|Sunday, 15 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-05-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 19 May 2016 Issue No: 5169
 PM Tsipras to meet Turkish President Erdogan on May 23 in IstanbulThe meeting of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take place on May 23 in Istanbul, according to sources.
The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the World Humanitarian UN Summit and will focus on the refugee crisis, the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement and the bilateral relations.
According to the same sources, Tsipras will also meet with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on May 25. The Cyprus issue, regional developments and the refugee crisis will dominate the meeting.
 Course of Greek programme and Greek debt on next Eurogroup's agendaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)
The implementation of the Greek programme and the progress in the deliberations on debt sustainability will be in the agenda of the next Eurogroup meeting on Tuesday.
According to the agenda, the institutions will brief the EU ministers on the course of the ESM financial adjustment programme particularly on matters referring to the first program review. The contingency mechanism will be also set on the table.
Moreover, the Eurogroup Working Group will also inform the EU Finance Ministers on the progress of the discussions on the sustainability of the Greek debt according to the 'guiding principles' and the' gradual approach of possible additional measures' for the debt agreed at the Eurogroup meeting on May 9.
 Agenda for May 24 discussion on Greek debt has not changed, German finance ministry saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
Press reports that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed a 'grace period' for Greek debt repayments until 2040 have not changed the issues to be discussed at the Eurogroup on May 24," German finance ministry spokesperson Jurg Weissgerber said on Wednesday.
"The agreements at the last Eurogroup on May 9 still apply...the next meeting will be held on May 24," Weissgerber said, noting that the reports concerning the IMF proposal did not change the facts that must be discussed.
He noted that there must be an agreement on a sustainable overall package to conclude the review, combined with the analyses of debt sustainability under discussion. The spokesman stressed that the conclusion of the review and achieving the target 3.5 pct of GDP primary surplus in 2018 was a separate issue to the discussion on the debt.
"Now, in the framework of the current talks, if something is discussed it will be the short-term measures," he added, urging reporters to wait until May 24.
On whether settling the debt issue was a condition for disbursing loan tranches to Greece, Weissgerber said the aim was to "agree a sustainable overall package for completing the review combined with the debt sustainability analysis now being discussed in order to fulfil the Eurogroup statement."
"This is the aim of this meeting and the aim afterwards is, of course, to be able to disburse the corresponding loan tranche. But we have to look at the overall framework - all this is interdependent," he added.
 FM Kotzias to participate in NATO Foreign Ministers' spring meetingForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias will visit Brussels on Thursday and Friday to participate in the spring meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers ahead of the EU summit on July 8-9 in Warsaw.
Among the issues to be discussed are the contribution of NATO to the refugee/migrant crisis, the problems Turkey is facing and the NATO-EU-Russia relations.
Montenegro will participate as an observer for the first time in the ministerial summit provided that the relevant accession protocol has been signed. Kotzias in meetings with his partners in Western Balkans has repeatedly spoke in favour of their accession to NATO provided that each candidacy is examined seperately and meets all the criteria.
More specifically, the agenda includes the issue of projecting stability beyond the borders of the Alliance, including the South. The ministers will evaluate defense capabilities building programs already underway in Iraq and Jordan, as well as providing support in Tunisia. A key issue will also be the contribution of NATO in dealing with the refugee/migration crisis, its future and the ways you can make this contribution more effective, despite the problems raised by Turkey and which hinder the smooth implementation.
At dinner, they will discuss the NATO-Russia relationship and the conclusions of the latest NATO-Russia Council. Greece belongs to the group of countries that support that Russia should be part of the European security structure and that a climate of trust and transparency with Russia can be cultivated through dialogue
They will also discuss the NATO-EU relationship, with the participation of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini and the Foreign Minister of Finland and Sweden.
Finally, there will be a review of the situation in Afghanistan and the role of the Alliance in the mission Resolute Support.
 IMF should be paid off early, top Brussels analysts Gros and Darvas tell ANA-MPABRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)
The Eurozone should pay off the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) loans to Greece early and allow the IMF to pull out of the Greek programme, two top economic analysts in well-known Brussels-based think tanks told the ANA-MPA on Wednesday. According to the director of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) Daniel Gros and Bruegel Institute analyst Zsolt Darvas, the probability that the IMF will participate in the third Greek programme with further lending was, in any case, remote.
ANA-MPA: The Eurogroup on May 9 calls for a settlement of the debt on three levels: short-term, medium-term and long-term. Do you believe this approach is adequate for relieving Greek debt?
Gros: The approach is more or less the same as that followed until now. If Greece meets all the prerequisites, then there will be a restructuring of the debt. At this time, the interest payments on the loans paid by Greece are already so low and their repayment periods so long that the margins for improvement are limited. Therefore, I think that, even when the programme has ended, Greece's return to the markets will be more expensive than what it gets from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and other official creditors. It doesn't make sense for Greece to pay the official creditors and then find new money that is much more expensive. This will cost a great deal for Greece but also for the creditors. Greece will not need money if it achieves primary surpluses, it will not need to finance its deficits and, if something must be paid, it will be the private debt that has matured. The official debt has not matured. For this reason, I consider that the private debt must be replaced by official debt. This does not necessarily mean new money, it means a different, cheaper form of debt.
Darvas: Without a large nominal haircut of Greece's debt, it is not logical for someone to assume that Greece can return to borrowing from the markets at the end of the programme, in the second half of 2018. This is because of the high level of debt and all the uncertainties that surround the Greek economy. The Eurozone finance ministers, therefore, must choose between a 'haircut' and some sort of fourth programme. In each case, the creditor-debtor relationship between the Eurozone partners and Greece will remain for many decades to come.
ANA-MPA: In the last weeks, we have seen the countries of the Eurozone distance themselves from a possible IMF participation in the Greek programme. Why do you believe this is happening? Will the IMF participate financially in the Greek programme after the completion of the first review, in your opinion?
Gros: I believe that in the end the IMF will go home. The irony is that if the IMF goes home, the Greek debt will become much more sustainable, even according to the IMF's own parameters. Because the interest rates go down and the maturity goes up but there is already an earlier maturation. It is a matter of time before the IMF says it wants to leave for political reasons, even though it makes a lot of money, and for the Europeans to say we don't want the IMF to leave for political reasons but if it leaves we save a lot of money, therefore "so long".
Darvas: In the letter from the IMF managing director to the Eurozone finance ministers that was leaked to the press, Christine Lagarde asks for a restructuring of the debt and much less economic austerity that that foreseen in the Greek programme. Nevertheless, the Eurozone finance ministers are opposed to both these proposals and confirmed the fiscal targets of the programme at the May 9 Eurogroup. Therefore, I consider the IMF's participation in the third programme very unlikely.
ANA-MPA: ESM CEO Klaus Regling has proposed buying a part of Greece's debt to the IMF. Do you believe this option is possible from a political point of view?
Gros: It is a very good proposal that is in the economic interests of the Europeans. They must decide what is more important to them: The political issue or the high interest rates paid to the IMF, which are actually a significant sum?
Darvas: I consider that for the Eurozone to buy up the Greek debt to the IMF is a very good idea because the lending rate of the IMF is much higher than that of the ESM. Moreover, the ESM loans have a greater maturation period than those of the IMF. The Bruegel made this proposal in January 2015.
4. There is disagreement between the European institutions and the IMF on the need to establish a mechanism for contingency measures if the measures of 5.4 billion euros linked to the programme do not lead to primary surpluses in 2018. Do you consider it necessary to legislate for this contingency mechanism?
Gros: Contingency measures should not be needed. If the Greek economy does not recover after implementing the 5.4-billion-euros in measures due to a negative shock then the contingency measures will be necessary in theory but impossible to implement from a practical and political point of view. I think the key question is whether, with all these uncertainties, the Greek economy will truly recover, making the contingency measures unnecessary.
Darvas: Perhaps the reason is that the Eurozone finance ministers have little confidence that Greece will implement the measures agreed. However, I do not remember a similar condition in other bailout programmes and I disagree with this practice. I consider that the measures agreed should be implemented. If the fiscal deficit proves higher, due to a weaker-than-expected economic growth, then additional austerity will be a huge mistake.
 ND leader at National Museum of Contemporary Art for world museum dayMarking International Museum Day (ICOM) on Wednesday, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the National Museum of Contemporary Art (emst.gr) at its new premises, in the fully refurbished former Fix factory in central Athens.
Admiring the new building, which has yet to open its doors to the public, Mitsotakis said he was satisified that Athens will finally acquire a contemporary art museum that was able to compete on a global level but also his frustration that the museum had yet to open to the public, fully 20 years after it was first founded.
Mitsotakis, who was accompanied by ND's sector head for culture Costas Gioulekas, said that the museum's operational regulations and other studies must quickly be approved, enabling it to make the preparations to open within the next few months if possible and for Athens "to finally acquire a museum that is so needs and will contribute, in its own way, to an overall cultural upgrading of Athens."
 PASOK will not vote prior actions bill, contingency mechanism, says party leaderPASOK will not approve the government's omnibus bill containing the remaining prior actions and framework of a spending cutting mechanism demanded by the institutions to unlock the next tranche of bailout loans, the party's leader said on Wednesday.
"There's no way we'll vote for the taxes or the mechanism, because it is horizontal and continuous, and the way it is done - at least with the information we have and if it is tabled by Sunday - the public spending program will have priority. So what growth are we talking about?" Fofi Gennimata told private radio station "To Vima".
She also said the party will not vote the provision on the new privatization fund as "it seems that the troika will be given through the supervisory board the authority to veto [actions]".
 ADEDY to organise protest rally against latest austerity legislation on SundayThe civil servants union federation ADEDY on Wednesday announced that it will hold a rally in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament on Sunday, in protest against a new package of austerity measures that MPs will be asked to vote into law at midnight the same day.
The rally against what the union calls a "barbaric package of austerity measures" will begin at 17:30, in the final hours of a fast-track debate of the plenum on a draft omnibus bill legislating for 17 prior actions needed to conclude the review of Greece's programme and a separate 'contingency mechanism' that will automatically and indiscriminately cut spending if fiscal targets are missed and no corrective action taken.
 Parliamentary committee extends scope of probe on shady bank ads to 10 yearsA parliamentary committee probing bank spending on ads to media decided on Wednesday to extend its scope of investigation to 10 years on Wednesday, as part of its inquiry on shady loans given to political parties and media.
The proposal was approved by SYRIZA, ANEL and Golden Dawn - which requested an audit from 2002 - the Communist Party and the Centrists' Union. The Democratic Coalition and Potami voted "present".
Following a proposal by New Democracy, the committee also decided to request from the General Accounting Office the amounts granted to political parties (in and outside the parliament) in the last two decades.
The party representatives said they will give a deadline to banks until the end of May to provide data for the repayment of loans in euros from media and data on loan contracts of regional press.
 Commission spox welcomes launch of ANA-MPA's new website, 'Praktorio EU'ANA-MPA is launching a new webpage on Wednesday called "Praktorio EU", which will focus and highlight Europe's political, economic, social and cultural issues, at a time which is viewed as a turning point for the very identity of the European Union and the progress of the European idea.
Noting the need for responsible and objective information, the Chief Spokesperson of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, welcomed ANA-MPA's new venture. "The launch of ANA-MPA's website "Praktorio EU" is an apt initiative which I warmly welcome," Schinas told the news agency.
"I am sure the reliable and wide-angle view of the agency's journalists throughout Europe will further highlight the Europe we need, the Europe that concerns us, the Europe we chose to belong to," he added.
The webpage is http://www.amna.gr/eu/
 SEV sees business blossoming in Greece, under right conditionsA strict implementation of the memorandum combined with growth countermeasures could lead to a blossoming of business activity in the country, Theodore Fessas, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEV), said on Wednesday.
The head of Greece's largest employers and industry association, speaking to reporters during a news conference, said that investments will come from the private sector and foreign investors as Greece had no funds and there was obviously no more money to borrow. He noted, however, that the economy did not resemble a coiled spring ready to be released so much as a gear that required all sides "to work together for growth".
"If someone is placing more burdens or putting hurdles before a country that is ready to run, this is a significant and political issue but not one that we can resolve. Policy is the responsibility of politicians," Fessas said, responding to reporters' questions over the need for political consensus. He added that SEV was striving for political consensus and referred to the Federation's action to find a common ground between all parties involved with economic growth (business unions, workers and the state).
Fessas reiterated that SEV was not supporting changes in legislation for mass lay-offs, nor changes in laws on lock outs and noted that SEV was not raising any issue about payrolls. He added, however, that negotiations between social partners and a collective labour agreement were limited to pay and benefit issues based on a tight union horizon and stressed that employers and workers should expand discussions to a variety of issues.
He said that the Federation did not recommend any cuts in the public sector workforce, or pay cuts in the public sector and underlined the need for growth countermeasures, such as combating tax evasion. He noted that any state enterprise that was privatised became much more efficient and helped boost state revenues.
 Greek shadow economy unchanged at 25 pct of GDP for past 15 years, says professorGreece's shadow economy is estimated to have averaged at 25 pct of GDP in the last 15 years, which means that economic activity equal to one fourth of the country's GDP exists, but is not declared in the official economy, according to data presented by research associate Vasilis Vlahos on Wednesday, who participated in the "Thales" project, a study focusing on Greece's shadow economy and tax evasion.
The press conference was held ahead of the 7th International Conference on International Business which will take place on May 20-22 in Thessaloniki.
The size of the shadow economy can only be measured indirectly, as only tax authorities could do so directly, Vlahos noted. This percentage places Greece in the first positions in the list of countries with the largest shadow economy in Europe, he said, adding that this tendency to gain part of one's income from undeclared sources - which is also observed in other Mediterranean nations - is attributed to factors such as high taxation, tax ethics, bureaucracy, but also personal motives.
To compare with other countries, Vlahos said the shadow economy in Austria and Luxembourg is estimated at less than 10 pct of GDP, with Switzerland having the lowest percentage. In Germany, the percentage is estimated at 14-15 pct, while in Spain and Portugal it is around 20 pct.
"If we manage at least reach the levels of Spain and Portugal, this will mean that a 5 pct of GDP could be added to the economy," the research associate said.
The study was coordinated by Aristidis Bitzenis, Associate Professor in Global Entrepreneurship at the Department of European and International Studies at the University of Macedonia. One of the main researchers who participated in the field study was Austrian Professor of Economics of the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Friedrich Schneider, who has studied the shadow economy in 145 countries.
 Minister pledges to complete construction work at motorways by March 2017Ongoing work at various motorways around Greece will be completed by March 2017, Deputy Minister for NSRF Issues, Alexis Charitsis said on Wednesday, during a presentation of the new EU funds available in the next few months.
"We have secured funding and the acceleration of the projects so as to complete the motorways and avoid being asked to return funds we've received from the EU," he told journalists. "The project is progressing both on the construction of the road and on the compensations paid to construction companies," he added.
 Greek inflation rate at -0.4 pct in April, EurostatBRUSSELS (AMNA/Chr.Vasilaki)
Greek annual inflation rate slowed to -0.4 pct in April, from -0.7 pct in March and -1.8 pct in April last year, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive's statistics service, in a report released here, said that the inflation rate in the Eurozone was -0.2 pct in April, from 0.0 pct in March, while in the EU, the annual inflation rate was -0.2 pct from 0.0 pct in March. A total of 17 EU member-states recorded negative inflation rates in April, led by Romania (-2.6 pct), Bulgaria (-2.5 pct) and Cyprus (-2.1 pct). On the other hand, Belgium (1.5 pct) and Sweden (1.0 pct) recorded the highest inflation rates.
 Aegean Airlines starts direct flights from Kalamata to DenmarkThe Scandinavian tourist agency Primera Group with its Bravo Tours network and their Greek partner HighConnect signed a cooperation deal with Aegean Airlines to connect the international airport of Kalamata, in southern Greece, with the two biggest airports of Denmark - of Copenhagen and Billund.
The schedule includes two flights each Monday which started on May 16 and will stop on October 24.
A local official said the direct air connection between Kalamata and Denmark is an investment for the region and comes as a result of the meeting during the Work Travel Market 2015.
Primera Group already has presence in many Greek destinations including Crete, Rhodes, Santorini and Zakynthos, and its expansion to the Peloponnese was welcomed by local authorities.
 Intralot reports lower Q1 resultsIntralot on Wednesday said its pre-tax earnings totaled 11.8 million euros in the first quarter of 2016, from 22.7 million in the same period last year, hit by adverse foreign exchange rates. Based on a fixed currency rate, net EBT grew 67.2 pct to 21.3 million euros in the January-March period, up from 12.7 million last year.
EBITDA was 47.3 million euros in the first three months, up 5.6 pct from 2015, while based on a fixed currency rate net EBITDA grew 19.5 pct.
Consolidated turnover fell 3.6 pct to 335.2 million euros, but based on a fixed currency rate turnover grew 8.6 pct to 377.7 million euros. Turnover fell 29.1 pct in Australia-Asia (mainly because of a sharp currency devaluation in Azerbaijan), it declined by 5.2 pct in Latin America, it grew 15.8 pct in Eastern Europe, it rose 4.9 pct in North America and edged up 0.3 pct in Africa and 0.7 pct in Western Europe.
Gross profit margin was unchanged at 19.4 pct in the first quarter, while operating expenses fell 7.2 pct.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 7.20 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 7.27 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 7.37 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.17 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was -0.011 pct, the nine-month rate eased to -0.0789 pct from -0.080 pct, the six-month rate was -0.146 pct, the three-month rate was -0.261 pct and the one-month rate was -0.353 pct.
 Culture Min to create organisation to support foreign film productions in GreeceA main priority of the Culture Ministry is to create an organisation to attract and support foreign film productions in Greece, Culture Ministry Aristidis Baltas on Wednesday said in an interview with Praktorio 104,9 FM adding that the study regarding this organisation will be presented early next month.
The new organisation (Film Commission) will be created according to the standards of other film organisations abroad and will operate as a communication channel between the technical advisor and foreign producers who will select Greek areas for the shootings.
 ArtAthina art fair returns with rich parallel programme on May 26-29Greece's largest art fair once again opens its doors to the public at the former Taekwondo indoor stadium in Athens on May 26-29, with a rich and varied programme of parallel art events in addition to the gallery pavilions.
Aside from the artwork put on sale by 49 galleries from 13 countries, visitors will also have a chance to view the collection of the Municipal Art Gallery of Athens, a tribute to the historic "Kochlias Gallery" in the city of Thessaloniki, the Platform Projects@ArtAthina installation, a tribute to the work of the noted late sculptor George Lappas, the 'Cut the Fence' art initiative Swiss artists Copa & Sordes and the art space BBLACKBOXX in Basle, the 'Time Matters' exhibition featuring prisoner art and other activities.
The 'Cut the Fence' initiative, in particular, will invite participants to cut 20 metres of a 657-metre fabric "fence" printed on African damask - a copy of the actual fence surrounding a camp and deportation centre situated near BBLACKBOXX in Basle - as a symbolic "destruction" of fences built to prevent refugees from entering other countries. The sections of the fence will be cut in exchange for a donation that will be given to the aid organisation "Medecins du Monde Greece".
Art-Athina 2016 is the 21st edition of the art fair launched by the Hellenic Art Galleries Association in 1993, making it one of the longest lasting contemporary art fairs in Europe and the largest annual visual arts event in Greece. Last year the art fair received 39,000 visitors, while this year the organisers aim to increase this to 42,000. The full programme is available at the website artathina.gr
 Used to human care, orphaned bear returns to wildlife refuge after just a month in natureFamiliarity with humans didn't help a young orphaned bear rehabilitate in the wild which chose instead to return to its carers at the wildlife refuge Arktouros in Florina, in northwestern Macedonia, after spending a month in the forest.
Patrick, as the cub was named, was rescued in the region's mountains in March 2015 when he was just a few weeks old and was cared by Arktouros for a year. He lived under the close supervision of his carers who provided food and shelter but also training on how to survive in nature.
Patrick was eventually released in April, but after roaming free for a month, he was sighted at a section of the refuge not open to visitors. When he was identified by his electronic tag, Arktouros' emergency team recaptured the bear to avoid contact with humans and led him back into the centre.
"Scientists believe that despite every effort to give Patrick a second chance in the wild as a free bear, the fact that he was captured just a few weeks old ... resulted in him becoming very accustomed to human presence and cannot survive by himself," Akrtouros spokesman Panos Stefanou told ANA-MPA.
 Police clashes with refugees in Idomeni, fires teargasGreek police fired teargas and stun grenades to a group of about 300 refugees and migrants in the makeshift camp of Idomeni in northern Greece on Wednesday evening, after the latter started pushing an abandoned train wagon towards them.
Police initially managed to stop the group from moving forward but after a while the refugees regrouped and continued pushing the train wagon and throwing stones against them.
 Asylum seekers from Iraq and Syria begin hunger strike on ChiosFifty asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq have begun a hunger strike and demand to be told what will happen to them under the rules of the EU-Turkey agreement, international rules for the protection of refugees and the implementation of the relocation programme in Europe and north America.
They are currently living in the Souda camp on the Aegean island of Chios, which is managed by UN High Commission for Refugees and the Chios municipality. They began their hunger strike on Tuesday.
They are also demanding faster processing of the asylum applications they have submitted.
 54,574 identified refugees and migrants on Wednesday in Greece54,574 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Wednesday including 30 persons that arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 29,110 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 9,183 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,510 are hosted in the region of Attica, 8,549 on the Greek islands and 2,405 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece.
Meanwhile, four Syrian refugees were readmitted with a charter flight on Wednesday to Turkey within the framework of the EU-Turkey agreement.
 Partly cloudy on ThursdayPartly cloudy and southerly winds are forecast for Thursday. 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 12C-25C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 12C-26C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 15C-25C. Partly cloudy in Athens, 14C-25C; the same for Thessaloniki, 13C-24C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: IMF sets the bar high.
DIMOKRATIA: Will Kyriakos (Mitsotakis, New Democracy leader) make the huge mistake.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: How the cartel divide the loot.
ESTIA: How much does "Big Mac" cost.
ETHNOS: Hellenic Data Protection Authority to put a brake on collection agencies.
IMERISSIA: The salvation-deal.
KATHIMERINI: Banks' cooperation with foreign fund on the 'non-performing loans'.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Forces coordination over the bad loans.
RIZOSPASTIS: Rally-response to the new antipopular omnibus bill.
TA NEA: Low bar for debt and installment.
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