|Wednesday, 23 July 2014|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-07-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 21 July 2014 Issue No: 4713
 ECB stress tests will be 'manageable', Stability Fund CEO tells newspaperThe European Central Bank's stress tests of Greek banks will not be a cause of concern, Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) CEO Anastasia Sakellariou said in an interview published on Sunday.
Speaking to Sunday Kathimerini, Sakellariou is quoted as saying, "Even if some additional capital needs arise, I believe they will be manageable...Following the increases, Greek banks are protected in terms of capital and compare favourably with corresponding European banks."
Greek banks are in excellent shape at present, she said, and strong, while she commented, "What happened in Greece has never happened anywhere else in the world. We are not talking about recapitalisation of one or two isolated banks, but of the entire banking sector. Banks in Greece went from the private sector to a status of state funding and now we are in the phase of transitioning again to private hands."
Sakellariou also hinted that the Fund can recover much more than the 16 billion euros the International Monetary Fund, one of Greece's creditors, had foreseen in March 2012 from the bank support package of 50 billion euros. According to her, the Fund has reserves of 11.5 billion euros - a section of which can be used after the stress tests, if necessary - while the current value of the Fund's shares in systemic banks is about 18 billion euros. "This is a level that can be significantly raised if assessments for the country's positive path are confirmed," she explained.
 PM Samaras: Statism and populism attempted to put a halt to the country's exit from the crisisPrime Minister Antonis Samaras said that "in the last two years the dipole of populism and statism attempted to halt the country's course towards its final exit from the crisis but it failed for good" in his article for the Sunday edition of Kathimerini.
"Populism gave the ultimate rearguards battle to bring Greece outside the eurozone and to cancel its participation to the European integration. It failed! Populism gave the ultimate battle to prevent the dismantling of statism. It also failed. This is the new 'political changeover that has already started" underlined Samaras on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece.
"The roots of democracy, founded by Constantine Karamanlis in 1974, were proved to be very strong and his European choice a salvation for the country" noted Samaras adding that "in the following decades Greece did not manage to get rid of the distortions that left on it the 'double cancer' of populism and statism.
 Gov't spokesperson: SYRIZA does not want the discussion for the debt to startGovernment spokesperson Sofia Voultepsi referred to "a plan that will provoke political disorder in order the discussion for the debt to be avoided" she said in an interview with Sunday newspaper Real News.
According to Voultepsi "they (main opposition SYRIZA) are aware that if government's debate for the debt is successful then they will be no reason for them to exist".
However, she acknowledged that "there were a lot of mistakes not only from the troika but also from us".
 Venizelos: Greece always lost when the Progressive Democratic Party did not play its roleGovernment Vice President, Foreign Minister and PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos said that "Greece always lost when the Progressive Democratic Party did not play its role" and called all members of the wider centre-left to rally, in a statement to Karfi newspaper.
Moreover, Venizelos clarified that "the centre-left that we want and in which we belong has nothing to do with New Democracy (ND) or SYRIZA. The antidote to populism is not to follow the political and economic neoliberal mainstream or the opposite. A third solution exists, the responsible solution of the Progressive Democratic Party" he said.
 Cyprus President: The danger occupied Cyprus to become a foreign land for the new generations is loomingCyprus President Nicos Anastasiades appeared determined to not allow "the division of the past to exist if there is a referendum" at an interview to Sunday newspaper Real News.
Anastasiades noted that "regarding the repercussions of a non-solution of the Cyprus issue, there will be no need to place the people before blackmailing dilemmas, the conditions are convincing by themselves....The danger Occupied Cyprus to become a foreign land for the new generations is looming".
 Public Order Minister: Battle against terrorism a continuous and arduous strugglePublic Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias called the battle against terrorism "a lengthy and arduous struggle that demands continuous vigilance" in an interview to the Sunday edition of Kathimerini.
The minister added that "what is at stake is our democracy and the good order. We all have witnessed how easily and unscrupulously the arrested terrorist Nikos Maziotis opened fire at the recent bloody incident in downtown Athens that resulted to his arrest. We should underline that police shot only once to stop the terrorist".
Kikilias announced the establishment of a Crisis Management Operations Center that "will be housed in the Public Order Ministry and will give account in real time to the country's prime minister. Highly trained police, army, coast guard, political protection, National Emergency Aid Centre and SWAT members will participate in the Crisis Management Operations Center.
 Police released the identity of terrorist Maziotis' accomplicePolice on Saturday released the identity of the 35 year-old accomplice of terrorist Nikos Maziotis along with photographs of Maziotis and four other unknown individuals alleged to Maziotis' accomplices in a number of armed robberies. Police called the citizen that know something and can assist police's mission to call the Counter Terrorism Squad at the phone numbers 1014 and 10414.
Police said that Maziotis' collaborator is Giorgos Petrakakos born in 1979 in the Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.
On Friday, authorities issued an arrest warrant against Petrakakos who is linked with two armed robberies at banks in Akrata, northern Peloponnese (in December 2012) and one in Methana, eastern Peloponnese (in July 2013). The man is also under suspicion for stealing two cars, one of which was used in a kidnapping and the other found burnt when the Maziotis-Roupa couple were arrested in 2010.
Maziotis, who went missing in 2012, is currently hospitalised while authorities are looking for Pola Roupa, also convicted, who is missing with their four-year-old son.
 Terrorist Maziotis transferred from hospital to jailTerrorist Nikos Maziotis was transferred to the Korydallos jail on Saturday afternoon, following testimony he gave at the Athens Appeals Court.
Maziotis, injured after a police ambush in downtown Athens on Wednesday, had been hospitalised at Evangelismos Hospital since he was shot by police. At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday he was taken to the court under heavy police escort.
By his own request, he was transferred to jail instead of going back to Evangelismos after his testimony, which took place at the courts for legal procedural reasons. Despite doctors' orders to remain at Evangelismos, he signed his own release and is now being held at a bullet-proof room under camera surveillance in Korydallos, Piraeus.
 PASOK offices targetedUnknown individuals on Sunday at 2.00 am threw five fire bombs against a riot police team that guards PASOK party headquarters in downtown Athens. An hour later, an unsigned post on Indymedia website assumed responsibility for the attack which, according to the message, it was an action of solidarity to terrorist Nikos Maziotis.
No injuries were reported.
 Court issues first-time ruling in Greece on female genital mutilation caseIn a landmark decision in Greek justice, the Athens Administrative Appeals Court placed a temporary hold on the expulsion of a Kenyan woman and her three underage children because of a threat of being subjected to forced genital mutilation (FGM) and of her children tortured if she returns to her country.
It is the first time a Greek court uses Geneva Convention of 1951 rules to grant protection on an FGM threat (decision 419/2014). In a 2009 note by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, FGM was included as a legitimate factor for granting asylum to a woman and any of her children under such a threat.
The Kenyan national arrived in Greece on September 3, 2002 in order, as she said, to get financial help for a foot operation on one of her children. She applied for international protection under the Convention at the regional asylum office for Attica for herself and her children, aged 13, 5 and 3 years old. (The youngest is a legitimate child of an American citizen.)
In her application, she said she did not want to return to her country because she belongs to the Kikuyu tribe, which practices FGM on all females, and she could also be subjected to the same under the organisation Mungiki, which is active in many Kenyan areas. The regional asylum office rejected her application on the grounds that she and her children did not meet the Geneva Convention's classification conditions for refugee status.
The woman then applied to a relevant Justice ministry committee to ask for a review of her case in order to be issued international protection. The committee again rejected her application on the grounds that she did not submit "incontrovertible evidence proving that her fear due to the threat of being subjected to FGM by the Mungiki organisation can be seen as justifiable and substantiated on objective facts, in order to conclude that there is immediate and unavoidable threat to her life or physical safety if she returns to her country of origin."
The ministry's committee also concluded that "there is no provable danger that upon her return to her country she would undergo severe harm consisting of a death sentence or torture, as in Kenya and especially Nairobi (her last recorded residence), there are no conditions of international or domestic armed conflict that would lead to the conjecture of serious injury due to indiscriminately practiced violence."
It concluded that the woman and her children did not meet conditions related to refugee or additional protection status according to standing laws, but it said all four fulfilled conditions that allowed residence permits to be issued for humanitarian reasons. It thus referred the case to the administrative court.
The woman took recourse to Greek courts on the grounds that if she and her children returned to Kenya they would be tortured or treated inhumanely and that her children would be either conscripted into criminal organisations, abducted by them or be persecuted - in the youngest's case - for being a legitimate child of an American citizen.
The court accepted her plea on a temporary basis and said their return to Kenya by Greek authorities could harm them irreparably, exposing them to physical abuse. It suspended the Justice ministry committee's decision until the court could give a final ruling and ordered state authorities to abstain from any act that would result in the forced exit and repatriation to Kenya of the woman and her children.
The court also ordered that if the special document certifying she had applied for asylum has been removed by authorities, it must be restored and extended in date if expired.
 Majority of presidential decree drafts reorganising ministries pass review by Council of StateThe Council of State (Section V) approved as legal in principle 11 of 16 presidential decree drafts introducing changes in the administrative structure of ministries, which Greece was obligated to carry out under Memorandum II legislation (Law 4046/2012).
The judges recommended that some regulations in the organisational plans, which both introduce and abolish certain permanent positions, be struck out as illegal. These related mostly to the distribution of new permanent positions and changes in existing positions created for specific personnel transferred from other positions.
 LAOS leader hospitalised after angioplasty and stentingPopular Orthodox Party (LAOS) leader Giorgos Karatzaferis, who was rushed to hospital late Saturday with pain in the breast, underwent an angioplasty and stent procedure to open a blocked blood vessel.
The surgery was successful and LAOS leader is being hospitalised in the ICU for precautionary reasons.
 Rally on Crete to protest Syrian chemical weapons destruction in MediterraneanA motorised rally to the gates of the NATO base in Souda, northwestern Crete, was held on Sunday afternoon to protest the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons by international powers in the Mediterranean Sea.
The rally was originally scheduled for Monday but held Sunday because of low interest. The organisers will hold two more events, one on the day boats leave Crete for the destruction site and on Tuesday, when they will hold a meeting.
Despite low turnout on Sunday, organisers - who included associations throughout Crete - said they were happy with the mobilisation because, as they claimed, they had suspended operation of the base for two days.
 Tax withholding system for pensioners nears completion; no change in final tax amountA new system of having social security funds withhold taxes, instead of waiting until the annual tax returns are cleared to calculate it and then pay it as a lump sum, will include pensioners who receive two or more pensions as of next month.
The system has already been applied to those receiving a single pension.
According to ANA-MPA sources, 1,146,089 pensioners out of a total of 2.7 million will see a change in their monthly cheques: those with a pension of under 750 euros a month will see a rise of 15 euros, while those receiving pensions over 750 euros will see a reduction from 30 to 40 euros per month. Labour ministry assessments said 399,231 pensioners will see the 15-euro increase in monthly cheques. The 30-euro reduction of those receiving over 750 euros will affect about 70% of all pensioners, they said.
The system, based on a Finance ministry law (4172/2013), calls for one-twelvth (1/12) of the annual taxes for all income to be withheld by social security funds. The Labour ministry asserted that the final tax amount will not change, but the new system will be able to adjust monthly withholdings so that a pensioner does not owe any taxes after the annual income tax statement has been processed.
From now on, the only contact between individuals whose sole income is a pension and the tax authorities will be the online sumbission of their annual tax statement.
According to Labour ministry officials, the changes are in accounting methods alone and will not increase the final tax amount; rather, they said, pensioners will benefit from the same 1.5% discount available to those who pay outstanding taxes in one lump sum.
"Pensioners will not be burdened by a single euro, and there is no burden onto the budget," Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said in response to a question by ANA-MPA.
"With the payment of August pensions," the minister said, the upgrading of the country's pension system will be complete. "Already, from step one, no pensioner had to cross the threshhold of their social security fund; today, with the second step, they will not have to go to the tax office in person, either," he added.
According to data conveyed by Idika SA, handling the relevant database, the most updated file (for 2013) contains information on 2.8 million pensioners from the state and from another 69 social security funds and agencies, totalling 28.2 billion euros.
It is also the first time this year that insurance funds did not have to issue annual pension statements, as the information was directly provided to the Finance ministry and pre-printed on their annual income tax statements through the Taxis system.
 HRADF managing director: Our only criterion is the public interest"It's not our job to proceed with auctions but to develop the Greek people's wealth with criterion the public interest" stated Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) managing director Yiannis Emiris to VIMA Sunday newspaper.
Emiris said with the criteria that HRADF sets to the investors; it discourages the opportunists and is directed to those that have a long term investment horizon.
Referring to 2014 privatisation targets he noted that "consensus and coordination from all the state mechanism is necessary if we want to meet the targets. Ultimately we must become more unpleasant to those that set obstacles in the development of the works".
 Stores open on Sunday amid protests, low turnover despite salesStores remained open on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., one of seven Sundays of the year, amid controversies including a 24-hour strike called by store personnel and low turnover.
There are seven Sundays of the year in which stores throughout Greece must be open, according to a 2013 law, while another regulation requires stores to remain open on all Sundays of the year in selected areas of Greece, such as popular tourist destinations, in a test programme that will be reviewed for possible application throughout Greece.
The Athens Commerce Association stood by its resolution to have stores open only seven Sundays a year, including this one (July 20). Store employees went on strike last Sunday, to protest the year-round openings.
Meanwhile, sales started this past Monday (July 14), to run until August 30.
In Greece and Thessaloniki, store staff held protests on Sunday against Sunday openings, while in Athens the number of shoppers did not show any significant increase, according to National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) president Vassilis Korkidis.
The seven Sundays, from November 2013 to July 2014, do not appear to have increased turnover, volume, job opportunities or wages, according to a study by ESEE that will be published this coming week. Speaking to ANA-MPA, Korkidis said that there were stores that did not open on Sunday, and said the Sunday opening of stores must be targeted.
 Labour action at COSCO endsCOSCO facilities in Piraeus port were operating as normal on Saturday after the termination of COSCO employee's labour action.
According to information, the Chinese company said that it will satisfy some of the workers' demands adding that the negotiations will continue in order to examine the rest of the workers' demands.
The mobilisation started on Friday when the workers closed the containers facilities protesting for bad working conditions.
 Police arrests Polish national against whom was pending arrest warrant for attempted murderA 57 year-old Polish national against whom was pending an arrest warrant for attempted murder was arrested on Saturday.
The suspect was sent to the prosecutor.
 Syrian, Egyptian duo arrested for smuggling migrants to EuropeA Syrian and an Egyptian national were arrested after a coordinated effort by police in Athens and Thessaloniki, bringing an end to their alleged business of transporting undocumented migrants from Greece to other European Union countries.
The Syrian national, 36, was arrested at the New Thessaloniki Railway Station on Saturday, after taking ten fellow nationals from Athens to a truck on its way to Austria.
An Egyptian national, 46, was arrested in Athens for allegedly handling the money paid out by migrants.
Police in Athens searched the Syrian's apartment and an Internet cafe, where the Egyptian worked, and found a fake driver's licence for Romania, a forged Syrian passport, 4,200 euros in cash, four mobile phones and three SIM cards.
According to police, each person who wanted to leave Greece had to pay around 3,000 euros. The two men will be lead before a prosecutor while investigation continues into their activities.
 Restoration of Frankish Tower on AcrocorinthThe restoration works of the Frankish Tower on the Acrocorinth (Corinth Acropolis) are rapidly progressing. The restoration is financed by NSRF funds and is held by the 25th Byzantine Antiquities Ephorate working group.
The castle was declared a Byzantine monument in 1922.
The Acrocorinth hill was fortified from the antiquity and its walls are connected with the walls of the city of Corinth and with the important ancient harbour of Lechaion.
 Mostly fair on MondayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 6 Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging 18C-35C. Mostly fair in the central and in the southern parts of the country, 18C-35C. Sunny over the islands, 22C-33C. Fair in Athens, 22C-34C; scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 22C-34C.
 The Sunday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Government rebuilds clientelism state.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Express agreement with the troika.
ETHNOS: Hostages of Tax Bureau.
KATHIMERINI: Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' article in Kathimerini.
KYRIAKATIKI ELEFTHEROTYPIA: It rains bullets after the briberies.
KYRIAKATIKOS RIZOSPASTIS: They give everything to the capital.
LOGOS: Deep red.
REAL NEWS: The bad loans arrangement sealed.
TO PARON: Merkel (Angela, German Chancellor) hates us.
TO VIMA TIS KYRIAKIS: The top secret report on social security.
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