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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-05-24

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

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

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 Issue No: 5172

CONTENTS

  • [01] Tsipras, Erdogan discuss EU-Turkey deal and FIR violations in Istanbul summit
  • [02] 'We need a new vision for humanity', Tsipras says at UN World Humanitarian Summit
  • [03] Tsipras: 'We want to strengthen Greek-Turkish cooperation on EU-Turkey deal'
  • [04] PM meets Angela Merkel, Portuguese PM and Ireland's president
  • [05] PM meets with Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul
  • [06] EU Commission to take into account prior actions voted in Greek Parliament
  • [07] EWG to make positive recommendation for conclusion of Greek programme review
  • [08] IMF says Greece needs significant debt restructuring, primary surplus targets unsustainable
  • [09] Russian President Putin to visit Greece on May 27-28, Kremlin announces
  • [10] Polish defence minister has meetings with President Pavlopoulos, Greek counterpart in Athens
  • [11] SYRIZA MP Katrivanou resigns
  • [12] Alt. FM Xydakis points out danger of extreme right rise in Europe
  • [13] Pittella expresses support to Greece; highlights the potential of Acheloos Valley
  • [14] Transport of refugees from Idomeni to accommodation centres to start on Tuesday, Kyritsis tells ANA-MPA
  • [15] Government to announce new invitations for EU funded programs
  • [16] Completion of program review to end doubts about Greece's stay in Eurozone, says industry body
  • [17] Egypt an 'important, strategic partner for Greece' in tourism, Kountoura says
  • [18] Greece-S. Korea Joint Interministerial Committee meets in Athens
  • [19] National Bank, Israeli embassy to launch guidance programme for Greek start ups
  • [20] Fraport Greece welcomes ratification of contracts for 14 regional airports
  • [21] Travel receipts down 0.1 pct in Q1, BoG report
  • [22] Concession contract for sale of Thessaloniki port posted online
  • [23] Wholesale turnover index down 4.5 pct in Q1
  • [24] Greek stocks rise to new 2016 highs
  • [25] Greek bond market closing report
  • [26] ADEX closing report
  • [27] Thessaloniki Port employees protest against privatisation
  • [28] Second panels appeal in Lesvos stops deportation of three Syrians
  • [29] Athens lawyers extend abstinence from court until May 30
  • [30] Partly cloudy on Tuesday
  • [31] 54,185 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Monday
  • [32] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] Tsipras, Erdogan discuss EU-Turkey deal and FIR violations in Istanbul summit

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/N. Lionakis)

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed his satisfaction with the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal so far, saying refugee flows have diminished significantly during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held on the sidelines of the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul late on Monday.

    According to government sources, the two sides focused on the management of refugee flows during their 45-minute meeting with Tsipras noting that trafficking rings have been dealt with significantly and NATO's participation is crucial. He added however that there are still problems that need to be dealt with.

    The Greek premier also raised the issue of Turkey's airspace violations, the same sources said, noting that he expressed the government's discontent with Turkey's increasing infringing activity in the Aegean. The two sides agreed to activate diplomatic channels to de-escalate the situation.

    Tsipras and Erdogan also discussed bilateral cooperation in energy, tourism and transport.

    According to the government sources, the two leaders also focused on the Cyprus issue, expressing their support for the ongoing negotiations between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci which aim at finding a solution to the country's division.

    On Wednesday, Tsipras and Anastasiades will meet in Athens, during which the Greek leader will brief his counterpart on his talks with Erdogan.

    [02] 'We need a new vision for humanity', Tsipras says at UN World Humanitarian Summit

    The humanitarian crisis can only be tackled with coordination, cooperation and solidarity, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday, while addressing heads of state and government at the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. Thanking the U.N. and the summit hosts Turkey, the Greek prime minister said the meeting was more essential than ever at a time when the number of people needing humanitarian aid was increasing daily.

    "We have a strong conviction that, in order to deal with this challenge, we need a new vision relating to humanitarian aid," Tsipras said. "We will not be able to unfold this new vision without also creating a new vision for humanity as a whole," he added.

    "In Greece we are facing two major crises simultaneously: the economic and refugee crisis," Tsipras said, noting that Greece was at the centre of a neighbourhood also facing major security issues. The discussion underway at the Istanbul summit on Monday and Tuesday was very important in order to "enrich our reactions to the crisis that lies behind all the rest: the humanitarian crisis," he added.

    "Seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlined the need to protect the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all people. Since then, significant steps have been made in order to ensure that human rights and humanitarian law are standards on which all countries are judged but we still have some way to go," Tsipras said, pointing out that the challenges were growing and had multi-sided humanitarian consequences.

    "We cannot develop a new vision for providing humanitarian support on all levels without discussing a new vision for humanity," Tsipras said, speaking about Greece's experiences at the centre of a humanitarian challenge with multiple dimensions, following six years of economic crisis and harsh austerity measures at the same time as the country found itself on the front line of unprecedented refugee flows.

    The Greek prime minister listed three commitments arising from this experience that he said all sides must fight for: an agenda for growth, employment, social justice and tolerance; demonstrating solidarity and responsibility sharing on the foundation of international law; and an investment in diplomacy to ensure peace and respect for humanitarian law.

    He said Greece had actively promoted the third of these three commitments, especially, by strengthening its ties with all states in the region.

    "Despite the difficulties, we have promoted - on a bilateral and European level - our cooperation with neighbouring Turkey," he said. He referred to a "successful two-way cooperation that has significantly contributed to a drastic reduction of deaths in the Aegean Sea and the reduction of refugee flows from 7,000 a day to less than 100 a day," he said.

    [03] Tsipras: 'We want to strengthen Greek-Turkish cooperation on EU-Turkey deal'

    The Greek-Turkish cooperation, which is at the basis of the EU-Turkey deal, is very good and Greece wants to strengthen it, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a speech at a roundtable on forced displacement, at the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

    "Any progress could serve as an example of good practice on how we face humanitarian challenges," Tsipras told attendees, adding that forced displacements reached a new record high in 2016, with the war in Syria and Iraq and the political situation in Afghanistan, contributing to this trend.

    He also said the largest burden is carried by the countries neighbouring Syria - Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey - which "deserve our praise and solidarity for dealing with the challenge of hosting millions of people who are in need."

    "For the first time, there [refugee] flows are placing huge pressures on Europe as well," Tsipras continued. "In this framework, the challenge of migration is for the first time of such a scale, not just as a regional and international problem, but as European [problem], highlighting Europe's responsibilities."

    He then went on to lament the slow implementation of the relocation program by criticizing some member-states "Unfortunately, the progress in relocation is extremely poor, even towards European countries, which have not shared any of burdens deriving from the refugee flows," he said.

    Tsipras stressed that less than 1,000 people have relocated from Greece to other European destinations since 2015, despite pledges for tens of thousands, while the second mechanism for the resettlement of refugees from Turkey to Europe has not been established yet.

    Another crucial aspect for tackling migration is the signing of readmission agreements with countries of transit and origin, "which will effectively help discourage illegal migration, while at the same time guaranteeing all rights to asylum," he said.

    [04] PM meets Angela Merkel, Portuguese PM and Ireland's president

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday had a 40-minute meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. According to sources, they discussed ther refugee crisis, while both expressed optimism about a good outcome on all issues at Tuesday's Eurogroup.

    Also on the sidelines of the summit, Tsipras met his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa and Ireland's President Michael Higgins.

    [05] PM meets with Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul

    The Greek minority in Istanbul and the reopening of the Theological School of Halki were discussed in a meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew earlier on Monday, on the sidelines of the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

    "We discussed with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew about the Greek minority and the reopening of the Theological School of Halki," he said in a tweet.

    [06] EU Commission to take into account prior actions voted in Greek Parliament

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)-

    The European Commission will take into account the prior actions voted in the Greek Parliament on Sunday, its spokesman Margaritis Schinas said adding that the officials of the Commission will examine the omnibus bill and will submit the relevant report to the Eurogroup on Tuesday.

    Schinas also referred to EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici's earlier statement that Greece has taken a "key step". He also said that after the full implementation of the prior actions, the Eurogroup is ready to support the disbursement of the next loan tranche.

    Moreover, Schinas stated that the European Commission is ready to contribute to the discussion on debt relief measures. "However, the issue of the debt mainly concerns member states," he concluded.

    [07] EWG to make positive recommendation for conclusion of Greek programme review

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)

    The EuroWorking Group (EWG), that will convene on Monday in Brussels, is expected to make a positive recommendation to the Finance Ministers of the eurozone for the conclusion of the first programme review.

    After the voting of the omnibus bill in the Greek parliament, the EWG is expected to officially confirm the agreement at technical level between Greece and the institutions. According to sources, the European Commission will submit the "draft" compliance report to the EWG. The "final" compliance report will be submitted after the Eurogroup.

    The Eurogroup on Tuesday is expected to ratify the conclusion of the programme review and give the green light for the disbursement of, according to sources, 9-11 billion euro tranche.

    The economic staff of the eurozone Finance ministries are also expected to discuss Greece's debt settlement based on the proposals of the European Support Mechanism (ESM). According to sources, the measures proposed by the ESM for debt relief include, among others, the extension of the grace period for the repayment of loans, the longer loan repayment period, keeping interest rates at current low levels, and the early redemption of the IMF loan.

    [08] IMF says Greece needs significant debt restructuring, primary surplus targets unsustainable

    The International Monetary Fund on Monday said that Greece needed a significant extension of debt maturity (and grace period) combined with a freeze of interest rates. In a report on debt sustainability, the IMF said that Greece cannot sustain a primary surplus of 3.2 pct of GDP beyond 2018 and recommended that a target of 1.5 pct of GDP should be set instead, while it reiterated that a debt restructuring agreement should be completed by the end of the programme in 2018.

    The Fund's recommendations will lead to a reduction of the public debt to around 100 pct of GDP by 2060. In net present value terms, the measures recommended by the IMF would lead to a benefit of around 50 pct of GDP, of which 18-24 pct of GDP (around 31-45 billion euros) will result from a readjustment of interest rates and the remaining benefit will result from extending debt maturity. The IMF noted that without the proposed restructuring Greece's public debt will soar to 250 pct of GDP.

    The measures recommended included a reprofiling of existing loans, necessary to cut funding needs to 20 pct by 2040. In this framework, the Fund recommends an extension of repaying loans received by the EFSF (130.9 billion euros) by 14 years, another 10 years for the loans received from ESM (186 billion) and another 30 year of bilateral loans from EU countries (52.9 billion).

    The IMF also recommends extending a grace period for ESM loans by six years and a 17-20 year extension of EFSF and bilateral loans, respectively. This action would cut the funding needs by 17 pct of GDP by 2040 and by 24 pct by 2060. The Fund also recommends a reduction in the margin (0.5 pct) added on a floating interest rate in bilateral loans and introducing an 1.5 pct ceiling on interest rates for the other two types of loans by 2040. This would reduce public debt by 53 pct of GDP by 2040 and by 151 pct by 2060 and the country's funding needs by 22 pct by 2040 and 39 pct by 2060, safeguarding debt sustainability.

    The IMF significantly reduced privatization proceed targets to 5.0 billion euros.

    [09] Russian President Putin to visit Greece on May 27-28, Kremlin announces

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Greece on Friday and Saturday this week, meeting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos to discuss energy and transport projects "of mutual interest," a Kremlin announcement said on Monday.

    During these talks at the highest level, the two sides are expected to discuss key issues relating to bilateral cooperation in trade, economic affairs and investment, as well as the implementation of projects in energy and transport, the Kremlin's announcement said.

    The talks will also focus on cultural and humanitarian cooperation in the context of the cross-cultural 'Greece in Russia, Russia in Greece' year in 2016, as well as the celebration in the same year of the millenial anniversary of a Russian monastic presence on the 'Holy Mountain,' a semi-autonomous region of Orthodox monasteries on Greece's Mount Athos peninsula in Halkidiki.

    Putin is also expected to exchange views on current international and regional issues, while a number of bilateral agreements will be signed during the visit, the announcement said.

    This is Putin's first visit to an EU member-state for over a year and may coincide with a visit by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow to Greece on May 27-29 to take part in the Mount Athos celebrations, according to AFP.

    [10] Polish defence minister has meetings with President Pavlopoulos, Greek counterpart in Athens

    Poland's National Defence Minister Antoni Macierevicz was in Athens on Monday for talks with Greek officials on preparations for the upcoming NATO summit to take place in Warsaw. The first Polish minister to visit Greece since 1992, Macierevicz was received by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos and met his Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos.

    "This summit must prove that NATO remains true to the three basic principles that comprise its mission; in other words, collective defence, cooperative security and the management of crises on terms of solidarity," Pavlopoulos said as he received the Polish minister.

    In terms of the refugee issue, in particular, Pavlopoulos said that the Warsaw meeting "can and must demonstrate" that all NATO members are determined to address the problem in certain ways. Firstly, he stressed the need to end the war in Syria, which was the root cause of the refugee issue, as well as ensuring a humane treatment of refugees befitting European democracy and, thirdly, decisively tackling terrorism.

    "We must face the terrorism of ISIS without yielding in any way because the terrorists of ISIS are enemies of humanity and are committing crimes against humanity," he said.

    Pavlopoulos also expressed hope that all NATO members and Turkey will respect the obligations arising under the EU-Turkey agreement.

    Macierevicz said Poland was aware of the dangers posed by such terrorist organisations existed, including the massive refugee flows to Greece. He said that Poland had already sent a frigate that was due to arrive in the Mediterranean to assist in monitoring refugee flows and border police to assist their Greek colleagues. It had also decided to send four F-16 jets and Special Forces to Syria.

    "We consider there is a common risk that must be faced... which is important for Poland and for Greece," he added, noting that Poland was currently facing similar problems as it struggled to cope with roughly one million refugees from Ukraine.

    The pressure from Russia was increasing over time, which was why the "reinforcement of NATO's eastern borders and Greece's political support are so important for us," the Polish minister said. All members of the Alliance should respect decisions made in NATO, both for the eastern borders in Poland and the southern borders important to Greece, he noted.

    The issue of reinforcing NATO's southern borders occupied the Polish minister's meeting with Kammenos, ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw. Macierevicz said that Poland was committing its frigate to patrol migrant-trafficking routes and "reduce the pressure in the south," as well as sending Polish police and 1,000 packages of medical aid for refugees.

    He said his country was willing to host Greek armed forces troops in order to reinforce the Alliance's eastern borders. All sides were aware of Greece's role in the crucial problem caused by migrant flows and "we are determined to cooperate and assist as much as we can," he added.

    Kammenos emphasised the importance of a "360 degrees policy" centred on Greece for reinforcing the southern sector of the Alliance and cooperation of southern countries in the north of the Alliance. He also announced that work was complete on a defence cooperation agreement with Poland comprising 21 discrete sections, with provisions relating to training, joint exercises and collaboration between the defence industries in both countries. Among such potential areas of cooperation, Kammenos listed the 214 submarines managed by the Hellenic Navy and the Skaramangas shipyards, or the exchange of information within a NATO framework.

    [11] SYRIZA MP Katrivanou resigns

    SYRIZA MP Vasiliki Katrivanou announced in a letter posted on her personal Facebook account that she would resign. She called the decision very difficult but necessary because 'from September until today the existence of a continuous supervision is being confirmed something that leaves very little room for exercising policy" however, she said, "I can't think of another credible alternative and for this reason I resign."

    Katrivanou voted in favour of the government's omnibus bill in principle in parliament on Sunday but against the articles on the contingency mechanism and the new privatisation fund, causing frustration to the government and to SYRIZA party.

    [12] Alt. FM Xydakis points out danger of extreme right rise in Europe

    Alternate Foreign Minister responsible for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis on Monday pointed out the danger of extreme powers in Europe to impose their rhetoric and agenda, in his opening address of the 47th parliamentary assembly of the Organisation of Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

    Referring to the rise of the extreme right indicated by the election results in European countries, Xydakis said "what we are experiencing is the rise of the extreme right and additionally to impose its rhetoric and agenda to traditional political formations". He also added that the "we can't deal with the strong political ideological turn to the darkest periods of the history of the 21th century if we do not have a long horizon and we do not show determination".

    [13] Pittella expresses support to Greece; highlights the potential of Acheloos Valley

    The president of the Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Gianni Pittella on Monday expressed his support to Greece and particularly the development potential of Acheloos Valley.

    "Greece needs to get out of the crisis," Pittella said and stressed the importance of protecting the natural resources and cultural heritage of Acheloos Valley for a better future. As he said, such development acts will help solve the problems created by the crisis. "I am aware of the fame of that beautiful area of Greece. The entire Greece is magic. But the region of the Acheloos valley is really a pearl, a pearl to highlight the archaeological heritage, the cultural heritage, the huge environmental wealth, and the wine-gastronomic possibilities as well as its human resources," he stated.

    "With this statement, we want to express our willingness to do more and better things, to support and promote this region, to help its citizens, to promote Greece, which is in our hearts, and we must help it get out of that deep crisis, which has already lasted for so long."

    [14] Transport of refugees from Idomeni to accommodation centres to start on Tuesday, Kyritsis tells ANA-MPA

    The transport of refugees from Idomeni to the new accommodation centres will probably start on Tuesday, the refugee coordinating committee spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis said in statements to ANA-MPA.

    He estimated that all the refugees will have been transferred in the next ten days adding that it will be a smooth relocation procedure and not a police sweeping operation.

    As he said, six former industrial premises with accommodation capacity 6,500-7,000 refugees are now available. "We believe that it will take up to ten days to transfer the refugees from Idomeni and in the meantime more places will have been found," he stated.

    Financial News

    [15] Government to announce new invitations for EU funded programs

    In the next six months, the economy ministry will invite businesses to submit their projects for EU investment funds of at least half a billion euros, Deputy Minister for NSRF Issues, Alexis Charitsis, said on Monday.

    Commenting on the interest that has been expressed for the four announced business programs, Charitsis said the ministry extended the deadline for the submission of applications, following a relevant request by potential investors.

    [16] Completion of program review to end doubts about Greece's stay in Eurozone, says industry body

    The imminent completion of the Greek program review will close a large circle of uncertainty and ends any doubts about the country's stay in the euro, the president of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) Theodoros Fessas said on Monday at the opening of a tw-day industry conference in Athens.

    "With the imminent completion of the review it seems a large circle of certainty is closing, but at a very high cost and possibly for the last time," he said. "However, if we continue to try to unlock growth with the wrong key, it's natural that it will break in the end."

    He said the conclusion of the review ends any doubts about Greece's place in Europe and asked for "a new productive agreement" with everyone's participation.

    The conference is attended by former Dutch prime minister Jan Pieter Balkenende.

    [17] Egypt an 'important, strategic partner for Greece' in tourism, Kountoura says

    Greece supports Egypt as "an important, strategic partner in the tourism sector," Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said on Monday, addressing the first Greek-Egyptian forum for tourism in Cairo.

    "The forum is a firm first step of our joint efforts to bring the tourism destinations of the two countries closer," Kountoura said. In a gesture steeped in symbolism, the minister had earlier arrived for the forum in Cairo on board an EgyptAir flight, which was seen as an "active expression of solidarity from Athens" during a very difficult year for Egypt.

    The minister was accompanied by a number of Greek business people participating in the forum, noting that one of the strongest messages of the forum was that "tourism is a strong field of stability, cooperation, growth and prosperity that unites peoples and nations."

    Other speakers noted that Greece and Egypt were natural strategic partners and top global tourism destinations that would benefit from exchanging and sharing best practices and expertise in this area. One of the suggestions put forward was the development of joint packages including both countries to attract visitors from distant regions, such as the United States and Southeast Asia.

    [18] Greece-S. Korea Joint Interministerial Committee meets in Athens

    The Greece-Republic of Korea Joint Interministerial Commi-ttee convened in Athens on Monday, agreeing to a series of actions to boost bilateral economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. Deputy Foreign Minister for International Economic Relations Dimitris Mardas led the delegation on the Greek side, while his South Korean counter-part Lee Tae-ho led the delegation from Korea.

    In statements after the end of the meeting, Mardas said it had achieved its goals and "arrived at specific results, rather than general observations."

    He said the Greek side placed emphasis on promoting exports, shipping and shipyards, agriculture and promoting Greek agricultural products in the Korean market. They also discussed ways to strengthen Korea's investment presence in Greece and agreed that a Greek business delegation should visit Seoul in the last quarter of 2016.

    The two sides agreed to make their meetings more systematic and to review the progress of agreements every two years, with the Korean minister describing the talks as "productive and substantive" and noting that they should be come more frequent going forward.

    He said Korean businesses were keen to invest in the transport sector, combined with the ICT and technology sectors and that such cooperation could be "mutually fruitful".

    At the conclusion of the press conference, the two sides signed a document outlining the chapters of the agreement reached at the Joint Interministerial Committee on a series of sectors, that also included energy and the environment, tourism, transport networks and a Greece-S. Korea air link.

    [19] National Bank, Israeli embassy to launch guidance programme for Greek start ups

    National Bank and the embassy of Israel in Greece will launch a new guidance programme for Greek businessmen by Israeli experts in May 25. The programme will be launched by National Bank's management and the Israeli Ambassador Irit Ben Abba.

    The programme, which is expected to officially begin in June 1, is a partnership between National Bank of Greece and IATI (the association of Israel Advanced Technology Industries), the largest umbrella organization in the sectors of high technology and life science, representing investment capital, start ups, Israeli and foreign banks, multinationals, etc. The partnership agreement was reached with the active support of the embassy of Israel in Athens.

    IATI is actively seeking to forge partnerships in Greece by offering know-how and guidance to new startuppers and it is part of a series of initiatives aimed to boost Greek-Israeli partnership in innovation and start up business in the framework of memorandum of understanding signed by the Prime Ministers of the two countries in January.

    [20] Fraport Greece welcomes ratification of contracts for 14 regional airports

    Fraport Greece on Monday welcomed the ratification by the Greek Parliement of contracts for the concession of 14 regional airports and said this was one of the biggest investments in Greece.

    Alexander Zinell, Fraport Greece's CEO, in a statement said: "Our commitment is that this project to be mutually beneficiary both to Greece and its citizens, the tourism industry and the economy and to tourists around the world and to those using the 14 regional airports in general. A successful ratification sends a strong message to the global market: Greece is looking forward, creating a new dynamic environment for investments in the country. They can now move forward rapidly to implementing the project. Fraport Greece has already begun preparatory work in the planning of the 14 regional airports. We all together work to complete this project".

    "Our presence in Greece will act as a catalyst for the development of a significant sector for the country, such as tourism. In several cases, many airports worldwide have operated as engines for local economies. This is our target for Greek regional airports. Positive response we receive from company executives and other related agencies shows that we move in the right direction," Zinell said.

    [21] Travel receipts down 0.1 pct in Q1, BoG report

    The balance of travel services showed a surplus of 62 million euros in March 2016, compared with a surplus of 64 million in March 2015, the Bank of Greece on Monday. The central bank, in a monthly report on provisional travel receipts data said that, travel receipts rose by 8.2 pct to 221 million euros in March 2016, from 204 million in the same month of 2015. Travel payments also increased, by 13.7 pct (March 2016: 159 million, March 2015: 139 million euros). Higher travel receipts resulted from an increase of 2.5 pct in arrivals and a rise of 5.6 pct in average expenditure per trip. Net receipts from travel services offset 4.1 pct of the goods deficit and accounted for 18.1 pct of total net receipts from services.

    In the January-March 2016 period, the balance of travel services showed a surplus of 90 million euros, up 13.7 pct from a surplus of 80 million in the same period of 2015. This development is attributed to a larger fall in travel payments (down 12 million or 2.6 pct) than in travel receipts (down 1 million or 0.1 pct). Slightly lower travel receipts were mainly due to a decrease of 6.2 pct in arrivals, as average expenditure per trip rose by 6.5 pct. Net receipts from travel services offset 2.2 pct of the goods deficit and accounted for 12.4 pct of total net receipts from services.

    In March 2016, as mentioned previously, travel receipts rose by 8.2 pct year-on-year. Looking at the breakdown by visitor's country of origin, receipts from residents of the EU28 increased by 7.2 pct (March 2016: 110 million euros, March 2015: 103 million) and those from outside the EU28 by 9.5 pct (March 2016: 104 million, March 2015: 95 million). Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany fell by 15.2 pct to 19 million euros, while those from France increased by 27.9 pct to 7 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also increased, by 40.0 pct to 25 million euros. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia rose by 179.5 pct to 8 million and those from the United States increased by 18.8 pct to 24 million.

    In January-March 2016, travel receipts fell slightly by 0.1 pct year-on-year to 515 million euros. This development is attributed to lower receipts from within the EU28 (down 5.4 pct to 258 million), as receipts from outside the EU28 rose by 6.0 pct to 247 million euros. Specifically, receipts from Germany rose by 0.4 pct to 50 million and those from France by 1.1 pct to 14 million euros. Receipts from the United Kingdom also increased, by 5.5 pct to 49 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia increased by 44.0 pct to 12 million and those from the United States rose by 28.6 pct to 40 million euros.

    The number of inbound visitors in March 2016 rose by 2.5 pct year-on-year to 629,000. In January-March 2016, the number of inbound visitors decreased by 6.2 pct to 1,621 thousand.

    [22] Concession contract for sale of Thessaloniki port posted online

    Greece's privatization fund (HRADF) posted on its electronic platform on Monday the concession contract to privatise and upgrade facilities at Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH), the country's second-biggest port.

    According to sources from HRADF, the procedure is proceeding as planned and according to the timetable, with the binding bids expected at the end of September. The same sources said potential buyers will commit to investments totaling 220 million euros.

    Investors will be able to submit questions in the data room and later submit their comments.

    [23] Wholesale turnover index down 4.5 pct in Q1

    Wholesale turnover index fell 4.5 pct in the first quarter of 2016, compared with the same period last year and was down 8.0 pct compared with the fourth quarter of 2015, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the seasonally-adjusted index was down 1.3 pct in the first three months of 2016 compared with the same period last year.

    [24] Greek stocks rise to new 2016 highs

    Expectations for positive developments in Tuesday' s Eurogroup meeting, after the Greek Parliament approved a package of prior actions, led Greek stocks to new 2016 highs, ignoring a negative climate prevailing in other European markets. Bank shares were at the focus of buying activity. Sentiment was also boosted by a decline in 10-year benchmark bond yields to six-month lows.

    The composite index of the market rose 1.50 pct to end at 649.10 points, the highest closing since November 27, 2015. The Large Cap index jumped 1.92 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.57 pct higher. Turnover was a strong 170.296 million euros in volume of 301,831,762.

    National Bank (6.80 pct), Eurobank (6.36 pct) and Alpha Bank (4.31 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Jumbo (3.0 pct), Ellaktor (1.46 pct) and Grivalia Properties (1.09 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Among market sectors, Health (5.20 pct), Banks (5.04 pct) and Financial Services (3.04 pct) scored big gains, while Personal Products (2.63 pct), Insurance (1.50 pct) and Telecoms (0.84 pct) suffered losses. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 55 to 42 with another 25 issues unchanged. Forthnet (19.82 pct), Pegasus (18.56 pct) and ANEK (12.36 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (18.87 pct), Attica Publications (11.76 pct) and Kloukinas-Lappas (10 pct) were top losers.

    [25] Greek bond market closing report

    A euphoric climate prevailed in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, the day after the Greek Parliament approved a package of measures paving the way for completion of a review of the Greek programme and the disbursement of an 11-bln-euro loan instalment, of which 7.2 billion earmarked for the repayment of debt and the remaining 3.8 billion for the repayment of state overdue debt to the private sector (totaling 7.0 billion euros).

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 7.14 pct on Monday, from 7.38 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 7.32 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.18 pct. The 10-year bond yield fell to 7.21 pct in intraday trading, the lowest level in six months, while the three-year bond yield eased to 7.16 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate fell to -0.012 pct from -0.011 pct, the nine-month rate eased to -0.080 pct from -0.079 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.

    [26] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.18 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,646 contracts with 29,458 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 72,041 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (33,654), followed by Alpha Bank (7,556), Piraeus Bank (21,264), Eurobank (5,638), MIG (5,748), OTE (264), PPC (930), OPAP (569), Hellenic Exchanges (119), Mytilineos (172), Hellenic Petroleum (575), Athens Water (115), GEK (181), Jumbo (113) and Viohalco (72).

    General News

    [27] Thessaloniki Port employees protest against privatisation

    The employees of the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH) protested on Monday against the arrival of executives from APM Terminals, owned by Maersk group.

    APM Terminals operates a Global Terminal Network of 72 operating port and terminal facilities and has expressed its interest in the sale of OLTH.

    "We are protesting in order to show prospective buyers that we are here and we object vehemently to the sale of 51 pct + 16 pct of OLTH," the head of the Association of Administrative Employees of Thessaloniki Port Authority, Fanny Gourgouri, said in statements to ANA-MPA.

    Meanwhile, the employees have announced 48-hour repeated strikes as of Thursday, May 26.

    [28] Second panels appeal in Lesvos stops deportation of three Syrians

    Three Syrian nationals whose asylum applications were initially rejected and were detained in Lesvos until deportation were vindicated in the second appeals panel, the lawyer who handled their case told ANA-MPA on Monday.

    The members of the panel rejected the first rulings that considered Turkey as a safe third country for the applicants, said Stratis Skoundianellis from the Greek Council of Refugees.

    This means the specific cases will be referred back to the competent Greek authorities for consideration on their merits. However, all three positive decisions remain undelivered, Skoundianellis said, although "there is no reason for this delay in delivery."

    [29] Athens lawyers extend abstinence from court until May 30

    The governing board of the Athens Bar Association announce on Monday lawyers will continue to abstain from court appearances until May 30, as a protest to the social security and pension reform reforms passed by parliament on Sunday.

    Lawyers in the rest of the country are abstaining until Tuesday and their unions are expected to meet again to decide on further action.

    Weather forecast

    [30] Partly cloudy on Tuesday

    Partly cloudy and southerly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds with a chance of rain in the northern and western parts of the country and temperatures ranging from 10C-26C. Scattered clouds in the eastern parts and temperatures between 10C-28C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 16C-25C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 14C-27C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 11C-25C.

    [31] 54,185 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Monday

    54,185 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Friday including 50 persons that arrived on the Greek islands in the last 24 hours.

    According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 28,726 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 8,424 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,538 are hosted in the region of Attica, 8,507 on the Greek islands and 2,414 are hosted in different areas in central and southern Greece.

    [32] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies

    at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: 99 years slaves.

    ETHNOS: The last-minute winners and losers.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: It is raining taxes and Tsipras (Alexis, prime minister) reiterates that...there is enough money!

    ESTIA: They have created a parallel state.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: 2+1 changes after strong pressure.

    TA NEA: SYRIZA-ANEL parliamentary majority enters into a difficult period.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Painful measures, government's announcements remained just words.

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