|Wednesday, 3 June 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-05-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 8 May 2015 Issue No: 4952
 Tsipras-Putin hold talks on the phone, discuss plan for Russian gas pipelineIn talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the telephone on Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras confirmed the Greek government's willingness to participate - via a public-sector company - in the construction of a pipeline carrying Russian natural gas through Greece, the prime minister's office announced.
The Russian president said that he intended to support a plan for financing the Greek company building the pipeline, which will transport gas from the Greek-Turkish border to the rest of Europe, to be used in energy and developmental investments, and which might be paid off from the profits of the company operating the pipeline.
Apart from energy cooperation, the conversation also touched on all aspects of bilateral relations and Tsipras' upcoming participation in an International Economic Forum to be held in St. Petersburg on 18-20 June.
The two leaders reaffirmed their willingness to proceed with everything agreed on during Tsipras' recent visit to Moscow, in order to boost bilateral relations.
 Latest developments reflect convergence in several issues of the negotiationsThe latest developments after the new round of talks of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with European leaders and the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, the contacts with the ECB leadership and the deliberations at Brussels Group level reflect significant progress in the negotiations between the government and the institutions.
According to sources, convergence has been achieved in several sectors such as social security, labour, tax and privatisations although differences still remain.
Regarding the privatisations, developments are expected for the 14 regional airports and Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP). Government officials expressed optimism that there will be agreement in the discussions with German group Fraport. The country's privatisation agency TAIPED is also expected to call a tender next week for the privatization of 51 percent of OLP instead of 67 percent that was originally planned.
The Greek Prime Minister and the president of the European Commission agreed on Wednesday on the modernisation of the social security system so as to be fair, fiscally sustainable and effective to protect the elderly from poverty. Their joint statement that refers to the agreement of both sides on the "role of a modern and efficient system of collective bargaining which should be developed through broad consultation and meet the highest European standards" is also considered very positive. The restitution of collective bargaining is one of the main targets of the Greek government.
Convergence has also achieved in fiscal issues. According to sources, there are scenarios for a single 16.0 percent VAT (23 percent and 13 percent VAT will be abolished) provided that the 6.5 percent VAT still applies to certain goods such as medicine and books.
 EU Commission: Brussels Group to meet on Thursday, talks to continue through weekendBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The Brussels Group is meeting here on Thursday and the talks will continue on Friday and through the weekend, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
Schinas said that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has been in constant contact with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, as well as all sides involved in the talks striving for an agreement with Greece.
Asked about the Tsipras-Juncker joint statement, Schinas said it reflected their shared view on the need to modernise Greece's pension system and support job creation, competitiveness and social cohesion. They also agreed on a need to modernise the system for collective bargaining, in accordance with European standards, he said.
Asked whether the Eurogroup on May 11 would be able to make a positive statement concerning the progress of the talks with Greece, Schinas said it was too soon to make such forecasts as the talks will continue over the weekend, adding that this was an issue concerning Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem and not the European Commission.
 Brussels Group is moving towards the conclusion of this phase of negotiations between Greece and the institutionsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Spinthourakis)
Brussels Group is moving towards the conclusion of this phase of negotiations between the Greek side and the institutions, having achieved convergence in many issues, but some issues such as labour and pension issues still remain open.
Regarding the increase of retirement age in Greece, diplomatic sources said that negotiations are focused on 2020-2015 and does not concern those who have already acquired their pension rights.
On labour issues, there are still many differences between the two sides.
The negotiations between the Greek political negotiation group and the institutions will continue in Brussels on Thursday and will probably be concluded on Friday. However, the possibility of deliberations at a technical level during the weekend is not ruled out.
A teleconference of the Finance Ministers has also been scheduled for Friday. According to sources, the Eurogroup is expected to confirm the convergence achieved in several sectors.
 Negotiations in Brussels may continue on Friday if need be, gov't spokesman says"We are well aware of the society's red lines, we are aware of the limits and everyone should be assured that the red lines will not be surpassed," government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Thursday said in a press briefing.
Regarding the debt issue, he stressed that it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Sakellaridis stated that the institutions should not expect that Greece must retreat in all issues so that an agreement is reached. There is no such mandate and this is not a message of rupture, he noted.
"We have proved since February 20 that we are willing to find a mutually beneficial solution," the government spokesman said. "Although we know that debt is not sustainable, we do not raise the issue at this point of the negotiation," he added.
The best for the country is a decision to be reached at Monday's Eurogroup or at the joint statement of Finance ministers within the framework of government's plans.
In reply to another question, he said that the willingness of the Greek government is reflected to its stance and the fulfillment of its obligations.
The funding issue will be discussed by the Greek government in the coming period and will not be a new memorandum and new austerity measures, the government spokesman noted.
Negotiations in Brussels will continue until late on Thursday and will even continue on Friday if need be, according to Sakellaridis.
The Greek government has set red lines and is seeking to reach an agreement with the partners within that framework; the red lines are confirmed at the joint statement of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Sakellaridis said and added: "in the joint statement, we see the need to establish collective bargaining at the highest European level. Signing the joint statement, Juncker defended the European acquis, which is the collective bargaining."
He clarified that "by no means are we talking about reducing pensions" and noted that "the Greek government's position is that this agreement should be reached as soon as possible."
 Gov't VP Dragasakis optimistic over an agreement 'within the eurozone' - GuardianThe SYRIZA government has a mandate to find a sustainable solution to the economy within the eurozone, Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis told Guardian daily on Thursday.
"We do not have a mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone, and it's not an option either for the government or for SYRIZA," he said ahead of a Eurogroup meeting scheduled on May 11, "we have a mandate for a sustainable solution within the eurozone."
Dragasakis was optimistic about a solution, noting that "talks, so far, have shown there is common ground in changes and political measures and, therefore, I believe a deal is possible and in the interests of everyone."
He added that all sides should cooperate to resolve the liquidity issue, and underlined that the government knew negotiations would be hard. "We knew that, as the first in Europe trying to change policy, things would be difficult. The troika [of foreign lenders] weren't just three institutions but a system of power, a state within a state, the real government of the country. We had to change this system, change the rules of the game," he said.
 FinMin Varoufakis sees agreement with creditors 'in days or weeks'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ Ch. Vasilaki)
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Thursday predicted that Greece will reach an agreement with its creditors within "days or weeks," while speaking at the European Business Summit taking place in the Belgian capital.
He said the agreement for the period after June must necessarily include an investment package, management of the debt and measures to fight poverty. He also assured that the government intends to repay on Tuesday the about 750-million-euro loan tranche to the IMF.
Commenting on why a deal has not been clenched with Greece's creditors, Varoufakis said one of them is the focus on the procedure to release the next aid tranche, adding that it's a "myth" that the government did not submit a list of reforms.
He said the government has three priorities, "to secure a logical debt sustainability analysis, to activate state assets through privatizations in a way that fits the government's view and without fire sales, and to proceed with a serious restructure of the VAT."
The minister admitted the Greek pension system needs to be modernized, while in collective labour negotiations, a fair and effective system should be implemented using the standards of the International Labour Organisation. He also noted he would like to see a wider discussion on the period after June and the recovery of the Greek economy.
On Thursday evening, Varoufakis will take part in a panel discussion with European Commissioner for financial affairs Pierre Moscovici.
 Varoufakis on BBC: A deal will be achieved within one or two weeksGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Thursday asserted that Greece will secure a deal with its lenders in the next week or two, in a short interview with the BBC.
"The cycle of uncertainty must close," he said, adding that although a bailout agreement will not be reached at the Eurogroup meeting on Monday, they "will certainly have an agreement within the next couple of weeks or so."
He also said he remains "the chief negotiator of the Greek government", and that he will represent Greece at the meeting. He also dismissed a Grexit scenario and said his relations with European counterparts remain "excellent".
 Greek FinMin Varoufakis sees convergence of Greek, European sides in negotiationsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Chr. Vasilaki)
There is a growing convergence in opinion between Greek authorities and representatives of European institutions, according to Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who spoke at a panel discussion in Brussels that included European Commissioner on Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, on Thursday.
"We are coming closer and closer. I have no doubt that there will be a convergence of views for a successful outcome in due course," Varoufakis told the annual European Business Forum.
Moscovici said he hoped for and expected progress, in time for Monday's Eurogroup (May 11) to assess it, promoting an agreement. There is willingness to move in the same direction and work for the good of Greece and the eurozone, he said, noting that both sides now spoke the same language.
 FinMin Varoufakis interview: Greece needs to have a growth plan, manage public debt and fight povertyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Greece needs to do three things, right now - formulate a growth plan, handle public debt and fight poverty, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told German TV show WDR Europa Forum, broadcast live from the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday.
Varoufakis reiterated that austerity policies followed the last few years in Greece through the fiscal adjustment programme led to a foul cycle of high debt and deflation. The country needs a growth policy, he said, and noted that Greece received a lot more funding than what it needed which disappeared "in a black hole."
Negotiations mean compromises, he said in reference to ongoing talks, but the government "will not compromise its principles" and a solution to Greece's economic problem must be mutually beneficial to both Greece and Europe.
Asked whether he would remain finance minister, he said that this is something only Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could answer because he is the one to decide this.
 Tsakalotos: 'We're closer to an honest compromise than we were 20 days ago'The Greek government has worked hard for the good scenario and for finding a solution in the ongoing negotiations with the country's creditors, Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos said on Thursday.
Speaking at a conference on entrepreneurship organized by newspaper Naftemporiki, he admitted that those who argue the government delayed and didn't have comprehensive proposals "may have a basis of truth."
"It's logical for a party which took office for the first time to have a lack of technocratic help and know-how," he said, adding however that the main problems were political.
Concerning the role of Greece's creditors, Tsakalotos said that "credibiity is something which works both ways," noting that in the agreement signed in February, the country's partners agreed in theory to allow the new government to add measures in the deal, but in reality they opposed anything new.
At this point, the minister said he's satisfied with the joint statement released on Thursday by the three institutions which noted they're working hard for a deal which could come by May 11.
"We have complied with the letter and spirit of the agreement, we agree on the targets, but we disagree on the means; but I can tell you we are today closer to an honest compromise than we were 20 or 30 days ago," he said.
Tsakalotos also said that any measures Greece may agree with its partners "and any political cost these may have for the government, they should, in exchange, allow the government and this society to show its potential in all sectors."
 An agreement will be reached and cash flow will be unlocked, State Min Flambouraris confirmsState Minister Alekos Flambouraris on Thursday expressed optimism over the outcome of negotiations between Greece and its partners and creditors.
"An agreement will be reached and financing, cash flow will be unlocked; so you have to be ready with your interventions to contribute significantly to the restart of the Greek economy, its productive reconstruction. I think the signal to be given by the results will be pleasant and efficient," Flambouraris underlined in a conference on Naftemporiki newspaper on entrepreneur-ship.
The government gives priority to the restart of the economy, the productive reconstruction and the facilitation of entrepreneur-ship.
"Since we have these priorities, we negotiate hard and persistently with European partners and the IMF. We fight to abandon memorandum policy, the policy of austerity that has led to household indebtedness and over-taxation," he stated.
"That is our ultimate goal," he said. "Those who blame us for delay in reaching an agreement must express in public their views and specifically whether they accept the same recessionary policy on which some extremists in Europe and the IMF insist. An immediate and without negotiation agreement translates into the continuation of austerity and recessionary policy," he added.
The Minister presented the main pillars of the government programme for the production reconstruction, development and facilitation of entrepreneurship based on a new production model, and rather than relying on cheap labour, it will rely on specialisation, extraversion, added value. On the basis of this programming, certain productive sectors will be reinforced and a set of structural changes that facilitate entrepreneurship will be set.
"We have the willingness and the determination to proceed. Our government is discussing proposals with the political forces as well as the forces that are active in the production process," he said and called on everyone to respond to this call with their proposals.
 Eurogroup chief: Discussion of Greek debt relief not a tabooThe discussion for the relief of the Greek debt is not a taboo, Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijesslbloem stated in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde on Thursday noting that "progress have been made in the negotiations in the last days."
Although "it is very early to hope for a final agreement on May 11, nobody in the eurozone discusses another scenario than to offer to Greece the means for an financially independent future within the eurozone" he said.
The only final date for the discussions between Greece and its lenders is, on political view, "the end of June, when the second support programme ends but another final date could exist if the liquidity problem becomes very serious in Athens", explained Dijesslbloem.
He reassured that there are no disagreement between the European countries and the IMF which recommends a relief of the Greek debt.
"The discusson on the relief of the Greek debt is not a taboo subject. The only thing that is politically impossible is the cancellation of its nominal value. However, this discussion for the debt will be held only when the second programme has been completed".
 French FinMin Sapin says Tsipras is 'very engaged' in efforts to reach dealFrench Finance Michel Sapin said on Thursday that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was very engaged in efforts to reach a deal within days with creditors that would help Greece stay in the euro zone, according to Reuters news agency.
"What I believe is a guarantee of coordination, of cooperation, of stability and success is that the Greek prime prime minister, with all his staff, is extremely engaged in the negotiations," he said at a press conference in Brussels. "This is the role of a prime minister, to be totally focused on the job. He is now totally on the job."
He also said he did not expect a deal at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday but believed a solution could be found soon after that.
"The 11th is not the day we are looking for the agreement on implementation of the previous programme," he said. "But we want the atmosphere, the way of working, the way forward that we will fix on that day to be dynamic and positive.
"We won't finish on the 11th but we will finish in the days that follow -- because it's absolutely essential."
Speaking earlier to the finance committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, he said it was "legitimate" for the new Greek government to seek changes in line with the will of its voters but also that Greece "must respect its commitments" as a long-standing member of the European Union, euro zone and IMF.
"We will find a solution because Greece belongs in the euro, belongs in Europe," he added.
 EU Commissioner chief Juncker fears Grexit talk could roil markets-ReutersEuropean Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday said he would not raise the possibility of Greece leaving the eurozone, in part at least due to the effect that would have on financial markets, according to Reuters news agency.
Asked during a panel debate in the European Parliament about the possibility of "Grexit", he replied: "If I were to say that Grexit was an option, what do you think would happen then on the financial markets?"
In the past Juncker had ruled out a Grexit, while other EU officials are cautious over speculating on the possibility for fear of triggering a flight of money from Greece.
Juncker said he had spoken about Greece with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday and would later hold a second call in as many days with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He said talks between Athens and its creditors were making progress, but declined to give details, Reuters added.
 Toussaint interview with WebTV: Proving Greek debt 'odious' could be valuable tool in negotiationsA full, in-depth examination of Greece's debt and its legality could prove a valuable tool in the framework of negotiations with its creditors, Prof. Eric Toussaint said in an exclusive interview with AMNA WebTV on Thursday, in which he outlined the role and work of the Committee on the Truth about the Debt set up in Athens on April 4.
He did not rule out the possibility that a substantial portion of this debt might be found to be "odious" and illegal and said that some of the country's foreign creditors were "crows" speculating at Greece's expense.
Explaining the work done by the Committee, which on Thursday concluded a three-day meeting in Athens, the Belgian professor pointed out that it was now in its second meeting and comprised more than 30 individuals, 15 of which were not Greeks.
"These are various people. They are lawyers, economists, experts in checking public affairs," he pointed out, and their sole aim was to investigate whether any part of the debt was "illegal" and "odious".
Asked what new thing the Committee might contribute to the situation, Toussaint said it would yield a "stern decision that will judge the legal nature of the demands for Greece's foreign debt."
"If after a detailed analysis it arises that a part of the debt - of significant size - demanded of Greece is irregular, illegal or odious and unbearable, this will give the Greek authorities arguments in the framework of the negotiation. It will also provide arguments to the Greek population, in order to think about what it must do, independently of the elections.
According to Toussaint, the Greek public was following exactly what was happening in the framework of the talks and opinion polls showed how public opinion was evolving.
"Our work is useful in [building] awareness in the population. Awareness both in Greece and on an international level," he added.
 Independent Greeks: 'We support the government in the negotiations'Junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) on Thursday reaffirmed their support in the government, saying negotiations are entering a critical phase.
"The latest developments show the negotiations with our lenders have entered a critical and defining phase. ANEL support the prime minister and the government in the hard negotiations whose only aim is to secure an agreement which will end memorandums and the further impoverishment of the Greek people," the party spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said, adding that the government's "red lines" are still valid.
She then went on to criticize the opposition saying they "shouldn't dream of new memorandums like the ones they signed".
 FM Kotzias focuses on an active foreign policy in the BalkansForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias late on Wednesday, in statements to a radio station, expressed his intention for an active foreign policy in the Balkans with specific immediate steps.
He announced that he will make a tour to the Western Balkans (Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia) next June while the revival of tripartite cooperation with two EU Member States - Romania and Bulgaria - is among his plans.
We are, he said, "three countries that should have an opinion and view on the rest of the Balkans, because, if we do not have, third forces may monopolise operations in the Western Balkans".
Concerning the Western Balkans, Kotzias noted that "it is a source of instability. And the source of instability generates nationalism and nationalism may cause problems." He clarified that "the role of Greece is not to become a part of this problem, but to defend its national interests and act in a manner that will solve its own issues and the issues of other states in relation with the EU."
 Foreign minister to visit Turkey on Monday, starting in IstanbulForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias is to visit Turkey on Monday, starting his visit from Istanbul. Kotzias will be received by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, while he is scheduled to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate and meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the same day.
On Tuesday Kotzias will go to Ankara and meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for talks on bilateral, regional and international affairs.
On the Wednesday and Thursday, the foreign minister will participate in a NATO ministers' meeting take place in Antalya.
 Greece and Turkey to agree on resumption of exploratory talks in Ankara, FM Kotzias saysForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias, in an interview with Parapolitika FM late on Wednesday, estimated that the agreement on the resumption of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey will be reached during his visit to Ankara next week.
Kotzias will visit Turkey next week on the occasion of the NATO summit in Antalya on May 13-14.
Regarding the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), he said, "the first results of the dialogue, if positive, will be heard from Ankara and also in Ankara I think we will agree to begin again the exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey."
He clarified that "the policy of inaction, receiving letters from Turkey for one or the other issue, and not responding, will not be the policy of this ministry."
On the issue whether the time is right for Greece to open dialogue with Turkey amid the economic weakness, he said "that what determines the possibilities of the Greek foreign policy is whether is idle and passive or active and will be able to convince the Greek people that defends peace and cooperation in the region and the major interests of the country."
Kotzias underlined that his choice is not to be passive and wait for Turkey's moves, but to be active, take initiatives and open dialogues and added that "Greece may be financially weakened, but it is a powerful geopolitical state with a long history and a great people called today amid the crisis to demonstrate the virtues that to a great extent still hides."
 FM Kotzias to meet US State Department's Special Envoy and Coordinator for Intern.Energy Affairs on FridayForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Friday will meet with the U.S. State Department's Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos J. Hochstein, according to a Foreign ministry's announcement.
The meeting will take place at the Foreign ministry, at 10:30.
 Progressive reforms are needed, Deputy Defence Min Toskas tells ANA-MPA"Reforms with progressive direction are needed," Deputy Defence Minister Nikos Toskas on Thursday said in an interview with ANA-MPA, adding that this translates into "smaller and more effective armed forces with lower cost where appropriate, focused on humans and with certain objectives that have been made understood to everyone in order to address any threats."
Referring to the relations with Turkey, Toskas noted that "they are neither better nor worse than they used to be" adding that "we are in a very good cooperation with the Foreign ministry and we are trying to deal with any challenges."
He underlined that the tackling of any challenges is made "in a vigorous way," adding that "we will not let Turkey do whatever it wants in the Aegean Sea or challenge us, despite the problems we have because of the economic crisis."
Toskas stressed among others that "the issue of consolidating democracy, democratic institutions, democratic perception, loyalty to the parliamentary institutions, is a constant struggle."
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Deputy Minister of State Terens Quick in CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/ A. Viketos)
Deputy Minister of State Terens Quick, currently on a visit to Cyprus, on Thursday had a series of meetings with Cyprus House of Representatives President Yiannakis Omirou, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos, Education Minister Costas Cadis and Transport Minister Marios Demetriades. The meetings concerned the Cyprus issue, migration, educational reform and other matters of mutual interest.
In statements made in Nicosia, Quick underlined that the government was negotiating hard with the institutions and seeking a solution within the euro, while he appeared optimistic that an agreement for a comprehensive package will be reached by early June.
Omirou stated that Greece's position is in the euro and he expressed hope that the positive messages now emerging from the negotiations between Greece and the institutions will turn into an agreement.
 PM receives rehired finance ministry cleaners at his officesPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday received some 50 of the rehired finance ministry cleaners, who are to return to their jobs following draft legislation passed by Parliament. The prime minister greeted them warmly, stressing that "we should be thanking you because in difficult times you set an example of self-denial and struggle."
According to Tsipras, the 420 cleaners who were laid off by the previous coalition government had managed through their struggle to "go beyond borders and become a symbol of social injustice within and outside Greece".
Government sources said the prime minister received them in the forecourt of the Maximos Mansion and then accompanied them to his office, then saw them out after a meeting lasting roughly half an hour. The visit coincided with the first anniversary since the cleaners first camped outside the ministry in protest, on May 7 2014, in protest against losing their jobs.
They said they would now break the camp outside the ministry and put on a party to celebrate.
 Labour Minister: Draft law on labour issues to be tabled soonLabour Minister Panos Skourletis confirmed on Thursday that the bill on labour issues will be tabled soon. "The draft law is ready adding that it expects the Economic and Social Committee's opinion noting that next week he will visit the International Labour Office and afterwards he will proceed with the submission of the draft law. "The red lines remain deeply red. They have not been set to keep the government chained but to express our commitments to the Greek people" said Skourletis.
 SYRIZA MEP Glezos: Germany refuses to see reality on war reparations issueThe issue of the German war reparations to Greece has been transferred from Greece to Germany, stated Europarliament SYRIZA deputy Manolis Glezos clarifying that is not a difference between the two countries but between the German people and their government. "The German people will give the solution by pressing their government," he said at a press conference he gave with Die Linke Europarliament deputy Martina Michels in Berlin late Wednesday.
Glezos noted that he does not consider the German people responsible for the Nazis' crimes but blamed the German governments which "refuse to see the reality". The 'weapon' in this case is "the right, the restoration of justice" he underlined and explained that he does not recommend the judicial way "I do not like courtrooms. What I request is a Treaty between Greece and Germany to be signed. Typically were are at ceasefire . What does that mean, that we are at war? For the moment the treaty is signed, Germany will have to pay," said Glezos.
Asked on the course of the negotiations with the institutions, Glezos stated his position which is clear and has not changed "No a single step back. No retreat," he added and reiterated his proposal for a payments' moratorum for a year.
On Thursday, Glezos will be the keynote speaker at a Die Linke event on the occasion of the 70-year anniversary from the end of WWII that will be held at the federal parliament.
 Russian embassy sends list of WWII archive material on Greece to defence ministryThe Russian embassy in Athens on Thursday sent an extensive list of material held in Russia's archives from World War II concerning the Nazi occupation in Greece and the Greek resistance. The information, which includes documents, photographs and material on film, was requested by Alternate Defence Minister Kostas Isichos in a meeting with Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov when they co-chaired the Greece-Russia Joint Ministerial Committee on March 17-20.
The contents of the list will be translated and then studied by the Army History Directorate in order to select specific files that will be requested from the Russian authorities so that they can be given to the Cross-party Parliamentary Committee for Claiming German Debts, in support of Greece's demands for war reparations from Germany.
 ND sternly attacks governmentMain opposition New Democracy (ND) sternly attacked the government accusing of continuing to lie to the Greek people. In a non-paper entitled "Truths and lies on the alleged 'proud' negotiation" ND supports that the government will "impose 14 times more measures of 14 billion euros."
The party claims that the government adopts recession measures such as increase of taxes and squeezing of households' income through the abolition of the tax free threshold and discounts.
"Mr. Tsipras is cheating twice the Greek people. Not only because he proposes more fiscal measures than those included in 'Hardouvelis e-mail' but because he copied most of those proposed and added extra taxes, taxes and taxes," said ND's non paper.
Finally, ND accused SYRIZA that as main opposition it undermined systematically the ND government's efforts in the country and abroad and that now "100 days after the formation of their co-governance (SYRIZA and Independent Greeks), the country is paying their fake promises, their inertia and their incompetence."
 Main opposition New Democracy parliamentary spokesman lashes out at governmentWhen Greece comes to an agreement with its lenders, "after wasting four monts in so-called intense negotiations.... Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras) must also apologise profusely to the Greek people for the lies he served them the last four years," main opposition New Democracy parliamentary spokesman Adonis Georgiadis said on Thursday during an interview in the northeastern city of Kavala.
Georgiadis said that Tsipras' backing down from the "red lines", or sine qua non demands related to insurance and work issues in an agreement with the lenders "shows the premier has understood the extent of the responsibility he has assumed."
Among other things, the parliamentary spokesman criticised the government on its migration policies ("the Tsipras government's basic mistake was to send the message to all migrant traffickers that Greece is open and waiting for them"), a delay in signing an agreement on the economy with its partners ("wasted time that brought a 3 percent recession"), and Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou, whom he called "an interesting personality... using her abilities only negatively" and creating tension. "The day she leaves, even the waiters [in Parliament] will rejoice," he said.
 Government leading country to 'worse memorandum,' ND's Samaras tells KEDE conferenceThe government is leading the country to a "worse memorandum" whose cost for citizens will be 14 times greater than the measures in the so-called "Hardouvelis e-mail," main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras asserted on Thursday. ND's leader was speaking at the annual conference of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) taking place in the Porto Carras resort in Halkidiki.
"They did not receive any mandate to destroy the country and if they find that they are unable to do all that they promised, let them help the country exit the impasse into which they led it," he added.
Expressing certainty that the people will "punish them as they deserve," Samaras said that ND would not help the government but the country, and not allow the government to "drive us onto the rocks". While much time had been lost, Greece was still able to get out of the crisis if "we correct the mistake together," he added.
Samaras admitted that his government had made some mistakes but that he had intended to gradually reduce the ENFIA property ownership tax and referred to initiatives such as the minimum guaranteed income, heating benefits and healthcare for the uninsured that his government had launched.
 Potami will support a deal to keep Greece in euro, says party leaderOpposition party Potami is ready to support a deal with Greece's creditors and has told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that party MPs would approve a relevant agreement in Parliament, its leader told a private radio station on Thursday.
"We'll have to see what they tell us, but we are positively predisposed. We intend to support the government and we have told Mr. Tsipras that if he feels insecure about the votes of his own lawmakers, he shouldn't feel any insecurity for Potami's lawmakers. They are Europeanists and they'll try to keep Greece in Europe," Stavros Theodorakis said during an interview with Radio Thessaloniki.
Commenting of Wednesday's joint statement between Tsipras and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Theodorakis said he doesn't believe they are discussing about a new programme, but about an intermediate agreement.
"The largest agreement, which will be made at some point, should also include some debt adjustment," he said.
 Government is moving to a new memorandum, KKE's Koutsoumbas says"The government is moving towards a new memorandum. 'Masks are falling!' There will be a new blow to labour issues, pensions, collective agreements, with privatizations and new tax burdens, while retaining all the anti-popular measures of the previous memoranda, thus perpetuating poverty for our people," communist party (KKE) secretary general Dimitris Koutsoubas on Thursday commented on political developments.
 Sports violence bill passed in ParliamentA government bill designed to counter violence in sports was passed on Thursday by the Parliament plenum, including the controversial article 5, with a roll-call vote requested by main opposition New Democracy on three of the articles in the bill.
Article 5 for the entry of regular judges into the disciplinary organs of professional sport was finally backed by ruling coalition MPs from SYRIZA - though Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou abstained, recording an 'absent' vote. There was a mixed reaction from the smaller coalition partner Independent Greeks, with some ANEL MPs voting against article 5, some abstaining and some voting in favour. The article was finally passed with 146 votes in favour, 67 against and 33 abstentions.
ND voted against, while the opposition parties Potami, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and PASOK abstained, voting 'present'.
 Golden Dawn's trial adjourned to May 12The trial of Golden Dawn's leadership and members before a Criminal Appeals Court was adjourned to May 12.
Regarding the demand on the transfer of the trial to another location, the president of the court said that the decision rests with the political leadership.
"We do not choose the place where trials take place; that issue rests with the political leadership. As soon as the issue is resolved, we will be transferred," she stated.
 Court must decide on a change of venue for Golden Dawn trial, not the ministry, says Justice ministerJustice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos said on Thursday it is the Court's responsibility to decide whether the trial of Golden Dawn's leadership and members should take place in Korydallos prison, or somewhere else.
The president of the Criminal Appeals Court told earlier on Thursday that the decision for a change in location rests with the political leadership, before the trial was adjourned to May 12.
In a statement, Paraskevopoulos responded that the correct procedure would be for the presiding judge to submit a request to the minister and then he would have to find a solution. He warned, however, that such an action would "intervene with the process of Justice."
"If Justice considers that there is a continuing objective inability to conduct court sessions then the Minister, by law, has the responsibility to find a solution following a request by the presiding judge, which however would take some time," Paraskevopoulos said.
"But a decision by the Justice minister for a change of courtroom, considering that there's a lack of available space...would lead to a de facto postponement or interruption of the ongoing trial. This would constitute an interference with the flow of Justice," he added.
 Opinion poll gives SYRIZA a 20.2 pct lead over New DemocracyRuling coalition partner SYRIZA leads by 20.2 percentage points over main opposition New Democracy (ND) in voting intent according to an opinion poll conducted by Palmos Analysis on behalf of private TV station SBC, published on Thursday.
According to the survey, 36.7 pct of participants chose SYRIZA, 16.5 pct said ND, 6.1 pct Potami, 5.4 pct Golden Dawn, 3.9 pct Communist Party (KKE), 3.1 pct Independent Greeks (ANEL) and 2.5 pct PASOK.
Asked on who they believe is more suitable for prime minister, 57 pct prefer Alexis Tsipras and 21 pct chose ND leader Antonis Samaras, while 18 pct said "neither".
Questioned whether they believe there will be an agreement between Greece and its creditors, 46 pct said "yes", 29 pct said "probably yes", 9 pct said "No" and 10 pct said "probably not".
Asked whether they believe the government's ongoing negotiation can be described as "tough", 43 pct of respondents said it's "tough", 29 pct said it's "non-existent" and 22 pct called it "mild".
 EIB ready to increase investments in Greece for viable programmes, its president saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
The progress achieved in Greece should not be underestimated, European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer said on Thursday, with noteworthy programmes run by the Bank with private and public entities.
Things in this sector "have gone very well, in part," he said, adding that the Bank was ready to increase investments "if there are truly good and viable programmes."
Commenting on Greece's initiative to establish its own investment bank, Hoyer hailed the idea but said he only knew of it from press reports; national investment banks already existed in Portugal, Ireland and elsewhere. He also said he had no information on whether the Institution for Growth, begun by the previous administration in Greece, would continue or not.
 Energy Minister Lafazanis asks Japanese envoy to help in lowering price for PPC lignite plantProductive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis requested from Japan's ambassador to Greece the help of his government in convincing Hitachi to reduce the contract price for the construction of a new lignite power unit for power utility PPC in a meeting on Thursday.
Japanese company Hitachi, along with Greek construction company Terna, won in 2013 an order to construct a 660 MW "Ptolemais V" lignite power plant in northern Greece and place it into operation.
Lafazanis, along with PPC's CEO Manolis Panagiotakis, told Japanese envoy Masuo Nishibayashi he would like the price, agreed at 1.3 billion euros, to be reduced.
"A positive development on this issue would be considered a symbolic and meaningful gesture towards the Greek people, which would contribute to further cooperation between the two countries, but also built confidence on the project," the minister said.
Nishibayashi replied that he would take the issue with his government, while adding that economic issues will be disgust directly with PPC and the Japanese companies participating in the deal.
The minister along with the president of the Greek Hydrocarbons Exploration Company Sofia Stamataki also presented the Japanese envoy with Greece's programme for offshore hydrocarbon exploration concessions in the Ionian Sea and south of Crete and urged his to inform Japanese companies which may be interested in participating in the tender.
 Greek tourist enterprises warn of risks of higher VAT on tourismGreek tourist enterprises urged the government' s economic team to deal rationally with the issue of VAT on tourism. Addressing a conference organised by the Greek-listed daily financial newspaper "Naftemporiki", Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE), said that "Greece should not commit suicide by opting for VAT rates that will make its tourist package non competitive". He referred to the example of Hungary, where a decision by IMF to impose a VAT rate of 27 pct on restaurants and 17 pct on hotels led to a loss of more than 20 pct of tourist arrivals in the country. Andreadis noted that VAT for tourism and restaurants in Turkey was 8.0 pct, in Spain and Cyprus 9.0 pct, in France and Italy 10 pct and in Germany 7.0 pct, while in Greece, VAT for restaurants is 13 pct and for hotels 6.5 pct.
 Amendment will give tax payers 2 pct off if income tax is paid in fullTax payers who pay their income tax in a single installment by July 31, 2015 will get 2 percent off, according to an amendment filed on Thursday by Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani.
The amendment includes other provisions, such as no taxation on rents still owed if the owner turns them over to the state for collection, no taxation on subsidies to farmers for natural disasters (which are currently taxed by 13%), while farming subsidies will be taxed after the initial 12,000 euros, while tax prepayments for farmers will be reduced to half.
Other measures allow individuals and businesses with tax service-certified debts whose assets have been confiscated by banks to come under the current repayment scheme of a maximum 100 repayment installments.
The rider is appended to a finance ministry draft bill on the Hellenic Sugar Industry SA, and is expected to be discussed and voted in plenary on Tuesday (May 12).
 Government signs contract with National Bank of Greece for electronic welfare benefits cardLabour Minister Panos Skourletis and Alternate Social Solidarity Minister Theano Fotiou on Thursday signed a contract with the National Bank of Greece for a credit card-based system to pay food-aid welfare benefits to some 150,000 recipients that are on or below the poverty line. The agreement for the 'solidarity card', signed with NBG President Louka Katseli, was among the provisions of the law on tackling the humanitarian crisis.
The card, which will be issued to those eligible for assistance to cover the cost of food, will be credited with 70 euros each month per individual, with an additional 30 euros for each family member up to a maximum of 200 euros a month.
Skourletis noted the very rapid pace with which the programme for dealing with the humanitarian crisis was being implemented, noting that "when you want to, you can function more productively and, chiefly, with sensitivity." He also praised the stance of the NBG, which made the food programme possible.
A total of 120,726 applications for assistance in covering the cost of food, rent and power have been submitted in the 15 days since the government launched the programme, while the deadline for applications expires on May 20.
 Papoutsanis launches two new projectsPapoutsanis on Thursday announced two new projects aiming to boost its growth course in 2015. In an announcement, the Greek-listed company said it will begin supplying - from the second half of the year - a five-star hotel chain in Europe through a strategic partnership with Sysco Guest Supply. The deal includes exclusive production by Papoutsanis of all the hotel's personal care products for guests. The partnership envisages more than 20 million units per year, adding around 1.7 million euros to Papoutsanis' annual turnover.
The second project envisages the production and promotion of a new product range under the brand name Olive Care, for hair and body care based on Greek olive oil.
Papoutsanis said its turnover grew 7.1 pct to 17.2 million euros in 2014, while exports totaled 7.0 million euros, or 41 pct of sales. However, sales were down 18 pct in the first quarter due to the termination of a contract with a foreign customer.
 Productive Reconstruction Min. to meet with US envoy for international energy affairs HochsteinProductive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis will receive on Friday the Special Envoy and Coordinator for international energy affairs of USA Amos Hochstein.
The meeting is held on Hochstein's initiative and will start at 9:30. The two top officials will discuss matters of bilateral interest.
 Pension funds collect 96.6 mln euros from debt rescheduling plan so farA total of 131,123 debtors have rescheduled their debts with pension funds, taking advantage of favorable repayment terms offered by the government, while a sum of 96,628,369 euros has been collected so far, official data showed on Thursday.
From the total 131,123 rescheduled decisions issued, 9.13 pct were debtors with lost rescheduled sums while the vast majority (90.87 pct) were debtors who did not have older existing debt rescheduling agreements.
 Fraport says unclear if Greek airport deal will be completedFraport, the operator of Frankfurt airport, said it was unclear if and when a deal to operate 14 Greek regional airports in tourist destinations would be completed, after reporting slightly better than expected first quarter results, according to Reuters news agency.
Fraport was last year named preferred bidder for a deal to operate 14 regional airports in Greece, in tourist locations such as Corfu.
But since the election of a leftist-led, anti-austerity government in Greece the deal has come into the spotlight, with Greece seeking to change the terms of the deal, a source told Reuters last week.
"It is currently not certain whether or when the transaction can be completed in view of the political and macroeconomic development in Greece," the company said in its first-quarter report.
Fraport reported first-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 153 million euros (114 million pounds), against the average analyst forecast of 149 million in a Reuters poll.
It also confirmed its targets for the year of a 2-3 percent rise in passenger numbers at Frankfurt airport and for profits to rise to around 820-840 million euros.
 Piraeus Port launches international tender for repair/maintenance of floating tankPiraeus Port authority on Thursday launched an international tender for the repair and maintenance of a large floating tank (15,000 tons), a contract worth 1,866,500 euros plus VAT.
The tank is built from shipbuilding steel while its seaworthiness is monitored and certified by the Greek Shipping Register. Piraeus Port owns another floating tank in Perama (4,000 tons) and two permanent repair tanks in the main port of Piraeus.
 Titan Group reports 12.7 pct rise in Q1 turnoverTitan Group on Thursday reported a 12.7 pct increase in its consolidated turnover in the first quarter of 2015, compared with the same period last year, to 283.8 million euros, while EBITDA fell 23.7 pct to 23.2 million.
Net after minorities and tax provision results showed a profit of 6.6 million euros, from a loss of 11 million euros last year, with positive operating results in the US market and a recovery of demand in Greece. On the other hand, results fell significantly in Southeast Europe, Turkey and Egypt. Turnover in Greece and Western Europe fell 2.0 pct to 65.3 million euros in the first three months of the year, while operating profits jumped to 9.4 million euros from 3.9 million, over the same periods, respectively.
In the US, turnover jumped 37.5 pct to 130.2 million euros, while operating earnings jumped to 5.8 million euros, from 900,000 euros last year.
In Southeast Europe, turnover fell 31.2 pct to 28.2 million euros, while operating earnings fell to 4.2 million from 9.7 million euros in 2014. In Egypt, turnover grew 21.9 pct to 60.2 million euros and in Turkey the results of Adocim (in which Titan has a 50 pct stake) were lower compared with 2014.
Parent turnover grew 11.9 pct to 65.1 million euros, while EBITDA jumped to 8.4 million euros, from 3.1 million in the first quarter of 2014. Net profits totalled 300,000 euros, significantly down from 9.1 million euros in the first quarter of 2014.
 Foreign investors cut exposure to Greek stock market in AprilForeign investors slightly cut their exposure in the Greek stock market in April to 48 pct from 49.2 pct in March, while - excluding the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund - their stake eased to 58.6 pct in April from 59 pct in March.
On the other hand, Greek investors held 31.6 pct of the market's capitalisation at the end of April. Foreign investors were net sellers with capital outflows totalling 26.46 million euros, while Greek investors were net buyers with capital inflations of 25.44 million. Foreign investors accounted for 64.1 pct of all market transactions (down from 65.1 pct in March and 69.8 pct in April 2014).
Turnover dropped 25.1 pct to 1.405 billion euros compared with March and down 56.5 pct from April 2014. Average daily turnover was 78.05 million euros, down from 89.32 million in March and 161.47 million in April last year. The number of active investor codes eased to 24,127 in April from 32,776 in March and 29,313 in April 2014. The market's capitalisation was 41.37 billion in April, from 39.38 billion in March and 64.55 bln in April 2014.
 Greek stocks end sharply higherGreek stocks ended sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday led by a surge in bank share prices. A significant progress in negotiations between Greek authorities and the institutions, as reported in the last few days, created a positive climate in the Greek market. A decision by ECB to raise the ceiling of ELA by another 2.0 billion euros on Wednesday also encouraged investor sentiment.
The composite index rose 3.01 pct to end at 841.54 points, off the day's highs of 857.51 points. The Large Cap index rose 3.03 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.34 pct higher. Turnover was an improved 127.95 million euros while the market's capitalisation grew by 1.6 billion euros.
Piraeus Bank (14.11 pct), GEK Terna (13.58 pct), Terna Energy (10.27 pct) and Piraeus Port (9.52 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Folli Follie (1.87 pct), OTE (1.42 pct) and Coca Cola HBC (1.0 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Media (9.47 pct), Banks (9.33 pct) and Oil (6.42 pct) scored big gains, while Insurance (2.10 pct), Commerce (1.83 pct) and Telecoms (1.42 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 90 to 33 with another 17 issues unchanged. Attica Bank (30 pct), Logismos (29.76 pct) and Sfakianakis (19.72 pct) were top gainers, while Sato (20 pct), Douros (20 pct) and Hellenic Sugar (18.15 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +3.15%
Industrial Products: +4.43%
Real Estate: +1.22%
Personal & Household: +2.82%
Food & Beverages: -0.97%
Raw Materials: +4.40%
Mass Media: +9.47%
Travel & Leisure: +0.41%
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: 0.34
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.84
Coca Cola HBC: 18.72
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.54
National Bank of Greece: 1.26
Piraeus Bank: 0.46
Grivalia Properties: 7.24
Aegean Airlines: 7.57
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 10.55 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 10.33 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 11.13 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.58 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.169 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.107 pct from 0.109 pct, the six month rate fell to 0.061 pct from 0.062 pct, the three-month rate was -0.008 pct and the one-month rate was -0.043 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 15,713 contracts with 51,765 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 133,043 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (45,902), followed by Alpha Bank (20,905), Piraeus Bank (35,330), National Bank (22,753), MIG (592), OTE (1,207), PPC (902), Hellenic Exchanges (221), Viohalco (268), Mytilineos (280), Hellenic Petroleum (231), Motor Oil (115), Athens Water (232), Sidenor (103), Metka (477), GEK (1,119), Ellaktor (749), Jumbo (305) and Frigoglass (522).
 Parents on Crete sued by daughters for locking them out of the house, get 10 months eachA couple on the southern Aegean island of Crete was sentenced to ten months for exposing a minor to danger, after changing the house lock on their two daughters, 16 and 20, who sued them.
The misdemeanours court at Iraklio, the island's main city, sentenced each parent to ten months, but gave the mother a three-year suspended sentence and allowed the father to buy out his sentence at 5 euros per day.
The daughters - who do not get along with their father - said their parents had locked them out of the house in the Messara plain, while the parents said their daughters misunderstood them for changing a damaged lock.
(The parents were arrested under a 24-hour window following a charge to the police.)
 Work stoppage in metro, tram and ISAP electric railway on FridayWorkers in Athens' fixed rail public transport which include the metro, tram and ISAP electric railway, called a warning work stoppage from the start of their shift until 07:00 a.m. on Friday.
The unions accuse the management of the Urban Rail Transport company (STASY) of "showing excessive zeal in hiring their cronies without considering the cost."
They also said the management is not doing what it should to "highlight the vacant positions to open up new jobs."
 Scattered clouds on FridayScattered clouds and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 13C-26C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 14C-29C. Scttered clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 15C-29C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 16C-28C. Mostly fair in Athens, 16C-28C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 15C-26C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Prerequisite for liquidity and step for an agreement
DIMOKRATIA: What the single VAT will bring
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: 'White collars' to be brought before the court
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Strict measures from a left-wing party for the very first time
ESTIA: Elections was a terrible mistake
ETHNOS: Optimism for the first time
IMERISSIA: Step to an agreement
KATHIMERINI: Red lines on the table of negotiation
LOGOS: (Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras-(EU Commission president Jean-Claude) Juncker's statement an omen of agreement
NAFTEMPORIKI: The agreement will bring 14 billion euro measures
RIZOSPASTIS: Masks are down; People on alert
TA NEA: The background of the agreement
TO PONTIKI: Prime Minister Alexis (Tsipras) and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel's hot line
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