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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-01-14

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

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

Thursday, 14 January 2016 Issue No: 5101

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras says certain gov't majority is safe ahead of social security bill vote
  • [02] Finance ministry sources: Satisfactory progress in Greek programme noted at Tsakalotos-Schaeuble meeting
  • [03] Schaeuble-Tsakalotos meeting 'held in constructive atmosphere,' German finance ministry says
  • [04] IMF's Thomsen not at Schaeuble-Tsakalotos meeting, German finance ministry spokesperson says
  • [05] Skourletis accuses Eldorado Gold of staging "political show" and sending ultimatums
  • [06] Environment minister on Eldorado: 'We cannot talk under conditions of blackmail'
  • [07] The Schengen Treaty is the greatest achievement of European integration, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos says
  • [08] Alt.FM Xydakis meets with Dutch FM Koenders
  • [09] Government's plan on social security reforms is "ambitious", eurozone official says
  • [10] Bill on public administration to 'end party state', says gov't spokeswoman
  • [11] Main opposition must contribute to dialogue on pension reforms, gov't spokeswoman says
  • [12] Civil servants' union federation ADEDY urges mass turnout for Saturday rally against pension reforms
  • [13] EU Commission awards 1.36 million euros to Greece to buy 90 fingerprinting devices
  • [14] Mardas sees good prospects for Greek-Russian ties in 2016, in ANA-MPA's Greek-Russian website
  • [15] International community must keep its promise to make Greek debt sustainable, US Treasury's Lew says
  • [16] French ambassador reiterates France's support to Greece
  • [17] FM Kotzias to meet British counterpart Philip Hammond in Athens on Thursday
  • [18] President Pavlopoulos to meet ND leader on Jan. 20
  • [19] Tender for TV licences to be launched in January, Spirtzis says
  • [20] Turkish helicopter violates Athens FIR
  • [21] Government's social security reforms are in the right direction, BOG head says
  • [22] ECB head says waiver for Greece depends on programme compliance
  • [23] Gov't to present new bill on e-public procurement this month
  • [24] Interior, education and economy ministries launch IT4Gov competition for innovative e-gov apps
  • [25] Greece raises 812.5 mln euros from T-bill auction
  • [26] Emirates inaugurates second flight that will link Athens with Dubai
  • [27] More Greek companies run by women in 2015, ICAP
  • [28] Makro Cash & Carry to be renamed into "The Mart"
  • [29] Budget revenues surpassed targets by 1.9 bln euros in 2015
  • [30] Greek inflation rate at -0.2 pct in Dec
  • [31] Greek stocks end lower
  • [32] Greek bond market closing report
  • [33] ADEX closing report
  • [34] Photo exhibition for refugees in Mytilene
  • [35] Police investigates the case of a body found in a freezer
  • [36] Survival game "The Island" to take place on Greek island
  • [37] Horse burial discovered during digging for Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre in Paleo Faliro
  • [38] Athens Concert Hall modifies Thursday events calender due to strike action by staff
  • [39] Greece's rail system and suburban railway to hold work stoppage on Thursday
  • [40] 59-year old man in serious condition after infected by mutated flu virus
  • [41] "Nisos Rhodos" with 1,238 refugees on board docks at Piraeus port
  • [42] Mostly fair on Thursday
  • [43] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras says certain gov't majority is safe ahead of social security bill vote

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday he is certain the government majority is sufficient to pass the new bill on the tough social security reforms required by the country's lenders in the coming days.

    "It is a reform that the governments of the last 20 years didn't dare touch, although they saw that social security was being led to an impasse, with funds draining and the explosion of the black labor," Tsipras was quoted as saying to French channel canal+. "The government majority is sufficient because there's a clear and fresh popular mandate," he added.

    Asked about the progress of the country's bailout program, the prime minister said the government is one step before the first program review which will conclude with the implementation of the social security reforms.

    Concerning the progress in implementing the economic program, Tsipras said the government has implemented a massive number of laws from July until today and has voted more reforms than all the previous governments together in the past four years. "Those who insist that Greece is not moving ahead say it either because they deliberately do not want Greece to progress, or because they do not know the reality," he said.

    He also expressed his certainty that Greece has the ability to exit the crisis in 2016.

    Discussing international developments, the prime minister said that apart from the economic crisis, the world has to deal with the refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks that create a climate of instability and insecurity.

    "We face risks which create a fertile ground to cultivate intolerance and racism; perceptions that will destroy Europe," he noted adding that "it is time the progressive forces of Europe to unify and change course."

    [02] Finance ministry sources: Satisfactory progress in Greek programme noted at Tsakalotos-Schaeuble meeting

    Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble noted that there was satisfactory progress in the Greek economic adjustment programme during their working meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, finance ministry sources said.

    The sources said the meeting was held in a constructive climate and Tsakalotos briefed his German counterpart on the progress of reforms and the Greek programme in order to complete the first review. Both sides expressed the will to deal with any problems that arise in the coming period.

    The two ministers also discussed the refugee/migration issue, both with respect to its fiscal impact and with a view to seeking common European solutions with adequate funding, they said.

    [03] Schaeuble-Tsakalotos meeting 'held in constructive atmosphere,' German finance ministry says

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)

    The meeting between German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his Greek counterpart Euclid Tsakalotos in Berlin on Wednesday was held in a "constructive atmosphere" and focused on the progress of the Greek economic adjustment programme, German finance ministry spokesperson Friederike von Tiesenhausen said.

    According to the spokesperson, Schaeuble repeated that all the agreements must be implemented and all the steps carried out, one by one.

    "Only on this basis can there be a successful review and afterward possible further steps," she clarified, noting that the institutions were currently conducting a detailed examination and calculating the cost of the Greek government's proposals for reforming Greece's pension system, which was a key point of the review.

    Von Tiesenhausen also made it clear that Germany's position on debt relief for Greece had not changed, nor its position on the need for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to participate in the third Greek programme.

    "This was agreed this way, in any case, in the Eurogroup statement in August and in the meetings of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), while Greek representatives recently confirmed this position," she said, when asked if Berlin still insisted that the IMF's participation was essential.

    [04] IMF's Thomsen not at Schaeuble-Tsakalotos meeting, German finance ministry spokesperson says

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)

    The director of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) European department Poul Thomsen was not at the meeting between German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos in Berlin on Wednesday, the German finance ministry's spokesperson Friederike von Tiesenhausen said in response to questions.

    Thomsen arrived at the finance ministry while the meeting with Tsakalotos was underway, she said, and clarified in response to questions that he was not going to attend.

    She made no reply when asked with Thomsen was going to meet with Schaeuble.

    [05] Skourletis accuses Eldorado Gold of staging "political show" and sending ultimatums

    Greek Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis on Wednesday accused Eldorado Gold of staging a "political show" and of sending "blackmail ultimatums" and noted that the company's CEO must understand that "Greece is a modern European democracy and not El Dorado or a banana republic".

    Speaking to SKAI radio, Skourletis stressed that the government wanted the investment in Chalkidiki, but with the preconditions envisaged by the Greek law, adding that the company was not submitting any proposals, but it was sending "blackmail ultimatums" to the Greek government.

    The Greek minister did not exclude the possibility of renegotiating the contract from zero, adding that he could not dismiss the possibility that the company was seeking to withdraw from the investment due to a decline in international gold prices. He stressed that Hellenic Gold has not paid one single euro in taxes since 2007 and dismissed Eldorado Gold's claim of delays in issuing mining licenses. Skourletis said there serious environmental issues still needed to be addressed.

    [06] Environment minister on Eldorado: 'We cannot talk under conditions of blackmail'

    Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said on Wednesday that Canadian miner Eldorado Gold has to recall its decision to halt work at some of its sites before any dialog between the two sides can begin.

    "From now on, a precondition for any dialogue is for the company to repeal the decision [to suspend investments]. We cannot discuss under conditions of blackmail," the minister said after a meeting with Eldorado Gold's Chief Executive Officer, Paul Wright.

    Skourletis also said that the company has created a very negative climate and that when there are problems between a company that invests in a country and the State, they should be resolved with dialog and not with ultimatums.

    On his side, Wright described the meeting as very constructive and said: "We were given the opportunity to justify our decision. We're here as investors, not to do politics."

    The CEO of Eldorado's subsidiary, Hellas Gold, Mihalis Theodorakopoulos, said the dialog has started and will continue.

    [07] The Schengen Treaty is the greatest achievement of European integration, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos says

    EU Commissioner for Migration and Internal Affairs on Wednesday sent a clear message to member states to differentiate from the European Commission's official stance on the issue of migration, reiterating his position on the maintenance of the Schengen Treaty.

    In an interview with the Belgian television, Avramopoulos stressed that EU worked very hard over the last year to formulate a common migration policy, which did not exist before.

    "The Schengen Treaty is the greatest achievement of the European integration," he noted and expressed his disagreement with the view that the Schengen treaty has never worked. "The ability of free movement in Europe should remain by all means. By going back to national policies and building fences, we underestimate the future of Europe, and both I and the Commission are the guarantors of the treaties. And we will do our best not only to preserve the Schengen area, but also to solve all issues," he said.

    The obligation of the member states is to support the principles and values of the EU, the Commissioner said, reiterating that everyone will be judged by the citizens. "I am very worried by the rise of xenophobia, populism and nationalism. Member states have an enormous responsibility. It is very simple to say you disagree and that you will build fences or that you will exit from the EU. Is this how we will move forward? Of course I am worried about the future of my children, but I would never leave fear prevail," he underlined.

    [08] Alt.FM Xydakis meets with Dutch FM Koenders

    Turkey needs to meet its commitments to the EU regarding the refugee crisis recognising its key-role in the distribution of refugees, Alternate Foreign Minister responsible for the European Affairs Nikos Xydakis and Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders underlined on Wednesday.

    During their meeting late Tuesday in Amsterdam, first stop of Xydakis' short tour to European capitals, the Greek minister briefed his counterpart on Greece's efforts to face the pressure of the unprecedented refugees inflow underlining that the country has already dealt in the best possible way with the increasing needs and engagements, said Foreign ministry sources.

    He also said that the country is working hard and will succeed to meet its commitment to the European partners adding that Greece has received less assistance than what is needed to confront the refugee and migrant crisis and called the claims according to which the country does not want the EU's assistance false.

    Moreover, Xydakis highlighted the geopolitical reasons that have created the refugee crisis noting the peace role that the European Union should play in the Syrian crisis. In this context, he recognised the key-role of the current Dutch presidency in EU and the importance of the intitiative it will undertake. Xydakis also highlighted Greece's special geographical position noting the importance and responsibilities of the protection of the sea borders which cover thousands of kilometres. He reminded that Greece has rescued over 100,000 people in 2015 according to the rules of the international law, the Geneva Treaty for refugees as well as the founding treaties of the European Union.

    On his part, the Dutch Foreign Minister expressed special interest for the Cyprus issue and asked, according to information, to be briefed on the course of the issue.

    Finally, Xydakis briefed Koenders on the course of the Greek programme noting that Greece is making rapid progress and focused on the need for EU to contribute in this effort responding to the commitments that has assumed so that the country exits the long-standing crisis as soon as possible. He also said that the Greek government's first priority is to attract new investments so that job position open for the Greek people with special emphasis on tackling youth unemployment that very often forces the young people to leave the country.

    Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Xydakis will meet on Thursday with his German counterpart Michael Roth.

    Xydakis' European tour in order to inform on the Greek positions in matters of common European interest as the migration and refugees crisis will be completed on Friday where he will meet with Greek eurodeputies in Brussels.

    [09] Government's plan on social security reforms is "ambitious", eurozone official says

    BRUSSELS(ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)

    The government's proposal for social security reforms is "ambitious," a senior eurozone official said on Wednesday.

    The same official said that it is too early to evaluate the proposal of the Greek authorities adding that this will be done through in-depth discussions that will follow in the coming weeks. Therefore the same official said that the eurozone is not expected to adopt specific decisions at the Eurogroup on Thursday, nor at the Eurogroup meeting on February.

    Regarding the first review, according to the same eurozone official, it is expected to start next week with the arrival of the institutions' representatives in Athens. Apart from the social security issue, there are other open issues such as the restructuring of the public administration, the privatisations fund, the 2016 fiscal targets and the reform in the energy market.

    [10] Bill on public administration to 'end party state', says gov't spokeswoman

    A new draft bill being prepared by the government will change public administration from its foundations and end clientelism, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili told journalists on Wednesday, as a cabinet meeting discussing the bill in question and other issues was under way.

    "We discussed the details of a bill that will bring radical changes in the public administration of the country. It's a radical, progressive administrative reform, that governments which supposedly represented modernization or the re-establishment of the state didn't dare implement," she said. "It puts an end to clientelism and the party state and we surround civil servants with more," she added.

    Other government officials commented that the government's policy in public administration does not consist of hiring but of evaluating, adding that the main pillar of the bill is to create a "pool" of executives, the National Register, with the second and third pillars being the selection of supervisors and the evaluation.

    The draft bill on reforming the public administration will be submitted to parliament possibly next week, while its provisions will span over time, as time will be required to fully implement it.

    [11] Main opposition must contribute to dialogue on pension reforms, gov't spokeswoman says

    Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili again urged main opposition New Democracy to contribute to the dialogue on reforming the pension system, in a statement on Wednesday.

    "We hope that the main opposition will at some point be in a position to contribute to this dialogue with some minimally complete proposal, something that it has systematically avoided until today," she noted, adding that proposals as opposed to ingenuous and hypocritical cries would be welcomed.

    "The government remains true to its commitment to ensure the viability of the social insurance system without any horizontal reduction in pensions. For this purpose, it has sought and secured the consent of employer organisations to a reasonable increase in employer contributions. At the same time, we are in constant dialogue with the social organisations in order to ensure the fairest possible distribution of contributions of the self-employed," Gerovasili said, expressing hope that ND will be able to play its part.

    [12] Civil servants' union federation ADEDY urges mass turnout for Saturday rally against pension reforms

    The civil servants' union federation ADEDY called for mass public participation in a protest rally against planned pension system reforms taking place in Omonia Square at noon on Saturday, in an announcement on Wednesday. The rally is being organised by ADEDY with other trade union and social organisations.

    "The government's recent proposals to the Quartet of creditors do not constitute, as it claims, a social insurance reform that will save social insurance but a new looting of pensions, with all pensioners but especially those that go into retirement after the law is passed as its victims," the announcement said.

    It warned that the planned reforms were a "comprehensive anti-labour, anti-insurance restructuring" that would tear down whatever had been left standing of the state social insurance system. Moreover, the final version coming to Parliament would be even worse than the government's proposals, since the negotiations with the creditors would intervene, it added.

    [13] EU Commission awards 1.36 million euros to Greece to buy 90 fingerprinting devices

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    The European Commission on Wednesday decided to award 1.36 million euros in emergency funding for Greece to purchase 90 fingerprinting devices. The equipment was judged necessary for the proper identification and registration of migrants arriving at the Greek borders and the effective operation of the hotspots set up on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Leros, Kos and Samos.

    "The 90 fingerprinting devices and workstations will be connected to the central EURODAC system to ensure sharing of information, and will be installed at border crossing points throughout the country, including on the Eastern Aegean islands," the Commission's announcement said.

    The emergency funding comes from the Internal Security Fund (ISF), the Commission said. This emergency assistance is part of the Commission's overall efforts to support concrete and effective actions in member states facing high migratory pressure. For 2016, the Commission has foreseen emergency financial assistance, available to all member states, of 55.9 million euros under the ISF programme and 133 million euros under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

    For Greece the national programme amounts to around 509 million euros for 2014-2020, of which 33 million euros has already been paid. The Commission's award decision will be followed by the signature of the grant agreement with the Greek authorities, which should take place in the following days.

    [14] Mardas sees good prospects for Greek-Russian ties in 2016, in ANA-MPA's Greek-Russian website

    The prospects of strengthening Greek-Russian ties in 2016 are especially good, "in spite of the problems that exist on an international level and which prevent the full development of our trade relations," Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister for International Economic Relations Dimitris Mardas said on Wednesday, in an interview for the ANA-MPA's joint website with the Russian news agency Sputnik (http://greece-russia2016.gr)

    He said that Greece and Russia intend to continue strengthening their cooperation in tourism and the shipping sector, based on existing agreements between the two countries, and in the framework of international and regional organisations.

    Mardas said that the Greek side briefed Russian officials about the investment opportunities opening up in Greece during a meeting held in Sochi in November 2015, inviting Russia to participate in the framework of Greek and Community laws. Potential sectors for Russian investment included high technology products, tourism, real estate, energy, construction and services, he said. The minister also pointed to the possibility of Russian investments in the Greek privatisation programme, such as the recent privatisations of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports, or the Greek railway.

    [15] International community must keep its promise to make Greek debt sustainable, US Treasury's Lew says

    The US Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew had a phone contact with his Greek counterpart Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Tuesday evening.

    According to the US Department of State, it is important that the Greek government continues to implement reforms and closely cooperate with its international creditors.

    He also stressed the importance for the international community to keep its promise to make the Greek debt sustainable by providing the necessary relief provided that Greek authorities maintain their commitments and continue to implement the agreed upon reforms.

    Lew added that the US Treasury will keep "a close eye" on financial developments in Greece.

    [16] French ambassador reiterates France's support to Greece

    French Ambassador to Greece Christophe Chantepy sent a message of support and hope that Greece will exit the crisis in 2016, at an event held on Tuesday at the ambassador's residence to celebrate the New Year.

    In 2016, as in 2015, France will continue to support Greece, said the French envoy noting that Europe can't exist without Greece and Greece can't exist without Europe.

    Moreover, he stressed that Greece should continue with the implementation of the difficult but necessary reforms along with France's assistance as was the case with the signing of July 13 agreement. He particularly referred to the reform in the social security system as well as to the modernisation of the public administration. We will continue together the common strategy, he said and made a special reference to the agreement between French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during Hollande's visit to Athens last October.

    Chantepy referred to the agreement for the climate signed in Paris last December and the agreement for the nuclear control in Iran as hopeful messages for the new year.

    Chantepy's closed his speech in Greek saying "I hope to return the love that the Greeks have offered us with our support" and made reference to the warm welcome he experienced in Greece during the first four months of his tenure.

    Greek parliament president Nikos Voutsis, who attended the event, said "the human side that the ambassador showed in his very emotional speech goes along with diplomacy...and this is something we need because we had enough cynicism."

    [17] FM Kotzias to meet British counterpart Philip Hammond in Athens on Thursday

    The Cyprus issue, tackling terrorism, Britain's place in the EU, the refugee crisis and Syria will be the main topics discussed in a meeting between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Philip Hammond, in Athens on Thursday, at 09.45 (local time), the Foreign Ministry said.

    Kotzias and Hammond will have a one-on-one meeting followed by expanded talks with the participation of the two delegations, and they will make joint statements to the news media at about 11.20.

    [18] President Pavlopoulos to meet ND leader on Jan. 20

    President Prokopis Pavlopoulos will meet with newly elected New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Jan. 20, party sources said on Wednesday.

    [19] Tender for TV licences to be launched in January, Spirtzis says

    The tender for television licenses will be launched within January, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis on Wednesday said in an interview with "Sto Kokkino" radio station.

    He added that the first step is to set up the Greek National Council for Radio and Television (NCRTV) and noted that the government is ready for the establishment of ERT-NET. "Therefore, we will soon have the full implementation of the law," he concluded.

    [20] Turkish helicopter violates Athens FIR

    A Turkish helicopter S-70 flew over the islet Zourafa, east of the island of Samothrace at 10:40 on Wednesday violating the Athens FIR.

    According to General Staff's announcement, the Turkish helicopter entered Athens FIR at 10:32 without a flight plan and left the Athens FIR at 10:42. The helicopter was recognised according to the international rules and the established practice.

    The Turkish fleet is currently holding a Q1 operational training at Xiros gulf, said relevant sources.

    Financial News

    [21] Government's social security reforms are in the right direction, BOG head says

    The government's proposals on social security reforms are moving in the right direction, Bank of Greece (BoG) governor Yannis Stournaras late on Tuesday said in an interview with Skai TV, adding that he is now in open communication with the Finance ministry and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    The proposed reforms are serious as they improve the condition in the medium term and reduces the cost of the social security system as of 2018. However, he expressed reservations about the transition period until 2018. As he mentioned, "the problem lies in the three years between now and 2018. For three years, the government has decided not to cut pensions and increase social security contributions. However, experience has shown that the increase in contributions is worse than spending cuts. That's where we should found a golden mean".

    He argued that the social security reform is necessary, as from 2010 and onwards macroeconomic conditions have deteriorated. Despite the cuts, the major pension cuts, pensions as a percentage of national income, are well above the European average.

    Stournaras did not rule out the possibility of a new Grexit danger, but he was optimistic, saying, "if we keep our promises, there is no way that this will be put on the table again. And if it is set on the table, the vast majority would be against it and in the Eurozone, the Eurogroup and the Eurosystem."

    BOG governor estimated that the impact of the capital controls on the real economy will be considerably less than initially estimated. While the recession was initially estimated at 2.5 percent, it now seems to be around 0-0.5 percent. Stournaras estimated that capital controls will be probably lifted within the year provided that there is a positive evaluation of the Greek program.

    Referring to the negotiations with the creditors from 2010 onwards, he admitted that mistakes have been made from both sides.

    [22] ECB head says waiver for Greece depends on programme compliance

    Following a successful recapitalisation exercise, the demonstration of strong commitment to and compliance with a new macro-economic adjustment programme and ownership of the programme were keys to enhancing the confidence of depositors and market investors in the Greek banking system, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in a letter replying to Greek Eurodeputies Dimitris Papadimoulis and Stelios Kouloglou on Wednesday.

    In his letter, Draghi presented three specific criteria which must be met in order for government bonds to be eligible for purchases under the ongoing public sector purchase programme (PSPP).

    In his letter, the ECB head said:

    "Honourable Members of the European Parliament, dear Mr Papadimoulis, dear Mr Kouloglou,

    Thank you for your letter, which was passed on to me by Mr Roberto Gualtieri, Chairman of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, accompanied by a cover letter dated 21 October 2015.

    There are specific criteria in place for bonds issued by a government to be eligible for purchases under the ongoing public sector purchase programme (PSPP). The first such criterion is that these assets must be eligible for use as collateral for Eurosystem credit operations. As the rating of Greek government debt does not currently fulfil this criterion, such a use would require the waiver of the minimum credit rating requirement to be reinstated, which is linked to a strong commitment to and compliance with an economic adjustment programme. Second, for programme countries like Greece, the timing of possible purchases depends on a set of additional factors linked to the programme reviews. Third, the purchase limits set in the context of the PSPP must also be taken into account. Finally, please note that different issuer and issue share limits apply. These limits will be set by the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB), taking due account of risk management and market functioning considerations.

    On your question regarding the provision of liquidity to the Greek economy, the ECB, in the context of the Eurosystem, is fulfilling its mandate in respect of the 19 euro area member countries, including Greece. The Eurosystem and the Bank of Greece are continuing to support Greek banks in financing the real economy and are thus contributing to the stability of the country's financial system, as evidenced by developments in central bank funding extended to the domestic banking system since the end of 2014.

    To conclude, let me stress that, looking ahead, and following the successful recapitalisation exercise, the demonstration of commitment to and ownership of the new macroeconomic adjustment programme is key to enhancing the confidence of depositors and market investors in the Greek banking system, and thus to creating positive liquidity effects in the Greek economy."

    [23] Gov't to present new bill on e-public procurement this month

    Small- and medium-sized enterprises with small debt to the state will be able to participate in public procurement tenders, Antonis Papaderakis, secretary-general of Commerce and Consumer Protection said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, during a news conference, to present a National Electronic Public Procurement System, Papaderakis said that the system would change completely by the end of 2017 with the aim to improve public money and noted that the goal was not just cheaper supplies but better services and goods to the public sector. He added that public works will be included in the system from May 2017, to offer enough time for the training of personnel.

    "We have a lot of work but we believe in the national importance of the project, which is included in the memorandum obligations of the country but we saw it as a necessity to deal with the bad points of an existing system to the benefit of the economy and all productive forces," Papaderakis said. He added that average tender and execution times were 110 days currently and in extreme cases it could reach two or three years. The public procurement programme, including public works, amounted to 18 billion euros in 2014.

    He presented the basic axis of reforming the system:

    a new operating environment for state purchases through a new legislation to be put into consultation by the end of the month

    simplifying procedures

    tighter deadlines for tender procedures (from 52 days currently to 32-30 days and even 15 days)

    adopting new forms of tendering procedure, extending the maturity of contracts from three to five years and introducing special contract categories (green contracts)

    creating a new system to boost transparency

    introducing credible mechanisms throughout the procedure

    introducing an independent authority to offer off-court settlements

    technical assessment of supplies and

    implementing common register of suppliers and technical standards

    [24] Interior, education and economy ministries launch IT4Gov competition for innovative e-gov apps

    The interior and administrative reconstruction ministry, in collaboration with the education, research and religions ministry and the economy, development and tourism ministry, on Wednesday announced the first IT4Gov competition in order to promote, certify, use and award innovative applications for administrative reform that use new technologies.

    The competition is taking place with the support of the Association of Mobile Applications Companies of Greece (SEKEE), the Hellenic Entrepreneurs Association (EENE) and the Hellenic Association of Management Consulting Firms (SESMA).

    The aim is to discover innovative services that are not currently available on the market and which work toward building new and alternative models for simplifying processes in public administration and providing efficient e-gov services and ground-breaking solutions to the public and businesses.

    More information concerning the competition and eligibility criteria are available on the ministry website http://www.ydmed.gov.gr/. The competition is open to individuals, teams and private and public-sector legal entities. Submissions started on January 11 and will continued until 15:00 on February 17. Those wishing to enter the competition can fill in an application form at the link http://84.205.248.179.

    [25] Greece raises 812.5 mln euros from T-bill auction

    Greece on Wednesday successfully auctioned a three-month Treasury bill issue raising 812.5 million euros from the market. The Public Debt Management Organization, in an announcement, said that the interest rate of the issue was set at 2.70 pct, unchanged from the previous auction of same issue in December 16, 2015. Bids submitted totaled 813 million euros, 1.3 times more than the asked sum. The auction was made with the market's primary dealers and settlement date was set for Friday, 15 January. The organization will also accept non competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by Thursday, 14 January.

    [26] Emirates inaugurates second flight that will link Athens with Dubai

    Emirates Airlines adds a second daily flight to Athens increasing its weekly flight to Athens to 14.

    According the aircarrier's announcement the flight will be linked with the already existing itinerary Dubai-Larnaca and will offer the opportunity to passengers to make reservations between the Cyprus city of Larnaca and Athens.

    The airlink Dubai-Larnaca-Athens will be carried out by the new aircraft Boeing 777-300ER and the flight EK 107 will take off from Dubai at 07:50 and will arrive to Larnaca at 10:20. At 11:50 will leave from Larnaca for Athens will time of arrival 13:35. The return flight EK 108 will depart from Athens at 16:15 with stop at Larnaca at 18:00 from where it will depart at 19:30 and will land at Dubai at 01:25 the day after.

    [27] More Greek companies run by women in 2015, ICAP

    Women are steadily gaining ground as company leaders, with the percentage of women executives totaling 21.07 pct in 2015, up from 19.6 pct a year earlier, a survey by ICAP showed on Wednesday.

    The survey said that governments around the world are trying to encourage business activity among women, through plans, incentives and promotion actions and noted that despite a recent increase women still remained a minority among business leaders.

    ICAP presented three difference company-groups in its survey: the total of 23,968 companies on which the survey was based, companies run by women (5,049 companies run by a woman CEO, managing director or manager) and Top 500 LWiB (the leading 500 companies measured by their turnover in 2014) run by women and presented in detail in the Leading Women in Business 2015 report.

    In Greece, the biggest part of companies run by women is focused on small or very small enterprises. Stamatina Panteleou, Financial Survey Director, ICAP, said that the performance of Greek companies run by women executives are clearly better compared with the performance of all companies, with more characteristic the impressive improvement in profitability recorded in 2014/2013".

    [28] Makro Cash & Carry to be renamed into "The Mart"

    Makro Cash & Carry will operate under the brand name "The Mart" following its acquisition by I. & S. Sklavenitis. In an announcement, the company said the new corporate name will be adopted by all network units, its corporate site, facebook page, etc, from Monday, 18 January. The change in corporate brand name will be followed by a series of changes in-store.

    Makro Cash & Carry operates a network of 12 units around Greece, its workforce surpass 1,100 and its annual turnover in 2015 was around 300 million euros.

    [29] Budget revenues surpassed targets by 1.9 bln euros in 2015

    Budget revenues (cash basis) surpassed targets by 1.9 billion euros in 2015, strengthening the Greek government's position in negotiations with its creditors over the fiscal targets for 2016 and the coming years until 2018.

    Negotiations with representatives of the country's creditors are expected to begin in the next 10 days with the aim to complete a first review of the Greek economic polity programme. Precondition, among others, is passing a new pension reform law in Parliament and agreeing on a new medium-term programme to cover the fiscal targets of the 2016-2018 period.

    More analytically, budget revenues (cash basis) totaled 51.406 billion euros in 2015, from a budget targets of 49.491 billion euros, reflecting higher payments and better-than-expected economic course last year. Finance ministry officials expect this trend to continue in 2016 based on forecasts that the Greek economy will return to positive growth rates in the second half of the year.

    The 2016 budget envisages a primary surplus of 0.5 pct of GDP. This estimate is based on increasing tax revenues and a return of the economy to growth rates within the year.

    Greek bankers expect that a timely completion of the first review of the Greek economic programme and a speedy implementation of a privatization programme could lead to an 1.0 pct economic growth rate this year.

    [30] Greek inflation rate at -0.2 pct in Dec

    Greek inflation rate remained in negative territory for the 34th successive month in December, after a 0.2 pct decline, for a -1.7 pct average rate in 2015, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a monthly report, said that monthly price declines were recorded in meat (0.2 pct), dairy/eggs (0.4 pct), fresh fruit (13.5 pct), fresh vegetables (4.7 pct), wines (3.2 pct), rents (1.3 pct), heating oil (5.1 pct), petrol (1.1 pct) and education (1.1 pct). On the other hand, price increases were recorded in bread (1.2 pct), olive oil (1.0 pct), potatoes (2.2 pct), clothing/footwear (8.8 pct) and textiles (3.0 pct).

    On an annual basis, price increases were recorded in bread/cereals (2.9 pct), veal (1.2 pct), milk (1.8 pct), eggs (3.7 pct), fish (1.7 pct), olive oil (14.1 pct), sugar/candies/ice cream (5.4 pct), potatoes (18.6 pct), dried fruit/nuts (10.5 pct), vegetables (5.5 pct) coffee (9.0 pct), clothing/footwear (0.8 pct), cigarettes (1.9 pct), electricity (0.7 pct), pharmaceuticals 0.8 pct), air fares (16.6 pct), road transport (6.2 pct) and restaurants (2.8 pct). On the other hand, annual declines were recorded in poultry (2.0 pct), cheese (1.0 pct), rents (4.0 pct), heating oil (17.4 pct), natural gas (18.5 pct) car prices (2.3 pct), petrol (5.6 pct), newspapers/books (1.1 pct) and car insurance (10 pct).

    The statistics service, attributed the -0.2 pct consumer price index in December to a 3.6 pct decline in housing, an 1.7 pct fall in durable goods, a 2.1 pct decline in transport prices, an 1.5 pct fall in entertainment, an 1.2 pct decline in education, a 3.6 pct fall in other goods and services, while prices increases were recorded in food/beverage (2.8 pct), alcohol/tobacco (1.4 pct), clothing/footwear (0.8 pct), health (1.1 pct), hotels/restaurants (2.7pct).

    The consumer price index grew 0.1 pct in December from November 2015, after a 0.5 pct decline recorded in the same period in 2014. The average consumer price index fell 1.7 pct in 2015, after an 1.3 pct decline in 2014. Greece's harmonized inflation rate grew 0.4 pct in December from a decline of 2.5 pct in December 2014.

    [31] Greek stocks end lower

    Greek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, unable to hold on to their early gains on lack of follow-through buying and despite a positive trend prevailing in other European markets. The composite index of the market fell 0.83 pct to end at 589.35 points, after rising as much as 0.76 pct early in the session. The Large Cap index eased 0.45 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 2.55 pct. Turnover was an increased 83.897 million euros in volume of 95,953,674.

    Alpha Bank (2.30 pct), Jumbo (1.37 pct) and Eurobank (0.94 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Motor Oil (5.41 pct), Piraeus Port (5.09 pct) and Ellaktor (5.07 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Personal Products (1.16 pct) and Banks (0.81 pct) scored gains, while Insurance (7.14 pct), Oil (4.54 pct) and Telecoms (4.11 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 59 to 33 with another 23 issues unchanged. Boutaris (20 pct), Mevaco (9.94 pct) and Nereus (8.60 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (19.61 pct), Athina (17.24 pct) and AEGEK (16.67 pct) were top losers.

    [32] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 8.0 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 7.99 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.57 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.57 pct. Turnover was a thin 2.0 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to 0.049 pct from 0.048 pct, the nine-month rate eased to -0.007 pct from -0.006 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.054 pct from -0.053 pct, the three-month rate was -0.144 pct and the one-month rate was -0.220 pct.

    [33] ADEX closing report

    The January contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,521 contracts with 16,147 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 50,135 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (18,232), followed by National Bank (16,962), Piraeus Bank (8,833), Eurobank (2,008), MIG (703), OTE (567), PPC (839), OPAP (516), Mytilineos (307), Hellenic Petroleum (246), GEK (123), Jumbo (358) and Hellenic Exchanges (46).

    General News

    [34] Photo exhibition for refugees in Mytilene

    Photographic Society of Mytilene organises a group photo exhibition entitled "Refugees" at the society's exhibition venue, at the Lower Fortress of Mytilene from January 25 to February 5.

    The photos of the members of Mytilene Photographic Society will be sold at the symbolic price of 20 euros each in order cash to be collected that will be offered for the supply of basic essentials for the refugees.

    The exhibition will be inaugurated on January 25, at 18:00.

    [35] Police investigates the case of a body found in a freezer

    Police is investigating the case of a body found on Tuesday in a freezer in an apartment at the Athens district of Kallithea.

    The body, which belongs to a 65-year-old pensioner seaman, was found with hand and feet bound and the mouth sealed with tape. Police also found bloodstains in the freezer.

    According to the coroner, the body was in the freezer for approximately one year during which the victim's brother had reported his missing.

    Police's investigation mainly focuses on a 45-year-old Bulgarian national with whom the victim lived and had a child together. A few days before the pensioner's disappearance the woman had left with her child for Bulgaria and did not return to Greece. The Greek police had sent a message to Interpol in order to locate the suspect in Bulgaria.

    The body was found by a bailiff that went to hand over a foreclosure warrant to the Bulgarian who had declared the specific apartment as her residence. The bailiff, according to information, found the door of the apartment open and got into the house where he discovered the body and called the police.

    [36] Survival game "The Island" to take place on Greek island

    The Alimia islet, situated between Rhodes and Halki, was chosen by the Belgian travel agency "Beyond Borders" for the survival game (October 2016) entitled "The Island."

    "Such original projects like 'The Island' highlight the potential of the islands, attract specific categories of tourists and can contribute to the lengthening of the tourist season, Tourism Deputy Local Governor Marietta Papavasileiou said.

    The mayor of Halki, Michalis Patros, underlined that this game is a pleasant alternative to highlight the beauty of Alimnia worldwide. "We welcome the organization of such an event that shows a different way of promoting Alimia. I hope that this game is successful," he said.

    Joris Meermans, head of a four-member mission from Belgium, who visited the island a few days ago expressed his enthusiasm for Alimnia, stating that the island was exactly what the agency "Beyond Borders" was looking for. He also appeared confident, that this may be the beginning of a very good cooperation with the South Aegean Region and the municipality of Halki.

    "Beyond Borders" is a new and ambitious tourism agency that organises concept adventure trips, which do not exist anywhere else in Europe.

    [37] Horse burial discovered during digging for Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre in Paleo Faliro

    A horse burial containing an unusually well preserved skeleton of a horse, intact even down to the hooves, was among the finds discovered during landscaping works around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre in the Faliro Delta. The find was presented to the Central Archaeological Council in a session held on Tuesday, with members stressing its importance.

    "In the Faliro necropolis we have found four complete horse burials, as well as parts of other skeletons, therefore it is not something rare for the area. What is rare and surprised us was the degree of preservation of the specific skeleton, which even has its hooves. For zoo-archaeologists or a university, this find could be an excellent opportunity for a study. Having such a large number of skeletons - four is quite a number! - such a study could reach a number of conclusions on races and the evolution of species. From this point of view, this find is very important," the head of the West Attica, Piraeus and Islands Ephorate Stella Chrysoulaki explained.

    Chrysoulaki is in charge of the dig, which is near the works to dig an artificial canal in the grounds around the centre.

    She noted that a horse burial in a graveyard for people occurred now and again, while it was not strange for the Faliro necropolis "where unbelievable things happen." She noted that it was a cemetery stretching from the archaic era into the Classical era, containing many strange and unusual finds.

    One such was the discovery of two skeletons, possibly of a couple, lying with their hands clasped, she said. This indicated that they actually died together, since rigor mortis did not allow other conclusion, she said.

    A total of 136 burial sites dating back to the archaic era had been found in the 840 square metre ancient cemetery, including the horse burial and sections of a mass grave, burial urns and other finds. The irregular arrangement of the urns and the improper orientation of the dead are believed to be due to shifts in the ground due to the movement of the coastline, since the site is very near the sea.

    The Central Archaeological Council gave the go-ahead to not preserve the ancient structures found, which mostly consisted of holes in the ground, while the skeletons have been removed for study. Proposals were made to display and highlight some of the finds of the region in the cultural centre, such as the horse burial, in order to illustrate the area's history.

    [38] Athens Concert Hall modifies Thursday events calender due to strike action by staff

    The Athens 'Megaron' Concert Hall on Wednesday announced changes to its programme of events on Thursday, due to work stoppages announced by its staff union.

    A lecture on "Did the Ptolemies have a steam-powered pump?" by Prof. Theodosis Tasios has been postponed until Tuesday, February 2 at 19:00. Entry will be free of charge with the distribution of tickets starting at 17:30 on the same day.

    A performance of the play "The Marriage of Figaro" has been postponed until 21:00 and a planned performance of the play "Around the World in 80 Days" has been cancelled.

    The Megaron staff union SEOMMA decided to hold two three-hour work stoppages on Thursday, from 10:00-13:00 and 18:00-21:00 in protest about delays in payment of wages and uncertainty and insecurity about the future of the concert hall and their jobs, warning that this was the start of a "new series of mobilisations".

    [39] Greece's rail system and suburban railway to hold work stoppage on Thursday

    There will be numerous cancellations and modifications of the schedule throughout Greece's rail system and the suburban railway (Proastiakos) lines on Thursday, because of a three-hour work stoppage (from 12.00 to 15.00) which has been announced by Greek railway workers union.

    A demonstration has also been scheduled outside the Transport ministry, at 12.30.

    [40] 59-year old man in serious condition after infected by mutated flu virus

    The first case of (H3N2 type A) flu in the winter period was confirmed after the completion of the lab examinations at the central Greek city of Larissa.

    The patient, a 59-year-old man, is being hospitalised at Larissa hospital IC in serious condition.

    The man has been infected by a mutated strain of influenza virus that according to the scientific community is responsible for most of the flu cases in Greece which brought the country in state of emergency in 2009 on the occasion of the pandemic crisis of the virus H1N1.

    [41] "Nisos Rhodos" with 1,238 refugees on board docks at Piraeus port

    "Nisos Rhodos" with 1,238 refugees on board arrived at Piraeus port on Wednesday.

    The ferry carried 838 refugees from Mytilene and 400 refugees from Chios.

    "Blue Star 1" is expected to carry another 1,400 refugees and migrants from Mytilene within the day.

    Weather forecast

    [42] Mostly fair on Thursday

    Mostly fair weather and northwesterly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 02C-18C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 03C-18C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 10C-20C. Sunny in Athens, 04C-17C. Mostly fair in Thessaloniki, 05C-13C.

    [43] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Sings of recovery

    DIMOKRATIA: Blackmail with 1,100 jobs

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Big blackmail (referring to El Dorando)

    ETHNOS: Relief for 700,000 housing loan holders

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: A message of unity

    ESTIA: The first collapse of the social security system

    KATHIMERINI: Investments on the altar of party expediency

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Rupture in investment climate

    RIZOSPASTIS: Fight against the social security reforms

    TA NEA: The game will be played in the centre

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