|Wednesday, 11 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-05-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 10 May 2016 Issue No: 5162
 Eurogroup 'positive for Greece and Europe', says FinMin TsakalotosBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos expressed his satisfaction with the results of Monday's Eurogroup in a press conference saying it was "positive for Greece and Europe", following the meeting in Brussels.
The minister said there is an agreement on the fiscal measures and the structural reforms and as soon as the country concludes the legislation of the necessary prior actions there will be a disbursement of the next loan tranche from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
He also said the EuroWorking Group (EWG) will prepare in the next two weeks the work for the next regular Eurogroup on May 24, by which all pending issues of the deal are expected to have closed.
Concerning the contingency mechanism, Tsakalotos said finance ministers agreed that the Greek proposal is the base for the talks, adding that the EWG will work to agree on the technical points.
Asked about the debt, which is part of the overall deal, he said today there was a first discussion and "an interesting exchange of views", noting that debt reprofiling will take place in three stages: The first on a short-term basis, which will start when the deal closes on the first program review and the loan installment is disbursed. The second, on a medium-term basis, when specific measures will be specified and implemented in 2018, on the condition that the government has completed the program successfully. The third stage will be on a long-term basis, for measures that concern the next decades.
The EWG will also examine technical issues concerning debt relief in three stages he said.
 Eurogroup welcomed measures adopted by Greece, says DijsselbloemBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The Eurogroup welcomed the measures adopted by Greek authorities as part of its agreement with the Eurozone, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Monday after the end of the meeting.
He said finance ministers discussed the measures adopted by Greece, the contingency mechanism and the county's debt, noting developments will be discussed again in two weeks at the regular Eurogroup meeting to achieve a final deal.
Dijsselbloem also announced a three-step approach in taking measures that will make Greek debt sustainable: The short-term measures will include improving debt servicing, the medium-term will include specific decisions which will be implemented at the end of the program (provided Greece has fully implemented the program) and the long-term measures which will concern the following decades.
On his side, Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said important progress has been achieved towards clinching a deal. The head of the ESM, Klaus Regling, said that the disbursement of the next loan installment will happen "soon", as some more work is needed.
 Eurogroup welcomes progress made by Greece which opens way for completion of program reviewThe Eurogroup welcomed the completion of a policy package, which should pave the way for a successful completion of the first review of Greece's ESM programme, upon the adoption of the agreed prior actions, Eurozone finance ministers announced after the completion of the meeting in Brussels on Monday.
The full statement by the Eurogroup is the following:
"The Eurogroup welcomes the completion of a policy package, which should pave the way for a successful completion of the first review of the ESM programme, upon the adoption of the agreed prior actions.
Greece will implement as part of the prior actions for the first review:
A first package of fiscal parametric measures amounting up to 3% of GDP by 2018; this package includes a pension reform, a reform of the personal income tax and additional fiscal parametric measures, such as a VAT reform and public sector wage bill measures.
An additional contingency mechanism, which will be legislated to ensure that a package of measures, including non-discretionary measures, would be automatically implemented as soon as there is objective evidence of a failure to meet the annual primary surplus targets in the programme (3.5% in the medium-term). If measures are enacted with a temporary nature when the mechanism is triggered, permanent structural measures agreed with the institutions, including revenue measures, should become effective in the year thereafter, as part of the regular budgetary process, in order to bring the budget structurally back on track. Exceptions to the activation of the mechanism will be limited to exceptional events with a major economic impact outside government control. Such exceptions need to be agreed with the institutions.
The first review includes also the implementation of the NPL strategy, which will contribute to strengthening the balance sheets of banks and enable the return of domestic credit to the Greek economy. As prior actions, measures will be taken to immediately open up the market for the sale and servicing of performing and non-performing loans, with the temporary exclusion of small loans secured by primary residences.
The Eurogroup recalls that a significantly strengthened privatisation programme is a cornerstone of the new ESM programme. In this context, the Eurogroup welcomes the agreement for the forthcoming adoption of the law establishing the agreed Greek Privatisation and Investment Fund, including an initial asset transfer, as part of the prior actions for the first review. The Supervisory Board of the Fund will be appointed by June 2016, and the Fund will become fully operational no later than September.
In line with the statements of the Euro Summit and the Eurogroup in the summer of 2015, the Eurogroup stands ready to consider, if necessary, possible additional debt measures aiming at ensuring that Greece's refinancing needs are kept at sustainable levels in the long-run. These measures will be conditional upon full implementation of measures agreed in the context of the ESM programme, and will be considered after the completion of the first review, once all prior actions have been fully implemented.
The Eurogroup agrees on the following general guiding principles for the possible additional debt measures: (i) facilitating market access; (ii) smoothening the repayment profile; (iii) incentivising the country's adjustment process even after the programme ends; and (iv) flexibility to accommodate uncertain GDP growth and interest rate developments in the future.
The Eurogroup also agrees to establish a benchmark for assessing sustainability of the Greek debt, according to which under the baseline scenario of a debt sustainability analysis (DSA), Greece's gross financing needs should remain on a sustainable path.
The Eurogroup foresees a sequenced approach, whereby a package of debt measures could be phased in progressively, as necessary to meet the agreed benchmark on gross financing needs and subject to the pre-defined conditionality of the ESM programme. The Eurogroup reconfirms that nominal haircuts are excluded, and that all measures taken will be in line with existing EU law and the ESM and EFSF legal frameworks. The Eurogroup will consider:
For the short term: possibilities to optimize debt management of the programme.
For the medium term: the Eurogroup asks the EWG to explore specific measures (such as longer grace and payment periods) which can be used, if necessary, at the end of the ESM programme, conditional upon the successful implementation of the ESM programme, as well as such measures as the use of the SMP and ANFA equivalent profits.
For the long term: the Eurogroup stands ready, if necessary, and conditional upon compliance with the primary surplus targets, to further assess at the end of the programme the need for possible additional debt measures to ensure Greece's gross financing needs remain on a sustainable path.
The Eurogroup mandates the EWG to work further on the technicalities of this package of debt measures and to report back to the next regular Eurogroup on 24 May.
Together with the agreement and implementation of the policy package, this agreement on debt and adequate financing assurances by the European partners are expected to allow the IMF to participate in the programme.
The Eurogroup calls upon the institutions and the Greek authorities to complete in the coming days the technical work on the staff level agreement on the first review, including the contingency mechanism. In this context, the Eurogroup looks forward to receive rapidly the draft supplemental MoU, including the final full list of prior actions, as well as the compliance report for the first review. It calls upon the Greek authorities to take immediate steps to implement the prior actions including through the adoption of legislation. Upon full implementation of the prior actions by the Greek authorities and following national procedures where necessary, the Eurogroup stands ready to support the disbursement of the second tranche of the ESM programme."
 Greek program review closes without additional measures, say government sourcesThe review of the Greek program is closing without creditors asking for additional measures and the Eurogroup has set a specific process to reach debt relief, government sources said on Monday after the conclusion of the Eurozone finance ministers' meeting in Brussels.
The Eurogroup recognized the agreement between the institutions and the Greek government and now there is a deal for the conclusion of the first review, the sources said, noting that they also agreed on the country's proposal for the creation of a contingency mechanism which will be activated only if the government does not achieve the budget targets of the program.
The same sources noted that there was no demand made by the Eurogroup for Greece to legislate precautionary measures. The technical details required for the completion of the staff-level agreement will be finalized by Greece and the institutions in the next few days and will then be presented to the next Eurogroup, they said.
After Greece has legislated and voted the prior-actions, Eurozone's finance ministers will proceed with the disburse-ment of the second loan installment of the program from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). This installment will cover Greece's borrowing needs until the end of the next review, but will also allow the fast repayment of the state's arrears towards the private sector. This will contribute significantly to improving liquidity in the real economy.
Furthermore, the loan installment will be much higher than the 5.7 billion euros foreseen for the conclusion of the program review.
The same sources also said this is the first time the necessary actions needed to provide debt relief are stated clearly and specify a procedure for the short- the medium- and the long-term.
 PM Tsipras briefs President, party leaders on Eurogroup resultsPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras described the Eurogroup meeting on Monday as a particularly positive development for Greece in a meeting with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, whom he briefed on the results of the talks held in Brussels.
The prime minister said the first program review will conclude without any additional measures and Eurozone finance ministers also presented a road map for providing debt relief, which "constitutes a necessary expression of solidarity from the EU towards the Greek people".
He thanked Pavlopoulos for his assistance in this effort and told him he spoke with leaders of the opposition parties to start a meaningful dialog.
On his side, the President said that on Europe Day, Greece remains an unwavering pillar of the Eurozone and the EU, adding that this is the decision of all the democratic forces and the majority of the Greek people.
Earlier, Tsipras spoke with New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis, Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata and Centrists' Union leader Vasilis Leventis, to inform them that he's available for any clarifications concerning the meeting.
 There is another way for Greece and for Europe, PM Tsipras saysThere is another way for Greece and for Europe, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday said referring to the crucial meeting of the Eurogroup and the decision to include the Greek debt in the agenda of the debate.
At the opening of a conference on primary healthcare, Tsipras said that Monday's Eurogroup is critical and underlined that "what is probably more important is the agenda of this meeting".
"I do not need to mention how important it is that this debate begins. Debt relief is necessary and can create a whole new climate in the Greek economy, to give a breather to the fiscal condition of the country and a signal that finally we left from the vicious circle and we are entering into a virtuous cycle," the prime minister said.
"This is the reason why the debt issue was a central negotiating objective of the government as opposed to the previous government which constantly talked about sustainable debt and was just asking for a certificate of sustainability, despite the fact that all analysts were claiming the opposite."
Every step forward for the Greek economy, whether it relates to the necessary debt relief, whether it relates to the positive results we have on performance of the economy, every positive step will be transformed into concrete policies for the rehabilitation of social justice and the support of the weaker, either directly or through the reconstruction and strengthening of the social state, said Tsipras
Moreover, he said that all necessary steps will be made in order to support the country, to turn the page, and build a future of fairness, social protection and justice.
 Moscovici says Eurogroup to recognize Greece's efforts in passing reformsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
The Eurogroup will recognize on Monday the progress made by Greece in addressing reforms for its economy, Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Monday as he arrived at the meeting in Brussels.
"The Commission really believes that, on reforms, a lot has been done. What was voted yesterday, the pension and income tax reforms are very important steps and are part of a package of very high importance, including the creation of the independent agency for revenues, the treatment of NPLs and the establishment of the privatization funds and all these were conditions on the MoU that we accepted last August," he told journalists.
"Today we should recognize today that this effort has been made - of course we have to check that this is legislated- but this represents a very strong number of measures," he added, noting that after these measures, Greece will be on its way to recover growth.
Moscovici also said the 19 finance ministers will discuss Greece's proposal for a contingency mechanism, adding that the proposal is in the right direction but could improve further.
"Then the Commission is bringing its expertise to the question which is mostly in the hands of the member-states. I hope that today we will set the framework for a global deal. We believe that's possible. A global deal needs to address the three blocks that are on the table, meaning reforms, we're there, the contingency mechanism, we're almost there, and the debt issue, we're starting the discussion. We'll see what will be the outcome of the discussion," he added.
 Dombrovskis: 'There's shared understanding that we have to agree soon'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
All sides believe that an agreement between Greece and its lenders must be reached soon, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday as he arrived at the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.
"There's shared understanding between the institutions, the Greek authorities and other states in the Eurozone that we have to agree soon. This is why we have today's Eurogroup, to accelerate the procedure," he told journalists.
Asked about Greek debt discussions, Dombrovskis reiterated that it rests on member-states and creditors to decide when and how they will move to the next steps.
 Greece has made progress in adopting reforms, says Italian FinMin PadoanROME (ANA-MPA/T. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
The Greek government has made progress in approving reforms, Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Monday as he arrived at the meeting in Brussels.
"I believe the Greek government has made steps forward," he told journalists, adding that the Greek parliament approved significant measures which will be assessed in detail in today's meeting.
 'We must not expect miracles today', says Finnish FinMinBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
Nobody should "expect miracles" in Monday's Eurogroup concerning Greece's debt, Finnish Finance minister Alexander Stubb said on Monday as he arrived at the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, adding however that negotiations have clearly progressed.
He said a discussion on the country's debt could start today "in principle".
"As a haircut is out of question, we can certainly discuss maturities, interest rates and the schedule of debt repayments," he told journalists. "But we must not expect miracles today."
 European institutions accept Greek proposal on contingency mechanism as base for talks, say sourcesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
European institutions accepted the Greek proposal on a contingency mechanism as a base of talks, during the EuroWorking Group (EWG) meeting in Brussels on Monday, judging that it fulfills the criteria set out at the Eurogroup in Amsterdam (automatism, legislation and credibility), government sources said.
Furthermore, Greece's main reform package, which includes measures such as the income and the pension system tax reform, NPLs and the privatization fund, was essentially approved in the same meeting, the sources said, in which Greece was represented by Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Chouliarakis. The EWG also discussed the Greek debt.
The same sources added that there were tensions on the side of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was represented by Poul Thomsen, Director of the IMF's European Department, and Delia Velculescu, current IMF mission chief in Greece, with Velculescu reiterating the arguments included in IMF head Christine Lagarde's letter.
However, the government sources though estimate that the issue of the mechanism will be concluded in the next few days, noting that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) tabled its proposal which didn't satisfy the IMF.
 Greece and lenders closer to an agreement, states Eurogroup official to ANA-MPABRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
Greece and its lenders are closer to a compromising agreement on the package of contigent measures and the conclusion of the first review of the Greek programme, a eurozone official stated to ANA-MPA on Monday .
After the conclusion of the EuroWorking Group meeting that convened on Monday to prepare the extraordinary Eurogroup meeting, the same official said to ANA-MPA that were are closer to an agreement but we are not there yet.
 Fine on EU member states that will not contribute to the refugees crisis will be imposed soon, says EU Commissioner AvramopoulosThe 250,000 euro fine will be very soon imposed on member states that will not contribute their fair share to the management of the refugee crisis, European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday said.
During a press conference in Thessaloniki on the occasion of the signing of the first agreeement of the so-called Juncker plan, Avramopoulos said that the specific measure will be implemented adding that it is an act of solidarity in the management of the refugee crisis under financial conditions.
"Everything is happening very quickly in Europe. Europe is moving faster than the developments in many occasions," he stated.
Earlier during his address to the event on the Juncker package, Avramopoulos said that "solidarity and responsibility are not only a moral issue but mostly legal responsibilities for the member states and the EU governments because they are clearly stated in the treaties."
He sternly accused EU governments that adopt a "clearly nationalist and populist politics to explain to their domestic audience the migration issue and this is something very dangerous because it turns Europe back to the dark ages of its history."
 Greece firmly dedicated to a vision of a Europe of solidarity and social justice, says FM on Europe DayGreece is firmly committed to the European vision of solidarity and social justice, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in a statement on Monday to mark Europe Day.
"Greece found itself at the epicenter of a global economic crisis and, additionally, faced with the management of migration and refugee flows. Firmly dedicated to the vision of a Europe of solidarity and social justice, Greece has strived and is striving for a Europe that is not limited to sanctions and punitive policies; a Europe where democracy, institutional equality and social justice prevail," he said.
Referring on Europe's long history, Kotzias said that over half a century after Robert Schuman's historic declaration of 9 May 1950, the European Union, having made significant progress both politically and institutionally, is facing serious challenges not just economically and institutionally, but also with the principles and values based on which it was created in order to realize the vision of a better future for its citizens.
The European Union needs to show, in practice, that it thinks strategically and has a democratic, social and political vision, as well as geopolitical planning, so that it can play its global role, the minister said.
As one of the oldest members of the Union, Greece will continue to participate actively in the processes for deepening the EU, for a better and more just future for all Greeks and for all European citizens, Kotzias said. "With respect for international law, Greece is developing a proactive foreign policy aimed at strengthening regional stability."
 FM Kotzias to visit Vienna, BratislavaForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias will visit Austria and Slovakia this week in an attempt to restore the cooperation and communication channels that have recently been tested.
On Wednesday Kotzias will have private talks and a working lunch with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz and will meet with Austrian parliamentarians. The Greek minister will outline Greece's positions on the refugees issue and a series of issues related to the Greek foreign policy with the view to improving bilateral relations and restoring communication channels.
On Friday, the Greek Foreign Minister will visit Slovakia and will hold talks with his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Laj?k. Kotzias will also meet with the President of the Slovakian Republic Andrej Kiska.
 54,341 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Monday54,341 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Tuesday including 74 persons that arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 29,298 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 9,813 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,438 are hosted in the region of Attica (2,135 hosted at Piraeus port), 8,352 on the Greek islands and 2,253 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece.
 EIF, ProCredit sign agreement to lend Greek SMEsThe European Investment Fund (EIF) and ProCredit group on Monday signed a guarantee agreement to increase lending to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small mid-caps in Greece. This transaction benefits from the support of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe.
Under the new agreement ProCredit group will provide 20 million euros of loans to innovative companies in Greece over the next two years. The loans will be supported by an EIF guarantee under the "EU InnovFin finance for Innovators" initiative with financial backing from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme. The agreement signed today will make it possible for the ProCredit group to offer innovative companies additional financing at favourable conditions.
Speaking at the signing event, European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, responsible for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: "I am honoured to be here in Thessaloniki to witness the signing of the first EFSI deal in Greece. Small companies in Greece are in great need of financing to grow their businesses and create jobs. The agreement signed today by the EIF and ProCredit with the support of the Investment Plan will help Greek SMEs access new finance. I encourage other banks to join forces with the EIF and set up similar agreements under the Investment Plan so that we can help more Greek companies flourish."
EIF Chief Executive, Pier Luigi Gilibert commented: "I am delighted to be signing the first EFSI SME agreement in Greece for innovative companies. Support for innovative SMEs will help to facilitate growth and jobs. ProCredit group has partnered with us to roll-out the InnovFin programme in other countries and I am sure that together we can play a part in delivering finance for SMEs and small mid-caps in Greece."
Borislav Kostadinov, member of the Management Board of ProCredit Holding, added: "We are especially pleased that this agreement will support us in our endeavours to strengthen the competitiveness of Greek SMEs. In order to complete its presence in its core region, the ProCredit group has recently extended its outreach by establishing a foothold in Thessaloniki operated by our Bulgarian subsidiary. As the leading house bank for small and medium-sized enterprises in this region, we partner the InnovFin programme in seven countries and I am positive that SMEs in Northern Greece will benefit substantially. Investments in modern technology, innovative thinking and environmental orientation are key factors for the future development of strong and internationally competitive SMEs." This is the first InnovFin transaction in Greece signed with EFSI support. The deal reflects the EU's commitment to rapidly launch concrete initiatives under the EFSI, accelerating lending and guaranteeing transactions capable of boosting jobs and growth in the EU.
-The European Investment Fund (EIF) is part of the European Investment Bank group. Its central mission is to support Europe's micro, small and medium-sized businesses by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops both venture and growth capital, guarantees and microfinance instruments which specifically target this market segment. In this role, EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, growth and employment.
-ProCredit Holding AG & Co. KGaA, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, is the parent company of the ProCredit group, comprising banks that have specialised in serving small and medium-sized enterprises. The majority of the ProCredit banks operate in Eastern and South Eastern Europe, but the group also has a presence in South America as well as in Germany. As of 31 December 2015, the group's total assets amounted to 6 billion euiros. The total outstanding loan volume was 4.1 billion, against customer deposits totalling EUR 3.9 billion, and its equity base stood at 604 million. ProCredit Holding AG & Co. KGaA is a "public-private partnership" whose core shareholders are the strategic investors IPC and ProCredit Staff Invest (an investment vehicle for ProCredit staff members), the Dutch DOEN Foundation, KfW and the IFC (World Bank Group).
-The InnovFin SME Guarantee Facility provides guarantees and counter-guarantees on debt financing of between 25,000 euros and 7.5 million in order to improve access to loan finance for innovative small and medium-sized enterprises and small midcaps (up to 499 employees). The facility is managed by the EIF, and is rolled out through financial intermediaries - banks and other financial institutions - in EU Member States and Associated Countries. Under this facility, financial intermediaries are guaranteed by the EIF against a proportion of their losses incurred on the debt financing covered under the facility.
 Skouries technical study approved; construction to recommenceEldorado Gold Corporation on Monday confirmed that Hellas Gold S.A., a Greek subsidiary of Eldorado, has received from Greece's Ministry of Energy and Environment the approval of the updated Technical Study for the Skouries Project in Halkidiki, Northern Greece.
The approval of the Technical Study enables Hellas Gold to recommence construction activities at the Skouries Project site, which were suspended in January of this year.
Paul Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado, commented: "We are all very pleased with the receipt of this approval and greatly encouraged by the ongoing interaction between Hellas Gold and the Ministry and its technical services. This constructive engagement has contributed to other recent approvals including the Skouries Building Permit (February 2016), and the Olympias Installation Permit (March 2016). I believe there now exists a greatly improved shared understanding, appreciation and alignment between the Company and the Ministry in regards to the substantial benefits to be gained by the Greek society and economy through the collaborative responsible development of mineral resources in Greece. We look forward to working together with the Ministry to advance the Skouries and Olympias Projects for the benefit of all stakeholders."
 Greek state debt to private sector up in MarchGreek state's overdue debt to the private sector grew to 5.575 billion euros in March from 5.405 billion in February, official data showed on Monday.
Pending tax returns remained almost unchanged at 1.099 billion euros in March, from 1.079 billion in February. Social Insurance Organizations were the biggest debtor, with overdue debts totaling 2.876 billion euros in March, down from 2.931 billion in February, while state debt to hospitals rose to 1.146 billion euros in March from 1.092 billion in February.
 Foreign investors lowered participation in ASE in AprilForeign investors lowered their participation in the capitalization of the Greek stock market in April to 59.8 pct (including the participation of Hellenic Financial Stability Fund) compared with March, while excluding HFSF's participation their share fell to 63.2 pct from 63.3 pct in March. Greek investors raised their share to 38.8 pct in April.
Foreign investors were net buyers in April with capital inflows totaling 11.53 million euros, while Greek investors were net sellers with capital outflos totaling 11.5 million euros. Foreign investors accounted for 56.7 pct of transactions in the market in April, down from 64.1 pct in April last year.
The value of transactions in April amounted to 1.165 billion euros, down 27.3 pct from March and down 17.1 pct from April 2015. Average daily turnover was 58.24 million euros, down from 80.11 million in March and 78.05 million in April last year.
The number of active investor codes fell to 15,739 in April, from 17,253 in March and down from 24,127 in April 2015. The market's capitalization was 35.61 billion euros at the end of April, up from 34.68 billion a month earlier, but down from 41.37 billion in April 2015.
 Hellenic Seaways returned to profitability in 2015Hellenic Seaways reported a significant improvement in its net profits in 2015, which climbed to 3.9 million euros after a loss of 17.4 million euros in 2014. The company returned to profitability for the first time after five years of losses.
Turnover was 131.9 million euros, up 26.5 pct from 2014, reflecting an increase in traffic, a rescheduling of sea lines and the introduction of new lines. EBITDA rose to 24.6 million euros in 2015 from 18.1 million in the previous year.
Passenger traffic totaled 2,933,532 last year, up 11 pct from 2014, which car traffic jumped to 296,638 from 270,432 and lorry traffic rose to 62,425 from 42,709, over the same periods, respectively. The Group's net position was 71.1 million euros in 2015, up 2.4 million from the previous year. Hellenic Seaways completed a debt rescheduling last June and said it was launching a new coastal sea line linking Thessaloniki with the islands of Sporades.
 Infrasoft Intl in new project in AustraliaA consortium including Intrasoft International was awarded a project to install an electronic platform of revenue collection by the Australian Capital Territory Government.
The contract, part of a three-year transformation plan worth 30 million Australian dollars, is aimed to offer better, faster and more efficient services to taxpayers.
Australian Capital Territory Revenue Office collects more than 1.2 billion Australian dollars in taxes and contributions annually to support funding of vital public services, such as health, education, public transport, roads, pavements, recycling, garbage collection, parks and libraries.
 Greek bond yields fall on MondayGreek state bond yields fell on Monday in the domestic electronic secondary bond market as investors discounted a positive outcome in today's Eurogoup meeting in Brussels. Bond prices rose although turnover remained extremely thin. The 10-year benchmark bond yield fell to 8.28 pct, the three-year bond yield eased to 9.09 pct and the two-year bond yield fell to 9.55 pct.
 Greek stocks rise for fourth successive sessionGreek stocks ended slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, following an upward trend prevailing in other European markets amid a new significant improvement in the state bond market, with the Greek market focusing on the outcome of a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels. The composite index of the market rose 0.74 pct to end at 610.07 points, off the day's highs of 613.08 points. The index iis up 4.54 pct in the last four sessions. The Large Cap index rose 1.16 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.21 pct lower. Turnover was a low 66.814 million euros in volume of 111,955,347.
PPC (3.27 pct), National Bank (3.16 pct) and Eurobank (2.94 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Jumbo (1.83 pct), Viohalco (0.74 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (0.57 pct) suffered heavy losses. Among market sectors, Raw Materials (2.35 pct) and Banks (2.19 pct) scored gains while Health (1.85 pct) and Personal Products (1.53 pct) suffered losses.
National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 59 to 43 with another 18 issues unchanged. Sfakianakis (19.6 pct), Nexans (17.65 pct) and Attica Publications (15.52 pct) were top gainers, while Kreka (19.66 pct), Yalco (17.86 pct) and Efrofarma (16.67 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 8.26 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 8.45 pct last week, with the Greek bond yielding 8.40 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.14 pct. Turnover was a thin 11 million euros, of which 6.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate fell to -0.014 pct from -0.012 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.080 pct from -0.079 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.145 pct from -0.141 pct, the three-month rate eased to -0.262 pct from -0.247 pct and the one-month rate was -0.354 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.66 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,820 contracts with 17,667 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 67,446 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (27,712), followed by Piraeus Bank (17,012), Eurobank (11,444), Alpha Bank (7,075), MIG (1,282), OTE (287), PPC (1,022), OPAP (587), Mytilineos (393), Metka (131), GEK (110), Ellaktor (98) and Hellenic Petroleum (86).
 Young refugees visit the Parthenon and the Acropolis museum"We want Europe to find again the comparative values of democracy, the tolerance and the acceptance of the individual without discriminations of sexual or religious orientation," Culture Minister Aristidis Baltas stated on Monday while receiving approximately 100 refugees, mostly young Syrians and Afghans, hosted at the reception centers at Eleonas and Schisto, to the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens.
Baltas said that this visit is special because "the Greeks want to show that the hospitality between the peoples is not only material but also moral and historic".
He particularly linked Syria and the destruction of Palmyra with the antiquity smuggling that followed in order to underline the significance of the monuments' integrity. "Neither the Parthenon is an integral monument from this point of view," he said stressing the importance of the international mobilisation for the repatriation of the Parthenon marbles.
After their visit to the Acropolis, the young refugees and the Greek Culture Minister were toured to the Acropolis museum.
The event was held with the cooperation of the UNHCR and the cultural organisation Flux Laboratory.
 Medecins Sans Frontieres financial independence makes organisation more flexible, its general director tells ANA-MPA"The financial independence of M?decins Sans Fronti?res (MSF), which is a basic principle of the organization, ensures the immediate and effective assistance to people in need," its general director Marietta Provopoulos said in an interview with ANA-MPA on Monday.
"Our choice to refuse state funding makes the organization more flexible and ready to go where it is needed," she added.
On the refugee crisis, she said that approximately 700 people of the organisation are now employed at the structures in Greece.
"We are talking about 'trapped' refugees, but we are not talking about the access provided to hospitals, schools and employment. The approximately 55,000 refugees is not a large number taken into account that 10 percent of the Greek population was refugees seven years ago. Most of the refugees will leave, but the rest will have to live in communities," she underlined.
Asked why non-governmental organisations replace the state in social crisis, she stated: "When the state is not able to provide assistance, it needs at least to protect those that do so."
The full interview is available in Greek for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Fifteen-meter-long knit scarf marks Europe Day in northern Greek cityStudents and teachers of the 5th high school of Kavala in eastern Macedonia hung a 15-meter-long knitted scarf representing flags of EU member-states at their local city hall on Monday to mark Europe Day, celebrated on May 9.
The scarf, which was knitted by the students' mothers, was made up of individual parts representing the flags of each member-states, which were then knitted together. The students, who participate in the European program "Ambassadors of the European parliament", showed the scarf in the presence of local officials as the anthem of the European Union (Beethoven's Ode to Joy) played in the background.
The mayor of the city, Dimitra Tsanana, and the Head of the secondary schools of regional unity Apostolos Vagenas congratulated students for their message of cooperation and solidarity among the nations of the united Europe.
The scarf will remain hung outside the city hall until Tuesday afternoon.
 Police arrests 15 persons alleged to be members of international drug dealing ringDrug squad is currently conducting a huge operation in Athens to arrest members of one of the largest drug dealing rings operating in Greece and in other European countries, mostly in Scandinavia. The ring distributed drugs via Greece to other European countries.
According to police, 15 members of the ring have already been arrested and 678 kilos of cannabis have been confiscated along with a speed boat and trucks used for the drug transport.
The head of the criminal gang, a businessman of the transport sector, allegedly a drug baron of the Balkans, has been arrested.
Police said that the confiscated drugs were destined for Oslo where the price is very high.
The same police sources said that the members of the gang brought the drugs in Greece with speedboats from Albania to a Greek island and from there the drugs were channeled to a number of places in Greece where international transport trucks took them to European countries.
 Fourteen arrested in clashes on Sunday in AthensFourteen individuals, out of the 15 detained, were arrested for their involvement in the clashes that broke out on Sunday at Syntagma square and the Athens district of Exarhia.
3 of the arrested are Greeks, 4 are Iranian nationals, 3 French, 2 from Switzerland, one from Austria and one from Cyprus. The arrested will be sent to Athens prosecutor on Monday.
 Sea voyages to be carried out normally from Tuesday at 06:00Sea routes will be carried out normally after 06:00 on Tuesday.
The Hellenic Seamen Federation at a meeting on Monday decided not to extend the their mobilisations.
 Mostly fair on TuesdayMostly fair weather and winds from variable direction are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 10C-25C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 11C-25C. Scattered clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 10C-27C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-25C. Mostly fair in Athens, 12C-26C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 12C-25C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceKATHIMERINI: (PM Alexis) Tsipras' first memorandum with 153 'yes'
ETHNOS: The problems of the last time
KONTRA NEWS: It's time for debt relief
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Heavy cost from taxes
DIMOKRATIA: Greece sold
ESTIA: Humiliation of life
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Taxes even on coffee
RIZOSPASTIS: Rejection of anti-popular measures
TA NEA: SYRIZA's austerity hostages
TO PARON: Tsipras: I will win or I will fall fighting
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