said on Tuesday, confirming a news report.

    If the initial quest leads to the conclusion that EU law has been breached, the regulators will follow the appropriate procedures, a Commission spokesman told journalists in Brussels.

    The spokesman noted however that these procedures are time-consuming and that the investigation does not have a formal character yet.

    [32] Productive Reconstruction Ministry's announcement on Eldorado Gold

    Eldorado Gold cannot behave as 'state within a state,' Productive Restruction, Environment and Energy Ministry underlined in an announcement on Tuesday.

    The ministry in its announcement reiterated that the gold mines issue will be examined with focus on legality, environment protection and with regard in the public interest and stated "towards all directions" that the necessary decision will continue to be taken along with the appropriate measures.

    "We unequivocally state that nobody can blackmail the government or make arbitary actions. The government is determined to examine Halkidiki gold mines issue with the aim to protecting legality, protecting the environment and safeguarding the public interest according to its commitments," the ministry said in an announcement on the occasion of the streets occupation and the blocking of the residents and visitors' transportation to a number of Halkidiki cities from a group of 'indignant' Eldorado Gold employees. Everybody must understand that Greece is not a banana republic and they can't play with the democratic legality.

    [33] Greek exports (excluding oil products) up 11 pct in Feb

    Greek exports grew while imports fell in February, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday. In a monthly report on the country's merchandise trade, the statistics service said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.449 billion euros in February, down 14.6 pct from the same month last year, and down 6.7 pct excluding oil products.

    The value of export-deliveries fell by 2.7 pct to 2.024 billion euros in February, although excluding oil products the value of exports grew 11 pct.

    The value of imports fell 15.3 pct to 6.590 billion euros in the January-February period (excluding oil products imports fell 1.9 pct).

    The country's trade deficit totaled 1.425 billion euros in February, down 27.2 pct from the same month last year, while excluding oil products the trade deficit fell by 22 pct over the same period.

    [34] Alt. FinMin Mardas answers question on domestic payments by the State

    Domestic payments by the State are made in a way that ensures a balance between revenues and expenses, Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said in a document submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, answering a relevant question raised by two opposition MPs.

    "The state budget is planned and executed in a manner that maintains the necessary balance between receipts and payments, keeping in mind the current liquidity conditions," Mardas said, after he was asked to specify how and when the State will fulfill its financial obligations domestically without leading to government to default.

    Mardas also said that transfers towards entities of the General Government are planned and carried out depending on their cash reserves, as it is stated in a circular explaining the 2015 budget execution.

    [35] Overdue tax debt rose to 75.732 bln euros in Feb

    The value of overdue tax debt grew further to 75.732 billion euros in February, of which 2.480 billion were new overdue debt by taxpayers in the January-February period, official figures showed on Tuesday.

    A report by the Secretariat General of Public Revenue, said that the older overdue tax debt was 73.252 billion euros, of which 56.408 billion were overdue debt by individual taxpayers, 10.882 billion were debt by bankrupt companies and 6.039 billion euros were debt by public sector enterprises, municipal companies and utility companies.

    [36] Greek computer market recovered in 2014

    The Greek computer market recovered in 2014, a survey by Infobank Hellastat said on Tuesday. Presenting the survey, Alexis Nikolaidis, economic research & sectoral studies senior analyst, said that the market recovered for the second successive year, as a gradual improvement in macro-economic conditions in the country with a 0.8 pct rise in GDP led to higher spending on computer and hardware both by enterprises and consumers. The recovery trend was fueled by the computer market, with several companies offering competitive prices for laptop computers, although improvement was also noted in the desktop market, after suffering significant losses in the previous years.

    More analytically, an increase in the equipment sector reached 10.9 pct last year, to 615 million euros. The computer sector was valued at 289 million euros, up 9.4 pct from 2013, while personal computers grew 5.1 pct to 188 million euros and desktop sales grew 18.5 pct to 101 million euros.

    IDC, however, expects the market to shrink by 4.7 pct to 586 million euros this year, falling further to 559 million euros in 2016.

    Infobank Hellastat's survey analyzed the balance sheets of 115 enterprises. Turnover grew 3.2 pct in 2013 to 697 million euros, EBITDA jumped 71.5 pct to 27.62 million euros, while pre-tax earnings totaled 11.16 million euros, from a loss of 1.8 million in 2012. EBITDA margin grew to 6.9 pct from 5.4 pct in 2012.

    [37] Fairfax raises equity participation in Eurobank

    Fairfax Financial Holdings is steadily raising its stake in Eurobank's equity capital, offering a vote of confidence both to the Greek bank and the Greek economy in general.

    Fairfax Financial Holdings had acquired more than 600 million shares of Eurobank by April 3, adding to its equity stake through its participation in Eurobank's share capital increase plan. Fairfax has raised its equity stake in Eurobank from 8.77 pct (after the share capital increase) to 12.94 pct, while excluding the equity stake held by Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, Fairfax equity stake grew from 13.58 pct to 20.03 pct.

    Fairfax acquired Praktiker Hellas in 2014, a company with annual sales of around 195 million euros (operating a network of 14 retail units and 1,100 workers), while it is a main shareholder in Grivalia Properties (former Eurobank Properties) with a stake of more than 40 pct and holds an equity stake of more than 5.0 pct in Mytilineos Group.

    Prem Watsa, founder, chairman and chief executive of the Canadian investment firm Fairfax is considered to be one of the top investors around the globe, with total assets exceeding 36 billion euros. He has a record of a return of more than 100 pct in investments he has made since 2007.

    [38] Productive Reconstruction Min to set up committee for energy cost reduction

    The setting up of a committee that will consider measures to reduce the industries' energy cost was decided in a meeting of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) administration and industry representatives.

    The first measure concerns the reduction of the energy tariffs for large consumers who in their turn will reduce energy demand during peak hours.

    [39] OTE repurchases 70.5-mln-euro bonds

    OTE plc, a subsidiary of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Tuesday announced the repurchase of bonds with a nominal worth of 70,550,000 euros from a bond issue maturing on May 20 2016, carrying a coupon of 4.625 pct. Following the transaction, the outstanding nominal value of OTE bonds totaled 629,450,000 euros.

    [40] Tourist arrivals up 20.7 pct in 2014

    Tourist arrivals surpassed 24.2 million in 2014, up 20.7 pct compared with the previous year, while tourism revenues grew 10.2 pct to 13.4 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    In its final report on tourism trends last year, the central bank, said that tourist arrivals from EU member-states accounted for 54.6 pct while arrivals from other countries accounted for 36.2 pct. Tourism from the EU grew 25.9 pct compared with 2013, with arrivals from Eurozone member-states rising 16.6 pct to 7.399 million, while arrivals from EU countries jumped 40 pct to 5.851 million travelers.

    Arrivals from Germany grew 8.5 pct in 2014, from France arrivals jumped 27 pct, from the UK arrivals rose 13.2 pct, while arrivals from Russia fell 7.6 pct to 1.25 million euros and arrivals from the US grew 26.9 pct to 592,000 travelers.

    Tourism revenues from Germany rose 5.0 pct to 1.995 billion euros last year, revenues from France jumped 24.7 pct to 1.129 billion and revenues from the UK totaled 1.553 billion euros, up 14.6 pct. Tourism revenues from Russia fell 13.6 pct while from the US rose 15.2 pct in 2014.

    Sea cruise vessel arrivals in Greek ports totaled 3,858 last year, from 4,918 in 2013, while revenues from sea cruise travelers fell 14.5 pct to 457 million euros.

    [41] 2nd Greek-German foods forum to be held in Litohoro, Pieria on May 20-22

    The second Greek-German foods forum designed to boost Greek exports and cement trade ties between the two countries, organised by the Greek-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the company BASF Hellas, is to take place in Litohoro, Pieria on May 20-22.

    The first day of the forum, which will be held under the aegis of the productive reconstruction, environment and energy ministry and the regional authorities of Central Macedonia and Pieria, will begin with an outline of the market and current Greek-German trade relations. On subsequent days, Greek wholesale traders and farming cooperatives will present their products to German wholesale and retail businesses.

    [42] Paperpack to pay dividend to shareholders

    A Paperpack annual general shareholders' meeting on Tuesday approved a board plan to pay a 0.0670-euros per share dividend to shareholders. In an announcement, Paperpack said net dividend payment per share, excluding taxes, will reach 0.0603 euros per share.

    [43] Tobacco industry is overtaxed, Papastratos says

    Papastratos will use its new facilities in Aspropyrgos to expand its activities in Greece and to cover the export needs of Philip Morris International, Nikitas Theofilopoulos, chairman of the company said.

    Speaking to reporters, Theofilopoulos said the company will complete a 25-million-euro investment in its new facilities in autumn, allowing the transfer of all of its production in Greece and transforming the Papastratos factory into an export centre, with 60 pct of production directed to more than 30 countries.

    He said that exports were fully secured, absorbed by Philip Morris subsidiaries, while new investments were fully funded by the parent group. The company continues offering a vote of confidence to Greece, Theofilopoulos said, adding that the company did not cut wages or its workforce during the crisis. He expressed his confidence over the country's course and noted that an economic crisis has significantly affected the sector which also suffers from an over-taxation of tobacco products (seven tax increases in the last five years with taxation burden approaching 90 pct of the price) and illegal tobacco trade. Theofilopoulos underlined that the sector cannot bear another tax burden.

    Papastratos reported higher sales and better results last year. Its workforce totals 800 workers, while the company absorbs more than 50 pct of domestic production in eastern type tobacco.

    [44] Greek stocks end moderately higher

    Greek stocks ended moderately higher in very thin trading conditions in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of the Orthodox Easter holidays. The composite index of the market rose 0.80 pct to end at 777.47 pct, off the day's highs of 785.34 points. The Large Cap index jumped 1.51 pct higher and the Mid Cap index eased 0.22 pct. Turnover was a thin 43.5 million euros.

    FTSE Group announced it was keeping the Greek stock market in the developed market category, but on a watchlist for a possible downgrade to emerging markets in September 2015.

    Coca Cola HBC (7.35 pct), Terna Energy (6.13 pct) and METKA (6.12 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks while Folli Follie (2.94 pct), Jumbo (2.90 pct) and Piraeus Bank (2.90 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Food (7.26 pct), Industrial Products (2.92 pct) and Telecoms (1.34 pct) were top gainers while Insurance (3.08 pct), Commerce (2.91 pct) and Personal Products (2.61 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 60 to 46, with another 18 issues unchanged. Sfakianakis (20 pct), G.E. Demetriou (19.05 pct) and Sato (17.95 pct) were top gainers, while Perseus (19.64 pct), ANEK (17.74 pct) and Pasal (12.16 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: +0.35%

    Insurance: -3.08%

    Financial Services: +1.06%

    Industrial Products: +2.92%

    Commercial: -2.91%

    Real Estate: -1.05%

    Personal & Household: -2.61%

    Food & Beverages: +7.26%

    Raw Materials: -0.35%

    Construction: +0.13%

    Oil: +1.13%

    Chemicals: -0.20%

    Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: 0.97%

    Technology: -0.46%

    Telecoms: + 1.34%

    Utilities: -1.10%

    Health: -0.68%

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

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.26

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.42

    Coca Cola HBC: 18.40

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.56

    National Bank of Greece: 1.11

    OPAP: 8.93

    OTE: 8.31

    Piraeus Bank: 0.33

    Titan: 21.50

    Grivalia Properties: 7.30

    Aegean Airlines: 7.60

    [45] Greek bond market closing report

    Pressures eased in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the three-year bond yield falling to 21.13 pct from 23.86 pct at the end of last week, while the five-year bond yield dropped to 15.7 pct from 17.17 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark eased to 11.69 pct from 11.87 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 11.87 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.18 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate was 0.195 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.134 pct from 0.135 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.085 pct from 0.086 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.016 pct from 0.0.18 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.021 pct from -0.019 pct.

    [46] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.63 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 2.363 contracts with 40,314 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 30,291 contracts, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (10,076), followed by Alpha Bank (9,480), Piraeus Bank (4,231), National Bank (5,214), OTE (324), PPC (163), MIG (200), OPAP (198), Mytilineos (127), Hellenic Petroleum (120), Athens Water (101), Folli Follie (103) and Jumbo (60).

    General News

    [47] Miners of Hellas Gold halt labour action until April 16

    Miners working at the gold mine of Canadian-owned Hellas Gold who are protesting in favour of the investment made by the company in the region, ended their road blockades and left their positions from two road junctions in northern Greece on Tuesday, citing the upcoming Easter holiday.

    The miners, who had set up road blocks in Stratoni and Gomati, said they will restart their protests on April 16, when they will travel to Athens for a rally.

    "We decided that during these holidays we must not inconvenience our fellow citizens and visitors. On April 16 we will be in Athens," the president of the miners' union Christos Zafeiroudas told ANA-MPA.

    Aristotle University of Thessaloniki cooperates with MIT to find bacteria that fight cancer, obesity and autoimmune disorders

    The identification of bacteria and bacterial products that will help balance the immune system of humans and protect them against cancer and autoimmune diseases is the future goal of collaboration between the Laboratory of Pathology at the Veterinary Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and the Department of Comparative Medicine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Theophilos Poutahidis, associate professor at AUTH told ANA-MPA.

    Experiments on mice, carried out since 2002, have found bacteria in the intestinal flora, which are related to the process of carcinogenesis.

    In the context of cooperation between the two educational institutions, scientists found that helicobacter hepaticus (a Helicobacter that exists only in the gastrointestinal system of mice) accelerates breast and prostate cancer, whereas the Lactobacillus reuteri (a gram-positive probiotic bacterium) not only helps reduce the risk of breast cancer, but also has a positive effect on the skin and the regeneration of hair follicles, while protecting the testicles and thymus against alterations caused by aging. Moreover, Lactobacillus reuteri protected the mice from obesity, despite the consumption of food that caused it.

    According to Poutahidis, one of the key contributors in cooperation between AUTH and MIT, the systemic effects of subclinical inflammation, which are associated with the exposure to the risk of cancer, play a dominant role in the immune system.

    "The future objectives of the scientific team include a further analysis of the mechanisms of systemic effects of bowel flora on the body, the identification of the most beneficial active molecules of bacteria and clinical trials on humans.

    Cancer, autoimmune diseases and obesity are nowadays growing into an epidemic. Our goal is to find bacteria and bacterial products that can be consumed by humans since the first years of their life so that they can have a balanced immune system and reduce the risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases, related to the deregulation of the immune system," he added.

    [48] Anti-establishment youths burn cars and rubbish bins in central Athens

    At least four cars have been burned and a main avenue in central Athens remains closed following scuffles between police and individuals who participated in a protest rally earlier on Tuesday.

    About 1,000 anti-establishment protesters marched towards Parliament earlier in the evening, but a group of youths were separated from the main rally and walked towards Exarcheia where they burned cars and rubbish bins in nearby roads and broke the window of a bakery shop.

    Riot police used tear gas to repel the attackers who are throwing rocks and petrol bombs towards them. Police remains in the area but has not intervened.

    [49] 25 million euros to municipalities for operational school costs

    The ministry of interior-administrative reconstruction is releasing 25 million euros from central independent funds (KAP) for 2015 to municipalities, to cover operational costs at public schools, it said on Tuesday.

    The amount covers operational costs of elementary and secondary schools.

    Weather forecast

    [50] Rain on Wednesday

    Rain, thunderstorms and northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 02C-13C. Rain and possibility of thunderstorms in the western parts with temperatures between 07C-16C. Partly cloudy and rain in the eastern parts and temperatures between 07C-15C. Rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon over the Aegean islands and Crete, 10C-16C. Clouds, rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon in Athens, 09C-14C. Rain in Thessaloniki, 05C-12C.

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

    AVGHI: Responsibilities for the memorandum period in the limelight.

    DIMOKRATIA: IMF unsheathed the sword.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: All changes in salaries and labour.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Sweeping changes in university entry exams.

    ESTIA: New elections will be a catastrophe.

    ETHNOS: Suffocating pressure for harsh measures.

    IMERISSIA: Burning issues back on the table.

    KATHIMERINI: On tightrope with public security.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: IMF remains adamant.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Government reassures that the people will continue to pay the debt regularly...

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