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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-01-20

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

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

Wednesday, January 20 2016

CONTENTS

  • [01] Pavlopoulos says Greece's partners must also fulfill promises on debt, after meeting Draghi
  • [02] ESM should acquire mechanisms similar to IMF, Pavlopoulos says in Berlin
  • [03] PM Tsipras, ND leader recognise differences, say communication is important
  • [04] Greece receives remains of Greek soldiers who died in Cyprus invasion
  • [05] Hotspots in Greece and Italy will be ready in four weeks the latest, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos says
  • [06] The government is in favour of investments, but on conditions, says Environment Min Skourletis
  • [07] Alternate FM Xydakis' remarks to the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels
  • [08] SYRIZA political secretariat meeting postponed
  • [09] ND leader says disagrees with PM on many issues but communication is important
  • [10] New Democracy has the chance to show it stays away from the populist bubbles, says party's VP Hatzidakis
  • [11] Meeting held between spokeswomen for the government, coalition's junior partner ANEL
  • [12] 'I came to support Greece's cause,' Pavlopoulos said, wrapping up Berlin visit
  • [13] PM Tsipras receives Cyprus Parliament speaker Yiannakis Omirou
  • [14] PM Tsipras to visit Israel, Cyprus next week for top level meetings
  • [15] Justice ministry leadership, Cypriot minister agree to step up cooperation, sign memorandum
  • [16] Finance ministry sets up Selection Panel for HFSF General Council, Executive Board
  • [17] Parliament approves increase in BoD members of TV regulator
  • [18] Greece and United Arab Emirates sign military cooperation agreement
  • [19] Greece will utilize any funding mechanism available to help the economy, says minister
  • [20] ND denies leaks on Mitsotakis-Tsipras' meeting, says 'mood' was very different
  • [21] Greek stocks rebound strongly
  • [22] ADEX closing report
  • [23] Greek ond market closin report
  • [24] Credit standards for corporate loans roadly unchanged in BoG
  • [25] Greek economic growth could reach 1.5 pct in 2016, ministry officials say
  • [26] Greek industrial turnover index down 10.1 pct in Nov
  • [27] Greek mergers and acquisitions down 39 pct in 2015, PwC report
  • [28] Greek inflation rate turned positive in Dec, Eurostat
  • [29] GSEE calls for support of Thursday rally by lawyers, doctors against pension reforms
  • [30] HCCE urges traders, retailers to join February 4 strike action and close their shops
  • [31] GSEVEE trade association urges its members to join Feb. 4 strkes, protests
  • [32] Two ferries with refugees on board arrive at Piraeus port
  • [33] Russian avant garde from Kostakis collection at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art
  • [34] Weather Forecast
  • [35] Athens News Headlines at a glance Politics

  • [01] Pavlopoulos says Greece's partners must also fulfill promises on debt, after meeting Draghi

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) Upon concluding the review of the Greek programme, Greece's partners must also live up to their end of the bargain, both in terms of debt relief and in the way the European Central Bank approached Greek bonds and the Greek banking system, President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Tuesday.

    "After the conclusion of the review, which must finish as soon as possible so that we can exploit the first signs of growth that are now visible, there must be a fulfillment of obligations by our partners," he said, after his meeting with ECB President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt.

    Greece would do its part in order to comply with everything agreed in the framework of the third programme, he noted, but after the conclusion of the review, its partners would also have to fulfill their obligations.

    He clarified that this meant restructuring the country's debt, not through a haircut but in accordance with European Stability Mechanism (ESM) rules, and changing the ECB's approach to Greek bonds and the Greek banking system so there was a return to normality and the situation that existed prior to the imposition of capital controls in Greece.

    "The rule 'Pacta sunt servanda' does not apply only to Greece but also to its partners...we must finish as soon as possible with capital controls, which are a brake on the smooth progress of our banking and economic system," he noted.

    The Greek president praised the ECB's role in the Euro zone debt crisis, saying the central bank had risen to the occasion in a manner fitting to European institutions and the rules of solidarity that suit European culture.

    Pavlopoulos said his visit to the ECB intended to express the importance that Greece attaches to the organisation, which he called one of the foremost institutions of the EU and the Euro zone in terms of its economic and banking system.

    "On behalf of the Greek government, as well as all the democratic forces that support the country's European course, I expressed support for continuing the effort to finally make the ECB a real central bank and to give it all the capabilities that will allow it to more easily and effectively confront the major crises that exist and which are not going to end," he said.

    Conditions throughout 2016 will continue to be difficult, even more so due to the refugee crisis and the ECB will play a significant role in the effort Draghi is making in this direction, the Greek president added.

    Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras, who attended the meeting, said the Greek economy had made "significant progress on which we must build." He urged all sides to focus on the positives and conclude the review "so that we can have all the benefits that will arise afterward."

    [02] ESM should acquire mechanisms similar to IMF, Pavlopoulos says in Berlin

    The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should acquire its own technocratic infrastructure along the lines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Tuesday, in statements at the end of his visit to Berlin.

    The IMF was a "serious and emblematic institution but without knowledge of Europe and the euro," he said, shortly before leaving for Frankfurt and a meeting with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. He said the ESM should develop similar structures so that the IMF was not needed to monitor implementation of the Greek programme, as it was doing at the moment, given that the IMF is not contributing financially to the 3rd Greek programme.

    Referring to Greece's debt, Pavlopoulos again repeated that a discussion on debt relief should begin upon completion of the first review of the Greek programme, adding that this did not mean a haircut but a settlement on the terms of the ESM. After the review, he added, the necessary changes must be made if both sides jointly discover points and measures with an acutely recessionary prospect.

    Regarding his visit to Berlin, Pavlopoulos said he had come to support Greece's cause, as demanded by his position, to work with Greece's pro-European forces and "not hold out my hand to beg."

    He repeated that Greece will fulfill all its commitments and noted that his meeting with Draghi will be an opportunity to once again point out that, when the review is concluded it will be "the partners' turn" to fulfill their own promises. He said that the ECB must reconsider its position on including Greek bonds in its quantitative easing programme, adding that Greece expresses its support for the ECB's effort to assume the role of a real central bank, especially with respect to liquidity programmes.

    Commenting on his meetings with German officials, the president especially highlighted issues of cohesion within the EU and stressed that this was less about currencies than about people. "A real European is not the one that can withstand fiscal discipline but the one that can tackle a structural problem at the foundation of European values," Pavlopoulos said. The Greek people are teaching humanity in the face of phenomena that could place Europe in danger, he added.

    Asked whether the EU's expansion eastward had been vindicated, Pavlopoulos seemed pessimistic in his reply:

    "I hope it is shown to be vindicated but at the moment the opposite appears true. Germany knows today who its real allies in Europe are," he said. Any member-state that failed to meet its obligations should face the appropriate sanctions, he added, as had recently happened to Greece.

    [03] PM Tsipras, ND leader recognise differences, say communication is important

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged on Tuesday the main opposition to state clearly its position towards the major issues facing the country and pending reforms during his first meeting with New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis since the latter was elected to his post.

    Following the meeting at Maximos Mansion, the premier said through Twitter that he briefed the leader of the main opposition on all the important issues. "The opposition must make known its position on all major reforms to social security, public administration and the negotiations with lenders," he said. "It's time a new generation of politicians to overcome the petty confrontation and talk honestly talk about the great problems facing the country," he added.

    New Democracy disagrees on many issues with the government but it's important to have keeping communication channels open, main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on his side after the meeting.

    "I look forward to an honest discussion," Mitsotakis said. Commenting on what Tsipras told him during their talks, the ND leader noted that the two sides disagree on many issues but that institutional parties must keep the channels of communication open.

    He also said that there must be an effort to achieve an understanding on institutional issues for which the Constitution itself requires increased majorities, such as the issue of the constitutional review. Mitsotakis also pledged to maintain communication with the government and keep political debate "civilized" in parliament and beyond.

    [04] Greece receives remains of Greek soldiers who died in Cyprus invasion

    Defence Minister Panos Kammenos pledged on Tuesday to honour all Greeks who fought in Cyprus during the Turkish invasion in 1974 and went missing, during a ceremony to receive the rediscovered remains of six soldiers who were returned by Cypriot authorities.

    The five men of the Greek Force of Cyprus and one commando who fell while defending Cyprus during the invasion 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.

    "The Greek soldiers show us the path of duty," Kammenos said during the ceremony and apologized to the relatives of the dead soldiers for taking so long to organize the return of the bodies. He also reassured the relatives of all those who participated in the battles that the ministry will open all the files of those missing to honour them properly.

    The delegation that brought the soldiers' remains to Greece with a C-130 was headed by Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas, and accompanied by Chief of Defence, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, the head of the National Guard, Lieutenant General Georgios Basiakoulis and Deputy Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Dimitrios Thomaidis.

    [05] Hotspots in Greece and Italy will be ready in four weeks the latest, EU Commissioner Avramopoulos says

    Hotspots in Greece and Italy will be ready in four weeks the latest, European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said in an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday.

    Avramopoulos also warned of increased refugee flows in the coming months. Referring to the EU member states that refuse to contribute to the joint EU effort, he said that some governments tell 'no' to everything, but they do not inform their citizens on the consequences of their refusal.

    He also noted that the European Commission has proposed any kind of support, either economical, technical of infrastructure to these countries adding that nobody can accuse the EU of not helping find a solution.

    [06] The government is in favour of investments, but on conditions, says Environment Min Skourletis

    The government is in favour of investments, but with terms and conditions, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said in statements to MEGA TV on the investment in Skouries, Halkidiki, which was suspended.

    As he said, the company was involved in a "political game" in order to blackmail the government and estimated that their decision may be related to the drop of the prices of gold.

    Regarding the issue of farmers, he said that "these are not new measures, but already announced measures." As for the social security changes, he spoke of a reform process that is due to the PSI or structured bonds. He insisted, however, that the government's proposal focuses on not reducing pensions.

    On reports for an extension to the Greek programme review, he underlined that this is not part of the agreement and asked to re-examine the IMF role in the Greek programme.

    [07] Alternate FM Xydakis' remarks to the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels

    Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Xydakis participated in Monday's meeting, in Brussels, of the EU General Affairs Council (GAC) - the first under the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the EU.

    According to a Foreign ministry's announcement, the main items on the GAC agenda were the presentation of the priorities of the Netherlands Presidency and preparation for the February 2016 meeting of the European Council. The refugee crisis, innovation and job creation, fiscal health and economic policy, energy and climate change were the main points of reference of the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and chair of the GAC, Bert Koenders.

    In his remarks during the Council proceedings, Xydakis stressed that "the ambitious and, due to the refugee crisis, heavy agenda Holland is starting with coincides with a very difficult state of affairs in which the EU's cohesion, unity and integrity are being challenged. What is needed," he continued, "is the upgrading of the European value framework and a cohesive vision. The tool-box, short-term policies need to give way to mid- and long-term policies."

    Xydakis expressed the conviction that "only in this way will we be able to give the lie to the 'too little, too late' of the EU's detractors and of extreme Euroscepticism." Finally, Xydakis strongly welcomed Netherlands Foreign Minister Bert Koenders' proposal for upgrading the General Affairs Council into an organ with more substantial competencies.

    [08] SYRIZA political secretariat meeting postponed

    The meeting of SYRIZA's political secretariat scheduled for Tuesday, at 18:00, has been postponed, according to an announcement.

    [09] ND leader says disagrees with PM on many issues but communication is important

    New Democracy disagrees on many issues with the government but it's important to have keeping communication channels open, main opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday after his first meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras since he was elected to the post.

    "I look forward to an honest discussion," Mitsotakis said during the meeting. Commenting on what Tsipras told him during the meeting, the ND leader noted that the two sides disagree on many issues but that institutional parties must keep the channels of communication open.

    He also said that there must be an effort to achieve an understanding on institutional issues for which the Constitution itself requires increased majorities, such as the issue of the constitutional review.

    Mitsotakis also pledged to maintain communication with the government and keep political debate "civilized" in parliament and beyond.

    [10] New Democracy has the chance to show it stays away from the populist bubbles, says party's VP Hatzidakis

    The programme of New Democracy is a chance for the party to show that it stays away from the populist bubbles, that it adopts the best European practices and that it represents Greece's European reformist centre-right, New Democracy vice president Costas Hatzidakis on Tuesday said in statements to Vima FM.

    Asked on government's proposal for the social security he said: "The budget that the government submitted to the parliament refers to 1.8 billion euro interventions to the social security ... If we want to be serious and responsible, we need to be aware of specific figures.

    The condition in the specific sector has worsened due to the government's maneuvers and the economic situation has deteriorated. So, while the government is trying to promote its social policy, unemployment has increased by 200,000 people and social security contributions have been reduced respectively. This is the government's economic and pension policy and what they are trying to do is to make us, New Democracy, their accomplices."

    [11] Meeting held between spokeswomen for the government, coalition's junior partner ANEL

    Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili on Tuesday had a working meeting with her counterpart Marina Chrysoveloni, the spokeswoman for the government's junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL). Also present at the meeting with Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Terens Quick, an ANEL cabinet member.

    [12] 'I came to support Greece's cause,' Pavlopoulos said, wrapping up Berlin visit

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti) President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday completed a round of meetings in Berlin, wrapping up his visit to the German capital before he heads to Frankfurt for a meeting with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

    In statements regarding his visit, Pavlopoulos said he had come to Berlin to support Greece's cause, as demanded by his position, to work with Greece's pro-European forces and "not hold out my hand to beg."

    Repeating that Greece will fulfill all its commitments, Pavlopoulos said that his meeting with Draghi will be an opportunity to once again point out that, when the review of the Greek programme is concluded it will be "the partners' turn" to fulfill their own promises. He said that the ECB must review its position on including Greek bonds in its quantitative easing programme, adding that Greece expresses its support for the ECB's effort to assume the role of a real central bank, especially with respect to liquidity programmes.

    Commenting on his meetings with German officials, the president especially highlighted issues of cohesion within the EU and stressed that this was less about currencies than about people. "A real European is not the one that can withstand fiscal discipline but the one that can tackle a structural problem at the foundation of European values," Pavlopoulos said. The Greek people are teaching humanity in the face of phenomena that could place Europe in danger, he added.

    Asked whether the EU's expansion eastward had been vindicated, Pavlopoulos seemed pessimistic in his reply:

    "I hope it is shown to be vindicated but at the moment the opposite appears true. Germany knows today who its real allies in Europe are," he said. Any member-state that failed to meet its obligations should face the appropriate sanctions, he added, as had recently happened to Greece.

    [13] PM Tsipras receives Cyprus Parliament speaker Yiannakis Omirou

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday received Cyprus House of Representatives President Yiannakis Omirou, who is on a visit to Athens.

    "Now is the time for all those voicing exaggerated expectations and overconfidence for a quick solution to the Cyprus issue to turn toward the side of Turkey, which apart from a few rhetorical declarations in favour of a solution, has not shown any real signs to indicate any change in the intransigency it has shown for the last 42 years," Omirou said in statements as he was leaving the Greek premier's office.

    During the meeting, they discuss cooperation between Greece and Cyprus, the Cyprus problem and regional developments.

    [14] PM Tsipras to visit Israel, Cyprus next week for top level meetings

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will participate on January 27 in an intergovernmental meeting between Greece and Israel in Jerusalem, during which delegations from the two countries will discuss bilateral issues and cooperation, while the next day (Jan. 28) he will attend the trilateral meeting with the leaders of Cyprus and Israel in Nicosia.

    In the first meeting, Tsipras will hold private talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while a separate meeting of Greek ministers with their Israeli counterparts will take place. These will be followed by an enlarged meeting of both sides. During the visit, the two countries will sign agreements and memorandums of understanding, and upon completion of the work they will issue a joint statement and a separate statement on cooperation in innovation, which shows the importance attached by both sides in promoting cooperation in this sector.

    Israeli Ambassador to Greece, Irit Ben-Abba said "it is very important that the high-level bilateral meeting is held in Israel," as it is the second visit of the Greek premier to the country within two months.

    The trilateral summit in Nicosia will include the ministers of tourism and energy, while leaders will also discuss migration, security, innovation, the environment, water resource management, security and terrorism. A steering committee will be responsible for monitoring the progress of the trilateral cooperation on individual matters. After the meeting, a joint statement will be issued.

    On Greece's side the ministers of State, Nikos Pappas, Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias, Energy Panos Skourletis, Shipping Thodoris Dritsas, Infrastructure Christos Spirtzis, and Alternate Ministers for Tourism Elena Kountoura, Civil Protection Nikos Toskas, Research and Innovation Costas Fotakis will participate, as well as government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili. Israeli counterparts with equivalent portfolios will attend the meeting.

    Earlier, on January 26, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon will pay his first visit to Greece and will meet Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos to discuss the planning of the military cooperation between the two countries.

    [15] Justice ministry leadership, Cypriot minister agree to step up cooperation, sign memorandum

    Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos and Cyprus' Justice and Public Order Minister Ionas Nicolaou, in statements after their meeting in Athens on Tuesday, announced that Greece and Cyprus will sign a memorandum of judicial cooperation.

    "We examined a broad range of issues that will be followed up, both in terms of justice issues and in matters relating to justice administration and education issues," Paraskevopoulos said.

    The two countries will also cooperate in the fight against corruption, Nicolaou agreed in a meeting with Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos, while he noted that Cyprus was preparing its own strategic plan against corruption. The two ministers exchanged views on the issue and examined the prospects for sharing knowhow. They agreed to set up a joint Greek-Cypriot working group, with the participation of public prosecutors and officials, focusing on the fight against corruption.

    Referring to the talks with his Greek counterparts, the Cypriot minister said they had covered some important issues, starting with matters of interest to both sides in the EU and special issues that were pending at the EU council of justice ministers. He said the various issues discussed would form the basis of a cooperation memorandum that would lead to the formation of the relevant working teams on a technical level.

    Nicolaou noted that the meetings had highlighted a number of areas where Greece and Cyprus needed to work together, in both the EU and national spheres, in order to tackle or at least create conditions to prevent phenomena of corruption.

    "Today we lay the foundations for a completely different cooperation on important issues of mutual interest that are for us a priority in shaping a joint effort for a completely different society from that we have known in the past," he said.

    Papangelopoulos said they also agreed to intensify efforts to accelerate the processing of requests for judicial assistance on both sides.

    [16] Finance ministry sets up Selection Panel for HFSF General Council, Executive Board

    The Finance Ministry on Tuesday announced the formation of a six-member Selection Panel for the members of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) General Council and HFSF Executive Board.

    The relevant decision taken by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos was published in the "Government Gazette" 10/16 dated January 15, 2016. The term of the Selection Panel is set for two years from the publication of the Government Gazette.

    The Selection Committee is composed of the following members:

    1. Francesco Papadia - President of the Commission

    2. Julia Kiraly - Member

    3. Eric Rajendra - Member

    4. Panagiotis Doumanoglou - Member

    5. Emilios Avgouleas - Member

    6. Peter Yngwe - Member

    The main responsibilities of the Selection Panel are:

    - To pre-select the members of the HFSF General Council and HFSF Executive Board, to present proposals for their remuneration and other conditions of their employment

    - The annual evaluation of the members of the HFSF General Council and HFSF Executive Board, including an assessment based on criteria set by the Selection Panel, which ensure the proper implementation of the Fund's objectives, in accordance with each body's mandate.

    [17] Parliament approves increase in BoD members of TV regulator

    Greek parliament approved by 165 votes in favour an amendment tabled by State Minister Nikos Pappas which increases the number of board members at the country's TV regulator (National Council for Radio and Television) from seven to nine. Another 86 MPs voted against it and 19 voted "present".

    Government coalition parties SYRIZA, ANEL and the Democratic Coalition approved the move, while New Democracy, Potami and the Centrist' Union voted it down. Golden dawn and the Communist Party voted "present".

    [18] Greece and United Arab Emirates sign military cooperation agreement

    Greece and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a Military Cooperation Programme for the year 2016 at the ministry of national defence in Athens. The programme was signed by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff 4th Branch Director Rear Admiral Ioannis Pavlopoulos and the head of a UAE armed forces delegation Major General Salem Al Jaberi.

    The programme calls for the provision of training to UAE armed forces at Greek Navy Training Centres, cooperation between Army Aviation units with their UAE Air Force equivalents and provides the option to send observers to exercises.

    [19] Greece will utilize any funding mechanism available to help the economy, says minister

    Greece will make every effort to utilize every funding mechanism available to help the economy, Deputy Minister for NSRF Alexis Charitsis said on Tuesday during a one-day conference which was co-organized by the ministry of economy, the EU's Directorate General DG MOVE and INEA, on the financial mechanism "Connecting Europe / Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)" on issues relating to Greece.

    "The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) contributes to the establishment and development of infrastructure projects in the areas of transport, energy and telecommunications, giving member-states the ability to develop a modernized single web that will facilitate partnerships and entrepreneurship," the minister said and added: "Greece will make every effort to utilize any financing mechanism which can contribute additional resources to the Greek economy."

    He also noted that these resources can generate extra added value in these sectors through the completion of important projects for Greece, creating the necessary synergies and complementarities with the resources of the NSRF.

    [20] ND denies leaks on Mitsotakis-Tsipras' meeting, says 'mood' was very different

    New Democracy denied on Tuesday the information leaked by the prime minister's office on what was discussed between Alexis Tsipras and the party's new leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis earlier in the day, saying the mood of the meeting was very different from the one described and Tsipras' associates are undermining his message by leaking alleged statements.

    "We want to improve political discourse in the country. It's not a sign of improvement to have leaks. The statements that were given as leaks were never made. Talks were held in a completely different climate from the one presumed by the leaks," they said.

    According to the same sources, Mitsotakis expressed his concern for the country's general path which creates uncertainty and disappointment to citizens, while he also noted the extended recession, the loss of investments and the inability to attract new.

    He also discussed his objections or his party's positions on the discussed Constitutional review, social security reforms, changes in the operation of Greece's TV regulator and the draft bill on reforming public administration. Mitsortakis also asked and received a comprehensive briefing on the refugee crisis and issues of foreign policy.

    Finacial News

    [21] Greek stocks rebound strongly

    Greek stocks rebounded strongly in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reversing a four-day decline which pushed the composite index of the market 8.60 pct lower. Traders said the market followed an upward trend in international markets and a recovery in international oil prices after the release of better-than-expected economic data from China. It was the second session with gains so far this year. The composite index rose 2.78 pct to end at 558.25 points, off the day's highs of 559.39 points. The Large Cap index rose 2.68 pct and the Mid Cap index eased 0.14 pct. Turnover was a low 58.262 million euros, with volume of 93,890,993.

    Mytilineos (8.16 pct), Titan (6.83 pct) and OPAP (6.68 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (1.39 pct), Grivalia Properties (0.83 pct) and Athens Water (0.63 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Insurance (0.73 pct) was the only one to end lower, while Raw Materials (7.66 pct), Constructions (5.72 pct), Travel (5.51 pct) and Financial Services (5.20 pct) scored the biggest gains.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 77 to 32 with another 19 issues remaining unchanged.

    Dionic (19.51 pct), Galaxidi (19 pct) and Dromeas (16.47 pct) were top gainers, while Akritas (17.01 pct), Varvaresos (14.29 pct) and Livanis Publications (10 pct) were top losers.

    [22] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.82 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,312 contracts with 13,388 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,820 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (14,596), followed by Alpha Bank (8,496), Piraeus Bank (6,887), Eurobank (2,004), MIG (637), OTE (662), PPC (599), OPAP (1,784), Mytilineos (1,054), Hellenic Petroleum (187), Folli Follie (326) and Jumbo (372).

    [23] Greek ond market closin report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 8.76 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 8.59 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 9.31 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 eased to 0.048 pct from 0.049 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.011 pct from -0.009 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.056 pct from -0.054 pct, the three-month rate rose to -0.143 pct from -0.144 pct and the one-month rate was -0.22 pct.

    [24] Credit standards for corporate loans roadly unchanged in BoG

    Credit standards for loans to non-financial corporations remained broadly unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with the third quarter of 2015, in line with expectations, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. Banks expect that credit standards will remain unchanged in the first quarter of 2016.

    Despite the unchanged credit standards, the conditions and terms for loans to non-financial corporations tightened somewhat in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the previous quarter. The demand for loans decreased slightly in the fourth quarter of 2015, as opposed to the positive expectations. The decline was due to decreased financing needs of non-financial corporations for both working capital and fixed investment. Demand for loans is expected to improve in the first quarter of 2016.

    In the fourth quarter of 2015, credit standards for loans to households remained basically unchanged compared with the third quarter of 2015. It is noted that in the previous survey banks had stated that they expected a tightening of standards for consumer credit. As regards the expectations for the first quarter of 2016, credit standards for all loans to households are expected to remain unchanged. The terms and conditions for loans to households remained also unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2015. The demand for loans to households increased in the fourth quarter of 2015, in line with expectations expressed in the previous survey round. Moreover, the demand is expected to increase further in the first quarter of 2016.

    [25] Greek economic growth could reach 1.5 pct in 2016, ministry officials say

    Greek economic growth could surpass initial estimates to reach up to 1.5 pct this year, top Economy ministry officials told ANA-MPA on Tuesday. They based their estimates on eight indexes:

    -the ECB is steadily lowering the borrowing ceiling for Greek banks from the ELA mechanism reflecting an improvement in Greek banks' liquidity as stability was gradually returning in the country and deposit flows stabilized following a successful recapitalization exercize.

    -the Greek PMI improved after 16 months in December, as Greek manufacturers reported a slightly improvement in operating conditions, ending a continuous deterioration which began in September 2014. The PMI rose to 50.2 points in December, from 48.1 in November.

    -exports grew in the January-November period amounting to 16.66 billion euros (excluding oil products), a new all-time record for the country. In the same period, imports totaled 39.8 billion euros, recording a 9.4 pct decline from the same period in 2014 (excluding oil products imports grew by 1.1 pct in the 11-month period).

    -employment grew in December. Official figures showed that new hirings surpassed dismissals by 7,826 in December, while in the 12-month period from January to December 2015, new hirings totaled 1,809,552 and dismissals amounted to 1,709,852.

    -industrial production recorded the highest monthly percentage increase in the EU. Industrial production grew 3.3 pct in November 2015, compared with a 0.5 pct decline in the EU and a 0.7 pct fall in the Eurozone.

    -annual inflation returned to positive ground after 33 months in December. The consumer price index grew 0.17 pct in December, while the country's harmonized inflation rate was 0.39 pct in the last month of 2015.

    -budget revenues surpassed targets by 1.918 billion euros in 2015 (cash basis), a development strengthening the government's position ahead of negotiations with its creditors in completing the first review of the Greek economic policy programme.

    -economic activity have significant growth prospects in 2016 through the disbursement of significant liquidity from the state to the private economy, on the precondition that a state budget was strictly implemented, along with achieving all goals in a privatization programme and implementing all structural reforms agreed with the country's creditors.

    [26] Greek industrial turnover index down 10.1 pct in Nov

    Greece's industrial turnover composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) dropped 10.1 pct in November 2015, compared with the same month in 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 14 pct decline in the turnover of mining businesses and a 10.1 pct decline in manufacturing turnover. The domestic market turnover index fell 8.2 pct in November, while the external market turnover index dropped 12.4 pct.

    [27] Greek mergers and acquisitions down 39 pct in 2015, PwC report

    A total of 29 mergers and acquisition agreements, worth 1.4 billion euros, were signed in Greece in 2015, 39 pct less compared with 2014, PwC said in report released on Tuesday.

    PwC attributed this decline to a continuing economic instability in the country, with two general elections, one poll, the imposition of capital controls on banking transactions and the signing of a third agreement with the country's creditors. The Greek economy remains under great strain but shows resistance, the report noted. PwC said that 2015 was an "annus horribilis" in transaction terms and significantly affected mergers and acquisitions. Greek enterprises attracted around 7.9 billion euros in 2015. The number of M&A worth 1.4 billion euros was significantly lower compared with the rest of Europe and was down 12 pct from 2014, with the average size of transactions at 47 million euros, 30 pct lower from 2014.

    Privatization literally froze during 2015 and amounted to only 300 million euros, the report said. PwC said that the value of mergers and acquisitions this year could surpass 7.0 billion euros.

    [28] Greek inflation rate turned positive in Dec, Eurostat

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Chr.Vasilaki) - Greek annual inflation rate returned to positive ground in December, Eurostat said on Tuesday. The EU executive's statistics agency in a report released here said that the consumer price index in Greece was 0.4 pct in December 2015, from -0.1 pct in November 2015 and -2.5 pct in December 2014.

    In the Eurozone, the annual inflation rate was 0.2 pct in December, from 0.1 pct in November and -0.2 pct a year earlier. In the EU-28, the annual inflation rate was 0.2 pct in December from 0.1 pct in November and -0.1 pct in December 2014.

    Twelve EU member-states recorded negative annual inflation rates, with the lowest recorded in Bulgaria (-0.9 pct), Romania (-0.7 pct), Cyprus and Slovenia (-0.6 pct), while the highest rates were recorded in Belgium (1.4 pct), Malta (1.2 pct) and Austria (1.1 pct).

    General News

    [29] GSEE calls for support of Thursday rally by lawyers, doctors against pension reforms

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the largest umbrella trade union organisation for private-sector workers in the country, on Tuesday expressed support for a protest rally organised by bar associations and medical associations on Thursday, against the government's proposals for reforming the pension system.

    GSEE, which has called a general strike against the pension reforms on February 4, said it intends to form a common front with all opponents of the proposals and memorandum commitments in general.

    [30] HCCE urges traders, retailers to join February 4 strike action and close their shops

    The Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (HCCE) - also known by its Greek acronym ESEE - on Tuesday urged its members to join 24-hour strike action and labour mobilisations called by labour unions and professional and trade associations on February 4, against the government's proposals for pension reform.

    The board of ESEE, which represents Greece's merchants and retailers, said that shops should stay closed and announced a nationwide merchants' rally outside its headquarters on Mitropoleos Street in central Athens on the same day. It also decided to brief all traders and retailers on the ESEE's positions, observations and proposals for reforming the pension system.

    The board decided to seek meetings with the heads of all the political parties in Parliament during the coming week in order to brief them on ESEE's positions and its fears concerning the long-term repercussions of the government's current proposed reform on social cohesion in the retail sector.

    Finally, the members said they would seek to cooperate with other social partners and the nationwide union representing retail staff, the Federation of Private Employees of Greece, to organise joint action.

    [31] GSEVEE trade association urges its members to join Feb. 4 strkes, protests

    The Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) on Tuesday urged its members to join in 24-hour strikes, protests and other labour actions organised by trade unions and trade associations on February 4, against the government's proposals for reforming Greece's pension system.

    It also urged its members to turnour for a rally taking place on Thursday in Athens and other Greek cities, along with lawyers, doctors and other freelance professionals, to protest against the proposed reforms.

    GSEVEE chiefly represents self-employed freelance workers and owners of small businesses and workshops.

    [32] Two ferries with refugees on board arrive at Piraeus port

    "Blue Star 1" ferry carried 426 refugees from Chios and 334 refugees from Mytilene on Tuesday. "Diagoras" ferry with 71 people on board is expected to arrive at Piraeus port within the day.

    [33] Russian avant garde from Kostakis collection at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art

    The exhibition "Beyond common sense" with works of the Russian avant-garde from Kostakis collection of the National Museum of Modern Art (NMMA) will be held at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art at the TIF-Helexpo premises in Thessaloniki.

    It is the first time that part of the 1,275 works of Kostakis collection will be exhibited at a venue outside Moni Lazariston housing NMMA.

    67 works of the most salient Russian artists of the Russian avant-garde as well as other important archive material (photos, painting and screenings) of the collector Giorgos Kostakis are presented to public.

    Collector George Kostakis was born in Moscow in 1913, where he lived for the biggest part of his life. For at least three decades he served as a patron of the Arts for most of the exponents of Russian avant-garde creating thus the biggest collection of Russian avant-garde artwork in the world.

    The exhibition is divided in four big sections representing the most significant thematic tendencies of this artistic trend. The first section presents the art's transit from the representation to non-objectivity. The relation between art and nature as established through the work and the lessons of Mikhail Matyushin, is presented in the second section.

    The third section follows the relation between art and architecture that leads to the production of useful objects. Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin's flying machine "Letatlin", one of the lastest projects of the Russian avant-guarde that did not become reality, will also be displayed.

    Finally, the fourth section introduces the work of Solomon Nikritin, one of the artists of the newest generation of the Russian avant garde, who connects his painting with the irrational which in turn leads to a feeling of terror and despair.

    The exhition will be inaugurated on Saturday, January 23 and will run until May 8 and will be open to public on Thursdays 10:00-22:00, Fridays 10:00-19:00, Saturdays 10:00-18:00 and on Sundays from 11:00-15:00.

    [34] Weather Forecast

    Snowfall, rain and southerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Sleet and snow in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from -01C-12C. Rain and sleet in the eastern parts of the country with temperatures between 0C-10C. Rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 04C-13C. Heavy rain in Athens, 04C-09C. Sleet in Thessaloniki, 0C-06C.

    [35] Athens News Headlines at a glance

    AVGHI: Adaptation period for free lancers

    DIMOKRATIA: Stagnation over disability pensions

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Advantages to tv channels owners

    ETHNOS: Second chance for illegal buildings

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: If you have worked for SYRIZA party, you get hired to the public sector

    IMERISSIA: Social security reforms 'in the air'

    KATHIMERINI: Conflict over hirings

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Between a rock and a hard place

    RIZOSPASTIS: The dilemma for the people: Submission to the massacre or popular uprising

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