|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-03-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 4 March 2015 Issue No: 4900
 FinMin Varoufakis to submit six reform proposals to the EurogroupFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will hand over a folder with six proposed reforms to the Eurogroup on Monday. The Council will debate on the prioritization of these proposals and the country will be judged by the implementation of these reforms.
Speaking to Star TV late on Monday, Varoufakis underlined that Greece will be consistent in the payment of its debt to the IMF, adding that "we are on track to ensuring the funds for the four-month extension."
He stressed that debt restructuring within the eurozone is the only solution and "by no means is the return to drachma a solution."
The Greek Finance minister said the government has succeeded in ensuring that no recession measures will be imposed in the next four months, adding that there was no agreement, however, on development measures, which will be the topic of the next negotiation.
Referring to the privatisations, he stressed the importance of the participation of investors in Hellenic Railway Organisation (OSE), while he noted that "by no means will this apply to Public Power Corporation (PPC)."
Varoufakis dismissed rumours that technical staff of the institutions are coming to Athens and noted that the government is aiming at having an agreement with the partners before the end of the four-month extension period.
Regarding tax issues, he said that the government will not impose a special tax. According to him, the 23 percent VAT is "unacceptable" adding that "I want to see it gradually being reduced to 15 percent."
 Greek government will present six reforms to institutionsThe Greek government will participate in the negotiations with its institutional partners with a reform package containing six main measures:
1./2. Humanitarian crisis - Administrational Reform
This is a significant effort to battle the three elements of poverty (food, housing, energy efficiency) which will be combined with the administrational reform the country needs (ex. Using the Citizen's Smart Card).
3. Draft bill to settle arrears with the State and social security funds
This will free and reintegrate millions of debtors in the taxpaying process in a way that helps build tax awareness, doesn't write-down the owed amount and rewards consistency.
4. Reform tax administration
5. Activate the Tax Council
6. Create a new flexible body of targeted tax audits made out of temporarily employed auditors.
 Gov't spokesman: Disbursement of 7.2 billion euro tranche an open issue"We have inherited this situation," government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Tuesday said referring to the financing problem, but reassured that there will be no problem and Greece's obligations towards the country itself and abroad will be paid.
Speaking to private radio "Parapolitika", he said the disbursement of the 7.2 billion euro tranche is an open issue and expressed his optimism over a positive outcome. He noted that the government knew that March would be a difficult month as far as it regards the country's obligations, something that the former government also knew and former Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis has admitted.
Asked on whether the government is working on new measures, he said that "it is engaged by the Eurogroup's decision that signed and co-formed and is not engaged for nothing more than that. Nobody has asked the Greek government to implement and conclude successfully the previous programme" adding that "at this moment there is no plan in the government for extraordinary contribution."
Referring to the settlement of the overdue debts, he said that the draft law will be tabled soon and when it is ready the government will ask for the lenders' opinion in order everything to be held within an agreed framework.
"The difference between this government and the former one is that we are in the position to legislate by ourselves," he said.
On the abolition of ENFIA (Uniform Real Estate Ownership Tax), he said that the Finance ministry and Alternate Minister Nadia Valavani are currently examining its replacement with the large property tax.
He also expressed the government's unconditional support to Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, saying that no problem exists with the Finance Minister and that the Greek government believes that he is carrying out his duty in the best possible way.
 Draft bill for humanitarian crisis tabled in ParliamentThe government's draft bill for dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Greece and on the organisation of the government and government organs was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
 'Humanitarian aid' draft bill provisions releasedThe provisions of the draft bill tabled in Parliament on Tuesday "to deal with the humanitarian crisis and the organisation of the government and government agencies" focus on helping immediately people living under "dire poverty" and on minors up to 17 years of age.
The bill's first section includes provisions for "people in dire poverty", including the following:
- Households classified as being "in dire poverty" would be supplied with free electricity of 300 kW on a monthly basis, and will have the electricity reconnected if it has been cut. Their tax arrears will be settled through a contract between the Labour and Social Solidarity ministries. This expenditure will total 22.1 million euros.
- A rent bonus (70-220 euros per person) will be given to large families and to 30,000 families "living under conditions of dire poverty without a house of their own" for 2015, possibly extended to 2016. This amount will be tax-free and not liable to confiscation. This expenditure will total 40.5 million euros.
- A subsidy for food will be provided for people in poverty, through discount coupons or other electronic provisions; the total income of each person will be assessed for this subsidy. People who are exempt from filing taxes and the unemployed whose benefits have run out will have to personally report their income through a signed statement (ypefthyni dilosi). People receiving aid from the European assistance fund for the indigent and from regional business programmes are excluded.
The second part of the draft bill includes organisational issues of the government. For example, a general secretariat to fight corruption will be introduced under the State ministry; the secretariat will also supervise the two separate units of public admistration and public works supervisors/auditors and coordinate the activity of all corruption and financial crime units elsewhere such as at the finance ministry (SDOE), the police, ministries and health/welfare. These jobs will be staffed by moving civil servants to a total of 30 individuals for three years, with possibility of extension.
A general secretariat will be set up to help the government council of economic policy; it will be able to hire 15 consultants and have another 15 transferred from the public sector in general.
A third section extends coverage by the National Organisation for the Provision of Health Services (EOPYY) medical services to several categories of people, including the unemployed, farmers over a certain age, and workers at the shipyards in Skaramanga and others, until end-February 2016.
Other provisions allow for transferring military personnel health funds into private entities of the state, and extends the contracts for busing students to the 2014-2015 academic year, provided they were in effect on February 28.
 Focus is on implementing what has been agreed with Greece, EU Commissioner Moscovici's spokesperson saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
There have been no deliberations on a third aid package to Greece and the current focus is on implementing what has been agreed in order to successfully conclude the review, Annika Breidthardt, a spokesperson for EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, said on Tuesday. She noted that any discussion on details, terms or future arrangements is premature.
During a regular press briefing, she said that in relation to the reforms to be presented by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Monday at the Europe meeting, the Commission has been in close contact with the Greek authorities, having discussions, and in this context stands ready to dispatch more experts to Athens should the need arise.
On the possibility of a decision for the disbursement of a sub-tranche to Greece, provided there has been progress in reforms, she stressed that any decision rests with the Eurogroup.
Breidthardt also said that in the aftermath of the Eurogroup decision, the focus was on making the reform list submitted by the Greek authorities more specific, "so as to have an agreement with the institutions by the end of April." What is important is for Greece to implement immediately and with determination the reform commitments it has taken on, which will be key to the successful conclusion of the review and the strengthening of the Greek economy's recovery, she added.
 The government's political will is the implementation of Thessaloniki programme, Alternate Social Insurance Min saysThe Thessaloniki programme can be implemented in its entirety, Alternate Minister for Social Insurance Dimitris Stratoulis on Tuesday told Skai TV, adding that the government's political will is the implementation of the announcements made in Thessaloniki.
"Like it or not, we will be judged by that," he stated adding the Thessaloniki programme will be implemented gradually.
He added that the government's aim remains the write-off of a big part of the debt, as this is the only way to render it sustainable. He did not rule out the possibility that Athens may have to settle for an intermediate solution.
Stratoulis reiterated that pensions will not be reduced and reassured that social security funds have the necessary funds. The new settlement for overdue debt, he said, will bring an extra 400 million euros to the state coffers compared to the settlement of the previous government.
He reiterated the restitution of the 13th pension for pensioners below 700 euros, which will be paid for the first time in December 2015.
Regarding the minimum wage, he said that it will be gradually restored in 2016 and added the draft law for collective labour agreements will be tabled in Parliament in the next two weeks.
 State Min. Flambouraris: Nobody will lay hands on water supply and energyState Minister Alekos Flambouraris on Tuesday in an interview with private radio "Sto Kokkino" ruled out the possibility of water and energy passing over to private hands.
On the extension of the loan agreement, he said that it will come to the parliament for discussion on the level of political leaders and there is no need to be voted.
"We will be in time and we will succeed" stated Flambouraris while referring to the austerity policies in Europe he noted "There is no other way, Europe cannot continue to live in this way with citizens with no electricity and heating and searching in the bins for food. This will be reversed, we happened to be the first, others will follow. And we will have time and we will stay for many years because we have the people by our side."
On the privatisations, he underlined that the water supply and the energy (PPC, EYDAP and EYATH) will not be touched by anyone. He pledged on the review of the privatisations and of the companies whose contracts have not been completed, for example for the 14 regional airports of the country. He also referred to the development of the State assets that reach 300,000 million euros and ruled out their sell off.
Regarding the banking system, the State Minister reiterated that the government will proceed with the change of their management "The banks are a lever of development so they must have a management that will be under the state and the social control in order to be obliged to finance small and medium sized enterprises."
 Greece and Cyprus could play the 'bridge role' between EU and Russia, FM Kotzias tells Sputnik news agencyMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
Greece and Cyprus could play the "bridge role" between?the EU and a country such as?Russia, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Russian foreign-language news agency Sputnik in an interview.
"We've never waged wars against?each other, there have never been opposing powers, we've never had any kind of?negative characteristics that exist between?EU member states. This means that we are the country that could play the role of?a 'bridge,'" he added, noting that both Greece and Cyprus are not only members of?the EU, but do not even reckon themselves outside?the EU, despite their traditional relations with?the BRICS countries.
"We are especially connected with?such countries as?India (in the ancient times), China (when we were two big civilizations and cultures - China in?Asia and Greece in?Europe for?three-four thousand years) and Russia with?which we have always had deep historical, cultural and religious ties," he said.
Referring to sanctions against Russia, Kotzias said that Greece spoke up as "In Athens we've stopped thinking that there is a European policy without?us which would be coming from?Brussels to?us," adding that the EU must take Greece's interests into?consideration.
"Over the last 50 years, Greece did not have a voice in?Brussels as?there were no ears to?hear it. I think that beginning with?January 29 when we discussed the issues of?sectoral sanctions [against Russia], the ears of?the Europeans opened, and we now, respecting all other member-states, contribute to?the creation of?European politics," he said.
According to the report, the minister "recalled an ancient Greek myth about?Zeus abducting the beautiful Europa, daughter of?the Mediterranean, and taking her to?the mountains of?Crete" as "without this abduction Europe would not have existed today."
Greece believes that economic sanctions are useless in?attempts to?force another country to?change its political motives, Kotzias said.
"In the history of?the international relations there are sanctions that actually served, but?only in?the sense that they eased or brought to?negotiations. As I have already said, in?most cases sanctions are not efficient, especially when they originate from?a burst of?anger or a wish to?subordinate your opposing side," Kotzias noted.
Kotzias said the new Greek government was against?sectoral sanctions on?Russia while "Other kinds of?sanctions were imposed long before?we set up?our government."
Kotzias referred also to?past experiences by?Greece: "We should remember the Greek experience. Greece laid sanctions and embargo against?FYROM and as?you know these measures led to?a situation that the only winners were some oligarchs who committed raw materials smuggling. It was proved that sanctions are not an efficient instrument, and they are not efficient in?any case," Kotzias said.
Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias has also commented on?the new gas pipeline that the Russian side has put forward to replace the South Stream one. "Greece is planning to?be a connecting link including the ideas concerning the pipeline that comes from?Turkey," Kotzias underlined.
"We think that what is needed is the stabilization of?peace in?Ukraine and Europe should not come to?rupture in?its relations with?Russia, as?well as?Russia should also avoid taking actions that do not lead to?trust relations with?the European Union," Kotzias added.
"In the long-term perspective Russia has to?be affiliated in?the European security architecture and there should not be formed a security system against?Russia," Kotzias noted.
 Those in poverty to be determined by actual, not imputed income, Social Solidarity Minister saysThose living in extreme poverty and thus qualifying for benefits will be determined based on actual earned income and not imputed income, Alternate Social Solidarity Minister Theano Fotiou said in statements to the television stations ANT1 and SKAI on Tuesday.
"Power will be reconnected without charge to 300,000 households by the end of 2015," she announced, while the same number of benefit recipients will be given food coupons or an electronic card for use in shop and supermarkets, as well as rent support.
She also clarified that the rent support subsidies will be tax free and paid directly to the landlord/owner of the residence leased by the citizen living in extreme poverty. In the case that the property owner owes money to the state, the rent subsidies will be diverted to the payment of this debt, she added.
Regarding the minimum guaranteed income, Fotiou noted that this was currently being implemented on a pilot basis and, once the pilot phase was over, the ministry would re-examine the measure.
 Decision for Parliament 'Hearings Committee' signed on TuesdayParliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou on Tuesday signed a decision to set up a Committee for Public Enterprises, Banks, Public Utilities and Social Insurance Bodies, also known as the 'Hearings Committee'. The decision is due to be posted on the Parliamentary transparency website http://diafaneia.hellenicparliament.gr/.
The committee has been given enhanced powers and will not only offer opinions on the appointments of the heads of state-supervised organisations but will also be able to hold hearings on issues related to their management and their strategic or operational plans. Among others, its duties will include making recommendations to the ministers supervising these bodies on suitable measures that are deemed to be in the public interest.
It will be chaired by Konstantopoulou herself, while the other members of the committee will be the MPs Alexis Mitropoulos, Ioannis Balafas, Despina Haralambidou, Efstathios Leoutsakos, Gerassimos Balaouras, Evgenia Ouzounidou, Nikos Filis, Nikitas Kaklamanis, Evangelos Meimarakis, Christos Staikouras, Ioannis Tragakis, Ilias Panagiotaros, Spyridon Lykoudis, Georgios Lambroulis, Nikos Nikolopoulos and Leonidas Grigorakos.
 Criticism within SYRIZA strengthens government's plan, sec gen Koronakis saysSYRIZA's newly elected secretary general Tassos Koronakis on Tuesday in an interview with ANA-MPA spoke of the positive role of criticism within the party.
"As there are many who are trying to question the government over the different voices heard in the party, I want to assure them that criticism strengthens the government's plan and SYRIZA's support to the government," Koronakis underlined.
"The role of the party is distinct from that of the government and aims at both supporting and controlling," he added.
Asked about international reactions regarding the Greek government policy, Koronakis stressed: "We have never said that the negotiation is over, but it has just begun. Indeed, the Prime Minister from the very first moment said it will be a daily battle. So, we did not consider that this first difficult compromise is the end of this course. We managed to win four months, so that the negotiation can smoothly proceed."
"Our effort is to enable Europe to emerge from the self-sustaining crisis that has got into. In this effort we are willing to ally with peoples and governments who want to challenge the 'single voice' of the German plan for a Europe of austerity and recession. On this basis, I would not speak of a confrontation with governments, I would try to see the positive side, the fact that a front against austerity is being formed in many countries, by many governments with different ways of thinking and certainly by many peoples and workers who see that they have no any interest at all in the continuation of this policy," he stated.
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 'No negative repercussions' from transfer of OPEKEPE funds to Bank of Greece, minister saysThe decision to transfer the cash reserves of the Payment and Control Agency for Guidance and Guarantee of Community Aid (OPEKEPE), the Greek payment authority of Common Agricultural Policy (C.A.P.) aid schemes, "will have no negative repercussions on the process and payment times of all types of subsidies to Greek farmers," Alternate Rural Development Minister Vangelis Apostolou said on Tuesday.
According to the minister, the decision will have only beneficial consequences since it will ensure that these reserves are better exploited at a higher interest rate than at present, while announcements about the timing of payments will be made in the next few days.
He explained that the aim of the decision was to place the funds not needed for immediate payments in an interest-bearing account at the BoG.
 Finance ministry denies plans to use municipality funds to meet Greece's loan obligations in MarchA finance ministry announcement on Tuesday categorically denied press reports claiming that the government had decided to use the cash reserves of 40 municipalities in order to meet Greece's obligations to international lenders in March.
Corruption cases concerning NH-90 helicopters and submarines will go to justice, National Defence Minister Kammenos says
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday had a long meeting with National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos focusing on developments in Greek-Turkish relations after the withdrawal of a Turkish NOTAM and on defence ministry issues relating to corruption cases.
Kammenos said that he briefed the prime minister "on issues of corruption in the armed forces and especially, on those concerning armaments," underlining that there is evidence that could be used in at least two cases, concerning the NH-90 helicopters and the submarines.
He said that they agreed that these cases should be forwarded to justice to be examined in correlation with files already under examination, despite the fact that the investigation is at an early stage and an inquiry is still being conducted by the Committee of Internal Affairs.
The minister added that the Armed Forces Committee on Internal Affairs was set up as soon as he took office and its investigation started with an audit in the general secretariat for armaments.
Kammenos said that in two of the cases there is serious evidence of possible felonies, adding that huge amounts of taxpayers' money was involved and those responsible will face justice. He clarified that the two cases are the NH-90 helicopters case, which started in 2003 and is still currently ongoing and the submarines case which started in 1998.
Referring to yesterday's retirements and the appointments of the chiefs of the Armed Forces, he said that the latest appointments were decided by the chain of command of the Armed Forces without any political intervention.
As regards the Turkish NOTAM, the minister said that it was a very big success credited to Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, underlining that it was made clear that this government exercises a serious and reliable policy of national sovereignty.
 Health Minister Kouroumblis: Participation in medicine cost will be based on income criteriaHealth Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis, speaking on Tuesday to private Mega and ANT1 TV stations, clarified that he is in favour of the insured paying part of their medicines' cost based on income criteria.
"There will be no increase but a more just allocation" that will be applied in order to "protect the weaker," he said.
Asked on whether the funds will be found, he noted that they will be covered by the balance sheets of the multinational drug companies.
Moreover, Kouroumblis announced that in the next days the 5 euro admission fee to hospitals will be abolished adding that the 1 euro fee per prescription will be also abolished in the second half of 2015.
He categorically dismissed media reports referring to cut in hospital budgets and spoke of 'leonine' contracts with German companies at the Greek State's expense.
 ND welcomes whatever facilitates low-income households without creating a fiscal gap, party spokesman saysNew Democracy welcomes "whatever facilitates low-income households without creating a fiscal gap," party spokesman Kostas Karagounis said in a statement.
Referring to the government's announcements on dealing with the humanitarian crisis, he said there were social measures that Antonis Samaras' government had legislated and included in the current budget.
Apart from the so-called social tariffs of Public Power Corp (PPC) and Athens Water Company (EYDAP), there have been soup kitchens for the needy organized by the municipalities and the Church, the non-insured have been granted access to public hospitals, primary residence has been under protection for the last five years, while the 100 installments for the repayment of arrears have been legislated.
He recalled that SYRIZA had voted against all those measures and said that besides all that, the previous government last year allocated an additional 500 million euros to low-income households, which is double the amount the current government has announced and without any fiscal equivalents.
He also called on the government to explain "what will happen with the minimum guaranteed income, the most substantive response for the support of vulnerable social groups, which Samaras' government implemented on a pilot basis in 13 regions and which would be implemented across the country in the second half of the year."
 ND calls on gov't to revoke raise agreement for PPC personnel signed FridayMain opposition New Democracy (ND) called on the government on Tuesday to revoke a decision raising the salaries of Public Power Corporation employees decided between PPC's managers and the workers' union GENOP.
ND spokesman Costas Karagounis charged the government with "lying to cover the provocative increases approved to its party friends" and named among them former GENOP leader Nikos Fotopoulos and other unionists. The raises were approved on February 28, with the full approval of the relevant minister, he said.
The government is "deeply hypocritical," he said, for giving a 6-euro per day raise to PPC employees (for feeding expenses), while it promises to give only 1.5 euros a day each to 300,000 people to deal with "the humanitarian crisis."
"It's inconceivable this is happening when the government is cutting hospital budgets in half, when it pre-announces emergency tax and a rise of VAT, when it raises the fee for the state broadcaster's operation, just to make its party clientele happy," he said.
The 6-euro raise and the end of layoffs are the basic parts of a new collective work agreement in effect until 2018, and includes a 2-euro (per month) from each union member's salary in order to pay off a loan GENOP got from PPC. It includes special benefits to PPC front office staff like an extra 4 vacation days a year and a daily stipend of up to 5 euros following the end of the medium-term fiscal strategy framework.
 ND's Samaras: Releasing irregular migrants from detention centres is 'provocative'The leader of the main opposition New Democracy (ND), Antonis Samaras, said the government's decision to "open the borders to every illegal immigrant" is "unbelievable, unthinkable and provocative".
Samaras said that according to a report in private TV channel SKAI, the government will open on Thursday all migrant detention centres and irregular migrants "will be free to roam in the city centres".
He said the government has decided that any illegal immigrant who arrives in Greece will not be detained, but will instead be granted a 6-month permit.
"The coalition government of Tsipras and Kammenos is turning Greece into a magnet for illegal immigrants," the leader of ND said, noting the consequences for social cohesion, security, economy and tourism will be catastrophic and will also affect our relations with Europe.
"Unfortunately, our worst predictions are being verified. We call on them to immediately reverse this irresponsible decision," he added.
 New Democracy lashes out at government on Armed Forces' officers replacementsNew Democracy on Tuesday accused SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (ANEL) coalition government of a provocative violation of meritocracy, referring to the performance evaluation of senior officers of the Armed Forces.
"They decommissioned tens of adept officers in high ranking positions who performed their duty with zeal and self-denial," main opposition New Democracy said in a statement.
"Yesterday's performance evaluations remind us of other times when experienced and high-skilled officers of the Armed Forces were literally 'decapitated' by political leaderships based on clearly partisan criteria and their desire for revenge," the announcement added.
New Democracy condemns "the decision of 'decapitating' senior officers of the Armed Forces by SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government" and calls on the government to abandon the policy of persecution by partisan criteria, because this policy is undermining the work of the Army, the Navy and Air Forces.
"Today's government should be aware of the fact that New Democracy will not stop supporting the right of the Armed Forces' officers and will report to the Parliament any injustice at their expense," according to the announcement.
 Potami calls for the implementation of the minimum guaranteed incomeOpposition Potami party on Tuesday characterised the government-sponsored draft bill on the relief of extreme poverty as ambiguous and vague despite the fact that certain of its provisions are on the right track.
According to Potami, a direct response to extreme poverty would be to implement the minimum guaranteed income, which is among the seven proposals presented by the party to Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, considering that Greece "is the only European country where this measure is not implemented even though it would have benefited roughly 400,000 households."
 KKE on government's measures on extreme poverty: Poor families will pay for even poorerThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday commented on statements made by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis regarding taxes, saying that poor families will be asked to pay for those even poorer while big capital once again gets off scot free.
"When, on the one hand, the finance minister leaves wide open the possibility of continuing and extending the tax robbery (ENFIA, VAT etc) of working-class households and, on the other hand, the government advertises the crumbs for extreme poverty, which even then are given with 'discounts', then we are led to this [conclusion]," the party said.
 Communist Party submits draft law abolishing loan agreements, memorandaThe Communist Party (KKE) submitted on Tuesday a draft law denouncing the loan facility agreements signed by Greece and its partners in the EU from 2010 to date and abolishes the two memoranda and Medium-Term Financial Strategy Frameworks for the period 2012-2018, together with their implementation laws.
The draft law is comprised of three articles, the last of which also includes the obligation on the side of the government, to cover with state funds the losses suffered by social security funds from their participation in the PSI.
"The KKE, consistent with its policy and respecting its election commitment, submits a draft law which cancels the memoranda and loan agreements which were initially voted in parliament by the government of PASOK, and then the coalition government of PASOK-ND," the explanatory report submitted with the proposal said.
 PASOK lashes out at the governmentPASOK on Tuesday lashed out at the government saying its refusal to bring the amendment-extension of the loan agreement to Parliament for ratification has almost become a mockery to the parliamentary institutions and the country's Constitution.
"The bottom line," PASOK noted "is that the government is violating the Constitution and is avoiding the Parliament because it is afraid of its deputies and ministers' reactions and because it wants to preserve the lie that it is not bound by the current programme and did not vote for the things it criticized."
It also added that "citizens themselves will soon realize the mockery in practice" and that "on a European level, the government, by refusing to assume the necessary commitments in a constitutionally lawful way, further weakens the country's bargaining stance as it feeds the distrust of governments and institutions."
Unfortunately, PASOK added the government - even now - still thinks that the international negotiation equals institutional tricks, interviews for domestic consumption and constantly opening unnecessary fronts with other state and European institutions.
 PASOK MPs accuse government of avoiding parliamentary scrutinyOpposition party PASOK on Tuesday accused the government of avoiding parliamentary supervision on crucial current affairs.
"The government rejects live parliamentary scrutiny, forcing the Parliament Speaker to forbid submitting current questions," PASOK's parliamentary group said in a statement, adding that the government "is attempting to avoid the debate in parliament on current affairs issues which affect society."
According to PASOK MPs Leonidas Grigorakos and Giannis Koutsoukos, the relevant services in parliament have not opened the book where lawmakers can submit current questions and will only receive written questions and requests for queries.
"I've been personally looking for the Parliament Speaker on the phone for three days and I cannot track her down," Grigorakos told journalists and noted that Zoi Konstantopoulou had pledged to request ministers to answer current questions.
In a separate party announcement, PASOK described the announcement of National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos to send two files relating to arms procurement to the prosecutor as "populist pseudo-bravado", saying the prosecutor has no authority over these files.
"It's a cheap trick to say 'I'll send the files to the prosecutor' when he is legally obliged to forward, immediately and without any assessment, the file as he received it to Parliament," PASOK said.
"If anyone wants to send anything they can send it responsibly to parliament so that we can see the issue in its real dimensions."
 PASOK on GENOP-DEI agreement: 'Gov't could have replaced PPC's management'The government could have changed the Public Power Corporation's (PPC) management, PASOK suggested on Tuesday, in its criticism of an agreement signed Friday between managers of the company and its union (GENOP-DEI) that approves a rise in wages and a freeze in layoffs, among other things.
"At last, let's be serious," PASOK said, "the government could have changed PPC's management. They could also have told PPC not to sign with GENOP-DEI," it said, in response to the government's non-paper about the agreement.
The party also accused the related ministers of being ineffective, saying that Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis "knew and could" have stopped the agreement, while Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis "claimed he didn't know, moving along his favourite doctrine of creative vagueness."
"Who believes them?" it said, adding that it would be outrageous if the government decided to raise electricity prices.
 PASOK criticises humanitarian crisis bill as 'deception' of vulnerable groupsOpposition PASOK on Tuesday strongly criticised a draft bill for dealing with the humanitarian crisis and extreme poverty earlier unveiled by the government, dismissing it as ineffective and an attempt to "deceive" the public while "toying with the pain and problems" of Greece's most vulnerable groups.
PASOK was ready to support "every additional positive measure with real content and secure funding" but would not go along "with the continued deception," the party said in an announcement.
Among others, it noted that there was no reference to the minimum guaranteed income introduced on a pilot basis and that the bill seemed to entirely overlook the PPC's Social Residential Tariff for some 600,000 poor households. PASOK further charged the the bill did not in reality deal with extreme poverty but was a "pretext" for irrelevant and targeted ordinances arranging the appointment of an army of officials and advisors to public-sector posts.
It also strongly criticised the minimal time afforded for public consultation, which lasted less than one day.
 SYRIZA leads by more than 20 pct over ND in MRB pollRuling coalition partner SYRIZA leads with more than 20 percentage points over main opposition New Democracy (ND) in an opinion poll conducted by MRB on behalf of private TV station Star on Tuesday.
According to the survey, asked "which party would you vote if elections were held next Sunday", 41.3 pct said SYRIZA and only 19.2 pct said ND. Third place is To Potami and the Independent Greeks (ANEL) who both receive 5.4 pct, the Communist Party with 5.3 pct, Golden Dawn with 5.1 pct, and PASOK with 2.9 pct.
Another 4.8 pct said "another party" while 10.6 pct are undecided.
Asked to choose between SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and ND leader Antonis Samaras as best choice for prime minister, 55.1 pct chose Tsipras and 22.9 pct chose Samaras. Among the respondents, 18.5 pct said none of the two is best suited for premier, while 3.6 pct answered "someone else, I don't know, I won't answer".
In the same survey, about seven in 10 Greeks (69 pct) believe the coalition government's course so far has been positive, while 24.7 pct believe the opposite. Another 5.1 pct said "neither positive nor negative" and 1.2 pct didn't answer.
Asked "how would you characterize the new agreement with our lenders", the majority of respondents (70.3 pct) believe it is better than the one which was being implemented until now, while 19.7 pct believe it is worts, or probably worts than the last one. Another 10 pct didn't answer.
Finally, according to the poll, 57.9 pct of those who answered believe the disagreements within the party will create problems for the government sooner or later, with 38.7 pct expressing an opposite opinion. 3.5 pct didn't answer the question.
The survey was conducted between February 27 and March 2, 2015.
 Interior minister, Athens mayor hold first 'official' meeting, discuss action against humanitarian crisisInterior Minister Nikos Voutsis on Tuesday had a first official meeting with Athens Mayor George Kaminis at the interior ministry. The meeting focused on handling the humanitarian crisis and rationalising administrative structures in order to eliminate overlapping authorities and responsibilities.
The two sides agreed on collaboration and also talked about the participation of the City of Athens in programmes for local government.
Kaminis expressed the municipality's support for government initiatives to deal with the humanitarian crisis and said that the know-how and infrastructure developed at the City of Athens on food aid, housing etc is at the government's disposal.
In terms of rationalising the administrative handling, he said this would require cooperation between the ministry, regional authorities and municipalities in order to bring the necessary legislation and tackle bureaucracy.
The meeting also dealt with the issue of a crematorium for Attica, including potential sites, he said.
 Prosecutors to recommend release of Golden Dawn leader, MP after 18 months imprisonment on remandThe public prosecutors handling the Golden Dawn case on Monday recommended the release with restrictions of the party's leader Nikos Mihaloliakos and GD MP Christos Pappas on March 29, when the 18-month maximum period for holding an individual without trial will expire. The two are currently in jail on remand and face charges in connection with Golden Dawn's action and for running the party as a criminal outfit.
The prosecutors Ioannis Provataris and Dimitris Asprogerakas recommended that the Appeals Justices' Council order the release of Mihaloliakos on a bail of 125,000 euros, as well as imposing restrictions on his movements that are normally applied for weapons law offences, including that of house arrest.
For Pappas, who based on the charges was GD's second in command, the prosecutors recommend that he be banned from leaving the country and hand over his passport, be banned from travelling beyond the boundaries of Attica prefecture, be forbidden from travelling in aircraft or on the sea, report to a police station three times a month and observe an overnight curfew when he has to remain at home.
The Appeals Court Justices' Council is expected to rule on the terms to be imposed on the two remand prisoners within the next few days. A similar ruling is also expected for the party's MP Yiannis Lagos, whose 18-month period of imprisonment also expires at the end of the month. A trial date for the case is also expected soon, possibly immediately after Easter.
 Former FinMin Papaconstantinou trial continues with testimonies of former sec'y general, SDOE headThe trial of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou on charges of tampering with possible tax evasion evidence continued on Tuesday with witnesses taking the stand including former colleagues and ministry staff.
Papaconstantinou is on trial on allegations of striking the names of relatives off the so-called Lagarde list, containing the names and amounts of deposits held by Greek nationals at HSBC's Swiss branch. The list was sent to Greece from France and contained 2,059 files on people who were expected to be audited by Greek authorities for possible large-scale tax evasion.
Former finance secretary general Elias Plaskovitis and former head of the ministry's financial and economic crimes unit (SDOE) Yiannis Kapeleris who testified Tuesday both called their relations with their former chief exemplary. Kapeleris said that he found inconsistencies between the deposit amounts and the assets declared by the depositors and that he and the minister dicussed the Lagarde list without reaching a conclusion about who would conduct the audits.
The trial continues.
 Justice min Paraskevopoulos on workplace accidents in PPC's Kozani unitA total of 12 case files were created in 2014 regarding workplace accidents in Public Power Corp (PPC) unit in Kozani, northern Greece, data by Kozani prosecution authorities showed, according to Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos.
Paraskevopoulos submitted the relevant documents to the parliament following a question by communist KKE deputies on the impact that intensified and flexible work relations, the downsizing and the lack of health and safety precautions had on PPC workers.
These case files were created following reports by Northern Greece Mines Inspectorate and are all in a preliminary investigation stage.
KKE deputies had noted in their question that since March 2014 and until now, seven employees have lost their lives.
 Justice minister pays courtesy visit to Supreme CourtJustice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos on Tuesday paid a courtesy visit to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court Prosecution, where he was received by Supreme Court President Athanasios Koutromanos. The two men discussed problems that currently plague the justice system, such as delays in administering justice, the prison system and others.
Paraskevopoulos then participated in a meeting with all the Supreme Court's deputy presidents, including Supreme Court Prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani.
 Government welcomes EBRD's decision to offer low-cost financing for investments in GreeceGovernment spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Tuesday welcomed the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's (EBRD) decision to start financing investments in Greece by making use of all the available financial tools in order to support the Greek economic recovery.
Sakellaridis said the government's priority is to halt the collapse of investments, to restore access to capital markets and attract capital in the long-term. At the same time, the government is planning policy measures, he said, to address the high cost of borrowing for SMEs and the removal of barriers in financing exports of products and services.
The EBRD is an international development bank with high solvency (triple-A), extensive experience in financing economic restructuring procedures and proven ability to leverage private capital investment in high value-added projects.
We believe, the government spokesman said, that the launching of EBRD operations in Greece, along with the expected strengthening of the role of the European Investment Bank within the framework of the European Commission plan for development will speed up economic recovery by improving quality of investments and efficiently using the infrastructure and geographical comparative advantages of Greek economy.
The prime minister has already invited the President of the EBRD in Athens to ensure the installation and launch of the Bank's activities as soon as possible.
The EBRD has approved low-cost financing for Greece until the end of 2020, the bank's chairman Suma Chakrabarti said during a press conference.
 Gov't not involved in PPC pay rises, working on plan to lower electricity rates, sources sayThe Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy ministry is working with the Public Power Corporation (PPC) on a plan to lower electricity rates, government sources said on Tuesday. Responding to media criticism of a decision to improve the pay package of PPC staff, the same sources denied any government involvement and stressed that the decision was made during collective bargaining between the PPC's management and trade unions.
Among others, the sources stressed that the negotiations on the pay agreement started in September and ended before the January 25 elections, ruling out the present government's involvement. They further emphasised that not interfering with the process of collective bargaining, regardless of the ownership status of the companies involved and the outcome of negotiations, was a matter of principle for the present government.
"We will not, therefore, follow the practices of the previous governments that constantly intervened and always at the expense of workers," they said, stressing the governments "absolute and complete support" for the freedom of collective bargaining as a fundamental labour right and a key weapon against austerity.
The government sources also noted that the current PPC management that signed the agreement with the GENOP-DEH union had been appointed by the previous government.
The sources ruled out any increase in electricity rates to cover the increase in pay for PPC employees, noting that rates had not similarly decreased in recent years when employee pay was slashed. They said the first indications of the new government's policy in relation to electricity cost and household access to power could be seen in the draft bill for the humanitarian crisis.
 Greek banks raised borrowing from eurosystem in Jan.Greek banks raised their dependence from the eurosystem to 87.4 billion euros at the end of January, from 56 billion euros at the end of 2014, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that Greek banks borrowed around 5.2 billion euros from the Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism in January and another 82.2 billion euros from the European Central Bank.
The significant increase in Greek banks' dependence on the eurosystem is partly attributed to a wave of deposit outflows recorded in January, which totalled 12 billion euros in the month.
 Labour Minister Skourletis meets with former staff of Hellenic Halyvourgia steel industryLabour Minister Panos Skourletis on Tuesday pledged that every effort will be made to support the unemployed and their families in the meeting with former employees of Hellenic Halyvourgia steel industry who asked that the mass layoffs approved by the Supreme Labour Council in the summer of 2014 be revoked.
The delegation also called on the minister to support the laid-off personnel, noting that many of them have been jobless for more than three-and-a-half years.
Skourletis underlined that imminent legislative initiatives on collective labour contracts and mass layoffs will impose restrictions on layoffs and reinforce the negotiating ability of the workers' unions.
 Wind announces 300-mln-euro investment planWind Hellas on Tuesday announced an ambitious investment plan worth 300 million euros for the period 2015-2019 that will focus on infrastructure, a 4G network and network-sharing services.
Presenting the plan, Nasos Zarkalis, chairman and chief executive, said that Wind's 4G network will have a 60 pct population coverage by the end of the year.
The company executive said 2015 was expected to be an optimistic year for the outlook of the telecoms market, with an exceptional outlook for the next years. "When the Greek economy will recover, something we expect to happen in the next three years, telecommunications will also recover," he said, adding that Wind reported positive results in 2014, with sales slightly higher than 500 million euros and EBITDA totalling 95 million euros.
He also said Wind reached an agreement with foreign credit institutions, worth 175 million euros, last year as part of a capital strengthening plan. The company will operate a network of 160 retail units by the end of 2015 and noted that sales in a total of 50 new stores were encouraging. Wind is investing 20 million euros on its network.
 Power utility PPC's BoD member Fotopoulos accuses critics of hypocrisyThe member of the board of directors in Greece's dominant power utility PPC, Nikos Fotopoulos, accused those who criticized the decision to raise wages of company employees of hypocrisy and self-righteousness.
Fotopoulos, who is the former president of the employees union, said the new collective labour agreement which was signed provides, among others, for an allowance of 6 euros per day for food.
"They stole 2.8 billion euros from the employees of PPC in the last three years by mangling their salaries, an amount which was used by PPC and as a result, the consumers," Fotopoulos said.
The BoD member also spoke of "bigwigs who made hundreds of thousands of euros all these years at the expense of PPC and consumers."
He then asked: "What should be the yardstick for the salary of each of us; the unemployed and those who are paid lower or how to cover the daily needs and live in dignity?"
 Gen. Sec. for Public Revenues requests information on taxpayers' profilesLoan installments, dividends and insurance policies will be under the microscope of the General Secretariat for Public Revenues, together with bank accounts and stocks that are already under scrutiny, in order for the government to gain a clearer picture of the citizens' tax paying ability, it was announced on Tuesday.
According to a decision by General Secretary Katerina Savvaidou, the banks, the Hellenic Post (ELTA), the Hellenic Exchanges company and investor services' companies will have to provide the information necessary for the creation of the taxpayers' profile by March 31. In addition, banks will have to provide annual information on deposits above 100,000 euros and on transferable securities portfolios exceeding 200,000 euros.
 Alternate Tourism min Kountoura visits BerlinAlternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Tuesday will visit Berlin on the occasion of Greece's participation in the International Trade Fair ITB Berlin with an aim to further showcase the Greek tourism in the German market, to increase the tourist flow to our country and attract foreign investors to the tourist sector.
During her stay in Berlin, Kountoura will meet the World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) secretary general Taleb Rifai and discuss the further development of the cooperation and the assuming of joint actions in certain sectors. She will also participate in the Silk Road Ministers' Summit, organized by UNWTO. Moreover, Kountoura will meet Berlin mayor Michael Muller, the managements of major tourist organizations as well as media representatives.
 Greece participates in travel exhibition in MunichGreece and Cyprus participated with six exhibitors in the f.re.e exhibition that focuses on travel and recreation held every year in Germany by Munich's Exhibition Organisation.
ANEK LINES, ANEK-Superfast, Meganisi Sailing, SUPERFAST Ferries-BLUE STAR Ferries along with the union of Hoteliers of Western Ilia and the region of Western Greece represented Greece while Cyprus had its own pavilion.
The exhibition hosted 1,200 exhibitors from 60 countries and over 118,000 visitors were informed and made reservations for 2015.
The Greek-German Chamber, the official representative of Exhibition Organisation of Munich in Greece and Cyprus underlined that whoever is interested can visit the exhibition's website www.free-muenchen.de in order to be informed on the full programme and for the next exhibition that has been scheduled to take place on February 10-14, 2016 in Munich.
 Productive Reconstruction minister meets Prometheus Gas GM MuratovProductive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Tuesday had an introductory meeting with Prometheus Gas General Manager Alexei Muratov, the ministry announced. Prometheus Gas is a subsidiary of the Russian giant Gazprom, Greece's main supplier of natural gas.
 Plaisio Computers reports higher 2014 resultsPlaisio Computers on Tuesday reported a 5.2 pct increase in its 2014 sales to 297.548 million euros, for 282.739 million in 2013.
Pre-tax earnings jumped 14.5 pct to 22.270 million euros, while net profits rose 12.9 pct to 16.149 million euros and earnings per share totaled 0.73 euros.
EBITDA rose 9.9 pct to 25.806 million euros, while EBITDA margin rose by 36 basis points to 8.7 pct. The group recorded positive cash flows despite higher tax burden, a reduced debt to below 10 million euros and maintaining its cash reserves to more than 45 million euros.
George Gerardos, chairman and chief executive of the group said the board will seek shareholders' approval to a plan to return around 11 million euros, or 0.50 euros per share, from its cash reserves to shareholders.
 Greek consumer association EKPIZO signs open letter against TTIPThe Greek consumer association EKPIZO on Tuesday announced that it signed an open letter asking MEPs to vote against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), along with 375 organisations from 25 countries. The organisations warn that if TTIP is adopted in its present form, it will significantly lower levels of protection of consumer health/safety, the environment and workers. The vote is scheduled to be held in May.
The letter asks MEPs to exclude any Investor-state Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism from the TTIP, that they oppose any undermining of legislation on food safety, the environment and labour rules and that they demand that the text of the negotiations be made public.
 'U.S. Expat Tax Seminar for Americans Living Abroad' on March 9-10The U.S. Embassy in Greece announced a tax seminar for American residents of Greece on March 9 and 10 at the American School of Classical Studies Cotsen Hall, 61 Souidias Street (entrance on Anapiron Polemou).
The "U.S. Expat Tax Seminar for Americans Living Abroad" is hosted by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and will run from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. It requires registration.
In its announcement, the Chamber said, "Please join us for a free seminar by an expert on expatriate tax issues. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the unique tax filing and bank report obligations of U.S. citizens working or living abroad. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session."
It said topics would include US citizenship taxation (every US citizen is subject to tax on his/her worldwide income regardless of the source of that income); use of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) and of Foreign Tax Credits to reduce or eliminate US tax; the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) filing requirements for US citizens; the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) filing requirements for individuals and foreign bank reporting of "US accounts"; tax return and FBAR filing compliance for delinquent US taxpayers; and using the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures (SFOP) to avoid tax and FBAR penalties.
Chamber president Simos Anastasopoulos said, "It's very important for American citizens living in Greece to know their obligations, which include those American citizens who have not lived or have no plans to live in the United States. The speaker will present an in-depth review of the obligations of U.S. citizens living in Greece, the risks they incur in not following through their obligations and the ways with which they could observe the law."
Because of demand - 400 American citizens have registered for the March 10 seminar - the Chamber will also offer the seminar a day earlier, on March 9.
All attendees must RSVP no later than March 6, 2015 to email@example.com
 Greek stocks rise, in technical rebound on TuesdayGreek stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday, in what traders described as a technical rebound of the market after a four-day decline which pushed the composite index 8.42 pct lower. The composite index rose 0.27 pct to end at 861.24 points, after rising as much as 877.61 points during the session. The Large Cap index rose 0.50 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.63 pct higher. Turnover shrank further to 71.04 million euros.
National Bank (9.24 pct), Ellaktor (4.96 pct), GEK Terna (4.41 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.70 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Titan (5.74 pct), PPC (2.92 pct), Athens Water (2.82 pct) and Folli Follie (2.13 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Banks (4.56 pct), Chemicals (3.35 pct) and Technology (2.75 pct) scored gains, while Media (4.23 pct), Construction (2.45 pct) and Utilities (2.31 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 47, with another 20 issues unchanged. Compucon (20 pct), Kreka (19.38pct) and Dionic (18.18 pct) were top gainers, while Domiki Crete (19.73 pct), Sfakianakis (19.54 pct) and Boutaris (16.67 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -0.44%
Industrial Products: +0.06%
Real Estate: +1.51%
Personal & Household: +0.44%
Food & Beverages: +1.04%
Raw Materials: -1.39%
Mass Media: -4.23%
Travel & Leisure: -1.48%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.34
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.32
Coca Cola HBC: 16.14
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.49
National Bank of Greece: 1.30
Piraeus Bank: 0.51
Grivalia Properties: 8.70
Aegean Airlines: 7.50
 Greek bond market closing reportPressure eased in the Greek bond market, with state bond yields falling further but remaining above the January 25th levels.
The three-year bond yielded 13.8 pct, from 10.07 pct in January 23 and the five-year bond yielded 12.28 pct from 9.023 pct, respectively. In the domestic electronic secondary bond market, the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased to 9.14 pct from 9.23 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.5 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.36 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates eased further. The 12-month rate fell to 0.228 pct from 0.230 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.159 pct from 0.161 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.109 pct from 0.11 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.038 pct from 0.039 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.006 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.33 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 3,737 contracts with 38,834 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 49,671 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (15,962), followed by National Bank (13,052), Piraeus Bank (11,326), Alpha Bank (5,936), PPC (866), OTE (672), MIG (520), OPAP (229), Mytilineos (206), Ellaktor (170), Titan (169), METKA (119) and Jumbo (78).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.1168
Pound sterling 0.7276
Danish kroner 7.4533
Swedish kroner 9.2765
Japanese yen 133.74
Swiss franc 1.0736
Norwegian kroner 8.6095
Canadian dollar 1.3981
Australian dollar 1.4288
 Two women implicated in terrorist escape plot are jailed after testimoniesTwo women related to members of the "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" terrorist group were arrested on Tuesday evening after testifying before investigators for membership in the group and for aiding and abetting a criminal.
A 60-year-old woman whose sons, Christos and Gerassimos Tsakalos, are involved in the group and the girlfriend of one of the brothers were detained for helping Angeliki Spyropoulou, who was jailed recently on charges of plotting to help terrorist prisoners escape.
Christos Tsakalos, one of the defendants in the case involving convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, testified earlier on Tuesday before an examining magistrate on Xiros' plan to help himself (Xiros) and members of the Conspiracy group escape from Korydallos Prison, south of Athens.
Detained terror group suspect Christos Tsakalos appeared before examining magistrate; his mother's testimony continues
Christos Tsakalos, one of the defendants in the case involving convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, on Tuesday testified before an examining magistrate, sources said. Tsakalos was implicated in the so-called "Gorgopotamos" operation - the name given to Xiros' plan to spring jailed members of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire terror group from Korydallos Prison.
Tsakalos said he accepted political responsibility for the 'Gorgopotamos' plan but refused to reply to the authorities' questions or supply any details.
He said that his mother, the 26-year-old partner of his brother Gerassimos Tsakalos and a 36-year-old woman arrested in connection with the case on Saturday have absolutely no connection with the actions of which they are accused.
The defendant and others held as members of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire have started a hunger strike in prison, demanding the release of all three women.
The mother of Tsakalos brothers also testified on Tuesday concerning charges of participating in a criminal organization. The 60-year-old woman denied the charges and admitted only that she harboured a criminal by agreeing to hide Angeliki Spyropoulou in her house while knowing that she was a fugitive from the police. She justified her decision by saying that she has two sons in prison (Gerassimos and Christos Tsakalos) and couldn't turn her back on them and not help them.
Gerassimos Tsakalos' 26-year-old companion denied all charges against her namely, that of participation in a terror group and harbouring a criminal. She allegedly testified that she did not know Angeliki Spyropoulou was hiding in the house of her companion's mother.
The examining magistrate also heard the testimony of terror suspect Giorgos Polydoros in connection with the same case.
 Detained "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" members launch hunger strikeTen members of the "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" group, who are detained in prison, on Monday launched a hunger strike demanding the release of their relatives that were arrested in the last few days.
"This is our responsibility and we will assume it. Relatives and friends bear no responsibility in relation to the case and the charges against them," they wrote in a statement.
In the meantime, the two women that were arrested on Monday for harbouring 22-year-old university student Angeliki Spyropoulou who was also captured on Monday, were taken earlier on Tuesday to the Piraeus court as part of the flagrante delicto procedure.
The 60-year-old mother of two detained members of the "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" terror group, Christos and Gerasimos Tsakalos, as well as the latter's 26-year-old companion are charged with a misdemeanor.
Spyropoulou, allegedly a close associate of convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, was arrested on Monday morning on Salamina, in a house belonging to the Tsakalos brothers' mother, where, according to sources, she had been hiding.
Spyropoulou allegedly had a central role in the group which along with Xiros planned a bomb attack against the Korydallos prison so as to help detained group members to break out.
 Police track down pedophiles soliciting minors via the InternetSix pedophiles, accused of soliciting young boys and girls on the internet, were tracked down in the context of an electronic crimes squad investigation code-named Chat Scanning, which involved police officers creating social network accounts to pose as minors, police on Tuesday announced.
Among the pedophiles traced is a 40-year-old man in Athens' Peristeri district who was arrested while he was leading a 13-year-old boy to his specially modified van in order to molest him, and a 33-year-old in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, who posed as an agent for models and persuaded underage girls to participate in videos performing sexual acts.
The investigation showed that four months ago the 40-year-old was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl.
A manual with a code of communication for pedophiles, including directions on how to approach underage boys and girls, was also traced during the police investigation.
 Convict Vlastos testifies on 'mob bosses' ring caseConvict Panagiotis Vlastos on Tuesday appeared before the investigating magistrates for Corruption who are handling the case of the criminal organization allegedly coordinating its activities from within Korydallos prison.
Vlastos is facing heavy charges for a series of criminal acts, as he is considered - along with his inmates Yiannis Skaftouros and Vassilis Stefanakos - to have had a leading role in the 'mob bosses' ring.
According to sources, Vlastos admitted to the bomb attack against Trikala prosecutor Sofia Petraki, who had investigated into his attempted break out from Trikala prison by helicopter. The convict reportedly told the investigating magistrates that the attack was aimed at intimidating and denied the attack against the head of the Appeals Judges Paraskevi Kalaitzi.
According to sources, Vlastos has raised doubts over his cousin's deposition - who is also accused and currently under protection - and describes her testimony as 'staged'.
 Women's cancer awareness campaign on SaturdayAn awareness campaign for the cancers afflicting women will be launched on Saturday in Athens on the occasion of the International Women's Day (on March 8) with specialised doctors of the nonprofit organisation "Women for Oncology", providing relevant information and breast examination, Panhellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer "Alma Zois" president Cleopatra Gavriilidou on Tuesday said in a press conference.
At an event held at the Golden Hall mall in Athens on Saturday (11:00-15:00), doctors will be available to answer questions and undergo a free physical breast examination, while a lecture on cancer of the cervic will be held at Ianos bookstore at 15:00.
The "For Her" public awareness campaign is sponsored by Roche Hellas in cooperation with "Women for Oncology" and "Alma Zois" to emphasise that early diagnosis can be life saving.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, with more than 1.6 million women worldwide diagnosed annually with the disease. In Europe, more than 450,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and roughly 140,000 die of the disease annually, while in Greece more than 4,900 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually and more than 2,000 die from it annually.
With 530,000 new cases a year worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer among women after breast cancer (22.9 pct) and colon cancer (9.4 pct).
In Greece, more than 900 women a year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 500 lose their lives, whereas in Europe more than 70,000 women are diagnosed with this type of cancer and roughly 45,000 die of the disease.
 Stavros Niarchos Foundation to cover one more year of 'free Thursdays' at Benaki MuseumThe Stavros Niarchos Foundation will renew a grant that allows the Benaki Museum to offer free admission to all its buildings and exhibitions every Thursday for a second year, starting on March 5, the museum announced on Tuesday. The grant, however, is conditional on the museum collecting an equal amount, or 'matching gift', from third-party grants and sponsorship.
The SNF first offered the grant to the museum for the period between July 15, 2013 until July 15, 2014, helping increase the number of visitors to the museum on that day from 16 pct to 26 pct. The grant covers the operating expenses for that day of the week and accounts for one third of the total grant received by the Benaki Museum from the SNF.
 Alt. Min. for Environment Tsironis on World Wildlife DayThe crime committed against wildlife is serious, so lets be serious when dealing with this crime, Alternate Minister for Environment Yiannis Tsironis on Tuesday said on the occasion of the World Wildlife Day celebrated on March 3.
As citizens and consumers should do everything we can to eradicate the illegal trade of wild animals and plants and safeguard a sustainable future for wildlife and humanity, he added.
On December 20, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim March 3 - the day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) - as World Wildlife Day.
 Hellas Gold employees to strike on WednesdayHellas Gold S.A. employees will hold a strike on Wednesday and briefly close down streets in the towns of Gomati and Stratoni in Halkidiki, northern Greece, their unions announced on Tuesday.
The mobilisation will take place in protest to recent developments concerning the goldmine investment in Skouries, following a decision by Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis to revoke the ratification of the architectural and engineering study for the mine to ensure that they abide by planning and environmental regulations.
 Deaths from flu outbreak in Greece reach 75The total number of people who have died from flu in Greece has come to 75, authorities said on Tuesday.
Patients who have been hospitalized in intensive care units since the start of the flu season have reached 151. Of those, 25 continue to be monitored in those units.
 Mostly fair on WednesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 02C-14C. Same weather in the western parts with temperatures between 05C-18C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 04C-18C. Sunny over the islands, 08C-18C. Mostly fair in Athens, 08C-17C; the same for Thessaloniki, 08C-13C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Solidarity in practice to 500,000 poor citizens.
DIMOKRATIA: Bomb for the memorandum.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Minefield.
ESTIA: Country led to Grexit.
ETHNOS: Rent subsidy to 30,000 households.
IMERISSIA: Agony over 3.5 billion.
KATHIMERINI: Confusion over the taxes.
NAFTEMPORIKI: The water torture.
RIZOSPASTIS: Dangerous games in the Aegean part within NATO's framework.
TA NEA: Low salaries to lock.
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