|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-05-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 17 May 2016 Issue No: 5167
 PM Tsipras and foreign officials in Thessaloniki on Tuesday for launch of TAP constructionPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit Thessaloniki on Tuesday to attend and address a ceremony inaugurating the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), along with Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and other foreign dignitaries and officials.
Tsipras will first meet with Georgian counterpart Giorgi Kvirikashvili at 12:45 (local) and at 15:00 he will address the event which will be followed by a signing ceremony.
The event will also be attended by European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic and delegations from other countries involved in the project, such as Albania and Italy, Bulgaria and others along the Southern Gas Corridor. During his visit, Sefcovic will take part in an event organised by the Hellenic Energy Forum and meet Skourletis and other ministers involved in TAP's construction.
On his side, Skourletis has said he will meet in turn with US Special Envoy for Energy Affairs Amos Hochstein, Sefcovic and the Managing Director of TAP, Ian Bradshaw.
 Government to table last measures to parliament on Thurs, to vote on SundayThe government will submit on Thursday at the relevant parliamentary committees a draft bill with the remaining prior actions and the contingency mechanism required for the conclusion of the first bailout review, sources said on Monday.
The aim is to approve the bill at the plenum by Sunday, ahead of the next Eurogroup meeting on Tuesday (May 24). On Wednesday, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will brief SYRIZA's parliamentary group on the content of the bill.
In a marathon meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday, the government finalized the form of the contingency mechanism which will be activated if Greece misses its targets for primary surpluses. According to the same sources, if the target is missed, a presidential decree will be issued that will include interventions to revenues and costs, which will be decided by the Greek government. The issuing of a decree is an obligation included in the deal signed by Greece and its creditors.
If the decree is - for some reason - not issued, then the contingency mechanism will be activated which will allow interventions in all aspects of the economy, excluding sensitive sectors. If the mechanism is activated, it will aim at fiscal targets agreed with the country's lenders and will solely based on Eurostat data and not on forecasts. It will also concern a specific adjustment for specific diversions from the targets.
In today's meeting with Tsipras, the imminent discussion on Greece's debt was also discussed. According to government sources, Athens wants the next Eurogroup to announce a specific plan on the basis of the decision taken in the last meeting, which will restore stability in the country and create conditions for a safe investment environment.
 Omnibus bill on prior actions to be voted on next SundayThe omnibus bill legislating for all the prior actions needed to conclude the first review of Greece's programme is to be passed in a vote next Sunday, the Conference of Parliament Presidents announced.
It said the bill will be processed in four sessions using fast-track procedures, with two sessions before the appropriate Parliamentary committees and two before the Parliament plenum, concluding in a vote on Sunday night. The committee sessions will start on Thursday and end on Friday, while the debate before the plenum will begin on Saturday and end on Sunday.
 State Minister Pappas inaugurates Greece's new press office in NYState Minister Nikos Pappas on Sunday inaugurated the new press office of Greece in New York under the presence of representatives of the Greek Diaspora and institutional factors that represent Greece in international entities and organizations of New York.
In his statement, Pappas said that "civil servants will continue to do their best at the new premises of the press office" adding that the office is co-located with the Hellenic Tourism Organisation (EOT) in an effort to coordinate forces and save resources, while supporting and promoting tourism and sending the message that Greece opens a new chapter."
 New Democracy leader Mitsotakis in ParisMain opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in Paris where he will meet with the OECD secretary general Angel Gurria, the French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and the former President Nicola Sarkozy.
Economic developments in Greece and Europe will dominate the meetings as well as New Democracy's proposals for the implementation of structural reforms so that the country exits recession.
Mitsotakis will have further meetings in the next period. According to sources, he is likely to meet with ECB president Mario Draghi in Frankfurt. On May 30 he will be in Luxembourg for EPP's 40-year celebration, where he will meet with leaders of the European People's Party and prime ministers. In June he will visit Moscow to have contacts with the Russian leadership.
 Asylum service to start pre-registering asylum seekers on mainlandThe asylum service will start pre-registering asylum seekers who are currently on mainland Greece from the end of May until the end of July, with the help of the UNHCR and European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the service said on Monday.
The program concerns refugees and migrants who arrived to Greece before March 20, 2016 - the day the EU-Turkey deal on migration was signed - are staying in accommodation centers and want to seek international protection in Greece. The European Union provides the economic support for the program.
According to the service, the pre-registration is the first step for the submission of an application for asylum in Greece and can lead to the application being examined by the Greek authorities, or a transfer of the applicant to another member-state as part of "Dublin II", or a transfer to another member-state as part of the relocation program.
The applicants will be briefed before and during the asylum process on their options through leaflets and personal contact with staff at the open accommodation centers.
 UN official worried about Greece's detention policy for refugees, lack of access to informationGreece's detention policy for refugees and the lack of sufficient information for those detained were the main concerns expressed by a United Nations official in his preliminary conclusions on the state of human rights for refugees in Greece, during a press conference on Monday.
U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Fran?ois Cr?peau, who arrived in Greece on Thursday, has visited national and local authorities in Athens, Macedonia, Lesvos and Samos, as well as hotspots, accommodation centers and makeshift camps.
Speaking to the press, he described the recent EU-Turkey deal as "a political agreement without a binding character" and noted the great pressure put on Greece to implement the deal before it had even taken effect.
He said he saw the solidarity and generosity shown by citizens and local authorities and the country's "real determination" to tackle the largest migration wave since 1945 "with the same resources in the midst of an economic crisis and austerity".
However, he also said he was concerned about the detention policy followed by Greece, particularly for children, noting that according to the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child, minors must never be detained for any reason.
"I met unaccompanied children locked in police stations for 24 hours, without access to outdoor areas for more than two weeks. I also met entire families being held in closed centers for weeks," Cr?peau said.
His full report will be presented at the UN Council on Human Rights on June 2017.
 UN special rapporteur on migrants human rights Crepeau visits MytileneUN Special Rapporteur on the Migrants' Human Rights Francois Crepeau visited Mytilene on Sunday.
Crepeau toured the migrants and refugees reception centers and was briefed on the asylum granting procedure.
UN Rapporteur will present on Monday his first conclusion while his full report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Committee.
 "We are refugees not criminals," say Iraqis and SyriansDozens of Iraqis and Syrians, mostly members of families with children, gathered on Sunday at the main square of Sappho in Mytilene asking to be allowed to travel to other regions of Greece and then to Europe.
The Iraqis and Syrians were shouting that they are refugees and not criminals.
"We have been here since end March. A month and a half. We were told to submit an asylum request. We stayed in a prison for a month and they told us that we can get out of the prison and live on the island. We are not allowed to leave. We have no money, we cannot spend all our life here. They have transformed Mytilene into a big prison for us," a Syrian refugee said.
A total of 3,652 refugees and migrants are waiting for the response of the asylum services, according to the most recent figures of the Police. All of them came to Greece after March 20, the date of the EU-Turkey agreement implementation.
 Finance ministry to move from Athens centre to repurposed building on Thivon Avenue, gov't announcesAlternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis on Monday announced the transfer of Greece's finance ministry in three months time from its current premises in the centre of Athens to a fully refurbished building once used as a warehouse by Kerani, a Greek tobacco manufacturer. The former warehouses, situated on Thivon Avenue 196-198 in the Agios Ioannis Rendi district near Piraeus, have been fully repurposed and refitted to create a 42,300 square metre building that complies with the latest standards of sustainability, energy conservation and bioclimatic architecture, he said.
During a tour of the new building on Monday, Alexiadis said that the building will house all ministry services and even some services belonging to other ministries. The minister said the building met all existing building code regulations and that all its various systems were entirely safe. He offered assurances that no dangerous materials were used in its construction, denying rumours concerning the coolants, which he said were environmentally friendly. He noted that the building's energy efficiency would result in significant savings for the public sector. The building has an energy performance certificate placing it in energy category B.
The newly refurbished six-storey building will have natural light in all areas, including corridors, and space for 2,300 work positions. It provides 506 parking spaces in the basement and the grounds. It is divided into four sections, each with autonomous and independent systems for lighting, ventilation and air conditioning. It is equipped with double-glazing, photovoltaic systems on the roof to help power the lighting system and 24 solar collectors.
It is equipped with a day-care centre, gym, library, conference rooms, a canteen on every storey and gardens in the grounds. The new finance ministry will be easily accessible by public transport (metro, Proastiakos railway station and OASA buses, with several bus lines serving Thivon Avenue).
The building was acquired by the state in 1998 and originally refitted to house environment ministry services. The move never actually took place, however, and repeated attempts to make use of the building in other ways stumbled, according to Nikaia Mayor Giorgos Ioakimidis, on the objections of the ministry employees involved. The most recent attempt three years ago to transfer the Piraeus courts to the building was blocked by the refusal of lawyers, he added. The building remained unused and empty from 2005 until the present day, with a 24-hour police guard.
In 2014, the building was transferred by sale and leaseback (with an option to recover the property after 20 years) to NBG PANGAEA Real Estate Investment Company - a firm arising through the 2015 merger of MIG Real Estate REIC and the National Bank of Greece subsidiary NBG Pangaea REIC, which was absorbed by MIG Real Estate.
According to Ioakimidis, the move marked a "historic day" that ended Rendi's "exclusion" and he criticised the refusal of civil servants to come to the neighbourhood.
"We are trying to revive a dead building. We hope that this will breathe new life and prospects into the area," he said.
"It is a shame for us to pay rent for the next 20 years when we could have written off the cost 2.5 times over if it had operated from the start," he added.
 TAP project to give growth boost to Greece, Energy Min Skourletis says"We are entering into a new phase for the economy. This project will offer a strong boost to move forward," Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said commenting on the TAP natural gas pipeline, which will be inaugurated on Tuesday in Thessaloniki.
Speaking to "Praktorio 104.9 FM" radio, Skourletis noted that the Greek part of the pipeline, with a length of around 500 km crossing Northern Greece, will employ around 8,000 people initially and stressed that more indirect job positions will be created following completion of the project (at the end of 2019, early 2020).
"It is characterized as one of the 10 largest projects build currently around the world and the fact it crosses the country by around 500 km highlights the significant geo-strategic nature of Greece," the minister said.
He added that during a meeting later today in Thessaloniki with his Bulgarian counterpart, Temenuska Petkova, will focus on the issue of building a Greek-Bulgarian pipeline (IGB), directed vertically towards TAP and extending towards northern Europe. They will also discuss the course of third large energy project for Greece, the LNG floating terminal in Alexandroupoli. "They two accompanying projects of TAP pipeline and their construction confirmed the country's role as a strong energy hub," Skourletis said.
 European Commissioner Sefcovic in Thessaloniki on Tuesday for launch of TAP constructionEuropean Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic is scheduled to arrive in the Greek city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday to attend a ceremony inaugurating the construction of the TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The ceremony will also be attended by delegations from other countries involved in the project, such as Albania and Italy, Bulgaria and other countries along the Southern Gas Corridor.
The head of the European Commission Representation in Greece Panos Carvounis noted that this Sefcovic's second visit in a short space of time, indicating the importance of the energy sector in the country and its potentially important contribution to the recovery of the economy.
During his visit, Sefcovic will take part in an event organised by the Hellenic Energy Forum and meet Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis and other ministers involved in TAP's construction.
 Alternate FM Mardas, Russian Transport Min Sokolov see progress in Greek-Russian economic cooperationAlternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Mardas and Russia's Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov in a meeting on Friday referred to the progress achieved in the Greek-Russian economic cooperation after the 9th session of the Joint Interministerial Committee Russia - Greece last November in Sochi.
The two officials agreed that Greece and Russia remain important strategic partners and talked about the significant progress in the sectors of agriculture, transport, inter-regional cooperation, tourism, and energy. They praised the political, cultural and economic relations between the two countries, dating back more than 1,000 years, and they examined the priority areas of trade and economic cooperation, and the problems delaying their implementation. They also discussed common positions for the strengthening of Greek-Russian trade and economic relations, including in the areas of energy, geological exploration, agriculture, transport, tourism, scientific and technological cooperation, inter-regional cooperation and cooperation between the business communities of both countries.
According to a statement, the two sides agreed to step up measures to develop the institutional framework of bilateral cooperation and prepare for the signing of a series of bilateral agreements.
 Loans on main residencies valued up to 140,000 euros to be protected from funds, says ministerAll mortgage loans on main residencies with a fair market value up to 140,000 euros will be protected from being sold to funds, in a series of regulations which will be brought to parliament this week, in the omnibus bill on the last prior actions required by Greece's lenders, according to Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis on Monday.
Responding to a question by an opposition MP in parliament, Stathakis said that while the institutions demanded the sale of all loan categories to funds, the government managed to suspend until the start of 2018 the sale of "green" and "red" loans connected with the primary residence.
He also said that this does not only include mortgage loans, but also all consumer loans of small and medium-sized businesses, or consumer loans connected to the primary residence.
 Hellenic Petroleum repaid 400-mln-US dollar euro bond loanHellenic Petroleum Finance plc on Monday repaid a two-year euro-bond loan worth 400 million US dollars. The bond loan, carrying an interest rate of 4.625 pct, was fully guaranteed by Hellenic Petroleum Group, parent of HPF plc. In an announcement, Hellenic Petroleum Group said it was examining its options over refinancing of future-maturity bond loans and depending on market conditions it was planning its return to international capital markets this year.
 "Gourmet Olive Exhibition & Delicacies" to be held in Thessaloniki on May 20-22The first "Gourmet Olive Exhibition & Delicacies" will be held in Thessaloniki on May 20-22 in order to promote the excellence of the Greek gastronomic heritage, which is based on extra virgin olive oil.
It is an exhibition of extra virgin olive oil, olives and delicatessen products, accompanied by events, workshops, seminars, olive tastings, cooking demonstrations, and public awards.
A modern Olive Oil Bar will also be set up offering the public the opportunity to taste and discover different varieties of olive oil and olives from all over Greece. Professional connoisseurs along with olive oil producers will lead the tastings. During the tasting shows, innovative products will be introduced and renowned chefs will cook using the products exhibited.
The aim of the Gourmet Olive Exhibition & Delicacies is to become one of the most important trading venues in the region, by playing a leading role in facilitating small producers and promoting the benefits of consuming high quality olive oil products.
ANA-MPA is a sponsor of the exhibition.
 Lufthansa launches new flights to three Greek islands from MunichThe German airline Lufthansa this week launched its new direct flights from Munich to the Greek islands of Corfu, Santorini and Crete, which will operate throughout the summer season. The first of the new flights was on Saturday, to the island of Santorini, flying once a week.
The flights to Crete, leaving on Saturday and Sunday, also began for the second consecutive year, while the weekly Munich-Corfu flight was launched on Sunday.
 Greek stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday in thin trading conditions as investors remained on the sidelines, awaiting progress in negotiations between Greek authorities and its creditors. Bank shares came under pressure. The composite index of the market fell 0.35 pct to end at 620.50 points, off the day's lows of 619.31 points. The Large Cap index fell 0.20 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.13 pct higher. Turnover was a thin 49.254 million euros in volume of 61,801,816.
Coca Cola HBC (4.28 pct), Jumbo (2.98 pct) and Lamda Development (2.54 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while National Bank (3.02 pct), Folli Follie (3.0 pct) and Motor Oil (2.66 pct) suffered losses. Among market sectors, Food (4.28 pct), Chemicals (2.73 pct) and Personal Products (2.64 pct) scored big gains, while Commerce (2.99 pct) and Raw Materials (2.34 pct) suffered losses. National Bank and Eurobank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 56 to 40 with another 19 issues unchanged. Yalco (18.99 pct), Evrofarma (17.39 pct) and Kreka (12.5 pct) were top gainers, while Haidemenos (19.21 pct), Viokarpet (17.81 pct) and ANEK (16 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds edged slightly higher to 7.35 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 7.32 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.5 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.15 pct. Turnover was an extremely thin 1.0 million euros, one sell order.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was -0.012 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.080 pct from -0.078 pct, the six-month rate was -0.145 pct, the three-month rate was -0.261 pct and the one-month rate was -0.353 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe May contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.17 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,325 contracts with 19,028 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 34,619 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (12,047), followed by Alpha Bank (3,704), Piraeus Bank (10,711), Eurobank (5,774), MIG (1,264), OTE (316), PPC (1,013), OPAP (793), Viohalco (101), Mytilineos (124), Athens Water (105), Ellaktor (131) and Hellenic Petroleum (66).
 New York Times' 4th 'Athens Democracy Forum' to be held in Greece on September 14-18The fourth annual Athens Democracy Forum, hosted and moderated by New York Times editors, will be held in the City of Athens on September 14-18 this year on the theme "Religion, Migration, Power + Money".
According to the organisers NYT, it will examine the growing threats to liberal democracies, such as the "refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, rising authoritarianism and erosion of trust in politicians and institutions" and look at ways that nations and citizens can "navigate the ever-changing geopolitical landscape".
The forum is endorsed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and presented under the auspices of President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos, bringing together politicians, policy makers, journalists, scholars and experts from the fields of business, finance and technology.
According to the organisers, the key themes to be tackled include: Is democracy good for business? Is liberal democracy compatible with religion? Should the major institutions of global governance be reformed, or scrapped? Do terrorist attacks justify giving greater powers to security forces?
Among the list of speakers unveiled on Monday by NYT, in addition of President Pavlopoulos, were columnist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics Prof. Paul Krugman, whistleblower Edward Snowden, former Italian prime minister Mario Monti, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, Google EMEA Business and Operations President Matt Brittin, former Australian PM and current Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd, and Athens Academy Vice-President and former Greek PM Lucas Papademos, among others.
In addition to the main conference, a program of affiliated events - including an international student debate at the Old Parliament; a Google Hangout featuring political activists under house arrest; and a world premiere concert by Rufus Wainwright at the Herodes Atticus theater - will also take place throughout the city.
The Athens Democracy Forum is held every year on September 15th - the UN International Day of Democracy - and is presented by The New York Times in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund, the City of Athens, and Kathimerini.
 Athens public transport route planner app for mobiles, PCs launched this weekPassengers using Athens public transport will from Monday have access to key information enabling them to plan their journeys via their PCs, smartphones and other devices, using an app called OASA Telematics launched on May 15. According to the Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) the new app will be able to suggest optimum routes, display maps showing the nearest station or bus stop, bus routes and the arrival time of the next bus or train.
The new app can be downloaded free of charge at the website telematics.oasa.gr and will eventually be available on three platforms, of which only the Android operating system for mobile phones and tablets is currently available, with the iOS and Windows systems to be added within the week.
OASA CEO Yiannis Skoubouris on Monday commented that the app will make all Athens bus stops "telematic" since every passenger will be able to use his or her mobile phone to see when the next bus will be arriving at the specific stop.
It will also automatically display the bus stop nearest the user, the position of the buses on a map in real time, the best route between two locations using public transport and announcements concerning public transport and more. Users can also "favourite" the stops they use most frequently and thus automatically see the buses going past these in real time, in order to minimise waiting times during journeys.
 Tempi Valley closed for maintenance worksThe Athens-Thessaloniki motorway will remain closed at Tempi Valley on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 07:00 to 20:00 for maintenance works.
Traffic will be held through alternative routes.
 A Syrian refugee hands over wallet with cash and credit cardsA refugee from Syria who has been staying for a month in an accomodation centre at Tsepelovo, a village in Zagori region, Ioannina, found a wallet with cash and credit cards and rushed to find the owner.
The 22-year old Assim found the wallet outside a taverna and went inside to look for the owner, a waiter said to ANA-MPA.
Assim, who is from Damascus, was staying at the refugees camp in Idomeni with his mother and his two younger brothers. A month ago he and his family left from Idomeni for Tsepelovo.
 54,469 identified migrants and refugees in Greece on Monday54,469 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Monday including 49 persons that arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 29,075 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 9,220 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,475 are hosted in the region of Attica, 8,556 on the Greek islands and 2,363 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece.
 Two locals rob 28-year old from BangladeshTwo locals aged 19 and 20 were arrested accused of robbing a 28-old man from Bangladesh. The incident was reported on May 3 at a village near the city of Nafplio.
According to police, the two locals hit and took from the foreign national his wallet with all the cash, two cellphones and a personal document.
 Light quake at the sea region of NeapolisA light earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at 00:27 on Monday 155 km south-southwest of Athens.
According to the Geodynamics Institute of the National Observatory of Athens the tremor's epicentre was located at the sea region 21 km north of Neapolis (southeastern Peloponnese).
 Mostly fair on TuesdayMostly fair weather and north-northwesterly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Unstable weather in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 11C-25C. Mostly fair in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon in the western and the eastern parts and temperatures between 10C-28C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-27C. Mostly fair in Athens, 14C-26C. Partly cloudy with a chance of rain in the afternoon in Thessaloniki, 13C-25C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Robbery from "The first time Left (refers to SYRIZA government)"
ETHNOS: The secrets of the automatic fiscal correction mechanism
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The cuts in pensions according to Katrougalos' (George, Labour Minister) law
ESTIA: Crucial agenda in autumn
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Where the automatic correction mechanism will intervene
TA NEA: Suffocating taxes
NAFTEMPORIKI: Tax-bomb on investment securities
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