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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-01-19

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

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

Tuesday January 19, 2016

CONTENTS

  • [01] President Pavlopoulos: Greece will fulfill its commitments on refugee crisis, adjustment program
  • [02] President Pavlopoulos raises war reparations issue during dinner with Gauck
  • [03] Greece can depend on European solidarity, German President Gauck says
  • [04] President Pavlopoulos stresses need for corrections by the creditors
  • [05] Institutions waiting for information requested by Eurogroup before missions head for Athens, Breidthardt says
  • [06] EU Commissioner Avramopoulos meets New Democracy leader Mitsotakis
  • [07] Gov't tries to improve aspects of agreement for farmers
  • [08] Greece, Cyprus and Jordan FMs meet on the margins of the EU Foreign Affairs Council
  • [09] ND leader Mitsotakis appoints Hatzidakis and Georgiadis party's VP
  • [10] Econ Minister meets with representatives of Greek-American and American-Jewish organisations
  • [11] EEP leader Weber congratulates ND leader Mitsotakis for his recent election
  • [12] Main opposition leader to meet PASOK, Potami counterparts this week
  • [13] Defence minister Kammenos meets Cypriot counterpart in Athens
  • [14] No Greek universities in Times' top 200 'most international'
  • [15] IMF must clarify its position on pension reforms, Greek FinMin Tsakalotos says
  • [16] Interior minister says government to discuss new electoral law in 2016
  • [17] Greece is expanding partnerships and alliances in Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans, says FM
  • [18] Turkey is not implementing EU deal on managing refugee flows, Greek minister tells Bild
  • [19] Greek stocks end sharply
  • [20] Bank of Greece to pay 1.2 bln euros dividend to Greek state
  • [21] Greek central banker outlines priorities for country's economic development
  • [22] NBG shareholders approve sale of Finansbank, Finans Leasing
  • [23] Piraeus Bank hires Egon Zehnder as advisor in search of new CEO
  • [24] IDE signs new contract with Raytheon
  • [25] Sale of Finansbank will have significant benefits for National Bank, chairman says
  • [26] Deaths from flu rise to 5 in Greece, health center says
  • [27] Alexandroupolis-Dikaia rail services interrupted due to heavy rain, flooding
  • [28] Registry for volunteers in Lesvos to be discussed on Thursday
  • [29] 2,404 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Monday
  • [30] Bad weather conditions intercept refugees arrival on Lesvos
  • [31] Snowfall and huge temperature drop across the country
  • [32] Work stoppages to disrupt rail services in coming week
  • [33] Municipal workers to hold work stoppage on Jan 21
  • [34] Cooperation memorandum between CERN and University of Peloponnese
  • [35] Horse Races to begin operations on Friday, launches betting services on int't races
  • [36] Puccini's 'Madama Butterfly' at Athens Concert Hall until Jan. 27 Politics

  • [01] President Pavlopoulos: Greece will fulfill its commitments on refugee crisis, adjustment program

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) - Greece will fully respect fully its commitments both concerning its economic adjustment program and the refugee crisis, but then the country's partners must keep their promise and discuss debt relief, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Monday after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

    "Greece will fully meet its obligations and our partners must also fulfill their own obligations. Following the [program] review, which should be finished as soon as possible to avoid a problem with the seemingly positive growth prospects of the Greek economy, it is necessary to immediately start talks on the Greek debt - not for a haircut, as it is not possible by European law, but other methods, which will lead to relief and have been accepted by our partners," he said.

    Regarding the refugee crisis, the President described it as an "existential matter" of Europe. "All the peoples of Europe have to fulfill their debt towards genuine refugees without phobias and of course will have to work to end the war in Syria, which is the root of this evil," he noted.

    Concerning the guarding of EU's external borders, he recognized the need for collaboration with EU countries and Frontex, but ruled out joint Greek and Turkish patrols.

    Focusing on Turkey, Pavlopoulos said the country needs to live up to its commitment to control the flow of refugees and especially economic migrants who leave from Turkey, "often with the cooperation of the Turkish authorities". He also noted the need to reactivate the readmission agreements.

    Regarding the threat of terrorism, he said that Europe must be ruthless with terrorists who commit war crimes and must not show any tolerance, but urged people to distinguish between terrorists and refugees. Closing his speech, Pavlopoulos hailed Merkel's role in the refugee crisis.

    [02] President Pavlopoulos raises war reparations issue during dinner with Gauck

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) Raising the issue of WWII war reparations in statements after his meeting with German President Joachim Gauck in Berlin on Monday, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos insisted that some of Greece's claims from that period continued to be legally active and pursuable through the courts.

    While acknowledging the significance and bravery of the apology offered by Gauck to Greece during a recent visit for Nazi atrocities in WWII, Pavlopoulos said that for issues like the compensation or the repayment of a forced occupation loan continued to be active "in the framework of international legality, international law and order and European legal order."

    Greece considered Germany a friendly nation in this respect also, he added, and felt that Germany was, at this time, the force that could make the greatest contribution to Europe's smooth course.

    Repeating that Greece will meet its commitments on the economic front, and that this would emerge during the upcoming review, Pavlopoulos said the creditors would then have to make good on promises to give Greece debt relief, not in the form of a nominal haircut but as a debt restructuring in accordance with European Stability Mechanism (ESM) rules.

    On the refugees issues, Pavlopoulos praised the stance adopted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said the problem had to be handled on the basis of European values and culture, adding that Greece will meet its obligations. He also made clear that Greece would make decisions on how to protect its borders, which were also the external borders of the EU, though the help of its EU partners was very important in this respect.

    Turkey must also meet its obligations, he added, especially with regard to the illegal transit of economic migrants to Greece. "I say this extending a hand of friendship," he added.

    [03] Greece can depend on European solidarity, German President Gauck says

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) Greece can depend on European solidarity, German President Joachim Gauck said repeatedly after his meeting here on Monday with President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is visiting Germany.

    "As president we want, on our level, to stabilise the long friendship between Germans and Greeks. There are so many bridges of understanding," he said after the meeting.

    With insistence, keeping Greece in the European Union and providing support for the further development of the Greek reform programme was made German policy, he pointed out. Gauck noted a mutual desire to stabilise the good relations between the two countries, pointing to the large number of bilateral contacts, as well as the large numbers of Greeks living in Germany and the persistently large numbers of Germans that chose to spend their holidays in Greece.

    Referring to the refugee crisis, the German president described it as a critical situation and said there was room for improving European solidarity on this issue. "We do not yet know every point of our governments strategies, how they want to permanently solve the problem, but we cannot imagine that one country can manage on its own," he said.

    He stressed that it was in the common interest of Europeans that they should not leave Greece to struggle to secure its borders unaided: "As Europeans, we must seek not only national solutions but solutions in common and know that we can count on one another."

    The German president pointed out that Greece was faced with an even greater burden as a result of the refugee flows, in addition to the challeges of economic reform, and that it was hard to conceive how the country could cope without solidarity from its European partners.

    On the issue of Greece's demands for war reparations, Gauck noted that Athens and Berlin do not have a "common opinion on all the legal issues but looked at one another with the eyes of friendship and know that we belong to one another and want to stay together.

    [04] President Pavlopoulos stresses need for corrections by the creditors

    President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos in an official luncheon hosted by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany Joachim Gauck in Berlin on Monday stressed the importance of our creditors to proceed with the necessary corrections, "especially as regards the sustainability of the public debt and the austerity policy."

    "The Greek people will meet their commitments in order to remain in the large European family," Pavlopoulos underlined and added: "Then it's our partners turn to proceed to the necessary corrections. Especially as regards the sustainability of Greece's public debt and the so far, extremely dubious, austerity policy."

    "Greece cannot even imagine its future without its European perspective, but the EE cannot either exist without Greece being an integral part of it," Pavlopoulos stressed.

    Referring to the "unprecedented" crisis that the Greek people are facing, he asked its European partners to take into account the unprecedented crisis that tests the Greek people and to try to establish some mutual understanding despite some initial mistakes, obsessions and misconceptions.

    Regarding the large number of refugees and undocumented migrants from the Middle East, he said that (Athens) "does its best, with full respect to the importance of human life and free development of each personality to safeguard its borders, which are the EU borders. The migration problem, however, may be tackled only if it is seen as a common, of prime importance, problem of all Member States of the European Union.

    On the problem of international terrorism, he said "we have to face it, with sheer determination, as a crime against Humanity. That is why the determination to the fight against international terrorism is a matter which concerns the whole civilized humanity and requires the cooperation of all member states."

    [05] Institutions waiting for information requested by Eurogroup before missions head for Athens, Breidthardt says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki) The institutions are currently waiting for the additional fiscal data requested from Greek authorities at Thursday's Eurogroup in order to carry out a visit to Athens, European Commission spokesperson Annike Breidthardt said on Monday.

    Speaking during the regular press briefing in Brussels, she said technical talks were underway to prepare for the first review of Greece's programme. The heads of the institution missions would soon be in Athens, as soon as they received the necessary information, she added.

    Asked about pension system reforms proposed by Greece, Breidthardt said that they were central to the first review but refused to comment on individual measures. She noted that an assessment of the Greek proposal was also underway and the result would be made public as soon as a detailed examination was complete.

    She did not confirm that a meeting will take place between European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the World Economic Forum in Davos but did not rule it out, either. She also declined to comment on reports concerning appointments by the Greek government.

    [06] EU Commissioner Avramopoulos meets New Democracy leader Mitsotakis

    The issue of migration, the changes in New Democracy and the Greek economy dominated a meeting between EU Commissioner for Migration and Internal Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos and newly elected New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Sunday.

    "We will have the opportunity to make an in depth discussion on the issue that concerns Greece and all Europe. I would also like to get informed on the way that Turkey deals with that important issue as it has not yet met in full its commitments," Mitsotakis noted.

    He also underlined that Turkey has great responsibilities, but despite the pressure on the country with two million refugees in its territory, the future seems positive thanks to the action plan signed with the EU.

    On his part, Avramopoulos said that Turkey will assume its responsibilities and inflows to Europe will stop. However, he said, there is a wider issue with the geopolitical instability which unfortunately intensifies.

    "Greece can play a specific and stabilizing role according to its potential, coming out of its introversion, highlighting and showcasing what the country means for the wider region," the Commissioner stressed.

    [07] Gov't tries to improve aspects of agreement for farmers

    The Greek government is trying to improve and change aspects of an agreement with the country's creditors with the aim to lower tax and social contributions burdens on farmers, Agricultural Development Minister Vaggelis Apostolou said on Monday.

    In comments made to a television station, Apostolou said that the country will need to drink "the bitter glass of implementing the agreement" and particularly mentioned the need to safeguard around 3.5 billion euros annually from EU agricultural funds.

    "This was the most serious thing we had to think and to take in mind for the agreement," he noted, although he acknowledged that the most difficult part of the agreement for farmers was the pension issue as the agreement would raise social insurance contributions from around 940 euros annually to 1,540 euros, gradually over the next four years. He said that the tax burden would be smaller as the agreement envisaged raising tax revenue from farmers to 240-250 million euros, from 220 million euros currently.

    The Greek minister called farmers, who are preparing strike mobilizations, to begin talks with the government.

    [08] Greece, Cyprus and Jordan FMs meet on the margins of the EU Foreign Affairs Council

    The first trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Jordan took place in Brussels on Monday on the margins of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

    According to a Foreign ministry's announcement, the three Ministers discussed a wide range of issues of international and regional interest, with emphasis on the refugee crisis, the escalation in terrorism, the peace process and the situation in the wider Middle East, as well as developments in the energy sector.

    They also looked at the prospects for trilateral cooperation in many sectors, including economic and trade cooperation; combating terrorism; security and exchange of information; culture, education and technology; and ways to support Jordan in its relations with the EU.

    Finally, they discussed the potential for holding a trilateral meeting of the three countries' leaders in the coming time.

    [09] ND leader Mitsotakis appoints Hatzidakis and Georgiadis party's VP

    New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday appointed Costis Hatzidakis as ND vice president responsible for the drafting of the governmental programme and Adonis Georgiadis also ND vice president responsible for the coordination of the parliamentary work.

    [10] Econ Minister meets with representatives of Greek-American and American-Jewish organisations

    Their intention to support Greek government's investment effort by informing the people in their country and by maintaining an open communication line confirmed the representatives of the Greek-American organisations American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and American Hellenic Progressive Association (AHEPA) and American-Jewish organisation B'nai B'rith and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations at a meeting on Monday with Greek Economy, Development and Tourism Minister George Stathakis and Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.

    The representatives of the Greek-American organisations are holding their second joint visit to Greece, to Cyprus and Israel.

    Stathakis presented the government's road map for the return to growth with emphasis on the development of the educated man power and the support of the youth enterpreneurship as well as the promotion of the country's comparative advantages. He also referred to the changes promoted for the faciliation of the domestic and foreign investments such as a stable tax framework for seven years and the simplification of the licencing procedures for businesses.

    On her part, Kountoura pointed out the tourist sector's progress despite this year's restrictions and noted that all necessary actions are taken so that Greece is promoted as a tourist destination to the markets of the US and Israel.

    According to an Economy Ministry's announcement, the representatives of the organisations stated "their intention to support the Greek government's investment effort by informing the people in their countries and by maintaining an open line of communication to offer assistance wherever and whenever it is necessary".

    [11] EEP leader Weber congratulates ND leader Mitsotakis for his recent election

    New Demoracy (ND) newly elected leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke on the phone on Monday with European People's Party (EEP) Manfred Weber.

    Weber congratulated Mitsotakis for his election adding that it marks the beginning of a new era.

    The two top officials discussed matters of top priority for EU as the refugees issue, the economic crisis and the course of the European incorporation.

    Referring to the refugees issues, Mitsotakis underlined Greece's significant role and extremely heavy burden, the non-negotiable issue of maintaining the Schengen zone and Turkey's commitment to halt the refugees and migrants inflow to Europe.

    Mitsotakis also stressed the need Greece to exit the crisis as soon as possible with the active and productive support of all EU state-members

    [12] Main opposition leader to meet PASOK, Potami counterparts this week

    New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet the leaders of Potami and PASOK on Thursday and Friday respectively, the party announced on Monday.

    Both meetings will take place in his office in parliament.

    [13] Defence minister Kammenos meets Cypriot counterpart in Athens

    National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Monday met visiting Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides in Athens. They discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, geopolitical changes in the wider region, terrorism and ways to further boost bilateral relations between Greece and Cyprus.

    The two ministers noted that a solution to the Cyprus issue demanded the complete withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island.

    Fokaides, on his part, said that the anachronistic guarantor system could not continue to exist in a contemporary EU member-state and called on Turkey to start "acting as a modern state, if it wishes to join the European family, on terms characterised by good neighbour relations and the rules of international law."

    Kammenos noted that hope for a Cyprus solution was apparent for the first time, while stressing that UN resolutions should be implemented everywhere and not just where there were fossil fuels. He pointed out that the Turkish army could not participate in a Cyprus solution and that Cyprus could act autonomously, without guarantors, creditors and protectors.

    In a message aiming at the upcoming EU defence ministers' council Amsterdam, Kammenos urged the EU to recognise the common European borders as part of planning a new strategy on defence issues. The EU should not simply observe Turkish fighter aircraft violations of national air space, which were also violations of European air space, he added, nor put up with Turkey's refusal to recognise an EU member-state.

    The two ministers repeated a pledge for cooperation in fighting terrorism in order to establish a climate of security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. Kammenos noted the need for cooperation with third countries, such as Russia, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon, in the fight against ISIS and terrorism.

    He also announced upcoming joint initiatives with friendly countries in the region, such as Egypt and Israel, to extend the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine.

    The Greek minister also referred to a ceremony on Tuesday to receive the rediscovered remains of six Greek soldiers that fell during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, who are being returned by Cypriot authorities. A twin ceremony to hand over the remains to Greece, attended by Greece's Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas, was held in Nicosia on Monday. The five men of the Greek Force of Cyprus and one commando, who fell while defending Cyprus during the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the inter-community clashes of 1963-1965 were until recently considered missing. Their remains were exhumed in the free and occupied sections of Cyprus and identified via DNA testing.

    [14] No Greek universities in Times' top 200 'most international'

    No Greek universities are included in the list of the top 200 more international universities in the world, which was compiled by the Times Higher Education (THE) supplement, which publishes every year a list with the world's best universities.

    The list includes 200 universities from 28 countries and uses indicators such as the proportion of international staff, the number of international students and research papers published with at least one co-author from another country of each institution.

    According to the list, the first position belongs to Qatar University, while the next nine spots are held in ascending order by the University of Luxembourg, the University of Hong Kong, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, University of Geneva, University of Macau, ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, University of St. Gallen, National University of Singapore and Imperial College London.

    [15] IMF must clarify its position on pension reforms, Greek FinMin Tsakalotos says

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) must finally make clear its position on the proposed Greek pension reforms and understand that the negotiations on the review of Greece's programme cannot continue indefintely, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Monday.

    In a press conference with government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili, Tsakalotos warned the review of the Greek programme must not be allowed to drag on, otherwise the targets will not be met and the country will be unable to make the switch from a vicious to a virtuous cycle of growth.

    "It is in the interests of all sides that there should not be a new Greek crisis," he added.

    Tsakalotos noted that the Greek government has no problem with the IMF's participation in the programme and is meeting the commitments it has made.

    "We understand that the IMF has raised the bar high for both the pension reforms and fiscal issues," he said, adding that the government was prepared to negotiate and discuss.

    At the same time, he urged the IMF to clarify whether the objections ostensibly leaked to the press, such as reports that it objects to the proposed pension reforms, are its own leaks or else to officially deny them.

    The minister said that the main issues in the negotiation are pension reforms, tax issues and fiscal targets. On the first, he noted that the government had its own lines that it would not cross - such as that pensions could not be cut for the 12th-13th consecutive occasion. He noted that the government was open to discussion and compromise in order for the numbers to work and a solution to be find, provided the IMF was willing to wrap up the discussion in a reasonable amount of time.

    He noted that the IMF should understand this and had shown itself opposed to procyclic measures that deepened recession.

    Tsakalotos appeared confident that the first review can be wrapped up in three to six weeks, while the negotiation on debt relief could stretch up to three months. Asked if the country had the cash reserves to meet its obligations if the negotiations drag on, the minister answered affirmatively but warned that delays could create a bad climate and set back the country's economic recovery.

    On the additional figures requested by Greece's partners at the Eurogroup on Thursday, Tsakalotos said these chiefly concerned fiscal data for 2016 and the Medium-Term fiscal programme, including tax income, and actuarial data on pensions, which indicated the viability of the system. He confirmed that the figures on the Medium-Term Fiscal Programme had already been sent to the institutions, and that additional figures will be sent soon.

    [16] Interior minister says government to discuss new electoral law in 2016

    Interior and Administrative Reconstruction Minister Panos Kouroumblis said on Monday he wants to start discussing changes in Greece's electoral law in 2016, noting the new bill would bring "new ethos" to politics.

    "I have the ambition to change the electoral law. I have spoken with the Prime Minister, I have thought about the spirit of the new law and, frankly, I believe that the new electoral law will bring a new ethos," he told radio station Athina 9.84 FM.

    Kouroumblis said that the government must proceed with open and unbiased procedures to discuss such thorny issues as the bonus offered to the first party, the electoral regions, the reduction of the number of MPs. "These are demands of our society. One cannot slur over these issues if one wants to speak with society and bring back into the public debate people who abhor politics," he said and added that the government will discuss the bill with opposition parties and society.

    [17] Greece is expanding partnerships and alliances in Eastern Mediterranean, Balkans, says FM

    The first trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Jordan took place in Brussels on Monday, on the margins of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Foreign minister Nikos Kotzias said, which followed a trilateral meeting on Sunday with Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria to discuss European issues.

    "We expand our partnerships and alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean and form within the EU a special Balkan cooperation. I think these are two important steps," he told journalists.

    He also revealed that there is a request from the Palestinian Authority to form a similar tripartite meeting and the Greek side has already agreed, and there is a request from Lebanon which has not been organized yet.

    The ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Jordan discussed a wide range of issues of international and regional interest, with emphasis on the refugee crisis, the escalation in terrorism, the peace process and the situation in the wider Middle East, as well as developments in the energy sector.

    They also looked at the prospects for trilateral cooperation in many sectors, including economic and trade cooperation; combating terrorism; security and exchange of information; culture, education and technology; and ways to support Jordan in its relations with the EU. Finally, they discussed the potential for holding a trilateral meeting of the three countries' leaders in the coming time.

    Kotzias also met later with the Foreign Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Poposki. During the meeting, they discussed the latest developments in the refugee and migration issue, recent developments within FYROM, and the name issue.

    The minister said that nothing new came out this meeting and that the two sides simply agreed that "we need to continue our cooperation on confidence-building measures and the political dialogue we have opened."

    Kotzias also referred to two bilateral meetings held with Malta and Slovenia, on the refugee crisis and the proposals they submitted to the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker which they will also address to Greece.

    Regarding the debate on Syria and Iraq at the EU Council of Foreign Ministers, he said the Greek side stressed the need to end the war and to give money for the refugees in the countries neighboring with Syria so that they do not travel to Europe.

    [18] Turkey is not implementing EU deal on managing refugee flows, Greek minister tells Bild

    Turkey is not implementing the agreement reached with the European Union on managing refugee flows, Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Toskas was reported as telling German newspaper Bild in an interview published on Monday.

    "Turkish authorities are not doing what is needed to prevent these people from coming [to Greece] or reducing the flow, despite the agreement with the EU. This is evident from the numbers that I gave you [said about 90,000 refugees and migrants arrive monthly]," he was quoted as saying.

    "Following the agreement reached between Turkey and the EU, the refugee flows have not decreased significantly. Only partially. [The refugees and immigrants] are still coming," he added.

    Toskas also said that the government is struggling to complete the First Reception Centers while the Greek state has spent 2 billion euros for the reception of refugees and migrants and stressed that the crisis should not be linked to terrorism.

    Finacial News

    [19] Greek stocks end sharply

    Greek stocks came under heavy selling pressure to end sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. Traders said market sentiment was hit by a negative climate in international markets and concern over developments in negotiations between Greek authorities and its creditors to complete the first review of the country's economic adjustment programme. Bank shares were at the focus of selling activity, with European bank shares hit strongly on reports that the ECB began an inquiry on non-performing loans.

    The composite index of the market fell 2.74 pct to end at 543.13 points, off the day's lows of 532.10 points, its lowest level since mid-June 2012. The index is down 13.97 pct so far this year, after nine declines and only one advance in 10 sessions.

    The Large Cap index dropped 4.16 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 9.42 pct down.

    Turnover was a moderate 85.667 million euros in volume of 151,632,753.

    Coca Cola HBC (1.56 pct), Jumbo (1.04 pct) and Ellaktor (0.82 pct) scored gains among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (11.74 pct), Eurobank (11.40 pct), National Bank (11.40 pct) and Alpha Bank (9.22 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Insurance (5.38 pct), Food (1.56 pct) and Personal Products (1.21 pct) scored big gains, while Banks (11.14 pct), Health (8.70 pct) and Financial Services (4.30 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 80 to 29 with another 25 issues unchanged. Progressive (17.64 pct), Boutaris (12.50 pct) and Foodlink (9.64 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Bank (30 pct), AEGEK (20 pct) and Sidma (20 pct) were top losers.

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.72 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,281 contracts with 12,336 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 57,473 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (24,189), followed by Alpha Bank (8,846), Piraeus Bank (16,768), Eurobank (4,173), MIG (2,121), OTE (593), PPC (882), OPAP (993), Mytilineos (965), Hellenic Petroleum (471), GEK (129) and Hellenic Exchanges (98).

    [20] Bank of Greece to pay 1.2 bln euros dividend to Greek state

    Bank of Greece on Monday said that dividend payment to the Greek state will amount 1.2 billion euros for its 2015 earnings which totaled 1.162 billion euros, sharply up from 654.5 million in the previous year.

    The central bank's board will seek shareholders' approval to a plan to pay a dividend of 0.6720 euros per share. The Bank of Greece said that net revenue from interest, financial transactions and redistribution of monetary income of the Eurosystem totaled 1.76 billion euros last year, from 1.003 billion in 2014, net revenue from fees and commissions grew 22.2 pct to 89.8 million euros, revenue from shares and participations grew 2.6 million euros to 31.6 million euros, while other revenue totaled 12.3 million euros, up 1.7 pct from 2014.

    The central bank said expenses fell to 326.2 million euros from 333.6 million in 2014, helped by lower spending on the monitoring of the financial system. Provision amounted to 408.5 million euros last year.

    [21] Greek central banker outlines priorities for country's economic development

    Strengthening economic development in Greece, stopping its brain drain and increasing employment for the young should be the priorities of the country's strategic plan for development, Greece's central banker said during a book presentation on Monday.

    Presenting the book titled "A Financial Crisis Manual - Reflections and the Road Ahead", edited by Dimitris Thomakos, Platon Monokroussos and Kostas Nikolopoulos, and published by Palgrave-Macmillan, Yiannis Stournaras noted that to return to normalcy, Greece has to restore trust by completing the program review which will bring about a series of favourable regulations (re-establishing of ECB's waiver, relaxing and eventually eliminating capital controls, the inclusion of Greece in ECB's quantitative easing measures and debt relief).

    The book in question covers a wide range of topics, including an assessment of the macroeconomic effects of the fiscal programs implemented in the country in the last six years. In addition, it presents a detailed analysis of the evolution of Greek public debt after the outbreak of the global financial crisis and underlines the necessity of a new relief package.

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 8.59 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 8.28 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.12 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.53 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.049 pct, the nine-month rate rose to -0.009 pct from -0.010 pct, the six-month rate was -0.054 pct, the three-month rate rose to -0.144 pct from -0.145 pct and the one-month rate was -0.22 pct.

    [22] NBG shareholders approve sale of Finansbank, Finans Leasing

    National Bank of Greece (NBG) shareholders on Monday approved the sale of the bank's subsidiaries in Turkey, Finansbank and Finans Leasing, during an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting. NBG had signed an agreement for the sale of its capital share in Finansbank to Qatar National Bank on December 21, 2015 for 3.5 billion euros.

    [23] Piraeus Bank hires Egon Zehnder as advisor in search of new CEO

    Piraeus Bank on Monday said it has hired Egon Zehnder as an advisor for the selection of a new chief executive officer from Greece and abroad after the resignation of Antimos Thomopoulos from the post.

    The new CEO will head the Group in implementing a business plan and its medium-term goals. Piraeus Bank said it will appoint an interim CEO on Wednesday, 20 January.

    [24] IDE signs new contract with Raytheon

    Intracom Defense Electronics on Monday announced it was extending its cooperation with Raytheon with the signing of a new contract, worth 63.4 million US dollars, for the manufacturing of sub-units for Patriot air defense systems, to be completed in March 2018.

    IDE said it was awarded more than 40 pct of its works to other Greek enterprises. George Troullinos, chief executive of Intracom Defense Electronics, commenting on the new agreement said that "during the current difficult economic situations we positively contribute to industrial production and to employment in the country and we are proud yo cooperate with one of the biggest companies in the global defense sector," adding that manufacturing capability, competitiveness and high quality standards have established IDE into a credible partner in the long and successful international course of Patriot programme.

    [25] Sale of Finansbank will have significant benefits for National Bank, chairman says

    National Bank will be the strongest bank in the Greek banking market, based on its capital and liquidity, with the aim to play a leading role in the recovery of the Greek economy and of social cohesion after completion of the sale of its subsidiary in Turkey, Finansbank, Luca Katseli, the bank's chairman said on Monday.

    Addressing an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting, Katseli said that completion of the deal will offer a significant boost in liquidity to the bank, 3.5 billion euros, which will be distributed to fund Greek enterprises and households while at the same time it will fortify the solvency and capital adequacy of National Bank.

    The Greek banker said that completion of Finansbank's sale will allow National Bank to repay the biggest part of CoCos, worth 2.0 billion euros, offering benefits of around 150 million euros on an annual basis, repay the expensive Pillar 2 bonds and to gradually decoupled from ELA, offering significant flexibility and higher profitability to the bank (around 100 million euros annually). The deal will also allow National Bank to repay a significant part of state support it has received, confirming the management's commitment to implement an approved capital plan and to improve the banks basic financial indexes.

    General News

    [26] Deaths from flu rise to 5 in Greece, health center says

    Another three people died in Greece last weekend from complications caused by the influenza A (H1N1) virus raising the number of fatalities to 5, while 35 remain hospitalized in intensive care units, the country's center for disease control and prevention (KEELPNO) said.

    "The country is entering a phase of increased flu activity," KEELPNO notes, adding that the epidemic is expected to peak next month, in line with the situation in other European countries.

    The center also said that the vast majority of patients who are in ICU had not been vaccinated against the virus despite the fact that they belong to high risk groups.

    [27] Alexandroupolis-Dikaia rail services interrupted due to heavy rain, flooding

    Heavy rain and flooding in the Evros region on Monday caused Greece's railway company to cancel rail services on the Alexandroupolis-Dikaia line. Passengers head to and from Dikaia will be transferred to buses at Alexandroupolis station until the line is opened again.

    [28] Registry for volunteers in Lesvos to be discussed on Thursday

    The establishment of a register for volunteers involved in the refugee crisis in Lesvos will be the subject of a meeting to be held next Thursday (Jan. 21) at the general secretariat for the Aegean and Island Policy on the island.

    The register is part of the government's efforts to organize the numerous NGOs and volunteers active on the island since the crisis begun and have a clear image of who is involved in the efforts to help newly arrives migrants and refugees in Lesvos.

    The meeting will be attended by the mayor of Lesvos, the harbourmaster, the chief of the island's police, a representative of the Medical Association of Lesvos and a representative of the Interior Ministry.

    Officials will discuss the final version of the form that all NGOs and independent volunteers will have to fill in to be included in the register. Among the information that will be required, the form will request from NGOs to reveal their source of funding, the number of their volunteers, their passport numbers and each person's role (doctor, nurse, etc), as well as the specific field in which they will work in. They will also be required to sign an official statement declaring that they have not been convicted or wanted for any crime. The same rules will apply for independent volunteers.

    Greece's migration ministry hopes to set up the volunteers' registry for Lesvos by the end of February and, at a later stage, create a national register of volunteers in which Lesvos' registry will be included.

    [29] 2,404 refugees arrive at Piraeus port on Monday

    Two ferries from Chios and Mytilene with 2,404 refugees on board arrived at Piraeus port early on Monday. "Nisos Rhodos" carried 980 people and "Blue Star Patmos" another 1,424.

    [30] Bad weather conditions intercept refugees arrival on Lesvos

    The adverse weather conditions that prevail across the country have, temporarily at least, intercepted the migrants and refugees inflow to Lesvos in the last 24 hours.

    Only 17 persons have been identified at Moria hotspot while according to authorities 2,854 persons have departed from the island on Sunday. Police said that 364 identified migrants and refugees are still on the island ready to leave as soon as possible.

    300 migrants and refugess arrived on Chios island after midnight that have been already identified and are expected to leave the island as soon as a ferry dock at Chios port.

    [31] Snowfall and huge temperature drop across the country

    Snow has started to fall in most parts of Greece from early Monday causing a series of problems mostly to traffic.

    In the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, snow has fallen in the surrounding mountainous and semi-mountainous areas with the temperatures ranging between 0C-04C.

    The snowfall is intense in central Greece without problems in the traffic in the cities of Larissa, Lamia and Volos. However, snow chains are necessary for vehicles moving on the regional and mountainous roads across the country.

    Drivers will face a difficult situation on Athens-Thessaloniki motorway from Aghii Theodori to Larissa.

    Graders are trying to keep the road network on Mt.Pelion open in order to facilitate the local residents and the skiers to have access to the villages and the ski resort at Hania.

    Snow is falling an on the island of Lesvos, even in the island's capital Mytilene where a large number of refugees arrive every day. According to information, snow has also started falling on the northeastern Aegean island of Chios.

    According to latest reports, cars moving on the mountainous areas of Peloponnese must use snow chains including the road leading to Kalavryta ski resort.

    Ship service is carried out smoothly in all ports of the country; however, the route that links Kyllini with the island of Cephalonia has been suspended due to gusty winds blowing in the area.

    [32] Work stoppages to disrupt rail services in coming week

    Successive three-hour work stoppages by rail workers on Tuesday until Thursday are expected to disrupt rail services throughout Greece during the coming week, including on the Proastiakos and metro lines serving the Athens airport. The work stoppages will also affect some of the rail journeys starting on Monday.

    The work stoppages will be held from 5:00-8:00 in the morning, 13:00-16:00 and 21:00-24:00. Normal rail services will resume next Friday.

    For details on the rail services that will be cancelled from Monday until Thursday, visit the site of the Greek trains operator TRAINOSE (www.trainose.gr) or call the phone line 14511.

    [33] Municipal workers to hold work stoppage on Jan 21

    Municipal Employees Federation (POE-OTA) called a work stoppage on Thursday 21 June from 11:00 until the end of the morning shift.

    A motorbike protest will start at 12:00 outside the offices of the federation and will head to the parliament.

    POE-OTA reacts to pension reforms.

    [34] Cooperation memorandum between CERN and University of Peloponnese

    University of Peloponnese signed a cooperation memorandum with CERN one of the top research labs in the world.

    The European Organisation of Nuclear Research "CERN" (Greece is among the founding members) that develops cooperations of strictly scientific character with science institutes for all over the world.

    According to the memorandum, both institutes will cooperate in all sectors of common scientific and research interest, particularly in the accelerators technology, computing and telecoms.

    [35] Horse Races to begin operations on Friday, launches betting services on int't races

    Horse Races SA, an 100 pct subsidiary company of OPAP, will begin its operations in the Markopoulo track on Friday, 22 January.

    Company officials said that an increase number of racing horses, after the import of 36 thoroughbred horses and their auction from OPAP, combined with modern horse racing installations, a strict implementation of racing regulations and new betting services will bring horse racing back to the forefront.

    Horse Races on Monday began offering betting services covering races in the UK, South Africa and France. Players will be able not only to monitor large international horse racing events but to bet at the same time. OPAP has already equipped more than 300 agents with the necessary decoders for live projection of horse races, accompanied with all statistical data and information on every race. The aim is the double the number of agents offering these services this year.

    [36] Puccini's 'Madama Butterfly' at Athens Concert Hall until Jan. 27

    The Greek National Opera's production of Giacomo Puccini's famous "Madama Butterfly" had its opening night in Athens on Sunday, with performances to continue at the 'Megaron' Athens Concert Hall on Vassilisis Sofias Avenue until January 27.

    An opera in three acts, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, it is based on the 1898 short story of the same name by John Luther Long.

    The leading role Cio-Cio-san is sung by sopranos Tselia Kostea and Rafaella Angeletti on alternate nights on January 20, 22, 23, 24 and 27. The opera is directed by Nikos Petropoulos and prices for tickets range from 20 to 70 euros (12 euros for students and children). Tickets are on sale at the National Opera box office (59-61 Academias, tel 210.361.2461/364.3725), the Athens Concert Hall box office and online at www.nationalopera.gr and www.megaron.gr.

    Weather Forecast

    Snowfall, low temperatures and northerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with a chance of snowfall in Thrace and temperatures ranging from -05C-04C. Sleet in the western parts of the country with temperatures between -01C-10C. Sleet and snow in the eastern parts with temperatures between -02C-08C. Rain and sleet over the Aegean islands and Crete, 0C-11C. Clouds and sleet in Athens, 02C-07C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, -03C-03C.

    Athens News Headlines at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: Samaras-Venizelos in a difficult situation

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Chaos over IKA social security fund

    ETHNOS: Stop to "black" work

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: How much pensions will be cut and social security contributions will rise

    ESTIA: An end to the mythology of the Left

    NAFTEMPORIKI: The social security gap widens

    TA NEA: More protests on social security reforms

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