|Friday, 23 February 2024
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-05-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 5 May 2015 Issue No: 4949
 Comprehensive agreement with partners by end of May, gov't spokesman saysThe government is aiming at a comprehensive agreement with Greece's partners by the end of May or in June, which will cover a wide range of the disputed issues, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Monday said in his first press briefing, which was followed by a briefing of foreign correspondents.
Sakellaridis said that the framework of discussions with the institutions is known, pointing at the importance of liquidity and financing of the economy.
He said the government wants to reach agreement on the issues where there was a common ground and leave the issues on which there was disagreement for a new round of talks, after an agreement was reached. The spokesman said there was no question of signing a new memorandum and that the government's non-negotiable "red lines" still apply.
"Any progress made in the negotiations, and undoubtedly progress has been made, can constitute a passport to a relaxation of the policy for financing Greek society," he said. The government spokesman stated that there is always the issue of debt, adding that the Greek government will decide when and how it will raise this and that there are many ways to make it sustainable.
He also pointed out that Greece stands by its commitments while the creditors do not meet their obligations and urged Europe to fulfil its pledges.
"We want to see an effective promotion of reforms," Sakellaridis said. "This cannot be done under conditions of financial suffocation. So for us it is very important to enhance liquidity directly so as to proceed with reforms that we all agree on and for which there is convergence in the negotiations in Brussels," he added.
While briefing foreign correspondents, Sakellaridis said the government expected liquidity to be freed up before the end of May and a lifting of current barriers to financing the Greek economy, such as an increase in the limit for issuing T-bills by the ECB.
Sakellaridis said that there has been progress in the negotiations and that the Greek government is making every effort to reach an agreement as soon as possible. He expressed confidence that "we will make it as a government," adding that the agreement will be voted in Parliament.
Asked on Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, the government spokesman said that "there is absolutely no divergences of views between Mr. Varoufakis and Prime Minister nor with any other government official."
 PM Tsipras discusses ongoing negotiations with IMF's Lagarde over phonePrime Minister Alexis Tsipras had a telephone conversation with International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde on Monday evening. During their talk, they discussed issues relating to the ongoing negotiation.
 EC spokesman: Negotiations continue but there is "still work to be done"BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Greek authorities' negotiations with the representatives of the institutions at Brussels Group level continue intensively and in-depth, stated on Monday European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas.
Schinas said Brussels Group meetings were held throughout the weekend in a fruitful climate. The discussions continue intensively but there is "still work to be done" said Schinas adding that they will intensify and estimated that if they continue in the same constructive spirit they will lead to convergence of views.
He also said that the next step will be 11 May's Eurogroup where the EU Finance Minister will evaluate that conditions and noted that the Commission is working to facilitate an agreement between Greece and the institutions.
Moreover, Schinas noted that European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker will have a working lunch on Monday with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras who is paying a visit to Brussels to participate in a Wilfried Martens institute event. Schinas said that the two top officials are well acquainted and will meet today because it was not possible to meet last week in Strasbourg.
 Important steps made at Brussels Group which bring an agreement nearer, political negotiation group saysNegotiations at Brussels Group will continue on Monday. According to the political negotiation group, chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, important steps have been made which bring an agreement nearer.
According to European sources, negotiations so far have been productive and encouraging. More specifically, the procedure has been clearly improved, a specific timeline has been set, details have been defined and convergence on certain issues has been achieved.
The aim of all sides is to reach an agreement at Brussels Group level within May, government sources said, underlining that the procedure towards a comprehensive solution will have interim steps. One of these steps is the successful conclusion of the next round of the Brussels Group on Wednesday that could result in a positive assessment by the Eurogroup.
 Gov't VP Dragasakis to meet ECB's Draghi, FinMin Varoufakis France's peer Sapin on TuesdayGovernment Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis will meet with European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi on Tuesday in Frankfurt, government sources said on Monday.
The meeting, which will take place at 17.30 Greek time, will also be attended by Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos.
According to the same sources, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will meet his French counterpart Michel Sapin in Paris at 09.00 Greek time. He will then travel to Brussels where he will meet at 14.30 with the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Pierre Moscovici.
 German finance ministry claims ignorance of Athens shift to negotiating 'new overall package'BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
German finance ministry spokeswoman Friederike von Tiesenhausen on Monday said she had no information to the effect that the Greek negotiating team was no longer negotiating an end to the current programme but for a new overall aid package, as reported from Athens.
She also referred to reports at the weekend, which said there was progress in the negotiations but a number of issues that were still open.
According to the spokeswoman, there had been extensive discussion on all the steps needed to wrap up the current programme and disburse the remaining funds. She stressed that every disbursement must go through the German Parliament, since the German representative in the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) had to receive the go-ahead to release the funds.
"Therefore, before any disbursement Parliament must first convene," von Tiesenhausen added when asked whether Parliament's ratification was needed in the case of a partial disbursement of financial aid to Greece.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert, meanwhile, on Monday declined to comment on the possibility that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras might attend celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in Moscow.
He pointed out that many EU heads of state have gone to Moscow for the events, while the German Chancellor is due to visit on May 10.
Asked whether there were concerns that Greece might block further EU sanctions against Russia, Seibert pointed out that all steps had so far been taken unanimously and that all sides were working to keep it that way in the future.
 Creditors will see that reaching an agreement is in everyone's interest, SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman tells ANA-MPAThe government will not go back in the major issues during the negotiations with the creditors, SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Nikos Filis told ANA-MPA on Monday.
He also expressed optimism that the creditors will understand that it is in everyone's interest to reach an agreement that will restore Greece's position in the European acquis adding that both sides hold a stricter stance before an agreement is reached.
Asked on progress made at Brussels Group, he said: "We are at the final stage so as to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, but there are still some details to be settled. But as you know, the devil is hidden into the details. The Greek side insists on the major issues, and it negotiates the least important issues with flexibility."
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 ND accuses government of 'non-sequiturs' and 'self-contradiction' regarding talks with creditorsMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Costas Karagounis on Monday accused the government of "non sequiturs" and contradicting itself, in reply to a briefing given earlier the same day by government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis.
After the government initially claimed that it did not need the money from the last installment of the memorandum, it had then shifted to saying that it would get money without signing a memorandum and then signed for a continuation of the memorandum until June without receiving any money, something that it now admitted was a mistake, Karagounis said.
Finally, he added, after all the deadlines for a bridge agreement had been missed, "they are going straight to a final agreement - in other words a new memorandum - for the next two years."
On the issue of pensions, Karagounis noted that the budget passed in Parliament by New Democracy envisaged an increase in the amount earmarked for pensions and that ND had refused to discuss any cuts to main pensions nor accepted mass dismissals.
Regarding the "zero deficit clause" for supplementary pensions, Karagounis admitted that this would lead to pension cuts in some cases during this year but noted that some pensions would slightly increase and others would see no change. He also noted that the clause ensured the long-term sustainability of the pension system and that the reductions were temporary and could be reversed in the next year.
Finally, Karagounis demanded to know whether there was truth to reports that a member of the government with an economic portfolio had transferred money abroad after taking office and, in the case that they were true, what the government intended to do about it.
 'I remain Finance Minister and Greece's negotiator at the Eurogroup' FinMin Varoufakis posts on Twitter"Despite wishful thinking-based rumours, I remain Finance Minister and Greece's negotiator at the Eurogroup," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Monday posted on Twitter in reply to chief economic adviser Mohamed El-Erian.
Varoufakis also thanked him for the kind words in his article.
In an article to Bloomberg View, Mohamed El Erian wrote: "Varoufakis was a breath of fresh air in this protracted and exhausting Greek economic drama, which involves alarming human costs in terms of unemployment, poverty and lost opportunities. Backed by considerable economic logic and a desire to do better, he pressed for more realism in the policy conditions demanded by Greece's creditors. And he never tired of reminding people that Greece's recovery wasn't that country's responsibility alone."
 We are asked not to touch anything that destroyed Greek citizens' lives, Labour Min Skourletis saysThey are asking us not to touch anything that destroyed the life of the Greek citizens during the previous five years, Labour Minister Panos Skourletis on Monday said in statements to MEGA TV.
Skourletis noted that the IMF shows its strident stance on labour issues and added: "We are not going to implement any measure that translates into pension cuts this year."
Asked whether changes in the benefit of Greece can exist in the new political negotiation, Skourletis underlined: "Before whatever agreement, the climate is intensified and everything matters; things can change from one week to another; there can be changes. I do not believe that the European leading forces will assume the responsibility of an impasse."
The Labour minister acknowledged the European leaders are willing to find a solution and this is not only for sympathy and solidarity to Greece, adding that salaries and pensions are the government's first priority. He also expressed certainty that 'we will have the money'
However, he said that time for an interim agreement has run out and as a result we should hold an overall discussion on whether some steps must be taken within May. But we should deal with the full package, which is a viable solution on the debt issue.
Commenting on whether the country has the money to pay off its international obligations, the minister said that the government is trying to find the money and added: "The aim is for the country to repay its obligations and to reach an agreement. This is our aim, our aim has not changed."
Regarding ENFIA (Uniform Real Estate Tax), Skourletis reiterated the government's commitment to abolish it, noting that this may occur and in 2015. As for rumours on the extraordinary contribution, he stressed that he has not heard anything about it.
 The government must insist on its red lines to have positive results, Alternate Min for Social Insurance saysThe government must insist on its red lines if it wants to have positive results, Alternate Minister for Social Insurance Dimitris Stratoulis said in statements to SKAI TV.
He underlined that by no means will the government go back in labour and pension issues. Stratoulis added that no solution will be found with technical staff and the issue will be a political one from now on.
 Gov't to go ahead on campaign promises, SYRIZA central committee sec'y saysThe government will not back down from its programme, which includes laws to face the humanitarian crisis and outstanding debt repayment in 100 installments, reopening the former state broadcaster ERT, restoring injustices in the public sector and rehiring those laid off on memorandum policies, SYRIZA Central Committee Secretary Tasos Koronakis said on Monday.
Speaking of the government's efforts in an interview to "Efimerida ton Syntakton" newspaper, Koronakis said the majority coalition party "has already achieved a lot of things that appeared impossible until yesterday - n a war zone, with fire and blackmail from our negotiating partners that were reproduced by opposition parties and the majority of mass media."
Asked whether SYRIZA intervened in government actions, he responded, "Nobody has requested that decisions by the prime minister, ministers and the government overall go through a 'preventative review for party ratification'," adding that coordination was important and discussion taking place in the party at different levels."
Asked whether he would be called upon to handle within the party any possible backing down by the government in the negotiations, Koronakis said that "we are not beautifying the situation, but I do not believe we will exceed the limits of honest compromise; that is the attitude we will keep within SYRIZA as well."
The Greek government will exhaust all options within the framework of the popular mandate and "if a question [issue] is so critical on the Greek side, then it will be answered by the people themselves, and this must be self-evident. A referendum appears to be the most appropriate," he added.
 ECB's Constancio confident that worst-case Greek scenario will be avoidedEuropean Central Bank Vice President Vitor Constancio on Monday expressed his confidence to Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad that Athens and its creditors will agree a deal to avoid Greece leaving the eurozone.
"I am also absolutely convinced that the worst-case scenario will be avoided," he told the paper, according to Reuters news agency.
"Everyone acknowledges that the degree of stress and vulnerability in the euro area has totally changed. There are no signs of contagion," he said, referring to the effects of the ECB's bond buying programme in mitigating concerns over Greece's problems.
 Greece must stay in the eurozone, main opposition New Democracy leader says in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
The main factor of any action we take is to guarantee Greece's stay in Europe and the eurozone, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said from Brussels on Monday.
Samaras is in Belgium to attend a European People's Party event (the Future of Europe lecture) at the Wilfried Martens Institute in Leuven. He made his statements after meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, where he also met with other European leaders.
In statements to the Greek press, the former premier said that "Juncker is a friend of Greece" and warned that "time is running out dangerously" for Greece in terms of reaching agreement with its creditors. The 1.9 billion euros in SMPs belong to Greece, he added, and must be returned to it.
 Main opposition stresses key importance of agreement with creditors at National Council on Foreign PolicySpeaking on behalf of main opposition New Democracy, ND MP George Koumoutsakos on Monday stressed the key importance of an agreement with Greece's creditors as a "fundamental factor" for the country's foreign policy, in statements after attending the National Council on Foreign Policy chaired by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
"A deadened economy cannot support an active policy," Koumoutsakos said, noting that economic and foreign policy were linked to a country's "national power" and were "two sides of the same coin".
"It is now certain that the course of the economy also affects the course of foreign policy issues," he said, warning that a full-scale rift in relations with Greece's EU partners would be disastrous and calling for an "honest agreement".
Regarding the National Council on Foreign Policy, where the government, foreign ministry officials and political parties exchanged view on major issues of foreign policy, Koumoutsakos said this was an institution for building trust and the maximum possible consensus on foreign policy matters.
He reported that Monday's meeting had focused on a "discussion of a strategic nature, with shared views on the main points but different opinions on tactical handling as a constructive supplement to the thoughts of the foreign ministry."
ND also looked forward to the next meeting focusing on the Cyprus issue and had asked for a third to discuss developments in the Balkans.
 ND parliamentary spokesman: If the gov't cannot rule, it must resignIf the government cannot rule, it must resign, New Democracy (ND) parliamentary spokesman Kyriakos Mitsotakis told private radio station Vima on Monday, saying he was quoting Productive Reconstruction Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on leaving if SYRIZA cannot implement its programme.
The main opposition deputy said he was not asking for elections, but "to reach an agreement - what will we do otherwise, let the country go bankrupt?" Mitsotakis said the people's mandate was to bring a better deal that that agreed upon by the previous government with its creditors. "I cannot understand why a government with a fresh popular mandate that appears to enjoy the trust of common opinion should want to transfer the responsiblity for important decisions to citizens," he said, criticising the idea of a plebiscite.
Among other things, he said that ND should go through internal restructuring, but the process would have to wait until Greece's economic situation stabilised.
 Government circles criticise main opposition for comments on pensionsGovernment circles on Monday said they "hail" the comments of the main opposition spokesman who admitted that the previous government had cut supplementary pensions.
"We hail the statements of Mr. Karagounis, New Democracy's spokesman, who switched to the side of the 'revolutionaries' and said [the previous government] 'didn't accept mass layoffs'. He admits, of course, that they cut supplementary pensions because they form 'a small part of the income of pensioners', as he himself writes!" government circles said.
Commenting on the article of local Thessaloniki newspaper which claimed that an unnamed alternate minister transferred money abroad, the same circles urged ND spokesman to put pressure on the newspaper to publish the details of the politician saying "it would help a lot in the fight against corruption!"
 The critical issue for the people is the terms attached to the agreement, KKE says"The critical issue for the people is not the kind of the agreement between the governement and the EU, IMF - bridge or final - but the conditions to be attached to and, as everything suggests, it will contain new and old anti-popular measures," Communist Party (KKE) said in comments on government negotiations.
 PASOK leader: Tsipras must state clearly what will happen to the country in the next weeksPASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Monday called Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to state "if he is in position to say clearly and responsibly to the parliament and to the Greek people what will happen to the country in the next days and weeks."
Venizelos in a timely question to the prime minister underlined that he Greek society in the last three months has been watching "the continuous recycling of political lies or illusions that the government distributes" on the major issue of the country's economic prospect, the financial support by the EU and the IMF, the payment of the installation, the prevention of a credit event and the restoration of the economic climate.
While the Greek economy is deeply wounded, the government replaced the group of persons that negotiate with EU and IMF, it appears ready to reach an agreement and in parallel the prime minister opened the issue of a referendum. "He states that he is ready and in parallel unready to complete this undermining for the country period of uncertainty. Everything is open again. The country does not have a strategic framework. It is trapped in SYRIZA's internal correlations as well as in the incongruous coopertion between SYRIZA and Independent Greeks," concluded Venizelos.
 No change in German position on war reparations to Greece, German government spokesman saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
The German government's position on Greek demands for war reparations is clear and has not changed, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday. Seibert had been asked about recent statements made by German President Joachim Gauck that were widely interpreted as an "opening" for the possible payment of WWII reparations to Greece.
Seibert noted that Gauck's interview made clear that the German presidency fully shares the legal view expressed by the government on this issue and that Gauck had referred to cooperation between Greece and Germany through various initiatives and institutions in Greece.
Germany has recognised its responsibility for the victims of National Socialism, the spokesman added, and wanted to further develop its bilateral relations with Greece "in this spirit." The injustices of that period could not be cancelled out, he said, but "70 years after the end of the war and 35 years after Greece joined the EU, we want to look to the future together...but do not want to forget the past."
 ANEL says efforts to downplay German President's statements on war reparations were not successfulThe efforts of the German government spokesman to downplay the statements of the country's President concerning war reparations were not successful, Independent Greeks (ANEL) spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said on Monday.
Earlier, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said is country's position on Greek demands for war reparations is clear and has not changed, following recent statements by President Joachim Gauck that were widely interpreted as an "opening" for the possible payment of WWII reparations to Greece.
"The effort of the German government spokesman to annul the obvious support of German President Joachim Gauck for the Greek request for war reparations is, if anything, sufficiently earnest," said Chrysoveloni, whose party is the junior coalition partner.
"Mr. Seibert consciously sought to downplay the fact that the President of Germany, with his statements to S?ddeutsche Zeitung, fully recognised the ethical and political base of the Greek request for the claim of war reparations," she added and noted that this shows how important these statements were.
"No matter how much government spokesman Mr. Seibert tries to refute the German President's statements, he didn't succeed," she said.
 ForMin Kotzias: "Yes" to dialog with Turkey, but no solution on Cyprus until "last boot" leaves the islandForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Monday advocated dialog with Turkey but noted that there can be no solution for Cyprus until "the last boot has left the island."
"We know that the balance of power between Greece and Turkey has changed because of the economic figures, which obliges us to examine Turkey based on all the regional and international correlations," Kotzias said during the presentation of a book by Angelos Syrigos titled "Greek-Turkish relations" at the Athens Concert Hall Megaron.
He warned though that there cannot be a solution to the Cyprus issue if the island's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence are not restored based on the guarantees of the international community and the EU.
"It cannot happen until the last boot that reminds us that Turkish soldiers have marched through the island is gone," Kotzias said, adding that no other solution will be accepted by Greek-Cypriots or Turkish-Cypriots.
"The Turkish-Cypriots are the most oppressed. Therefore our demand for the withdrawal of the Turkish army is not a request for Cyprus to regain its territorial integrity, it's the democratic demand which defends the common interests of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots," he added.
 Foreign Minister Kotzias chairs meeting of National Council on Foreign Policy, reports 'interesting discussion'Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Monday chaired a meeting of the National Council on Foreign Policy, a cross-party organ first set up in the 1990s for the political parties in Parliament to exchange views on major foreign policy issues.
In statements afterwards, Kotzias expressed satisfaction at a "creative discussion" held with the representatives of all the parties, the experts and the senior administrative staff of the foreign ministry. He also noted a "very interesting discussion" focusing on Greece's relations with Turkey.
"I think that we all gain when we hear different proposals and creative criticism. From this point of view, I go to Turkey next week armed with the thoughts of the other parties as well," he added.
 Public debt committee holds initial meeting in ParliamentThe work of the Committee of the Truth on Public Debt officially opened in Parliament today (May 4) and will continue until Thursday (May 7).
Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou opened the session, along with scientific advisor and head of the international group, Eric Toussaint, French historian and political scientist who has volunteered his services to audit Greek debts.
 Defence Minister Kammenos defends choice to upgrade armed forces aircraftNational Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Monday defended his decision to repair and modernise currently obsolete armed forces aircraft, saying he followed the recommendation of the Greek Navy.
"We follow what the Navy recommends. It was the only choice we had because otherwise we would lose the 1-billion-euro down payment for training, the 49 million euros we gave for spare parts and the 10 million euros for engines," Kammenos told Parliament following a current question submitted by New Democracy MP Giannis Kefalogiannis concerning the upgrade of Navy aircraft.
The minister offered his full support to the ministry's general secretary Giannis Tafilis, saying he's only responsible for political staff and doesn't sign any documents concerning procurements.
Continuing his comment, Kammenos spoke of "hurling mud at a fan" while he called on the main opposition to stop covering their former coalition partner PASOK, saying the "procurement programmes sent to the prosecutor are so numerous, that some people will go to prison."
 Government circles call on newspaper to publish details of alternate minister accused in reportGovernment circles on Monday called on local Thessaloniki newspaper to publish details of the alternate minister who allegedly transferred money abroad in March, saying that if it doesn't do so, it will be considered a provocation.
According to an article published in the paper on Monday, an unnamed alternate minister who is involved in the current negotiations between Greece and its creditors transferred 80,000 euros to a bank in Luxembourg.
"We expect Thessaloniki newspaper to publish in tomorrow's edition, in the same page, the name, amount and details of the bank account of the alternate minister," government circles said commenting on the press report.
"If it doesn't do so, then we're talking of a practice which surpasses the limits of a vulgar provocation. It must do so, so that there can be an appropriate response," the same circles added.
 Civil protection minister visits Achaia prefecture police headquartersThe government aspires to better relations between police and citizens, Civil Protection Alternate Minister Yiannis Panousis said on Monday, after a get-acquainted tour of the police headquarters of Achaia prefecture in Patras.
"Our vision for the police is that it be primarily social, preventative, act as a deterrent, and act suppressively at the very end," Panousis noted, mentioning also the introduction of new institutions to this effect such as "a citizens hour," "the neighbourhood policeman" and local councils for prevention.
Asked to comment on Sunday's incidents at Korydallos Prison in the Piraeus area, where foreign national groups attacked each other and resulted in the death of two inmates and injury of 18, Panousis said that "as a university professor I had said ten years ago that guards - whether two or five - rule the corridors and thugs rule the wards - the issue is who rules," and said the problem would be more manageable with more guards. "At this time, gangs rule the jails and this is the big issue, especially in Korydallos - not the staff," serving there, he added.
While in the northern Peloponnese city, Panousis will also visit the Fire brigade, to get an on-field idea of the service.
 Draft bill on education tabled in Parliament using fast-track proceduresAn education ministry bill for measures affecting primary, secondary and tertiary education was tabled in Parliament's Standing Committee on Cultural and Educational Affairs using fast-track procedures on Monday.
Despite being tabled as urgent in order to meet deadlines concerning examination dates, as Alternate Minister for Education Tasos Kourakis explained, it was decided that a discussion involving 14 educational bodies and organisations will be held before the committee on Tuesday afternoon, to be followed by a discussion on the articles starting at 18:00. The draft bill is then expected to go before the plenum by next Friday.
Opposition parties expressed objections on Monday to the tabling of the bill using fast-track procedures and called for a broader discussion, noting that it touched on crucial issues.
 Professor Binoy Kampmark comments on British electionsProfessor Binoy Kampmark in an interview with ANA-MPA spoke of the most indecisive parliamentary elections in decades that will be held on May 7 in Britain with the two major parties, the Conservatives of David Cameron and the Labour Party's Ed Miliband giving a "neck and neck" battle at the polls, and the Tories seem to be the winners without, however, ensuring independence.
Asked about the fact that David Cameron, according to most of the polls, appears set to win the elections but with no absolute majority, he said: "The Liberal Democrats have played it very badly in one sense, risking a considerable reduction of their vote by abandoning key policy positions they made when they entered the coalition with Cameron (for instance, over education fees). They are also gambling that their losses will not be complemented by considerable gains by the UK Independence Party and the Scottish National Party. They are playing the card of the "centrist" and "balancing" party who will seek power with whichever party holds more votes. While Cameron will want to avoid another coalition with the LibDems, he has not done something which Ed Miliband has done from Labour: rule out a coalition with the SNP."
Asked about the stakes at this particular election, he replied: "This is one of the closest elections in generations. There is a suggestion that the idea of Britain being seen as essentially a two, at most three-party run system is changing, moving over to more coalition styles familiar on the continent. There are also broader issues about where Britain heads regarding Europe (Brexit is a possibility, given the referendum promise of Cameron for 2017)."
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Government is renegotiating the sale of OLP with COSCO, says Economy ministerThe government is currently renegotiating the terms under which Piraeus port (OLP) will be sold to COSCO, Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis said in Parliament on Monday.
"Our policy is clear and aims at maximizing the benefits of the Greek State. Negotiations with COSCO are underway so that we can find solutions which will form a modern management model for all Greek ports," Stathakis said, following a current question submitted by Golden Dawn MP Nikos Kouzilos.
"The government is called today, in the framework of all the negotiations and openings it has done, to manage in the best way and to radically change the conditions of the agreement with COSCO and we insist on a comprehensive management of the port which will be conducted under the auspices of the State, to fully ensure the interests of the country," he added.
The minister said the government is dealing with a "situation which it has not created, but has inherited" while he added that talks with the Chinese company are taking place simultaneously with the negotiations with the European institutions and ion the framework of a "multilateral geopolitical economic strategy."
 Taiwanese shipping company Yang Ming agrees to use Piraeus as trade terminalTaiwanese container shipping company Yang Ming Lines announced on Monday it has agreed to start using the installations of Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), the local subsidiary of China's Cosco, as a transfer terminal for the wider region of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, its representative in Greece said.
Arkas Hellas, which represents the Taiwanese company, said already a ship of Yang Ming, with a capacity of 14,000 teu, arrived on Monday at Piraeus' terminal and will be the first of 15 cargo ships to make the route.
According to data presented by the President of Arkas Hellas, Aurette Arkas, to serve local cargo, there will be four departures and arrivals per week this month towards the most important ports of the Far East and two arrivals and departures towards the biggest north European ports.
At the end of May, smaller ships of Yang Ming Lines will also start using Thessaloniki port to serve the transport needs of northern Greece as well as of the Balkan region.
The event was also attended by the President of Arkas Holding, Lucien Arkas, the President of Yang Ming Europe C.H. Yeh, and the President of PCT Captain Fu.
 National Bank head Katseli in Brussels on MondayNational Bank chair of the board Louka Katseli on Monday travels to Brussels to participate in the presentation of the European Report on Development - ERD 2015.
The topic of the European Report is the financing of sustainable growth at global level and its interconnection with public policies.
Other officials to participate in the presentation are Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dr Abraham Tekeste, Ethiopia's Finance and Economic State Minister, Dr Homi Kharas, deputy director for the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings Institutes, Dr Dirk Willem te Velde, EBRD head.
On Wednesday, May 6, Katseli will speak at a conference entitled "Governance and Convergence in Europe" organised by Universit? libre de Bruxelles.
European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici, ECB member Maria Joao Rodrigues, former European Commissioner L?szl? Andor are among the speakers.
 Nearly 45 pct of pensions in Greece below poverty line, Alt. Social Insurance Minister saysThe average main pension in Greece currently stands at 664.69 euros a month before taxes, while the average supplementary pension is at 168.40 euros a month, according to figures sent to Greece's embassy in Berlin from Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis.
In his letter, Stratoulis also pointed out that 44.8 pct of Greek pensioners (1,189,396 out of a total 2,654,784 pensioners) receive a pension that is under the country's poverty line, which has been set at 665 euros per month by the independent Greek statistics agency ELSTAT.
For roughly 60 pct of the country's pensioners, their income from pensions after taxes and other contributions is not more than 700 euros a month, while most disability pensions are between 250-540 euros a month.
Regarding the age of pensioners, the minister said that 89.4 pct of old-age pensioners were over 61.
The minister sent the figures in response to a discussion currently taking place in the German Parliament, in order to provide the official figures.
Stratoulis noted that pensions in Greece were cut by between 44.2 - 48 pct, while there were also significant annual reductions of up to 16.9 pct for pensions under 1,000 euros a month due to the abolition of the 13th and 14th pensions.
According to the minister, the figures proved that demands to cut pensions further were unrealistic and for this reason the government was not prepared to discuss them, since pensions had already been virtually "razed" under the previous governments.
 Greek PMI down to 46.5 points in AprilGreece's Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) fell to 46.5 points in April, from 48.9 in March to its lowest level since June 2013, remaining on a downward trend for the eighth successive month. The April reading reflected a faster shrinking of production levels, while a decline in both intermediate and capital goods production was another negative factor. The volume of new orders received by Greek manufacturers fell steeply in April, extending their decline for the eighth successive month. A weakening of orders was mostly the result of a further decline in new orders from abroad
"Employment fell in April, after rising modestly in the previous four months, while pending works fell significantly in the market at the fastest rate in the last three months," Markit said in a report. Purchasing levels fell further in April, at the fastest rate since June 2013, while inventories fell in the month.
The PMI measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Minister meets with Syros shipyard owner, workers, about backpayProductive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and Alternate National Defence Minister Kostas Isychos met on Monday with the presidium of the workers of Syros island shipyards, and Elefsis Shipyard and Neorion Shipyards Nikos Tavoularis about the outstanding backpay of workers.
The meeting was also attended by Industry General Secretary Yiannis Tolios, SYRIZA Deputy Antonis Syrigos and Deputies of Dimitris Kammenos and Nikolaos Mavraganis, of coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL).
The workers' union said the situation of unpaid workers was dire, and they were on strike to demand their wages the last four months.
Lafazanis told Tavoularis that it was not acceptable under any circumstances that workers remain unpaid and be driven to starvation and held under a singular type of hostage-keeping, and asked that they be paid immediately at least one month's worth of backpay.
He also said that the government was very interested in a new path to reviving the country's shipping sector, and was working on a comprehensive plan.
 Hellenic Petroleum announces new chairman and CEOHellenic Petroleum (ELPE) on Monday said that Evangelos Tsotsoros and Grigoris Stergioulis were appointed by the government as new members of its board, recommended for the positions of chairman and chief executive office, respectively, replacing Giannis Papathanasiou and George Kostopoulos.
A decision by Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis said that the state "expressed the wish" that Tsotsoros would be elected chairman and Stergioulis chief executive of the group. The Greek state has a 35.5 pct equity stake in Hellenic Petroleum while Paneuropean Oil and Industrial Holdings SA of (owned by Latsis Group) holds a 42.6 pct. Tsotsoros is a professor of economics, while Stergioulis is an executive in Hellenic Petroleum.
 Greek economic sentiment index down to 92.7 points in AprilGreece's economic sentiment index deteriorated significantly in April, falling to 92.7 points, from 96.8 points in March, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.
IOBE, in a monthly report, said that business expectations were more negative in the manufacturing sector, but improved slightly after a three-month decline in the retail commerce, services and construction sectors. IOBE noted that a significant decline in consumer confidence in April cut a post-election gain by half and stressed that uncertainty over the continuation of funding of the Greek economy and the context of a possible agreement with the country's creditors, limited the initial post-election optimism which was evident mostly in households and not among enterprises.
More analytically, business expectations in the manufacturing sector showed a deterioration over production levels, with expectations over inventories rise slightly and estimates over negative orders and demand recovering slightly.
In the services sector, expectations over current and short-term demand improved, while estimates over current condition on enterprises worsened slightly.
In the retail sector, negative estimates over current sales gained ground along with forecasts over their short-term development, while a liquidation of inventories slowed.
In the construction sector, estimates over scheduled works were less pessimistic while employment estimates remained unchanged.
Greek households' estimates over their finances and the country's finances in the next 12 months, along with unemployment estimates deteriorated significantly, while intention to save money fell further.
 Athens airport passenger traffic up 24.2 pct in Jan-AprilPassenger traffic in the Athens airport took off during the first four months of 2015, increasing by 24.2 pct to 4.4 million passengers, official figures showed on Monday.
Domestic traffic jumped 30.5 pct while international traffic was 20.7 pct higher. Greek travellers grew by 21 pct while foreign travellers jumped 28 pct in the January-April period.
Passenger traffic in April totalled 1.46 million, up 21.1 pct from April 2014, of which international passengers totalled 948,914 (up 22.8 pct) and domestic passengers grew 18 pct. Greek passengers rose 16 pct and foreign passengers jumped 25 pct in April.
Scheduled flights grew 17.6 pct in April (10.7 pct domestic and 23.3 pct international), and by 17.2 pct in the four-month period (13.7 pct domestic and 20 pct international).
 Greek stocks end slightly upGreek stocks ended slightly higher in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. Traders said the market was highly volatile, as investors' interest focused on negotiations between Greek authorities and the country's creditors. The composite index of the market rose 0.38 pct to end at 826.04 points, after falling as much as 2.53 pct during the session. The Large Cap index rose 0.67 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.38 pct higher. Turnover was a moderate 83.982 million euros.
Piraeus Bank (8.59 pct), Athens Water (5.0 pct), Aegean Airlines (2.67 pct), Folli Follie (2.23 pct) and Terna Energy (1.87 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (9.13 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (3.28 pct) and PPC (3.17 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Real Estate (2.46 pct), Commerce (2.22 pct) and Travel (1.95 pct) scored big gains, while Media (10 pct), Insurance (4.38 pct) and Financial Services (2.94 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 49 with another 13 issues unchanged. Sidenor (29.49 pct), CPI (25 pct) and Lavipharm (20 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobrokers (18.18 pct), Audiovisual (10 pct) and Naftemporiki (9.92 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +2.94%
Industrial Products: -1.50%
Real Estate: +2.46%
Personal & Household: -1.78%
Food & Beverages: +1.66%
Raw Materials: -0.58%
Travel & Leisure: +1.95%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Pireaus Bank, Eurobank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.313
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.80
Coca Cola HBC: 19.50
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.33
National Bank of Greece: 1.23
Piraeus Bank: 0.430
Grivalia Properties: 7.17
Aegean Airlines: 7.70
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 10.29 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.70 pct, down from 11.07 pct on Thursday, while the German Bund yielded 0.41 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.17 pct from 0.171 pct last week, the nine-month rate eased to 0.109 pct from 0.11 pct, the six-month rate was unchanged at 0.064 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.007 pct from -0.005 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.042 pct from -0.040 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.74 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,474 contracts with 51,339 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 84,925 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (23,529), followed by Alpha Bank (16,383), National Bank (15,396), Eurobank (22,809), MIG (1,361), OTE (590), PPC (405), OPAP (306), Viohalco (597), Mytilineos (147), Hellenic Exchanges (195), Intralot (176), Ellaktor (156), GEK (183) and Sidenor (1,907).
 Two dead and 18 injured in Korydallos prison clashTwo inmates were killed and 18 others were injured during a clash in Korydallos prison on Sunday.
15 out of the 18 injured inmates have already been released from hospital. The other three are still in hospital but out of danger.
According to reports, it appears that a group of Arab and Albanian inmates attacked a group of Pakistani inmates.
"I express my deep sorrow for the death of two inmates and the injury of another eighteen during a violent incident in Korydallos prison. Every effort is being made to protect their lives and health," Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos said.
"The cause of the conflict between the inmates has not yet been clarified. An extensive investigation is being carried out," he added.
The Justice Minister cited the prison overcrowding as the reason for the incident and expressed the hope that the law recently passed in Parliament will improve the imprisonment conditions as soon as possible.
 Four-year-old girl allegedly murdered by her father, who is at largeA four-year-old girl that went missing in the Omonia Square area of Athens a few days ago was murdered by her father, a Bulgarian national aged 27, police said on Monday.
The child's disappearance was reported by her mother, 43, also a Bulgarian national, who initially claimed the girl had been kidnapped by an acquaintace of hers. Police had initially interviewed the father, who is a drug addict, but let him go for lack of evidence. Genetic and other evidence found later linked him to the crime and an arrest warrant was issued; as of this writing he is still at large and the child's body has not been found.
Attica's security police chief, brigadier Christos Papazafiris, will make an official announcement with details on Tuesday.
 Two brothers lived with their mother's body in their house in LarissaTwo brothers kept the body of their deceased mother in their house in Larissa, central Greece, for over a month.
The neighbours called the police when the stench coming from the appartment became intense.
Police found the body of the 82-year old woman on her bed in state of advanced decomposition.
According to first estimations, the woman died over a month ago and her sons aged 45 and 50 covered her body with a blanket and kept it in the house.
 Copy of the only extant bronze dedicatory object from 5th century to be set up at DelphiA copy of a bronze column dedicated in 477 B.C. by 31 city-states that had fought in the Battle of Plataeans against the Persians that ended up in present-day Istanbul in the 4th century A.D., will be replicated and put up at Delphi, the Central Archaeological Council announced on Monday.
The column, six-metres tall, originally depicted three serpents tightly coiled running the whole length, with the heads supporting a gold leves, or deep bowl, later melted down by the Phocaeans to cover their war costs. Carved along the coils were the names of the cities that participated in the battle against the Persians, in 479 B.C.; they are no longer visible after being exposed to the elements. According to Herodotus, it was made of Persian loot.
The column was broken off and transferred to the new Rome, or Constantinople, in the 4th century A.D. by Emperor Constantine the Great. It was placed in the middle of the Hippodrome, where it still stands. It is the only extant bronze dedicatory object of Greek antiquity, and has been viewed by travellers to the city for eons, until the 16th century, when two of the three heads were broken off and lost. The third is in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
A copy will be made on the basis of a plaster cast kept at the Delphi Museum since 1980; the cast preserves the names of the cities that are no longer visible on the original.
 Light quake jolts southern CreteA light earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was recorded at 07:07 on Monday at the sea region of southern Crete and was felt at Messara and the south coasts of Crete.
According to the the Geodynamics Institute of Athens National Observatory, the tremor's epicentre was located 497km south-southeast of Athens, 94.5km south of Heraklion and its depth was 10km.
 Sterna tunnel closed for maintenanceSterna tunnel on Corinth-Tripolis motorway closed on Monday for maintenance work on Corinth direction.
The tunnel will remain closed until Friday, May 8 and traffic will be conducted on one lane.
 Sunny on TuesdayMostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 4 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 11C-28C. Same weather in the western parts with temperatures between 12C-28C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 12C-29C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-26C. Fair in Athens, 13C-28C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 13C-28C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: In the spider's web ... with giant armaments programmes
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Agreement or rupture in May
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Last chance for women's pension at 50
ESTIA: Compromise or destruction
ETHNOS: New criteria for emergency contribution
KONTRA NEWS: Let's finish with the comedy of negotiations
NAFTEMPORIKI: Agreement in two phases-IMF: Strict line on pension and labour issues
TA NEA: Red card from the IMF over labour issues
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