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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-01-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday January 27, 2016


  • [01] PM Alexis Tsipras launches off-the-agenda debate on pension reforms in Parliament
  • [02] Foreign investors to meet with PM Tsipras and Greek entrepreneurs
  • [03] Farmers decide to further escalate protest action
  • [04] Gov't has specific roadmap for Greece's exit from the crisis, Economy Min Stathakis says
  • [05] Greek, Israeli defence ministers urge Turkey to join 'axis of good' against terrorism
  • [06] Stability cannot exist without a new pension system, says FinMin Tsakalotos
  • [07] Alt. Migration Minister: The Schengen issue is not on the table
  • [08] Greek shipping was and will remain first in the world, says Greek shipowners president Veniamis
  • [09] Shipping Minister Dritsas focuses on employment in maritime sector in his speech at Naftemporiki conference
  • [10] EU Commission sees Greece's new media law 'in positive light,' Euractiv reports
  • [11] Clear signs that economy will stabilise after the summer, Econ Minister Stathakis says
  • [12] Failure to implement 3rd memorandum could jeopardise growth, Parliament's Budget Office says
  • [13] ND leader Mitsotakis to PM: 'You turned hope into despair'
  • [14] ADEX closing report
  • [15] Financial prosecutors to freeze assets of 24 depositors on Borjans list
  • [16] Greek sto jump 2.15 pct
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] ADEDY rally against pension reforms in central Athens
  • [19] Notaries to strike from Wednesday to Friday, in protest over proposed pension reforms
  • [20] Excavation reveals significant statuettes at archaeological site of Aptera
  • [21] Weather Forecast
  • [22] Athens News Headlines at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Alexis Tsipras launches off-the-agenda debate on pension reforms in Parliament

    Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday began an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the government's proposed pension reforms, noting that all the political parties were obliged to adopt a position on an issue of such gravity as the viability of the country's pension system.

    "If future generations are to have social insurance, there is no room for stalling or prevarication," Tsipras said, pointing out that the system was not currently viable. "Unless we take measures, it will collapse," he added.

    The prime minister blamed 40 years of state pension fund mismanagement and "looting" under New Democracy and PASOK governments for the system's current problems, as well as an aging population and "political choices in the year of crisis that shrunk GDP by 25 pct and shot unemployment up from 7 pct to 25 pct."

    Addressing the opposition parties, he asked whether "those who caused the problems, looted the funds and created the 'black holes' in these years of crisis also had any proposal to put forward."

    "Will you support the government's agreement with the employer associations for an increase in their contributions or will you align yourself with the International Monetary Fund and its fixations, which will lead to new pension cuts, alongside the 12 previous [cuts] pensioners have been subjected to," he said.

    [02] Foreign investors to meet with PM Tsipras and Greek entrepreneurs

    Canadian businessman and founder of Fairfax Financial Holdings, Prem Watsa, and American hedge fund manager and head of Paulson & Co, John Paulson, will visit Greece early next week to have contacts with Greek businessmen and government officials, including Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    Fairfax Company participates in Eurobank, Grivalia, Praktiker Hellas, Mytilineos Group as well as the insurance group Eurolife, after the agreement between EFG Eurobank and Fairfax, according to which 80 percent of the shares of Eurolife ERB Insurance Group Holding SA will be transferred by Eurobank to the new shareholder (EFG Eurobank has a 20 percent stake).

    Following the recent recapitalization of the Greek banks, Fairfax increased its stake in the share capital of Eurobank to about 17 percent from around 12 percent before the third recapitalization.

    Paulson & Co has an around 9 percent stake in Piraeus Bank, a 7 percent stake in Alpha Bank and water utility EYDAP.

    [03] Farmers decide to further escalate protest action

    Representatives of farmers at 37 protest road blocks throughout the country on Tuesday decided that they will further escalate protest action against proposed pension reforms and tax measures, after a meeting at the Nikaia Arts Centre in central Greece.

    They announced plans to extend their blockades of national highways to six hours a day, at times to be decided by the individual protest blocks, though their intention is for road blocks to be coordinated and occur at the same times. They will also seek to join forces with other social groups, participating in other strike action, such as the February 4 general strike.

    Regarding the prospects of dialogue with the prime minister, the farmers said the government must first take its proposals for pension reform and taxation off the table, starting dialogue on these issues from scratch, while the talks must also examine the matter of production costs.

    A decision to escalate action was also reached by a farmers' meeting in Sindos, Thessaloniki on Tuesday, where 66 groups of protesting farmers were represented. Participants repeated their refusal to meet the prime minister unless the draft legislation with the tax and pension reforms was first withdrawn. They also refused to meet the leaders of any of the political parties unless they first receive guarantees about the stance the parties' will adopt.

    The Sindos meeting also appealed for mass participation in a rally that will take place in Thessaloniki on January 28 at 15:00, on the day the Agrotica trade fair is being opened by Rural Development and Food Minister Vangelis Apostolou.

    Farmers at Sindos decided to block roads from 18:00- 21:00 on Tuesday, while the debate on the proposed pension system reforms is taking place in Parliament, and on Wednesday from 12:00-14:00 and from 18:00-21:00.

    The representatives of the farmer road block at Tempi withdrew from the Sindos meeting, however, telling the ANA-MPA they did not recognise the procedure and were not allowed to participate in the final decisions made. They clarified that the sector remained united, however, since they faced a "single and major problem."

    The head of the Panhellenic Coordinating Committee of Farmers and Livestock Breeders Christos Gontias, replying to the ANA-MPA, said the Sindos groups would wait for the result of the Tempi general assembly on Tuesday evening and then talk again.

    The coordinating committee of the Tempi farmers will meet at 19:00 in order to be briefed by its representatives about developments in Thessaloniki and to decide on further action. They said the problems at Sindos arose because of objections by the groups representing full-time farmers to the presence of other non-farmer groups.

    Meanwhile, farmers continued to protest and block roads throughout the country, from Crete to the northern border. Farmers and their tractors in Corinth on Tuesday blocked the Athens-Corinth national highway at the Isthmus, as well as the old national road at Kalamaki, effectively cutting off the Peloponnese and western Greece from Attica entirely.

    These roads were briefly opened in the afternoon and then promptly shut again.

    In nearby Arcadia, tractors blocked the road at the Vytina junction until the afternoon, blocking access to Gortynia and Ancient Olympia.

    [04] Gov't has specific roadmap for Greece's exit from the crisis, Economy Min Stathakis says

    This government has a specific roadmap for Greece's exit from the crisis and return to growth, Economy, Development and Tourism Minister George Stathakis on Tuesday said at a conference organised by Naftemporiki newspaper on the shipping sector.

    The minister referred to the six major key points of July's agreement which also included the re-negotiation of debt.

    Based on the old agreements, Greece had to pay about 80 billion euros for debt servicing between 2015 and 2022, something unrealistic, as he said.

    He added that based on the new agreement these 80 billion euros were converted into a longterm debt of 30 years. He also referred to the Greek banks recapitalization which led to the European Central Bank lowering the borrowing ceiling for Greek banks from the Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism (ELA) by 20 billion euros and the upgrade, for the first time after several months, of the Greek economy by the rating agency Standard & Poor's.

    He also stated that economic estimates, namely that the Greek economy would record recession of 2.5 percent this year and 0.5 percent next year, have changed since the August agreement.

    "The Greek economy shows zero recession and therefore it is highly likely that it will record significant positive growth in 2016 after the adjustment of the new data," Stathakis estimated.

    He added that Greece needs to increase investments and support industries that contribute traditionally to the economy such as shipping and tourism. He also noted that significant reforms are needed to support investments, the strengthening of the competitiveness of the Greek economy along with extroversion.

    Moreover, he stressed the importance of the sound management of the new National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) programme that will be launched on February 2 and will last for five years.

    [05] Greek, Israeli defence ministers urge Turkey to join 'axis of good' against terrorism

    Greece's Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Tuesday met his Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya'alon in Athens, during the Israeli defence minister's visit to Greece. They discussed cooperation between Greece, Israel and Cyprus and the possibility of adding Bulgaria, Jordan and Egypt to an "axis of good" that will counter terrorism and fundamentalism in the region.

    At the same time they called on Turkey to change its stance and also join in this axis, noting that it was up to Turkey to make a decision to stop supporting terrorists.

    Ya'alon warned that the west would face a major period of destabilisation in the wider region due to the instability in the Middle East, caused by the internal conflicts between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in the area. He noted that there were no specific enemies but "specific hostile situations" and warned of the risks of terror attacks in Europe by a "complex network of terrorists with legal weapons of mass destruction".

    Kammenos said the international community must work together, includingby exchanging information, in order to combat terrorism. He noted that innocent refugees were being used as a means to promote terrorism and that a solution to the migration issue was to create conditions for growth in the countries refugees were fleeing, so that they could return.

    Cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israeli, he added, could help control the financing of terrorism through the illegal trafficking in fuel, guns, drugs and people.

    The Israeli defence minister commented on Turkey's role, saying the country was responsible for the deterioration in its relations with Israel. He urged Turkey to "stop financing terrorism, activity for which there is evidence" and to stop allowing the migration of jihadists to Europe. He also accused Turkey of protecting Hamas in Istanbul.

    Kammenos urged Turkey to change its behaviour and comply with the rules of international law, recognise Cyprus, change its stance on the issue of terrorism and make use of EU funding in order to stop the flow of refugees, so the Mediterranean could become a sea of "peace and stability".

    "I hope that the Erdogan government, which is leading Turkey toward fundamentalism, will steer the ship toward the values of the axis of good for the benefit of the people in the broader region," Kammenos said.

    The Greek and Israeli defence minister signed a joint declaration on promoting a strategic and mutually beneficial defence cooperation between the two countries, covering training, joint exercises, exchange of counter-terrorism intelligence, defence industry cooperation and more frequent meetings on a ministerial level.

    During his visit to the Greek defence ministry, Ya'alon also had a meeting with Greek National Defence General Staff chief Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.

    [06] Stability cannot exist without a new pension system, says FinMin Tsakalotos

    "Without a new pension system, we cannot have stability," Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Monday said during a book presentation in Athens.

    Tsakalotos pointed out that he has a duty as a Finance Minister to contribute to a stable economy through income redistribution and widely expanded tax base. He added that in his recent meetings with the six finance ministers of the eurozone at the Eurogroup, he told them that Greece cannot tolerate any further reduction in pensions, as they have already been cut eleven times.

    "Pensions in Greece often correspond to family income," he explained to his counterparts, because an entire family in Greece may live on a pension.

    [07] Alt. Migration Minister: The Schengen issue is not on the table

    The Schengen issue was not discussed at the EU ministers meeting in Amsterdam, Alternate Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas noted and revealed that only the Belgian minister touched the issue.

    "An unbelievable minister proposed setting up a camp for 300,000 refugees in Athens and referred to the possibility of leaving the Schengen zone and pushing back into the sea, which is illegal and constitutes a criminal act," Mouzalas said in an interview with SKAI TV on Tuesday referring to the Belgian Minister.

    On the contrary, the major EU countries (Germany, France, Italy) said that we need more Schengen and referred to the European Commission spokeswoman's statements on the issue.

    He declined that Greece was accused of not protecting sufficiently its borders, with the exception of the Austrian Minister, noting that the Frontex's position, as it was expressed at the Summit, was "vindicating" for Greece because as they said "sea is not a field."

    Referring to the February 15 deadline for the hotspots, he said that it is objective. He recognised that there is a delay but he estimated that Greece will find a way to solve the problem. He announced that hotspots will be ready by the end of February and will start operating in early March.

    Concluding, Mouzalas said "the Schengen Treaty is in danger at European level, Europe is in danger, Europe is afraid, I am worried."

    [08] Greek shipping was and will remain first in the world, says Greek shipowners president Veniamis

    "Greek shipping was and will be first in the world's arena," the president of the Union of Greek Shipowners Theodoris Veniamis said on Tuesday at the opening the proceedings of the second maritime conference of Naftemporiki.

    Regardless of the fact that shipping worldwide is facing a continuous and lasting recession, Greek ship owners remain competitive and want to help reduce unemployment, he underlined.

    Referring to the issue of addressing unemployment and attracting young people to the maritime profession, he emphasized that the Union of Greek Shipowners will continue to support public maritime education and the establishment of private schools.

    On the taxation of Greek shipping, he said that on one hand the European institutions denounce the Greek tax system and on the other hand they use it as a model. "These actions cause uncertainty and affect the competitiveness of European shipping," he added.

    According to the latest figures of Lloyd's List Intelligence, Greek shipowners have 5,266 ships of a total carrying capacity of 334,649 million dwt.

    [09] Shipping Minister Dritsas focuses on employment in maritime sector in his speech at Naftemporiki conference

    Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas on Tuesday referred to the employment in the maritime sector and the highly competitive environment.

    Dritsas was speaking at a conference organised by Naftemporiki newspaper on the shipping sector.

    "What is necessary is for the state, business and maritime efforts to coordinate and the Greek seamen and crew manpower to renew," stated Dritsas.

    He stressed the importance of necessary initiatives to be taken by the Shipping Ministry and to encourage the signing of a new labour contract between the Greek Shipowners Association and the Seamen's Federation, which, is a procedure that must mature.

    Referring to the public maritime education, he noted that resources are necessary but, due to the already known problems, they do not exist but this does not mean that we can easily jump to the private education.

    He also requested the Greek Shipowners Association assistance as well as other entities involved in the sector to support the upgrading of the public maritime education.

    [10] EU Commission sees Greece's new media law 'in positive light,' Euractiv reports

    The European Commission seems to view Greece's new media law "in a positive light," according to a news report by the European news agency Euractiv on Tuesday. The article explores the controversy surrounding the new law on granting television channel licences in Greece, where the opposition parties view the government's moves with suspicion.

    The news agency cited an EU spokesperson, who explained that it was up to the member states to set up the procedures for the granting of content licenses for television channels as this has not been harmonized at EU level.

    Referring to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the EU official said that the Greek government was committed to launching an international tender for the acquisition of television licenses, and use related fees of relevant frequencies as one potential measure to be presented by the Greek authorities to help meet its agreed fiscal targets.

    "The reference is thus related to its fiscal impact. As with all MoU commitments, these would need to be agreed with the institutions and also need to fully compatible with EU law. As no proposal has been made by the Greek authorities in this respect, there have thus been no discussions with the institutions."

    The EU spokesman also stressed that this had to be differentiated from exchanges that the Commission has on the implementation of the EU Telecoms rules in Greece in autumn. "These exchanges were not related to TV licenses".

    In autumn, the Commission confirmed to be in contact with the Greek authorities on issues related to the independence of national telecoms regulatory authorities and digital terrestrial transmissions (assignment of frequencies).

    The report notes the erosion of press freedom in Greece since the start of the crisis, dropping from 31st in 173 countries in the World Press Freedom Index in 2008 to 91st out of 180 countries on a global level in 2015, quoting Minister of State Nikos Pappas that the government is determined to impose order on the broadcasting landscape.

    "Greece is the only EU country that has never launched any licensing process for private TV channels for 25 years, maintaining the lawless regime of temporary licenses,", he told EurActiv.

    [11] Clear signs that economy will stabilise after the summer, Econ Minister Stathakis says

    There are clear signs that Greece's economy will stabilise after the summer, Economy, Development and Tourism Minister George Stathakis said on Monday, speaking at a ceremony for the presentation of the 'Retail Business' magazine awards.

    "This might not yet be apparent in the retail sector, since demand depends more on the incomes of workers that have, unfortunately, not recovered yet. But a series of indicators show a "turning point" for sectors of the economy, such as industrial production and exports," he said.

    These would soon have a positive impact throughout the economy by increasing employment and consumer incomes, he added, launching Greece into a virtuous cycle of recovery and higher demand.

    [12] Failure to implement 3rd memorandum could jeopardise growth, Parliament's Budget Office says

    A failure to implement the third memorandum passed by Parliament last summer could jeopardise the country's economic growth, Parliament's State Budget Office warned in a report released on Tuesday. Noting that the memorandum was passed by a very large majority, the report highlighted the dangers but also the reasons for optimism concerning the Greek economy's exit from the crisis in the months ahead.

    On the crucial issue of reforming the country's pension system, the PBO noted that the government's proposals are "a politically painful (for itself and the opposition) step for correcting the system."

    Among the reasons for optimism, the report's authors cited the large majority that voted for the 3rd memorandum, calling it a "major political event". They also warned, however, that only growth could ensure a minimal continuation of this process and avert future dangers.

    Calling the shift in the direction of economic policy "courageous," the authors added that the final result will depend on the stance adopted by the opposition and that the risk of the programme failing "politically" should not be underestimated.

    The authors said that Greece must reach agreement with the institutions on a series of tough reforms by March-April this year, including achieving the fiscal targets for 2016, reforming the pension system, taxation measures, the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy 2017-2020, modernising public administration, banking sector reforms and electricity market reforms.

    It noted that no fiscal gap requiring additional measures appears to have been created through the execution of the 2015 budget.

    [13] ND leader Mitsotakis to PM: 'You turned hope into despair'

    Addressing lawmakers in Parliament during Tuesday's off-the-agenda debate on reforming Greece's pension system, main opposition New Democracy new leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis launched a full-scale offensive and accused the government of "turning hope into despair."

    "You are the most pernicious government in Greece's history [after the fall of the junta in 1974]. You have led the country to the verge of exiting the Eurozone, closed the banks and signed a third memorandum," he said.

    On the issue of pension reform, Mitsotakis noted that a solution for the country's pension system required a new social contract. He also admitted that mistakes were made in the past and that he had made a commitment, as the party's new leader, not to repeat them. "You, however, do not assume your responsibilities, and don't tell us that you have none," he added.

    Referring to ND's efforts to address the pension system's problems, he said that steps of progress toward reforming the system had been made leading up to 2015. The third memorandum clearly stated that the reforms of 2010 and 2012, if implemented, would improve the system's viability, he added. There was no need to cut pension or pressure from the institutions for cuts in 2014, Mitsotakis pointed out.

    "The 1.8 billion euros in additional measures were created by your ineptitude. You are part of the problem, you are not part of the solution. You did not take us forward, you took us two years back and society is turning its back to you," he said.

    Mitsotakis also criticised Tsipras for what he called a "divisive attack" in speeches on Sunday, during the first anniversary of SYRIZA's government, accusing him of "poisoning society with class hatred."

    "The dilemma today is between the yesterday of populism and the tomorrow of truth and reforms," he said.

    ND's leader criticised the government's proposals on pension reform, saying that the government plan skewed the reciprocity of the system and eliminated incentives to continue working, since additional years did not increase the size of pensions. He also deplored the government's failure to make any progress on the minimum guaranteed income, which he said was "abandoned".

    "What will happen to main pensions in 2019? The 'personal difference' simply transfers the problem to the future. You plan is not costed and without any financial validation. The refusal or inability to cost is delaying the negotiation and creating tension in society. You ask the opposition for an alternative proposal. We could reply that we did not create the problem of 1.8 billion euros but we won't," he said.

    Finacial News

    [14] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 1.24 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,900 contracts with 16,172 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 81,040 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (31,675), followed by Alpha Bank (9,224), National Bank (30,047), Eurobank (6,115), MIG (678), OTE (493), PPC (864), OPAP (306), Hellenic Exchanges (149), Mytilineos (367), Hellenic Petroleum (348), GEK (191) and Jumbo (147).

    [15] Financial prosecutors to freeze assets of 24 depositors on Borjans list

    Greece's financial prosecutors on Tuesday ordered the freezing of all assets and property belonging to 24 individuals in the so-called 'Borjans list' - a list of tax payers with large deposits at UBS given to Greek authorities by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

    The prosecutors announced that the next package of orders freezing the assets of individuals on the 'Borjans list' and the so-called 'portfolio list' was on the way.

    The order immediately freezes all real estate property, bank accounts, securities and other assets owned by the suspects under investigation for tax evasion and, in some cases, legalising income from illegal activities. The aim is to pressure the suspects into a settlement of the unpaid taxes and fines so they can thus avoid further criminal prosecution.

    The team of financial prosecutors said they already had a clear picture regarding several individuals with unjustifiably large deposits abroad, compared with the income they declared at home and that the asset freeze orders were issued mainly for such cases.

    According to sources, prosecutors have also turned the spotlight on individuals in the socalled 'portfolios' list, which involves much larger sums than the Borjans list. This concerns individuals who sent their money abroad by converting their funds into foreign state bonds, chiefly those of Germany and the United States. They subsequently sold the state bonds and deposited the proceeds into bank accounts abroad.

    Where there are large discrepancies between the declared income and assets owned, the individuals on the lists will be summoned to testify regarding the provenance of the funds that they kept in their accounts or 'exported' via their portfolios abroad. They will be sent the results of the investigation into their finances for the last 15 years and invited to consent to the payment of any taxes and fines. If a suspect refuses to give consent, he or she will be given a 20-day deadline but also leave the prosecutors' office with a notification that their assets have been frozen. In cases of flagrant discrepancy between the amounts declared and the assets owned, the prosecutors may proceed to freeze assets immediately after summoning the individuals involved.

    The financial prosecutors launched their investigation in late 2015 when authorities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia sent the so-called 'Borjans list' of 10,500 Greek depositors at UBS, named after the state's finance minister Norbert Walter Borjans.

    [16] Greek sto jump 2.15 pct

    Greek stocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reversing an early sharp decline, following a positive trend prevailing in other European markets, a positive start in Wall Street and a rebound in international oil prices. Buying activity focused on blue chip stocks such as Hellenic Petroleum, Folli Follie, Piraeus Bank and Mytilineos.

    The composite index of the market jumped 2.15 pct to end at 546.22 points, after falling as much as 2.0 pct early in the session. The Large Cap index rose 2.39 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.52 pct higher. Turnover was a low 67.989 million euros in volume of 135,415,071.

    Hellenic Petroleum (6.04 pct), Folli Follie (5.66 pct) and Piraeus Bank (5.52 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains among blue chip stocks, while Athens Water (2.28 pct) and Grivalia (1.66 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Commerce (5.67 pct), Raw Materials (5.17 pct) and Travel (4.0 pct) were top gainers while Health (6.36 pct) and Personal Products (0.24 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 65 to 40 with another 17 issues unchanged. Epilektos (18.33 pct), G.E.Demetriou (14.29 pct) and Intracom (11.59 pct) were top gainers, while Athina (18.18 pct), Hellenic Sugar (15 pct) and Alpha Astika (12.96 pct) were top losers.

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 9.03 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.48 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.45 pct. Turnover was a low 2.0 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate eased to 0.025 pct from 0.028 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.032 pct from -0.027 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.082 pct from -0.077 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.158 pct from -0.146 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.231 pct.

    General News

    [18] ADEDY rally against pension reforms in central Athens

    The civil servants' union federation ADEDY on Tuesday carried out a protest rally against planned pension system reforms at Klafthmonos Square in central Athens, at the same time as an off-the-agenda debate on the proposed reforms was underway in Parliament.

    The rally was followed by a march to Parliament, with protestors calling on the government to withdraw the draft bill. The ADEDY march and a march from Omonia Square organised by the PAME trade union bloc affiliated with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) met in Syntagma Square.

    Trade unions intend to organise a major protest rally against the proposed changes to the pension system on February 4, on the day of a general strike declared by ADEDY and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).

    [19] Notaries to strike from Wednesday to Friday, in protest over proposed pension reforms

    Greece's notaries are to go on strike and abstain from all work from Wednesday until Friday this week, the coordinating committee of the Notary Associations of Greece decided on Tuesday, joining in similar strike action by lawyers and court bailiffs. As a result of the strike action, no auctions will take place on Wednesday, the coordinating committee announcement said.

    [20] Excavation reveals significant statuettes at archaeological site of Aptera

    A very important find was unearthed at the archaeological site of Aptera, Chania on Crete.

    Two small sized sculptures (approx 0.54cm height), one of Artemis made of copper and a second of her brother Apollo made of marble. The statue of Artemis, guardian goddess of Aptera, is in excellent condition and was standing on a square copper base. She is wearing a short chiton, or tunic, and is ready to shoot her arrow. Extremely spectacular is the preservation of the white material used for the iris of her eyes.

    Apollo's statuette was simpler and in total contrast with the emphatic depiction of the dominating protector goddess. However, the sculpture is of excellent artistic execution with apparent the use of red colour.

    Both statuettes were probably imported from artistic centers outside Crete in order to decorate the altar of a Roman luxury residence.

    First estimates date both of the statuettes to the late 1st - early 2nd century AD.

    [21] Weather Forecast

    Clouds and winds from variable directions are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from -02C-16C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 01C-15C. Partly cloudy over the Aegean islands and Crete, 03C-14C. Mostly fair in Athens, 01C-15C; the same for Thessaloniki, -01C-13C.

    [22] Athens News Headlines at a glance

    AVGHI: Interim period with reduced contributions.

    DIMOKRATIA: First home to the vultures.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Between the (protesting farmers') tractors and Schaeuble (Wolfgang, German Finance Minister).

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Yellow card from EU for Schengen.

    ESTIA: Finish rapidly the review.

    ETHNOS: First residence foreclosure for bad payers.

    IMERISSIA: Dangerous clash.

    KATHIMERINI: Final deadline for hotspots.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Alarm bell for the economy.

    RIZOSPASTIS: We continue, escalate and fight with strikes.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE - TEL: 64.00.560-63 - FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: - E-MAIL: anabul@ana gr - PRESIDENT & GENERAL DIRECTOR: MICHALIS PSILOS

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