|Saturday, 23 July 2016|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-07-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 22 July 2016 Issue No: 5212
 Parliament passes bill for simple proportional representation in principleThe draft bill for changing election law, introducing simple proportional representation of the political parties in Parliament, was passed in principle by the Greek Parliament plenum in the early hours of Friday morning.
Votes in favour were given by the ruling coalition parties SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL), and by the Centrists' Union. Votes against were cast by main opposition New Democracy, the Democratic Alliance and Potami. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) abstained, voting 'present', while far-right Golden Dawn did not take part in the vote.
The vote on the individual articles is now underway.
 'We are determined to build a future free from the baggage of the past,' Tsipras tells Parliament"We are determined to build a future free from the baggage of the past, to leave our own stamp," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in Parliament on Thursday, wrapping up a three-day debate before the plenum on the government's proposals for changing election law.
Tsipras noted that this was a significant day, since it was the first time that an election law tabled by the ruling majority goes beyond the ends that the ruling majority hopes for.
The prime minister defended proposals for lowering the voting age to 17, noting that this would give young people an incentive not to give in to depoliticisation but take their lives in their own hands.
He also noted that an initiative to establish legality in the television landscape was proceeding, despite the obstacles and reactions of the establishment.
"A part of your extreme behaviour may be due to the great nervousness displayed these days by these circles," Tsipras said, addressing main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Replying to Mitsotakis, meanwhile, Tsipras wondered how he was so sure he would find the 200 votes needed to abolish the new election law, once he was in power. "Will you work with Golden Dawn?" the prime minister asked.
Talking about the revision of the Constitution, the prime minister said that its aim was to protect democratic rights, protect public goods, protect the quality of the vote, enhance democratic participation and strengthen Parliament.
It was time to realise that a political cycle that began in 1974, with a two-party system, was ending, with Greece and Europe entering a new period, Tsipras said.
"Parties of 40 pct do not exist today. From the barren two-party system of the past we can pass to a fertile bipolarity with cooperation governments," he said.
Again addressing the main opposition leader, Tsipras accused Mitsotakis of making every effort to prevent the tender for television licences from going ahead and "adopting the demands of intertwined interests" for elections once a decision to set the process underway was made, so that "we might go and they might escape."
"You can be sure that neither will we go, nor will they get away with it. We will be here until 2019 and after 2019 with the people's vote," Tsipras said, while he also stressed that the Siemens trial will take place and a court ruling will be issued.
 Greece a 'pillar of stability' in a fragile region, Lew and Tsipras agree in Athens; Debt relief for Greece a necessity, Lew saysMeeting in Athens on Thursday, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and visiting U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew agreed on the necessity of significant debt relief for Greece and on its role as an inseparable part of the European Union.
In a brief dialogue before television cameras as Lew arrived at the Maximos Mansion for the start of the meeting with Tsipras, they also noted Greece's role as a pillar of stability in the surrounding, fragile region.
It was important that a commitment in principle to restructure Greece's debt should "now become an actual policy," Lew said, since this would act to create certainty that "we are going forward."
The fact that Greece remained a part of Europe was both geopolitically and economically important, Lew noted, adding that this was something that he always believed.
Tsipras also highlighted Greece's geopolitical significance at a "troubled time for the region" and "a period of deep instability."
"Now, more than ever, we need solidarity from our partners and now is the appropriate time to send the right messages to investors, to the markets, with substantial and solid measures to significantly relieve the debt, in order to support the economy and enhance Greece's role as a pillar of stability in a fragile surrounding region," he stressed.
Tsipras pointed out that Greece, in spite being at the centre of two parallel crises, the refugee and debt crisis, remained a pillar of stability and security, highlighting the deep irresponsibility of views adopted by some of its EU partners the previous year. The government's own determination and decision to keep Greece in the Eurozone, by contrast, was now shown to have been responsible, he said.
"It was responsible for our people, for our country, for Europe and for the wider region," Tsipras said, noting that the government had made difficult decisions, implemented tough but necessary reforms with determination, stabilised Greece's economy, ensuring the sustainability of its pension system, reforming public administration and fighting corruption and tax evasion with signficant results.
During the meeting, Lew congratulated Tsipras on the extensive and difficult work done and the progress made over the last year, though noting that "more work needs to be done and it is important that Greece continue to implement the reforms that you described and makes progress in areas such as privatisations."
Lew said he was looking forward to a discussion with Tsipras on the challenges facing Greece and to working together.
Posting on his twitter account regarding the meeting with Lew, Tsipras commented that "In spite of the crisis it has faced, Greece remains a pillar of security and stability in the region at a time of instability," and added a second tweet stressing the need to reinforce Greece's role.
 Lew says U.S. will push for Greek debt deal before Obama steps down, sources sayThe United States intends to take a leading role on the issue of Greece's debt and aims for a deal to reduce the debt before the Obama administration has ended, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during the meeting in Athens on Thursday, according to sources.
Citing U.S. President Barack Obama, Lew noted that the Greek economic programme was not an end in itself and that its goal was to bring about economic growth and prosperity for the Greek people, the same sources said.
There is recognition and respect for the efforts of the Greek government and the Greek people to put the country and the economy onto a path of growth, Lew said, and the U.S. have for at least a year pointed out the great economic and geopolitical importance of Greece as a member of the European Union.
Under the current conditions, with developments in Turkey and the uncertainty caused by Brexit, the need for stability and growth in Greece was made even clearer, Lew was reported as saying.
The discussion covered possible areas of cooperation between Greece and the United States, with emphasis on stamping out tax evasion and prosecuting cross-border tax cases. Athens raised the issue of cooperation on the UBS case and asked for the assistance of the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI in order to investigate cases linked to UBS and related to tax evasion cases in Greece.
 U.S. Treasury retweets PM's posts about meeting with Secretary LewThe U.S. Treasury Department official twitter account on Thursday retweeted two posts made by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras about his meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in Athens, in what was seen as an indication of the positive atmosphere during the meeting and agreement on the need for significant debt relief for Greece.
The prime minister's tweets are given below:
"Meeting in Athens with @USTreasury Secretary Mr. Jacob Lew. We agreed on the necessity of significant debt relief for Greece in order (1/2)
to support the economy and to reinforce Greece's role as a pillar of stability in a fragile surrounding region.http://bit.ly/29W1xlF (2/2)"
 Greek debt must be rendered sustainable, US Treasury Secretary Lew saysUS Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday asked for a stable and permanent solution for the sustainability of the Greek debt to help attract long-term investments.
In a meeting with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Lew did not refer to any details on how debt can be reduced or whether primary surplus targets must be cut as of 2019. On primary surpluses, he said "the issue of the targets must be solved between Greece and its partners."
He stressed, however, the importance of a realistic plan and targets that can be met. In an environment with high debt and surpluses, it is difficult to achieve debt sustainability, Lew noted adding that debt restructuring is the "key".
The US Treasury Secretary said that that there are a lot of ways to achieve sustainable debt and a lot of different policies, but they must all end up to the long-term sustainability of the debt. As he said, the repayment of the debt must be compatible with each country's fiscal condition. "At the end of the course, Greece should be able to repay its debt and achieve growth rates," he stated.
He also said that he is in favour of the IMF participation in the Greek programme as it "brings perspective and it is also a very important partner although the relation causes tension."
Before the discussion on debt, Greece should continue the implementation of those agreed with the institutions, he said and referred specifically to the privatisations, the opening the goods and services markets and the "bad" loans.
He underlined that the significant progress in the negotiations with the institutions will greatly affect the measures to be taken on debt adding that "I urge all sides to be flexible so that the negotiations are successful. We need to get out of the vicious cycle of negotiations related to the crisis."
Lew praised the government for the implementation of the reforms (which he described important as Greece needed to build from the beginning the foundations for a strong country), the progress achieved and the signs that the economy is exiting recession and is heading towards growth. He also referred to Greece's important geostrategic position.
On his part, Tsakalotos thanked Lew on his efforts to help Greece in order solutions to be found. "We also discussed several issues regarding the Greek programme, the difficulties and the opportunities of the Greek economy, the impact of the Brexit and the developments in our neighboring country," he added.
 'Today, simple proportional representation becomes a law of the state,' PM tweetsIn a tweet posted ahead of his speech in Parliament on Thursday night, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras noted that "A sustainable exit from the crisis will not be achieved without the democratic reform of the political system."
"Today, simple proportional representation becomes a law of the state," he added.
 Proposed election law will make forming a government impossible, ND's Mitsotakis tells ParliamentStrongly criticising the government's proposals for amending election law, main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday said they would lead to an inability to form a government, while he accused the government of "petty political manoeuvring" and "political amoralism".
"You are heading toward a crushing defeat in the next elections and that is why you want to deprive ND of power," Mitsotakis said, as the debate before the plenum on the draft election law neared its close.
"They want ungovernability and are playing games with the institutions because they know that whenever elections are held they will be roundly defeated. They are trying to keep access to power even from a minority position," he added.
The election law will never come into force because it will find an alliance of political forces ranged against it that will cancel the plan to prevent governance in the next Parliament, ND's leader said.
"We need truth and confidence, leadership, a plan and vision, in order to leave the crisis and the memorandum behind us and give hope and prospects. Power is not an end in itself, it is a means to achieving these aims," he said, noting that ND is in favour of "reinforced" proportional representation that ensures governability.
 Far-right Golden Dawn walks out of debate on election lawFar right Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Mihaloliakos on Thursday said his party could not possibly support the government proposals for amending election law, before walking out and taking his entire parliamentary group with him.
"We will not take part in this oriental haggling, we will not be anyone's tail," Mihaloliakos said in his address to the plenum, during the final day of a three-day debate that culminates in a vote at midnight.
 PASOK's Gennimata says Democratic Alliance will 'not be anyone's crutch'Those hoping for alibis and "useful idiots" should not look toward the Democratic Alliance, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata stressed in Parliament on Thursday, during the debate on proposed changes to election law.
She slammed both the ruling coalition and main opposition New Democracy for their failure to back the Democratic Alliance's own proposal for a system of simple proportional representation and said her party would not act as anyone's crutch and that "the looting of the Democratic Alliance is over!"
Gennimata said her party's position was clear and called for strong governments of broad political cooperation between all pro-European forces that will serve a "clearcut National Line of exit from the crisis".
"Our comprehensive proposal is an act of responsibility that offers the possibility of a strong government with a true popular majority, able to implement the national line for an exit from the crisis that the country needs. A proposal without 'tricks', opportunism and petty political games, such as those unfolding today from SYRIZA and New Democracy," she said.
 KKE to support vote at 17, abolition of bonus but not 3 pct minimum, Koutsoumbas saysCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Thursday accused the government of using the election law in order to distract public opinion from the upcoming changes to labour laws, which would radical changes and further squeeze the working class strata.
He noted that the aim of the proposed changes was to "ensure the smooth governmental alternation and create conditions for even greater consensus in the political system...so that anti-popular restructuring can proceed more easily and quickly."
Koutsoumbas ended by saying that KKE will vote in favour of articles abolishing the first-party bonus of 50 seats and that giving the vote at 17 but will vote against the article that keeps the 3 pct national vote minimum needed for a party to get a seat in Parliament, asking Parliament to vote in favour of a KKE amendment that abolishes this.
 Potami will not back proposed changes to election law, Theodorakis saysThe government's plans did not founder because of Golden Dawn but because of Potami's steadfast stance and its refusal to back the government's proposal, Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis said in Parliament on Thursday.
"Even if Golden Dawn had not abandoned the 'yes' camp, the result would have been 197 'yes' and 103 'no'. You were defeated," he said, addressing the plenum in the last day of the debate on abolishing the 50-seat bonus for the first party in the elections and moving toward simple proportional representation.
Theodorakis again reiterated that his party would refuse to back the government's proposals, stressing that the country did not need simple proportional representation during its time of crisis. He also strongly criticised the government for not giving a vote to Greeks forced to emigrate abroad.
Theodorakis accused Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for failing to make good on promises to discuss election law before the September 2015 elections, made during the party leaders' councils chaired by the president but instead calling surprise elections with the 50-seat bonus system.
Potami's leader also attacked main opposition New Democracy, however, pointing out that ND had not presented its own position on the 50-seat bonus.
"Will you bring it back?...Because we had the outrageous [phenomenon] of ND with 19 pct getting 108 seats in May 2012. Is that your model?" he asked.
 ANEL leader backs government bill on election lawSimple proportional representation is the only way to the citizens the right to choose the party and the MP that will represent them in the Greek Parliament, Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos said in Parliament on Thursday.
The head of the junior partner in Greece's coalition government, Kammenos urged all MPs to support simple proportional representation, the abolition of the 50-seat bonus for the first party and a vote to 17-year-olds. The issue of giving the vote to Greeks living abroad could be discussed later, he added, while noting that ANEL's position was in favour of abolishing the state deputy ticket.
 Greece needs coalition not single-party governments, Centrists' Union chief Vassilis Leventis saysGreece needs coalition and not single-party governments, the head of the Centrists' Union party Vassilis Leventis said on Thursday, addressing the Parliament plenum during the last day of a debate on amending election law toward a system closer to simple proportional representation.
He attack main opposition New Democracy but especially the PASOK party for their refusal to support the proposed law, noting that PASOK's leader Fofi Gennimata was setting aside principles supported by her party.
Simple proportional representation would not lead to an inability to govern the country, Leventis insisted, and pointing out that Greece's current economic woes were the work of single-party governments. It would be a "historic stigma" for the PASOK and Potami parties if they failed to vote in favour of a shift toward simple proportional representation, he said.
 Simple proportional representation will be a law of the state from tonight, Gerovasili tells 'Parapolitika' radioWhen the changes to election law are passed in Parliament later on Thursday night, simple proportional representation will henceforth be a law of the state, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said on the radio station 'Parapolitika 90.1 FM'. She rejected suggestions that this would be a "pyrrhic" victory, following the government's failure to secure the 200 votes needed to make the new system apply in the next elections.
The result could not be considered a government failure, she pointed out, especially when it was passed by a much greater majority than the 153 MPs supporting the ruling coalition.
"It had, of course, been our intention to open the way for a progressive reform and we had believed that would be possible given the positions of principle expressed by the other parties of the opposition," she said, referring especially to PASOK and its recent positions in favour of simple proportional representation, without the 50-seat bonus for the first party.
While the Potami party had come out in favour of a bonus from the start, "what is happening today is a major retreat for a political formation that wants to belong to the progressive orientation," she added about PASOK, noting that the party appeared to be "lashed to New Democracy's chariot".
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will announce the main directions for revising the constitution on Monday, opening up the debate on this issue, Gerovasili said.
Commenting on a call by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for an agreement on debt relief for Greece, the spokeswoman agreed that Lew was helping take the discussion forward and agreed that a restructuring of the debt was now more crucial than ever, given the destabilisation in region. There were now also voices in European countries and from institutional factors that saw a need for debt restructuring, she added.
Regarding the eight Turkish military officers that landed in Alexandroupolis, Gerovasili said the government's position had been steadfast from the start. While Turkey's demand for their extradition was understandable, "the Greek side will obviously follow all the procedures foreseen under Greek and international law," she said.
"The decisions will be taken by the Asylum Commission and by the judges, both in the discussion about extradition and the discussion about deportation due to illegal entry into the country," Gerovasili added. "All this will be considered together by the judges, primarily. On our side, we can also talk politically, of course..." she said.
She noted that relations with Turkey were very important for Greece, especially now when the two countries and the EU were implementing the agreement on the refugee and migrant crisis, during crucial and very sensitive times.
 Eight from Turkey found guilty of illegally entering Greece, given suspended sentencesAn Alexandroupolis court on Thursday handed down suspended sentences for the eight Turkish military officers that crossed the border into Greece on the night of a failed coup attempt in Turkey, after finding them guilty of entering Greece illegally.
The eight were each given a two-month sentence suspended for three years, with the court admitting lack of malice on their part as a mitigating factor.
They were acquitted of the second charge of carrying out an illegal flight.
After the trial, the eight were returned to police jails where they will be held. Current laws give Greek authorities the right to detain them, as they lack the necessary documents that would allow them to move freely in the country.
In their replies to questions put by the court, the eight said they had received orders from the ranking officer on duty on Friday night to go their unit in Istanbul in order to transport injured soldiers to specific parts of the city, without knowing how their injuries were incurred and even though some of them were off duty at the time.
Of the three helicopters, only one was able to airlift the injured as they came under attack and the other two abandoned the effort after they were fired upon, without knowing whether the fire was from police or civilians. They said the attacks were the reason why they decided to all board a single helicopter that they used to land in Alexandroupolis airport.
They had earlier waited at the military facility near Istanbul where they had taken the injured until the early hours of Saturday morning, without being able to communicate with their superiors, and had left when the building again came under fire. Fearing arrest and mistreatment along the lines of what they had seen on the internet, they then decided to flee to Greece to seek political asylum.
They admitted that the May Day they sent out in Greek territory was a ruse so they would be allowed to land but denied that Greece was a "choice of necessity," saying they had enough fuel to reach either Bulgaria or Romania.
The eight officers, six pilots and three technicians, formed the crew of a total of three helicopters. In a statement read out after the trial by one of their defence lawyers, they denied any involvement in the attempted coup, saying they were officers of the Turkish army "and proud of this."
"We served with self-denial all these years and we love our country. We are grieved by the situation that prevails in Turkey," they added, while their lawyer relayed their appeal to non-governmental organisations for support and assistance.
 Armed forces, coast guard increase surveillance of border with TurkeyGreece's armed forces and coast guard have stepped up surveillance along the border with Turkey in order to avert or minimise the chances that Turkish nationals involved in a failed Turkish coup will enter Greek territory, Greek authorities announced on Thursday.
The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) has an active role in the heightened surveillance effort, assisted by Army Aviation units stationed on island of the Aegean - which also have thermal cameras to detect persons at sea - for this purpose.
The measures include more frequent patrols by units of the Hellenic Navy fleet, while the armed forces activities are taking place in cooperation and collaboration with the coast guard.
In response to questions about the Turkish prime minister's aircraft and whether this had an escort the previous Friday, an HAF source noted that the Greek side had seen only one aircraft.
 Parliament passes bill on armed forces issuesA bill regulating matters concerning the armed forces was passed by the Parliament plenum on Thursday, after the defence ministry leadership agreed to several improvements and amendments submitted by MPs. Many of the articles in the bill were passed with broad support from opposition parties, except Golden Dawn that voted against all the articles.
Ruling coalition parties SYRIZA and ANEL, as well as the Democratic Alliance and Centists' Union voted for the bill in principle, while main opposition New Democracy, Golden Dawn and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against and Potami abstained by voting 'present'.
 Amendment to restore high fines for failing to issue receipts, VAT-linked 'inaccuracies'An amendment tabled by the finance ministry on Thursday, attached to the draft bill on modifying the customs code, will restore the high fines that applied up to October 2015 for the failure to issue receipts or for entering inaccurate information regarding transactions on which there are VAT charges.
Under the amendments, the fines will still amount to 50 pct of the VAT that is due for each receipt or invoice but cannot be less than 250 euros for businesses required to keep simple accounts books and 500 euros for businesses that are required to have double-entry bookkeeping accounts. The fines will be doubled if the same firm is commits the same offence a second time within five years and quadrupled for subsequent offences.
The debate on the draft bill will begin before the plenum next week and the law will go into effect from July 25.
 Economy Minister Stathakis to visit EBRD offices in London on FridayEconomy Minister George Stathakis will visit the offices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London on Friday to discuss the prospects of the EBRD's involvement in the financing of SMEs with bank executives. The minister will be briefed on the EBRD's upcoming plans in Greece, while there will also be a ceremony for the signature of the Amendment to the Greek Technical Cooperation Agreement.
The minister will also attend the signature of the EBRD's contracts with Eurobank and Alpha Bank.
 57,193 identified migrants and refugees in Greece on Thursday57,193 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Thursday while 53 new arrivals were reported in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 23,186 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 10,204 are hosted in the region of Attica, and 252 in southern Greece. 6,874 refugees and migrants are hosted in several facilities rented by the UNHCR, and 1,600 persons are living outside organised facilities.
 Greek, Cypriot education ministers discuss ways to facilitate Cypriots wanting to study in GreeceEducation Minister Nikos Filis and Alternate Education Minister Sia Anagnostopoulou on Thursday had a meeting with Cyprus Education and Culture Minister Costas Kadis in the Greek Parliament, for talks on assisting the large numbers of Cypriot students now studying in the United Kingdom to deal with the possible repercussions of Brexit.
The ministers discussed ways to facilitate Cypriot students wanting to study at Greek universities, such as their rights to transfer from one university to another or their right to enroll as either expatriates or EU students, or their right to scholarships in Greece.
There are currently some 10,000 Cypriots studying at universities in the UK, for both cultural and financial reasons, who may find themselves faced by financial obstacles as a result of Britain's decision to leave the EU.
 Court rejects Tsochatzopoulos' early release requestThe five-member Court of Appeal for Felonies on Thursday unanimously rejected a request for early release filed by former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who has been imprisoned for bribery charges related to a submarine programme.
The request was tabled on Wednesday by Tsochatzopoulos' lawyer. In his request the former minister had cited his advanced age as well as health issues.
A prosecutor told the court that Tsochatzopoulos may commit new money laundering activities if released.
 ECB cuts ELA ceiling for Greek banks to 57.2 bln eurosThe Governing Council of the European Central Bank on Thursday approved a request by the Bank of Greece to reduce the ELA ceiling for Greek banks to 57.2 billion euros, up to and including Thursday, 8 September 2016. The reduction of 1.4 billion euros in the ceiling reflects an improvement of the liquidity situation of Greek banks, amid a reduction of uncertainty and the stabilisation of private sector deposits flows.
 Greek current account deficit down in Jan-MayGreek current account balance recorded a deficit of 3.5 billion euros in the January-May period, down 884 million from the same period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said this development reflected an improvement in the balances of primary and secondary income, while the balance of goods and services deteriorated slightly. The balance of goods recorded an 1.2 billion euros improvement in the five-month period, reflecting an improvement in the balance of fuel (as a result of a decline in oil prices). Exports of goods, excluding fuel and vessels, and imports recorded minor changes, with exports of goods -excluding fuel in fixed prices- rising by 1.1 pct in the January-May period.
The services surplus shrank by 1.3 billion euros in the five-month period as net transport income fell significantly. Net income from travel services also fell reflecting an 1.3 pct decline tourist arrivals in the country, while income fell 6.2 pct in the same period.
Primary income balance recorded a surplus of 1.0 billion euros, up 715 million from the same period last year helped by a decline in net payments on interest, dividends and earnings and salaries. The current account and capital balance recorded a deficit of 42.8 billion euros, down 1.1 billion from the same period in 2015, while the financial transactions balance recorded an increase in foreign direct investments of 545 million euros.
 Greece to apply to participate in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank capitalGreece will apply to participate in the share capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Government Council on Economic Policy decided on Thursday, in a meeting chaired by government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis.
In a press release, Dragasakis' office said the decision was part of the government's "general strategy to develop collaboration with international collective investment institutions, with the aim of security financing for high-added value investment plans."
Greece's official request to participate in the AIIB will be submitted by the finance ministry in August, with Prof. Panagiotis Roumeliotis acting as the negotiator and representative of the Greek side, the press release said.
Nearly all Asian countries and 17 European countries, as well as states on other continents, participate in the AIIB, which is empowered to finance projects in the region of Asia or projects on other continents that help link them with Asia. It will be able to finance projects by Greek companies in the Middle East, China and the rest of Asia, as well as projects in Greece carried out by companies based in Asian countries.
 Ryanair announces new direct flight from Birmingham to Chania, Crete from 2017Ryanair on Thursday announced plans to add a direct flight from Birmingham to Chania on Crete to the summer schedule for 2017, to begin flying on March 28. The airline will launch the new route by offering low-cost fares starting from 35 euros for travel in April and May 2017, which will be available for booking until midnight on Tuesday, July 26.
 HFSF launches process to find new CEOThe Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) on Thursday launched procedures for the expression of interest to appoint a new CEO to fill a vacant position in the Fund. A Selection Panel will select and propose a shortlist of candidates to the Minister of Finance who will appoint the Chief Executive Officer. The term of the appointment will not exceed the 30th June 2020. The closing day for applications will be August 25, 2016.
According to an announcement, candidates should meet the following criteria and conditions:
-Education: University degree, ideally in Finance, Management or Economics.
-Languages: Excellent command of English, fluent Greek will be considered a very valuable asset.
-Field of Expertise: The CEO shall be selected among persons possessing several years of professional experience with a proven record of achievement in the financial sector, broad vision of business issues, successful track record working as a CEO or C-Suite executive at a relevant financial company or institution. Exposure and experience in an international environment and exposure to audit, legal and regulatory matters will be considered advantages.
-Candidates must also possess a history of making good business decisions and being exposed to best practices; have a track record and involvement in a multi-faceted, highly complex and high pressure situations; have experience in complex business situations, involving corporate restructuring and management realignment, as well as experience dealing with the issues and concerns of investors. Strong managerial skills, high-level negotiation skills and unquestionable business ethics are required.
-Proved independence from institutions, systemic banks, government, and bank borrowers is a pre-requisite. Prior experience with an organisation that is known for its impeccable ethics and integrity, above-average success record and a culture that has attracted, energised and retained top talent will be considered a valuable asset.
-The CEO will be appointed subject to the absence of any personal or legal conflicts and restrictions, as described in the articles 4 and 16b of Law 3864/2010. Applicants will be invited to confirm their compliance with the above and upon appointment to submit a formal declaration.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased slightly to 8.0002 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 8.15 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.05 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.003 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month rate rose to -0.055 pct from -0.061 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.125 pct from -0.124 pct, the six-month rate was -0.194 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.302 pct from -0.301 pct and the one-month rate was -0.376 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe August contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.12 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,136 contracts with 5,472 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,340 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (9,283), followed by Alpha Bank (4,772), Piraeus Bank (9,145), Eurobank (3,980), MIG (370), OTE (172), PPC (243), OPAP (85), Hellenic Petroleum (76), Mytilineos (45), Titan (28), Motor Oil (61) and GEK (18).
 Greek stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks eased slightly in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, ending a two-day rally which pushed the composite index of the market 2.61 pct higher. The index fell 0.19 pct to end at 568.65 points, off the day's lows of 566.14 points. The Large Cap index eased 0.43 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.31 pct higher. Turnover was a thin 37.655 million euros, of which 11.6 million were block trades, in volume of 60,244,966 shares.
Hellenic Petroleum (1.59 pct), PPC (1.45 pct), Athens Water (1.24 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (2.96 pct), Alpha Bank (2.27 pct) and Ellaktor (1.45 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Among market sectors, Utilities (0.83 pct) and Oil (0.65 pct) scored big gains, while Telecoms (1.29 pct) and Banks (1.27 pct) suffered losses. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 48 to 44 with another 18 issues unchanged. Pegasus (19.63 pct), Sato (19.35 pct) and Newsphone (9.78 pct) were top gainers, while Dionic (19.23 pct), Sfakianakis (18.18 pct) and Audiovisual (18.0 pct) were top losers.
 "Speak Athenian. Be an Athenian." "Lunchphoria"The awarded campaign "Speak Athenian. Be an Athenian" aiming to promote Athens and its dynamics as a city break destination turns page and is dedicated to Greek cuisine under the title "Lunchphoria."
Greek chef, award-winning cookbook author and passionate pioneer of healthy Greek cuisine, Diane Kochilas, will take passengers and visitors on a journey "Beyond Tzatziki" at a special event at the Athens International Airport.
The "Beyond Tzatziki" event will take place on Thursday, July 21, from 1 to 3 pm (Departures, Entrance 4, "Aegean Lounge", admission free) and Friday, July 22, from 11 to 12 noon (Departures, Shopping Centre Airport, admission free).
The campaign "Speak Athenian. Be an Athenian" is organized by the Athens International Airport and Marketing Greece with the view to revealing the unique match of the city's diverse attractive faces, its historical profile and distinctive modern character, through a creative synthesis of Greek and English words; additionally, the campaign's activation within 2016 through a series of actions and initiatives at the airport and in the city, will be "telling the story of the live Athenian experience"!
 Fire breaks out in RafinaA fire broke out on Thursday in Agia Kyriaki, Rafina.
A force of 25 fire-men and 10 fire-engines was immediately deployed to battle the blaze.
"The fire is not threatening inhabited areas for the time being," a Fire Brigade spokesman said to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.
 Communal kitchens to be set up as pilot scheme in three refugee centresThree refugee centres in northern Greece on Thursday announced plans to launch communal kitchens in order to replace food distribution by catering firms, in pilot schemes to be organised by non-governmental aid organisations. The three camps are Oreokastro in Thessaloniki, Cherso in Kilkis and Doliana in Ioannina.
The three centres have already started installing appliances and kitchen utensils, after which refugees will be trained in their use and operation. If the pilot kitchens are successful, the model will be gradually extended to the other refugee centres in Greece.
The kitchens in Doliana will be set up by Oxfam, while those in Oreokastro and Cherso have been taken on by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Talking to the ANA, Reception General Secretary Odysseas Voudouris noted that catering firms had been a stop-gap solution due to the emergency situation that had arisen but this was only transitional, since it did not meet either the needs or wishes of the refugees.
Authorities are still investigating the best way to organise the communal kitchens, however, and whether it is better to allow families to cook separately or organise meals for the entire community in collaboration with the NGOs.
Voudouris said the running of the kitchens would be largely decided by the refugees themselves, and that there would have to be a degree of self-organisation, with the support and supervision of state structures to organise ordering and security issues. The kitchens will be combined with the distribution of vouchers that refugees will use to buy food and other daily necessities from shops in their local area, he said, thus helping boost local markets.
In a survey concerning current food distribution methods, authorities discovered serious shortcomings - including the fact that refugees were currently throwing away 30 pct of food they were given because it did not meet their dietary customs. There were also problems with the diet of infants and children under five and inadequate quantities of bottled water.
 Archaeologists shed further light on Apollo sanctuary on DespotikoExcavations by archaeologists conducted over the last year have helped reveal the unusually large area covered by the archaic sanctuary of Apollo on the uninhabited islet of Despotiko, west of Antiparos, the culture ministry announced on Thursday.
Presenting the findings of the archaeological dig and restoration carried out on the island since May 30, the ministry said they included a large number of plain and decorated dedicative pottery shards dating from the 9th to 4th centuries B.C. as well as a host of other artifacts.
These include more than 40 lamps, 25 bases of vessels with the name of Apollo engraved on them, an engraved shard depicting one of the labours of Hercules, archaic black-figure drinking cups with images of warriors, red-figure kraters from a classical-era Attica workshop depicting Dionysus, satyrs and maenads, bronze buckles and the lower limbs of archaic kouroi, to name but a few.
The finds added each year since the excavation began in 1997 confirm that the Apollo sanctuary on Despotiko was the largest in the Cyclades area after Delos. The large number of visitors resulted in constant modifications and expansions of the site until the late classical era, while its peak is dated at around the 6th century B.C. and the earliest signs of worship date back to the geometric period.
A total of 15 buildings ancillary to the temple and ritual dining hall have been discovered so far.
 Fire near Ermoupolis on Syros contained, poses no threat to inhabited areasA fire that broke out on Thursday in the Volakas area on the Aegean island of Syros, near the island's main town of Ermoupolis, had been contained and no longer posed any threat to inhabited areas, a fire brigade spokesperson told the ANA late on Thursday.
A force of 25 fire men and three fire engines, assisted by volunteers, four water-carrying vehicles and one helicopter was attempting to put out the blaze.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: PASOK is elsewhere
DIMOKRATIA: Thriller in Samos with Turkish commandos
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: (Piraeus Bank chief Michalis) Sallas is leading the exit
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Taxes on agriculture income
ETHNOS: The list with the new auxiliary pensions
ESTIA: A Security Council required
IMERISSIA: Historic change
KATHIMERINI: US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew links Greek debt relief with developments in Turkey
NAFTEMPORIKI: Change of climate in banks
RIZOSPASTIS: Pogrom to auxiliary pensions and labour issues in the next few months
TA NEA: The scenario of double elections is being 'burnt'
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