|Saturday, 26 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 21 April 2015 Issue No: 4939
 PM Tsipras: Greek democracy can't be blackmailedThe message to all directions in Greece and abroad "that the Greek democracy cannot be blackmailed" sent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during his visit to the Civil Protection Ministry on Monday.
Moreover, he expressed his support to the police and fire brigade's mission and underlined the need for patrolling in the streets so that their work is upgraded.
In his statement, he declared no tolerance to corruption and crime and underlined that under no circumstances should the democratic balance in the management of conflicts and crises be considered as weakness of the government.
The prime minister met with Alternate Civil Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis and National Intelligence Service (EYP) chief Yannis Roubatis and discussed issues related to the national security and foreign danger including the djihadism issue.
In his address to the political leadership and armed forces high officials, the prime minister underlined the police's role regarding the respect to the law, the rights and the freedom as well as the consolidation of the citizens' safety and safeguarding of the order. He referred to a three-axis plan for meeting this target of the police's double role, something that concern both the Fire Brigade and the Citizens Protection.
Tsipras said that the new government supports the people's freedom and rights as well as the need for the state to function effectively and to follow the rule of law.
The premier also noted that the government is working hard towards this direction so that the lawful transparent exercise of the constitutional authorities is held within a climate of mild management, calmness and without exaggerations. He added that "many times this has a political cost but we are ready to undertake the political cost in order to have a positive result". The obsession with democracy, transparency and the respect to the Constitution is a government choice and not weakness. Tsipras also reassured that all those he said from the very first day of his governance as well as in the policy statements and mostly his statement that "the Greek democracy cannot be blackmailed is addressed to all directions inside and outside the country " and underlined that "those who believe that can blackmail the democracy and to break the social cohesion are fooling themselves."
On his part, Panousis said that Tsipras' presence marks the state's trust to the police and to the fire brigade. He noted that the ministry' leadership will not tolerate phenomena of uncontrolled violence, racism and distinction of people and citizens. "We will examine each case separately," he noted and said that the police will respect the Constitution, the human rights and will serve the country's interest. He called crucial the question whether police can bear the burden of safeguarding the social cohesion and noted that the collective action is a factor of the social operation adding that police will face crime incidents and that every protester is not police's enemy and this is something that must become clear in the police department that copes with demonstrations and protesters.
 The government will do everything to assist the work of the Greek Police, PM Tsipras saysThe government will do everything to assist the work of the Greek Police, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday after a meeting with Alternate Civil Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis and assured that the leadership is working on providing solutions to police officers' everyday problems and finding resources to gradually address salary injustices.
The way police perceives its role reflects the level of the Democracy in a country, Tsipras said and added: "The main issue is to have police that has combat effectiveness and implements the Constitution and the laws." We want, he added, Police that will be, apart from effective, citizen-friendly and will respect the individual rights.
Addressing Police officers, he said that "the prestige of the police and the great respect of society cannot be earned with excessive zeal and abuse of power but with training and respect for the laws and above all the realization that a function is carried out." The police officer carries out a dangerous function and fulfilling the duties is tough, Tsipras said and added that the wager is to ensure the order while respecting the Constitution.
 New Democracy spokesman Karagounis on PM Tsipras' statementsMain opposition New Democracy on Monday levelled criticism against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras over his statements after the meeting with Alternate Civil Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis.
New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis accused Tsipras of remembering today that the police must respect the individual rights and laws in democracies and noted: "What he forgot to say is that in democracies and the rule of law, the parliament does not pass laws to set free terrorists with some pretexts, that some people unfortunately still consider ideological comrades."
Karagounis added that "neither a culture of police targeting as a supposedly repressive mechanism is being created under the table, while its role, as we all know, is the protection of legality and it perfectly fulfills it when it is left to do so."
 Brussels Group meeting in Paris continues on Monday and Tuesday, EU Commission spokesperson saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The meeting of the Brussels Group in Paris, which was carried out during the weekend, continues on Monday and Tuesday, EU Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said on Monday.
Schinas said that discussions continue both on political and technical level and noted that the pace has accelerated during the last few days. According to Schinas, talks advance ahead of the informal Eurogroup meeting in Riga, Latvia on April 24 during which Eurozone Finance ministers will have the opportunity to take stock of the situation.
He noted that the European Commission on its part continues working intensively on all levels so as to facilitate the reaching of an agreement.
Asked why the Brussels Group meets in Paris, Schinas said this was due purely to practical reasons.
 There is no time to lose, EU Commissioner Moscovici says on GreecePARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira)
"There is no time to lose," European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici told iTele TV on Monday referring to Greece.
When asked whether the possibility of Greece's exit is a real threat, Moscovici, who participated in the IMF's meeting in Washington, admitted that "indeed there is real concern."
"It is true that there is concern because we have not managed to negotiate credible reforms in economic, social and financial terms with the Greek government, so that there are guarantees for the financing of Greece. What I am saying this morning is that we must reach an agreement," the Commissioner explained and added:" My wish is to keep Greece in the eurozone. I totally hope so. I wish that for Greece, for the Greeks and for Europe. But this must be done now. There is no time to lose. The Greek government should deliver the reforms we are asking for, put on the table a reform programme that is ambitious, reliable and fair. There is no time to lose."
Moscovici also referred to the very slow progress in the cooperation. "Undoubtedly, we are working together, but we are progressing very slowly, we do not go fast enough, do not go far enough, while in the meantime the financing needs continue to grow and funding sources are inadequate. So now I suggest 'attention'. The issue is urgent. We must proceed decisively, we must move quickly and I am asking the Greek government to proceed with the necessary steps," he said.
"I have no plan B, I only have a plan A, and plan A is Greece in the eurozone, but for Greece to stay in the eurozone we need reforms, we cannot prevaricate," Moscovici concluded.
 Greece's negotiations with its creditors have gained momentum, but are far from completion, IMF's Thomsen saysGreece's negotiations with its international creditors have gained some momentum, but are far from completion, the director of the IMF's European Department Poul Thomsen on Monday said.
"There was a little more impetus to the negotiations between the three institutions and the Greek government for several days. This is a good development and gives us reason to hope," Thomsen told the German newspaper Handelsblatt, adding that (negotiations) remain "far from the target" and that much more momentum is needed in the talks to reach an agreement in time.
Thomsen warned against underestimating the risks that would be associated with a possible Greek exit from the eurozone. "No one should consider that a Grexit will not have any problems," he said adding that the cash reserves of the Greek government will probably last until June.
He concluded that the eurozone must send "a very strong political message" that is further consolidated to eliminate such risks, noting that a stronger fiscal and political union is needed in the long term.
 U.S. State Secretary John Kerry welcomes FM Nikos KotziasU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry referred to the close relations of the United States and Greece in welcoming remarks on the visit of his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, at the State Department on Monday.
Kerry noted that the times are challenging and noted the sacrifices the people of Greece had to assume because of the economic challenges. He also referred to the challenges of terrorism and fighting it, and expressed trust in Greece's ability to reform and to set a new path in its future.
Kotzias said he is there as a friend to someone who works with Greece for democracy and peace against terrorism, and said "we can be sure that the new law on prisoners will not allow any terrorist to walk freely - it will be just a change in the detention method, and nobody will be set free."
Following the meeting, Kotzias is expected to brief Greek correspondents. Later he is scheduled to meet at the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C., with representatives of the Jewish American organizations AIPAC and B'nai B'rith.
 Meeting between PM Tsipras, FinMin Varoufakis ends after briefingA meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis concluded on Monday night at Maximos Mansion.
According to government sources, Varoufakis briefed the premier on the progress of negotiations with the institutions (the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, Greece's lenders) and about his contacts during a recent trip to the United States.
 FinMin Varoufakis warns of Grexit contagionFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that if Greece were to leave the euro zone, there would be an inevitable contagion effect, according to Reuters news agency.
"Anyone who toys with the idea of cutting off bits of the euro zone hoping the rest will survive is playing with fire," he told La Sexta, a Spanish TV channel, in an interview recorded 10 days ago.
"Some claim that the rest of Europe has been ring-fenced from Greece and that the ECB has tools at its disposal to amputate Greece, if need be, cauterize the wound and allow the rest of euro zone to carry on," he added.
"I very much doubt that that is the case. Not just because of Greece but for any part of the union," he said.
"Once the idea enters peoples' minds that monetary union is not forever, speculation begins ... who's next? That question is the solvent of any monetary union. Sooner or later it's going to start raising interest rates, political tensions, capital flight," Varoufakis underlined.
His comments were recorded before those of Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank's president, who this weekend said the euro zone was better equipped than it had been in the past to deal with a new Greek crisis but warned of uncharted waters if the situation deteriorates.
 The migration-refugee issue has become explosive, government sources sayThe migration-refugee issue has become explosive, government sources noted on the sidelines of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' visit to Civil Protection ministry on Monday.
The same sources referred to the refugee flows from Syria noting this was an exceptionally complex issue. They said that domestic confrontation is not important as the situation exceeds us and noted that it is a serious political issue that concerns the European Union. For this reason, they said, the Greek premier is in constant contact with the EU Commission handling the issue, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy as Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta bear the brunt of the problem.
The same sources said that the government's efforts are focused on finding reception and hospitality premises and referred to the 90 million euro funds, originally allocated for the refugees' reception, that have remained untapped in the last two and a half years.
 Greek health minister puts migration issue on agenda of EU informal meeting in RigaRecent developments in the migration issue will be discussed ex agenda on Tuesday, the second and last day of an informal meeting of EU health ministers meeting in Riga, following an initiative by Greek Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis.
Kouroumblis' intervention was supported by Italy, Malta and Cyprus in the meeting at the capital of Latvia, current holder of the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Speaking to ANA-MPA from Riga, the minister said it was necessary to have "close inter-border collaboration of these four countries in order to work on a comprehensive proposal to deal with this great problem of migration, which is expected to intensify over the next few months."
In a statement critical of the EU and the austerity policies of Greece's lenders, Kouroumblis said, "The EU cannot feign ignorance. The migration issue is not focused simply on the issue of feeding these people - it contains sensitive and complex problems and this is a burden that all of Europe should shoulder proportionately. Because Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis and its hospitals are understaffed and downgraded by the troika's policies, they cannot assume the burden of looking after the health of these persecuted people, and that's why those who are found to have health problems should be distributed for health care to all European countries."
He also noted that the Dublin II Regulation should be redefined because "under its present shape it burdens unequally the countries of entry" of migrants.
In another proposal he tabled the same day, Kouroumblis expressed concern over the astronomic cost of new therapies for chronic illnesses which he said is nonviable for all countries, not just Greece, and called for negotiations between EU member-states and pharmaceutical companise over innovative drugs for cancer and retroviruses.
"We must prevent in any way possible the fact that the entity under regulation [multinational drug companies] cannot set the terms of its regulations," he underlined. He also called for the delinking of drug pricing from their research and development cost.
 Greece, Spain and Italy to collaborate on joint plan of action for migration, with EU helpGreece, Spain and Italy are moving to a joint action plan under EU supervision to deal with the wave of migration, Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Parliament on Monday night, underlining that the Greek government has already drafted a national plan that will be presented soon.
The plan will be assisted by EU Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who will meet with ministers of the three countries. Avramopoulos will start in Spain, then Italy before arriving in Athens by the end of the week.
Voutsis said the Coastguard will be operating preventatively, without endangering lives, but without burdening the islands of North and South Aegean Sea. Migrants should not remain on the islands for more than three days before being transported to the mainland; the government was reviewing the option of a dedicated ship picking up migrants off the islands to bring them to the mainland.
Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk has called an emergency EU Summit meeting on Thursday for the migration crisis, with a plan by the European Commission that includes proposals on doubling funding and ships to protect sea borders of the EU.
 President Pavlopoulos contacts Italian counterpart, expresses sorrow over latest migrant disasterPresident of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday called his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella on the telephone, expressing his condolences for the latest tragedy involving migrants south of Lampedusa and also his concern that similar incidents seem to be continuing.
According to a presidency announcement, Pavlopoulos pointed out that Greece was also experiencing a similar tragic event with Monday's shipwreck on the shores of Rhodes.
The Greek president highlighted the need for close cooperation between all EU member-states, especially those of the European south, for a comprehensive and effective implementation of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, in order to deal with the issue of illegal migration.
He said there should be two levels of direct cooperation, one dealing with the humanitarian aspects and fundamental human rights, where he stressed that the current situation dealt a "critical blow" to Europe's culture, and secondly on the level of security, warning that its repercussions should not be underestimated.
Pavlopoulos expressed his position that close cooperation of EU member-states and immediate mobilisation of the European Commission was mandatory, since the borders of the member-states were also those of Europe.
During the phone call, President Pavlopoulos extended an invitation to his Italian counterpart to visit Greece, which Mattarella accepted. The date for the visit is to be arranged through diplomatic channels.
 EU needs greater solidarity on migration, Commissioner Avramopoulos saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
The EU must put an end to the continued plight of migrants, who put their lives at risk every day, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday as he arrived for the joint meeting of Foreign and Interior EU ministers IN Luxembourg which will discuss migration, following the recent tragedy in the Mediterranean.
"It is our human duty and human obligation to put an end to a continuous drama of thousands of people who are risking their lives every day in the Mediterranean," the Commissioner told reporters.
"Today we have a meeting here...and I intend to discuss concrete actions with the ministers and I believe we will have the full support of the member-states. What we need is greater responsibility and solidarity," he added.
EU Commissioner Avramopoulos has phone contact with Potami leader; to meet Greek ministers on migration issue on Friday
EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday had a phone contact with Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis.
Avramopoulos informed Theodorakis on the meeting scheduled for Monday in Luxembourg with EU Interior and Foreign Ministers, with the participation of Avramopoulos himself, to discuss measures that need to be taken on a European level to deal with the migrant flows.
The two officials agreed that the focus should be on the refugees' rescue and caring while at the same time there should be pressure on countries around Europe to contain migrant and refugee flows.
Theodorakis briefed Avramopoulos on his recent visit to the island of Lesvos and noted that Europe has a lot to do so that countries on the EU borders are not turned into a "storage space for people" and the seas into water cemeteries for the thousands of refugees that seek a better life. Avramopoulos agreed that the new tragedy in the Mediterranean requires that we take bold decisions and act effectively so that we prevent new tragedies.
Avramopoulos is scheduled to visit Athens on Friday and hold a meeting with ministers responsible for the migration issue.
 EU countries must share the burden of irregular migration, says Interior ministerInterior, Administration Reconstruction Minister Nikos Voutsis on Monday described Sunday as a "bad day for humanity", following the drowning of hundreds of migrants off the coast of Italy.
Speaking at private radio station Kokkino FM, the minister accused the previous government of tolerating extreme-right party Golden Dawn for two years, which targeted and used migrants as scapegoats, while misrepresenting SYRIZA's position on immigration.
"What they said about 'open borders' are lies. The borders were opened during the crisis by others, as 200,000 scientists fled abroad," he said.
Voutsis said the government's position is that the European Union, and especially the countries of the North, must bear the share of responsibility in relation to their economic and social situation.
He also said the government is looking for hostels around the country to house about 2,500 irregular migrants adding that the lack of personnel and infrastructure is hindering the effort.
 PM Tsipras to meet with Gazprom's Miller on TuesdayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet on Tuesday at 16:00 with the head of Gazprom Alexei Miller at the Maximos Mansion. Earlier in the day (14:00) Miller will have a meeting with Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.
According to a ministry's official announcement the meetings will focus on current energy issues.
The meeting is held a few days after Tsipras' official visit to Moscow and his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian political leadership.
The main issue of the discussion is the boosting of the new pipeline that will bring natural gas from Turkey via Greece to Central Europe, an issue for which the ministry's sources said that the possibility of the signing of the initial agreement very soon is visible.
The investment for the construction of the Greek section of the pipeline is estimated at 2 billion euros and its implementation will lead to the creation of thousands of work positions as well as to the development of the competition, the geopolitical upgrading and the improvement of the supply safety for the Greek market.
The meeting's agenda also includes the participation of Russian companies in the hydrocarbons research in the Ionian Sea and the South Cretan Sea as well as the existing contract between DEPA (Greek Natural Gas Company) and Gazprom for natural gas supply.
 Our course is within Europe, within the euro zone, Greek President saysI have repeatedly said that our course is within Europe, within the euro zone, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday said in a meeting with the head of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) Theodore Fessas.
"We must move within the eurozone; the eurozone itself needs that. And I believe this will happen without further difficulties and in a definite way; because the best way to get to the markets is through the euro zone. And I hope we will soon get to see that," he said.
Pavlopoulos called industrialists to have an advisory role to the State as "you have the expertise and the people so that you can give your opinion which is valuable."
Fessas responded that SEV has offered great support and expertise to the government so that the country can get on the right track and restore the trust of the markets, attract investments and create jobs and prosperity.
He added that the issue of trust, which fights the present uncertainty of the economy, has resulted in preventing investments and it should be resolved as soon as possible.
 Greece will not exit the eurozone, says ECB VP ConstancioGreece will not leave the single currency, European Central Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio said on Monday, noting the bank's support towards the country.
"We are convinced at the ECB that there will be no Greek exit," he told the European Parliament. "The (European Union) treaty does not foresee that a country can be formally, legally expelled from the euro. We think it should not happen."
Discussing a possible Greek default or imposing capital controls, Constancio noted that neither necessarily meant a departure from the eurozone.
"If a default will happen ... the legislation does not allow that a country that has a default ... can be expelled from the euro," he said adding that Greek banks had been told not to increase their exposure to the state to avoid "a possible credit event regarding the state".
He also said that if Greece defaults, that has no automatic implications on the banks, if the banks have not defaulted, if they are solvent and if they have collateral that is accepted.
 Greek government respects memory of victims of terrorism, gov't sources sayThe Greek government respects the memory of the victims of terrorism and the views of the U.S. Ambassador, but the law voted in Parliament does not release terrorists, government sources said on Monday, responding to the comments made by the U.S. envoy.
"The Greek government respects the memory of terrorism victims and listened carefully to the remarks of the U.S. Ambassador David Pearce. However the law voted in Parliament does not lead to the release of any terrorists," the sources said.
"Equality before the law, the rule of law and respect for human rights as they are defined by the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, are inviolable conditions for democratic governance. The same also applies to all well-governed countries around the world," they added.
The same sources said the government is against provisions that favour specific individuals and that the law in question concerns a narrow category of prisoners who are 80 pct handicapped. They noted that those prisoners will have to fulfill specific requirements and will be forced to wear an electronic bracelet.
Concerning convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros, the sources said Greece has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for the living conditions in prison and note the provision which was voted would be unlawful if the specific prisoner was exempt.
The government sources verified that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last Thursday to express his concern on the release of Savvas Xiros. Tsipras, on his side, told Kerry the law does not concern Xiros and that the biggest threat for Europe today comes from the terrorism of jihadists.
 We are twice as much sensitive on terrorism issues, gov't sources say"We are twice as much sensitive on terrorism issues as the crimes took place in the name of the Left," government sources on Monday said on the issue over convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros that arose on the sidelines of the prime minister's visit to Civil Protection ministry.
Asked on "Savvas Xiros' release", they noted that we respect and honour the victims' memory but democracy cannot avenge and has to be generous. They also noted that in Savvas Xiros' case, we are not talking about release but home arrest with the use of a special bracelet for better monitoring and added that the law aims to put the chaos of prisons in order.
 Controversial justice ministry bill for prison reform passed in Parliament in final voteA controversial justice ministry bill reforming the prison system and abolishing Type C maximum security prisons was passed in its entirety during a final vote held in Parliament on Monday. The bill will come into force once it is published in the Government Gazette.
Included in the bill are measures that allow inmates with severe disabilities to serve the remainder of the sentence under house arrest, wearing an ankle monitor. The measure has provoked strong reactions within Greece and from abroad, since it also applies to notorious November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros.
 U.S. Ambassador: House arrest for terrorist Savvas Xiros would be 'a profoundly unfriendly act'U.S. Ambassador to Greece David D. Pearce, in a press conference held in Athens on Monday, voiced Washington's concerns about a law on prison reform that is coming to a final vote in the Greek Parliament later the same day. Under the provisions of the new legislation, convicted November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros could be eligible to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest, instead of in prison.
"If Savvas Xiros - or anyone else with the blood of American diplomats and U.S. Mission members on their hands - leaves prison, it will be seen as a profoundly unfriendly act," Ambassador Pearce said. He noted that the U.S. government had repeatedly raised its concerns about the legislation privately, confining its reaction to official contacts, "in the hope of a positive response".
"I raise these concerns directly with the Minister of Justice on April 2. I noted among other points that if Savvas Xiros were let out of prison before having served his sentence as handed down by the Greek justice system, it would be a disservice to the memory of the American diplomats he killed, and their families. We would not understand it," Pearce said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also raised Washington's concerns directly in a call to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last week, he added.
According to the ambassador, the problems of prison overcrowding and reform that the draft bill aimed to address were important but "not the issue".
"The issue is that convicted terrorists and murderers - people who have committed terrible, heinous crimes - should serve their full sentences in prison. Not in the comfort of their homes, surrounded by their friends, families, and associates," Pearce said. To release them from prison dishonoured the memory of those that they killed and violated the rights of the family members "whose lives they have shattered," he added.
"I repeat my bottom line, convicted terrorists and other criminals convicted of serious crimes should complete their sentences as handed down by the Greek justice system," Pearce stressed. He underlined that these were violent criminals who belonged in prison had no place in Greek society.
"Greece is an important force for stability in the region and has been a good partner for the United States on a number of issues, including law enforcement and counterterrorism issues.
We believe this legislation is inconsistent with the spirit of Greece's long-standing commitment to international counterterrorism cooperation and, should it pass, it would be a setback to our bilateral cooperation. This is not just a humanitarian issue, it is also an important security issue," he said.
Under the provisions of the draft bill that is now in the final stages of becoming law, inmates with severe disabilities - such as Xiros - may serve their sentence under house arrest, with an ankle monitor.
 Government reply to ND over convicted terrorist Savvas XirosGovernment spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis, responding to criticism from main opposition New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis, on Monday rejected a claim that a bill on prison reform led to the release of the convicted November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros.
"It is worth pointing out to the main opposition that house arrest with an ankle monitor does not constitute release," he said, while also rejecting ND's assertion that the measure was a "political favour" for Xiros.
"We want to remind ND's officials of the well-known case of Mr. [Christos] Karavellas of Siemens, who was not wearing an ankle monitor and is still wanted," Sakellaridis added, adding that the main opposition's reference to "political favours" was understandable, given that these were something "it knows very well, as proven daily by revelations concerning its doings."
"Implementing the rule of law is not a political favour, it is an obligation of the Hellenic Republic," he said.
 Golden Dawn trial postponed for May 7The Golden Dawn trial, which started earlier on Monday, was postponed for May 7.
Most of the defendants, including the leader of the party, Nikos Mihaloliakos, were absent.
The list of witnesses, which exceed 100, includes among others the Athens mayor George Kaminis, SYRIZA deputy Vassiliki Katrivanou, professor Nikos Alevizatos, the Photojournalist union president Marios Lolos and the parents of a murdered Pakistani worker.
Complaints were once again voiced for the choice of the Korydallos courtroom as a venue. More specifically, the mayor of Korydallos said: "Schools will be closed again on May 7. We will have again injured people as we had today. There are 11 schools in the area."
The President of Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (ESHEA) Maria Antoniadou and representatives of organisations also made similar interventions.
The presiding judge Maria Lepeniotou did not accept a debate on the issue to be held today. On her part, the prosecutor said that this is a matter of the State, which has committed to finding a solution in the future. "So," the public prosecutor concluded "the process will start here, until a better solution is found."
 Request to transfer Golden Dawn trial to a different location to be examined on May 7The request of the municipality of Korydallos and the Piraeus region to hold the Golden Dawn trial to the Athens Court of Appeal instead of the Korydallos courtroom will be examined on May 7.
The Piraeus deputy governor George Gavrilis, exiting the court room of Korydallos prison, said to ANA-MPA: "Today, the court found out that the conditions created do now allow for the trial to be held to Korydallos and the designated court room. The trial was adjourned ... and a new date, May 7, was set to hold the debate on the transfer of the trial to the Athens Court of Appeal."
 Two friends of Pavlos Fyssas reportedly attacked just before the start of the Golden Dawn trialTwo friends of the 34-year old murdered musician Pavlos Fyssas were reportedly attacked just before the start of the Golden Dawn trial on Monday.
According to the plaintiff's attorneys, five individuals just before the start of the trial attacked the two victims who had parked close to the court premises so as to attend the proceedings.
According to sources, Fyssas' friends have been slightly injured. They are now testifying to the Piraeus police department and will then go to the hospital to be checked and treated by doctors.
The attackers are still at large.
 Communist Party says Golden Dawn trial must end with convictionsThe trial of extreme-right Golden Dawn party members must end with the conviction of the murders and accomplices of the slayed musician Pavlos Fyssas and the attackers of other victims, the Communist Party of Greece said in a press release on Monday. The trial, which started earlier in the day, was postponed for May 7.
"The leadership of Golden Dawn is responsible for these and dozens of other crimes, because the party is a criminal organization, exactly because of its Nazi structure and organization," the party said adding that "it leads and guides its members to commit crimes against immigrants, workers, unionists, anti-fascists and Communists."
The Communist Party also said Golden Dawn showed its "heinous, criminal character" today when it attacked witnesses and friends of Fyssas before the start of the trial.
 SYRIZA MEP discusses views on war reparations with German State Min. RothBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos met on Monday with a German delegation headed by the Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth, following their request, to discuss the issue of war reparations.
In a statement released by Glezos after the meeting, the MEP said he reiterated the data and arguments he has repeated in the last two decades on the issue, reminding the delegation of the "historically groundless and arbitrary" opinion of the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who claimed recently that the issue is closed based on international courts. Glezos once again called on the minister to specify when and how the issue was closed.
The MEP also reiterated his standing request "to finally sign a Peace Treaty between Greece and Germany, instead of the illegitimate regime of a 'non-war situation' that exists today."
 President Pavlopoulos receives ESEE leadershipPresident of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday received the leadership of Greece's national commerce confederation ESEE, expressing hope that Greek commerce would soon see things improve.
"The course of commerce is the course of the Greek economy. I have faith in the entrepreneurial ingenuity and especially the commercial ingenuity if Greeks," he said.
Speaking on behalf of ESEE, the organisation's general secretary Georgios Karanikas said that commerce supported the government's efforts to extricate the country from the crisis and give jobs to young people, "keeping our children in our country".
ESEE President Vassilis Korkidis, on his part, painted a dire picture and described the squeeze put on the market by a dearth of liquidity as negotiations with Greece's partners dragged on without a compromise. He warned that the climate of confrontation that now seemed to predominate was causing a panic in society and the economy, as shown by the flight of 26 billion euros from Greek banks.
He also cited disappointing figures in the market during the first trimester of 2015, with sales turnover and volume at -20 pct, imports at -16 pct, and exports at -13 pct. He highlighted a -2.1 pct deflation rate for 24 straight months, negative credit expansion from banks for 52 months and zero liquidity, saying the prospects were not good as long as a climate of uncertainty and insecurity about the future of Greece's economy continued.
Korkidis also briefed the president about ESEE proposals and initiatives.
 Alternate FM calls for 'enhanced strategy' in EU-LAC relationsThe European Union needs to formulate an enhanced strategy with the economically and politically fast-developing countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis said on Monday in Brussels during an informal Foreign Affairs Council on the area.
Chountis welcomed the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the United States as well as EU High Representative Federica Mogherini's visit to the region and underscored the need for political relations that are based on equality and respect for the democratic choices and popular sovereignty of each country. The unequal EU-LAC economic relations to date, he pointed out, should from this point forward be mutually beneficial, concurrently expanding trade relations, instead of being to the detriment of LAC countries.
In closing his remarks Chountis stressed that salient global challenges, including climate change, narcotics trafficking, and security, cannot be effectively dealt with except in cooperation with these countries. The region, he noted, can and must be a model for cooperation instead of a field of competition in the exercising of foreign policy.
'We will not give in to neo-liberal rigidities which do not affect fiscal cost,' top Labour ministry official says
"We cannot give in to neo-liberal rigidities and rigour of the dominant groups in the European Union and the IMF on issues such as the labour ones which do not affect fiscal cost," a top Labour Ministry official said on Monday commenting on the course of the negotiations with the institutions and expressing optimism on the positive conclusion of the talks.
"This cannot be done by a SYRIZA-led government. The negotiation is a continuous 'bras de fer' wrestling. Most issues being discussed are political, as political will be the answers to be eventually given," the official said.
He also estimated that the interest of the institutions on the progress on the economic figures, which affect the country's ability to meet its obligations, is well-meant and added that the cooperation with the technical teams has been so far frequent and good.
"We discussed everything but we did not ask for political approval," the official said. He added that there has been significant convergence on issues such as the measures to tackle corruption, tax evasion and non-payment of social contributions and estimated that after the conclusion of this round of talks, the debt negotiation is being actually posed, without which it is almost impossible to have a final agreement.
In the meantime, the draft law for the restitution of the collective bargaining and the gradual restoring of the minimum wage to the pre-memorandum levels was submitted on Monday to the Economic and Social Council so that the social dialogue can continue.
According to labour ministry officials, the bill is expected to have been tabled by the end of May, while the draft law for the upgrade of the Labour Inspection Body and the intensification of the checks on undeclared labour will soon be put to public consultation.
 KKE on the new tragedy with refugees in the MediterraneanThe new tragedy "with the death of hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean is another proof that EU and other countries' policy, as US that is responsible for the wars in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and Northern Africa, for the refugees and the death of thousands of people, has got the characteristics of a crime against humanity," Communist (KKE) party said in a statement.
KKE underlined the huge responsibilities that SYRIZA-Independent Greeks government has assumed, noting that "Greece should not participate in this crime, it has got to stop it" and that "the disobedience to the Dublin Regulation and Schengen is an impasse for the confrontation of the refugee and migrant problem."
The party called on the government to secure decent hospitality premises for the refugees and the migrants that come to our country and take all necessary measures for the fast-track and fair granting of asylum to refugees as well as of travel documents so that they can get to the countries of actual destination.
 Greek president issues message for colonels' coup anniversaryThe criminal act against democracy perpetrated on April 21, 1967 must be retained as an indelible historical mark forever, Greek President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Monday, on the eve of the anniversary of a coup that placed the country under a seven-year dictatorship.
Democracy, he said, "by its nature, is a fragile institutional and political possession whose protection requires ceaseless conscious vigilance" and threats to it are always changing facets. "As Greeks we must not forget that the occasional traumas on the body of democracy became national traumas for Greeks everywhere that have not fully healed yet," he added.
 SYRIZA marks anniversary of Greek military dictatorshipGreece honours the struggle of the Greek people for democracy, main coalition partner SYRIZA said in a statement on Monday on the eve of the imposition of the military Junta in the country on April 21, 1967.
"Forty-eight years after the imposition of the military dictatorship in our country, we honour the struggles of the Greek people for democracy and popular sovereignty," the party said in a press release.
"We honour the members and officials of the Left, as well as all fighters of democracy who were in the front line in the 7-year fight against the dictatorship and defended human dignity against the US-supported Junta," it added.
SYRIZA also noted that in a Europe which is being crushed by austerity policies which form a fertile ground for the development of extreme-right forces, the victorious resistance of the Greek people which finally "brought the dark seven years to an end", is a hopeful message for modern struggles.
 Communist Party issues statement on dictatorship anniversaryDictatorship was imposed in Greece with the support of "plutocracy, bourgeois centres of power and the United States," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Monday, in a message on the eve of the anniversary when dictators took over Greek rule in 1967.
"The instigators of the junta arose out of the reactionary mechanisms the bourgeois state had created to strike at the working-class movement, the fighters and other progressive people, and above all, KKE itself," the party said. In a reference to "those nostalgic for the junta and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn" (Chryssi Avgi) party, it added that "this proves the bourgeois state neither wants to nor can it deal with fascist and reactionary powers being incubated in its bowels."
KKE criticised the ruling coaliton of Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and Independent Greeks (ANEL) for announcements by top-echelon members that any possible failure of the government would open the road to fascism, accusing them of "statements that essentially demand of the people to 'unconditionally' support new antipopular measures being prepared within the EU's and the monopolies' fortresses in the name of a fascist threat."
The party honoured those who died during the dictatorship and called for the people to become more prepared and unified, in order to resist such attempts and to influence developments.
 Government sources lash out at PASOK leader Venizelos on migration issueThe migration issue is not a Greek issue but an international one, government sources said in reply to criticism received by the opposition that the government serves petty political interests.
It is only main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos who do not understand the international dimension of the issue, according to the government sources. "More than 700 migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea only on Sunday with the governments of all European countries - and not only - mobilizing. The fact that Italy has received 24,000 migrants and refugees in the last month shows what the opposition does not accept, giving way to petty interests: that the issue is not Greek, but international," the same sources added.
In response to Venizelos' statements on Sunday to Alpha TV that "there are no new developments in Syria or Libya, but what has changed is the rhetoric of the government," they pointed out that it is clear that Venizelos has no idea at all of what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Libya and in other countries.
 Greece, Cyprus and Egypt to meet at state leader level on April 29 in NicosiaNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
A new trilateral meeting among Greece, Cyprus and Egypt will take place on April 29 in Nicosia, Cyprus government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday.
In statements to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (RIK), Christodoulides said that the new trilateral meeting will be held at state leader level, and that the agenda has not been set yet.
 Alt. Defence Minister Isychos meets with VP of Venezuela ArreazaAlternate National Defence Minister Costas Isychos on Monday agreed with Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Jorge Arreaza to establish a committee which will prepare a bilateral agreement for cooperation in trade, energy, banking and culture.
The two officials also discussed current affairs in both countries.
The meeting was attended by the prime minister's diplomatic adviser Vangelis Kalpadakis, the daughter of Hugo Chavez, Rosa, and the Venezuelan ambassador to Greece Farid Fernandez.
 Act transferring cash reserves of public-sector entities to Bank of Greece in government gazetteAn Act of Legislative Content transferring the cash reserves and some capital holdings of many public-sector entities to the Bank of Greece was published in the Government Gazette on Monday, becoming law. Exempt from the requirement are the state social insurance funds and companies listed on the Athens bourse, in which the state retains an ownership share.
Local authorities and entities of the general government are required to transfer any cash reserves and capital held in time deposits that is not needed to cover immediate cashflow needs within the next 15 days, to a special accounts in the Bank of Greece. Also excluded are sums deposited in the Deposits and Loans Fund.
The Act cites "an extremely urgent and unforeseeable need" for the transfer of the amounts, which will be used to cover public-sector expenses, and its effect is backdated to March 17.
Government sources made it clear that the measure did not apply to social insurance funds and noted that the the obligatory transfer of public-sector cash reserves to a special account in the Bank of Greece - allowing them to be used for the issue of repos and thus cover short-term borrowing needs of the state - was a widespread practice in the EU.
They explained that the measure applied to entities funded directly from the state budget and allowed the state to borrow for a period of up to 15 days amounts that the organisations do not need. In this way, they added, the bodies involved get a higher return on their cash reserves, given that the interest rates given by commercial banks do not exceed 1 pct, where the central bank gives an interest rate of 2.5 pct.
They also pointed to a recent government amendment that fully guarantees the cash reserves of public-sector entities with a right to compensation from the State.
Government sources noted that several bodies have already deposited their cash reserves at the BoG and are able to withdraw the amounts they wish whenever the need arises, as in the case of Attiko Metro that recently withdrew 150 million euros from the central bank.
 Greece, Bulgaria and Romania trilateral meeting on gas corridor and IGB on WednesdayProductive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Monday had a meeting with the Bulgarian Ambassador to Athens Emilia Kraleva, in preparation for Wednesday's trilateral meeting with Bulgaria and Romania on the Southern Gas Corridor and the gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB). The trilateral meeting between the energy ministers of all three countries will be held in Sofia.
During the meeting, Lafazanis referred to the need to ensure energy security and adequate supplies to the region and the EU, stressing the need to quickly complete the IGB and underlining Greece's commitment to the fastest possible construction and operation of the Southern Corridor.
The Southern Gas Corridor will link existing natural gas systems in the Balkans, allowing quantities of natural gas to be transported from north to south and vice-versa. A key component will be the IGB linking the Greek city of Komotini with the Bulgarian town of Stara Zagora.
The IGB in turn will be linked to the existing system run by Greece's natural gas transmission system operator DESFA and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will transport gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Greece, due to be completed in 2019.
 Gov't will move to confiscations for large-scale debtors not signing up for repayment programmeWhen the deadline for submitting applications to manage debts under the 100-installment application runs out, the government will move to measures of confiscation over outstanding debts, Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani said on Monday.
Responding to a parliamentary question by deputy Dimitris Kammenos of the co-ruling Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, Valavani said that the measures will be applied to large-scale debtors who have not responded to the repayment programme. She noted as examples a long list that includes "dozens of utilities, 200 industries, 60 shipping companies, football businesses, dozens of commercial enterprises and others." A total of 13,000 legal entities and 10,500 individuals owe the state over 150,000 euros each, she said.
While outstanding loans total 77 billion euros, she said, only 2.2 billion of these were brought under repayment schedules. Among others, the total includes 47.5 billion euros owed by legal entities and 20 billion owed by individuals. The government hopes to "claim a large percentage of this tremendous amount," she added.
 Commissioner Katainen to brief Greek business sector about EU funding on April 23-24BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
EU Commissioners for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen and for Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos will be visiting Athens on April 23-24.
As the Commission announced, Katainen, who is also Commission vice president, will meet with Greek political leaders, representatives of business including medium and small-sized enterprises, investors and university students to brief them about the Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, a 315-billion-euro package for EU member-states. He is also looking forward to meeting with Greek citizens, which is always helpful, he said.
According to the Commission, the package will focus on jobs, growth and competitiveness.
 Greek budget records 1.19 bln euro primary surplus in Q1?The Greek state budget showed an improved picture, on a cash basis, in the first quarter of the year, with the primary surplus rising to 1.19 billion euros in the January-March period, from a surplus of 771 million euros in the corresponding period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
The central bank, in a report, said that the state budget deficit eased to 2.0 billion euros in the first three months of 2015 from 2.34 billion in the same period last year.
In January-March 2015, the central government cash balance recorded a deficit of 918 million euros, compared to a deficit of 1.141 billion in the same period in 2014, the central bank said, adding that during this period, ordinary budget revenue amounted to 10.049 billion euros, compared to 10.529 billion in the corresponding period of last year. Revenue of 55 million euros regarding Securities Markets Programme (SMP) income transfers from the Bank of Greece is excluded from the figures. Ordinary budget expenditure amounted to 11.865 billion euros, from 12.595 billion in January-March 2014.
 Russians start inspections to future suppliers of Greek farming productsThe Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Rosselxoznadzor starts on Monday its checks to future suppliers of farming products from Greece, Hungary and India.
"Approximately twenty Greek companies will be inspected in Greece and another twenty in Hungary while only four to five companies in India. Cyprus has asked for a short extension and the inspection in Cyprus will start on April 27 in 6-8 companies," said to Russian press agency RIA-Novosti the representative of the Rosselxoznadzor Alexei Alekseenko who also noted that the inspections will be completed on April 30.
Diplomatic sources said to ANA-MPA that the Greek companies that will be checked within the next two weeks are involved in the production of dairy, poultry, cured meat products and fish from fish farming. From now on and after finding a way to lift the restrictions of the embargo, the Russian side will import products only from units that have certification from Rosselxoznadzor and will not consider the EU certifications sufficient.
 Aldemar Resort invested 2.5 mln euros to upgrade hotels in Rhodes?Aldemar Resort, a Greek hotel group, invested more than 2.5 million euros to upgrading its existing hotel infrastructure in the island of Rhodes.
Speaking to ANA-MPA, Alexandros Aggelopoulos, vice-president of Aldemar Resort Group, said a 600-room Paradise hotel - which was fully refurbished - was renamed Amilia Mare and was ready to operate. Aggelopoulos said all renovation and refurbishment works have been made by "Greek hands" and added that the hotel capacity of Rhodes was of very high standards and very competitive for hotel units which have been left behind in modernizing investments. He noted that a mixture of rebranding and repositioning policy by Aldemar Resort Group, expanding to markets beyond Russia was aimed to minimize losses expected from the Russian market this year.
Aggelopoulos stressed that tourism messages so far from the island of Rhodes were not pleasant, as bookings in May were 40 pct down compared with last year raising fears of a negative trend in tourist arrivals in 2015.
A war of prices and offers, currently underway in the international tourism market, has pressured hotel prices at very low prices, with "all inclusive" packages starting at 20 euros per day.
 Greece invites Chinese oil companies to hydrocarbon tender?Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Monday invited Chinese oil companies to participate in international tenders for hydrocarbon explorations in the Ionian and South Crete seas, during a meeting with ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Athens, Xiali Zou.
The Greek minister underlined that the participation of Chinese companies in the tender would be important both the country and for China and Chinese companies, as it could signal China's first presence in this field in Europe. Lafazanis said that the Chinese ambassador expressed interest in the invitation and pledged to brief Chinese oil companies over the tender, while the two men agreed to work towards bringing Chinese companies' representatives to Athens to discuss technical and other issues of the tender.
A deadline for expressing interest in the tender ends in July 14, after completion of a two-month extension decided by the ministry.
 Greek current account deficit up in Jan-Feb?Greece's current account deficit totaled 929 million euros in February, up 200 million euros from the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said on Monday. The central bank, in a report, attributed this development mainly to the deterioration in the primary and the secondary income accounts, as well as to a decline in the surplus of the services balance. The above developments were offset to some extent by an improvement in the balance of goods.
The deficit of the balance of goods decreased considerably by 357 million euros in February, year-on-year, mainly on account of the lower net oil import bill, which reflects the fall in oil prices. In addition, net payments for purchases of ships also declined. By contrast, the deficit of the balance of goods, excluding oil and ships registered a small increase, despite a 5.0 pct rise in export receipts, given that the corresponding imports grew more.
The surplus of the services balance shrank, owing to lower net receipts primarily from construction services and intellectual property rights (royalties), and secondarily from transport (mainly sea transport) services. However, the surplus of the travel services balance rose slightly, as a result of a significant increase (of 56 pct) in non-residents' arrivals in February and a 16.2 pct rise in the corresponding receipts, which was largely offset by an increase in travel spending abroad by residents. The primary income account showed a deficit of 175 million euros, against a surplus in the same month of 2014, mainly on account of higher net interest, dividend and profit payments and lower net other primary income, which includes taxes and subsidies on products and production. The secondary income account showed a deficit of 108 million euros, up by 87 million year-on-year, mainly on account of higher net general government payments to the EU.
In the January-February 2015 period, the current account balance showed a deficit of 1.8 billion euros, up by 711 million year-on-year. This increase is primarily attributable to the deterioration in the primary and the secondary income accounts, and secondarily in the services balance. By contrast, the balance of goods improved slightly. The deficit of the balance of goods decreased due to a drop in the net oil import bill, as a result of the fall in oil prices, and in net payments for purchases of ships, which was offset by an increase in the deficit of the balance of goods excluding oil and ships. It should be noted that exports of goods excluding oil and ships are lower in the January-February 2015 period, as they fell in January, while in February they registered an increase compared with the corresponding aggregates in 2014. The surplus of the services balance shrank, as the decline in net transport and other services receipts was only partly offset by a rise in net travel receipts. In the January-February 2015 period, total non-residents' arrivals increased by 52.7 pct year-on-year, but the corresponding receipts grew by a mere 12.4 pct. As a result of the above developments, the overall balance of goods and services recorded a deficit, which was higher by 32 million euros year-on-year. In the January-February 2015 period, the surplus of the primary income account shrank, mainly on account of higher net payments related to investment income (interest, dividends, and profits). Finally, the secondary income account recorded a deficit, against a surplus in the same period of 2014.
In February 2015, the capital account surplus fell by 1.4 billion euros year-on-year, reflecting lower net capital transfers from the EU to general government. In the January-February 2015 period, the capital account showed a small surplus of 159 million, down by 1.3 billion year-on-year.
Under portfolio investment, the net decrease (of 9.6 billion euros) in residents' external assets reflects mainly a fall (of 11.3 billion) in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills (including the transfer of EFSF notes of 10.9 billion from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund to the EFSF). Conversely, residents' net external liabilities declined (by 730 million).
Under other investment, a net increase (of 2.8 billion euros) in assets was recorded, which reflects mainly the statistical adjustment that relates to the issue of banknotes. The net decrease (of 5.3 billion) in liabilities reflects mainly a net decline of 12.3 billion euros in the outstanding debt of the public and the private sector to non-residents (of which 10.9 billion euros concern a reduction in public sector borrowing as a result of the transfer of EFSF notes from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund to the EFSF and 749 million concern principal payments to the IMF under the support mechanism). By contrast, a net increase of 4.3 billion euros was recorded in non-residents' deposit and repo holdings in Greece (the TARGET account included).
In the January-February 2015 period, residents' net assets from direct investment abroad rose by 76 million euros, while the corresponding liabilities that represent non-residents' direct investment in Greece did not show any notable change.
Under portfolio investment, the net decrease of 8.3 billion in residents' external assets is mainly due to a drop of 12.1 billion euros in residents' holdings of foreign bonds and Treasury bills. Moreover, residents' net external liabilities fell by 2.2 billion, mainly on account of a decline in non-residents' investment in Greek government bonds and Treasury bills, as well as in shares of Greek firms.
Finally, under other investment, the net increase of 12.5 billion in assets reflects mainly the statistical adjustment that relates to the issue of banknotes (2) and the rise in residents' deposit and repo holdings abroad.
At the end of February 2015, Greece's reserve assets stood at 5.7 billion euros, compared with 5.1 billion at the end of February 2014.
 Industrial turnover index down 9.8 pct in Feb?Greece's industrial turnover composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell by 9.8 pct in February, compared with the same month last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 6.5 pct decline in the mining turnover index and a 9.9 pct fall in the manufacturing turnover index. The domestic market index declined by 5.9 pct in February, while the external market index dropped by 14.2 pct in the month.
 Over 1.3 billion euros in debts to insurance funds come under settlementA total of 38,560 individuals and entities have so far, April 20, applied for payment of outstanding debts of over 1.3 billion euros to social insurance funds, 16 days after the measures for settment went into effect.
The Centre for Insurance Debt Collection (KEAO), the largest social insurance fund of Greece IKA-ETAM, the self-employed and professional fund (OAEE), the health-sector fund ETAA and the media fund ETAP-MME are among funds receiving the payments. A total of 30,351,399.14 euros has been collected already, out of a total 1,369,553,969.26 euros under settlement. The debts cover different time periods per fund.
Of all debtors, 87.77 percent do not have active settlements from beforehand.
 Greek stocks end slightly upGreek stocks eased slightly in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, unable to hold on to their early big gains. The composite index of the market fell 0.11 pct to end at 728.98 points, after rising as much as 1.91 pct early in the day. The Large Cap index eased 0.59 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 0.97 pct. Turnover was a moderate 73.19 million euros.
MIG (4.39 pct), National Bank (4.28 pct), Viohalco (4.0 pct) and Grivalia Properties (3.19 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (10.42 pct), Folli Follie (5.06 pct) and GEK Terna (3.57 pct) suffered the heaviest losses.
Among market sectors, Real Estate (2.95 pct), Insurance (2.38 pct) and Raw Materials (1.73 pct) scored big gains, while Food (2.41 pct), Telecoms (1.33 pct) and Chemicals (1.31 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 47 to 46 with another 29 issues unchanged. Kathimerini (16.13 pct), Forthnet (10 pct) and Galaxidi (9.17 pct) were top gainers, while NEL (20 pct), Fieratex (19.59 pct) and Piraeus Bank (10.42 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +2.63%
Industrial Products: +1.41%
Real Estate: +2.95%
Personal & Household: -0.84%
Food & Beverages: -2.41%
Raw Materials: +1.73%
Travel & Leisure: +0.21%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.210
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.85
Coca Cola HBC: 18.50
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.65
National Bank of Greece: 1.00
Piraeus Bank: 0.232
Grivalia Properties: 7.43
Aegean Airlines: 6.97
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek bond prices remained under heavy pressure pushing bond yields to new record highs in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday. The three-year bond yield jumped to 28.14 pct from 26.80 pct on Friday and the five-year bond yielding rose to 19.37 pct from 18.65 pct over the same periods, respectively. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 12.05 pct from 12.32 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 12.77 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.17 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate eased to 0.176 pct from 0.177 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.118 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.069 pct from 0.068 pct, the three-month rate was stable at 0.001 pct and the one-month rate unchanged at -0.032 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 2.07 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 7,289 contracts with 35,446 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 41,713 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (11,186), followed by Alpha Bank (8,994), National Bank (9,124), Eurobank (10,149), OTE (424), PPC (288), MIG (245), OPAP (358), Sidenor (107), Jumbo (104), GEK (100) and Mytilineos (75)
 Three dead after migrant vessel runs aground near Rhodes beachThe dead bodies of a man, a woman and a child were recovered from the sea on Monday after a sailing boat carrying large numbers of irregular migrants was dashed against rocks near the shore and sank, plunging those on board into the water.
The boat ran aground very near a busy Rhodes beach but many of the migrants did not know how to swim and were at risk of drowning, since the water was roughly five metres deep at that point. Coast guard officers and local residents at the beach fell into the water, helping to bring 83 people to safety.
A search is continuing, however, as there are fears that there were more migrants on board the vessel.
Authorities said that 57 of those rescued have been taken to the island's police headquarters and 23 to the Rhodes General Hospital. The majority are Syrian nationals.
Southern Aegean Regional Authority governor George Hatzimarkos, in a letter to the interior ministry concerning migration flows to the Aegean islands, once again stressed the need to reinforce both the coast guard and police force in the Dodecanese island group. He stressed that their current numbers were inadequate to effectively police an area with eight airports and seven ports serving as entrance points to the country.
The regional authority head also called the need to better equip the coast guard and police force, especially in terms of boats, and noted that there was not even a police van on the islands to transport arriving migrants.
Hatzimarkos also asked the ministry to activate a 2007 presidential decree for the foundation of border police stations on the islands, better health screening of migrants to protect public health and a series of other demands.
 Parliament Speaker to attend ceremony in memory of Greeks who died at Mauthausen concentration campVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)arliament Speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou will attend the event marking the 70-year anniversary from the liberation of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and the end of the Second World War in Austria on May 10.
Konstantopoulou will attend the ceremony in memory of the 3,700 Greeks who perished in the camp, which will include speeches, lying of wreaths and the presentation of the work of Greek music composer Mikis Theodorakis, "Mauthausen".
The main, joint ceremony at the central monument in Mauthausen will also be attended by Austrian President Heinz Fischer, the Chancellor Werner Faymann and the Parliament Speaker Doris Bures.
 Pyrgos and Ancient Olympia streets to be cleared of garbage soonIn an interim solution to a crisis that has overwhelmed Pyrgos and Ancient Olympia in the western Peloponnese over the past week, 2,000 tonnes of garbage will be moved from the streets where it has been piling after the expiration of related contracts to a managed landfill in Flokas, north of both cities, local authorities decided on Monday.
The garbage will be moved shortly since an agreement has been signed with all sides concerned, relieving the cities of the threat to health, which led local authorities to shut down schools for this week.
Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis and Environment Yiannis Tsironis attended a meeting with all parties concerned earlier in the day in Athens, and while they said the issue comes under local authority jurisdiction, they will support the search for a solution.
For the interim, the two municipalities of Elia prefecture must prepare a comprehensive master plan of managing garbage, in collaboration with the greater region's authorities, and present it by early June. The plan must include provisions on doing the bulk of material separation at source, the maximum use of organic material for composting, and recycling.
The city of Pyrgos was also called upon to put to use immediately a funding of 600,000 euros it has been granted by ministerial decision as of February 12 for the construction of a unit for mechanical separation of materials (at a cost of 500,000 euros) and the tranport of garbage to a managed landfill (at a cost of 100,000 euros).
 Super League resultsVeria defeated Asteras Tripolis by 2-0 on Monday's game of the Super League.
The results are as follows:
OFI-Panionios 0-3 (no game)
Niki Volou-Platanias 0-3 (no game)
Atromitos-PAS Yiannina 1-1
Veria-Asteras Tripolis 4-0
Standings after 31 weeks of play:
1. Olympiakos 73
2. PAOK 60
3. Panathinaikos 59
4. Asteras Tripolis 52
5. PAS Yiannina 51
6. Atromitos 50
7. Xanthi 46
8. Panetolikos 46
9. Kerkyra 40
10. Kalloni 40
11. Veria 40
12. Levadiakos 37
13. Platanias Chanion 37
14 . Panthrakikos 37
15. Ergotelis 31
16. OFI 13
17. Niki Volou 6
 The Monday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceEFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "We are the new urban guerrilla" - Confession of the Golden Dawn through its own documents.
ESTIA: Zero time for the economy.
ETHNOS: Five groups of insured in the red.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Steps of approachment (referring to negotiations between the government and the institutions).
TA NEA: Wishes and spells for collective agreements.
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