|Wednesday, 23 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-04-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 28 April 2015 Issue No: 4945
 Our aim is a deal in the first days of May, gov't Vice-President Dragasakis saysThe government's aim is to clinch an agreement with Greece's creditors within days, Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis said as he exited the first meeting of the government's newly-formed 'political negotiations' team on Monday evening.
"The agreement must be completed in the first days of May or, why not, at the end of April. This is our goal," he said.
Asked why the special team had been set up, Dragasakis said the European side had a multi-level system that was "solid and monolithic," comprising the Eurogroup, Eurogroup Working Group and technical teams.
"In this 'political negotiations team' we will handle issues requiring political handling," he added.
In addition to Dragasakis, the meeting was attended by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who is responsible for the team, Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos, who will act as its coordinator, Minister of State Nikos Pappas, Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis, government general secretary Spiros Sagias, the head of the Economic Experts Council Georgios Chouliarakis, SYRIZA Parliamentary Group secretary Christos Mantas and SYRIZA General Secretary Tasos Koronakis.
 PM Tsipras on web interview: 'We have nothing to hide'We have nothing to hide, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview on private news website "enikos.gr" on Monday, explaining his decision to appear on a live interview after a long time and speak in plain language to the people.
 New political negotiation team to have outline of a reform draft bill ready by TuesdayThe government is moving towards a gradual, step-by-step agreement with its institutional loan partners, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos said on Monday, following the first meeting of the newly-founded "political negotiation team".
The outline of a draft bill that will codify the reform proposals included in the list prepared by Varoufakis for the ongoing negotiations with the institutions will be ready by Tuesday evening and be put to discussion before the cabinet on Thursday, they said.
Varoufakis noted that the list was added to substantively. It would not include nonperforming loans or the issue of a bad bank, he underlined, but would include provisions on social insurance and taxation (including the tax service's administration and improved collection of VAT). The issue of VAT rates would be negotiated in June, he said, while a tax on overnight reservations in hotels and other tourist housing would not be included at this phase.
The provisions, he said, are "our own initiatives, and I hope they will be agreed upon by the institutions. If we agree, that can provide the basis for a medium-term agreement."
He said that the government would "do the impossible in order to achieve an honourable agreement. Negotiations will be very difficult, among the most complicated," especially he said because institutions changed views constantly. "We respect the procedures and [our loan] partners, but we have a popular mandate to change the philosophy of a programme that has failed," he added.
Tsakalotos said that "we always learn from our experiences and our mistakes; our victories and our successes are as collective as our mistakes are. That's how we will continue - collectively. The government is united, and the negotiating team is united."
Asked to respond to reports that the Greek government's negotiation team is being overhauled, Tsakalotos said "all these months we had an informal team of ministers. Now it has been formed into a body more officially. Responsibility is shared, it has always been shared."
Negotiations between Greece and its creditors are expected to restart on Wednesday.
 Gov't meeting decides establishment of political negotiation groupThe setting up of a political negotiation group was decided on Sunday at a meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, at the Maximos Mansion.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will be in charge of the group while Alternate Minister for International Relations Euclid Tsakalotos will be responsible for the group's coordination.
Government's sources noted that the support to Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was confirmed during the meeting adding that Varoufakis is always moving within the framework of the collective decisions and of the executive bodies of the government and he will continue to work for a viable solution.
A special coordination group under the government's general secretary Spyros Sagias will be created for the best support of the technical groups in Athens.
Moreover, the fiscal planning general secretary of the Finance Ministry Nikos Theoharakis was appointed to draft a plan for the growth of the Greek economy. This plan will be the basis for the new agreement in June, according to government officials.
Government Vice President and responsible of the government's council of economic policy Yiannis Dragasakis, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, Economy Minister George Stathakis, State Minister Nikos Pappas as well as Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos participated in the meeting.
 EU Commissioner Moscovici: Greece's position is in the eurozonePARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira)
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Sunday in different interviews with RTL, Le Figaro and LCI, expressed his views over the progress of the negotiations with Greece.
As for the eurozone, he said: "We have to understand that the euro is not a system of fixed exchange rates. The euro is a single currency, that means that the national currencies have been abolished. So this is something irreversible. The day when a country decides to leave the euro, there is no existing legal mechanism. Unless we are talking about leaving the EU, something that obviously no one wants ... If a country leaves, the euro is no longer a single currency and the question raised is who is next," he said.
Regarding his relation with the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, Moscovici noted: "He is a smart person, not always easy, but smart. We can find a common language and, in any case, that is what I wish ... My job is not to prepare a plan B. My job is not to prepare Greece's exit from the euro, it is not to prepare a bankruptcy. My job is to avoid all these. I absolutely hope that Greece remains in the euro. The position of Greece is in the eurozone."
Asked on the possibility of an accident, he replied: "The European Commission and the institutions are all working to avoid it. This is known and what is also known is that time is running out and we must find the money as there are some important deadlines.
Moscovici also stressed the need to speed up reforms. "Progress has been made. But this progress is not enough, it is very slow ... Time is running out ... You need to speed up," he underlined.
The EU Commissioner also said that it is not possible not to reach an agreement in June. "We will all do our best so that there is an agreement," he added.
 Rapid progress needed in the negotiations, Commissioner Moscovici's spokesperson saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Following the meetings of Finance ministers in Riga, there was a common understanding that rapid progress needs to be made in the negotiations between the Greek authorities and the representatives of the institutions, Annika Breidthardt, spokeswoman of the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, said.
Breidthardt said that negotiations were ongoing during the weekend and continue today with a Brussels Group teleconference while they will continue over the next days.
She added that talks are carried out at all levels, but a lot remains to be done at technical level. She declined to comment on the content of the negotiations or changes in the procedures.
Asked on Greek media reports regarding changes in the negotiating group, she replied: "It is important first and foremost whoever does the negotiation to have the mandate to do so."
 Goal is to keep Greece in the euro but Athens must present proposals, German FinMin's spokesman saysGermany's finance ministry again stressed that the "ball is in Greece's court" and called on Athens to quickly present proposed reforms, before the planned Eurogroup on May 11, Reuters reported on Monday.
"Our goal is to keep Greece in the euro. That's what we are working for intensively. But we have to make it clear once more that the ball is in Greece's court," German finance ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told reporters.
"We're waiting for proposals and have been waiting for weeks. It's frustrating but we are patient," Jaeger said, adding that he hoped Greece would present its proposals in time for the next scheduled meeting of euro zone finance ministers on May 11.
 Senior Italian official: 'Italy does not even consider a Grexit'ROME (ANA-MPA/T. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
Italy does not even consider a Grexit, Sandro Gozi, Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister of Italy for European Affairs told ANA-MPA on Monday, adding the problem is mainly political.
"We don't even take into account the possibility of a Grexit. I insist we're determined to find a positive compromise, because the common currency must lose members; rather it should be broadened and deepened," Gozi said.
He said the problem for Europe right now is not a contagion risk for member-states because the block is more prepared today than it was in 2012. "The problem is that an exit of a country from the Euro would constitute a serious political defeat. It is therefore primarily a political issue and we will spare no effort to achieve a positive result," he added.
 European Commission to revise downwards its estimate for Greece's growth rateThe European Commission plans to revise down its growth forecast for Greece this year, its Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis was quoted as saying to German newspaper Handelsblatt.
"In winter we expected growth of 2.5 percent in Greece this year. Our spring forecast for Greece will turn out to be more pessimistic," Dombrovskis said.
According to the newspaper, the Commission had based its winter estimates on expectations that Greece would have successfully concluded its existing economic aid programme.
 Djisselbloem notes 'growing doubts' over Greece talks in interview with' Volksrant'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Spinthourakis)
Eurogroup President Jeroen Djisselbloem reported growing pessimism among euro zone finance ministers regarding Greece, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper "Volksrant" on Monday.
Under the headline 'Doubt about the Greeks grows every day,' Djisselbloem referred to the tense Eurogroup meeting in Riga, Latvia and said that pessimism was growing, and that this also applied for him, even though the word Grexit, as such, was not spoken.
He reported a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the day after the finance ministers' meeting in Latvia on Friday, noting that he had done the same thing in a "previous crucial phase".
The negotiations process must now be truly streamlined. Otherwise, accidents happen," he said.
 An agreement needs to be reached by mid-May, SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman says"Varoufakis is a minister of the Greek government and has the full confidence of prime minister Alexis Tsipras and the Greek government's vote. There is no issue of Varoufakis leaving the government," SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Nikos Filis said in statements to VIMA FM.
Referring to the negotiations, he underlined that an agreement, the so-called bridge agreement, needs to be reached by mid-May, without measures that are against the government or the creditors' beliefs.
As for the social security system, he said that common ground will be found and pensions will not be reduced. On privatisations, Filis said that that the government has opted for the development partnerships model.
Asked on the possibility of elections or a referendum, he stated that "the government wants and agreement, but not any agreement."
"We are not going to withdraw from our pre-election promises, which are reasonable," he said adding that "we have set red lines on which we will insist and we will be judged for them."
"If we need to proceed to agreements which are against our beliefs and aims, we will certainly ask the Greek people to decide," he added.
 There will be compromise between Greece and its creditors, says minister ChountisA compromise between and Greece and its European partners will be achieved and compromises will have to be made, Alternate Minister for European Affairs Nikos Chountis told a private radio station on Monday.
"We accept you cannot claim everything, but at the same time we claim that they too will have to make their political choices," Chountis was quoted as saying to Vima FM.
The minister reiterated the government's position that Greece cannot accept ineffective measures which will intensify recession, like changes in labour laws and social security.
 No one insulted Varoufakis at the Eurogroup, Italian FinMin Padoan tells ANA-MPAROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
"No one insulted Yanis Varoufakis at the Eurogroup. The debate took place in a civilized and lively tone, but none of the participants ever expresses negative views of a colleague," Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan replied to an ANA-MPA question following a Bloomberg report.
"Our personal relations with Yanis are excellent," Padoan noted.
Regarding the negotiations with the institutions, the Italian Finance minister said: "The institutions say that the Greek government has not submitted detailed and substantive proposals to revise and supplement the ongoing programme. The message is that much time has been lost. I hope, and I am strongly in favour of it, a detailed programme to be presented in the short time left. I think there is room for an agreement and that we must work hard on this in the coming days. The aim should be, of course, for Greece to stay in the eurozone, but also to lay the foundations for economic recovery, increased family income and employment increase, in order the people stricken by the crisis to be supported."
During an interview with the Foreign Press Association in Rome, he stressed that "there is no plan B for Greece" and that "the so-called selective default is a highly theoretical approach, while, of course, the solution lies in reaching an agreement."
 President of Republic Pavlopoulos promises repayment of all debt in Spiegel interviewPresident of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos in an interview with Spiegel Online ruled out the possibility of a Grexit and promised that all the loans made to Greece will be paid back, but he was also critical of past austerity programs.
"Some of the measures imposed on us go beyond EU law," Pavlopoulos said. "We want to be equal members of Europe," he added.
Pavlopoulos feels that international lenders' criticisms of the minimum wage and other labour rights in the country are problematic. "We are not asking for anything more than for the Greek people to enjoy what Germany's Constitutional Court considers as an established social right for the German people," he said. He also claimed that parts of the austerity programmes "were not at all growth friendly, but rather would lead the Greek economy to a recessionary course."
"Greece in the late 1970s fought a great battle to join Europe," the president noted. For him, he said, it was "not conceivable to see Greece outside of Europe." He also said that he views a Grexit, Greek's possible exit from the euro zone, as unthinkable. "The thought of Grexit does not even enter my mind," he said.
Pavlopoulos stated that his country would fulfill all of its obligations. "We pay everything we owe to the last euro," he said. "We need to keep a balanced budget and gradually decrease our debt." The president also expressed optimism that the dispute over Greece's debt can still be resolved. Pavlopoulos said negotiations for a new economic aid programme are "entering the home stretch."
Pavlopoulos argues that Greece's accession to the EU was made possible in large parts by former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former French President Val?ry Giscard d'Estaing despite the reservations of the European Commission. He said the situation was similar when Greece later joined the euro zone. "I believe that, on, certain issues, Europe should sometimes operate on political decisions, bypassing technocrats, when the technocratic viewpoint is contrary to the grand, long-term goals of the EU," he said.
Pavlopoulos has adopted a more conciliatory tone toward Germany. "I believe they want a European Germany and not a Germanic Europe," he said of Merkel and Schaeuble. He stressed the "very good" personal relations he had with Schaeuble, who used to be his counterpart when Pavlopoulos was Greece's Interior minister.
The Greek president said he is also planning talks with his German counterpart Joachim Gauck. "I will expedite as soon as possible my visit to Germany," he said. Pavlopoulos said he also wants to use the visit to discuss the matter of German reparations payments for Nazi war crimes, which he has long supported. Gauck had asked forgiveness for German war crimes during a visit to Greece last year, although he did not openly support the call for reparations.
Pavlopoulos called Gauck's statement an important one. But he added that both he and respected German legal experts consider Greece's claims to have "legal validity and it is also our right to use a legal process to satisfy them." He said the two countries should find a common forum to decide the issue, like the International Court of Justice in The Hague. "This is how civilized countries settle their differences," he said.
Pavlopoulos clearly denied threats from other Greek politicians to confiscate property in Greece owned by the German state. "Let me stress that no reasonable person in Greece is thinking about Greece taking unilateral actions," he commented. The Greek president said the seizure of German property was not a consideration. "Such talk is nonsense," he said. Pavlopoulos also said he would be open to the idea of a trust fund through which Greek Nazi victims could receive individual compensation. "In principle, this is something we can discuss."
 State Minister Pappas: We need a public broadcaster free from the pathogenies of the past"Public Broadcaster (ERT) revival is a resounding response of dignity, a victory of the democracy" stated State Minister Nikos Pappas opening the debate on ERT draft law in parliament on Monday.
"The government decided to give a resounding answer of dignity to those who attempted to keep alive the conditions of impoverishment of the Greek people not only in the economic but also in the cultural field," he said and called on all the political parties to contribute to the regeneration of the public broadcaster.
"We need a public broadcaster open and free from the pathogenies of the past. A counterbalance to the propaganda, independent from any state intervention but mostly independent from the private interests as the draft law specifies," he said adding that the aim is the relation between the citizen and the public broadcaster to be restored.
 Government will not back down on pension cuts, social insurance minister tells 'Sto Kokkino'The government will stand by a promise not to cut pensions, either main or supplementary, Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis stressed on Monday on the radio station "Sto Kokkino".
"The government's commitment applies fully," he said, adding that the ministry was not in talks with the institutions for cuts to 'higher' supplementary pensions or 'high-level' main pensions "for the simple reason that such pensions do not exist, since all that was demolished after five consecutive major reductions in the last five years of the memorandum, with the result that pensions are reduced by 40-50 pct."
For supplementary pensions, in particular, Stratoulis noted that the average supplementary pension in 2010 was at 271 euros a month, whereas it had now fallen to 194.72 euros a month gross. "Essentially, after you subtract taxes and Generational Solidarity Insurance Capital (AKAGE), it does not exceed 170 euros," he added.
 FM Kotzias on the appointment of ambassadorsThe selection and appointment of ambassadors were made based on the respect to the spirit of the law, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in a letter submitted to Parliament after a question by New Democracy deputy Olga Kefalogianni.
More specifically, the evaluation criteria were based on the work, the value and the experience of each candidate. "As it is already known, the same criteria were used for the selection of my close associates. The corruption and the hypocrisy policies belong to the past," the Foreign Minister underlined.
In her question, Kefalogianni said that successive governments and Foreign Ministry leaders have made consistent efforts over the last years to ensure greater transparency in decision-making concerning the structure of the diplomatic service, including the procedures for the appointment of the ambassadors and the heads of Greek Diplomatic Missions abroad. "However", as the ND deputy said, "after two months in the ministry, these procedures are being violated, along with the concept of good governance" as "on March 18 it was decided in a sudden and unjustified way to cancel the appointment of eight ambassadors abroad, that had been legally decided by the competent council already in July 2014."
 ND spokesman levels criticism against government and FinMin VaroufakisMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis on Monday leveled criticism against the government saying that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and the policy he follows is the government's selections and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trapped in his choice.
He also said that "if the prime minister attempt to keep distances from Varoufakis, he will have to admit that the renowned negotiation he was, supposedly, doing has failed. So he makes him cooperate with other officials because he cannot kick him out but he cannot also let him continue like this."
 Government spokesman expresses support for FinMin Varoufakis in reply to ND"The government supports the finance minister amid the targeted and directed attacks against him," government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis said on Monday, replying to a statement by main opposition New Democracy's spokesman Costas Karagounis.
"We fully agree with Mr. Karagounis that Mr. Varoufakis....and the policy he represents is the choice of this government," he added.
Earlier, Karagounis had attacked the government, saying that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was chosen by the government and that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was now "trapped" by his choice, because an attempt to distance himself or kick out Varoufakis would be tantamount to admitting failure in the negotiations.
 Coalition's ANEL party deplores attacks on VaroufakisRuling coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) on Monday strongly criticised the attacks on the country's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, especially those originating on the domestic front.
"The fact that there are parties and political figures in Greece that not only adopt but reached the point of gloating over the offensive attacks that Varoufakis received and continues to receive from the partners and the international media that support them is a source of sorrow," ANEL spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said.
Those justifying these attacks at home should remember that these were not targeted only at Varoufakis but also Greece, she added.
 ND leader Samaras to meet Schulz, Pittella, Verhofstadt in StrasbourgMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras is scheduled to depart for Strasbourg on Tuesday, after attending a memorial service for the late Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis.
Samaras will attend and speak at a regular session of the European People's Party group (EPP) in the European Parliament and will also meet with several European officials.
He is scheduled to meet with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) leader Gianni Pittella and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) leader Guy Verhofstadt.
According to New Democracy, Samaras' aim is to support the efforts to achieve an agreement and explain European partners that Greek people don't want to exit the Eurozone.
The party also said that the strategy followed by the government, which leads to a rift with the country's partners, is very dangerous for the Greek economy and called on the government to sign a deal quickly and implement the agreed reforms.
 Potami leader agrees with 'reshuffle' in Greek negotiating team, urges Tsipras to take decisionsThe leader of Potami party, Stavros Theodorakis, said on Monday he agrees with the changes in Greece's negotiating team, but said the prime minister must take some decisions himself.
"A lot of time has been wasted; a prudent negotiating group should have been set up a lot sooner, which would have brought an immediate result for the Greek people - we had told this the prime minister in February," Theodorakis said during a two-day visit to Madrid where he's meeting with Spanish political leaders.
"So changes are good, but the best would be for the prime minister to finally take some decisions. He shouldn't care about balancing between the government's 'Babel'; he should provide the solutions himself, immediately," the leader of Potami added.
 Communist Party criticises ongoing negotiations between government and creditorsThe government is preparing the ground for new austerity measures, the Communist Party of Greece said on Monday, commenting on the ongoing negotiations between Greece and its lenders.
"While the coalition government of SYRIZA-ANEL is negotiating new commitments with the EU and our lenders, regardless of who will form its 'negotiating team', it is also preparing the ground for new measures which will add to those already in place by the laws passed through the memorandums of the previous ND-PASOK governments," the party said.
 Draft law on public administration an initial proof of government's will, say ministersAn initial proof of the government's will to restore the injustices provoked by the 'memorandum's counter reform" and the "clientele state" of the previous governments called Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis and Alternate Minister of Administrative Reform George Katrougalos the draft law for the re-hiring of 3,900 laid off civil servants in a meeting on Monday with the press ahead of the voting of the draft law in parliament by May 5 the latest.
Voutsis noted that with the people's support the government will implement all its commitments and in parallel he appeared optimistic along with Katrougalos, for a just agreement with the partners.
They also said that all injustices of the past could not be restored, however, both ministers pledged that they will make every effort so that the injustices are addressed through legislations that will be tabled in the future.
 Municipalities' union insists on legislative exemption of fund categories from transfer to Bank of GreeceThe Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) insists on legislation that expressly exempts certain categories of funds from the cash reserves that must be transferred to a special Bank of Greece account, in a decision take during an emergency KEDE board meeting on Monday.
The municipalities had asked that these categories should be exempted from the measure and, based on their decision on Monday, they will not comply with the legislative act for the transfer ratified by Parliament last Friday until this demand is met.
 PM Tsipras to meet Attica regional authority governor on TuesdayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet Attica regional authority governor Rena Dourou at his offices on Tuesday at 13:00, it was announced.
Dourou had been unable to attend a meeting between the prime minister and the Union of Greek Regions held last Saturday because she was not in the country at the time.
 Civil Protection Minister to hold 'citizens' hour' at ministry once a monthAlternate Civil Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis has extended "Citizens' Hour" to include himself and the leadership of the ministry, which will receive members of the public to hear complaints, proposals and any other feedback at the ministry for two hours each month, starting on Thursday.
The measure has already been announced on the level of local police stations, where station chiefs will receive residents and establish direct feedback with citizens in a bid to cultivate better relations between the police and the public.
The aim is to establish personal contact and direct communication so that there is an objective picture of the state of society and proper handling of issues that concern citizens.
Members of the public interested in making an appointment can do so via the telephone line 210-6988177. Depending on the issue they wish to discuss, a meeting will be arranged with either the minister, the ministry general secretaries or the director of Panousis' office.
 Amendment extends state funding to parties with 1.5 pct of votes in Euro-electionsAn interior ministry amendment tabled in Parliament on Monday will extend eligibility for state funding to parties and party coalitions that receive at least 1.5 pct of votes nationwide in European Parliament elections. The amendment has been attached to a draft bill on public administration that will go before the plenum this week.
The amendment will have no impact on the budget, since there is no change to the final amount being distributed between the parties.
 FRONTEX Dep. Executive Director Arias' interview to ANA-MPAThe executive board of Frontex, the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at External Borders, is currently elaborating a plan for the extension the agency's operations throughout the Mediterranean and the Western Balkans, with the more effective confrontation of irregular migration, Frontex deputy executive director Gil Arias revealed in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday.
A few hours after the conclusion of the extraordinary summit on immigration and the first announcements by European political leaders, Arias spoke to ANA-MPA and explained the role Frontex will have in the new European policy, as well as commenting on the results of the Summit. Arias explained that Frontex will not participate in the planned operations to locate and destroy the human-traffickers' vessels, operations that will have a military character and will be coordinated by the European Agency of External Action.
Moreover, Arias stated that Frontex's top priority is to save the lives of the people in danger.
The full interview with Gil Arias in Greek is available for subscribers on the ANA-MPA WebTV service via the website, and the original audio interview in English is available as an attachment.
 Distomo massacre survivor meets PM Tsipras, hails efforts on war reparationsThe meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Distomo massacre survivor Argyris Sfoundouris ended on Monday afternoon with the latter hailing the premier's efforts to claim war reparations.
Sfoundouris was four years old on June 10, 1944 when German troops stormed his village in Distomo, central Greece, and killed 218 men, women and children, among which his parents.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Sfoundouris said he asked Tsipras "to continue the struggle he started, mainly on the issue of war reparations, which I have been struggling for for 20 years, and I truly hope we may open the path Germans have been trying to close."
He added that the prime minister assured him he will continue his efforts and that there's an international council of experts which will present their opinion on what can be done and what is the best legal way to deal with the issue.
Asked whether he will participate in the parliamentary committee on war reparations, he said he hasn't been asked, adding that he's already participating through his struggle.
The meeting was also attended by Alternate Defence Minister Costas Isychos.
 President receives Distomo survivor Argyris Sfoundouris"The state does not forget," President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Monday, as he received WWII Distomo massacre survivor Argyris Sfoundouris at the presidential mansion.
Pavlopoulos noted that Sfoundouris represented a significant part of the history of the Nazi occupation in Greece and of the "debt we owe to the victims of Nazi atrocities".
Sfoundouris welcomed the president's remarks, especially his statement that the "state does not forget," and noted that "during the last 20 years in when I was fighting, I was not always sure of [this]."
The president also highlighted Sfoundouris personal contribution and the debt owed to him, saying the meeting between them was a reflection of this and "the least we can do".
Sfoundouris was accompanied by Alternate Defence Minister Kostas Isichos.
 National cadastre opens new areas to registration, posts others for review by ownersCadastre data for eleven municipalities of Attica were posted as of today (April 27) publicly for review by owners, before the data enters the land registry officially.
The National Cadastre & Mapping Agency ("ktimatologio"), which aims at officially recording all pieces of Greek land for identification and mapping purposes, has been opening gradually and with several starts and stops for several areas in Greece. Once landlords submit data on their land (whether built or not) by a certain deadline, the cadastre company posts the results for a final check before data is official. Registration is obligatory.
Today (Monday, April 27), the areas that were posted for review by owners include Alimos, Aspropyrgos, Dafni, Elliniko, Haidari, Ilion, Mandra, Moschato, Petroupoli, Tavros and Ymittos. The data will be available for amendations by owners at local cadastre offices until June 30, or two months later for expatriate Greeks.
At the same time, first-time registration opened for properties in both Attica and Boeotia. The deadline is July 27 for residents of Greece and October 27 for expatriates and the Greek state.
Areas being registered include the areas of Avlonas, Afidnes, Malakasa and Polidendri (all currently in the in the municipality of Oropos, Eastern Attica); and Inofita (local sections of Agios Thomas, Klidi and Inofita) and Dervenohori (local sections of Dafni, Pili, Skourta and Stefani) in the municipality of Tanagra, Boeotia (Viotia) Region.
For more information (in Greek and English), see www.ktimatologio.gr or call +30-210-6505600 and +30-2310-370500
 Several Greek companies could compete in future TAP tenders, Minister Lafazanis tells local office directorGreece has many good companies that could provide reliable service at competitive prices, and the greatest number possible should be included in the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said on Monday during a meeting with the natural gas pipeline construction consortium's Greek office director, Richard Skoufias.
Lafazanis requested of Skoufias that the tendering process to be called by the consortium invite the greatest possible number of Greek companies to submit bids and treat them equally.
 Social insurance repayment plans rise, for 2.31bln euros in outstanding contributionsA total of 86,900 individuals and entities with outstanding debts in insurance funds have made arrangements as of Monday (April 27) to pay in installments a total of 2.31 billion euros, of which 52.5 million euros have already been collected by the state.
Last week, as of April 23, the figures stood at 62,370 arrangements, for outstanding debts of 1.84 billion euros, with 41.9 million already collected by that date.
The funds standing to receive the repayments include the largest social security fund in Greece (IKA-ETAM), the self-employed and professionals fund (OAEE, as of April 2, 2015), the hospital staff fund (ETAA, as of March 30, 2015), and the Centre of Insurance Debt Collection (KEAO).
The outstanding amounts can be paid in as many as 100 installments by a new arrangement introduced by the government the first week of this month. Debts to be settled this way total as of today (April 27) 2,319,443,308.44 euros. Installments already paid as of today total 52,588,086.91 euros. Of the 86,900 applications approved, 13,690 had been filed online.
Of all debtors, 94.06 percent did not have prior active repayment plans, while 5.94 percent had forfeited earlier repayment plans.
The number of signees on the 12th day (April 14) was 21,222 (totalling 995.4 million in collectable debt, with 21.7 million collected by the date); on April 20, 38,560 (over 1.36 billion, of which 30.3 million had been collected by the date); and on April 22, 54,205 (toalling 1.68 billion in debt, with 37.9 million collected by the date).
 Super market sector sales remain under pressureA prolonged period of economic recession hitting the country in the last few years has inevitably affected the dynamic sector of supermarkets, despite the fact that the sector was one of the most strong and resilient sectors of the Greek economy, an Icap report said on Monday.
The report noted that the basic impact of the crisis was reflected in a change in consumer behavior and a decline in the value of average "basket" of household purchases. Consumers have minimised impulsive purchases, compare prices and search for the best combination between cost and value. The report stressed that the supermarket and Cash & Carry market's value totaled 11 billion euros in 2014, falling steadily in the last five years, while intense competition in the market pushed companies to look for new growth strategies, even for survival.
The report was based on a sample of 58 enterprises in the sector. Assets totaled 4.03 billion euros in 2013, down 1.8 pct from the previous year, while total medium- and long-term debt obligations and provisions fell 3.4 pct and short-term obligations fell 3.9 pct over the same period.
Sales totaled 7.41 billion euros in 2013, down 1.6 pct from 2012, gross earnings fell 2.9 pct, but operating results grew 1.3 pct to 156.3 million euros. EBITDA fell 10.4 pct to 302.3 million euros in 2013.
Eleni Demertzi, senior manager in Icap, said that the super market and cash & carry sector was one of the most significant sectors of the economy with a large number of enterprises. Large super market chains are present in almost all regions in the country. The 11 largest chains (based on turnover) operated a network of 2,0880 units around Greece, with Attica accounting for 37.2 pct of all units, followed by Central Macedonia with 24.2 pct. The number of enterprises in the sector remained big despite the fact that several companies closed or were acquired by larger super market chains in recent years.
Competition in the sector grew in the last five years as consumers have reduced spending. Average monthly spending by households for super market products was 262 euros in 2014, down 9.7 pct from 2013 and down 21.1 pct compared with 2012, according to data by the Athens University of Economics.
Super markets spent more in advertising and promotion of their activities, with ad spending through the media rising to 76.7 million euros in 2014, from 19.1 million in 2011.
 Capital market authority announces fines worth 1.025 mln euros for illegal short sellingGreece's Capital Market Authority on Monday announced the imposition of fines worth 1.025 million euros on a number of foreign investment funds for illegal short selling on the shares of National Bank and Alpha Bank.
Specifically, the authorities fined Burlington Global Capital Investments Corp with 460,000 euros, MCI Services Ltd with 400,000 euros and Quantum Partners LP with 65,000 for illegally shorting National Bank's shares. The market authorities also fined Aptus Global Financial Fund with 80,000, GFS Map Trust Macrosynergy with 10,000 euros and JP Morgan Securities Plc with 10,000 euros for illegally shorting Alpha Bank's shares.
 112 mln euros going to fund March and April welfare bonuses in municipalitiesMunicipalities in Greece will get a total of 112,644,099 euros for welfare bonuses to all applicants meeting requirements, the interior and administration reconstruction ministry announced on Monday.
The ministry said the funding came from an account held at the Loan and Consigment Fund titled "Central Independent Funds (KAP) for operational and other expenditures."
The amoung will fund March and April 2015, and extensions of current welfare bonuses (per Law 4237/2014).
 Greek and Turkish business reps meet in Thessaloniki to discuss SMEs collaborationGreek and Turkish business association representatives met in Thessaloniki on Monday to discuss issues of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in both countries and explore areas where they could work closer such as tourism, food and clothing among others.
The confederation of small and medium-sized enterprises (GSEVEE) and the Association of Commercial and Crafts Chambers of Istanbul (ISTESOB) exchanged views on issues including strong competition by multinationals and store opening on Sundays.
GSEVEE was represented by Ioannis Papargyris and ISTESOB by its president, Faik Yilmaz.
The two bodies will continue their exchanges in the future in Athens and Istanbul, their respective seats. The meeting was part of a series of contacts initiated by GSEVEE's Institute of Small Industries with other countries and agencies.
Mid-season sales to begin on May 1
The 10-day mid-season spring sales will begin throughout the country on May 1 and run until May 10, the Hellenic Retail Business Association (www.selpe.gr) announced on Monday.
On the first Sunday of the sales, May 3, all retail outlets, including shopping centres and department stores, will be open in all areas from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm.
 Alpha Trust Andromeda reports losses in Q1Alpha Trust Andromeda, a Greek-listed closed-end fund, on Monday reported after tax losses of 287,000 euros in the first quarter of 2015, from profits of 1.093 million euros in the corresponding period last year. The company's return was -3.08 pct in the first three months of 2015, compared with a -6.14 pct return of the composite index in the Athens Stock Exchange, -13.16 pct of the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index and -5.89 pct of the FTSE/ASE Mid Cap index over the same period.
The company's assets totalled 9.03 million euros, while its portfolio was invested in Greece (91.91 pct on equities, 1.50 pct on bonds and 6.59 pct on reserves).
The company's internal share value was 21.63 euros at the end of March and its share price at 18 euros, trading at a discount of 16.78 pct.
 Greek stocks end sharply higherGreek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, extending their rally for the fourth successive session, during which the composite index of the market is up 12.78 pct. Traders said market sentiment was further boosted by hopes of a positive outcome in the negotiations between Greek authorities and its creditors. The composite index rose 4.37 pct to end at 794.84 points. Bank shares were at the focus of buying activity, with the index rising 39.34 pct in the last four sessions. The Large Cap index jumped 4.51 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.38 pct higher.
Turnover was 96.833 million euros, while the market's capitalization grew around 2.0 billion from Friday.
Ellaktor (18.06 pct), GEK Terna (12.33 pct) Alpha Bank (11.15 pct), MIG (11.11 pct), Piraeus Bank (10.94 pct) and PPC (9.66 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (1.41 pct) and Folli Follie (0.25 pct) suffered losses.
Among market sectors, Banks (9.34 pct), Financial Services (8.06 pct) and Utilities (7.91 pct) scored big gains, while Personal Products (0.60 pct) and Commerce (0.20 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 82 to 31 with another 15 issues unchanged. Revoil (25.22 pct), Teletypos (19.35 pct) and Boutaris (19.23 pct) were top gainers, while Dromeas (25.37 pct), AEGEK (17.33 pct) and ANEK (16.67 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +8.06%
Industrial Products: +2.59%
Real Estate: +1.46%
Personal & Real Estate: -0.60%
Food & Beverages: +1.93%
Raw Materials: +5.53%
Travel & Leisure: +3.37%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.29
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.45
Coca Cola HBC: 19.44
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.10
National Bank of Greece: 1.20
Piraeus Bank: 0.35
Grivalia Properties: 7.04
Aegean Airlines: 7.49
 Greek bond market closing reportA decision by the Greek government to change the composition of its negotiation team, in talks with its creditors, had a positive impact on capital markets, where state bond prices rose and yields fell. The three-year bond yield fell to 22.9 pct from 25.93 pct on Friday, while the five-year bond yield fell to 16.3 pct from 18.14 pct.
In the domestic electronic secondary bond market, the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 11.57 pct from 12.08 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.74 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.17 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.171 pct from 0.172 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.114 pct from 0.115 pct, the six-month rate was unchanged at 0.066 pct, the three-month rate was -0.002 pct and the one-month rate was -0.034 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.62 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 15,389 contracts with 42,345 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 90,466 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (33,266), followed by Alpha Bank (19,128), Piraeus Bank (20,959), National Bank (11,405), OTE (1,231), PPC (882), MIG (643), OPAP (475), Hellenic Exchanges (372), Mytilineos (235), Hellenic Petroleum (306), GEK (326), Ellaktor (182), Viohalco (135), Titan (103), Jumbo (137) and Folli Follie (100).
 Greek rescue team aborts Nepal mission for lack of Indian transportA group of 25 Greek rescuers who were expected to fly to Nepal on Monday evening to participate in the international search and rescue operations to locate survivors from the strong earthquake that hit the country on Saturday had to cancel their plans as Indian authorities told them they would be unable to transfer them to Katmandu.
The first Middle Urban Search and Rescue (MUSAR) team, consisting of 20 rescuers, one doctor, four medical crew members and two trained dogs, waited for three hours at Athens' International Airport when they decided to cancel the mission. Their emergency flight from Athens to New Delhi had been scheduled for 20:00 local time.
Despite efforts by Greek diplomats in India, the country's authorities informed them they were unable to secure the transfer of the Greek rescue team with a Belgian military aircraft from New Delhi to Katmandu.
 Greek top administrative court rules in favour of Skouries mineA section of Greece's Council of State ruled on Monday that the rejection of the request of a Canadian-owned mining company to build an enrichment plant in northern Greece by a state directorate was illegal, and the company can move ahead with its construction.
The company, Hellas Gold, had appealed to the Court asking it to cancel a decision by the Environment Directorate of Central Macedonia which had rejected the construction of an enrichment plant in the area of Skouries, in Halkidiki.
The Court ruled the decision had no legal justification, saying that for the construction of mines the law allows deviations from the strict building laws. The ruling also clarified that the specific provision allowing a deviation from the law does not mean that the approval is left to the discretion of the town planning authority, but rather that it obliges the authority to approve it.
 '5 years with Myrtis' conference at the Acropolis MuseumThe conference "5 years with Myrtis" held on the five-year anniversary since the reconstruction of the 11-year-old 'Myrtis', the girl that put a face to distant antiquity, will take place on May 13 at the Acropolis museum.
The name 'Myrtis' was given to her by scientists that worked on the reconstruction of her features. Following her 'resurrection' nearly 2,500 years after she died of typhoid fever - the plague that also struck down the statesman Pericles and one third of all Athenians at that time - she was now also made a "Millenium Friend" and her picture posted on a website supporting the UN Millenium Goals as a message to the world about disease prevention.
Live streaming of the conference will be available at ANA-MPA website.
"My death was inevitable. In the 5th century BC we had neither the knowledge nor the means to fight deadly illnesses. However, you, the people of the 21st century, have no excuse. You possess all the necessary means and resources to save the lives of millions of people. To save the lives of millions of children like me who are dying of preventable and curable diseases.
2,500 years after my death, I hope that my message will engage and inspire more people to work and make the Millennium Development Goals a reality," a letter posted next to her picture says.
Her bones were discovered in 1994-1995, in a mass grave with another 150 bodies, during work to build the metro station in Kerameikos. Her skull was in an unusually good condition and this inspired Professor Papagrigorakis to enlist the help of specialist scientists from Sweden to recreate her features, using the 'Manchester' facial reconstruction technique.
The final result, wearing a linen dress made especially for the purpose by Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki based on images of clothing styles of that time, forms the backbone of an exhibition that explores both the various stages of a facial reconstruction. It also exhibits the finds uncovered by archaeologists at Kerameikos, which date around 430-426 B.C. and are linked with the plague that contributed to Athens' defeat from Sparta during the Peloponnesian Wars.
Scientists decided to give 'Myrtis' brown eyes and brown hair, arranged in a Classical era style, like the majority of Athenians at that time but stressed that her true colours could only be discovered by expensive DNA analysis that has not yet been carried out.
DNA analysis techniques have confirmed, however, that Myrtis and two other bodies in the mass grave had died of typhoid fever, confirming theories about the historic plague.
When orthodontics professor Manolis Papagrigorakis, the man who first conceived the project of reconstructing Myrtis, was asked how much the ancient Greeks resemble to modern Greeks, he replied: "My study at the University of Bergen in Norway showed that the skull of modern Greeks is exactly the same, statistically, while the cerebral skull has changed, this is normal and this is how it needed to be developed ... due to the human evolution."
According to the World Health Organization, 500,000-700,000 people still die from typhoid fever every year and almost nine million children under the age of five die from diseases that can be prevented and cured.
The conference is held under the auspices of the University of Athens, the Ministry of Research and Innovation, the UN and the Norwegian Embassy in Athens.
 Applications for help under humanitarian crisis programme reach 60,540The number of applications for assistance via the humanitarian crisis programme has reached 60,540 on Monday, one week after the process began. Roughly half (31,308) were submitted privately and the rest (29,232) via Citizen Service Centres.
The largest single bloc of applications was for food aid subsidies (20,635), followed by those seeking assistance with both food and access to power (17,936), while a large number of households applied for all three types of assistance, including food, rent and power (14,121). There were also 5,595 households seeking a combination of food and rent assistance, the same number seeking rent subsidies and cheaper electricity, 1,206 applications for rent subsidies only and just 622 only seeking free reconnection to the power grid.
 Supreme Court prosecutor rejects Panos Germanos petition against Siemens trial indictment, source saysThe Supreme Court Prosecutor has rejected a petition by businessman Panos Germanos, the owner of the Greek 'Germanos' electronic goods chain store, against his indictment to stand trial over the Siemens kickbacks scandal, sources said on Monday.
Germanos is among 32 defendants facing charges in connection with a kickbacks and money-laundering case linked to the purchase of German submarines by the Hellenic Navy.
Others up on charges include a prominent ship owner, Michael Matantos, businessman Alexandros Avataggelos, former ministry officials, former executives at Siemens and in banks, associates of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and a former head of the Hellenic Shipyards at Skaramangas.
Since the Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis rejected Germanos' petition, all 32 will stand trial in the case, the same source said.
 Olympiakos club president Marinakis before Corruption Magistrate in June, sources sayOlympiakos Pireaus club president Vangelis Marinakis may appear before a Corruption Magistrate on a set of serious charges including match-fixing and running a criminal organisation in early June, sources revealed.
The Olympiakos president was on Monday given a deadline to prepare his testimony, via the lawyer representing him.
Testimony concerning the case was given to the Corruption Magistrate on Monday by major Levadiakos club shareholder Yiannis Kobotis, who faces a charge of bribery. He was then released on condition that he has no involvement in any sporting events or club activities.
The magistrate also gave early June deadlines to former Hellenic Football Federation legal consultant Theodoros Kouridis and HFF board member Aristidis Stathopoulos, in order to prepare their testimony.
 Policemen who beat man senseless get suspended sentences eight years laterTwo policemen who brutally beat a man eight years ago leaving him with permanent damage and who were repeatedly excused from liability - including after a sworn administrative inquiry (EDE) - were each served with an eight-year suspended sentence on Monday.
According to the prosecutor who initiated the case, the two policemen - one of whom is on pension - arrested Christos Chronopoulos, now 40, on May 22, 2007 after store owners in the area called them in at the district of Kallithea, southwest Athens, for "eccentric behaviour" and bothering customers.
The man was taken to the local police station "in a heightened state" but in good health, clear-headed and talkative. A few hours later, however, he was taken by ambulance to hospital with multiple head and body injuries and in semi-comatose condition. He was operated on and remained in intensive care for two months, after which he spent three months in a neurological surgery unit and another six in a rehabilitation centre.
The prosecutor in the case said the young man was brutally beaten in the detention cell by policemen who used "fracture-creating blunt instruments." His head injuries resulted in incontinence, post-traumatic amnesia, epilepsy, vision impairment and serious difficulty in walking. He can no longer function without assistance and is being looked after by relatives.
Four policemen were originally charged; two who responded to the call and a policeman on duty as well as the detention officer at Kallithea police station. The court today (Monday) changed the charges to a misdemeanour for the policemen on motorcycles (Dias unit) who arrested Chronopoulos; they were let off because of the five-year statute of limitations.
The torture case followed a series of absolutions by justice before being opened again, as the policemen had not faced trial because of orders of dismissal, continuous postponements of the trial and charges filed against the policemen two years after the incident. According to an EDE, which dismissed the charges, the man's case was described as a "self-injury" during an alleged attempt to escape arrest, in which "he injured himself (by falling against) the cafeteria's bar."
Chronopoulos, who was present during the trial, burst into tears of relief when he heard the verdict.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Greece sent to the detachment
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Brussels' media network
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pensions as of the age of 62 for 12 categories of insured
ETHNOS: Two moves to overcome the impasse
NAFTEMPORIKI: Initiatives for a solution
TA NEA: They are asking for the 'head' of Varoufakis
Kontranews: Agreement or elections and referendum?
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