|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-03-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 6 March 2015 Issue No: 4902
 ECB's decision doesn't cause additional problems to Greek banks - govt sourceThe European Central Bank's (ECB) decision not to allow Greece to increase the ceiling of Treasury bills issued by the country does not create additional problems to our banking system, government sources said on Thursday.
The same sources added the government is working on the implementation of Eurogroup's decision of February 20.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet in the evening with Central Bank Governor Yannis Stournaras who participated in the ECB's meeting in Cyprus.
 FinMin Varoufakis: There's an alternative if Greece doesn't receive loan tranche in MarchThere's an alternative plan if Greece doesn't receive its loan installment in March, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Wednesday during a speech at an event marking the 130-year anniversary of the Greek-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The minister said the government's programme for the next four months combines ensuring funding from EU and repaying debt installments towards the IMF and some bonds not included in the PSI.
Varoufakis expressed his wish the European Central Bank (ECB) will include again Greek banks into its funding operations when negotiations with the country's lenders progress.
Commenting on the upcoming Eurogroup on Monday, he said ministers will start debating Greece's reform programme and will launch the process for an new agreement with its partners.
Discussing privatisations, Varoufakis noted he is not "dogmatic" and will allow those which are already underway, involve some participation of the State, bring important investments in sectors the state cannot invest in, promote the interests of the citizens and open possibilities for revenues. He also reiterated his position that he's against fire sales.
Varoufakis said the draft law on tackling the humanitarian crisis is costed and equivalent measures have been found from cost cuts and existing European programmes.
He also noted revenues in February are better than those reported in the media.
Commenting on the auction of T-bills, he said private investors participated which is a good sign.
Asked about the possibility of a third bailout for Greece, Varoufakis said this is far from the truth and that Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem was right to deny it.
In a question relating to the mention of the "troika" by German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier today, the minister said the leader of Germany is a factor of stability and she probably used the word out of habit.
 Greek economy minister optimistic over Eurogroup outcomeGreek Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis on Thursday expressed his optimism over the outcome of a Eurogroup meeting on Monday.
In a radio interview, Stathakis said that "a credit event in March must be excluded. We will go to the Eurogroup with a first package of reforms and of course we will put the issue of a smooth funding of the economy by June".
Responding to a question on how a credit event could be avoided, the Economy minister said: "The answer is the first of the three successive T-bill renewals ahead of us, the first went well, there will be smooth flow for the second and the third. The situation is fully manageable, in my opinion."
Referring to privatisations, Stathakis said "there cannot be one rule for all, for many and different reasons. Everyone will agree, foreigners and us, that the privatisation program, as it was designed, had too many problems. The first was that in most cases we had the transfer of a state monopoly to a private monopoly...the second is that too many privatisations did not follow legal procedures according to international regulations. So the answer is that there isn't one rule for all. Those which have been completed, adhering to international rules, obviously cannot be overruled. Others, which were completed but with too many legal hurdles will be reviewed. The government will examine privatisations currently underway one by one, with a view of serving the public interest".
 ECB to restart financing of Greek economy when conditions are in place, president Draghi saysEuropean Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday said it was not possible at this time for the Bank to accept again Greek bonds as collateral for draining liquidity.
Speaking during a new conference in Nicosia, Draghi said the EU treaty - and in particular the article 123 on monetary funding - prohibited such action. Draghi said the central bank had doubled lending to Greece to 100 billion euros in the last two months - equivalent to 68 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product and the highest in the eurozone - but noted that ECB could not buy Greek bonds under its new asset-buying programme.
"The ECB is a rule-based institution. It is not a political institution," Draghi said, adding that the ECB wants to restart the financing to the Greek economy provided the conditions are in place. "The conditions are that a process which suggests a successful completion of the review be put in place quickly. That is the condition, and we will certainly welcome such a development," he noted.
He underlined that "the background will be different if there is an agreement-contract in the Eurogroup".
The ECB increased the ceiling on emergency lending assistance for Greek banks by 500 million euros to 69 billion euros. Draghi also said Greek banks were solvent and had capital levels well above minimum requirements, while he stressed that the 10-billion-euro cushion held by the Financial Stability Fund could be used in case of a negative event.
 Discussions with Athens are underway and will continue in the coming days ahead of Eurogroup meeting, eurozone sources sayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
At this point there is no issue of approval or rejection of the Greek package of proposals for structural reforms, eurozone sources said on Thursday in Brussels.
Responding to an ANA-MPA question, the same sources noted that the discussions between Athens and Brussels continue and suggested that the eurozone was expecting the full package of the Greek proposals. Meanwhile, European Commission sources noted that the discussions between the two sides are underway and will continue in the coming days, ahead of the Eurogroup meeting.
 PM Tsipras to meet cenbanker Stournaras on FridayPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras' meeting with Central Bank Governor Yiannis Stournaras has been rescheduled for Friday, government sources said.
 PM Tsipras to meet OECD head Gurria next weekPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras is to meet Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria and possibly other European officials in Paris next Thursday, government sources said.
 EU Commission working to replace troika with more democratic scheme, Dombrovskis saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
The European Commission is working to replace the troika by a formation having greater democratic legitimacy, as announced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker when taking over his duties, European Commission Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis said on Thursday.
Speaking during a press conference held after the conclusion of an EU social dialogue conference, Dombrovskis said that negotiations with Greek authorities were continuing in accordance with the Eurogroup's decision to extend the current programme for Greece.
European Commissioner for employment and social affairs Marianne Thyssen noted that the entry of a country in a support programme did not preclude boosting social dialogue and that the European Commission encouraged it, urging the social partners to take initiatives in this area.
 Berlin received around 360 mln euros in interest payments from Greece in 2010-14, German paper saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Germany received almost 360 million euros in interest payments from Greece between 2010 and 2014, according to German paper Rheinische Post citing a document by German Finance Ministry.
In the coming years, Berlin expects to receive around 20 million euros per year.
 SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman on detention centres"We know that the 'Dublin II Regulation' and the 'Schengen Treaty' need to be discussed," SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Thanassis Petrakos on Thursday told VIMA FM.
Petrakos called on Greece's partners to come to an agreement, otherwise the country may need to consider unilateral acts.
"The issuance of any order on the grounds that 'that was what I understood from an interview' goes beyond common sense, and not only the role of a public sector employee. Obviously, SYRIZA has specific positions. However, SYRIZA is not the only party in the government; it participates in a coalition government and in order for specific positions to be implemented, many things need to be considered," he said and added: "Otherwise it is a political slogan or an ideological position which is very good until it becomes a political decision. In order to shut the detention centres and create hospitality centres, we need to be prepared and we are not. Discussion and EU solidarity are also required so that the issues raised by Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis are solved. He said that we have to sit down with the partners and look at the issue."
 The government did not give any orders on the migrants' issue, its spokesman saysThe Greek government has not given the slightest order, its spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Thursday told MEGA TV referring to the contentious order on irregular migrants.
Sakellaridis said this was a staff working document of the department headed by the specific major general who issued the order without notifying anyone in the leadership.
"A whole issue arose from zero, initiated by an official, without asking anyone in the ministry's political leadership and this created a situation, which the main opposition took advantage in an organized way," he noted.
He accused New Democracy "of trying to make use of an issue which no longer exists for the political leadership of the relevant ministry" and "of choosing to open this issue in a way that has nothing to do with the government's political initiatives and for reasons that may have to do with the present day and the New Democracy's parliamentary group."
 City of Corinth wants migrant detention centre to vacate premises on military campThe city of Corinth council on Thursday asked the government for the immediate abolition of the transit migrant detention centre, which has operated for two years on the old military camp.
The council said the centre was illegal and it also opposed the rumoured transformation of the detention centre to an open centre of welcoming migrants. It asked for the return of the use of the military camp to the city for its services. It will also be used to house the police, fire brigade and for cultural and sports activities, it said.
 Bill on 100 installments to be tabled in Parliament at the weekend, gov't spokesman saysGovernment spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Thursday said that the 100 installment draft law for the payment of overdue debt to the State will be tabled in Parliament during the weekend.
Based on the needs of the Greek society and economy, the government will submit a draft law, Sakellaridis said to MEGA TV, with fiscal benefit and as such it does not oppose to the Eurogroup agreement. He added, however, that partners will be briefed on all initiatives in the framework of Monday's Eurogroup. The government spokesman underlined that the government is drafting its policy taking into account all the parameters.
Moreover, he cleared out that there is no arrival, no visit and no plan for a troika visit.
 ESEE on 100 installment settlement of overdue debtThe submission of the 100 installment draft law to the Parliament as soon as possible will boost the state and social security funds' liquidity as well as the market since it can essentially "reform" the current situation, provided it will not be implemented on a gradual and two-speed basis, National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) said.
According to traders, the main question that the Finance ministry needs to raise is whether and how many debtors still exist as natural or legal entities, since it is estimated that a debt of at least 44 billion euros to the State corresponds to non-existent debtors.
In this framework, emphasis should be given on the flexibility of the settlement, ESEE noted, so that more taxes, contributions and motives are included along with less terms and conditions for exemption.
"For the small and medium sized entrepreneurs, the adoption of a mini, 'express' settlement until the end of March that the economic staff is bringing forward ahead of the main settlement of overdue debt in 100 installments will have no result, but it will have the fate of the previous 16 settlements. A serious and comprehensive "reform" of 100 installments is proved, according to ESEE, to be an imperative need both for the Greek market and the state funds," ESEE head Vassilis Korkidis says.
 Greece extends until June tenders for privatisation of ports, railway network operatorThe tenders for the privatisations of three key assets which are currently underway are extended until June, following a request by Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, sources from Greece's state privatisation agency (HRADF) said on Wednesday evening.
The request concerns the concessions for the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, as well as the sale of railway network operator Trainose, the same sources said.
 FM Kotzias to participate in the Informal "Gymnich" Meeting of EU Foreign MinistersForeign Minister Nikos Kotzias will participate on Friday and Saturday, 6 and 7 March 2015, in the two-day Informal Meeting of EU member-state Foreign Ministers (Gymnich Meeting), which is taking place in Riga, according to a Foreign ministry's announcement.
On the first day, the Gymnich proceedings will focus on, among other things, the situation in Libya and the negotiations under way to form a national unity government; the crisis in Ukraine and in EU-Russia relations; and the preparations for the Eastern Neighbourhood Summit, which will take place this coming May, in Riga.
The second day of the Gymnich Meeting will start with a meeting of EU member states with the candidate countries for EU membership, during which there will be discussion of the main developments in the Eastern Neighbourhood. The Foreign Ministers will then look at the process for the revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the revision of the EU Security Strategy.
 Foreign Ministry on the occasion of the 135th anniversary of the conclusion of Greek-Romanian diplomatic relationsThis year marks the 135th anniversary of the conclusion of diplomatic relation between Greece and Romania, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The longstanding spiritual ties, friendship and trust that link Greece and Romania are the firm foundation on which our multifaceted relations of cooperation are built, both bilaterally and on a regional, European and international level, with respect for pan-human ideals such as freedom, justice, and respect for international law and the principles of good neighbourly relations," it said.
"The 135th anniversary of the conclusion of diplomatic relations between Greece and Romania is an opportunity to reflect on the lessons of the historical past, but it also provides an opportunity for the further strengthening of our relations on every level. At a time of multiple challenges, as well as opportunities, for our region, we are determined to work for the further deepening and dynamic development of our cooperation," it added.
 FYROM President: PM Tsipras' election could signal change for bilateral relationsSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
The President of FYROM, Gjorge Ivanov, said the election of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Greece could usher in a new era in the relations between the two countries, according to an interview with Swiss newspaper Le Temps published on Thursday.
"We hope this new government will usher in a new generation which will know how to free itself from the prejudices inherited from the past. So far, the Greek elites were the last which had remained in the Balkans since the Cold War. Elsewhere, the page has been turned," Ivanov was quoted as saying by the paper.
"That said, the new Greek leaders have many other concerns now and have not publicly referred to their intentions towards us. Realistically, we are not a priority for them," he added.
In another part of the interview, Ivanov said his country has been waiting for 10 years "at the door of the European Union" and noted his country needs to join the Union to implement the necessary domestic reforms and also deal with the effects of the crisis.
The EU has appealed six consecutive times for a start in the accession negotiations since 2009, but Greece has blocked tem all, he said.
Ivanov said there was a complete lack of contact with the previous Greek governments.
"Not the slightest contact and it's not for lack of trying. We have attempted to develop agreements in the areas of border crossing or double taxation, but we have received no response in 25 years," he told the paper.
At the same time, he added, the economic relations between the two countries are very good as more than 200 Greek companies are operating in the country, while bilateral trade exceeds 1 billion dollars per year.
 The government will not tolerate violence in sports venues, Deputy Sports Minister Kontonis tells ANA-MPA"The government will not tolerate violence, bullying and any kind of anti-social behavior in sports venues," Deputy Minister for Sports Stavros Kontonis on Thursday said in an interview with ANA-MPA , noting that "the state is responsible towards the society."
Kontonis reiterated that the Sunday's football matches will be held behind closed doors and added: "We will consider whether this measure will be applied to the next week games too ... I believe that things will have been settled by then. I expect today the Hellenic Football Federation's (EPO) directive to the referees that will provide for stricter regulations. There are other issues on which there is no agreement and that is why we will have further deliberations, as life progresses through dialogue."
He also confirmed that there will soon be a new sports law. "We will soon take steps with a draft law that we will shortly submit to the Parliament, because the sports law, as it has been announced, needs time, solves persistent problems of all sports and all federations. We will intervene to remedy shortcomings and gaps in the existing legislation, to render the state responsible in terms of maintaining the order and imposing fines on those who behave inappropriately in sports venues," he noted.
Kontonis called on fans to trust the government, which is trying to establish a framework based on fairness, transparency and meritocracy.
The full interview in Greek is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 Alt. Min. for National Defence Isichos meets with the Palestinian ambassador to AthensThe prospects for Palestinian officers to be trained in the Greek military, police and fire academies will be considered, Alternate National Defence Minister Kostas Isichos on Thursday said in a meeting with Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Athens Marwan Emile Toubassi.
In the meeting, held in the presence of Deputy Defence Minister Nikos Toskas, it was underlined that the positive role Greece can play in promoting a peaceful and multidimensional foreign policy, based on International Law, can be reinforced.
On his part, the Palestinian ambassador outlined the problems faced by the Palestinian Authority.
The alternate minister presented to the Palestinian ambassador a Greek-Palestinian corporal who serves in the Greek military police, saying that he is a tangible example of equal treatment enjoyed by children born in Greece to migrant parents.
 Alt. Min. for National Defence Isichos meets with the Finnish ambassador to AthensAlternate National Defence Minister Kostas Isichos on Thursday met with Finnish Ambassador to Athens Pauli Makela. The meeting attended Deputy National Defence Minister Nikos Toskas.
They discussed issues of mutual interest focusing on bilateral defence cooperation issues and agreed to hold exchange visits on military leadership level to examine the upgrading of military relations.
The Finnish ambassador showed a special interest in the Greek government's policy on defence and regional issues.
ND leader Samaras faces off against challengers at Parliamentary group meeting; Bakoyannis calls for 'refounding congress'
Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras faced off against critics and challengers within the party on Thursday, during a stormy session of ND's Parliamentary group, amid calls for his resignation and an emergency congress to "refound" the party.
"If anyone thinks that it is good for the party or for the country to raise an issue of [leadership] let them say so now, take the responsibility and initiate the statutory processes. I am not 'married' to my post but neither will I give up the fight at such a difficult time," he said.
Former contender for the leadership Dora Bakoyannis, who lost to Samaras in the election for the party's leadership in 2010, replied with a call for his resignation:
"Whether we like it or not, Greece has turned over onto a new page and we are obliged to leave behind the practices and ways of thinking that brought us here, to form a modern, clearcut political and ideological hallmark. It is no accident that all the leaders of the party resigned after defeats. They were neither bad prime ministers nor bad leaders. But they submitted their resignations because they knew a simple truth: that the effort to vindicate their own work undermined the prospects of the following day," she said.
Bakoyannis also called for an emergency congress to decide the party's future, and discuss all issues from the party's funtioning and internal democracy, which she particularly emphasised, to organisation, strategy and individuals.
In his address, Samaras had emphasised that ND would now be called on to play "unprecedented roles," which demanded that it remain united and put an end to any lingering internal problems. He had also ruled out the possibility of an emergency party congress, saying that he will convene a broader National Conference instead.
"I considered an emergency congress. This, however, would be presented and converted into a symptom of maximal introversion of our party and the least statement by any party member would be exploited to show the party to be divided in crucial times. Instead, I will announce a National Conference so that there can be a very broad dialogue on the basis of updating our ideological identity," he said.
He also announced proposed changes in the party's functioning, to be established at the next regular congress, including an informal 15-member advisory body for the party president and a reorganisation of the party secretariat with the involvement of MPs.
The majority of Samaras' address, however, was devoted to defending his track record while in government and attacking the leading party in Greece's ruling coalition, SYRIZA. Among others, he emphasised that ND had only lost 1.83 pct of its share of the vote relative to the previous elections and remained a leadership contender, despite the harsh measures it had been forced to take.
Attacking ND members who had served as ministers and were now levelling criticism, he asserted that the country would have been rid of memorandums and "on the high road to growth" if the elections had not been held early. He pledged to support the government's demands for lowering primary surplus targets and for debt "assistance" in negotiations with Greece's partners but opposed the rolling back of privatisations and reforms.
He accused the government of sending mixed messages, with some members leading the country to head-on collision with its creditors and others attempting "the greatest somersault in history" - defending the decision taken at the European People's Party (EPP) in this context and dismissing accusations of "supposed conspiracies between our EU partners and ND".
Samaras further asserted that the present government's tactics had a high cost for Greece's economy, creating uncertainty, a flight of deposits and lowering revenues. "We had been on the verge of bringing the country out of the memorandums and they stopped this," he said. He defended his election campaign tactics, stressing that it had not been a "fear campaign" but a simple warning of real dangers.
After Samaras spoke, former prime minister Costas Karamanlis and former Parliament president Vangelis Meimarakis both departed.
 PM Tsipras briefed by Potami leader Theodorakis on his contacts in European capitalsPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday met with opposition Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis who told reporters afterward that he briefed the prime minister on his visit to Brussels, Berlin and Rome.
In the meeting, that lasted for more than an hour, Theodorakis expressed concern to the prime minister, noting that "we should make an effort to regain our partners' trust."
Theodorakis said that in turn the prime minister briefed him on the decisions the government will make in the immediate future and the proposals it will submit in the Eurogroup on Monday.
He also said that the prime minister told him that a major effort is being made by the government ministers in order to present serious and specific reforms on Monday.
 Potami party on Parliament President Konstantopoulou's statementsPotami party in an announcement on Thursday criticised the statements of Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou regarding the validity of voted provisions.
"The President of the Parliament, Ms Zoi Konstantopoulou raised the issue of the constitutionality of laws passed by the previous parliament. Based on what she said, we have the following questions:
- Since when the President of the Parliament has the jurisdiction of a constitutional judge, who also judges the unconstitutionality of laws?
- How is it possible, and with what jurisdiction, for the President of the current Parliament to judge the legality of the legislative work of the previous Parliament?"
Commenting on what Konstantopoulou has said regarding the setting up of investigating committees, Potami party underlined that the setting up of investigating committees or commissions for the study of national or general interest issues require a decision by the Parliament through parliamentary procedures. "Unless the versatile President of the Parliament considers herself competent to act on behalf of the body," according to the statement.
 KKE on Parliament President Konstantopoulou's statementsThe positions expressed by the President of the Parliament Zoi Konstantopoulou on the Golden Dawn's detained deputies and the voting procedures in the House "raise many questions and cultivate tolerance towards a criminal Nazi organization. These positions generally favor dangerous planning," communist KKE party said in a statement.
The party also called on the government to stop hiding behind the so-called "independent institutional roles" and clearly express its views.
 EU and government once again using 'financing gap' to cow the people, KKE says"Once again, covering the so-called financing gap and the sums required to pay off the debt are being used by the European Union, but also the government, in order to cow the people into accepting the continuation of anti-popular policies, at the same time as the government is preparing measures for internal 'borrowing' at the expense of the popular strata," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Thursday.
It said the people must reject both open and veiled attempts at intimidation, as well as the government's haggling with the EU and the "institutions", which only sought to secure funding for the capitalist economy, or capital, at the expense of the people.
 PASOK on Parliament President Konstantopoulou's presserPASOK on Thursday accused Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou of an unprecedented institutional impropriety following "yesterday's three-hour press conference."
In a statement, PASOK said that it is unbelievable and parliamentary unethical, as regards the internal organization and operation of the House, that the media be informed of the decisions, recommendations or opinions of the President of the Parliament before the competent bodies.
It also stressed that Konstantopoulou defiantly challenged the Parliament plenary, during the meeting of which a few days ago, the parties (including SYRIZA) and deputies expressed their opinions in relation to the issue of participation of Golden Dawn's detained MPs in meetings and votings, which were clearly different from her own view.
PASOK also accused the President of the Parliament of a disappointing ignorance of existing constitutional rules, adding that it is obvious that Konstantopoulou is seeking to change the Parliament's stance on the issue of Golden Dawn.
Moreover, it said Konstantopoulou cannot perceive the distinction of powers not only in relation to justice, but also in relation to the government.
 PASOK accuses the government of attempting to deceive the peopleOpposition PASOK party on Thursday lashed out at the government accusing it of attempting to deceive Greek people with the government-sponsored draft bill against the humanitarian crisis, a debate on which will be launched in the responsible parliamentary committee on Friday.
According to PASOK, "the draft bill, allegedly aimed at dealing with extreme poverty, is nothing less than an attempt to pass irrelevant provisions tailor-made to ensure the appointment of a partisan army," underlining that it will vote these provisions down.
The party said, however, that it will vote in favour of the draft bill both in principle and in its second reading. It was also announced that it will table a rider with it to introduce the Guaranteed Social Income (already implemented on a trial basis in 13 municipalities nationwide since November 2014) to more administrative units.
In a press conference by party rapporteur Vassilis Kegeroglou and the representatives of the committees on public administration and financial affairs, Fofi Genimmata and Yiannis Koutsoukos respectively, it was underlined that the government is limited to vague, sketchy announcements lacking a specific timetable and that the much-advertised "Thessaloniki programme" is being abandoned.
 PASOK wants agreement to extend MFFA to be made publicOpposition PASOK party on Thursday called on Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to release the text of the amended-extended Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement between the EFSF and Greece.
A PASOK announcement called on "the government and the finance minister personally, who placed his signature without authorisation, to give to publicity without any delay the full text of the amended-extended Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement between EFSF and the Greek Republic with all attached documents (consultatory responses, etc)."
 Kasidiaris released on ban over illegal video recording, returns to prison for Golden Dawn case (UPDATE)Detained Golden Dawn (GD) deputy Ilias Kasidiaris on Thursday appeared before the examining magistrate for Corruption Costas Sargiotis, facing charges for revealing the contents of an illegal video recording of a conversation with Panagiotis Baltakos, secretary general of the previous government.
Sargiotis ruled Kasidiaris should be released on a ban to leave the country. However, the deputy will return to prison as he is remanded in custody for weapon possession in the case of the criminal organization.
GD deputy reportedly denied he had made the recording and claimed he was not aware that his conversation with Baltakos was being filmed.
The case - on which Kasidiaris faces criminal charges - relates to the video recording of a conversation that he had with Baltakos in November 2013 over the judicial investigation into the Golden Dawn case. ?
The release of the footage had resulted into the resignation of Baltakos, while prosecution authorities pressed criminal charges against Kasidiaris for violating the confidentiality of a discussion and the use of its illegal recording.
 Court finds two Golden Dawn members guilty in beating caseSerres Misdemeanor Court on Thursday sentenced two Golden Dawn (GD) members to 12 month imprisonment for beating an ANTARSYA party supporter in 2012.
The two accused - including a former GD deputy - were found guilty on the charges of causing grievous bodily harm as well as of carrying and using a weapon.
The court suspended the sentence for a three-year period.
 EOPYY reissues circular on prescription drugs; decision unworkable, pharmacists respondIn a bid to reduce spending on pharmaceuticals, the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) on Thursday reissued a circular informing pharmacists of their obligation to fill prescriptions covered by EOPYY with the cheapest available alternative - normally generic - of the drug in question.
The circular prompted an immediate reaction from the national pharmacists' association, which said that the measure was unworkable and asked the health ministry to revoke it.
Under the provisions of the circular, pharmacists are obliged to inform patients of cheaper, generic versions of the drug in their prescription and the amount of their contribution for this. In the case that the patient chooses the more expensive alternative, he or she is obliged to pay the difference in price between the two, in addition to his 25 pct contribution, and to place his signature on the prescription itself.
EOPYY is then obliged to conduct regular monthly inspections on prescriptions submitted by pharmacists and, if any discrepancy is found, it can impose fines ranging from 500-5,000 euros or even remove a pharmacy's right to fill EOPYY prescriptions.
Pharmacists expressed surprise that the circular was reissued, describing it as a "memorandum law that forces pharmacists to police the insured so that they take cheaper drugs," and noted that pharmacists have already challenged its implementation in court.
 Resigned PPC head says controversy over pay raises relates to unclear lawsThe reason he was forced to resign, Arthouros Zervos, former president and CEO of Greece's state-run power utility company PPC, said on Thursday was "the different interpretation, in terms of how PPC applied them, of questionable and contradictory regulations of law."
Zervos, who said he agreed to resign in order to protect the company from negative publicity and because an Appeals Court indictment over breach of faith charges insulted his person, submitted his resignation on Wednesday evening to Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who accepted it. The court said he approved wage rises for 19 PPC executives in the period 2010-2012, during which a law limiting the salaries of the state company was in place.
The controversy Zervos said arose because of a question on whether a family bonus is included in the ceiling of wages set by laws 3833/10 and 3845/10, and said the company's faithful observation of laws related to cutbacks in overtime and extra shifts resulted in lowering the budget for wages by 700 million euros per year, or 40 percent.
He added that in order to approve the rises to the executives, PPC asked for and applied the opinions of two reputable professors who concluded that the family bonus is not included in the pay ceiling. He also said that the particular interpretation of the law by PPC was known by the political leadership, the shareholders and the finance ministry in particular, as the salaries had to be approved by the Greek state. "I am sure the court will find these were handled correctly," he said.
 Papaconstantinou's trial continues; proposal to summon PASOK leader Venizelos is rejectedThe court trying the former finance minister George Papaconstantinou's case rejected the prosecutor's proposition to summon PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos to testify, ruling that there is no reason to call the suggested witnesses to the stand, it was announced on Thursday.
However, the presiding judge clarified that the ruling can be reversed at any time if it is deemed necessary.
The prosecutor had asked the court to summon another four witnesses to testify in the case, among them the PASOK leader.
Today's hearing on Papaconstantinou's involvement in the alleged adulteration of the so-called Lagarde list (an electronic file with the names of roughly 2,000 Greeks with sizeable accounts in HSBC who were being audited for income tax liabilities) opened with the testimony of Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) president, professor Loukas Tsoukalis, who praised the character of the former finance minister.
The second witness to testify was Venizelos' secretary Sophia Belba following a testimony by Sophia Ritsou, a former associate of Papaconstantinou, who had told the court that the computer user with the password "Sophia" that had read part of the Lagarde list on October 1, 2012 was Venizelos' secretary and not her.
Belba testified that the password was indeed hers and that no CD or USB stick was handed over during the handover ceremony between Papanconstantinou and Venizelos at the ministry of finance.
According to the witness, in August 2011 former SDOE financial crimes squad chief Ioannis Diotis delivered a USB stick to Venizelos and a few sheets of paper. She said that she was not aware of the USB's contents and that she put it in a box and kept it in a locker at PASOK's offices.
She said that Venizelos asked for the controversial USB when the relevant uproar started on October 2, 2012 and that she opened it once to be sure that it was the right USB and a second time before she delivered it to Venizelos who put it in an envelope and had a police officer hand-deliver it to Maximos Mansion.
The witness assured the court that Venizelos does not use a computer and that he was not aware of the USB's contents, noting that she was the only one that read it.
Also testifying on Thursday was former president of the Legal Council of the State Fokion Georgakopoulos, who said he does not know and has never seen anything except documents being processed with incoming or outgoing numbers. USBs do not go through such a process unless they are accompanied by a document.
The trial continues.
 Trial of former FinMin Papaconstantinou to continue tomorrow, FridayThe ongoing trial of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou wrapped up for Thursday, to resume Friday afternoon.
Former president of the Legal Council of the State Fokion Georgakopoulos, who was expected to testify on Thursday, will do so tomorrow. He has said in earlier statements that he does not know and has never seen anything except documents being processed with incoming or outgoing numbers.
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits Christian refugees in hospitality centreISTANBUL (ANA-MPA)
Ecumenical Patriarchate Bartholomew visited on Thursday a centre hosting Christian refugees from the Middle East in Yalova, a city located in northwestern Turkey, near the eastern coast of the Sea of Marmara.
The hospitality centre has been created by the Syrian Jacobite community.
The Patriarch was accompanied by the Metropolitan of Syrian Jacobites, Yusuf Cetin and members of the Patriarch Court.
 Productive Reconstruction Minister Lafazanis addresses the EU Energy CouncilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis) -
A genuine energy union in Europe is necessary but it should coincide with a progressive shift on behalf of Europe and be built step-by-step, focusing on economic growth and society and not on misleading market laws that often conceal the domination of cruel interests, Productive Reconstruction, Environment & Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis underlined here on Thursday.
Addressing the EU Energy Council, he said that "for us energy is not just another commodity. It is a basic developmental and social good that should be accessible to everybody on terms of dignity and justice," noting that, generally speaking, "we are not challenging the declared energy union goals."
He underlined, however, that "we have our doubts as to whether the means suggested can achieve them (the goals) or, on the contrary, whether they intensify the inequalities and painful economic and social side-effects we see dominating in the eurozone and the EU."
Referring to the situation in Greece, Lafazanis said "the steps of often forceful neo-liberal deregulation in the energy sector made by Greece as a result of the persistence displayed by the European Commission and the troika, have favoured predatory private interests and facilitated two horrible side-effects. Namely, the dramatic rise of energy poverty and skyrocketing energy rates. Productivity and an exit from the crisis were not facilitated by the suggested privatisations and the division of public-run energy companies."
He voiced the annoyance of the Greek side as regards the final conclusions' draft text, according to which the European Commission should be briefed in advance and participate in the energy agreements reached between EU member-states and third countries. According to Lafazanis, the role of the states in the energy sector is irreplaceable.
Referring to the energy interconnections with grids, pipelines and transport routes, he said that they can reinforce cooperation and mutual economic growth between countries and peoples and contribute to the security and efficiency of energy supply through better terms and smaller cost.
He noted that Greece wishes to develop multidimensional and multifaceted energy interconnections and international energy relations.
The minister underlined that Greece sees as absolutely necessary and of strategic importance the Cyprus-Crete-Greek mainland grid energy interconnection which should be included in the projects of common European interest and receive generous funding. He also said that European support to the energy interconnection of the Aegean islands is fair and justifiable, aimed at further boosting electricity from wind power and drastically reducing gas emissions.
Lafazanis said that the European funds allocated to energy production are inadequate and unfairly distributed, while as regards the European energy interconnections, he underlined the need for the adoption of joint European efforts to assist in the delineation and security of all maritime zones in the SE Mediterranean, in compliance with international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
 Greek unemployment rate at 26 pct in DecGreek unemployment rate rose slightly to 26 pct of the workforce in December 2014, from 25.9 pct in November, but fell compared with a 27.3 pct rate in December 2013, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a monthly report, said the number of unemployed people totaled 1,233,404 in December, with the unemployment rate among young people aged up to 24 years old remained above 50 pct (51.2 pct), while in the 25-34 age group it was 35 pct.
The number of unemployed people fell by 76,053 compared with December 2013 (-5.8 pct). The number of employed people totaled 3,505,569, up 17,972 compared with December 2013 (0.5 pct), but down 24,453 compared with November 2014 (0.7 pct). The number of economically non-active people totaled 3,371,756.
The unemployment rate among women was 29.3 pct, significantly higher compared with men (23.4 pct). The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group was 51.2 pct (56.2 pct in Dec 2013), in the 25-34 age group it was 35 pct (36.3 pct), in the 35-44 age group it was 22.5 pct (24 pct), in the 45-54 age group it was 20.9 pct (20.6 pct), in the 55-64 age group it was 16.4 pct (17.5 pct) and in the 65-74 age group it was unchanged at 10.6 pct.
Macedonia-Thrace (27.3 pct in Dec 2014 from 29.2 pct in Dec 2013) recorded the highest unemployment rate among the country's regions, followed by Attica (27.3 pct-28.3 pct), Epirus-Western Macedonia (26.8 pct-29.8 pct), Thessaly-Central Greece (26.2 pct-26.4 pct), Peloponese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands (25.5 pct-26.4 pct), Crete (24.3 pct-23.8 pct) and Aegean (19 pct-21.8 pct).
 Registered unemployment up slightly in JanThe number of registered unemployed grew by 0.73 pct or 6,252 in January to a total of 864,377, from 858,125 in December, the Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) said on Thursday. In a monthly report, OAED said that 459,232 (or 53.13 pct) were registered for a period of more than 12 months, while the remaining 405,145 (or 46.87 pct) were registered unemployed for less than 12 months. The report noted that the number of registered unemployed people not seeking work fell by 4,422, or 2.15 pct in January, while the number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefit also fell by 5,989 or 3.45 pct in the month.
The 62.46 pct of unemployed were in the age group of 30-54, with 40.58 pct in the 30-44 age group. A 59.95 pct of registered unemployment were women. Greek citizens accounted for 93.25 pct of registered unemployment in January, while EU citizens were 14,397 (1.67 pct) and third-country citizens were 43,979 (5.09 pct).
The number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefit totaled 167,537 in January, down from 173,526 in December, of which 74,644 men and 92,893 women.
 Foreign investors reduced exposure in Greek capital market in Feb.Foreign investors cut their exposure in the Greek capital market in February to 60.1 pct, from 61.1 pct in January, for a decline of 1.6 pct, although the decline was bigger (2.2 pct) if the participation of the Financial Stability Fund in the market's capitalisation was taken into account.
Foreign investors were net sellers in February, with capital outflows of 162.17 million euros, while Greek investors were net buyers, with capital inflows of 162.52 million euros. Foreign investors accounted for 60.7 pct of all transactions in the market, down from 71.1 pct in January, but up from 52.8 pct in February 2014.
Greek investors held 30.8 pct of the market's capitalisation in February, from 30.5 pct in January.
The value of transactions totalled 2.953 billion euros in February, up 37.9 pct from January, and up 66.7 pct from February 2014. Daily average turnover was 155.43 million euros in February, up from January (107.11 pct) and February last year (88.59 million).
The number of active investor codes jumped to 38,527 in February, form 28,532 in January. The market's capitalisation rose to 45.65 billion euros at the end of February, from 38.26 billion a month earlier (an increase of 19.3 pct) but down 32.2 pct compared with February 2014.
 Farmers to receive 380 mln euro 'liquidity injection' by end-May, minister saysFarmers can expect a "liquidity injection" of more than 380 million euros by the end of May, when all subsidies and compensation for crop losses will have been paid, Alternate Minister for Rural Development Vangelis Apostolou said on Thursday.
The minister went on to itemise and outline the schedule for these payments over the next three months, saying that a total of 273 million euros will be paid in subsidies - including sums pending since 2012 - and a further 113 million euros in farmers' compensation for damages to crops or livestock due to bad weather or other causes.
Apostolou asked farmers for their forbearance, saying the ministry had inherited serious problems that included large fines and claims imposed by the European Union, amounting to 2.5 billion euros.
In an informal meeting with journalists, Apostolou said that the confirmed fines stood at 1.3 billion euros. For 500 million euros the process was completed and 215 million euros had already been paid, with a further 398 million euros scheduled to be paid in 2016. For the 700 million euros that remained, the government was making every effort for the reduction of this sum, he said.
The sums claimed back by the EU relate to mainly fives cases and amount to 1.2 billion euros, which the government has been asked to recover from farmers with interest, he explained. The biggest of the cases involved the so-called "Hatzidakis package", where the amount was successfully reduced to 327 million euros from 421 million euros, and the "Kontos package" in 2008, where Greece has been asked to recover 150 million euros. The third case involves the recovery of 465 million euros for various cases between 1982-1989.
Replying to questions, Apostolou said the European Commission was not asking that these sums be offset against new subsidies and announced that he will immediately pass laws stipulating that subsidies and compensation paid to farmers from Community or national funds will not be considered taxable income.
He announced that the first bill to be tabled in Parliament relating to agriculture will concern the regulatory framework for cooperatives.
 Labour minister received delegation from Athens Chamber of TradesmenLabour Minister Panos Skourletis on Thursday received a delegation from the Athens Chamber of Tradesmen (EEA) and discussed action to promote employment in small and medium-sized enterprises.
EEA President Yiannis Hatzitheodosiou presented proposals for targeted action in employment programmes, such as rationalising the terms of subsidised hiring to make them less risky for employers and expanding policies of converting unemployment benefits to employment benefits, suggesting this will help rapidly create new jobs.
 April pension payments are guaranteed and IKA will not ask for a loan, social security fund officials sayThe management of social security fund IKA does not intend to ask for a loan to pay April pensions and those insured in the fund should not be concerned, IKA officials said. The same officials noted that IKA has already deposited 150 million euros in a National Bank account.
Regarding reports on IKA's lower revenues in January and February, they said that the funds' revenues are indeed lower by 72 million euros compared to same months in 2014 - due to cuts in employers' contribution - but this drop does not affect IKA's finances while revenue flow from contributions is, even slightly, better compared to last year.
 Greece's first solar-powered EV charger, built by at Piraeus TEI's SEA Lab, inaugurated on ThursdayGreece's first fully autonomous solar-powered electric vehicle-charging station - developed by SEA Lab (Soft Energy Applications and Environmental Protection Laboratory) at the Technological Educational Institute of Piraeus - was inaugurated on Thursday, with Prof. Apostolos Alexopoulos standing in for Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.
Prof. Alexopoulos also spoke at a seminar organised by SeaLab on clean electric vehicles and their prospects in Greece, noting that the sector could help create thousands of jobs in the country. He emphasised the decisive role that Greek universities and technological institutes, as well as research institutes, can play in the development and improvement of infrastructure, both for electric vehicles and for storing energy produced by Renewable Energy Sources (RES).
 Spot inspections in February revealed 41 pct tax delinquency rate, authorities reportA 41 pct tax delinquency rate was found in 307 spot inspections carried out in February, conducted by the Public Revenues Investigations and Protection Service on behalf of the General Secretariat for Public Revenues, the finance ministry announced on Thursday.
The spot checks revealed a total of 484 tax violations, committed by 125 businesses, while the customs and Special Consumption Tax service confiscated large quantities of contraband - including 30,334,000 cigarettes, 200 kilos of the drug khat, 1,060 litres of alcoholic beverages and 36,285 items of tampered goods.
 Council of State finds Astir Vouliagmenis redevelopment non-legalThe fifth division of the Council of State on Thursday found the draft presidential decree for the redevelopment of the area of Astir Vouliagmenis and in general, the peninsula of Mikro Kavouri, a site in the coastal city of Vouliagmeni south of Athens, non-legal.
In particular, they ruled that the part, which provides for the construction of new houses (bungalows) and other buildings in the unbuilt part of the peninsula, was non legal.
 Titan Group returns to profitabilityTitan Group on Thursday said its net after minorities and tax provisions earnings totalled 31 million euros in 2014, from a loss of 36 million euros in the previous year, returning to profitability after two years of losses. Consolidated turnover totalled 1.158 billion euros in 2014, up 2.7 pct from 2013, while EBITDA fell 2.6 pct to 182 million euros.
The Group said a continuing recovery in the U.S. market, an improvement in the domestic market and better performance in the markets of Turkey and Southeastern Europe, had a positive impact on operating results. On the other hand, a prolonged shortfall of natural gas in Egypt hit Titan's subsidiary's results. The group is making significant investments in Egypt to gradually restore production with the use of fossil and secondary fuel.
Parent turnover grew 12.5 pct to 264 million euros in 2014, operating earnings totalled 31 million euros (11 million in 2013), while net after tax earnings jumped to 92 million euros from 43 million in 2013, helped by dividend payment from international activities.
The company's board will seek shareholders approval to a plan to pay a 0.15 euros per share dividend to shareholders and the distribution of special reserves, of 0.15 euros per share.
 Greek stocks end higherGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday. Traders said that ECB governor's comments that Greek banks were solvent and that the 10 billion euros cushion of the Financial Stability Fund could be used if necessary, encouraged trading in Greek bank shares, pushing the bank index more than 6.0 pct up.
The composite index of the market rose 0.99 pct to end at 857.54 points, off the day's highs of 858.19 points. The Large Cap index rose 1.88 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.23 pct higher. Turnover was low 67.44 million euros.
Eurobank (7.50 pct), National Bank (7.20 pct), Piraeus Bank (6.32 pct), Alpha Bank (4.12 pct), Motor Oil (3.72 pct) and Terna Energy (3.33 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Athens Water (5.73 pct), Viohalco (3.98 pct), Grivalia Properties (3.96 pct) and PPC (3.28 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Banks (6.31 pct), Insurance (2.24 pct) and Chemicals (2.18 pct) scored gains, while Utilities (3.21 pct), Real Estate (2.52 pct) and Constructions (1.0 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 56 to 50, with another 21 issues unchanged. Athens Medical (22.22 pct), Pegasus (19.59 pct) and NEL (19.23 pct) were top gainers, while Hatzikraniotis (23.50 pct), Kyriakoulis (21.07 pct) and Ionian Hotels (17.82 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: +0.69%
Industrial Products: -0.43%
Real Estate: -2.52%
Personal & Household: +0.98%
Food & Beverages: +0.33%
Raw Materials: +0.62%
Mass Media: unchanged
Travel & Leisure: +2.03%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, National Bank, OTE and Piraeus Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.354
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.19
Coca Cola HBC: 16.23
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.29
National Bank of Greece: 1.34
Piraeus Bank: 0.505
Grivalia Properties: 8.25
Aegean Airlines: 7.50
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek state bond yields remained unchanged on Thursday as the domestic market failed to take advantage of a positive climate which prevailed in other European markets following the announcement of a QE program by the European Central Bank.
The three-year bond yield was 14.08 pct from 14.07 pct on Wednesday, while the five-year bond yielded 12.37 pct from 12.54 pct, respectively. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose slightly to 9.25 pct from 9.23 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 9.50 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.35 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.226 pct from 0.227 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.158 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.108 pct from 0.11 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.036 pct from 0.038 pct, and the one-month rate fell to -0.007 pct from -0.006 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.58 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 6,355 contracts with 39,408 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 32,697 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (10,429), followed by National Bank (8,370), Piraeus Bank (7,621), Alpha Bank (3,339), PPC (643), OTE (607), OPAP (315), MIG (223), Mytilineos (137), Motor Oil (85) and Viohalco (74).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.1069
Pound sterling 0.7251
Danish kroner 7.4542
Swedish kroner 9.214
Japanese yen 133.1
Swiss franc 1.0697
Norwegian kroner 8.546
Canadian dollar 1.377
Australian dollar 1.4205
 Amphipolis head archaeologist is waiting for Culture ministry's green light to continue excavationsThe excavation team is waiting for the Culture ministry's decision in order to continue their works on Kasta Hill in Amphipolis, archaeologist Katerina Peristeri on Thursday told ANA-MPA.
Regarding the non-participation of the excavation team in the 28th Scientific Meeting on Archaeological Work in Macedonia and Thrace that will start on Friday in Thessaloniki, Peristeri told ANA-MPA: "We decided not to participate in this year's conference, because we need to systematically study all the excavation findings, all processes in progress, so that we participate in the next conference with full scientific conclusions."
Meanwhile, all the archaeological findings of the Kasta Hill are in perfect condition, under the constant supervision of the excavation team.
 Alleged associate of convicted terrorist appears before examining magistrateAngeliki Spyropoulou, the 22-year-old alleged associate of convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, on Thursday appeared before the examining magistrate handling terrorism cases.
Spyropoulou is facing heavy charges as she is considered one of the masterminds in an operation, allegedly planned by "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" group members and Xiros, so as to help detained group members to break out from Korydallos prison.
According to sources, the 22-year-old refused to answer any questions posed by the examining magistrate.
 Alleged associates of convicted terrorist remanded in custodyTwenty-two year old Angeliki Spyropoulou and a 39-year-old man, alleged associates of convicted terrorist Christodoulos Xiros, on Thursday were remanded in custody, after appearing before the examining magistrate handling terrorism cases.
The two accused face heavy charges relating to the operation of the terrorist group.
 I do not recognize the process, I am an anarchist, Angeliki Spyropoulou reportedly told examining magistrate"I will not give any account (of my actions), I do not recognize the process, I declare I am an anarchist," 22-year-old Angeliki Spyropoulou reportedly said on Thursday, when led before the appeals special examining magistrate handling terrorism cases earlier in the day . The magistrate ordered that both Spyropoulou and a second suspect facing charges in connection with the case be remanded in custody.
Spyropoulou is considered to have had a central role in the so-called "Gorgopotamos" operation, which involved a bomb attack against Korydallos prison so as to help detained members of the "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire" group break out.
Spyropoulou reportedly told the examining magistrate that she is participating, along with her detained co-defendants, in a hunger strike launched four days ago over the "unfair and illegal" detention of the 60-year-old mother of detained terror group members Christos and Gerasimos Tsakalos, as well as the latter's 26-year-old partner.
The second of the accused that appeared before the examining magistrate on Thursday, a 39-year-old allegedly called "Iasonas", refused to answer questions. According to sources, he read out a text with his position on the charges against him.
Spyropoulou's lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis after the end of the deposition procedure told reporters that his client "stood before the judges proudly and bravely."
 17-year-old Greek student in serious but stable condition after falling off balcony in RomeA 17-year-old student who fell off a hotel balcony for unknown reasons during a school trip in Rome is in critical but stable condition in the Italian capital.
The girl fell off the second storey of a central Rome hotel and was taken to the emergency ward at midnight with serious head injuries. Her parents have arrived at the hospital and the relevant Italian authorities are in continuous contact with the Greek embassy.
 Dutch national, 51, arrested on charge of attempting to murder police officerA 51-year-old Dutch national has been arrested in Corinth on charges of attempting to murder a police officer by running him over with his car.
The incident occurred on Wednesday night, on the Athens-Patras national highway, when the police officer hailed the suspect and asked him to pull over for a spot check. According to the charges, the driver refused and instead drove his car toward the policeman, who stepped away and shot in the air as a warning.
The Dutch national was placed under arrest and charged with attempted homicide, insubordination and abuse. The officer will face charges for needlessly firing his weapon.
 Police recapture fugitive that broke out of police station jailOne of three men that escaped from a police jail in Corinth on February 27 has been recaptured at Examilia in the Corinth area, police said on Thursday. The 35-year-old was spotted driving a motorbike that he had stolen the night before and was placed under arrest, despite presenting resistance. He will be led before a Corinth public prosecutor.
 Events in Piraeus marking Olympiakos FC founding anniversary on TuesdayPiraeus, the home base of Olympiakos FC, will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the club's founding with special events on March 10 (Tuesday).
The celebration aims at boosting flagging sales, it was announced on Thursday.
Events will include circus clown performances, children's activities and autograph signing by the team's players, among others.
 Rain on FridayRainfall and winds from mainly southerly directions are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will possibly reach 9 on the Beaufort scale. Overcast with rain in the northern parts of the country and snowfall in mountainous areas, with temperatures ranging between 2C and 10C. Same weather in the western parts with temperatures between 4C and 14C. Same weather in the eastern parts and temperatures between 6C and 15C. Clouds and rain over the islands, 12C-19C. Overcast and rain in Athens, 12C-15C; same weather in Thessaloniki, 08C-14C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Battle on all fronts
DIMOKRATIA: The fatal issue of irregular migrants
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Generous" settlements to raise revenues
ESTIA: Indescribable amateurs
ETHNOS: Pay your debts to the Tax Bureau to have your penalties written-off
IMERISSIA: Debt settlement to raise revenues
KATHIMERINI: Migration issue up in the air
LOGOS: The number of irregular migrants tripled
NAFTEMPORIKI: Ambiguities on a third package
RIZOSPASTIS: People should claim what they have lost and what they deserve
TA NEA: Appointment in Athens
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