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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-17

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

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

Friday, 17 April 2015 Issue No: 4936

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek PM confident of agreement with creditors by end of month
  • [02] SYRIZA spokeswoman says agreement will respect gov't's 'uncrossable lines'
  • [03] FinMin Varoufakis heads to Washington ahead of crucial talks
  • [04] Greece 'keen to finding an honourable agreement with its partners', FinMin Varoufakis tells Brookings
  • [05] FinMin Varoufakis addresses Brookings Institution on Greek economy and negotiations
  • [06] Varoufakis-Lagarde meeting went 'very well', say ministry sources
  • [07] White House calls for orderly resolution of Greece's economic problems
  • [08] IMF does not foresee Greek exit from the Eurozone
  • [09] Lagarde: There will be no delays in Greece's repayment of loan to IMF
  • [10] Finance ministry refutes FT report on repayment of its IMF loan (ADDS)
  • [11] Brussels Group's meetings to resume on Saturday
  • [12] German FinMin Schaeuble: Greek programme ends on June 30
  • [13] Debt restructuring is not up for discussion now, German FinMin Schaeuble says
  • [14] EU Commissioner Katainen urges Greece to focus on reform agenda
  • [15] ForMin Kotzias starts 5-day visit to United States on Monday
  • [16] Greece can play a central role in current geopolitical developments, says Defence Min. Kammenos
  • [17] Minister Christodoulopoulou briefs union of municipalities on new migration policy
  • [18] PM Tsipras thanks Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos for his statement on the use of the church property
  • [19] Halkidiki miners protest outside the Productive Reconstruction ministry (CORRECTS)
  • [20] Halkidiki miners continue their demonstration outside Parliament
  • [21] Skouries miners withdraw from Syntagma, as opponents of goldmining plan rallying also
  • [22] Alt. Environment Minister's meeting with goldminers fruitless
  • [23] Alt. Environment Minister's interview to ANA-MPA on Halkidiki goldmines
  • [24] Government presents omnibus bill bringing sweeping changes to education
  • [25] PM Tsipras to meet Cyprus President Anastasiades on Friday
  • [26] No middlemen or kickbacks in interstate agreements, Defence Minister Kammenos tells Alpha TV
  • [27] Greece needs to maintain its strong position in the core of the eurozone, KINIMA leader says
  • [28] PM Tsipras briefs KINIMA leader Papandreou on ongoing negotiations
  • [29] SYRIZA central committee sec': Government has succeeded much more than we had expected
  • [30] ANEL spokeswoman denounces yellow reports in international press that serve specific purposes
  • [31] ND warns over 'instability' in state finances, calls on government to 'set aside improvisations'
  • [32] The government is increasing unemployment, says New Democracy
  • [33] KKE's Koutsoumbas sends a letter of complaint to Ukrainian President Poroshenko
  • [34] Draft bill to abolish high-security prisons passes in principle at Parliament's plenum session
  • [35] Council of State gives provisional approval for wind parks on Crete
  • [36] SYRIZA says Golden Dawn party will answer to Justice in upcoming trial
  • [37] New ambassadors of Czech Republic and of Portugal present credential to President of Republic
  • [38] Greece and Russia working on pipeline construction agreement
  • [39] Greek budget records primary surplus of 1.735 bln euros in Q1
  • [40] Budget revenues significantly surpass targets in March
  • [41] Douros reports stable results in 2014
  • [42] Greek stocks recover on Thursday
  • [43] Greek bond yields soar
  • [44] Greek bond market closing report
  • [45] ADEX closing report
  • [46] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [47] Culture ministry says will continue to claim the 'Dorias' stele with all legal means
  • [48] Anti-establishment militants attack police outside Athens University gates; teargas used
  • [49] Coast Guard rescues 45 undocumented migrants
  • [50] Visitors, revenues in museums and archaeological sites up in 2014
  • [51] Two policemen sentenced over beating Iraqi-Dutch businessman
  • [52] 6.1-magnitude quake hits off eastern coast of Crete, two smaller follow
  • [53] Sunny on Friday
  • [54] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek PM confident of agreement with creditors by end of month

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday said he was confident that Greece and its European partners will be able to work through their differences and reach agreement by the end of the month, in a statement given to Reuters. He noted that there were "many points of convergence" between the two sides, with disagreements remaining in just four areas relating to labour relations, social security, VAT hikes and state property. The full statement is given below:

    "The Greek government is working hard on every individual aspect of the negotiations, in Brussels just as much as in Athens, in order to reach a mutually beneficial solution, an honourable compromise with our partners: a compromise which will respect the recent popular mandate as well as the euro zone's operational framework.

    There already are many points of convergence between the two sides and they compose the framework around which our agreement will be formed. There has been remarkable progress compared to the starting point on a series of issues regarding the improvement of the tax collection system and the reinforcement of its autonomy, the fight against corruption, the effectiveness of the administration, as well as tax initiatives which will guarantee the appropriate primary surplus for the current year without burdening the majority of society but by distributing the burden on those who have a strong ability to pay taxes.

    There remain, of course, four points of disagreement in the fields of labour relations, the social security system, the VAT increase and the rationale regarding the development of state property.

    Let me be clear: This does not have to do with a technical weakness but a political disagreement, which everyone was aware of in advance, to the extent that they recognized and continue to recognize that the compromise we seek will respect the clear mandate of the Greek people as expressed in the January elections.

    Despite the cacophony and erratic leaks and statements in recent days from the other side, I remain firmly optimistic that there will be an agreement by the end of the month. Because I know that Europe has learned to live through its disagreements, to combine its parts and move forward.

    I am convinced that Europe of democratic traditions and the Enlightenment will not give in to the extreme voices of some, will not choose the path of an unethical and brutal financial blackmail, but the path of bridging differences, the path of stability and mutual respect, and above all the path to democracy, for the benefit of our common European future."

    [02] SYRIZA spokeswoman says agreement will respect gov't's 'uncrossable lines'

    The agreement with Greece's creditors will respect the government's 'uncrossable lines', SYRIZA press spokeswoman Rania Svigou said on Thursday, during an interview on Greece's Star television. She said these lines were clearly drawn, while it was equally clear that the policy rejected by Greek voters on January 25 could not continue.

    "To continue the same policy, it is clear that in the things that we are now seeking to fight, in other words the public debt, would have led to an even greater increase," she said.

    Svigou cited figures released by the Greek statistical authority ELSTAT on Thursday, according to which the size of the debt had risen as a proportion of GDP, noting that "this was the result of a policy that was supposed to reduce public debt." Instead of this, public debt had actually increased and citizens were driven to despair, she added.

    "We want to change all of this within the Eurozone, but in a different framework where the creditors will respect their obligations to Greece," Svigou said, noting that in addition to the statements by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble there were also those of the French finance minister, who had expressed his conviction that a solution beneficial to both Greece and its EU partners will be found.

    She said that Greece's creditors were now putting pressure on the Greek government to accept a framework that the Greek people had already rejected, while the Greek government had made it clear this would not happen.

    On the possibility of a Greek default, Svigou said that all the government's actions were aimed at the repayment of the country's loans and other obligations and that scare-mongering scenarios were best avoided.

    "The country has 'defaulted' 100 times so far and I hope it does not have to do so 100 times again," she quipped, criticising the main opposition, especially, for cultivating a climate of panic.

    "Those seeing Grexit scenarios that the Europeans themselves reject have not realised the harm they have done to the country nor the harm they are continuing to do," the spokeswoman said.

    [03] FinMin Varoufakis heads to Washington ahead of crucial talks

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' discussions in Washington, where he will represent Greece in the spring meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, are termed as rather important for the progress of the negotiations with the lenders.

    All the representatives of the institutions will attend the meeting while Varoufakis is expected to have a series of further meetings.

    At 16.15 local time, Varoufakis will attend a reception at the White House to celebrate Greek Independence and he will have a private meeting with US President Barack Obama.

    At 14.30, the Greek Finance Minister will be the keynote speaker at the discussion entitled "The Greek economy and its global partners" within the framework of a conference organized by the Brookings Institute.

    The discussion is expected to focus on the challenges that the Greek economy is facing, the prospects for reforms and economic recovery and the details of a future strategic agreement of Greece, the European partners and the IMF.

    According to Finance ministry's officials, the meeting is rather important both for Greece and the eurozone, as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will also participate. Varoufakis is expected to meet with ECB president Mario Draghi, the US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew and his Italian counterpart Pier Carlo Padoan.

    [04] Greece 'keen to finding an honourable agreement with its partners', FinMin Varoufakis tells Brookings

    Greece is dedicated to finding "an honourable agreement with its partners" but they must also acknowledge that the fiscal programme imposed on the country so far has proved a failure and the debt has been unsustainable since 2010, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said at Brookings Institution on Thursday.

    In an address focused on Greece's stance on negotiations with its loan partners - the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission - Varoufakis said that the government's objection was not to signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU), it was to extending a reform programme imposed on the country that was "badly designed and administered by those who had to reform and refused to be reformed."

    This government "is keener than anyone to bring these negotiations to a successful and quick conclusion," he said, but not by extending the MoU it inherited that led to massive internal devaluation "that was bound to shrink violently the incomes from which the old and the new loan whould have to be repaid."

    Varoufakis said the government planned to start reforms with privatisations and pensions, and would proceed to other chronic problems such as procurements, bureaucracy and the political system's relations with the oligarchy and the media.

    Among other things he said that despite Greece's known issues, the EU needed to proceed to real consolidation and "a proper banking union," and he pointed out that Greece was "never really bailed out, as only 9 percent of the very large loans went to the Greek state - the rest were used to prop up irresponsible financial institutions, mostly in northern Europe.

    In the question and answer period that followed, Varoufakis reaffirmed the government's commitment to its membership in the EU and commented about a possible Grexit, "We are refusing to discuss a Grexit or toy with it - anyone who does so is profoundly anti-European."

    [05] FinMin Varoufakis addresses Brookings Institution on Greek economy and negotiations

    Greece's negotiations with its partners are of global significance and will influnce Europe in a major way in terms of what it does with the EU-wide crisis, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in opening remarks during an address at Brookings Institution in Washington DC on Thursday.

    In his ongoing speech on "The Greek economy and its global partners" broadcast live on ANA-MPA WebTV, Varoufakis is expected to address the country's stance in negotiations with its loan partners (the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission) and to reaffirm the government's intention to complete the talks successfully.

    [06] Varoufakis-Lagarde meeting went 'very well', say ministry sources

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' meeting with IMF chief Christine Lagarde went "very well", ministry circles told ANA-MPA on Thursday, adding that there was a mutual will to cooperate.

    According to the circles, Lagarde and Varoufakis agreed to pursue a better communication between the two sides for the day-to-day developments in Greek negotiations. In this framework, they scheduled pending issues until April 24, while no other topics where discussed.

    The meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes and took place on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank spring meeting in Washington, was attended by the Director of the IMF's European Department, Poul Thomsen.

    [07] White House calls for orderly resolution of Greece's economic problems

    The White House said on Thursday it is in the best interests of the global and U.S. economies for Greece to find an orderly solution to its economic issues.

    "The world economy and certainly the U.S. economy benefits from the quiet resolution of these challenges and we have taken many steps to try to encourage and foster that kind of resolution," its spokesman Josh Earnest was quoted as saying by Reuters at a briefing.

    [08] IMF does not foresee Greek exit from the Eurozone

    The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) basic scenario for Greece by does not foresee a "Grexit" - a Greek exit from the Eurozone - Financial Counselor and Director of Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the IMF, Joss Vinals, said on Wednesday.

    Speaking at a press conference to present the Global Financial Stability report, Vinals said an exit from the Euro would be devastating for the country and its people and would result in a huge economic cost. He said it would also have negative consequences on confidence in the Eurozone which he warned must not be underestimated.

    [09] Lagarde: There will be no delays in Greece's repayment of loan to IMF

    There will be no delays in the repayment of Greece's debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday.

    "It's clearly not a course of action that would actually fit," she was quoted by AFP as saying during a press conference at the start of the joint IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, adding: "We have never had an advanced economy ask for payment delays."

    Lagarde's statement followed a request to comment on a report which claimed Greece had asked for a delay in the repayment of its May debt instalment towards the Fund.

    She said payment delays are an exception in IMF's history and that whenever they happened, "that delay was not followed by very productive results."

    Lagarde added these delays were never granted to developed economies and that she had spoken to Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis about this issue during their last meeting.

    [10] Finance ministry refutes FT report on repayment of its IMF loan (ADDS)

    Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Thursday dismissed as "downright falsehood" a report in the Financial Times according to which the Greek government allegedly asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to delay the repayment of its May loan instalment.

    According to the ministry, when Varoufakis was asked by a journalist to comment on the report, he said it is "downright falsehood".

    [11] Brussels Group's meetings to resume on Saturday

    The Brussels Group is expected to resume its meetings on Saturday. The president of the Council of Economic Advisors (SOE) Giorgos Chouliarakis, Finance ministry general secretary Nikos Theocharakis and Elena Panariti, advisor to the Greek Finance Minister, will participate from the Greek side.

    IMF's Rishi Goyal, European Commission's Declan Costello and ECB's Rasmus Rueffer will participate from the side of the partners, as representatives of the institutions.

    According to Finance ministry's officials, the contacts on a Brussels Group level, will continue in Brussels until April 23, a day before the informal Eurogroup meeting in Latvia. The same sources said that the Greek government will present its comprehensive and detailed proposals and timetables to the representatives of the institutions. Special emphasis will probably be given on tax issues.

    Government officials underlined that 'red lines' are fully maintained and recessionary measures - such as salary and pension cuts, mass layoffs, that do not help the economy recover - will not be made acceptable.

    Deliberations on a technical staff level started on Tuesday in Athens and are focused on fiscal and labour issues.

    [12] German FinMin Schaeuble: Greek programme ends on June 30

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York on Wednesday that if Greece wants to receive the rest of its financial aid, a solution will have to be reached by June 30.

    The minister said the Greek programme has been extended twice until now and that it expires on June 30.

    He also said that while the decisions ultimately lie with Greece, "whatever happens: we know that Greece is part of the European Union and that we also have a responsibility for Greece and we will never disregard this solidarity."

    "If Greece wants support, we will give this support as in recent years, but of course within the framework of what we agreed," Schaeuble added.

    [13] Debt restructuring is not up for discussion now, German FinMin Schaeuble says

    Another debt restructuring is not up for discussion now, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

    While some kind of restructuring might be on the agenda in 10 years, "today the issue for Greece is reforming its economy in such a way that it becomes competitive at some point," Schaeuble noted.

    Referring to a Die Zeit newspaper report that the German government is working on a plan to keep Greece in the euro area if the country defaulted, he said:

    "We don't have such plans, and if we were working on them -- because ministry staff are taking just about everything into consideration -- then we would definitely not talk about it," said Schaeuble. "It makes no sense to speculate about it."

    He also said that Greek demands for war reparations from Germany were "completely unrealistic." "This has been ruled on so many times by the international courts that the revival of this discussion can only lead to raising hopes with the Greek people that are completely unrealistic," he stated.

    Asked if he planned to meet Varoufakis during his trip in Washington, Schaeuble said that he would "surely" see him the following week in Riga at the Eurogroup meeting on April 24.

    "He will meet many people and so will I, but perhaps we'll meet," said Schaeuble. "If we meet, we'll talk, of course. Sure, no problem."

    [14] EU Commissioner Katainen urges Greece to focus on reform agenda

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness EU Commissioner Jyrki Katainen in an interview with Europolitics called on Greece to push its structural reforms forward.

    Asked whether he believes that an agreement with Greece is possible by next week, the Finnish Commissioner said: "I hope so because the Greek people need new jobs. Nobody will invest in a country where the situation is uncertain. Current problems need to be quickly solved in order to attract investments from the private sector."

    In reply to a question whether the Greek government is good at negotiations, bearing in mind the European institutions have denounced the slowness of the procedure, he noted: "I have heard them saying that the progress made is insufficient. I hope that the Greek government will realise that the other member states will not be able to help if Greece does what it has to do. European partners cannot reform the country."

    Finally, commenting on a journalist's statement that the Greek government refers to the risk of bankruptcy, that Athens mentions that bankruptcy is possible in May and asked whether the Commission knows the exact financial situation of the country, he said: "Greece is in a very vulnerable and unstable condition. But I believe that no one can say exactly when it will run out of money. Rather than speculate on the date of bankruptcy, I urge the Greek government to focus on the reform agenda."

    [15] ForMin Kotzias starts 5-day visit to United States on Monday

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will travel to the United States next week for a five-day visit, during which he will meet with top US officials.

    On Monday (April 20), he will meet at the State Department with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

    In the following days he will also meet with the National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and leading members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

    On Friday (April 24) Kotzias will meet in New York with UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and with Matthew Nimetz, the UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy on the FYROM name issue. On the same day, the Foreign Minister will meet with Archbishop Demetrios of America.

    During his stay in the United States, Kotzias will also hold meetings with representatives of Greek American and American Jewish organizations, as well as with top executives of the major think tanks.

    [16] Greece can play a central role in current geopolitical developments, says Defence Min. Kammenos

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/T. Avgerinos)

    Greece is the "bastion of Europe" in the troubled region of Northern Africa and the Middle East and in this capacity it can play a central and catalytic role in the current geopolitical developments, National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said on Thursday speaking at an annual security conference in Moscow.

    "The instability extending today from Ukraine to the coast of Northern Africa which circles Europe constitutes a threat to trade, energy routes, tourism and efforts for sustainable development," Kammenos told participants of the 4th Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS), adding that instability may have a negative impact and unforeseen consequences in domestic security.

    "Our intention is for Greece to continue to act as a useful agent and reliable strategic partner of the international community, participating actively in the efforts to achieve peace and stability in the wider region and the world," the minister said.

    Referring to the host of the annual gathering, Kammenos stressed that "Russia plays a strategic role in responding to crises for regional and global security."

    During the working luncheon, the minister had a brief exchange of views with his Chinese and Armenian counterparts Chang Wanquan and Seyran Ohanyan respectively.

    [17] Minister Christodoulopoulou briefs union of municipalities on new migration policy

    A total of 77,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Greece in 2014, with another 19,488 entering the country in the first quarter of this year, double the amount for the same quarter last year, Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou said on Thursday.

    Addressing a meeting of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDE), the minister said that the European Union had fined Greece with 1 million euros for the dismal conditions at migrant detention centres.

    Presenting the government's plan for migrants, she said that all those entering Greece are considered refugees, as no economic migrants would want to come to Greece knowing they will not find work. She said a total of 1,500 migrants who had lived in Greece for several years made used of a state programme in January to return to their countries of origin.

    Government plans for handling migrants she said would be relying on local government for services including temporarily housing and feeding refugrees. On Saturday, she said, she would be meeting on the issue with all district directors in Greece, while KEDE would also be meeting with Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis on Friday.

    KEDE president Giorgos Patoulis expressed his firm opposition to having migrant housing facilities set up within municipalities, especially if the cities have not been briefed before and the right sanitation and health provisions been taken care of. He also requested that the government not allow migrants to board without any controls ships from the islands to the mainland, especially with passenger ships on regular schedules.

    Athens Mayor George Kaminis said Greece held the worst European record in granting political asylum (less than 1 percent of applicants), and took exception to the minister's statement that migrants were refugees. "Influx is mixed," Kaminis said, "both political refugees and economic migrants" and he warned that the EU's Dublin 2 Treaty, which places the burden of asylum processing on the EU country that serves as point of entry to the EU, (in this case Greece) "cannot hold any longer" and expressed support for the government's position on EU-wide distribution of processing responsibility.

    [18] PM Tsipras thanks Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos for his statement on the use of the church property

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday sent a letter to the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos to thank him for his statement on the use of the church property for the benefit of the Greek state.

    In the letter, released by the prime minister's press office, Tsipras suggested the immediate operation of the committee on the study and resolution of issues concerning the Church of Greece so that the dialogue over the plan for the implementation of his proposal will start immediately.

    Referring to Ieronymos' initiative, Tsipras said that at a time when great credit pressure is exerted on public finances, such initiatives can provide real breather to state social security funds and the society in general. He also underlined that this initiative proves that the Church listens to the needs of the time and responds to the great demands of the society, it has a positive impact on everybody's morale, it sends a message of rallying at this difficult time of challenges that we are called to face united and shows that our main weapon to the crisis is solidarity.

    [19] Halkidiki miners protest outside the Productive Reconstruction ministry (CORRECTS)

    Halkidiki miners on Thursday gathered outside the Productive Reconstruction ministry asking for the continuation of the operation of the gold mines in the area while a march to the Parliament is expected to follow. 82 buses with miners have travelled from Halkidiki to Athens.

    The Solidarity Committee in Halkidiki (Attica) will gather at Propylea, at 18.00, in support of Halkidiki residents who protest against the operation of gold mines.

    A meeting between Halkidiki miners and Alternate Minister for the Environment Yiannis Tsironis is underway.

    [20] Halkidiki miners continue their demonstration outside Parliament

    Halkidiki miners and their families held banners and flags as they gathered outside Parliament on Thursday, continuing their demonstration in support of gold mining in Skouries, saying they will escalate their protests until they receive a final decision from the government.

    Representatives of the miners submitted a resolution to Parliament which includes their demands: safeguarding jobs and boosting growth in the wider region, while protecting the environment through the continuation of the operation of the mines.

    The Productive Reconstruction ministry is expected to issue an official announcement on the government's position on the mines within the day.

    [21] Skouries miners withdraw from Syntagma, as opponents of goldmining plan rallying also

    Halkidiki peninsula miners and their families, who had protested outside Parliament in support of gold mining in Skouries, began withdrawing from Syntagma Square on Thursday evening towards the Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro) to board buses back north.

    Representatives of the miners submitted a resolution to Parliament demanding the continuation of their jobs, the boosting of growth in the wider region and protection of the environment.

    The Productive Reconstruction ministry was expected to issue an official announcement on the government's position on the mines within the day, as another rally is under preparation, this time by the Solidarity Committee of Halkidiki, a group supporting residents of the area who want the gold mining activity to end.

    [22] Alt. Environment Minister's meeting with goldminers fruitless

    Goldminers' meeting with Alternate Environment Minister Yannis Tsironis was concluded on Thursday.

    After the meeting, the president of gold mine workers association Giorgos Hatzis said that the minister did not give them a clear answer but told the goldminers that the ministry will follow the rules.

    On their part, the goldminers said that they will continue their mobilisations.

    [23] Alt. Environment Minister's interview to ANA-MPA on Halkidiki goldmines

    It is not possible to have an investment in Greece that has not undergone legal checks and a whole region to be in state of civil war, Alternate Environment Minister Yiannis Tsironis on Thursday said to ANA-MPA regarding the investment in Skouries goldmines in Halkidiki.

    Tsironis also added that the ministry cannot be blackmailed until the environment inspectors complete the controls.

    Goldmining worldwide, said Tsironis, has a serious impact on the environment. The company claims that with the use of new technologies the impact on Greece will not be the same as elsewhere. It remains to be proved. We expected from the company to prove it to us as the contract it has signed provides for. It is not something that we have invented. The contract describes it in detail.

    Alternate Environment Minister Yiannis Tsironis' full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.

    [24] Government presents omnibus bill bringing sweeping changes to education

    Sweeping changes in all areas of education are introduced by an omnibus bill that the education ministry presented on Thursday. This includes a series of measures on culture and sports-related issues, among them an amendment cutting short the terms of the heads of some 500 bodies and organisations supervised by the ministry, such as the National Theatre and others.

    In sports, it will seek to increase state control over sports federation and stamp out sports-related violence.

    Education Minister Aristidis Baltas said the bill had already been presented to SYRIZA's Parliamentary group and would then be made public.

    [25] PM Tsipras to meet Cyprus President Anastasiades on Friday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet on Friday with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades who is visiting Athens.

    The meeting will be held at 11.00 at Maximos Mansion and a joint press conference will follow.

    [26] No middlemen or kickbacks in interstate agreements, Defence Minister Kammenos tells Alpha TV

    Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Thursday underlined that there are no middlemen or kickbacks in agreements between states, in a reply to opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis on the Greek TV channel 'Alpha'.

    Earlier, Theodorakis had raised questions about possible kickbacks in a programme to upgrade Greek Navy P-3 helicopters while speaking on ANT1 television.

    In a sarcastic reply, Kammenos invited Theodorakis to visit the defence ministry "so we can brief him on what an interstate agreement means" and suggested that "some people, because we spoiled the business of their former bosses that secretly dealt in offset benefits, are disappointed."

    On the issue of an ever-growing wave of migrants entering Greece, the defence minister again urged Europe to realise that the issue was not Greek but European.

    "These people do not want to stay in Greece, they will have no luck in Greece. To begin with they want to protect themselves from the violence in their home country that is the result of a war. This is important. They are asking to go to countries where they can survive. Here we have 70 pct of the youth unemployed. Greece cannot provide for these people," he underlined.

    He said the issue was for those that really were refugees and especially those from Syria, who accounted for 95 pct of those arriving, to receive papers certifying their refugee status and be able to travel to the country of their choice.

    [27] Greece needs to maintain its strong position in the core of the eurozone, KINIMA leader says

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' meeting with the leader of the Movement of Democratic Socialists (KINIMA) George Papandreou was completed at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday.

    Papandreou said that they had a chance to discuss recent developments in Greece, the European Union and globally. He noted that his party's positions are well known, adding that reality reflected the truth.

    He underlined that the national target was to keep Greece on its feet and maintain its strong position in the core of the eurozone. "Of course," he said, "we would like a different Europe, a progressive one."

    Papandreou stressed that great reforms need to be carried out that will change everything that is wrong in the country, adding that it is a strategic, national target and "we will fight for that target."

    [28] PM Tsipras briefs KINIMA leader Papandreou on ongoing negotiations

    The meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with the leader of the Movement of Democratic Socialists (KINIMA) and former premier George Papandreou took place in a friendly atmosphere, government sources said.

    According to the same sources, Tsipras briefed Papandreou on the ongoing negotiations between Greece and its lenders.

    On his side, Papandreou assured the prime minister that he will contribute to the government's fight.

    [29] SYRIZA central committee sec': Government has succeeded much more than we had expected

    "The government's red lines are non-negotiable,"SYRIZA central committee secretary Tasos Koronakis said on Thursday referring to the doom-mongering scenarios on Greece and expressed that certainty that they will be proved wrong.

    "The government is giving a very hard battle and the negotiation in not a promenade under the sun," he said at a prees conference in Thessaloniki and noted that a rift is not in anybody's interest adding that the government's main ally is the society and for this reason SYRIZA attempts an overture to the citizens through a campaign with specific actions within the next period.

    He also said that the government's coordination is getting better adding that "it succeeded much more that what we had expected."

    [30] ANEL spokeswoman denounces yellow reports in international press that serve specific purposes

    "The barrage of 'yellow' reports in the international press that serve specific purposes and have cultivated a negative climate for the Greek economy, has proved to be dictated by Greece's lenders, who do whatever they can to create an even more suffocating framework for the Greek government at the most critical, probably, phase of the hard negotiation," Independent Greeks (ANEL) spokeswoman Marina Chryssoveloni said referring to the scenarios of bankruptcy.

    Chryssoveloni pointed out that "this was proved by Schaeuble's latest provocative threats in the form of 'recommendations' who seems to have lost his temper and couldn't be more clear and sincere" adding that "it is obvious that the officials in Berlin and Brussels, headed by Schaeuble, intensify the bullying against Greece aiming at leading the government to a total and complete economic concession. But this will not happen."

    [31] ND warns over 'instability' in state finances, calls on government to 'set aside improvisations'

    In an unsigned announcement about the state of the economy issued on Thursday, main opposition New Democracy warned of "destabilisation" in public finances and said the state had "declared a partial cessation of payments at home". It called on the government "to set aside improvisations and vaccillations" and act fast before the situation became irreversible.

    "Continuing 'creative ambiguity' is anything but beneficial for the country and its citizens," the ND sources said, slamming what they called the government's "unbelievable fairy stories about the economy".

    "The truth cannot be hidden. The government did not pay 1.2 billion euros of its debts in March and is congratulating itself. Meanwhile, another 680 million euros is owed in emergency payments from Europe. Therefore, not only is there no primary surplus, but the country is unfortunately in the first trimester of 2015 again dipping in the deficits that had destroyed the country," the sources said.

    They disputed the primary surplus announced by the government in the first trimester as 'fake' and entirely the result of a domestic cessation of payments combined with higher revenues of the Public Investment Programme, saying that tax revenues were 700 million euros below targets, while interest rates and the cost of borrowing had risen compared with the same period last year.

    [32] The government is increasing unemployment, says New Democracy

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) accused the government on Thursday of pushing the country back into recession and creating unemployment, following the labour action of miners who are marching in Athens in favour of the operation of a mine in Halkidiki.

    "By driving away investments like the one in Skouries, it [the government] is turning against workers and increases unemployment in three months which had already started to lower," ND spokesman Costas Karagounis said, adding that main coalition partner SYRIZA has "an ideological hatred towards private initiative".

    [33] KKE's Koutsoumbas sends a letter of complaint to Ukrainian President Poroshenko

    The secretary general of the Communist party (KKE) Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday sent a letter to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on the "unacceptable law adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on April 9, which prohibits the dissemination of the communist ideology and compares communism with nazism," KKE announced.

    Koutsoumbas in his letter stated among others that the decisions taken are a challenge to those who fought against fascism and blasphemy to the millions of people who gave their lives in the antifascist struggle.

    He stressed in his letter that the comparison of the USSR to Nazi Germany is unacceptable, as the contribution of the USSR, which bore the brunt of the war against fascism, is well known.

    He added that this comparison is an offense against the communists of Greece and other countries that were pioneers in the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle. Koutsoumbas also said in his letter that the effort to ban the spread of communist ideals constitutes a slippery undemocratic way and expressed the Communist Party's opposition to such decisions.

    [34] Draft bill to abolish high-security prisons passes in principle at Parliament's plenum session

    A justice ministry draft bill to abolish high-security prisons was passed in principle in the Parliament plenum on Thursday evening.

    The bill was carried by ruling coalition votes of SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL). Main opposition New Democracy and opposition PASOK voted against it, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) declared their presence.

    The discussion is proceeding now on articles, with a vote expected on Friday's session.

    [35] Council of State gives provisional approval for wind parks on Crete

    The Council of State plenary session gave a provisional approval to wind park projects planned on the Southern Aegean island of Crete, pending the outcome of another decision by the court.

    Residents of the island had filed a petition to stop the project's implementation. The Court said the final go-ahead rested on whether the environmental report's approval was lawful or not; a petition to annul it has also been filed by 11 associations and 1,123 residents from all of Crete's prefectures, who call it unconstitutional and contravening EU laws among other things.

    [36] SYRIZA says Golden Dawn party will answer to Justice in upcoming trial

    Main coalition partner SYRIZA expressed its satisfaction on Thursday that the "Nazi organization", Golden Dawn, will finally answer to Justice.

    The trial of party president Nikos Mihaloliakos and the leadership of his party is to begin on Monday, in a specially adapted courtroom in Korydallos prison.

    "For many years, SYRIZA had identified the criminal, Neo-Nazi character of Golden Dawn. We express our satisfaction with the fact that, even with a long delay and only after a series of murders and serious injuries of hundreds of migrants and Greek citizens from the assault battalions of Golden Dawn, the Nazi organization is 0 finally - answering to Justice," the party said in a press release commenting on the upcoming trial.

    SYRIZA said that Justice must be served for the victims of Golden Dawn, by convicting the members and mentors of the group's criminal acts for crimes which have already been condemned in the conscience of the vast majority of Greeks.

    "The dismantling of pockets of sympathizers of the Nazi organization within the armed forces and law enforcement units and their democratization should become a priority in the coming months," the party added.

    [37] New ambassadors of Czech Republic and of Portugal present credential to President of Republic

    President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos accepted on Thursday the credentials of the new ambassadors of Czech Republic Jan Bondy and of Portugal Rui Alberto Manuppella Tereno.

    Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis and the general secretary of the President of Republic Giorgos Gennimatas attended the ceremony.

    Financial News

    [38] Greece and Russia working on pipeline construction agreement

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    Greece and Russia are working on a memorandum for the construction of a "Greek pipeline" of natural gas that may be signed in Athens as early as next week, according to RIA-Novosti Russian news agency citing a Greek source, who said he was quoting Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.

    The new pipeline is slated to begin operations in December 2016, and the Greek section will connect to a pipeline delivering Russian gas to Turkey and southern Europe, according to the agency, which also said that signing on the Russian side would be Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

    According to the calculations, the Greek section is estimated to cost as much as 2 billion euros and run from the Greek-Turkish borders to the borders with FYROM. From here it will extend to Serbia and Hungary, ending up in Austria, according to Russian-based Gazprom.

    The agency quoted Greek sources as saying that construction would be carried out by the private sector and agree fully with EU legislation.

    No further details were available.

    [39] Greek budget records primary surplus of 1.735 bln euros in Q1

    The Greek state budget recorded a deficit of 500 million euros in the January-March period, slightly up from a shortfall of 448 million euros in the corresponding period last year, but significantly down compared with a budget target for a deficit of 2.111 billion euros, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

    The ministry, in a report on amended cash budget figures, said that a primary surplus totaled 1.735 billion euros in the first quarter, from a primary surplus of 1.541 billion euros last year and a budget target for a primary surplus of 119 million euros.

    State budget net revenues totaled 12.022 billion euros in the first three months, up 0.8 pct from targets, while regular budget net revenues totaled 10.574 billion euros, down 5.2 pct from targets.

    Tax returns totaled 796 millione euros, surpassing targets by 135 million euros, while Public Investment Programme revenues surpassed targets by 678 million euros to 1.448 billion.

    State budget net revenues totaled 4.232 billion euros in March, up 33.5 pct from targets, while regular budget net revenues totaled 3.280 billion euros, up 21.9 pct from targets. Tax returns fell short of targets by 10 million euros to 188 million and Public Investment Programme revenues surpassed targets by 472 million euros to 952 million.

    State budget spending totaled 12.522 billion euros, down by 1.516 billion euros from targets, while regular budget spending were down 1.338 billion euros from targets to 11.980 billion euros. Regular budget spending was down 2.2 pct compared with the same period in 2014. Public Investment Programne spending totaled 542 million euros, down 178 million from targets. State budget spending totaled 4.539 billion euros in March, down 673 million euros from targets, while regular budget spending fell short by 608 million euros from targets to 4.234 billion euros.

    [40] Budget revenues significantly surpass targets in March

    Net budget revenues significantly surpassed targets to total 4.232 billion euros in March, from a target of 3.16 billion, Alternate Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, Mardas pledged that the government will continue paying wages and pensions and expressed his optimism that an agreement will be reached between the country and its creditors. Responding to a question, Mardas did not exclude an obligatory transfer of cash reserves held by the wider public sector to the Bank of Greece and recalled the examples of the Netherlands, England and Portugal where a similar status quo exists.

    Mardas said budget spending totaled 4.539 billion euros in March, down from a budget target of 5.212 billion euros, with the state budget deficit shrinking to 306 million euros, from a budget target for a shortfall of 2.041 billion euros.

    The Greek minister said a working group has been set up in the ministry to focus on public overspending and noted that a new legislation - soon to be presented - will focus on cutting travel expenses in the public sector. Mardas said spending on travel expenses totaled 177 million euros annually. He added that a commission will work on setting revenue targets from combating fuel, alcohol smuggling and illegal gaming, while the government will present a medium-term programme envisaging a primary surplus of 1.5 pct of GDP this year.

    [41] Douros reports stable results in 2014

    Douros SA on Thursday said it managed to stabilise its turnover to 3.775 billion euros in 2014, while EBITDA stood at 116,517 euros, almost unchanged from the previous year, and gross earnings were also unchanged at 2013 levels. Inventories fell by 11.34 pct.

    Douros raised its workforce by 14 pct last year and strengthened its presence abroad with the set up of a shop-in-shop store at Notos Galleries shopping centre in Sofia, Bulgaria.

    [42] Greek stocks recover on Thursday

    Greek stocks recovered on Thursday after a two-day decline which pushed the composite index of the market 4.14 pct lower, despite the fact that bank shares remained under pressure for one more session in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market rose 1.13 pct to end at 752.37 points, after falling as much as 1.60 pct early in the session. The Large Cap index rose 0.63 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.38 pct higher. Turnover was a low 68.19 million euros.

    Jumbo (7.14 pct), PPC (6.04 pct), Motor Oil (3.88 pct) and Folli Follie (3.80 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (5.98 pct), Eurobank (4.44 pct), Athens Water (3.75 pct) and GEK Terna (3.31 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Among market sectors, Personal Products (6.16 pct), Commerce (3.16 pct) and Utilities (2.85 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (2.58 pct), Insurance (2.29 pct) and Health (2.11 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 57 to 54, with another 14 issues unchanged. Tzirakian (18.64 pct), Teletypos (18.18 pct) and Douros (11.73 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzikraniotis (27.45 pct), NEL (11.11 pct) and Nakas (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -2.58%

    Insurance: -2.29%

    Financial Services: +1.47%

    Industrial Products: +0.46%

    Commercial: +2.75%

    Real Estate: +1.03%

    Personal & Household: +6.16%

    Food & Beverages: +0.69%

    Raw Materials: -1.18%

    Construction: +2.75%

    Oil: +2.66%

    Chemicals: -0.27%

    Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: -0.02%

    Technology: +0.74%

    Telecoms: +0.53%

    Utilities: +2.85%

    Health: -2.11%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.220

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.09

    Coca Cola HBC: 19.16

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.70

    National Bank of Greece: 1.06

    OPAP: 8.46

    OTE: 7.60

    Piraeus Bank: 0.264

    Titan: 22.40

    Grivalia Properties: 7.18

    Aegean Airlines: 7.20

    [43] Greek bond yields soar

    Greek bond prices were under heavy pressure in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday. Market sentiment was hit by less optimism over an agreement at a 24th April Eurogroup meeting and by press reports alleging that the Greek finance minister had asked the IMF for a delay in the repayment of loan installments last month, a request that was rejected.

    The three-year bond yield jumped to 27.39 pct, from 23.58 pct the previous day, while the five-year bond yield soared to 18.78 pct from 16.8 pct and the 10-year bond yield rose to 12.96 pct from 11.73 pct on Wednesday.

    [44] Greek bond market closing report

    Greek state bond yields jumped to record highs in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday on market concern over the outcome of negotiations between Greek authorities and its creditors.

    The three-year bond yield jumped to 26.83 pct from 23.58 pct on Wednesday, while the five-year bond yield jumped to 18.50 pct from 16.88 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 11.94 pct from 11.62 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 12.03 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.09 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.178 pct from 0.18 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.119 pct from 0.121 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.070 pct from 0.072 pct, the three-month rate fell to 0.002 pct from 0.004 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.032 pct.

    [45] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.63 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 38,303 contracts with 42,889 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 70,846 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (24,510), followed by Alpha Bank (9,237), Piraeus Bank (19,946), National Bank (12,807), MIG (810), OTE (1,328), PPC (443), OPAP (399), Mytilineos (195), Hellenic Petroleum (214), GEK (291), Ellaktor (114), Motor Oil (99), Hellenic Exchanges (82) and Folli Follie (44).

    [46] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.0711

    Pound sterling 0.7189

    Danish kroner 7.4637

    Swedish kroner 9.2606

    Japanese yen 127.64

    Swiss franc 1.0327

    Norwegian kroner 8.3725

    Canadian dollar 1.318

    Australian dollar 1.379

    General News

    [47] Culture ministry says will continue to claim the 'Dorias' stele with all legal means

    Greece will continue to claim the late classical 'Dorias' stele which was sold during a Christie's auction earlier on Wednesday with all available legal means, Culture ministry circles said following the news about the item.

    The sources said the fact that the stele was sold does not preclude its repatriation - an event which has happened many times in the past when evidence emerged questioning its provenance. They said a similar incident took place in 2012, when a marble Byzantine architectural segment from the Temple of the Saviour in Messinia was returned to Greece after being sold by the same auction house.

    The opposite may also happen, the same circles said; the object could be withdrawn, but due to a lack of evidence the auction house requests compensation from the Greek state. "This is why we need to handle similar cases very carefully, as the illegal activity which took place happened a long time ago," they noted, adding that the Directorate of Documentation has to remain separate from other ministry sectors because it handles very serious issues.

    [48] Anti-establishment militants attack police outside Athens University gates; teargas used

    Violent incidents involving anti-establishment rioters and police broke out late on Thursday, outside the gates of Athens university off Panepistimou Street in downtown Athens. Hoodie-wearing rioters lobbed petrol bombs and stones against police, who responded by using teargas.

    The incidents were sparked when anti-establishment militants tried to enter the university and were repelled by a strong police contingent.

    [49] Coast Guard rescues 45 undocumented migrants

    Coast Guard on Thursday rescued 45 undocumented migrants who were in a boat adrift off Messaria, Samos island.

    The undocumented migrants, among them 10 children, had left from the opposite Turkish coasts.

    [50] Visitors, revenues in museums and archaeological sites up in 2014

    Visitors to Greek museums in December 2014 increased by 19.3 percent, and revenues from entrance tickets rose by 30.2 pct compared to the same month last year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.

    It also said that in the period January-December 2014, there were 22.5 pct more visitors in museums and revenues rose by 27.9 pct, compared to the same period last year.

    In terms of archaeological sites, ELSTAT said, that the number of visitors rose by 33.8 pct in December 2014 while revenues increased by 35 pct in comparison with the same month last year.

    In the period January-December 2014, the number of visitors in archaeological sites rose by 21.9 pct and revenues increased by 13.5 pct.

    [51] Two policemen sentenced over beating Iraqi-Dutch businessman

    Two policemen were served a suspended seven-month sentence each on Thursday for beating a foreign national at the Thessaloniki International Airport "Macedonia".

    The two police sargeants were sentenced for torture at misdemeanour level while another two colleagues were found innocent.

    According to the police, on December 28, 2011 an Iraqi businessman, 36, travelling on a Dutch passport to the Netherlands through Thessaloniki got into an argument with the policemen during a check before boarding the flight. He was then led to another section for further checks and was beaten there. The man, who admitted to court that he was quarrelsome, filed a complaint with the police at Thermi and underwent a medical examination that found abrasions.

    He identified the two sentenced policemen as the chief perpetrators of the beating, while they denied it.

    [52] 6.1-magnitude quake hits off eastern coast of Crete, two smaller follow

    A 6.1-magnitude quake has struck off the eastern coast of the island of Crete near the town of Heraklion, according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute on Thursday.

    The tremor struck at 21.08 p.m. local (18:08 GMT) at a focal depth of 10 kilometres. No reports of damage or casualties have been reported yet.

    A few minutes later, two more 4.3- and 4.0-magnitude quakes followed in close proximity to the first.

    Weather forecast

    [53] Sunny on Friday

    Sunny weather and southerly winds are forecast on Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the northern parts of the country, with temperatures ranging from 06C-24C. Sunny in the western parts with temperatures between 08C-25C. Sunny in eastern parts and temperatures between 07C-25C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 10C-23C. Sunny in Athens, 09C-24C; the same for Thessaloniki, 08C-23C.

    [54] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Total restoration of labour collective contracts and minimum wage.

    DIMOKRATIA: 43.4 percent of salaries to contributions and taxes.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: The recipe is wrong.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Grexit clouds are gathering while the government...is daydreaming.

    ESTIA: We will find ourselves out of the eurozone.

    ETHNOS: Clash with the lenders at the last moment.

    IMERISSIA: Rift for the salaries.

    KATHIMERINI: Final warnings to Athens.

    Kontranews: Referendum right now in response to the "blackmailing usurers".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: The pressure net tightens.

    RIZOSPASTIS: Doctoring with 'social dialogue' onto the workers' shoulders.

    TA NEA: Halt from the lenders.

    TO PONTIKI: Social security issue will be the mother of all battles.

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