|Tuesday, 19 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-03-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 13 March 2015 Issue No: 4908
 PM Tsipras, OECD chief Gurria sign for deal for cooperation on Greek reforms programmePARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Wrapping up their talks on a new reform programme for Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria ended their meeting on Thursday with the signature of a document for cooperation between Greece and the OECD on a package of economic and structural reforms.
Having obtained the OECD's stamp of approval for its proposed reforms package, the Greek government now hopes it will be able to overcome the misgivings of its EU partners and embark on a new chapter in the country's European course, Tsipras said.
"This stamp in our "passport" will be very important for building a new trust with our partners," the Greek premier said during a joint press conference with Gurria held afterwards.
Gurria told the press conference that the document signed by the two sides on Thursday aims to "cement ties between Greece and the OECD" and at cooperation on issues designed to improve the competitiveness of businesses, reduce bureaucratic obstacles, increase transparency and boost competition in order to discourage oligopolies and monopolies.
Tsipras, on his part, said the new Greek government was in a unique position to press ahead with its reform targets, since it had no dependencies from the past nor any ties to the economic oligarchy.
"At the same time, our government has the support of the great majority of the Greek people, so we can meet two important conditions: the first concerns the political will to confront vested interests and the second is the creation of a broad, social consensus behind the structural reforms that the Greek economy needs," he said.
In collaboration with the OECD chief and his associates, Tsipras said, Greece on Thursday embarked on a new chapter of reforms that would continue into the future. "I am certain that this cooperation will bear fruits," he added.
For four years, Greece been a global issue in a negative way. Four years from now, Greece could again find itself the focus but this time in a positive light, the prime minister said.
During those four years, he added, Greece had seen the International Monetary Fund (IMF) come to the country and impose a policy of strict fiscal discipline and adjustment, a harsh austerity that resulted in the loss of 25 pct of Greece's GDP. Now the time had come for another international organisation, the OECD, to work with Greece so that the next four years would see this lost ground regained, through the structural reforms that Greece needs in order to get ahead.
Thanking Gurria and the OECD staff, Tsipras noted that the cooperation with the OECD was part of an effort to build up trust in Greece among the country's EU partners:
"There is, perhaps, in a section of our partners the suspicion that Greece does not truly want to proceed with reforms. It is precisely in order to demonstrate our intent that we, first of all, want to proceed with structural reforms that have a positive and social nature. We are here so that the OECD can place its stamp on the Greek government's reforms."
In his address to OECD earlier, Tsipras stressed the point that "Greece is not a sui generis case, but a symptom of a greater European weakness" and called for a restructuring of the Greek debt as "absolutely vital for Greece." The monetary union, he said, "as a whole is being harmed by the failure to deal with the problem of Greece's public debt" which is not viable or serviceable.
The reforms he listed would focus on fighting illicit trade on fuel and tobacco, stricter laws on party funding, and greater independence and transparency for the General Secretariat of Public Revenues. The definition of tax fraud and tax evasion will be broadened, and protection from tax crimes abolished. "The reform of the public section is a tougher project," he said on further reforms.
"We have already begun by rationalising the government itself. For example, we have already reduced the number of ministries," he noted, adding that the government also planned to improve the process of hiring, evaluation and staffing needs in the public sector and the efficiency of local government organisations.
More investments would be attracted in major sectors and a better use made of the state's assets, including unifying all agencies handling them, such as the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund.
"The era of austerity, memeorandums and the troika has ended, and htis is final and irreversible," Tsipras said, adding that Greece wanted to "create a new quality relationship with its European partners based on sincerity, realism and mutual understanding."
 PM Tsipras presents reform programme to OECDPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday arrived at the OECD's headquarters in Paris for a meeting with the OECD secretary general Angel Gurria and other officials of the organisation.
Tsipras is accompanied by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, Minister of State Nikos Pappas and Alternate Minister for International Economic Relations Euclid Tsakalotos.
During a working luncheon, the Greek delegation was to present its reform programme and exchange views with the OECD officials.
Besides the reforms already presented by the Greek Finance minister to partners and creditors, discussions will also focus on the reforms to be presented in the future.
The main points, on which Greece seeks the OECD expertise, are:
combating corruption and tax evasion, where the organisation has rich experience from other countries public administration in order to create a more efficient, socially fair state that will better serve citizens without being costly
competitiveness with the use of development tools so as to provide incentives to foster entrepreneurship and at the same time cutting red tape
 Tsipras: Greece will meet obligations, even if loan tranches are delayedPARIS (ANA-MPA/ O. Tsipira)
Greece will be able to meet its obligations, even if no loan tranches are disbursed over the coming period, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday during a joint press conference with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria. The prime minister had been asked whether there was any agreement between Greece and its creditors on when the next loans to Greece will be disbursed.
Noting that the lack of any references to the financing issue was one of the shortcomings of the February agreement, Tsipras stressed that Greece was doing what must be done and going ahead with the implementation of what had been agreed, and therefore expected its EU partners to respond accordingly.
"I assure you, however, that there is no reason for concern. Even if no loans are disbursed over the coming period, it is certain that Greece will be able to meet its obligations," he added.
If the loans were not disbursed, however, Tsipras said this would mean that one of the sides was trying to hold up its end of the agreement and the other "was blowing it sky high."
The problem, therefore, Tsipras said, were the doubts created in Greece and throughout the world about whether this agreement could proceed effectively and constructively, which was the reason why Greece raised the issue of "a mutual observance of the agreements." He admitted that there was a "mutual mistrust" that obliged Greece to "build bridges of trust," something that he hoped would be facilitated through cooperation with the OECD.
Questions on whether the new programme was an "alternative" to that of the IMF were replied by Gurria, who stressed that "nobody is replacing anyone" and that the OECD was responding to Tsipras request for OECD assistance to Greece and support of its efforts at reform.
"Medium-term and long-term, we are sending very powerful messages: we are saying that there is a future for Greece and this is why it must overcome the current difficulties," he said.
Tsipras, in response to the same question, underlined that Greece was asking for the OECD's know-how and cooperation for "reforms we want to carry out because we consider them necessary to change Greece and which nobody is forcing us to make."
Regarding the previous programme, he said that Greece had often been subjected to pressures and threatened that aid would be withheld unless it carried out wage and pension cuts, or proceeded with lay-offs, but had never been subjected to similar threats for failing to carry out reforms to improve justice or to abolish cartels and oligopolies, or even to pass legislation tackling tax evasion through triangular transactions.
"The main difference...is that the goal of the previous programme was internal devaluation and not structural change, nor reforms for social justice," he said. "What we believe is: enough with the austerity, its time is over," he added.
 PM Tsipras: nobody is forcing us to implement the reforms, we want to implement themThe government wants to tackle chronic dysfunctions in Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday said in a joint press conference with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria in Paris, after co-signing a cooperation agreement for OECD technical assistance allowing the effective implementation of reforms.
Tsipras said that this is a new era in Greece's relations with the OECD, characterized by honest cooperation for economic growth aimed at the prosperity of the Greek people.
The government is committed to reforms that will consolidate the social change, the prime minister said. The reforms that will be implemented in cooperation with the OECD will have as a result the consolidation of social change, will deliver a blow to major interests that create monopoly and oligopoly conditions in the economy, and will tackle tax evasion and tax avoidance.
"This is the beginning of a reform chapter in Greece," Tsipras said, pointing out "nobody is forcing us to implement the reforms, we want to implement them."
 PM Tsipras signs know-how agreement with OECDPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday met OECD secretary general Angel Gurria at the organisation's headquarters in Paris.
According to government sources, the two sides signed an agreement under which the OECD will offer its know-how to the Greek side on reform planning and implementation, which is a priority for the Greek government; reforms that aim at the viability and the recovery of the economy, as well as combatting the humanitarian crisis.
As Tsipras said in a brief address, the aim was to "address the chronic problems of the political system and the economy."
Greece's cooperation with the OECD aims in the short-term at the deepening of reforms in greater detail. In the mid- and long-term it will help the Greek side implement and review the progress but also performance of reforms.
 PM Tsipras' reform plan presents solutions to real problems, says spokesmanPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras presented a plan for reforms to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which deals with the real problems of the Greek economy and society, the government spokesman said on Thursday, commenting on a statement by the main opposition on the OECD agreement signed earlier in the day.
"Congratulations are always welcome from the main opposition," Sakellaridis said.
"Mr. Tsipras presented a plan of reforms for the country to the OECD, a plan which tackles the real structural problems of the Greek economy and society. This way, the infamous toolbox of the government of [Antonis] Samaras - which was renamed 'OECD toolbox' - and was indeed a recipe for social destruction, as [ND spokesman] Mr. Karangounis very well remembers, is in the dustbin of history," he added.
 There will be a solution to Greece's liquidity problem, FinMin Varoufakis tells French TVGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, in an interview with the French TV channel France 24 on Thursday, reiterated his belief that an agreement can be reached with Greece's lenders so that the country can meet its increased financial obligations in spring.
"The time schedule for Greece's payments is heavier in March and April," Varoufakis said.
"They all know that. Despite that... I am certain we will find a solution that will guarantee that a reduced liquidity will not be able to derail the process, which we worked really hard to put into implementation," he added.
On the issue of German reparations, his comments were rather moderate.
"A debt should be a debt everywhere," and especially when "it's historically important," he said. "Unless, we all decide that debts can be written-off and restructured," he added.
 Part of the technical teams of the partners in Athens on Thursday, FinMin Varoufakis saysMembers of the technical teams of the partners are coming to Athens on Thursday to collect information on the Greek economy, as part of the discussions between Greece and the four institutions launched on Wednesday in Brussels, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Mega TV late on Wednesday.
He added that the composition of the technical teams will depend on the issue under negotiation as well as the data needed. According to the minister, visits to Greece will be purely technical. "The fact that the troika is over still stands," he noted.
 Technical discussions will continue on Thursday and the coming days, European Commission spokesman saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Technical discussions will continue on Thursday and the coming days, including contacts in Athens, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
Schinas stressed the importance of allowing the discussions to be carried out in a calm climate, adding that this is the reason why he will not disclose any details on their outcome.
However, he stated that the officials will work on the details of the reform list received by the Greek authorities and they will continue their discussions aiming at the conclusion of the review as provided by the February 20 Eurogroup meeting.
Regarding the meeting between the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, in Brussels, he said that a more general assessment of the situation of the Greek economy will be made.
 IMF to send Iva Petrova to Athens, Rishi Goyal to Brussels for Greek talksNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greece has said it will repay its debt installment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in time, the fund's spokesman Gerry Rice said during a regular press briefing in Washington on Thursday.
Asked about whether Greece will be able to pay back its loan installment, Rice pointed to the public statements made by the Greek government which reassured there would be no delays to repayments.
Rice also said IMF will send Iva Petrova as its representative at the technical team that will meet in Athens, while Rishi Goyal, who represented the Fund in Brussels, will continue to do so in the future.
Asked whether Goyal would travel to Athens, Rice declined to answer, saying it is common for IMF officials to change posts.
"Some talks took place in Brussels and will be combined with technical discussions in Athens," he said.
 Gov't spokesman categorically rules out possibility of new measuresGovernment spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis on Thursday in statements to Skai TV categorically ruled out the possibility of new measures in terms of cutbacks.
"Tightening the belts of those who cannot pay is an absurd measure," he said.
Asked how the government will secure the 6-8 billion euros needed to cover its financial needs, he said: "There are ways to raise money and increase liquidity. Increasing taxation makes no sense; one should however facilitate taxpayers owing billion of euros."
"Yesterday in Brussels, the framework and the methodology as to how the negotiation will develop on a technical level were set. Technical discussions will take place in Brussels, where there will be representatives by Greece as well as the institutions," he noted.
On the arrival of the Brussels Group, he said: "On the provision of data, they will be able to collect data from Athens. Today, they will collect information on the country's fiscal condition. The fact that they will not go to the ministries or the General Accounting Office has been accepted. They will collect data by same-rank officials."
Regarding the OECD he mentioned that "we ask them to assist in the better implementation of the reforms that we, as a government, have proposed." He clarified however they have nothing to do with the old toolkit. "They have to do with the better attribution of taxes through more efficient cross-checking, with fighting tax evasion and smuggling, with the improvement of the business climate," he noted.
Regarding German reparations, he said: "The issue in not included in the framework of the negotiations since it is related to justice. The government is prepared to imperatively put these issues on the table. (Justice Minister Nikos) Paraskevopoulos said he would consider all data on German compensations. Beyond that, a possible signing on his part is a serious issue that also concerns the prime minister. In any case, this issue has been also raised by the Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias."
 The agreement with the partners must also be a political one, State Min Flambouraris saysThe agreement with the partners must be technical-economic, but also political, and not solely technical-economic, Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris on Thursday said in statements to SKAI.
"The agreement must be a political one as well," he underlined while he estimated that there will not be a referendum.
According to skai.gr, Flambouraris attributed German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's reactions to psychological factors as well, because he sees that other countries have started differentiating themselves from Germany's strict policy.
 Athens' demarche to Berlin over Schaeuble's statements on VaroufakisThe ambassador of Greek Republic in Berlin, following an order of the Greek Foreign ministry, late on Tuesday made a demarche to the German Foreign ministry in order to express Greece's discontent over German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's derogatory statements for Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
 ForMin: Greek demarche to Germany was not based on a misinterpretationThe demarche made to the German government by Greece was not based on a misinterpretation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said on Thursday, in response to a German journalist's question on the issue.
"It was very mistakenly reported by a portion of the media, both domestically and internationally, that the demarche Greece made to the German government was supposedly based on an incorrectly translated phrase characterizing the Greek Finance Minister," Koutras said.
"On the contrary, the reasons the specific demarche was made to the government of a country that is a friend, partner and ally lie in the substance of what was said by Mr. Schaeuble."
 German FinMin says it's 'nonsense' that he insulted Greek counterpartGerman Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble denied insulting his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis in statements to Reuters on Thursday, saying the suggestion was "nonsense" and rejecting Athens' complaint that he had called Varoufakis "foolishly naive" in his communications.
"No, I haven't insulted my Greek counterpart, that is nonsense," Schaeuble said, when asked about an official Greek complaint made by the ambassador in Berlin to the German foreign ministry earlier this week.
Schaeuble was quoted in Greek media as telling reporters after EU discussions on Greece in Brussels that Yanis Varoufakis was "foolishly naive" in his communications. Foreign media covering Schaeuble in Brussels did not report the "foolishly naive" comment.
Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras said Athens had lodged the complaint "after what he (Schaeuble) said about Mr. Varoufakis. As a minister of a country that is our friend and our ally, he cannot personally insult a colleague."
 Greece 'is not a hopeless case', says SchaeubleGerman Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Thursday that Greece is "certainly not a hopeless case" and by the end of last year the country had performed better than expected in its bailout programme.
"In spite of all the scepticism, Greece's development by the end of last year was better than laid out in the programme," he was quoted as saying by Reuters during an event with his Austrian counterpart in Vienna.
Schaeuble also noted he is trying to remain calm when it comes to Greece, but its government is not helping.
 Die Linke: 'The forced occupation loan must be repaid to Greece'BERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Germany must repay the forced occupation loan to Greece, the president of Die Linke party Bernd Riexinger told German state TV on Thursday, commenting on Greek claims for war reparations.
"The forced occupation loan must at any case be repaid. There is no statute of limitations," Riexinger told ARD.
The leader of Die Linke said it would be good for the German government not to reject the issue so harshly and suggested it should instead choose dialog, understanding and justice.
 ALDE president Verhofstadt: 'Tsipras should not fuel hatred between Greeks and Germans'Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras "should put all his efforts into building a new future for Greece and not in fueling hatred between Greeks and Germans," Guy Verhofstadt, president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament, said on Thursday.
In announcements posted online in response to Tsipras' statements that Greece plans to claim reparations from Germany, Verhofstadt stressed, "The German reparations won't help Greece to fight the real reasons why the state failing: the widespread corruption and the clientelistic Greek political system."
He pointed out that by insisting on the reparations, Tsipras "thrust us back into the pre-war logic of satisfaction through revenge" and created "a flashback to one of the darkest pages in the history of mankind."
"Instead of breathing new life into the phantoms of the past, he should put all his efforts into building a new future for Greece," Verhofstadt - a former prime minister of Belgium - noted, and fighting corruption and the clientelistic political system.
 Draft bill on humanitarian crisis, corruption passes second committee reading in ParliamentThe draft bill on dealing with the humanitarian crisis and fighting corruption passed its second committee readings in Parliament on Thursday, on the votes of government coalition parties Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and Independent Greeks (ANEL).
Main opposition New Democracy voted for the first part, on the humanitarian crisis, and reserved judgement for the rest. Potami, Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) and the Communist Party of Greece reserved judgement for the vote in the Parliament's plenum, while PASOK voted only for the last five articles, related to students' school busing and the extension of health coverage privileges to the unemployed and part-time workers.
The draft bill was read in separate committees. During the second reading, Alternate Health Minister Andreas Xanthos announced that 14 amendments would be tabled in addition, related to health policy. The issues include payment of overdue debts of hospitals to procurers, an extension of contracts to the end of the year of auxiliary staff and doctors serving the national health system, overtime staff payments and raising the age limit to 50 for certain specialities because of lack of personnel.
 Deliberate mistakes in pensions' actuarial studies had been made, Labour Min Skourletis says"Deliberate mistakes had been made during the drafting of actuarial studies on pensions with the purpose of reducing them," Labour Minister Panos Skourletis said on Thursday in statements to MEGA TV.
Skourletis agreed with Social Insurance secretary general George Romanias' estimates that the actuarial studies were tampered with adding that the revenues generating from assets of the pension funds had not been included in them.
In reply to a question concerning the implementation of the Minimum Guaranteed Income, the Labour minister reiterated that the previous government had not included in the budget a provision for the expansion of the measure across the country after the end of the pilot programme.
Skourletis left the possibility for changes to the specific programme open and added that the mechanism created by the municipalities for its implementation may prove suitable for identifying people who really need it.
 Government and New Democracy clash over pensions during parliament debate on humanitarian crisis billFormer Labour Minister and New Democracy deputy Yiannis Voutsis on Thursday, speaking to the Parliament during the debate on the humanitarian crisis bill, called on the government to increase pensions if they really believe that actuarial studies on pension cuts were based on wrong data.
"Table an amendment today and increase the pensions," Voutsis urged the government adding that if they do not do so, it means that they are mocking the people.
Voutsis underlined that the National Actuarial Authority is always based on the European Commission's framework of rules and directives without ministerial interventions.
"I am really impressed that the Labour Minister who ... cut the pensions by 25-50 percent is calling on the government to increase pensions and restore the situation. It is absurd!" Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis said and added: "The government's priority is before restoring the damage already done, to save pensioners from another disaster which you had already included in this year's budget."
 Greece's migration policy minister outlines road map for asylum, migration issues at EU council meetingBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ V. Demiris)
Alternate Interior Minister for Migration Policy Tasia Christodoulopoulou presented the Greek government's road map for Asylum and Migration issues at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers' Council held here on Thursday.
The minister called for a European migration and asylum policy based on respect for human rights but also on sharing the burden and responsibility between all EU member-states, activating immediate solidarity measures for reception countries, such as Greece.
Regarding Greece's road map, she underlined the Greek government's intention to change things at migrant detention centres in Greece and secure 2,500 places in open reception structures, as well as to draw up a national policy for unaccompanied minors and an immediate and fast examination of asylum requests for all those eligible. She said Greece will implement the provisions of a 2011 law and use all available tools, especially activating the postponement of deporting individuals that cannot be deported to their countries.
Christodoulopoulou underlined that the government's goal is to record as many of these people as possible, since a state must have some idea who has entered its borders. At the same time, the return of migrants with respect for the laws, both voluntary and otherwise, continues to be the ministry's policy, she said and presented a plan for a single authority that will manage the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.
The minister emphasised that there was no question of unilateral actions by Greece on matters linked to the country's obligations arising from the Schengen Treaty, the Dublin II Treaty rules and EURODAC. She called, however, for the distribution of third-country nationals in all the 28 EU member-states, saying this was imperative in the framework of the EU's operation and the principle of solidarity.
 Germany has 'moral and political' obligation to deal with war debts issue, Alt. Foreign Minister saysThe Greek government, politically and morally, will claim the repayment of German debts as these were determined: repayment of the occupation loan, restoration of damages and return of stolen cultural treasures," Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Chountis said in an interview with the ANA-MPA released on Thursday.
At the same time, he added, it was Germany's moral and political obligation to deal with this issue and the Greek side's commitment to presenting this claim.
He said the foreign ministry's new political leadership had formally raised the issue of war reparations and the occupation loan with the leadership of the German foreign ministry.
"We let our German colleagues understand that we have no desire to open up fronts and make claims without consultation, cooperation and understanding. What we are asking from the German side is to understand that this is its moral and political obligation. That the problem exists. Greece is the only country that has suffered the greatest proportional repercussions in terms of victims and destruction and has not been compensated, whereas other countries were compensated, even though, as I said, the issue is not just financial," he said.
Referring to looted cultural treasures taken during that period, Chountis said that there was evidence of extensive robbery and that these were "real events that no one can deny".
"The recognition that there is this obligation is very important and for this reason we want to show that we are talking on the basis of valid demands and not on something unreasonable," he added.
Asked to comment on a statement made by Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos that he was ready to give permission allowing the execution of a Supreme Court ruling awarding compensation to the families of Nazi atrocity victims in Distomo, Chountis replied that this made the compensation awarded "immediately claimable".
In the case that payment of this compensation was refused, he added, then the way would be open to exercise the right to confiscate assets, as the justice minister said in Parliament.
"In any case, however, there must be compensation. This is very important because it was a Supreme Court decision that has not been acted on since 2000 without any explanation. It is important that the current justice minister, the current government is determined to proceed, always on the condition that we see acceptance by the other side of the more general problem. You must demand your rights but the issue is sensitive and according to others it is linked to a generalised souring of Greek and German relations, something that we don't want to happen. It is Germany's moral, political obligation, however, to deal with this issue and the Greek government's commitment to claim it," he said.
Potami party leader: Justice minister statements on seizing German property are 'embarrassing' and 'nationalistic'
The statements Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos is making about being ready to give permission to seize German state propery in Greece, over Greek claims for German WWII reparations and a forced loan by occupation forces, are "nationalistic" and "embarrassing" for Greece, opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis said on Thursday.
In his statements to the press, Theodorakis said, "Paraskevopoulos has been minister for 45 days and has given four interviews the last two days just to state that he is ready to confiscate German property in Athens. I cannot possibly comprehend how a German-educated lawyer like Paraskevopoulos has decided to wear a foustanella [a traditional Greek skirt-like costume] and become a member of the Kammenos group, but this is the reality," referring to National Defence Minister and Independent Greeks (ANEL) party leader Panos Kammenos' past statements.
Theodorakis also criticised the minister's statements on the Goethe Institute, saying, "The minister of justice is leaking information that they are thinking of seizing the Goethe Institute. I imagine that Paraskevopoulos knows what the Goethe Institute is and what it has offered, not just to Greece but to Europe also. These statements, like the leaks, are a shame and he will find supporters only among fascists, not the Greek people."
To another question, he said that "Greece is one of the last countries in quality and time required to mete out justice," and cited the 2015 EU Justice Scoreboard presented on March 9 by EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Vera Jourova. The report gives an overview of the quality, independence and efficiency of the justice system of EU members.
Asked to comment about ANEL's criticism to his criticism, Theodorakis said he "does not follow the announcements of the sprayed Greeks," referring to one of the party's claims of people being sprayed secretly by forces that be.
 Avramopoulos says Greece has the Commission's support on the migrant issueBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)
Certain positive results have already been achieved but many challenges still lie ahead, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Thursday, referring to the roadmap for asylum and migration issues presented by Greece in the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers' Council held here on Thursday.
Avramopoulos said that the roadmap seeks to urgently settle all pending issues on asylum and migration in Greece.
He said that among the main challenges are the availability and sustainability of human and economic resources and the operation of the open hospitality centres, adding that the issue of the detention of asylum seekers should be handled with special care.
The detention of migrants under improper conditions will have to end immediately, especially in cases of unaccompanied minors, he said, noting that the responsible Greek minister has made a pledge.
The Commission and its agencies will continue to support Greece to effectively implement this new planning, Avramopoulos concluded.
 New Greek President Pavlopoulos to be sworn in on FridayThe new President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos will be sworn in on Friday at 18.00 before the Parliament plenary. After the end of the ceremony, he will lay a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in down town Athens and then will go to the Presidential Mansion to assume his new responsibilities.
 Alternate FM Chountis to meet the Polish Charg? d'AffairesAlternate Foreign Minister Nikos Chountis will meet the Polish Charg? d'Affaires to Athens, Sandra Harmoza, on Friday, according to an announcement.
The meeting will take place at 11:00, at the Foreign ministry.
 ND: PM Tsipras voted down all OECD reforms proposed by previous governmentMain opposition New Democracy (ND) on Thursday criticized the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for maintaining a hypocritical stance towards the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), saying it was the ND-led government which first cooperated with the organization.
"We have to congratulate Mr. Tsipras for continuing the cooperation with the OECD!" ND spokesman Costas Karangounis said.
The spokesman reminded Tsipras that when he was leader of the opposition, he had described the country's cooperation with the OECD as "a recipe for social destruction" and a "black book of neoliberalism".
Tsipras, Karangounis continued, had voted against all reforms proposed by the OECD by the previous government, saying it would be "the rope to hang ourselves".
"Clearly, today he [Tsipras] is cooperating with the executioners," he added.
 Potami responds to SYRIZA as regards ERT public broadcasterOpposition Potami party on Thursday underlined that if the ruling SYRIZA party wants to know more about the extravagant spending for the operation of the state-run radio and television broadcasting company it should ask certain of its cadres, who were employed by public broadcaster ERT S.A. during the past decade and now are active in SYRIZA-affiliated mass media.
Potami issued the statement in response to a SYRIZA announcement that wondered if Potami is aware of ERT practices.
"Of course we know all about them and we have specific proposals so that they will not be repeated," Potami responded.
 KKE on Tsipras-Gurria meetingOpposition Communist Party (KKE) on Thursday commented on the meeting in Paris between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and OECD General Secretary Angel Gurria.
"A day after the official opening of the talks between the government and the troika (Brussels Group) the government commits another advertisement fraud by promising 'popular' reforms through the OECD, the known economic organisation that always suggests anti-popular measures and the slaughter of rights to support capital holders," KKE underlined.
"What's even worse is that the government asks for the people's support to move on this path," the KKE announcement said.
 PASOK levels criticism against VaroufakisPASOK on Thursday lashed out at Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis following his interview to Mega TV.
"There are political behaviours that they have been proven to be quaint and risky at the same time. This is Varoufakis' case who is acting in consultation with (Prime Minister Alexis) Tsipras, who chose him and puts up with him," PASOK noted.
The party added that when Varoufakis was asked during his interview on the attacks against him by his counterparts, he once again slandered the previous governments and his predecessors instead of trying to give a meaningful answer that protects the national interest and offers a relative prospect.
It also accused Varoufakis of not realizing that he is responsible for the severe and long-term damage he has caused to the country.
 Parliament honours the memory of Thessaloniki Jews and Roma killed in Nazi concentration campsThe Greek Parliament, adopting a proposal by SYRIZA MP Triantafyllos Mitafidis, on Thursday decided that Greece, as part of its war reparations claims against Germany over Nazi occupation debts, will also claim the reimbursement of a ransom paid by the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki to German occupation troops and money disbursed the Thessaloniki municipality's accounts and granted to the occupying troops.
The Parliament also paid tribute to the memory of Jews and Roma of Thessaloniki, whose uprooting and extermination in the Nazi camps began 72 years ago, on March 15, 1943.
At the same time, it hailed the march that will take place in the city on Sunday from Thessaloniki's Holocaust Memorial in Eleftheria Square to the city's old railway station, where trains departed for the concentration camps.
"I hail Parliament's decision to include the issue of the ransom paid by our Community to the German occupation troops in the claims. This is a very positive step," the head of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki David Saltiel told ANA-MPA.
On July 11, 1942, all Jewish men aged 18 to 45, were ordered to report to Eleftheria square. There, after being subjected to indescribable humiliations, they were registered and taken away for forced labor. The Community had to pay the huge sum of 2.5 billion drachmas to the German troops in order to set them free.
 European Court of Human Rights condemns Greece over inhuman and degrading treatment of prison inmatesSTRASBOURG (ANA/MPA-N.Roussis)
The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ruled against Greece for inhuman and degrading treatment of Greek and foreign nationals detained in Greek prisons and awarded compensation for non-pecuniary damage, as well as costs and expenses amounting to 82,600 euros.
The case concerned three Greek nationals, a Romanian national and a Bulgarian national who complained about the conditions of detention in the prisons of Korydallos, Larissa and Diavata.
The applicants complained of prison overcrowding, of the very insalubrious sanitary conditions, of being put in unfurnished, unheated and unlit cells, as well as of the unbearable smell in the prison caused by rubbish being thrown out of the cell windows into the yard.
The court ruled against Greece for violation of the Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and awarded compensation.
 Former FinMin Papaconstantinou completes testimony; Special Court to reconvene on March 17Former finance minister George Papaconstantinou completed his testimony on Thursday, in a Special Court trying him over charges of removing his relatives' names from a controversial list of Greek depositors abroad under review for possible tax evasion (the so-called Lagarde list).
Papaconstantinou, who denies all charges against him, said his own party (PASOK) "threw (him) to the dogs" and his party president expelled him from the party. Among other things, he said the Greek state's revenues must be 4 billion euros, but the finance ministry's economic crimes squad (SDOE) ability to collect taxes is under 1 percent.
Rounding off his testimony, he said he cannot work in Greece any more or circulate publicly: "I cannot go to a movie theatre with my wife. I circulate with guards. This is the fate of the finance minister of the memorandum. If I did not have this trial, I would have left the country."
The trial was adjourned after his testimony and will reconvene on March 17 with the prosecutor's evidence.
 No former municipal police employee will lose his or her job, admin. reform ministry stressesNo former municipal police officer will lose his or her job as a result of measures to reinstitute the municipal police, the interior-administrative reconstruction ministry stressed in an announcement on Thursday. The announcement said that the ministry will use the same rules as those for state employees currently in the "availability" pool, using the opinions of the ministers as a guideline as to the state's real needs.
Responding to media reports, the ministry stressed that those who had been fired or were due to be fired because no other place had been found for them would return to their old jobs. Those that had already been permanently transferred will remain in their new positions, while those whose transfer was not permanent would have the option of choosing between their current position or a return to their old job at the municipal police.
The only employees that would be obliged to return to their old position in the municipal police force will be those transferred to the regular police, since the appropriate ministry judged that they could not be put to good use there.
The announcement said that the move to reinstitute the municipal police was decided in consultation with all bodies involved and revived a service "that was particularly useful for the daily life of citizens and generated significant income for municipalities."
 Police release photographs and details of 39-year-old arrested on terrorism chargesActing on the orders of a public prosecutor, the Greek Police on Thursday released photographs and details of a 39-year-old man arrested on February 28 on charges of joining the terrorist group "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire". The suspect was identified as Christos Rodopoulos, of Ilias and Vassiliki, born in Athens on September 10, 1976.
Rodopoulos faces charges as a member of the terror organisation, for the manufacture, supply and possession in common of explosives and bombs, illegal possession of combat rifles, guns, hand-grenades, ammunition, explosive devices and other types of combat material, armour-penetrating and explosive shells, aggravated by the charge of construction, supply and possession of guns and explosives to serve the purposes of a terrorist organisation.
DNA taken from the suspect also matched samples of genetic material taken from a number of explosive devices and other evidence found by police, including:
- a letter-bomb sent to the Athens Appeals Court President in charge of terrorism cases Dimitrios Mokkas, which exploded in his home on September 1, 2013
- a makeshift bomb set in the entrance of the Korydallos tax office building on March 23, 2014 that was neutralised by the Greek Police
- a powerful parcel bomb sent to the Itea police station chief on April 30, 2014
- Evidence found and confiscated at terrorist hideouts used by Christodoulos Xiros in Loutraki and Anavyssos, Attica.
Polcie have also released the false ID card used by the terror suspect Angeliki Spiropoulou, found in a house in Salamina.
The photographs can be see on the police website at: http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang=%27..%27&perform=view&id=51379&Itemid=1473&lang=
 ECB approves additional 600 mln euros in emergency liquidity to GreeceEuropean Central Bank on Thursday approved an additional 600 million euros in emergency liquidity to Greece through the Emergency Liquidity Assistance Mechanism (ELA). The decision was taken during a teleconference between Eurozone central bankers. The Bank of Greece has requested extra liquidity of around 600 million euros.
ECB has approved liquidity worth 69.4 billion euros to Greek banks through the ELA mechanism.
 Regulation for repayment of arrears in 100 installments to be released on ThursdayThe legislative amendment for the repayment of arrears to the State in 100 installments is expected to be published on Thursday afternoon.
The amendment will include among others motives for consistent tax payers.
 Draft bill on the settlement of arrears to the state unveiled for public consultationA draft bill, posted on "opengov.gr" on Thursday for public consultation, provides that taxpayers can repay their overdue debts to the tax bureau in 2 to 100 installments. It also includes details on fines and surcharges imposed for overdue debts, depending on the number of installments chosen.
According to the draft bill, the minimum monthly installment is reduced from 50 to 20 euros, the annual interest rate drops from 5.6 pct to 3 pct, while in case an installment is missed the monthly interest rate will be 0.25 pct.
Overdue debts of up to 5,000 euros will not be subjected to surcharges and high interest rates.
 Greek unemployment rate at 26.1 pct in Q4Greek unemployment rose to 26.1 pct of the workforce in the fourth quarter of 2014, from 25.5 pct in the third quarter, but fell compared with a 27.8 pct rate in the corresponding period in 2013. The unemployment rate reached an average 26.5 pct in 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the number of unemployed people totaled 1,245,854, of which around 910,000 were long-term unemployed (73 pct of total), while the unemployment rate among young people aged up to 24 years old was 51.5 pct.
The number of unemployed people grew 1.3 pct in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, but fell by 6.8 pct compared with the fourth quarter of 2013. The unemployment rate among women was 29.6 pct, from 31.7 pct in 2013, while among men it fell to 23.3 pct from 24.7 pct over the same period, respectively.
The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group fell to 51.5 pct from 56.7 pct in the fourth quarter of 2013, in the 25-29 age group it fell to 41.1 pct from 44.5 pct, in the 30-44 age group it fell to 24.7 pct from 26.5 pct, in the 45-64 age group it eased to 19.3 pct from 19.5 pct, and in the above 65 age group it rose to 10.9 pct from 9.7 pct.
Western Macedonia recorded the highest unemployment rate among the country's regions (27.9 pct in the fourth quarter from 29.4 pct in 2013), followed by Central Macedonia (27.9 pct from 30.5 pct), Western Greece (27.8 pct from 29 pct), Central Greece (27.0 pct from 29.1 pct), Attica (26.8 pct from 28.8 pct), Thessaly (25.8 pct from 25.2 pct), Crete (25.3 pct from 25.8p ct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (24.4 pct from 25.9 pct), Epirus (24.5 pct from 28 pct), Peloponnese (23.4 pct from 23.1 pct), Ionian Islands (21.2 pct from 20.4 pct), Northern Aegean (20.5 pct from 20.7 pct) and Southern Aegean (16.9 pct from 23.4 pct).
The number of employed people totaled 3,535,274 in the fourth quarter, down 1.4 pct from the third quarter, but up 1.6 pct from the fourth quarter of 2013.
Part-time employment accounted for 9.9 pct of total employment in the country, while the percentage of salary workers was 63.8 pct, significantly lower compared with an average rate of 83.5 pct in the European Union.
 Social insurance is no game show, GSEE President Panagopoulos saysSocial security is not a game show, General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos on Thursday said, keeping a distance from the positions expressed on television by General Secretary of Social Insurance Giorgos Romanias, who characterized the actuarial studies that led to pension cuts as "tampered with".
Addressing an event against labour market discrimination, hosted by the country's private-sector umbrella trade union, he said "anyone who has evidence proving such practices should go to justice and not to television channels".
"Pension cuts were the result of memorandum policies and were implemented without actuarial studies," he added.
 Dep. Min. for Rural Development Sgouridis to address meeting of young farmersDeputy Minister for Rural Development Panagiotis Sgouridis will address the 2nd meeting of young farmers to take place in Thessaloniki on Saturday under the auspices of the Regional Authority of Central Macedonia, it was announced on Thursday.
Regional Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas will also attend the meeting co-hosted by the Associations of Young Farmers (ENA) in the regional administrative units of Imathia, Thessaloniki, Kilkis and Pieria.
The event will focus on the new common agricultural policy, goals, challenges and proposals, Rural Development programmes for the period 2014-2020 and new technologies and innovation in agriculture.
 Frigoglass reports higher losses in 2014Frigoglass on Thursday said its sales fell by 6.8 pct to 487.046 million euros in 2014, from 522.508 million euros in 2013. Fourth quarter sales grew 0.5 pct to 127.516 million euros.
The company reported net losses of 56.502 million euros in 2014, from net losses of 30.766 million euros the previous year, although its fourth quarter losses dropped to 6.213 million euros from 32.417 million in the corresponding period in 2013. EBITDA eased to 62.965 million euros in 2014, from 63.901 million in 2013, a decline of 1.3 pct, while operating earnings fell 1.2 pct to 29.595 million euros.
Torsten Tuerling, chief executive of Frigoglass, commenting on the results said the company completed a difficult year which was sealed however by significant successes, adding that the company improved its EBITDA margin by 70 basis points, reduced its inventories and improved the company's moving capital.
 Industrial production up 0.1 pct in JanIndustrial production edged 0.1 pct higher in January compared with the same period in 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 5.4 pct decline in the mining production index, a 3.6 pct rise in manufacturing production (reflecting increased production in tobacco, oil products, computers, electronics and optics and transport equipment), an 8.8 pct decline in electricity production and a 6.0 pct increase in water production in the first month of 2015.
 Sidenor says EBITDA up 101 pctSidenor Group on Thursday reported after-tax and minorities losses of 49.7 million euros, or 0.5165 euros per share, in 2014, from losses of 73.7 million euros (0.7663 euros) in 2013.
Consolidated turnover grew 1.8 pct to 822.1 million euros last year, from 807.7 million in 2013, consolidated pre-tax results showed a loss of 54.9 million euros (75.4 million in 2013) and EBITDA grew 101 pct to 23 million euros (11.5 million in 2013).
 Building activity down 5.8 pct in 2014Private building activity grew 13.1 pct in December after several months of decline, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday. The statistics service, in a monthly report, said that building activity fell by an average 5.8 pct in volume last year.
The December figures showed that the size of building activity totaled 1,175 new building permits, down 6.0 pct compared with December 2013 and a 13.1 pct rise in volume over the same period.
In the January-December 2014 period, private building activity recorded an 18.1 pct drop in building permits and a 5.8 pct fall in volume, compared with the previous 12-month period.
 Greek stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, unable to hold on to their early gains on lack of fresh news in the market. The composite index fell 0.41 pct to end at 794.07 points, after rising as much as 810.35 points early in the day. The Large Cap index fell 0.21 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.89 pct lower. Turnover was a low 70.23 million euros.
Alpha Bank (2.30 pct), National Bank (1.80 pct), GEK Terna (1.53 pct) and Jumbo (1.49 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Piraeus Port (3.50 pct), Athens Water (3.39 pct), Mytilineos (2.90 pct) and Eurobank (2.80 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Among market sectors, Personal Products (0.96 pct), Commerce (0.91 pct) and Construction (0.74 pct) scored big gains, while Insurance (5.11 pct), Chemicals (3.70 pct) and Raw Materials (3.11 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 64 to 48, with another 23 issues unchanged. Levenderis (29.37 pct), G.E.Demetriou (25 pct) and Sato (20 pct) were top gainers, while Hellenic Fish Farms (18.75 pct), Kathimerini (18.64 pct) and CPI (9.74 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -1.99%
Real Estate: -0.49%
Personal & Household: +0.96%
Food & Beverages: +0.44%
Raw Materials: -3.11%
Travel & Leisure: -2.08%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank , Piraeus Bank, OPAP and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.31
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.53
Coca Cola HBC: 15.67
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 3.91
National Bank of Greece: 1.13
Piraeus Bank: 0.39
Grivalia Properties: 7.60
Aegean Airlines: 7.34
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek bond yields recovered slightly after rising strongly in the previous few days in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday. The three-year bond yield eased to 17.69 pct from 18.2 pct and the five-year bond yield fell to 14.5 pct from 14.84 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bond eased slightly to 10.25 pct from 10.32 pct with the Greek bond yielding 10.48 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.23 pct. Turnover was a thin 6.0 million euros, of which 5.0 million were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate rose to 0.215 pct from 0.21 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.146 pct from 0.152 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.098 pct from 0.099 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.027 pct from 0.031 pct and the one-month rate was stable at -0.009 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.04 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday.
Volume on the Big Cap index totalled 4,088 contracts with 39,415 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 25,995 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (8,880), followed by Alpha Bank (2,285), National Bank (6,763), Eurobank (4,620), OTE (505), PPC (679), OPAP (314), MIG (160), Mytilineos (364), METKA (115), GEK (241), Jumbo (171) and Piraeus Port (122).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.0613
Pound sterling 0.7091
Danish kroner 7.4575
Swedish kroner 9.1141
Japanese yen 128.29
Swiss franc 1.0636
Norwegian kroner 8.591
Canadian dollar 1.3432
Australian dollar 1.3771
 New policing plan for downtown Athens announcedThe new downtown Athens policing plan drawn up by the Greek Police (EL.AS.) headquarters is based on the key-points of the new anti-crime policy sponsored by the civil protection ministry, while the supplementary actions included are aimed at ensuring continuous and visible police presence and deterrent action, an EL.AS. announcement said on Thursday.
The substantive police intervention will boost the citizens' sense of security, while the quality of everyday life will be improved, ELAS said.
The new plan will be implemented shortly by local police stations focusing on downtown Athens and the districts of Omonia, Acropolis, Exarhia, Agios Panteleimonas and Kipseli. It will include, among others, police patrols on a 24-hour basis and targeted action against illegal trade, drug trafficking, panhandling and prostitution.
 17-year-old Greek student who fell off balcony in Rome diesROME (ANA-MPA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
The 17-year-old student who fell off a hotel balcony during a school trip in Rome died late on Tuesday after being hospitalised for a week.
The girl fell off the second storey of a central Rome hotel and was taken to the emergency ward with serious head injuries.
After successive councils, doctors confirmed that she was brain-dead and her parents gave the necessary consent for organ donation. The whole process was completed earlier on Thursday. The parents of 17 year-old girl, who have stayed for a week in Rome will return to Greece soon, while the girl's body will arrive in her hometown in Imathia, northern Greece in about a week.
The accident was probably a result of alcohol consumption.
The Greek vice-consul in Rome Nikos Tzoitis assisted the girl's family all these days.
 Man jumps off fourth-floor balcony in Vyronas with four-month-old babyThe four-month-old girl, who, according to police sources, on Thursday was thrown off a fourth-floor balcony in the Athens district of Vyronas by her 26-year-old uncle, died in an Athens hospital where she was rushed in critical condition.
Police sources said the 26-year-old man, whos was left alone with the baby as her mother had stepped out for a while, threw the little girl off the balcony and then jumped off himself. The man is in hospital in very critical condition.
 Thessaloniki appeals council rejects extradition request for Turkish nationalThe Appeals Council of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, rejected an extradition request from Turkey concerning a Turkish political refugee, 37, who has been living in Greece.
Baris Bal was arrested in Thessaloniki following an Interpol "red alert" which described him as a member of a terrorist organisation.
The court accepted his lawyer's arguments that Bal had been recognised as a political refugee because of political activity he carried out during his high school years - as a member of "Dev Sol" in 1992, when he was 14 years old - and expressed concern that if he were extradited he would be in danger of being treated unfairly in Turkey. Dev Sol was classified as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and outlawed.
Witnesses for the defence included academics and the Greek council for refugees. Bal's lawyer also said that the ruling of the first court, which had found Bal guilty, had been found illegal by European agencies because it violated the European convention on human rights.
 Centre of Hellenic Culture organises culture week in MoscowThe Centre of Hellenic Culture in Moscow is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and is organizing a week of Greek culture from March 19-25, to promote Greece to the Russian audience and to highlight common points in the history of the two nations.
The week will include, among others, a painting exhibition titled: "Greece in the Russian hearts", a photography exhibition on Greek education, a concert, lectures, book presentations, theatrical performances, master classes in Greek dance and art, a poetry night by the theatrical lab of the Centre, as well as an event dedicated to the Greek Independence.
The events will be held at the Meridian cultural venue.
 Smokers throwing cigarette butts on Greel beaches a major problem, EU programme showsGreece relies on tourism for its economy and must protect its beaches through a policy directly linked to managing garbage and household waste, head of the European Commission office in Greece Panos Karvounis said on Thursday, during a one-day meeting of the Mediterranean SOS Network (MedSOS), an Athens-based NGO.
MedSOS just completed the European project Life Ammos on a "Comprehensive information campaign to limit smokers' garbage on beaches." Implementing the programme were MedSOS, Terra Nova Ltd., the University of Patras, Marc SA and the EU funding medium Life. Funding was also provided by the Green Fund and Blue Star Ferries.
Karvounis said the European Commission was in continuous dialogue on how to manage garbage in the sea, by implementing a series of measures that focus around making the public and consumers more aware. In recent years, EU-wide, there are 4,000 projects totalling 3.5 billion euros, of which 220 projects worth 300 million euros relate to Greece. Life, a new EU programme, targets viable growth and includes climate and environmental actions and includes provisions for an additional funding of 3.5 billion euros, he noted.
"Small objects of garbage are as important as larger pieces," board manager of MedSOS Evangelos Koukiasas said, adding, "If we can convince Greeks not to throw their cigarette butts on beaches, we can achieve many more things."
Marina Markovic, United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) specialist on viability, said among other things that 80 percent of garbage at sea is of land origin, while 83 percent of garbage consists of plastics (bags, bottles and bottle caps) and urged action on the major problem of sea pollution.
University of Patras geology professor George Papatheodorou said that the Patras Gulf contained 437 pieces of garbage per square kilometer, according to university studies, and pointed out the major effects this had on the seabed and on marine ecosystems.
Greece is significantly behind in environmental actions, national representative of the Life programme George Protopapas said, as only 6 percent of foreseen funds was absorbed by the country.
MedSOS representatives Natalia Roumelioti said that cigarette butts polluting the world amounted to 4.5 trillion annually, while Greece was the first country in Europe in terms of smokers, including very high rates among younger people.
A series of actions to correct the public's misconceptions about the issue include technology-supported tools, info kiosks on 15 selected beaches, voluntary cleanups and games, publishing of information online and through the printed press, radio and television ads, social media pages and a complete educational package, among other things.
 British man handed 3-year suspended sentence for death of girlfriendA 27-year-old British national was handed a three-year suspended sentence by an appeals court in Crete on Thursday, for causing lethal bodily injury to his partner in 2010.
According to the file, on May 12, 2010, the man was quarrelling with his 21-year-old girlfriend with whom he was holidaying in the town of Malia and punched her at her belly. After four days, the woman was admitted to hospital suffering from intense pain in the abdomen and passed away the next day. Doctors diagnosed her with peritonitis.
The court ruled the British man was guilty as charged, but recognized his clean criminal record, thus lowering his sentence from eight years - according to the first court ruling - to three.
During the hearing, the man insisted he hadn't struck his girlfriend, but that she fell and injured herself.
 Names of Seas where Greek seamen perished during wars carved on national monumentThe names of the Aegean and the Ionian Sea, as well as the Atlantic Ocean, were carved into the monument of the Unknown Soldier on Syntagma Square on Thursday, to commemorate the unsung Greek heroes of the Navy and Merchant Marine who perished in various wars.
The names of the seas join a long list of placenames on the marble wall of the monument.
The carving of the placenames was undertaken by the Navy and the ministry of education, culture and religious affairs, following a recommendation of the Hellenic Navy.
 Overcast, rain on FridayClouds, rain and variable winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds and possibility of local showers in the northern parts of the country; temperatures ranging between 01C and 11C. Overcast with possibility of rain in western parts with temperatures between 8C and 16C. Overcast and local showers in the eastern parts and temperatures between 6C and 14C. Clouds and local showers over the islands, 7C-18C. Overcast and scattered showers in Athens, 7C-13C; clouds and local showers in Thessaloniki, 4C-10C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceAVGI: Battle for growth
DIMOKRATIA: Extreme conflict with Germany over compensations and the negotiation
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Names and evidence
ESTIA: How to get a 'tax' conscience
ETHNOS: Favourable terms for pension to women
IMERISSIA: Mario Draghi waiting for Brussels' signal
KATHIMERINI: Negotiation in... tranches
LOGOS: Cold war climate between Maximos Mansion and Berlin
NAFTEMPORIKI: 'Hunting' for time and funding
RIZOSPASTIS: The people will pay the price for the 'new agreement' too
TA NEA: Lasting power struggle
TO PONTIKI: The black coffers of the memorandum
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