|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 15 April 2015 Issue No: 4934
 Revised government announcement says refugees to get 'necessary documents'In a revised announcement late on Tuesday, government sources specified that Syrian refugees are to be issued with "necessary documents" if eligible for asylum, in addition to making further clarifications and changes to an earlier announcement.
"Recently, an increased influx of refugees has been observed for the same reasons that, at the same exact period, there has been a strongly rising trend of refugee influx to Italy as well," government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said, after an interministerial meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday focusing on the migrant issue.
"From the initial records, it appears that the motive of the majority of these people is not financial hardship, but an immediate threat to their lives," Sakellaridis said.
He added that in the meeting it was decided that:
- Newly-arrived migrants will be transported from the islands to mainland Greece, where authorities will distinguish between migrants and refugees.
- Syrian refugees who qualify for asylum will be given all necessary documents immediately.
- A plan was approved to create special covered areas in camps and existing facilities where all necessary medical examinations will be carried out and all health and safety rules observed.
- In view of the EU Summit and the relevant ministerial council meeting, the government will carry out all necessary actions in order to manage in the framework of European solidarity the influx of migrants and refugeees to Europe and to ensure the proportionate distribution of refugees among all EU countries.
"The refugee issue is international, not just Greek," the spokesman said, adding that "it requires seriousness, calmness and above all a humanitarian attitude. At this point, political games and gratuitous populism with human lives is unacceptable."
Ministers attending Tuesday's meeting on migration issues included Interior and Administration Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis, Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panousis, Alternate Shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou, Admiral Athanassios Athanassopoulos from the Port Authority, a deputy chief of the Port Authority (Nikolaos Patrinos), and a special counsellor to the European Commissioner on Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos.
 Defence Minister Kammenos: Migrants are a European issueThe migrants problem is a major one and the country cannot take such large inflows, Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said on Tuesday adding that this is not an issue of ?Greece but of Europe, which would have to put pressure on Turkey to apply Dublin II."
"The war waves in the Middle East will lead to waves of thousands of migrants; however this issue is not a Greek one," he said and noted: "Saying I will close the entry points is one thing and seeing a sea full of children is quite another. EU needs to accept that these are refugees who cannot stay on the islands and for health reasons."
He said that facilities should be created but not on the islands, as this will bring more migrants. "Instead of giving funds to Frontex so that it can go around, they should give them to set up facilities, but not on the islands as this would give the opportunity to traffickers to bring more people," he noted and added that "penalties for traffickers should become stricter."
He also said that his statement, that if Greece does not stabilize then migrants would reach Berlin, was misinterpreted as this was not a threat but a reality due to the increasing migrant inflow.
 PM Tsipras has phone contact with Chinese premierPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras had a phone contact with Chinese premier Li Keqiang. The two leaders discussed the prospects of the further enhancement of the multi-level cooperation of the two countries over the next period and the exchange of visits of the two prime ministers.
 Greece, lenders are not preparing for default, gov't sources sayGreece is not preparing for default and the same exists for the lenders, government sources said responding to a Financial Times report adding that "we will let them down once again."
The same sources noted that the negotiations continue intensively with aim to find a mutually beneficial solution and stressed that "April 24 will be proven to be another date on which the "end of the world" will not happen". This has been preceded by January 25 - the election date-, February 28 - the expiration date of Samaras' agreement - and April 9, when the tranche to the IMF was paid. What seems to be disturbing is that the Greek government is determined to put an end to the austerity policies, placing the issue of development high up in the European agenda. We eagerly wait to see the Financial Times article on April 25, the same sources said.
In the meantime, the government dismissed any election scenarios. Government sources said: "Elections scenarios once again come to the forefront. The popular legitimization that the government's policy enjoys is the best answer to such scenarios. We continue seeking a mutually beneficial solution, respecting the people's mandate and letting others working on whichever scenarios make them feel better."
Financial Times on Monday reported that Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April, according to people briefed on the government's thinking. The government has decided to withhold ? 2.5bn of payments due to the International Monetary Fund in May and June if no agreement is struck, they said.
 Negotiations are at crucial point, Lafazanis saysNegotiations with the country's partners were at a crucial and difficult point, Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said on Tuesday, adding that failure to reach an agreement during an April 24 Eurogroup meeting would not be the end for Greece as "the country has alternative solutions".
In a radio interview, Lafazanis said that if things don't go well, the problems would be greater for Europe and not so much for Greece. He said that there will be a funding injection to Athens from Moscow as an advance payment for a natural gas pipeline, which will be repaid with the revenues from operating the pipeline from 2019 onwards. "Talks in Moscow are a positive opening of the Greek government, covering cheap energy, economic benefits and an international upgrading of Greece as an energy hub," he said.
Lafazanis said he expected signatures on the construction of a natural gas pipeline next week and that natural gas prices would fall further in the domestic market.
 Minister Lafazanis to participate in informal energy EU meeting in LatviaRegional cooperation in energy and energy efficiency in heating and cooling will be discussed at the informal Council of Energy EU Ministers which will take place in Riga, Latvia, on Wednesday and Thursday.
Greece will be represented by Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.
 EU Commission expects substantial outcome in the negotiations between Greece and the institutions by April 24BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission expects that the negotiations between the institutions and the Greek authorities will have a substantial outcome by April 24, EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said on Tuesday in Brussels.
He reiterated that the negotiations between the institutions and the Greek authorities are underway noting that the discussions concern all the issues related to the Greek programme and are along the lines of the Eurogroup announcement of February 20.
He stressed that the Commission hopes that by the next meeting of the Eurozone finance ministers, which will take place on April 24 in Riga, Latvia, this negotiation will have a substantial outcome.
He declined to make any comments on the statements by Poul Thomsen, director of the IMF's European department, over Greece or on the country's cash reserves, saying that the Commission has repeatedly said it would not make any comments during a comprehensive negotiation.
"This fuss is not our concern; we are interested in the essence," he said.
His statements were echoed by EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, who addressed the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs committee. Moscovici noted among others that the institutions expect the Greek side's full reform list.
 EU's Moscovici: 'We expect a precise list of reforms from Greece'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The European Commission needs a list of precise reforms from the Greek government, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday, speaking at the economic and monetary committee of the European Parliament in Brussels.
The Commissioner noted that talks between the institutions and Greek authorities are continuing in a productive way, but at a slow pace and said the work being done at a technical level is very specific and is conducted in a calm climate, but it hasn't been completed yet.
"We want and expect a specific list from the Greek government to examine at the Eurogroup on April 24, at Riga. This is why we're working intensely; we don't want conflicts, but a mutually acceptable solution," Moscovici said, adding that efforts are being made to combine the positions of the Greek government and the country's commitments to its lenders.
 Interior minister addresses Parliament committeeThe war in Syria has raised the number of refugees fleeing the country to Europe by as much as 130 percent, and a fast-track system must be put into effect to help refugees go to countries of their choice, Interior and Administrative Reform Minister Nikos Voutsis said in Parliament on Tuesday.
In his intervention during discussion at committee level of a draft bill to abolish high-security prisons, Voutsis said that the government "has an in-depth knowledge of the migration issue" and accepted a proposal by PASOK deputy Fofi Gennimata to collaborate with other parties in dealing with the issue, which will require a new national strategy.
 Social dialogue to focus on restitution of labour relations, Labour min saysThe restitution of the power of collective bargaining and the timetable for the gradual restoration of the minimum wage are the main points in the dialogue between the social partners that will start on Wednesday , Labour Minister Panos Skourletis said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
He said that the gradual restitution of the minimum wage to 650 euros will start as of October 1, while by the end of the year the government will present its plan for "a brave radical reform of the social security system focused on finding new social resources."
We are entering a new phase, Skourletis said and explained that "we leave the five dark years that dismantled labour relations behind and we enter a new phase to repair at least one part of the damage that has been done."
The minister assured that the regulation the ministry is putting forward will only have positive impact and noted that the abrupt wage cuts of the previous years had negative repercussions since they wounded the market and made unemployment skyrocket.
He said that the persistence of the lenders in recessionary measures or measures that dismantle the weak presence of social benefits is a dead-end and added that "if the previous government's commitments are put into force then we will have a 90 percent reduction of supplementary pensions over the next three years."
Referring to the negotiations underway and the pressures exerted he said "a hard and real negotiation is taking place, which will result in a mutually beneficial compromise solution."
The full interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA website.
 FinMin Varoufakis travels to Washington to attend IMF-World Bank Spring meetingFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is travelling to Washington DC to attend the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - World Bank Spring meeting, while on Thursday he will also be the keynote speaker at a thematic table on "The Greek economy and its global partners," organized by the Brookings Institute.
The same event will be attended by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who will speak at a separate thematic table.
On Thursday evening, the minister will attend the annual Greek Independence Day celebrations hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House.
At the sidelines of the event, Varoufakis is expected to have a brief discussion with President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden.
 FinMin Varoufakis to meet with finance officials on the sidelines of IMF-World Bank Spring MeetingFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will meet separately with European Central Bank governor Mario Draghi, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Minister of the Economy and Finances Pier Carlo Padoan, on Friday, on the sidelines of the spring meeting of the IMF-World Bank.
Varoufakis is leaving for the U.S. on Wednesday to attend a reception at the White House on Thursday celebrating Greek Independence Day. He is expected to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the reception.
The day he arrives in Washington DC, Varoufakis will deliver an address on "The Greek economy and its global partners", in which he will discuss "what faces the Greek economy, the prospects for reform and economic renewal, and the details of any future strategic agreement among Greece, its European partners, and the International Monetary Fund," according to an announcement by hosting Brookings Institution.
He is expected to return to Greece on Saturday, after the IMF session concludes.
 Varoufakis, Nikoloudis to meet Swiss authorities on April 28Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and State Minister Panagiotis Nikoloudis on April 28 will meet Swiss ambassador to Athens and a delegation of the Swiss Finance ministry, Finance Ministry officials said.
According to the same sources, the specific meeting, which will take place at 12.00 at the Finance ministry, is the follow-up of the first meeting that the Swiss delegation had on March 26 with State Ministers Nikos Pappas and Panagiotis Nikoloudis.
During the March meeting, the two sides had ascertained the need for the closer cooperation between the tax authorities of the two countries in the future.
 European Commission's Task Force for Greece to be overhauled, say sourcesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission Task Force for Greece (TFGRT) which has cooperated with the country in the past few years is being overhauled so that it will gradually change from an autonomous EU agency to an organizational structure that will fall under the jurisdiction of the European Commission's Directorate General for Economic Affairs, according to well-informed sources of the Commission.
This new structure will be activated to provide technical assistance to countries implementing reform programmes.
The same sources said the change in question had been announced months ago, when EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici had visited Athens and will start at the end of April, when Task Force head Horst Reichenbach's contract expires. It is expected to be completed by the end of June.
The agency currently includes 50 European Union employees most of who are based in Athens, while the rest work from Brussels. The agency's aim was to offer technical help to the Greek public services and modernise them.
Sources said the future structure and number of officials working on Greece will depend on the decision of the Greek government and the sectors on which it believes it will need technical assistance from Brussels. The same sources noted the Task Force itself was created after a Greek request and in particular during the premiership of George Papandreou.
 Cyprus issue, economy and energy expected to dominate President Anastasiades' talks in AthensNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/ A. Viketos)
The developments on the Cyprus issue, as well as economic and energy issues will dominate the talks that Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades will have in Athens, where he will pay an official visit on Friday.
According to Cyprus government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides, Anastasiades will brief Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the developments in the Cyprus issue and the imminent resumption of talks. Christodoulides said that the Greek Cypriot side is more than ready for the third phase of the negotiations.
Christodoulides said that there will also be talks on economic issues, including Nicosia's request for the lifting of the 26 percent tax, imposed by the Greek government on imports of goods and services. The spokesman said that according to the indications so far, Athens will respond positively to the request.
Energy issues will also be discussed while the two sides will decide upon their next steps.
On his part, Tsipras is expected to brief Anastasiades on the progress of the negotiations that Athens is having with the institutions of the European Union.
 Defence minister talks to ANT1 on aircraft overhaul deal, migration and ongoing negotiationsNational Defence Minister Panos Kammenos once again defended a decision to repair and modernise currently obsolete armed forces aircraft, in an interview with the private television channel ANT1 on Tuesday. Among others, he noted that the cost of the repairs was not 500 million euros as reported but closer to 350 million, of which 150 million would go directly to Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI).
He noted that the deal was not a direct assignment but an international agreement with the United States, which would provide HAI with work for the next seven years, as well as other Greek private companies with which the U.S. side was obliged to cooperate on this programme.
"Those objecting to the programme should know that the era is now over when defence ministers and governments made their choice based on how much of a 'mate' the representative was, or how much commission was given to the party for the elections, or how much pressure was put on the government by the state with which the interstate agreement was signed," he added.
The minister said the decision to decommission the specific aircraft in 2008 had resulted in Turkish aircraft flying over the Aegean "under a NATO flag," which he called an affront to Greece's national sovereignty and participation in NATO. He also pointed out that those complaining about the cost of the programme failed to also factor in the 20,000 euros per hour currently spent by C-130 aircraft currently doing this job or the fuel costs of the frigates patrolling the Aegean, which more than covered the annual installments for reactivating the specific planes.
Regarding the objections raised by the General Accounting Office, Kammenos asserted that this was because the previous leadership put payment of interest on loans before Greek armaments programmes.
On the issue of migration and refugee flows, Kammenos said the issue was primarily European and said that Turkey must be obliged by the EU, which provided funding and was negotiating Turkey's EU accession, to implement the readmission agreement and the Dublin II treaty in the same way as Greece. He also suggested that EU funds should be spent on building reception facilities for migrants instead of giving them to Frontex to patrol the Aegean. Such facilities should not be built on the Greek islands, he added, while clarifying that this was his personal position.
On the ongoing negotiations with Greece's creditors, Kammenos ruled out both a default or new elections and stressed that the government will carry out the mandate it was given by the Greek people. He defended the decision to repay IMF loan installments and stressed that his party Independent Greeks (ANEL) "will support the government to the end".
He also slammed what he called interference by officials of institutions, especially the EU, in the domestic affairs of a country and the composition of its government, adding that ANEL was a part of the government based on the mandate given by the Greek people and stressing that "this is the government with which they must negotiate."
 Defence minister on two-day visit to Moscow on WednesdayNational Defence Minister Panos Kammenos is to carry out a two-day official visit to Moscow starting on Wednesday, at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu. The visit is taking place on the occasion of the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) taking place in the Russian capital on April 16-17.
Kammenos is due to meet with his Russian counterpart and address the MCIS, a defence ministry announcement said.
 ND leader on occupations in universitiesNew Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras called Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to enforce the law and the police to intervene in the University premises that are under occupation.
"It should have happened a few days ago," noted the main opposition leader, underlining that conditions of state dissolution and violation of fundamental rights of thousands of students and their families exist.
Samaras also said that the rectors' plea is revealing and that the responsible alternate minister's public statements show the impasse of the so-called unprecedented dialogue-policy with the hooded individuals. "Lawlessness dominates every passing moment for which the government and its provocative policy are fully responsible," added Samaras.
 Opposition parties ND, Potami request answers on audits on remittances sent abroadTwo opposition MPs are requesting that the government submits to Parliament a list which allegedly includes the names of people who transferred huge sums abroad, according to a relevant question addressed to Minister of State for Combatting Corruption Panagiotis Nikoloudis on Tuesday.
New Democracy lawmakers Maximos Harakopoulos and Kostas Tsiaras say the question was submitted in response to a claim made by Vice President of Parliament and SYRIZA MP Alexis Mitropoulos that the list in question includes names of politicians and all the ministers of finance who have served in the past, or their families.
In a separate question addressed to Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, Potami MP Haris Theoharis requested to be briefed on the results of audits into cases of remittances sent abroad or to offshore companies. Theoharis noted the government has included the pledge to audit those remittances in its latest list of reforms sent to Greece's creditors at the Brussels Group; a measure it has estimated could raise 725-825 million euros in 2015 alone.
 The situation in the economy tends to become irreversible, ND deputy Staikouras saysNew Democracy deputy Christos Staikouras, responsible for economy issues, told ANA-MPA in an interview that the government needs to put improvisations aside and move fast before the situation in the economy becomes irreversible.
He also accused the government of a "creative ambiguity" policy, which, he said, is not beneficial to the country and its citizens. Moreover, he defended the actions of the previous government as the country was on track to achieve a high primary surplus and significant economic growth rates in 2014.
The full interview is available for subscribers at the ANA-MPA website.
 PASOK attacks government over handling of Athens University sit-inThe PASOK party attacked the government on its ability to keep the peace in an announcement concerning the occupation of the Athens University main administrative building on Tuesday.
"It is clear that the government neither wants nor is able to protect law and order, the operation of universities and institutions generally and the security of citizens," PASOK said, denouncing the government for dismissing the occupation as a "fringe event" and the appeal made by the university's rectorship as "terror-hysteria".
 Supreme Court prosecution rejects petition by four German nationals to not stand trial for Siemens scandalThe Greek Supreme Court's prosecution on Tuesday denied the petitions of four German nationals asking for the withdrawal of an indictment ordering them to stand trial for a Siemens kickbacks case. The petition was lodged by Roland Koch, Reinhard Herbert Siekaczek, Wolfgang Rudolph and Ludwig Anton Heinrich Jasper, who were among the 64 individuals - including 13 Germans - that the Athens Appeals Justices' Council indicted in March over 'contract 8002'.
The case concerned an agreement signed between Siemens and the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) for the digitalisation of the Greek company's call centres. Those facing charges in connection with the case include former Siemens and OTE executives, who stand accused of money laundering, offering and accepting bribes and acting as accomplices in the above acts.
The four had asked that the indictment be withdrawn on the grounds that it was inadequately justified, that they had not been given the public prosecutor's recommendation translated into German and that there was a violation of the principles of non self-incrimination and res judicata (meaning an issue on which a court has already ruled) since the case took into account past depositions taken in Germany and thus invalidated the process.
Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis disagreed with this argument, however, finding that the failure to translate the prosecutor's recommendation into German did not make the process invalid since the counsel of the four had been advised regardings its content. He also disagreed with the claim that the indictment was not fully justified and that the principle of res judicata was violated.
 Golden Dawn trial to begin in Korydallos on MondayThe historic and unprecedented trial of party president Nikos Mihaloliakos and the leadership of his ultra-right Golden Dawn party - the first time since World War 2 that a Parliamentary party in Greece or on a global level is charged as a criminal organisation - is to begin on Monday, in a specially adapted courtroom in Korydallos prison.
The choice of venue has sparked reactions from the municipal authority, which says the trial will seriously disrupt the Korydallos area and a large number of schools in the area, as well as lawyers and the media, who say the venue is too small and lacks the facilities they need to properly do their job, both to mount a defence and for its coverage.
Lawyers and the Greek and foreign journalists covering the trial note the complexity of the case, with 69 defendants on trial, more than 100 defence lawyers representing them and numerous attorneys representing civil suits in the case, as well as 130 witnesses for the prosecution alone.
The 69 defendants include all the MPs in Golden Dawn's previous Parliamentary group, who will go before a Three-Justice Criminal Appeals court that is called on to decide whether the party is a Nazi formation with coordinated criminal action. The court's final ruling could also have repercussions on a political level, depending on whether the party is declared illegal or if the criminal activities of its members are judged to be "isolated incidents" unconnected to the party's choices.
Three of the defendants do not face charges for the key offence in the case - the murder of musician Pavlos Fyssas - but only on secondary charges. They include the wife of the main suspect for the stabbing Giorgos Roupakias, Margarita Mikelatou, who is only charged with perjury, Theodoros Stefas who is charged with illegal weapons possession and Anastasios Hilios, who is charged with weapons possession and with dealing and possession of drugs.
Also up on charges are two former Golden Dawn MPs, Stathis Boukouras and Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, who denounced the party and its practices during the course of the investigation, resigning from its Parliamentary group to become independents. In spite of this, Boukouras is still charged with leading a Golden Dawn 'attack squad' in Corinth in racist attacks, while Alexopoulos is charged with "public hate rhetoric" against the democratic state and against groups targeted by GD as "racial or political enemies".
The judicial investigation into the party's activities was launched after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by Giorgos Roupakias on September 18, 2013 in Keratsini, during an attack also involving other Golden Dawn supporters. An investigation of the incident showed that members of the party had coordinated their actions on that evening, instructing Roupakias to go to the location where Fyssas and his friends could be found. Acting on a letter sent by then public order minister Nikos Dendias, Supreme Court Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani ordered that the preliminary investigation be broadened to include a series of racist attacks that had been reported and had stagnated as isolated cases throughout the country.
This led to a report by Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis describing Golden Dawn as an "active Nazi-type criminal organisation operating since 1987 to the present day with a military structure, hierarchy and branches throughout the country." He said party leader Mihaloliakos acted as "F?hrerprinzip" and Christos Pappas as second in command, while violence was Golden Dawn's central message and not a means for achieving an end.
The led to the arrest and prosecution in September 2013 of Nikos Mihaloliakos and leading party members, many of whom were remanded in custody, and an investigation by examining magistrates lasting several months that produced a 700-page case against Golden Dawn, which was described as a well-organised group set up to commit illegal actions under the guise of a political party.
The case comes to trial with an Appeals Justices' Council indictment that also includes the minority opinion of Appeals Justice Nikos Salatas, who presented the case, raising questions about whether the criminal organisation charge is supported by the evidence presented.
In addition to the Fyssas murder, the trial is also expected to look into the party's role in the murder of a Pakistani worker, attacks on Communist Party of Greece (KKE) members in Perama, attacks on Egyptian fishermen, attacks on centres in Ilioupolis, on Crete and in other areas. The prosecution's proposal stresses the Nazi-type structure of the party, Mihaloliakos' leading role and the fact that its action peaked after 2012 when GD entered Parliament.
 Greek economy to grow by 2.5 pct this year, IMF reportThe Greek economy is expected to grow faster, while fiscal deficit will fall further and unemployment will decline this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday.
The IMF said it expected Greek GDP to grow from 0.8 pct in 2014 to 2.5 pct in 2015 and to 3.7 pct in 2016, with growth rates rising to 4.0 pct in the fourth quarter of 2015, from 1.3 pct in the corresponding period last year. The unemployment rate is projected to fall from 26.5 pct in 2014 to 24.8 pct this year and to 22.1 pct in 2016, while the inflation rate is expected to remain on negative ground (-0.3 pct this year from -1.4 pct last year) before returning to positive growth rates in 2016 (0.3 pct). The general government's deficit is projected to fall to 0.8 pct of GDP this year from 2.7 pct in 2014, presenting a surplus of 0.7 pct of GDP in 2016. In structural terms, Greece is expected to present a surplus of 2.1 pct of GDP this year and in 2016, from a surplus of 1.4 pct of GDP in 2014.
The IMF expects the Eurozone's economy to grow by 1.5 pct this year, from 0.9 pct in 2014, and by 1.6 pct in 2016. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 11.1 pct this year, from 11.6 pct in 2014, falling further to 10.6 pct in 2016.
 ECB council meeting on Wednesday to examine possible further emergency funding for Greek banksEuropean Central Bank policymakers gathering on Wednesday will examine possible further emergency funding for Greece's banks via the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) mechanism as they take stock of a wider economic picture showing early signs of improvement, Reuters news agency reported.
ECB President Mario Draghi will hold a press conference on Wednesday before he travels to Washington to join finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 top economies at the International Monetary Fund's Spring meeting.
He may reveal whether the ECB's decision-making Governing Council extended the limit on emergency liquidity that can be drawn by Greek banks.
With falling prices in the euro zone beginning to stabilize, Draghi will be able to claim an early success for the quantitative easing scheme -- money printing to buy chiefly government bonds -- launched by the bank in March.
According to the report, the ECB's borrowing rates are all but certain to be held at record lows, but continued wrangling between Greece and the euro zone over reforms and aid is casting a cloud of uncertainty over the 19-country currency bloc.
 ECB raises emergency liquidity cap for Greek banks by 800 million eurosThe European Central Bank (ECB) has raised the cap on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) available to Greek banks by 800 million euros, according to sources on Tuesday.
The increase takes the ELA ceiling to 74 billion euros (from 73.2 billion last week, after an increase of 1.2 billion euros). The central bank will re-examine the cap in a meeting next week.
Sources said the Greek banks had already drawn about 70 billion euros from ELA, leaving a safety margin of about 4 billion euros.
 Greek CEOs less optimistic in Q1Greek CEOs were less optimistic over economic developments in the country in the first quarter of 2015, with the ICAP-CEO General Index, a composite index measuring economic sentiment, falling significantly to 117 points.
The survey, based on a sample of 3,020 CEOs of the largest Greek enterprises, showed a growing concern among high-ranking executives over developments in the Greek economy because of a prolonged period of negotiations with its creditors and uncertainty over developments in a reform program. The current status index fell to 113 points in the first quarter from 150 points in the fourth quarter of 2014, while the expectations index fell to 120 points from 137 points over the same periods, respectively.
The percentage of CEOs expressing concern over the economic conditions in the country -in the remaining of the year- grew to 44 pct from 31 pct in the fourth quarter of 2014, while only 11 pct of CEOs expect conditions in their business sectors to be better, down from 31 pct in the previous quarter.
Only a 41 pct of CEOs said the current economic condition of their companies was in a better condition compared with a year ago, down from 61 pct in the fourth quarter of 2014, while a 32 pct of CEOs expected an improvement (down from 43 pct in the previous quarter). The current employment index grew slightly to 107 points from 104 in the fourth quarter, while expectations over investment spending fell to 17 pct in the first quarter from 25 pct in the previous quarter.
 Greek state's debt to private sector grew to 3.245 bln euros in FebThe state's overdue debt to the private sector grew to 3.245 billion euros in February, from 3.099 billion euros in January, official figures showed on Tuesday.
The State's General Accounting Office, in a monthly report, said that pending tax returns fell to 628 million euros in February from 648 million a month earlier. Social security organizations' debt to the private sector totaled 1.886 billion euros in February, from 1.815 billion in January, while state hospitals' debt grew to 787 million euros, from 708 million over the same months, respectively.
 Assets under management up 9.62 pct in Q1Assets under management grew by 9.62 pct to 13.86 billion euros in the first quarter of the year, from 12.65 billion at the end of 2014, official data showed on Tuesday.
In the domestic mutual fund market, assets grew 17.2 pct to 7.090 billion euros, with capital inflows totalling 995.5 million euros. The international equity mutual fund category recorded the highest percentage average returns in the first three months of 2015 (13.92 pct), followed by eurozone equity funds (13.73 pct) and equity funds of funds (13.45 pct). Within the equity Greek funds, 14 out of a total of 28 mutual funds offered returns up to 4.33 pct, surpassing a -6.15 pct return of the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange.
In the asset management sector, assets grew 2.73 pct to 4.432 billion euros, while in the real estate investment fund sector, assets grew 2.5 pct to 2.32 billion euros in the first quarter. The two closed-end investment funds in the market offered an average weighted discount of 28.1 pct in the first quarter, with assets at 21.6 million euros and an average weighted return of -2.66 pct in the year so far.
 OPAP to pay 0.75 euros per share dividend to shareholdersOPAP SA on Tuesday announced a board decision to seek shareholders' approval to a plan to pay a 0.70 euros per share dividend to its shareholders (including a 0.20 euro pre-dividend already distributed), raising its initial proposal to pay a 0.45 euros per share dividend.
The proposed new dividend is 180 pct higher compared with the dividend paid for 2013 (0.25 euros per share). OPAP's annual general shareholder meeting is scheduled for April 20, 2015.
 Lower gas prices as of April 1 by 'at least 16 pct', says Public Gas CorporationNatural gas prices for April will drop by at least 16 percent compared to March, the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) said on Tuesday, conditional on no abrupt changes in the euro/dollar parity.
The price drops are a result of a drop in oil prices, as natural gas pricing is set on the basis of global prices of crude oil for the past six-month period.
Price reductions will affect all DEPA customers - households, industry and electrical production - for consumption as of April 1, 2015. The company also said that it expects a new price drop as of the beginning of July, as long as the global prices for oil and the euro/dollar parity remain at current levels.
 Premier Capital Hellas to invest 10.5 mln euros to expand McDonald's network in GreecePremier Capital Hellas on Tuesday announced an investment plan worth more than 10.5 million euros to expand its McDonald's network in Greece over the next three years.
Premier Capital Hellas opened its 21st McDonald's restaurant in Thessaloniki, at the One Salonica Outlet Mall, a project worth 650,000 euros, and plans to operate a network of 30 McDonald's restaurants in the next three years.
The company, which took over as developmental licensee of McDonald's in Greece in 2011, has invested more than 5.5 million euros to expand the chain.
 Greek stocks end sharply lowerGreek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday with bank shares suffering heavy losses, while blue chip stocks such as Motor Oil, Hellenic Petroleum and OPAP offered support to the market. The composite index of the market fell 2.24 pct to end at 758.63 points, with the Large Cap index falling 2.86 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.02 pct lower. Turnover was a low 67.59 million euros.
Motor Oil (7.42 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (3.06 pct) and OPAP (2.33 pct) scored big gains among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (11.71 pct), Alpha Bank (10.7 pct) and PPC (8.26 pct) suffered heavy losses. Among market sectors, Oil (5.63 pct), Insurance (3.10 pct) and Travel (1.43 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (8.28 pct), Utilities (5.35 pct) and Telecoms (4.95 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 59 to 32 with another 17 issues unchanged. Mohlos (23.35 pct), Akritas (18.92 pct) and Hellenic Fish Farms (18.18 pct) were top gainers, while G.E.Demetriou (20 pct), Douros (19.64 pct) and Eurobank (11.71 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -1.69%
Industrial Products: -1.77%
Real Estate: -3.26%
Personal & Household: -4.00%
Food & Beverages: +0.41%
Raw Materials: -2.04%
Travel & Leisure: +1.43%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.24
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.00
Coca Cola HBC: 18.77
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.71
National Bank of Greece: 1.08
Piraeus Bank: 0.31
Grivalia Properties: 6.95
Aegean Airlines: 7.20
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek bond prices came under renewed pressure to end significantly lower in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with yields rising sharply. The three-year bond yield jumped to 23.30 pct from 20.79 pct last week and the five-year bond yielding rose to 16.87 pct from 15.25 pct, respectively. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 11.28 pct from 11.32 pct last week with the Greek bond yielding 11.42 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.14 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.183 pct from 0.187 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.124 pct from 0.127 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.076 pct from 0.078 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.008 pct from 0.011 pct and the one-month rate was -0.025 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.82 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 34,201 contracts with 39,497 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 44,046 contracts, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (16,476), followed by Alpha Bank (13,408), Piraeus Bank (5,019), National Bank (6,455), MIG (385), OTE (441), PPC (461), OPAP (392), Mytilineos (118), Hellenic Petroleum (252), Motor Oil (119), GEK (71), Jumbo (71) and Hellenic Exchanges (80).
 Large number of undocumented migrants reached Lesvos island in the last four days497 undocumented migrants, mostly Syrian nationals, reached several beaches of Lesvos island in the last four days. 85 more migrants were located on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile the number of undocumented migrants and refugees that arrived on the islands of Eastern Aegean in the first months of 2015 has tripled in comparison with the same period of 2014.
According to Coast Guard data, 10,445 persons, 6,498 of them in March, arrived in Greece by sea in the period of January-March 2015 while in the corresponding period of 2014 the number of undocumented migrants reached 2,863.
It is noted that one of two migrants got into Greece through Lesvos island which indicates that the specific island received the highest number of undocumented migrants from the opposite Turkish coasts.
 Fifteeen arrested in relation to Athens University administration offices occupationTen Greeks and five foreign nationals were arrested late Monday in relation with the occupation of the Athens Kapodistrian University administration office.
Police said that a European arrest warrant for drug dealing is pending against a Polish national who is among the arrested.
The university administration office has been under occupation for 17 consecutive days by a group of persons related with the anti-establishment area.
 Four Egyptian nationals detained over migrant trafficking chargesFour of six Egyptian nationals arrested on charges of migrant trafficking, involving at least 145 individuals who landed on Gavdos island in the southern Aegean last week, were detained after their testimonies on Tuesday.
The four denied the charges and said they were also on board the large fishing boat the migrants abandoned to get to the shores of Gavdos. Among the six initially arrested, two minors were released: a 17-year-old who is obliged to appear at a foreigners detention centre every day and another teenager, 13.
The six were testifying from 11:00 a.m. until late afternoon on Tuesday, with an interpreter translating. Their defence lawyers, from the nearby island of Crete, were appointed by the authorities.
The four Egyptians will be held pending trial at the detention centre in Chania, Crete.
 Newly-built cruise ship Viking Star arrives at Piraeus portThe administration and management of Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) welcomed the newly built cruise ship "Viking Star" at Piraeus on Tuesday.
The ship, carrying 930 passengers and 472 crew members onboard, started its 13-day maiden voyage from Istanbul and will continue to Santorini Island and Venice.
OLP management presented the ship's Captain, Gulleik Skagasto, with an honorary plaque and books.
 Light quake jolts CreteA light quake measuring 4 on the Richter scale was recorded on Tuesday at 11:00 at the sea region southeast of Crete, according to the Geodynamics Institute of Athens' Observatory. The quake's epicentre was located 88km southwest of Zakros and its depth was 10km.
 Mostly fair on WednesdayMostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Light showers in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 07C-20C. Scattered clouds in the western parts with temperatures between 08C-22C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 07C-21C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 10C-21C. Mostly fair in Athens, 10C-20C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 09C-18C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Pensions on the Procrustean bed again.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: War of detriment.
ESTIA: Country is heading to the unknown.
ETHNOS: Negotiations at a crucial point.
Kontranews: Elections for rift or referendum for approval of agreement.
TA NEA: Disbursement a la carte.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 210 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 210 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: MIHALIS PSILOS