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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-04-01

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

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

Friday, 1 April 2016 Issue No: 5143

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government VP discusses EU-Turkey deal with Europarliament delegation
  • [02] Migration minister fends off opposition anger over fast-track debate of migration bill
  • [03] State minister: 'Conclusion of program review will show we can protect lower incomes'
  • [04] Ruling coalition submits proposal for parliamentary inquiry into political party, media loans
  • [05] Main opposition to support government proposal for parliamentary probe
  • [06] Government Council on Social Policy discusses knowledge economy, school lunches and unaccompanied minors
  • [07] President Pavlopoulos wraps up visit to Israel with Netanyahu meeting
  • [08] EU must assume its responsibilities towards humanity, President Pavlopoulos says
  • [09] President Pavlopoulos calls for an end of the Syrian war during Israel visit
  • [10] PM Tsipras receives Yazidi rights activist Nadia Murad, discusses refugees issue
  • [11] The government has a strong mandate to conclude the agreement, gov't spokeswoman says
  • [12] Commission wants Greek program to be implemented fully, says spokesman
  • [13] The projects to be financed by the Juncker package will soon be announced, Economy Min Stathakis says
  • [14] Refugee returns to Turkey will begin next week, Alt. Defence Minister Vitsas tells ERT
  • [15] April 4 target for start of 1:1 resettlement scheme from Turkey remains, Commission's Bertaud says
  • [16] 51,393 refugees in Greece on Thursday
  • [17] About 500 migrants to leave Greece on Monday for Turkey
  • [18] Greece is a country adrift, says ND spokesman Koumoutsakos
  • [19] FM Kotzias to meet his Bosnia-Herzegovina counterpart Crnadak on Friday
  • [20] KKE leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas meets head of Cyprus' AKEL party in Athens
  • [21] Turkish Ambassador to visit Komotini and Xanthi on April 1-2
  • [22] Involvement of Greek companies in infrastructure projects in Israel, discussed in ministers meeting
  • [23] Bank of Greece governor meets visiting delegation from EuroParliament ECON committee
  • [24] Greek parliament passes EU legislation allowing banks to exchange information on account holders
  • [25] Auctioning of new Athens metro line to start in summer
  • [26] EYDAP reports earnings after taxes up 4.1 pct
  • [27] Intralot reports higher revenues in 2015
  • [28] Korres Group 2015 sales up
  • [29] Thessaloniki metro line will be ready in 2020, Attiko Metro head says
  • [30] Frigoglass reports 15.9 mln euro net loss in Q4
  • [31] Greek stocks ease 0.30 pct on profit-taking, ending five-day rally
  • [32] Greek bond market closing report
  • [33] ADEX closing report
  • [34] Clashes break out between Syrians and Afghans in Piraeus; eight injured
  • [35] Traffic accidents causing fatalities or injuries up in Jan. 2016
  • [36] Opening hours of stores during Easter holidays
  • [37] Guide dogs are allowed in public transport, says OASA chief
  • [38] Mostly fair on Friday
  • [39] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Government VP discusses EU-Turkey deal with Europarliament delegation

    Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis presented the government's actions in implementing the EU-Turkey deal and managing successfully refugee flows during a meeting with a delegation of the European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO), which is on a two-day visit to Athens.

    According to a press release from the vice-presidency, Dragasakis also said that the agreement achieved must be respected by all parties involved so that it can be reviewed based on its results.

    On her side, the head of the delegation, Danuta H?bner, expressed her support for Greece's efforts for a speedy conclusion of the ongoing third program review, as well as her hope that talks on the country's debt will have a successful result. She also noted the need for a joint European management of the refugee crisis based on the solidarity among member-states.

    [02] Migration minister fends off opposition anger over fast-track debate of migration bill

    Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas defended the accelerated procedure used to approve a draft bill on migration which the government tabled in parliament on Thursday, saying they are required by the EU-Turkey deal.

    The bill incorporates EU law on asylum seekers and will allow the implementation of the recently signed EU-Turkey deal. It also introduces provisions for registering refugees, allowing them to find work and to qualify for international protection.

    Introducing the bill in the relevant parliamentary committees, Mouzalas cited the "constricting timeframe" for the short debate session, while SYRIZA rapporteur Ilias Kamateros said increased needs to handle asylum applications require that asylum services are improved quickly.

    Opposition parties slammed the procedure, with New Democracy rapporteur Vasilis Kikilias noting the "unacceptable tactic" used by the government to legislate, which cancels any good faith shown by the opposition. He said a 150-page bill is impossible to read and review in just one day. "You use the accelerated procedure when you know you have to submit 56 regulatory acts? You won't even be able to implement them in three years," Kikilias said. "You're destroying the country's structures. It goes without saying that we demand that it is not debated with an accelerated procedure," he added.

    Taking his turn, the rapporteur of the Democratic Coalition, Theodoros Papatheodorou, predicted that "in a year from now, nothing will be working".

    Golden Dawn rapporteur Yiannis Lagos wondered why the government doesn't want to allow the parliament to debate on the bill for five or six days.

    The Communist Party accused the government of using autocratic methods and described the bill as a "monstrosity" that violates international law and the Geneva Convention on refugees, while the rapporteur of Potami, Iason Fotilas, said the government is employing "authoritarian practices".

    "Time is the big enemy because this is a national issue," said Independent Greeks rapporteur Konstantinos Katsikis.

    "This [bill] empowers the minister to issue regulatory acts and I do not understand why it has to be tabled as an emergency procedure," said Giorgos Karras from the Centrists' Union.

    The bill will be sent to the plenum for a fast-track debate on Friday.

    [03] State minister: 'Conclusion of program review will show we can protect lower incomes'

    The government will agree with the institutions in the coming days on the final points on taxation reform in a way that will not hurt lower incomes or the possibilities of growth, State Minister Nikos Pappas said in an interview with private radio station Real FM on Thursday.

    "The conclusion of the [program] review will prove that there's a way to stay in Europe and protect the lower incomes and stop the destruction," the minister was quoted as saying, adding that it is very possible that the state of the economy will be such that not all measures voted by the parliament will be implemented in full.

    Concerning the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pappas said that anyone who wants to change the agreement will have to, firstly, say it openly and convince European parliaments to change it and secondly, to support one's argument, which even more difficult, because the Greek economy has changed for the better since July.

    Therefore, he said, it's not possible for somebody sane to support publicly the idea that more measures are needed from the ones agreed by the government in July.

    [04] Ruling coalition submits proposal for parliamentary inquiry into political party, media loans

    The ruling SYRIZA-ANEL coalition on Thursday tabled a proposal for a parliamentary examination committee to investi-gate the legality of bank loans given to political parties and media companies, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had announced in Parliament on Tuesday.

    The ruling coalition MPs proposed that the committee investigate whether these loans met the required criteria and had therefore been rightfully given. Specifically, they said the committee should examine the contents of the loan agreements, the amounts given and the purpose of the lending or refinancing. They also want the committee to investigate whether the credit rating of the borrowers met the credit rating standards set by financial institutions, whether any collateral or other guarantees were offered, as well as the amount of current debt and whether this was being properly serviced. In the case that payments are not up to date, the committee should also investigate what action has been taken and any political responsibilities of both lenders and borrowers.

    The MPs noted that, at a time when the Greek economy was in crisis and the banking system was collapsing, banks had continued to give loans to political parties on the basis of their future state funding, which depended entirely on their unknown percentage of the vote in future elections. They noted that the 'old' mainstream parties New Democracy and PASOK had thus come to owe hundreds of millions in loans given with their future state funding as collateral, even as their electoral percentages had collapsed.

    Equally suspect loans had also been given to mass media companies, in spite of the crisis, at very low interest rates and with properties of doubtful commercial value as collateral, they noted.

    According to the MPs, the banks, media and politicians had thus set up a "triangle" where the political parties supported banks by doing them various "favours" in exchange for funding, while the media supported the power system that, in turn, supported them and gave them access to cheap credit.

    Based on Parliament rules, the proposal must now be put to the vote before the plenum since it is signed by more than one fifth of MPs. A decision to set up an examination committee on a specific issue, such as this proposal, is then taken by a majority vote of all MPs present at the time of voting but not less than two fifths of the total, or at least 120 MPs.

    [05] Main opposition to support government proposal for parliamentary probe

    New Democracy will vote in favour of a proposal tabled by the governing parties of SYRIZA and ANEL to form an examining committee on the loans to political parties and the media, party spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said on Thursday.

    Koumoutsakos said that the true concern of the government is not transparency, but an effort to trap public dialog and other parties in petty party tactics.

    "They won't succeed," he said, adding that ND has always been in favour of transparency in public life.

    [06] Government Council on Social Policy discusses knowledge economy, school lunches and unaccompanied minors

    The Government Council of Social Policy on Thursday gave the all-clear for the submission of bills dealing with the knowledge economy and copyright issues, as well as discussing the process for the recognition of professional qualifications, school lunches and a system of foster care for unaccompanied minors. The meeting was chaired by the government's vice-president, Yiannis Dragasakis.

    The Council discussed and approved the proposals of Alternate Education Minister for research issues Costas Fotakis on Greece's strategy for research and the knowledge economy. This strategy, which aims to create a network of activities to general social wealth, will be implemented through a series of three draft bills, the first of which will be tabled next week and deal with research-related matters.

    The second bill, due to be tabled in Parliament in May, will deal with financing instruments for research and innovation that will release funds for start-ups, while the last will be tabled after extensive public dialogue with all interested parties and will be a framework law laying out the strategic directions for research and technology.

    The Council also approved a proposal by Culture Minister Aristidis Baltas for a new bill on management of copyright and related rights that seeks to boost transparency, control and the accountability of collective copyright management organisa-tions, as well as protecting users from overcharging.

    Other discussions dealt with speeding up bureaucratic processes for the recognition of qualifications and the ongoing 'School Lunch' pilot scheme. This began in nine primary schools in Perama at the beginning of the next school year, serving 1,405 school children, and will be extended to another nine in the Attica region serving 1,668 school children as of Friday.

    The programme provides one hot meal a day at school in a bid to alleviate the repercussions from the higher risk of poverty faced by children in high-unemployment areas. The aim is to extend the programme to a total of 200,000 children in the school year 2016-2017, or roughly one third of total school children in the country.

    Lastly, the Council discussed planning carried out by the Labour and Social Solidarity ministry to provide care for unaccompanied minors, including a legal framework for foster care and guardianship, and the start of operation of special hospitality structures chiefly using legal entities supervised by the ministry.

    [07] President Pavlopoulos wraps up visit to Israel with Netanyahu meeting

    Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos discussed the conflict in Syria and bilateral issues in a meeting with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, in the last day of his official two-day visit to the country.

    According to the presidency, the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, also focused on the issue of migration towards Europe through Greece, as well the terrorist activity of the Islamic State.

    Pavlopoulos and Netanyahu also discussed the activities of the Greek-Israeli High Level Cooperation Council, and the trilateral cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel on energy.

    [08] EU must assume its responsibilities towards humanity, President Pavlopoulos says

    "The European Union must assume its responsibilities towards humanity and treat refugees with solidarity and love," Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday said in a meeting with the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, at the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

    "The messages sent by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, through the Christian teachings and the coexistence, are significant for the EU that is at a critical crossroads," Pavlopoulos noted and added: "Only the Christian teachings can lead the actions of those who hold the fate of mankind in their hands."

    [09] President Pavlopoulos calls for an end of the Syrian war during Israel visit

    President Prokopis Pavlopoulos called for an immediate end to the war in Syria, during a speech at an official dinner hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the presidential mansion in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

    Pavlopoulos is on a two-day visit to Israel to mark 26 years of Greek-Israeli relations.

    Pavlopoulos said that if the conflict doesn't end, the refugee crisis will not be resolved. "We are giving a huge battle to tackle the unprecedented refugee and migrant flows caused by conflicts and wars in the wider region of the Middle East, especially Syria," he said. "If these are not eliminated, especially if the war in Syria doesn't stop, there can be no definitive solution to the problem."

    The President also noted the need to fight terrorists who commit crimes against humanity united. "But we must not in any way stop dealing with the refugee problem with terms of humanity. We must treat refugees with humanism," he added.

    [10] PM Tsipras receives Yazidi rights activist Nadia Murad, discusses refugees issue

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday received Yazidi rights' activist Nadia Murad, posting pictures from the meeting on his Twitter account and expressing his admiration for her strength and her struggle.

    "War and religious fanaticism are destroying social structures in Syria and pushing millions of people to become refugees," Tsipras tweeted. He said they had discussed the need for refugees currently in Idomeni and Piraeus to trust Greece and to move to the accommodation centres it had set up for them.

    In her personal Twitter account, Murad said they had discussed the refugees crisis and the new EU regulations, while she thanked Greece for its efforts to deal with "millions of refugees in one year" and said that the world and the UN must support the refugees in Greece, providing shelter, food and medical support.

    Murad, who was also received by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos about two months ago, was one of 5,000 Yazidi women taken by Daesh (ISIS) forces and held as a sex slave in 2014.

    [11] The government has a strong mandate to conclude the agreement, gov't spokeswoman says

    "The government has a recently renewed and strong mandate to conclude the agreement and create a stable and safe framework for the economy and the society," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Thursday said in statements to Real.gr.

    "The only ones interested in early elections are those who want to avert the legislation of rules that will boost transparency and public interest," she added.

    [12] Commission wants Greek program to be implemented fully, says spokesman

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    The European Commission is committed to the conditions laid out in Greece's bailout agreement signed in August, Commission deputy chief spokesman Alexander Winterstein said on Thursday during a press briefing in Brussels.

    Asked whether there's a disagreement between the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on fiscal measures and fiscal targets for Greece, the spokesman said the Commission wants the August agreement "to be implemented fully and faithfully, based on a fair review."

    He also noted that the Commission is working hard to achieve this goal and reiterated that the heads of the institutions will return to Athens on April 2.

    [13] The projects to be financed by the Juncker package will soon be announced, Economy Min Stathakis says

    "The projects that will be financed by the 'Juncker package' will soon be announced," Economy Minister George Stathakis on Thursday said in Parliament.

    Stathakis responded to a question raised by main opposition New Democracy deputy Costis Hatzidakis and Democratic Alliance deputy Vassilis Kegeroglou.

    "Greece has selected 42 projects of 5.6 billion euros to be financed by the Juncker package. They are 42 projects, of which 18 is purely private, and others that will be carried out with the collaboration of the private and the public sector," Stathakis noted and pointed out that the 'Juncker package' does not provide direct funding but it is a "mechanism of providing assistance to private projects" by offering guarantees and low interest rates.

    [14] Refugee returns to Turkey will begin next week, Alt. Defence Minister Vitsas tells ERT

    The process of returning refugees to Turkey will begin next week, Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas said in an interview on an ERT state broadcasting organisation radio programme on Thursday. Vitsas once more called on the European Union to put pressure on Turkey so that it was also fully ready for the start of the return-resettlement process.

    "The process of returns is a great signal, which will end the matter of traffickers. It's a disincentive. The process of relocation from Greece - which is yet to start - keeps the expectations of all those wanting to travel to other countries high," he said.

    Vitsas added that the government will intensify efforts to persuade the migrants and refugees that are currently staying at the camps that have arisen at Piraeus port and Idomeni to move to more organised accommodation facilities, noting that this process must be completed within 15 days.

    He also referred to a need to "remove those elements that misinform for their own ends, either financial or ideological. You cannot have something going on under your feet that you can see is illegal and doesn't help the process," Vitsas noted.

    Commenting on the role of non-governmental organisations, the minister pointed out that the Greek government did not give money to the NGOs. "Money comes from the UNHCR and the programmes handled by the EU. The organisations that receive money in an official manner are certified organisations; those are the ones we collaborate with. There were also some 'organisations' that were self-financing - I am not talking here about volunteers and supporters, who are making a very great effort and contribute without profiting," he said.

    [15] April 4 target for start of 1:1 resettlement scheme from Turkey remains, Commission's Bertaud says

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    The April 4 target for the start of a 1:1 resettlement scheme of refugees from Turkey remains, European Commission spokesperson for migration issues Natasha Bertaud said on Thursday. On April 4, she explained, the EU will begin returns of asylum seekers whose applications have not been accepted and can receive protection in Turkey, at the same time as a programme for the resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to the EU.

    Bertaud did not go into the operation's practical details, noting only that Greek and Turkish authorities were working together closely, with the assistance of EU coordinator for the refugee crisis Maarten Verwey. European Commissioner for Migration Policy Dimitris Avramopoulos and Verwey will visit Ankara on April 3, she added.

    With respect to the legislation that needs to be passed in order for asylum seekers to be returned to Turkey, Bertaud said that Greece was expected to pass this over the next few days. Turkey, on its part, must also pass the relevant legislation by April 4 and the visit by Avramopoulos to Ankara aimed to facilitate this, she added.

    Bertaud underlined, however, that Turkey's policy regarding refugees must be fully compatible with international standards on human rights.

    [16] 51,393 refugees in Greece on Thursday

    51,393 refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Wednesday while 377 new arrivals were recorded until 08:00.

    According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body figures, 28,451 of the refugees are in northern Greece among them 11,324 at the refugees camp in Idomeni, 14,960 are in the region of Attica (5,750 are at Piraeus port), 5,337 on the northeastern Greek islands and 2,645 are hosted in different areas in Central Greece.

    [17] About 500 migrants to leave Greece on Monday for Turkey

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    A European Commission spokesman on Thursday confirmed that approximately 500 migrants will depart on Monday from Greece.

    According to the spokesman, negotiations between the Greek and the Turkish side are underway to resolve issues regarding the migrants' return to Turkey.

    [18] Greece is a country adrift, says ND spokesman Koumoutsakos

    The government's attempt on Tuesday to disorientate the people failed, main opposition New Democracy spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said during a press briefing on Thursday.

    "The government suffered a serious political defeat. The request for general elections is the society's call that suffocates and an act of political responsibility. Our aim is to put a halt to the country's course to disaster. The condition in the economy and the refugees crisis proves it. Greece is a country adrift."

    "The submission of the bill on the ratification of EU-Turkey agreement under urgent procedure indicates that the government, after 15 months, understands that the matter is urgent" said Koumoutsakos adding that the terror attacks in Brussels reveal the difficulties on the implementation of the agreement, something that ND had pointed out.

    On the clashes that broke out among migrants and refugees, he said that the state must be 'present' without this meaning that it must necessarily use violence.

    [19] FM Kotzias to meet his Bosnia-Herzegovina counterpart Crnadak on Friday

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will receive on Friday at 11:00 the Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Crnadak.

    Kotzias and Crnadak will initially have a one-on-one meeting, followed by expanded talks between the two delegations. The talks will focus on the cooperation prospects between the two countries in the sector of the economy, transport and infrastructures as well as in the sectors of energy and trade.

    The two ministers will make joint statement to the press at 12:30.

    [20] KKE leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas meets head of Cyprus' AKEL party in Athens

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday had a meeting in Parliament with the leader of the Communist Party of Cyprus (AKEL) Andros Kyprianou, who is currently on a visit to Athens.

    Koutsoumbas said they discussed issues that concerned both Greece and Cyprus, including the refugee crisis, the state of the European Union and the Cyprus issue.

    Kyprianou thanked KKE for its support of the Cypriot people's struggle to liberate and reunite the island and stressed that AKEL will not agree to a solution that departed from the agreed principles.

    [21] Turkish Ambassador to visit Komotini and Xanthi on April 1-2

    The Turkish Ambassador to Greece, Kerim Uras, will visit the towns of Komotini and Xanthi in northern Greece on April 1-2, according to his schedule which was published on Thursday.

    On Friday, Uras will meet with the prefect of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Giorgos Pavlidis, at 16.30 (local), while on Saturday he will meet the elected Muftis of the two cities and then two associations which are not recognized by the Greek state, the self-described "Turkish youth of Komotini" and the "Turkish Union of Xanthi".

    Financial News

    [22] Involvement of Greek companies in infrastructure projects in Israel, discussed in ministers meeting

    The participation of Greek construction companies in infrastructure and public projects in Israel was the main topic discussed in a meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas and the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel, Avigdor Yitzhaki, on Thursday.

    Mardas is accompanying Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, on a state visit to Israel, from 29 to 31 March.

    On the sidelines of the President's state visit, a business mission is taking place, with the participation of Greek entrepreneurs from the sectors of technology, industry, tourism and food.

    [23] Bank of Greece governor meets visiting delegation from EuroParliament ECON committee

    Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras on Thursday received a delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee, led by the committee's chair Roberto Gualtieri, that is currently visiting Athens.

    The delegation met with Stournaras and the central bank's management, who briefed them on the state of the Greek economy and its prospects, especially in light of the ongoing negotiations between Greek authorities and the country's creditors to conclude the first review of Greece's programme.

    The MEPs were also briefed on the state of the country's banking system and the mass of non-performing loans in Greek bank portfolios, as well as the proposed solutions to this especially grave problem.

    Central bank staff highlighted the importance of a positive review of Greece's programme, and pointed to the opportunities that will arise once Greece is able to participate in the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme, which will boost liquidity in the Greek market and strengthen growth.

    The two sides also discussed the possible impact on Greece's economy of the large numbers of refugees and migrants in the country, noting that the repercussions could not yet be calculated fully.

    [24] Greek parliament passes EU legislation allowing banks to exchange information on account holders

    Greece's Parliament on Thursday passed a draft bill that, among others, incorporates European Union directives that allow an automatic exchange of tax information between states and the transfer of information about account holders between banks.

    "With the ratification of the bill, we will not exchange information only after a request from one state to another but automatically; something that will be an important tool for dealing with cross-border tax fraud and tax evasion and will help in a more efficient collection of taxes," Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis said.

    The bill was passed by a large majority in Parliament, with the back of both the ruling coalition and opposition parties, except Golden Dawn and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    Alexiadis said that credit institutions will be able to exchange information concerning the identity of account owners, based on OECD standards. The minister noted that the government had traced a great deal of wealth from tax evasion that had been taken abroad and that the new legislation would give the government the means to track this down and collect large sums in unpaid taxes.

    [25] Auctioning of new Athens metro line to start in summer

    The first section of Athens' fourth metro line will be auctioned off during the summer and the second by the end of the year, Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis said on Thursday in an interview with public broadcaster ERT.

    The aim, he said, is to auction two-thirds of the project by the end of 2016.

    Line 4 will cost 3.5 billion euros and will be constructed with a public-private partnership (PPP) and not by concession, which will make it the country's first such project in this category.

    [26] EYDAP reports earnings after taxes up 4.1 pct

    The "Athens Water & Wastewater Services S.A." (EYDAP) turnover settled at 324.2 million euros from 326.4 million euros in 2014, posting a decrease of 0.7% (-2.1 million euros). In total, with regard to its main businesses (water supply and sewerage services), the Company posted a decrease of 2.7 million euros (-0.8%) in revenues.

    Total operating expenses of the Company remained almost unchanged at 276.8 million euros from 276.6 million euros in 2014.

    EBITDA decreased by 3.9 million euros (-4.4%) and settled at 83.8 million euros from 87.6 million euros in 2014. EBITDA margin decreased to 25.8% from 26.9% in 2014.

    During 2015, the increase of the tax rate from 26% to 29% positively affected the results of the current financial year via the deferred tax by an amount of 10.8 million euros and settled the income tax to 12.7 million euros versus 21.6 million euros in 2014. As result of the above, earnings after taxes of the Company posted an increase of 4.1% and settled at 43.7 million euros from 42.0 million euros in 2014. Net profit margin increased to 13.5% from 12.9% in 2014.

    The Board of Directors of the Company in its convection on March 30th 2016 approved the submitting of the proposal to the Annual Ordinary General Shareholders Meeting, of a dividend, Article 45 of the Code. Law 2190/1920, of the amount of twenty one cents (0.21 euros) per share (a total gross amount of 22,365 million euros) for the year 2015. The dividend is subject to approval by the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders.

    [27] Intralot reports higher revenues in 2015

    Intralot announced on Thursday consolidated sales rose 2.2 percent in fourth quarter compared to the same period last year while on a year-on-year basis revenues increased by 3.3% to 1.914,9 million euros from 1.853,2 million euros.

    EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) increased by 1%, reaching 177.2 million euros from 175.4 million euros in 2014 on a year-on-year basis. In the fourth quarter the company said EBITDA rose 3.5% to 45.3 million euros compared to last year.

    The company announced net loss 20.7 million euros versus loss 7.6 million euros year ago.

    2015 turnover rose to 1.91 billion euros versus 1.85 billion euros year ago.

    [28] Korres Group 2015 sales up

    Further consolidated sales growth for KORRES Group in 2015, combined with operating profitability improvement and positive operating cash flow.

    Consolidated sales increased to 54,5 million euros from 50,6 million euros in 2014, corresponding to 8% growth; a result of the Group's positive performance in its global priority markets.

    Key growth drivers were the international markets (+22% compared to 2014), accounting for 46% of total 2015 sales, enhancing the Group's global presence. The KORRES brand continues its strong performance both in the US and the key European priority markets.

    In Greece, despite the adverse financial conditions, KORRES reached No1 position in the personal care category in the Pharmacy channel, as a result of the company's coordinated, successfully implemented communications and promotional plan.

    Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached 8,2 million euros in 2015 compared to 5,1 million euros in 2014, due to the Group's overall positive performance. Adjusted EBITDA in

    2014 were 8,1 million euros (excluding extraordinary restructuring cost impact).

    Net results after tax and minority rights amounted to -1,4m euro in 2015 compared to -1,9m euro in 2014. In 2016, KORRES Group will keep promoting the brand both in Greece and abroad, developing new innovative products based on beneficial natural ingredients focusing on Greek herbs, research, science, advanced technology and clinically tested efficacy. KORRES innovation combined with a 360 communications plan, the creative presence of the brand at the point of sales, the extension of the distribution network and the continuous search for new growth opportunities, contribute to successfully facing the challenges the market presents.

    In this context, KORRES Group is stepping into 2016 with a global innovation in antiageing, the new Castanea Arcadia collection, based on the largest primary research in world's natural ingredients.

    In Greece, focus remains on the strategic categories of face, especially the anti-ageing sub-category, of hair colorants and sun care.

    International sales growth will continue to be the Group's primary 2016 goal, focusing on the US -the second largest market for KORRES, following Greece - and on key European markets with high brand awareness and exceptional results so far.

    In Q2 2015 the brand made its debut in the Latin America region as well, in the context of the strategic partnership with AVON, with Brazil as a starting point; a market with great growth prospects.

    [29] Thessaloniki metro line will be ready in 2020, Attiko Metro head says

    "Thessaloniki will have one metro line in 2020, and metro services will be extended to all the city by 2016," the head of Attiko Metro Yiannis Mylopoulos on Thursday said at a meeting with Central Macedonia regional governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas.

    On his part, Tzitzikostas said that all entities need to meet their commitments and stressed the importance of constant financing.

    [30] Frigoglass reports 15.9 mln euro net loss in Q4

    Greek refrigerator maker Frigoglass reported on Thursday sales of 453.881 million euros in 2015 compared to 487,046 million euros in 2014 (down 6.8 percent).

    Consolidated sales dropped 29.5 percent in fourth quarter to 89.9 million euros due to tough conditions in Russia.

    EBITDA came to 52.804 million euros in 2015 compared to 62.965 million euros in 2014, down 16.1 percent. In the fourth quarter, EBITDA fell 38.4 percent to 12.617 million euros from 20.494 million euros in the corresponing month last year.

    The company reported net losses of 15.9 million euros for the fourth quarter last year, versus losses of 6.2 million euros in the same period a year ago. Turnover also fell by 29.5 percent to 89.9 million euros.

    [31] Greek stocks ease 0.30 pct on profit-taking, ending five-day rally

    Greek stocks eased 0.30 pct lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, ending a five-day rally as investors sought to consolidate profits made in the previous sessions, during which the bourse had gained 6.85 pct.

    The composite index of the market fell 0.30 pct to end at 577.12 points, off the day's highs of 581.15 points but up from session lows of 570.92 points. The last day of March saw the composite index end a hefty 11.69 pct up since the start of the month but down 8.59 pct in the first quarter since the start of the year.

    The Large Cap index eased 0.27 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 0.47 pct. Turnover was a low 74.170 million euros in volume of 91,935,505.

    EYDAP (5.65 pct), Aegean Airlines (3.79 pct) and OTE (2.05 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Ellaktor (9.93 pct), Metka (3.97 pct) and Eurobank (3.83 pct) suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day.

    Among market sectors, Insurance (4.20 pct) and Telecommunications (2.05 pct) scored big gains, while Health (8.03 pct) and Construction (3.67 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 52 to 50 with another 20 issues unchanged. Kyriakoulis (25.12 pct), Ioniki Xenodohiaki (19.97 pct) and Akritas (19.39 pct) were top gainers, while Frigoglass (29.84 pct), REDS (16.39 pct) and PC Systems (14.29 pct) were top losers.

    [32] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds contracted to 8.59 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 8.64 pct the previous day. The Greek bond yielded 8.74 pct and the German Bund yielded 0.15 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros, two buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate fell to -0.005 pct from -0.004 pct, the nine-month rate was -0.069 pct, the six-month rate was -0.132 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.244 pct from -0.243 pct and the one-month rate fell -0.334 pct from -0.332 pct.

    [33] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.21 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. The FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed at 159.92 points, easing 0.27 pct down. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,656 contracts with 11,342 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 43,053 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (13,500), followed by Alpha Bank (4,692), National Bank (12,810), Eurobank (3,654), MIG (3,345), OTE (779), PPC (1,111), OPAP (983), Viohalco (215), Hellenic Petroleum (269), Ellaktor (998), Motor Oil (155), GEK (262) and Frigoglass (649).

    General News

    [34] Clashes break out between Syrians and Afghans in Piraeus; eight injured

    At least eight people were slightly injured late on Wednesday, according to the Coast Guard, in clashes between Afghan and Syrian refugees at the port of Piraeus.

    The injured people were transferred to the hospital.

    Meanwhile, "Blue Star 1" with 7 refugees and migrants from Chios and Mytilene arrived at Piraeus port on Thursday. "Diagoras" ferry is expected to arrive within the day with 1 refugee on board.

    According to the latest data, the number of migrants and refugees has reached 5,800.

    [35] Traffic accidents causing fatalities or injuries up in Jan. 2016

    Traffic accidents causing deaths and injuries rose by 8.9 percent in January 2016 relative to the same month in 2015, the Greek Statistical authority ELSTAT reported on Thursday.

    The total number of such accidents in the month were 831 and resulted in 67 deaths (21.8 pct up relative to 2015), 64 serious injuries (1.6 percent increase relative to January 2015) and 909 lighter injuries (6.8 percent up).

    [36] Opening hours of stores during Easter holidays

    The Athens Trade Association on Thursday announced the opening hours for stores during the Easter holidays starting from April 20.

    According to the announcement, shops in Athens will be open Wednesday 20 to Friday 22 April from 09:00-21:00.

    Saturday 23 April from 09:00-18:00

    Sunday 24 April from 11:00-18:00

    Holy Monday to Holy Thursday from 09:00-21:00

    Holy Friday from 13:00-19:00 and

    Holy Saturday from 09:00 to 15:00

    All stores in Athens will remain closed on Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and Tuesday following the government decision to transfer May 1 (Labour Day) holiday that coincides with Easter Sunday to Tuesday.

    The shops will open again on Wednesday 4 May and will follow the ordinary opening hours.

    [37] Guide dogs are allowed in public transport, says OASA chief

    Blind and visually impaired people should be allowed to enter public transport with their guide dog, the head of Athens' Urban Transport Organization (OASA) said on Thursday.

    The announcement follows a meeting between OASA and representatives of the Greek Association for the Blind and the Greek Training Center for Guide Dogs, after which the chief executive of OASA, Giannis Skoubouris, said that staff have been told they have to abide by the two relevant laws voted in 2014, which clearly state that guide dogs are allowed in public transport.

    Weather forecast

    [38] Mostly fair on Friday

    Mostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 4 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern and the western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 09C-22C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 08C-23C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 11C-21C. Mostly fair in Athens, 09C-22C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 08C-20C.

    [39] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: The party with the migrants' houses has just started

    ETHNOS: 10 pct cut on lump sum

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Cuts up to 35 pct on 65,000 lump sums

    ESTIA: The problem with justice

    AVGHI: A quintet for agreement

    KATHIMERINI: The refugee issue on the red

    RIZOSPASTIS: Preparing for a 48-hour strike

    IMERISSIA: Audits for purchase of securities in foreign markets

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Expenditure remain at high levels

    TO PONTIKI: Pointless debate on corruption-justice

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