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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-03-11

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

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

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 Issue No: 4906

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Alexis Tsipras speaks in Parliament on revival of WWII reparations committee initiative
  • [02] Government denies reports on lenders' technical team at the General Accounting Office
  • [03] Labour Minister Skourletis addresses EU Employment Ministers' Council in Brussels
  • [04] FinMin Varoufakis says reporter misrepresented his position on referendum; Greek side avoided new blackmail, Katrougalos says
  • [05] Stathakis at L'ECHO: 'We'll follow our pledges to the letter'
  • [06] Commissioner Moscovici refers to Monday's Eurogroup and speaks of 'balanced decisions'
  • [07] German FinMin Schaeuble insists that further aid will be given to Greece only after agreement with lenders
  • [08] The troika as we knew it is a thing of the past, gov't spokesman says
  • [09] Bill on rehiring public-sector staff, abolishing memorandum disciplinary laws to be unveiled soon, Katrougalos says
  • [10] National Defence Minister Kammenos: 'we will not ask anyone's permission to display our national sovereignty'
  • [11] Minister of State Flambouraris calls on politicians to bring their money back to the country
  • [12] Former FinMin Hardouvelis on money transferred abroad
  • [13] Alternate FM Tsakalotos meets TUC sec gen
  • [14] Former US envoy to Athens: 'Greece is much more important than people think'
  • [15] Alternate Social Insurance min Stratoulis promises restitution of 360 euro pension to uninsured elderly
  • [16] Labour min Skourletis meets SETE representatives
  • [17] FM Kotzias to meet the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
  • [18] Alt. Min for Civil Protection Panoussis unveils new proposals in the context of anti-crime policy
  • [19] Parliament President Konstantopoulou and National Defence Minister Kammenos announce closer cooperation
  • [20] New Democracy must hold congress and discuss its defeat, Dora Bakoyannis insists
  • [21] Former minister Kikilias slams government policy on migration
  • [22] ANEL spokesman Chryssoveloni calls on PASOK not to worry
  • [23] Potami leader, MPs refuse to use a parliamentary car
  • [24] KKE comments on the Eurogroup meeting
  • [25] PASOK says draft bill on ERT 'resurrects' worst era of old broadcaster
  • [26] IKA to extend health coverage to long-term unemployed, qualified non-EU nationals
  • [27] ANEL parliamentary MPs discuss protecting primary residence
  • [28] Many SYRIZA MPs waived right to car, give 40 pct of MP salary to party and solidarity structures, sources say
  • [29] Number of MPs who refuse a state car rises to nine
  • [30] Former gensec jailed for submarine bribes summoned to testify about blackmail attempts against him
  • [31] Controversial files projected onto large screen during Papaconstantinou Special Court trial
  • [32] ESM approves transfer of 555 million euros from HFSF to Greek state
  • [33] Productive Reconstruction Min. Lafazanis says Greece to examine offset benefits from TAP pipeline
  • [34] EconMin Stathakis discusses TAP timetable with consortium representatives
  • [35] Greek inflation rate slowed to -2.2 pct in Feb
  • [36] Greek National Tourist Organisation participates in international tourism fair in China
  • [37] New secretary general for commerce and consumers assumes duties
  • [38] More than 12 mln euro EU funds for vineyards restructuring programme
  • [39] Wholesale turnover index down 0.7 pct in Q4
  • [40] Insurance premium production down 5.4 pct in Jan
  • [41] Greek trade deficit down 21 pct in Jan
  • [42] Investments projects of 33.2 mln euro in Fisheries
  • [43] Greek stocks end slightly higher
  • [44] Greek bond market closing report
  • [45] ADEX closing report
  • [46] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [47] AEK FC strongman Melissanidis testifies to examining magistrate on 'football criminal organisation' case
  • [48] Police cordon off Appeals Court in Lamia for trial of two former policemen charged with murdering teen in 2008
  • [49] Trial of brutally abused Egyptian worker opens in a Piraeus court
  • [50] Three Pakistani nationals arrested for running business of fake travel and residency documents
  • [51] Overcast, rain on Wednesday
  • [52] The Tuesday edition of Athens dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Alexis Tsipras speaks in Parliament on revival of WWII reparations committee initiative

    The government supports with all its powers the initiative to set up again and upgrade the interparty parliamentary committee to demand from Germany WWII reparations and the forced loan by then government, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a speech to Parliament on Tuesday.

    Addressing the Parliament's special session, Tsipras said that "the Greek government will work assiduously so that it helps Europe - on equal terms and through dialgoue, in the framework of a sincere negotiation - move towards a solution to the complicated problems it faces. It will work so that Greek keeps its obligations fully. It will also work however to ensure that all unmet obligations to Greece and the Greek people are kept fully."

    Speaking of Parliament President Zoi Constantopoulou's initiative to reintroduce the committee, he said, "We are prepared to offer every legal and political assistance so that this committee's efforts bear results."

    The initiative, he added, will bring justice to the unfulfilled ethical and material debt to the Greek people and to all European peoples who fought in war, sacrificed themselves, bled and defeated Nazism. This work is an obligation to Greek history and the participants in national resistance, including the victims of WWII and those people who have a right to a future that is free of any king of totalitarianism.

    [02] Government denies reports on lenders' technical team at the General Accounting Office

    Reports in the press claiming that a team of technical advisers by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB) will set up their office in the General Accounting Office have no relation to reality, government sources said on Tuesday.

    [03] Labour Minister Skourletis addresses EU Employment Ministers' Council in Brussels

    People, the workers and the unemployed are at the center of interventions in conditions of high unemployment and increased long-term unemployment that threaten to trivialize skills, Labour Minister Panos Skourletis underlined in the EU Employment Ministers Council in Brussels.

    Addressing his EU counterparts on Monday, Skourletis briefed them on the Greek government priorities, namely, the people's right to work, the adoption of measures to address the consequences of the crisis and safeguarding social justice.

    He added that a number of reforms are being promoted that are necessary to Greek society and can lead the country to social cohesion and economic growth by putting an emphasis on research, innovation, high technology and investments that will benefit society and can play a pivotal role in the country's production reconstruction effort.

    Skourletis said that a draft bill has been tabled in Parliament to immediately address the humanitarian crisis, guaranteeing free electricity for those eligible, reconnection of electricity cut off as a result of unpaid bills, rent support and the issuing of food stamps.

    He also said that collective labour agreements will be reinstated, a modern legal framework will be adopted as regards layoffs and the reintroduction of the institution of arbitration, while minimum wage will increase gradually.

    Referring to the investment plan presented by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that was discussed during the working luncheon, the labour minister said that the priorities of the Investment Plan respond to major needs of the economy and society and have an impact on the real economy by focusing on the development of human resources and the promotion of employment through the financing of SMEs.

    [04] FinMin Varoufakis says reporter misrepresented his position on referendum; Greek side avoided new blackmail, Katrougalos says

    Speaking to the French weekly magazine "Paris Match" due to be released on Thursday, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis claimed that the reporter conducting his controversial Corriere della Serra interview had misrepresented his position on whether Greece should resort to a referendum or new elections over the euro.

    Varoufakis said the reporter involved had essentially completedly distorted his position to something that was almost the opposite of what he had said.

    "He was at a speech I gave in Vienna, during which I explained in detail that there is no issue of Grexit for our government. It is harmful to even talks about it. I then gave an interview with the journalist in question, who insisted on asking what our government will do in the case that all the European partners refuse our proposals. I replied that there is no such possibility and that there is a spirit of collectiveness in the Eurogroup. He insisted, however, and I replied that in the unlikely case of an impasse, since we are not glued to our positions, we can resign and hold a referendum on the reforms - and the matter was left there. The headline of the interview was converted to 'Varoufakis wants a referendum on the euro', in other words the opposite of what I said. I made a lengthy statement to deny it," the minister said.

    The controversial Varoufakis interview was also raised by a reporter with the French daily "Liberation" in an interview with Greek Alternate Administrative Reform Minister George Katrougalos.

    Commenting on the Varoufakis statement, Katrougalos denied this was an attempt to "dramatise" the situation.

    "We are in negotiations with the European partners. This concerns finding an agreement, chiefly on the issue of the debt. In the final agreement with our European partners in February, we avoided being submitted to a new blackmail yet again. For the moment at least, we are not operating along the lines of what prevailed until now: either accept the terms of austerity or suffer 'sudden death'. We must, therefore, contribute to our position prevailing, which is respect for the message from the ballot box."

    Katrougalos also denied that the concessions made to Greece were simply "window dressing" and semantic, denying that Athens had been essentially cowed and nothing had changed.

    "Many believe this...but they are wrong. What has changed is that we are no longer capitulating. One example is the tabling of the bill for the humanitarian crisis in which our people find themselves. The reforms that we propose will be discussed with our partners. Their nature is purely social...there is no chance that we will back down on the issue of rehiring some 3,000 employees fired by the previous government," he said.

    "What many do not like is that we embody the refusal of policies that have only succeeded in increasing austerity throughout Europe," he stressed.

    [05] Stathakis at L'ECHO: 'We'll follow our pledges to the letter'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    The government will follow its electoral pledges to the letter, Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis said in an interview with Belgian newspaper L'ECHO published on Tuesday.

    "We have a common will to turn a page for the people and the country and a change of direction is necessary for the entire European family," the minister was quotes as saying.

    Asked whether the government has made more concessions than it would have wanted to reach a first agreement with the EU, Stathakis said: "After we took power, we faced a mined field, set up by the most conservative powers in the EU and the outgoing [Antonis] Samaras government. We had to face very tight deadlines and a real liquidity problem. We managed, however, to reach an agreement and win time and space."

    He said while there were several criticisms for the deal, both within the party and abroad, opinion polls show the government remains very popular and that 73 pct of the people approve the deal.

    Questioned on the most important challenges the government is facing, the minister said "the immediate challenges concern the reforms we will implement: establishing a tax system, fighting corruption and creating an operational Public Administration."

    [06] Commissioner Moscovici refers to Monday's Eurogroup and speaks of 'balanced decisions'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici referred to Monday's Eurogroup meeting and spoke of balanced decisions that allow the start of the technical processing of the proposals with the Greek authorities.

    Arriving at the ECOFIN meeting, he stressed the need for the list that Greece presented to be implemented through legislative proposals and executive decisions. He also claimed these were actions on a political and technical level that will be carried out in Brussels and Athens.

    Responding to journalists' questions, he said that if the term "troika" is not accepted by Greece, "which I can understand and which the Greek government has made clear", Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' letter to Jeroen Dijsselbloem acknowledges the close cooperation with the institutions.

    [07] German FinMin Schaeuble insists that further aid will be given to Greece only after agreement with lenders

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Tuesday no aid would be handed to Greece until international lenders agree that it has delivered on its reform commitments, Reuters news agency reported.

    "Greece must talk to the institutions to ensure that the Memorandum of Understanding is fulfilled," Schaeuble told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of European finance ministers.

    "Only when this condition has been met is there a possibility for payment to be made from the programme," he added, also saying that his Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis, was the only one in the Eurogroup who thought no time had been wasted.

    [08] The troika as we knew it is a thing of the past, gov't spokesman says

    The troika the way we knew it is a thing of the past as well as the practice of troika's officials coming to Athens in order to speak with ministry officials, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Tuesday told ANT1 TV.

    He underlined that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will discuss with the institutions and the decisions will be taken on a political level, while the discussions of the technical staff will be held in Brussels.

    The bills to be discussed with the institutions are those that have to do with budgetary issues. Regarding German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's reaction on the bill on the humanitarian crisis, the government spokesman said that such a reaction was expected, however, the Greek government responded in a decent way.

    Moreover, he denied reports on the replacement of Varoufakis by Government Vice-President Yiannis Dragasakis. He made clear that there is absolutely no issue with the Finance Minister and the government fully supports him. "Mr Varoufakis is the government's choice and we will move forward with him," Sakellaridis stressed adding that Greece received the green light to proceed with the implementation of the first seven reforms submitted.

    [09] Bill on rehiring public-sector staff, abolishing memorandum disciplinary laws to be unveiled soon, Katrougalos says

    The draft bill to rehire public-sector workers sacked by the previous government, abolishing "anti-democratic" memorandum laws on disciplinary action and other labour issues and for the pilot implementation of the Citizen's Card will be unveiled for public consultation in the next few days, Alternate Administrative Reform Minister George Katrougalos said on Tuesday.

    He did not unveil details of the draft bill, saying that Parliament and the relevant authorities will be briefed first. In response to questions, he said the bill will go ahead as planned but did not rule out negotiations with the creditors, while noting that no objections had been raised thus far.

    Among others, Katrougalos said the bill will include provisions giving permanent status to some public-sector staff with indefinite contracts who work in the inner public sector, to local government organisations and to public-law legal entities. He noted that the measure will not have any fiscal impact and will also facilitate the government's plan for effective and efficient staff mobility.

    It will also allow some 6,000 successful civil service exam candidates to select a post in one of the ministries that will submit their staff needs in th enext few days, "releasing" them from the proclamation for which they sat the exam and allowing them to speed up their appointment to other vacant state-sector positions.

    The Citizen's Card concerns a measure that will facilitate the provisions of the draft law for the humanitarian crisis. Initially it will include an individual's basic data - such as their social security AMKA number and their tax registration number (AFM) - and at a secondary stage the card will be extended to include additional information that will also allow its use via mobile phone.

    [10] National Defence Minister Kammenos: 'we will not ask anyone's permission to display our national sovereignty'

    National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos on Tuesday referred to the annoyance expressed by Turkey as regards his visits to military units and underlined that they were carried out on Greek soil and on Greek islands and that he flew inside Greek airspace and over Greek territorial waters.

    "Other ministers have made such visits as well. I believe that what was probably most annoying was the fact that the Greek military presence on the land borders, along the Evros River, and on the islands has been reinforced," he said, adding that "we will not ask anybody for permission to display our national sovereignty."

    Kammenos made the statements in Larissa, central Greece, where he attended the handover ceremony in the 1st Army HQ and the Hellenic Tactical Air Force (HTAF).

    Referring to the March 25 Independence Day national holiday military parade in Athens, he said that there will be no barriers along the route to prevent the public from approaching, noting that it will held with the participation of members of the National Guard serving in the northeastern region of Evros and the Dodecanese.

    The minister called on the people to come and watch the parade to send a message that the Greeks are united. He said that the military parade "is an act of national sovereignty" and "we should show what's obvious, namely, that it is the Greek nation and not just the Greek government that negotiates abroad." He noted that despite any political differences "we should show that we do not surrender our national sovereignty to anybody, regardless of whether the threat is military, political or economic."

    [11] Minister of State Flambouraris calls on politicians to bring their money back to the country

    Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris on Tuesday, in statements to SKAI TV, called on all politicians and non politicians to bring their money back to Greece.

    "We are giving a fight for existence and even one euro matters in that fight," Flambouraris underlined. He clarified though that "being the prime minister's advisor and transferring your money abroad to avoid tax audits is one thing and having your money abroad since 1912 is quite another."

    As for privatisations, he said that "we are not selling off our assets ... we are improving some terms in contracts already underway." As for regional airports, he claimed that the tender has not yet been concluded, adding that "14 airports cannot be sold as a package to a company whose major shareholder is a German state company."

    On the former Elliniko airport, Flambouraris said that there is a relevant study for its development with moderate growth. "I have talked about its development with the participation of the Greek State, we have the land, the others have the money, we can concede it and split the profit 50/50 percent," he underlined.

    Regarding the Public Power Corporation (PPC), he said: "Whoever wants to set up a unit or networks, he is free to do so, but we cannot sell PPC."

    "We are optimistic that we will receive the financing from our allies ... and that we will not find ourselves at an impasse ... we will not sit with folded hands ," he added following daily Kathimerini's report on contacts with Chinese funds and on T-bills.

    Flambouraris spoke of "truce" with the Eurogroup and added: "We cannot play with that issue ... They have to understand that they cannot continue this policy, I think that this has started being made understandable, gradually, they cannot change instantly."

    "We cannot have austerity measures, only taxes on high incomes," he stressed.

    [12] Former FinMin Hardouvelis on money transferred abroad

    "I have brought more money in the country than what I have taken out," former Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis on Tuesday told SKAI TV.

    Hardouvelis stated that the period during which he sent the money abroad, a different situation existed, a different SYRIZA, a different Europe, adding that his money is invested in mutual funds in the US.

    [13] Alternate FM Tsakalotos meets TUC sec gen

    Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos during his meeting with the secretary general of Britain's Trades Union Congress (TUC) Frances O'Grady on Monday in London, thanked the TUC employees for their support in practice to Greece.

    At the meeting, Tsakalotos briefed Ms. O'Grady on government priorities on addressing the humanitarian crisis, restoring labour protection framework, as well as the need to strengthen solidarity to Greece, so as the whole climate in Europe changes towards the direction of social justice and prosperity.

    [14] Former US envoy to Athens: 'Greece is much more important than people think'

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Former U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard argued in an interview with Fortune magazine that European finance ministers are missing the forest for the trees when it comes to the Greek debt crisis.

    In an article titled "Will debt negotiations force Greece into Russia's orbit?" and published late on Monday, writer Chris Matthews says Speckhard noted that the seeds of Greece's current debt crisis were sown years ago, when "the poorest and least stable economy decided to join the Euro in 2000".

    Greek and European leaders hoped that joining the currency would force the country to adopt growth policies that would keep it from needing to devalue its currency just to stay competitive. "But the Greek government never adopted such policies. Instead, they cooked the books to gain admission into the Euro and to hide their high debt levels from other member nations," Speckhard argued.

    Once the financial crisis hit, there was no way to sweep the harsh economic realities under the rug.

    Greece's bailouts have allowed it to keep its creditors at bay, he said, but they have been a short-term disaster for the nation's economy. Facing depression conditions at home, the Greek electorate turned to a left-wing government in the parliamentary elections in January, which ran on promises to fight against the austerity conditions imposed upon it as conditions for its bailout.

    Since then, Eurozone officials, and Germany in particular, have taken a hard line against Greece, refusing to loosen its bailout terms, out of fear that giving into Greece will embolden the left wings of other bailed out nations like Spain and Portugal.

    But this logic misses the forest for the trees and might end up costing Germany and the Eurozone a lot more, in terms of hard cash and geopolitical power, according to the former U.S. Ambassador to Greece.

    Speckhard, who is now president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, argued in a recent interview with Fortune that because the debt negotiations are "silo-ed off" from discussions about European and Western unity in the face of global threats like ISIS and an increasingly bellicose Russia, Germany and the West risk letting Greece slip from their sphere of influence. Greece is a critical state for exerting American and Western influence in both the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

    "Greece is much more important than people think," says Speckhard. "The conventional wisdom is now that we can allow a Grexit and just cauterize the wound, but it's not that simple."

    Speckhard points to the fact that Greece's current left-wing ruling party, Syriza, already has a close relationship with Russia. A day after he was elected to the post, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras objected to any further sanctions against Russia surrounding its support of separatists in Ukraine. And in May, Tsipras traveled to Russia, where he criticized the pro-European government which took power in Ukraine last year.

    Other top government officials, like foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, have worked to water down the threat of further sanctions against Russia as well. The Greek and Russian people also have cultural ties, including a shared religion, which make cooperation more plausible.

    From an economic perspective, the exit of Greece from the euro currency zone might not seem like such a loss, Speckhard said. "But if you think that fighting Russian aggression in Eastern Europe is important to maintain political and economic stability in the region, then taking a softer line on Greek debt may be worthwhile in the long run."

    Speckhard also said that Europe could loosen some of the terms of Greece's bailout and give the Greek people time to realize that Syriza can't deliver on its populist promises and remain a member of the Euro currency.

    Berlin and Brussels are worried such a solution would encourage Spain?which has its own left wing party gaining support?to renege on its bailout conditions. But Speckhard argues that taking a hard line on Greece won't prevent this from happening anyway.

    "Economically speaking, Greece might not be globally significant. But at a time when the U.S. and Europe is fighting costly political battles in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, poking a country like Greece?which sits at the crossroads of these regions?could be far more expensive in the long run," he said.

    [15] Alternate Social Insurance min Stratoulis promises restitution of 360 euro pension to uninsured elderly

    The legislative amendment for the restitution of the 360 euro pension by the Agricultural Insurance Organisation (OGA) to uninsured elderly, the payment of which was suspended in 2013, will be tabled before Easter, Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis said on Tuesday during the debate of the humanitarian crisis bill.

    He also reiterated a pledge made by Alternate Social Solidarity Minister Theano Fotiou that the government will accept a request by disabled people who asked that their disability benefits are not included in the criteria for the beneficiaries for free meals, housing and electricity.

    [16] Labour min Skourletis meets SETE representatives

    More than 60,000 new jobs are expected to be created this year in the tourist sector, the president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) Andreas Andreadis said on Tuesday after meeting Labour Minister Panos Skourletis.

    According to Andreadis, these jobs will be added to the 100,000 ones already created, taking into account that this year the number of tourist arrivals in Greece is expected to rise by 1,000,000 and reach 25 million.

    The meeting was part of the minister's contacts with social partners for the re-adjustment of the minimum wage in Greece and the signing of a new National General Collective Labour Agreement.

    SETE President termed the meeting as "constructive" and added that the association submitted a number of proposals to the minister and "on most issues there was a convergence of views while on others, further processing and specialization is needed."

    Andreadis was positive on the restitution of the minimum wage in the private sector to 751 euros from 586 euros currently and added this should be done gradually.

    He noted, however, that the insurance contributions for new workers, especially young people, as well as older employees should be treated differently.

    Regarding tourism training programs, SETE president said the program for the training and the integration of 8,000 young unemployed in the tourism sector implemented last year was successful and at least 35 percent of the participants were absorbed into permanent jobs in the sector.

    He added SETE has submitted a new program for another 8,000 young unemployed this year to the Labour ministry and waits for its approval.

    [17] FM Kotzias to meet the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will meet with the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris, on Wednesday, March 11, according to a ministry's announcement.

    The meeting will take place at 13.30, at the Foreign ministry.

    FM Kotzias to meet the President of the General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy Sergei Popov

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on Wednesday at 16.00 will meet the President of the General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) Sergei Popov, at the Foreign Ministry.

    The IAO is an Interparliamentary organization that was created on an initiative of the Hellenic Parliament and is made up of Christian Orthodox MPs from parliaments all over the world.

    Algerian-Greek cooperation discussed at foreign ministry with International Relations Minister Alt. MinisterTsakalotos

    Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos met on Tuesday with copresident of the Algiers-Greece Business Council Taieb Ezzraimi, who was accompanied by Algerian Ambassador to Athens Tedjini Salaouandji, to discuss bilateral relations.

    The meeting at the ministry was also attended by Council copresident Aristides Beles, reperesentatives of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) and officials of the foreign ministry.

    The two sides discussed the existing cooperation and prospects of expanding it, as well as issues that create obstacles in the collaboration especially in terms of Greek businesses in Algiers. Tsakalotos also briefed them on the priorities of the government in the economy and in terms of the eurozone.

    Bill on rehiring public-sector staff, abolishing memorandum disciplinary laws to be unveiled soon, Katrougalos says

    The draft bill to rehire public-sector workers sacked by the previous government, abolishing "anti-democratic" memorandum laws on disciplinary action and other labour issues and for the pilot implementation of the Citizen's Card will be unveiled for public consultation in the next few days, Alternate Administrative Reform Minister George Katrougalos said on Tuesday.

    He did not unveil details of the draft bill, saying that Parliament and the relevant authorities will be briefed first. In response to questions, he said the bill will go ahead as planned but did not rule out negotiations with the creditors, while noting that no objections had been raised thus far.

    Among others, Katrougalos said the bill will include provisions giving permanent status to some 40,000 public-sector staff with indefinite contracts. He noted that the measure will not have any fiscal impact and will also facilitate the government's plan for effective and efficient staff mobility. He clarified that the initiative will not extend to expert staff in independent authorities, private-law legal entities and lawyers on a monthly retainer, while the staff will remain in IKA.

    It will also allow some 6,000 successful civil service exam candidates to select a post in one of the ministries that will submit their staff needs in th enext few days, "releasing" them from the proclamation for which they sat the exam and allowing them to speed up their appointment to other vacant state-sector positions.

    The Citizen's Card concerns a measure that will facilitate the provisions of the draft law for the humanitarian crisis. Initially it will include an individual's basic data - such as their social security AMKA number and their tax registration number (AFM) - and at a secondary stage the card will be extended to include additional information that will also allow its use via mobile phone.

    [18] Alt. Min for Civil Protection Panoussis unveils new proposals in the context of anti-crime policy

    The establishment of an annual evaluation system for police officers based on objective criteria and the justification of the retirements and appointments of the chiefs of the Greek Police (ELAS), were among the new proposals presented by Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Yiannis Panoussis on Tuesday in the context of the Anti-Crime Policy Principles and Goals unveiled earlier in the month.

    As regards the migrant reception centres, he announced that procurement procedures will be under scrutiny, while the "routes" followed to forward migrants from the borders to the mainland will be closely monitored, as well as existing mechanisms, transparency in the repatriation procedure and any irregularities in certificates.

    Panoussis also underlined that the public wants to know what is the "hidden cost" of migrant detention.

    Referring to the way internal inquiries are held, he said that it should adhere to certain principles and noted that it should guarantee the credibility of the system used to investigate irregularities or law violations committed by members of the police.

    [19] Parliament President Konstantopoulou and National Defence Minister Kammenos announce closer cooperation

    Closer cooperation between Parliament and the ministry of national defence to better serve the interests of the Greek people, transparency and effectiveness, was announced on Tuesday by Parliament President Zoi Konstantopoulou and Minister for National Defence Panos Kammenos, ahead of Konstantopoulou's closed-doors briefing on issues concerning the current state of the armed forces.

    Konstantopoulou expressed absolute confidence in the men and women serving in the military and noted that Kammenos' presence in the ministry will further improve the moral and patriotism of the members of the military.

    The national defence minister confirmed the efficiency of the armed forces and announced closer cooperation between the political and military leadership of the ministry and Parliament through the regular and confidential briefing of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs every two months.

    On her part, Konstantopoulou said that cooperation between Parliament and the ministry of national defence is welcomed and imperative because it serves the interests of the people, transparency and effectiveness. She also referred to the useful contribution of the national defence ministry to the newly established parliamentary committee on the debt audit assigned to crosscheck armaments programmes.

    Ahead of the parliamentary discussion later on Tuesday evening on her proposal to set up a committee on German WWII reparations, the repayment of the forced loan by the then Greek government to the occupation forces and the return of stolen archaeological treasures, Konstantopoulou expressed certainty that the ministry of national defence will offer great assistance through the utilisation of its valuable archives that can be used to document the Greek people's claims.

    [20] New Democracy must hold congress and discuss its defeat, Dora Bakoyannis insists

    New Democracy must urgently hold a regular congress in order to examine and discuss the causes of its electoral defeat, senior party member and MP Dora Bakoyannis insisted on Tuesday, in statements to the radio station 'Parapolitika'. Regarding her own role, she underlined that she would be present for the "following day" in ND.

    "I have always been present on the front line of the battle to reconstrust ND," she said.

    Bakoyannis said that party leader Antonis Samaras must also be convinced to lead ND to a congress where the party's grassroots can be heard.

    "I have told Samaras not to be afraid of a congress. If he realises that an issue of leadership will be raised and that he will find himself out in the cold, then he will have the opportunity to resign beforehand. There are many MPs that want the party to hold a congress and not a conference. New Democracy has to deal with a substantive problem. It has to conduct serious self-criticism on how it lost the elections. We have not done this yet. ND must again find a way to "converse" with society and give a voice to the grassroots," she said.

    Clarifying her position, she underlined that the grassroots of the party were not something "theoretical" but the actual people that waged battles, either through trade unions or party youth groups.

    "These people participate in the ND congress whereas they have no right to vote in the conference...that is why it is necessary to hold a congress," she said, adding that dialogue gave strength in a party that recently lost elections.

    [21] Former minister Kikilias slams government policy on migration

    Former public order minister and New Democracy MP Vassilis Kikilias on Tuesday attacked his successor at the ministry over the handling of migration issues in statements to the radio station 'Vima'.

    "In crisis Greece, illegal migrants - who have rights in the same way as Greek citizens - live at the levels that the crisis allows us to live, as the Greek people do....on no account do I believe that when you are a leader, when you manage, you [fail to support] subordinates to whom you issued instructions, or fellow ministers that you issued verbal orders to," he said.

    The former minister said he was "pained" by the image of coaches letting off migrants in Omonia Square, after the "huge effort and the sealing of our northern borders and the great battle, despite the fact that the countries in the southeastern Mediterranean basin were falling apart, to set up a defence to the unchecked entry of illegal migrants".

    Kikilias also expressed his support for ND leader Antonis Samaras, noting that he said as much at the party's Parliamentary group meeting, and that he was unconcerned whether ND had a congress or conference.

    [22] ANEL spokesman Chryssoveloni calls on PASOK not to worry

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) spokesman Marina Chryssoveloni on Tuesday called on PASOK not to worry. "Everything will be done on time by the SYRIZA-ANEL government," she underlined following PASOK's statement late on Monday.

    Chryssoveloni said that an investigation committee will be set up to attribute responsibilities on how the country got into the memoranda and on how a "haircut" was made through PSI, with the social security funds and thousands of small bond holders as victims.

    "As for the memoranda's cost on the country, the Greek citizens felt it for five years and that is why they sent PASOK and Samaras-Venizelos' government to the history 'bin'," she underlined.

    [23] Potami leader, MPs refuse to use a parliamentary car

    The number of deputies who have refused to use a parliamentary car has increased. During the relevant parliamentary procedure on Tuesday, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis along with party deputies Panagiotis Karakatsoulis, Giorgos Amyras, Antigoni Liberaki and Stavroula Antonakou said that they do not need a parliamentary car.

    New Democracy MP George Koumoutsakos and SYRIZA MP Giorgos Dimaras have already said that they do not want a parliamentary car.

    [24] KKE comments on the Eurogroup meeting

    "SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government stars in the well-known anti-popular 'new installment-new measures' film of the EU while intimidating the people to accept the extension of the memorandum with a review as well as a troika-institutions, namely the extension of the anti-popular policy," communist party KKE on Tuesday said in a statement regarding the Eurogroup meeting.

    [25] PASOK says draft bill on ERT 'resurrects' worst era of old broadcaster

    In sharp criticism of the draft bill concerning the refounding of Greece's state broadcaster ERT on Tuesday, opposition PASOK charged that the bill "resurrects the worst era of the old state broadcaster and essentially founds a SYRIZA/Independent Greeks broadcast with a clear aim of blatant government propaganda".

    Instead of protecting ERT's independence, PASOK's announcement said, it was once again made answerable to a minister and recent guarantees of transparency that had been passed were abolished, putting the ruling majority in charge of hiring the board.

    [26] IKA to extend health coverage to long-term unemployed, qualified non-EU nationals

    The Social Security Foundation (IKA) announced on Tuesday it will provide health coverage to 37,514 long-term unemployed Greek nationals and to 36,344 insured nationals from non-EU countries who fulfil certain criteria.

    According to IKA, all qualified invidividuals will be registered at the national registry of health coverage beneficiaries.

    The measure on long-termed unemployed will be extended, it said, to other long-term unemployed whose coverage will run out eventually as the records sent by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) is received and processed.

    IKA advised all parties to confirm their eligibility by visiting the online site www.ika.gr instead of waiting in the long lines of IKA offices; spouses and children included in family health booklets do not need to be signed up, as the booklet will cover all family members.

    [27] ANEL parliamentary MPs discuss protecting primary residence

    Protecting the primary residence of debtors was the main issue discussed during a meeting of the parliamentary group of the junior coalition partner, the Independent Greeks (ANEL), on Tuesday.

    ANEL leader and National Defence Minister Panos Kammenos was not present, as he had a meeting with Parliament Speaker Zoi Konstantopoulou at the ministry.

    "Although we know the government will submit in the coming days a draft law for the protection of the primary residence, we submitted a relevant amendment with the draft law on the humanitarian crisis which is now being discussed in parliament, because courts around Greece will be dealing with auctions tomorrow," the parliamentary group general secretary Nikos Nikolopoulos said.

    ANEL believe the amendment is fully linked to decent living "as requested by the article 2 of the Constitution" and that protecting the primary residence is Kammenos' main pledge.

    Nikolopoulos also said that party MPs "will be present at courts along with suffering people".

    Party MPs also discussed the allocation of prefectures for supervision.

    [28] Many SYRIZA MPs waived right to car, give 40 pct of MP salary to party and solidarity structures, sources say

    A large number of SYRIZA MPs have waived the Parliament car and police protection that they have a right to claim, sources in the government said on Tuesday, acting on the prime minister's suggestions to be sparing in their use of MP privileges.

    The sources noted that many MPs had not claimed the car and protection without making this public, while use of MP cars was chiefly made by the Parliamentarians based outside Athens. They also noted that Parliament's agreement with the leasing company for the cars expires in September, at which time the entire issue will be re-examined from scratch.

    They also noted that 40 pct of the salaries of SYRIZA's Parliamentary group goes toward the party and toward solidarity structures.

    [29] Number of MPs who refuse a state car rises to nine

    The number of Greek deputies who have refused to use a state car increased to nine on Tuesday, during a relevant parliamentary procedure.

    The lawmakers from the major coalition party SYRIZA increased to three, after Eleni Psarrea and Mustafa Mustafa joined Giorgos Dimaras in rejecting a car.

    Earlier, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis along with party deputies Panagiotis Karakatsoulis, Giorgos Amyras, Antigoni Liberaki and Stavroula Antonakou, as well as George Koumoutsakos from main opposition New Democracy also agreed to waive their right to a car.

    [30] Former gensec jailed for submarine bribes summoned to testify about blackmail attempts against him

    Former defence ministry general secretary Yiannis Sbokos, currently serving time on a conviction of money-laundering and illegal payments for the notorious faulty submarines purchased by Greece, was called to testify before the examining magistrates for corruption on Tuesday, regarding attempted blackmail against by inmates based in Greek prisons.

    Sbokos was summoned before examining magistrates Rea Katsiveli and Dimitris Foukas, who are handling the case, and is expected back at the magistrate's office to complete his testimony in the next few days.

    A senior defence ministry official under jailed former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Sbokos claimed to have been blackmailed by a ring operating within the prison, in a case where his fellow-inmate Akis Tsohatzopoulos is also implicated.

    Sources said that Sbokos repeated his claims in the previous stages of the investigation concerning two bomb attacks on areas linked to members of his family. Among others, he has claimed that hard-timer Yiannis Skaftouros, the alleged leader of the ring, had demanded 10 million euros in January 2013 and threatened his family if he didn't pay.

    He claimed that similar threats were later made by the inmate Panagiotis Vlastos, who had also advised him to "give some pocket money to Skaftouros in order to avoid an... accident".

    Vlastos, whose testimony is also to continue on Wednesday, has denied any connection with the explosions or the attempted extortion against Sbokos.

    [31] Controversial files projected onto large screen during Papaconstantinou Special Court trial

    The trial of former finance minister George Papaconstantinou over his handling of the so-called Lagarde list of Greek large-scale depositors in a Swiss bank continued on Tuesday with the projection of files on a large screen put up at the Special Court.

    Papaconstantinou is facing two criminal charges - of tampering with a public document and attempted breach of trust - and is also charged with violating a law related to fraud against the state.

    Most of the trial's time was taken up by the testimony of a Hellenic Police department of criminal research Apostolos Deltsidis, testifying for the second day on technical aspects of how the archives on a CD, transferred to a USB stick, could be opened and how the users of the files could be traced electronically. The files were projected onto a screen on Tuesday, and it was found that in one copy's case the names of Papaconstantinou's relatives were missing while in another copy, from a second original requested after the first was lost, there were two names related to him.

    The Special Court, comprising representatives of the country's highest courts, was adjourned for the day and will reconvene on Wednesday to hear testimony from witnesses for the defence.

    Financial News

    [32] ESM approves transfer of 555 million euros from HFSF to Greek state

    The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) on Tuesday approved the transfer of 555 million euros from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) to the Greek State, sources said. These funds are from the dividend payments of the preferential shares that the banks received for the recapitalisation in 2008.

    While the ESM has agreed to do so last week, on Saturday it blocked the transfer, claiming that the HFSF funds could not be used for any purpose other that what they were intended for. After long negotiations over the weekend and after the positive outcome of Monday's Eurogroup, the ESM gave in.

    A spokesperson for the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) noted that the EFSF had no involvement with the 555 million euros remaining in the HFSF that the Greek government was asking for, since they concerned state support for banks before 2010 when Greece received the first loans from the EFSF.

    The EFSF spokesman said that funds transferred to Greece from the EFSF in the context of the bailout agreement to recapitalise Greek banks were placed in the HFSF but of the 48.2 billion euros sent, the Greek banks used 37.3 billion euros. The remainder were returned to the EFSF and the sums remaining in the HFSF were 856 million euros in cash derived from revenues generated by bank recapitalisation and reforms.

    [33] Productive Reconstruction Min. Lafazanis says Greece to examine offset benefits from TAP pipeline

    Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Tuesday said that his ministry will set up committees to examine offset benefits to Greece from the consortium constructing the TAP pipeline. Lafazanis made the announcement after a meeting with Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Greece Rahman Mustafayev, SOCAR Vice-President on Investments and Marketing Elshad Nasirov and BP's Vice-President Southern Corridor Joe Murphy.

    Lafazanis expressed satisfaction with the constructive dialogue held with BP and SOCAR on TAP, repeating the government's support for the pipeline and promising action necessary for its faster implementation. He also underlined the need to bring offset benefits to Greece, beyond those directed at local communities where the pipeline passes.

    According to the ministry, representatives of the two companies seemed positively disposed to Greek requests to start dialogue on specific proposals by the Greek government, in order to arrange the appropriate offset benefits for Greece. The two sides agreed to appoint members that will take part in the committees to examine the issue, as well as other matters relating to better preparation for implementing the project.

    The meeting was also attended by Greece's public gas company DEPA CEO Spiros Paleoyannis, SYRIZA MP Evgenia Ouzounidou and ministry officials.

    [34] EconMin Stathakis discusses TAP timetable with consortium representatives

    The way to maximize the benefits for local communities from which the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will pass was discussed in a meeting between Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Minister George Stathakis and the Azerbaijani ambassador to Greece Rahman Mustafayev, as well as representatives and stockholders of the companies participating in the consortium on Tuesday.

    During the meeting, the minister was informed about the timetable and the progress in the development of the project, as well as the benefits it could have for the Greek economy.

    [35] Greek inflation rate slowed to -2.2 pct in Feb

    Greece remained in deflation for the 24th successive month in February, with the consumer price index slowing by -2.2 pct from -2.8 pct in January and -1.1 pct in February 2014.

    Hellenic Statistical Authority, in a monthly report, said that price increases were recorded - on a monthly basis - in air transport (15.3 pct), heating oil (6.4 pct), petrol (4.3 pct), fresh fish (3.3 pct), vegetables (3.3 pct) and olive oil (3.9 pct), while on an annual basis, price increase were recorded in fresh fish (1.1 pct), vegetables (25.9 pct), dried nuts (9.1 pct), olive oil (8.2 pct), electricity (4.9 pct), cigarettes/tobacco (2.9 pct) and combined transport (10.6 pct). On the other hand, price declines were recorded in fresh potatoes (20.5 pct), sugar (18.5 pct), heating oil (27 pct) and petrol (12.8 pct).

    The statistics services attributed the -2.2 pct inflation rate in February to an 1.0 pct decline in clothing/footwear, a 7.1 pct jump in housing, a 2.8 pct rise in durable goods, an 1.7 pct rise in health, a 5.4 pct increase in transport, an 1.3 pct rise in leisure, a 3.1 pct increase in education, a 0.4 pct rise in hotel/coffee-restaurants and an 1.9 pct rise in other goods and services. On the other hand, price indexes fell by 0.9 pct in food/beverage and by 2.0 pct in alcohol/tobacco.

    The inflation rate fell by 0.6 pct in February from January, while the harmonized inflation rate was -1.9 pct in February from -2.8 pct in January.

    [36] Greek National Tourist Organisation participates in international tourism fair in China

    Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, giving special emphasis on increasing the tourist flow from China, proceeds with coordinated actions in order for our country to have even more Chinese visitors this year.

    The Greek National Tourist Organisation (GNTO) participated in the international tourism fair GITF in China's Guangzhou, while its secretary general Panos Livadas met major Chinese tour operators in South China operating in our country, like the CTS and CGZL and discussed their cooperation prospects. At the same time, he gave a series of interviews to Chinese media covering the tourist industry.

    As part of the exhibition, GNTO office in China organized a special event with more than 20 local tour operators, during which the comparative advantages of Greece were presented.

    Kountoura's targeted actions have already yielded the first positive results as following last year's direct flight connection between Shanghai and Athens, two more flights will follow in 2015, from Shanghai and Beijing, while discussions for another two are underway. According to preliminary figures for 2015, tourist arrivals from China are expected to increase compared with 2013 and 2014.

    At the same time, GNTO offices in China this year will launch a series of educational online seminars for the Greek tourism product ("Webinars"), which will train executives from the largest agencies in China. It is estimated that over 1,000 executives will attend GNTO's Webinars.

    Finally, GNTO will support a new Chinese film production, the shooting of which will take place almost exclusively in Greece.

    [37] New secretary general for commerce and consumers assumes duties

    Eradicating phenomena of tax evasion in commerce will be a priority of the new Secretary General for Commerce and Consumers Antonis Papaderakis, who assumed his duties on Tuesday.

    Other priorities will include strenghtening the role of the secretariat so that it "intervenes publicly to reform and clean up the area of businesses and the market to benefit the national economy and citizens," and fully implementing a central system for state procurements, already in operation, to guarantee transparency and high-quality service.

    Among other things it was important to "defend the right of consumers for fair prices in goods and services," and to "overturn the catastrophic, especially for workers, double axis of low wages and high prices," he said.

    Papaderakis also thanked outgoing secretary general Stefanos Komninos for his collaboration.

    [38] More than 12 mln euro EU funds for vineyards restructuring programme

    A total of 12.2 million euros of EU funds will be allocated to the vineyards restructuring and conversion programme in 2015.

    According to a decision on the allocation of funds signed by the Alternate Minister for Rural Development Vangelis Apostolou, 1,274 producers and 950 hectares of wine grape varieties throughout the country are included in the programme.

    The programme aims at improving the quality of Greek vineyards with the implementation of actions relating to the varietal conversion, relocation and improvement of management techniques.

    [39] Wholesale turnover index down 0.7 pct in Q4

    Greece's wholesale turnover index fell 0.7 pct in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The wholesale turnover index fell 2.1 pct in the fourth quarter from the third quarter of 2014.

    [40] Insurance premium production down 5.4 pct in Jan

    Premium production in the domestic insurance sector fell by 5.4 pct in January, compared with the same month last year despite a 14.6 pct increase in life insurance production, official data showed on Tuesday.

    Life insurance premium production was up 15.3 pct in January if the impact of investment-linked life insurance contracts were excluded, while total insurance production (life and damage) fell 6.0 pct in the first month of 2014.

    The report was based on data offered by 58 insurance companies accounting for 91.9 pct of the damage insurance market and 97.8 pct of the life insurance market.

    [41] Greek trade deficit down 21 pct in Jan

    Greece's trade deficit shrank by 21 pct in January this year to 1.267 billion euros, from 1.603 billion in the corresponding month in 2014 (excluding oil products the trade deficit fell by 1.4 pct), Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said that the value of import-arrivals totaled 3.130 billion euros in January, from 3.740 billion in January 2014, for a decline of 16.3 pct (excluding oil products the value of imports grew 3.8 pct). The value of export-deliveries totaled 1.863 billion euros, down 12.8 pct from January 2014 (excluding oil products the value of exports grew 8.2 pct).

    [42] Investments projects of 33.2 mln euro in Fisheries

    Productive Reconstruction Alternate Minister Vaggelis Apostolou on Tuesday signed four new calls for expression of interest for the integration of investment projects under the Operational Programme For Fisheries (OPF) 2007-2013, amounting to 33.2 million euros.

    [43] Greek stocks end slightly higher

    Greek stocks ended slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday with the composite index of the market rising 0.33 pct to end at 817.39 points, off the day's highs of 844.12 points. The Large Cap index rose 0.26 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 0.72 pct. Turnover was an improved 94.55 million euros.

    Traders said investors reacted positively to the outcome of a Eurogroup meeting on Monday.

    MIG (9.55 pct), Eurobank (4.55 pct), Athens Water (3.39 pct) and Viohalco (3.23 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (3.99 pct), Jumbo (2.60 pct), Folli Follie (1.82 pct) and Alpha Bank (1.54 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Among market sectors, the Financial Services (3.28 pct), Health (3.20 pct) and Telecoms (2.35 pct) scored big gains, while Insurance (4.35 pct), Personal Products (1.95 pct) and Commerce (1.82 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 55, with another 22 issues unchanged. Selonda (20 pct), Pegasus (20 pct), Medicon (20) were top gainers, while Nakas (29.62 pct), Progressive (20 pct) and Pairis (19.49 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: +0.10%

    Insurance: -4.35%

    Financial Services: +3.28%

    Industrial Products: 0.21%

    Commercial: -1.82%

    Real Estate: -0.50%

    Personal & Household: -1.95%

    Food & Beverages: -0.63%

    Raw Materials: -0.13%

    Construction: +0.70%

    Oil: -0.36%

    Chemicals: +1.18%

    Mass Media: Unchanged

    Travel & Leisure: +0.77%

    Technology: +0.77%

    Telecoms: +2.35%

    Utilities: +1.95%

    Health: +3.20%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, Piraeus Bank, National Bank, Eurobank and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.32

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.70

    Coca Cola HBC: 15.90

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.05

    National Bank of Greece: 1.20

    OPAP: 8.76

    OTE: 9.14

    Piraeus Bank: 0.409

    Titan: 22.48

    Grivalia Properties: 7.85

    Aegean Airlines: 7.54

    [44] Greek bond market closing report

    Greek bond prices remained under pressure for one more session in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, pushing bond yields higher. The three-year bond yield rose to 16.4 pct from 15.8 pct on Monday, while the five-year bond yielded 13.96 pct from 13.53 pct, respectively. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 9.71 pct from 9.53 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 9.94 pct and the German Bund 0.23 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.219 pct from 0.222 pct, the nine-month rate fell to 0.152 pct from 0.155 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.102 pct from 0.105 pct, the three-month rate was 0.032 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.009 pct.

    [45] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.28 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 7,748 contracts with 39,338 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 55,105 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (17,249), followed by Alpha Bank (8,158), National Bank (12,627), Eurobank (12,458), MIG (1,013), OTE (964), PPC (791), OPAP (545), Titan (240), Mytilineos (180), GEK (93), Ellaktor (67), Hellenic Petroleum (71) and Hellenic Exchanges (104).

    [46] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

    Reference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.0738

    Pound sterling 0.7128

    Danish kroner 7.4516

    Swedish kroner 9.1849

    Japanese yen 130.29

    Swiss franc 1.0703

    Norwegian kroner 8.6395

    Canadian dollar 1.3566

    Australian dollar 1.4034

    General News

    [47] AEK FC strongman Melissanidis testifies to examining magistrate on 'football criminal organisation' case

    AEK football club strongman Dimitris Melissanidis on Tuesday testified to the examining magistrate for Corruption George Andreadis, who is handling the case file of the 16 Greek football officials accused in relation to match-fixing. After the end of this deposition, Melissanidis made no statements.

    The case reached the examining magistrate's office following several months of investigation by prosecutor Aristidis Koreas for corruption in football.

    According to the prosecutor's multi-page report, which was submitted to the head prosecutor in December, the investigation revealed the existence of a criminal organization in football that was reportedly active between 2011 and 2013.

    The charges include among others setting up, participating and leading a criminal organization, fraud, attempted extortion and bribery.

    The list of the defendants - whose names have not been released by the Prosecution - includes three board members of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), members of Greece's Central Refereeing Committee (KED) and two Super League football club heads.

    Prosecution presses criminal charges against Olympic Village SA officials for illegal hirings before 2009 elections

    Prosecution authorities pressed criminal charges against six officials of Olympic Village SA for illegal hirings made during the 2009 pre-election period.

    The charges relate to the offense of breach of trust against the State, resulting in losses over 120,000 euros.

    A Court of Audit report had been sent to the Prosecution regarding "the unjustified hiring of employees as well as the conversion of fixed-term labour contracts to indefinite-term ones."

    Most of the contracts in question, according to the case file, expired at a time when the company did not have any significant work to carry out and, what is more, during a pre-election period.

    ?The case will be assigned to an examining magistrate.

    [48] Police cordon off Appeals Court in Lamia for trial of two former policemen charged with murdering teen in 2008

    Police cordoned off the Appeals Court of Lamia, central Greece, on Tuesday afternoon for the trial starting on Wednesday of two former policemen charged with murdering 15-year-old student Alexis Grigoropoulos at Exarchia in Athens in December 2008, an event that sparked off widespread riots in Athens.

    Former special guard Epaminondas Korkoneas was sentenced to life in jail with no mitigating circumstances and is being held at the Domokos jail in central Greece; the trial had been held in Amfissa for fear of incidents in the Athens area. Vassilis Saraliotis, a colleague, was sentenced to ten years but released on conditions in 2012.

    The heavy police measures, which include snipers and police in civilian clothes in the area, will intensify for a 1,000-metre radius around the court.

    [49] Trial of brutally abused Egyptian worker opens in a Piraeus court

    The trial on the case of an Egyptian worker who reported to police that he was tortured and brutally abused by his employer and his son on the island of Salamina in the summer of 2012, opened on Tuesday in a Piraeus Criminal Court of Appeal under tight security.

    The four defendants, the Greek owner of the bakery where the Egyptian was employed, his son, an Albanian national and another man, a friend of the family, are charged with abduction, robbery, unprovoked physical injury and insult of sexual dignity.

    Members of anti-racist organizations gathered outside the Piraeus courthouse since early in the morning on Tuesday in support of the victim. The trial had been postponed four times in the past.

    The victim, Walid Taleb, told the court that he was initially beaten by three of the defendants. He said that while they were hitting him they chained his hands and then they put the chain around his neck before taking him to a warehouse owned by his employer.

    In his testimony, he said that they hanged him from a wooden beam on the ceiling and hit him until he lost track of time so he could not tell if it was day or night. He also accused them that they stripped him naked and took the money from his trousers' pocket. He said that he tried to pull his pants back up but they pulled them down again and attempted to sexually molest him using a stick.

    The victim said that during the torture the defendants were drinking beer and they dowsed him with it saying that he cannot drink because he is a Muslim.

    He said that when his brother and his friends came looking for him because he was missing for more than 24 hours, the bakery owner told them that he hadn't seen him either and he would inform the police of his disappearance if he did not show up soon.

    The victim told the court that three years after the assault he has serious problems with his eyes and left leg, while he is treated by psychologists and psychiatrists for post-traumatic stress. He also said that he cannot leave his house because he still fears for his life.

    The court adjourned until March 31.

    [50] Three Pakistani nationals arrested for running business of fake travel and residency documents

    A gang that had set up a business of fake travel documents and residence permits was broken up with the arrest of three Pakistani nationals aged 41, 42 and 47 in the Agios Ioannis Rentis area in Piraeus, the directorate of foreign nationals of Attica said on Tuesday night.

    Following leads and the assistance of the Athens International Airport customs office, authorities found two packages with 4,000 fake self-adhesive residence permit stickers resembling those used by Greek authorities.

    The packages had been sent from China to a mini market in the area, where two of those arrested worked and which they used to cover up their activities. They would send the residence permits to another fellow-Pakistani, who had set up a laboratory for fake documents in a house and who would sell them to other foreigners.

    Authorities said the gang would have collected a total of 2,400,000 euros for the permits in both packages.

    The laboratory, whose equipment was confiscated, included a computer, three laptops, a multicopier, a plastic card printer, two external hard discs and a camera - among others - along with fake documents and Pakistani passports, Greek and Pakistani identity cards, watermarks of the Greek state, transportation cards, a bank book and three banking cards.

    The three men were led before the Piraeus misdemeanours prosecutor.

    Weather forecast

    [51] Overcast, rain on Wednesday

    Clouds, rain and cool temperatures are forecast for Wednesday. Winds variable, with a maximum velocity of 6 on the Beaufort scale. Overcast with scattered showers in the northern parts of the country and snow on high ground; temperatures ranging between 2C and 11C. Clouds and showers in western parts with temperatures between 6C and 16C. Same weather in the eastern parts and temperatures between 5C and 15C. Clouds and local showers over the islands, 9C-18C. Overcast and scattered showers in Athens, 5C-14C; clouds and showers in Thessaloniki, 5C-10C.

    [52] The Tuesday edition of Athens dailies at a glance

    AVGI: Greece's proposal gaining ground

    ?

    DIMOKRATIA: Former Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis' complete mockery

    ?

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Relaxing of the stranglehold

    ?

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Closure for outstanding tax cases and a return...by the troika

    ?

    ESTIA: Tsipras' plan for new elections

    ?

    ETHNOS: The way to an agreement has been paved

    IMERISIA: Declare 'hidden' income, now

    KATHIMERINI: First the agreement and then the installments

    LOGOS: Eurogroup without a result

    ?

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Step on the gas to speed things up

    ?

    RIZOSPASTIS: Measures to the detriment of the people are being specialized

    TA NEA: Code:Paris-Brussels

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