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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 17-02-15

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

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

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 Issue No: 5352

CONTENTS

  • [01] 'Not one euro' of additional austerity in deal under negotiation with creditors, gov't spox Tzanakopoulos insists
  • [02] The government is working hard to achieve a fair agreement, gov't sources tell ANA
  • [03] The agreement under negotiation does not include new measures, gov't spokesman Tzanakopoulos says
  • [04] Deal with creditors must be achieved on February 20, says government VP
  • [05] SYRIZA MEP: Next Eurogroup must produce 'white smoke' on Greek deal
  • [06] Greek governments are not appointed by creditors, they are elected by the Greek people, gov't spokesman says
  • [07] Greek programme review must be completed without delay, Dombrovskis tells MEPs
  • [08] All sides working hard for progress on Greek review ahead of Feb. 20 Eurogroup, Breidthardt says
  • [09] Tsipras to meet with Moscovici in Athens on Wednesday
  • [10] FinMin Tsakalotos to meet Commissioner Moscovici on Wednesday
  • [11] Good and bad news from Mosovici, Potami leader tweets after meeting Commissioner
  • [12] FM Kotzias continues Vietnam trip with visit to Ho Chi Minh City
  • [13] ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has meeting with Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin
  • [14] Potami leader Theodorakis meets Avramopoulos in Strasbourg
  • [15] The dilemma is consensus or disaster, says Democratic Alliance leader Gennimata
  • [16] Top echelons of Greek education administration male-dominated, myschool platform reveals
  • [17] Top court upholds prison sentence, fine for former finance minister
  • [18] Farmers wait result of Wednesday's meeting with Dragasakis to decide on roadblocks
  • [19] Farmers' conclude protest rally and march in Athens
  • [20] Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed agreement to cooperate in tourism
  • [21] Foreign Ministry aims at promotion of Greece to new tourism markets
  • [22] Primary surplus and revenue targets again surpassed in January, finance ministry reports
  • [23] Businesses and competition in Greece in the context of the digital single market conference on Wednesday
  • [24] Greek GDP grew 0.3 pct in fourth quarter of 2016 - ELSTAT
  • [25] Aluminium of Greece and GE sign deal to implement digital smelter solutions
  • [26] Zagori village presents its natural beauties at Alternative Tourism Exhibition in Utrecht
  • [27] Greek stocks advance for third session in a row
  • [28] Greek bond market closing report
  • [29] The Berlin Painter and his World; an exhibition on one of the most influential pottery artist in Ancient Athens
  • [30] Archaeological body rejects Gucci's proposal for fashion show on Acropolis Hill
  • [31] Love is not blind anymore
  • [32] Athens Observatory to arrange visits for refugee and migrant children this month
  • [33] Egnatia Highway staff announce strike on February 21
  • [34] Mostly fair on Wednesday
  • [35] The Tuesday edition of Athens dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] 'Not one euro' of additional austerity in deal under negotiation with creditors, gov't spox Tzanakopoulos insists

    The deal that the government is currently negotiating with Greece's creditors will not include even one euro's worth of additional austerity, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanako-poulos said on Tuesday, during the regular press briefing. The spokesman was categoric on this point, repeating the statement four times while talking to reporters:

    "I can assure the Greek people that this government is working hard and trying to achieve an agreement that does not include additional austerity," he insisted at one point.

    Questioned about the tight deadlines before the next Eurogroup on Monday, Tzanakopoulos said that a positive development on February 20 was very likely "provided the expectations are confirmed over the next few days and all sides involved in the Greek programme adopt a constructive stance."

    He said the government's optimism on this score was buoyed by new elements that "redefine the reality and create the possibility of a compromise solution within the timeframe," adding that this was the government's goal.

    The spokesman also pointed to a visit by European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici in Athens on Wednesday. He noted that the government expects a constructive stance during the negotia-tions on completing the second review.

    All the sides involved now consider that the Greek issue is a "political matter," Tzanakopoulos noted. As a result, he added, there was no point in continuing the talks on a technical level without a decision on the guiding axes on which they will be based.

    "The political negotiation of the last two months, at least, has brought results, it has shifted correlations and created a terrain on which an agreement can be built that is capable of satisfying all the sides involved. This is the scenario on which the government is working," he said.

    Without going into details regarding the negotiation, Tzanako-poulos said the government will be using the European Com-mission's figures in the talks, not those of the IMF. He also denied that the institutions had proposed measures equivalent to 2 pct of Greek GDP.

    If the targets for primary surpluses are set and the correspon-ding dates decided, then calculating the medium-term measures was simply a matter of "an equation with one unknown variable," he added.

    Lastly, Tzanakopoulos made it clear that the government was fully united in backing a single line, with no differentiation and that SYRIZA's Parliamentary group was solid and unified to the utmost degree.

    [02] The government is working hard to achieve a fair agreement, gov't sources tell ANA

    The initiative of EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici to visit Athens in the aftermath of the European Commission's estimates that are in full contrast to the pessimistic estimates of the IMF is a positive act, government sources said to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

    "Whatever applies to Greece, it also applies to Europe," the same source said and stressed the firm government position that nobody can tolerate a renewed technical crisis.

    "The government is working hard to achieve a fair agreement, a socially sustainable and politically bearable agreement as soon as possible," it underlined and added: "It has to be a comprehensive agreement as Athens is aiming to close all open issues at once."

    The source also said that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is politically isolated while the IMF still has irrational demands.

    [03] The agreement under negotiation does not include new measures, gov't spokesman Tzanakopoulos says

    The Greek government is working hard and seeks the conclu-sion of the programme review as well as an agreement that will allow Greece's participation in the ECB quantitative easing programme, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos on Tuesday said in a press briefing.

    He also cleared out the agreement under negotiation does not include new measures at all.

    Earlier, Tzanakopoulos accused the main opposition that instead of helping Greece's efforts, its leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is accusing the government of the delays (in the programme review).

    "The Greek governments are not appointed by the creditors, but they are elected by the Greek people," he stressed.

    [04] Deal with creditors must be achieved on February 20, says government VP

    Greece and its creditors must achieve an agreement or set a timeframe for an agreement in the near future at the Eurogroup meeting on February 20, Government Vice-President Yannis Dragasakis said on Tuesday.

    "The conditions for an agreement are in place. There is no unanimity but each side must assume its responsibilities. There must be a deal on February 20, either a timeframe for a deal at a foreseeable future. The deal on Greece should not coincide with the elections in other countries" Dragasakis said at a book presentation.

    He said the government wants to achieve a deal that will help the country return to the markets in 2017 and complete the bailout program in the summer of 2018. It also wants to have a comprehensive agreement which will specify the path of the Greek economy after 2018 on issues such as the primary surplus, debt and growth. A third aim is to achieve a "clear" deal which will allow Greece to tentatively tap the markets in 2017 and not impose new austerity.

    [05] SYRIZA MEP: Next Eurogroup must produce 'white smoke' on Greek deal

    The Eurogroup meeting on February 20 must and can produce an agreement on Greece's program review, the Vice-President of the European Parliament and SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis told a plenary session of the European Parliament on Tuesday, opening a debate on Greece.

    "As Mr. [European Commission Vice President Valdis] Dombrovskis told us [...] according to official data by Eurostat, Greece is returning to growth and is exceeding the targets included in the [bailout] agreement. The primary surplus for 2016 was four times the agreed target," Papadimoulis said.

    "The IMF has missed again its forecasts and growth for 2017 and 2018 will be around 3 percent," he added and urged MEPs to help Greeks achieve economic growth and reduce unemployment.

    "Or will you let time go by, bowing to blackmail from either Mr. [Wolfgang] Schaeuble or the IMF, who produce instability and regression?" he asked and added that those who speak of a Grexit are damaging the Eurozone seeking a "Tsipras-exit".

    Papadimoulis continued by lashing out against the German finance minister, saying he must "stop playing with matches inside a fuel depot".

    "They are shouting at him in Germany; not just the Left - the Greens and the Social Democrats, but Mr. [Angela] Merkel herself is trying to put the brakes on him," he said.

    [06] Greek governments are not appointed by creditors, they are elected by the Greek people, gov't spokesman says

    Instead of helping Greece's efforts, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is accusing the government of the delays (in the programme review), government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

    "The Greek governments are not appointed by the creditors, but they are elected by the Greek people," he added.

    [07] Greek programme review must be completed without delay, Dombrovskis tells MEPs

    PARIS (ANA/ O. Tsipira)

    The completion of the second review of Greece's programme is at a critical stage and must proceed without delay "in order to underpin the progress we have seen in the last 18 months," European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told a plenary session of the European Parliament on Tuesday, opening a debate on Greece.

    "A staff level agreement should be within reach provided that all partners work actively towards bridging the remaining gaps," he added, noting that reforms in Greece were continuing and many prior actions required for the second review were close to adoption.

    Reporting significant structural changes across all areas of Greece's economy, Dombrovskis especially highlighted progress in the establishment of an independent revenue agency and "the operationalisation of the new privatisation and investment fund, to name just two examples of big undertakings."

    "Economic data now point to several positive points. Growth returned in the second half of the past year and is gathering pace. Indeed Greece has outperformed expectations in terms of GDP growth for 2016 and is expected to grow strongly this year by 2.7 pct, assuming of course that the programme remains on track," he said, adding that this was reflected in the European Commission's winter forecast published on Monday.

    Unemployment, while decreasing, remained "unacceptably high" and was one challenge that must be closely monitored and addressed, he added.

    Dombrovskis noted that Greece was estimated to substantially surpass its 2016 primary surplus target of 0.5 pct of GDP and was thus on track to meet its 2017 fiscal target primary surplus of 1.75 pct of GDP.

    "This represents strong progress and shows that Greece has come a long way," he emphasised, while noting that implementation had always been the "Achilles' heel" of the Greek programmes and warning that there was no room for complacency.

    He also pointed out, however, that Greek authorities had shown consistency under the ESM programme and adopted nearly 200 measures and sub-measures to comply with reform commitments since the August 2015 agreement. "This effort needs to be recognised," Dombrovskis said, pointing out that Greek authorities passed several important pieces of legislation through Parliament in November and December and that technical work necessary for the finalisation of the remaining elements has continued.

    "Our structural reform support service has furthermore provided technical support in the design and implementation of many of these reforms, for example, in the areas of public administration, renewable energy, privatisation, revenue administration, bank governance and others. In general, cooperation with the Greek authorities has been constructive. With this in mind, it is crucial that all partners now live up to their commitments so that an overall policy package can be reached as soon as possible," he said.

    "This is not the time to call our resolve into question or jeopardise the positive economic signals but to underpin confidence and help jobs, growth and investment to return to Greece," the Commission's vice-president added. He noted that the overall package should encompass programme conditionality, "including with a view to the IMF coming on board with an arrangement," and said the Commission will continue to work constructively "and urge our partners to do the same."

    Dombrovskis also referred to the short-term debt relief measures approved by the ESM in December, noting that these "contribute significantly to contain growth financing needs and smooth the Greek debt obligation over the maturity horizon, but they are part of the broader package agreed in May 2016 whose further elaboration we will continue to support in line with the agreement reached."

    "The Commission will continue to work actively and constructively to ensure that the second review is concluded as soon as possible and that a balanced agreement is reached," Dombrovskis concluding, urging all the parties involved to "show political will." "By keeping the programme on track, we will help to build on the current economic recovery in Greece, allowing it to return to sustainable growth and job creation," he said.

    [08] All sides working hard for progress on Greek review ahead of Feb. 20 Eurogroup, Breidthardt says

    BRUSSELS (ANA/ C. Vasilaki)

    The European Commission is working hard, together with all the partners, to complete the review so that the Greek economy can continue to grow, EC spokesperson Annika Breidthardt repeated on Tuesday.

    The spokeswoman for European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici also referred to his upcoming visit to Greece on Wednesday, clarifying that this was of a "political nature" and not linked to the institutions' mission to Athens.

    Breidthardt, citing Moscovici's statements during a press conference on Monday, stressed that this was a critical moment when "we must choose whether to build on progress or undermine it.

    For the moment, she added, work was continuing from the base of the institutions and there was no precise date for their return to Athens.

    According to a Community source, meanwhile, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem is in close communication with Greek authorities and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to discuss the details of the outline agreement discussed during Friday's meeting, in order to satisfy all sides. A number of scenarios are being discussed in this context, such as the legislation of the measures in two "installments" and the inclusion of "positive" measures in the case that Greece once again exceeds its targets. According to the source, the aim is to achieve the maximum possible progress before the Eurogroup meeting on Monday and that there was "broad consensus" for this reason.

    Moscovici's visit to Athens will include a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, as well as talks with main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Breidthardt said. He will also be awarded a medal by President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos and be named an honorary doctorate from the University of Athens.

    [09] Tsipras to meet with Moscovici in Athens on Wednesday

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet European Commis-sioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici in his office at Maximos Mansion on Wednesday.

    The meeting is scheduled at 11:00 (local).

    [10] FinMin Tsakalotos to meet Commissioner Moscovici on Wednesday

    Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will meet on Wednesday with EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, at 08.45

    There will be no statements.

    [11] Good and bad news from Mosovici, Potami leader tweets after meeting Commissioner

    Opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis reported both "good news" and "bad news" in tweets about his meeting with European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

    "The good news from Moscovici is that he believes we have time to complete the review within February," Theodorakis said in a post on his Twitter account. "The bad news from Moscovici is that he believes it will be very difficult to conclude the review in March, April or May," he added in a second post.

    In statements after the meeting, Theodorakis called on the government to not miss the February deadline so that "we don't miss quantitative easing in March and Greece is not swept up in the vortex of election battles in the Netherlands, France and Germany." He stressed that only a few days remained.

    "The opportunist scenario of delays that some in the government are discussing must be abandoned. No more crapshoots with the lives of the Greek people at stake," he added. At the same time, he noted that the IMF must stop demanding "irrational" measures and align itself with the European institutions.

    "This is what we discussed with Mr. Moscovici, who has an important role in these critical times. And his view, though naturally I cannot speak on his behalf, is that the IMF must accept the Commission's forecasts for Greek growth and not insist on figures and forecasts that have been proved wrong in the past. Unfortunately, the government has once again wasted precious time and the country now finds itself with its back against a wall," he said.

    In addition to Moscovici, Theodorakis' meetings on Tuesday included the head of the European People's Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament Martin Weber, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources G?nther Oettinger and European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creu.

    [12] FM Kotzias continues Vietnam trip with visit to Ho Chi Minh City

    Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, currently on a visit to Vietnam, left the national capital Hanoi on Tuesday for Ho Chi Minh City, the more populous industrial centre of the country. On his arrival, Kotzias and the Greek delegation met the chairman of the city's People's Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong.

    During the meeting, Kotzias referred to his talks with government officials in Hanoi and his plans to try to organise a Greek-Vietnamese business forum as part of an effort to further develop bilateral cooperation in shipping and other economic affairs. He said that Greece wished to act as Vietnam's gateway to the EU through cooperation in the transport sector and also make use of the business opportunities offered by Vietnam. He highlighted the potential for cooperation and the knowhow Greece can offer in areas such as construction, tourism, culture and maritime transport, especially through cooperation between ports in the two countries.

    Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's economic "powerhouse" and generates a quarter of the country's GDP, while businesses from more than 85 countries have invested there. There are currently 250,000 firms operating in the city and the government's aim is to double this number by 2020. The minister will depart for Athens on Wednesday, following a visit to the city's techology park and war museum.

    Earlier, before departing from Hanoi, Kotzias laid a wreath at a monument erected in honour of the casualties of Vietnam's war of independence and then laid a wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

    Writing in the visitors' book, Kotzias said that the visit realised "the dream of a lifetime for me, to pay homage to a historic leader, Ho Chi Minh, who led his nation's struggle to defend its dignity and to preserve its national unity and sovereignty. A leader who was an inspiration for us."

    The minister also visited the home of Vietnamese general V? Nguy?n Gi?p, who led Vietnam's forces in their successful campaign against the French in 1954, and spoke with his son.

    [13] ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has meeting with Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin

    BERLIN (ANA/ D. Kottaridis)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday had a meeting with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin, which lasted roughly 70 minutes to end at 14:00 Greek time.

    The meeting was held at the German finance ministry and no statements were made afterwards.

    Mitsotakis is later scheduled to have a working lunch with German business people.

    [14] Potami leader Theodorakis meets Avramopoulos in Strasbourg

    Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis had a working dinner with Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos in Strasbourg on Monday evening to discuss EU-Turkey relations, the program review and negotiations to conclude it.

    Theodorakis was accompanied by party MPs Giorgos Grammatikakis and Miltos Kyrkos.

    [15] The dilemma is consensus or disaster, says Democratic Alliance leader Gennimata

    Democratic Alliance leader Fofi Gennimata said that the country needs a wider majority in parliament and that the first two parties in a possible election procedure should participate in a future government.

    Gennimata made this statement on Tuesday speaking to Parapolitika radio.

    According to Gennimata, the dilemma is national consensus or national disaster. "SYRIZA and New Democracy bear the responsibility for the lack of consensus. The country does not have credibility and trust abroad".

    On the negotiations with the lenders, she said that it will lead to additional measures and additional burdens for the society adding that SYRIZA's leadership is phony and fake.

    [16] Top echelons of Greek education administration male-dominated, myschool platform reveals

    Men occupy the majority of senior positions in the hierarchy of the education ministry and Greece's education administration system, based on the data supplied by the education ministry IT platform myschool for the last school year (2015-2016).

    Women only hold their own for the lowest administrative rank, at the level of school head teachers - where they outnumbered men by 60 pct to 40 pct - while the number of women falls off as one rises up the hierarchy.

    The next step up is that of education directors, where women make up only 15 pct of the total, while among the 13 regional education directors there are only two women.

    At the highest level, the leadership of the education ministry itself, the number of women that have served as education ministers is just three since the fall of the junta in 1974, including Marietta Yiannakou in 2004-2007, Anna Diamantopoulou in 2009-2012 and Efrosyni Kiaou in the caretaker governments of Panagiotis Pikrammenos in 2012 and Vassiliki Thanou in 2015.

    [17] Top court upholds prison sentence, fine for former finance minister

    The Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a four-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 10,000 euros imposed on former finance minister Giannos Papantoniou and his wife, Stavroula Kourakou, for submitting an inaccurate wealth declaration for 2009.

    Each of them was also ordered to pay 20,000 euros in compensation to the State due to moral damage.

    In the first trial in a lower court, the pair was convicted for not declaring in their wealth declaration Kourakou's bank deposit totaling 1,311,000 euros to HSBC's Switzerland branch. The bank account and deposit were revealed during the investigation into the so-called "Lagarde list", a spreadsheet containing roughly 2,000 potential tax evaders which is being investigated by authorities.

    According to the court ruling, the initial deposit was made in 2000 when the bank account opened and remained there until 2010, when the money were repatriated in a bank account under the name of Kourakou's sons, from her first marriage.

    Papantoniou and his wife have also been convicted for wealth declarations for years prior to 2009 and was handed smaller fines.

    [18] Farmers wait result of Wednesday's meeting with Dragasakis to decide on roadblocks

    Farmers and livestock breeders in western Macedonia will wait for the outcome of a meeting between their representatives and government Vice-President Yannis Dragasakis before deciding on further action, a representative said on Tuesday.

    "We'll wait for the results of the meeting our colleagues will have with the government VP and officials from the ministries of agriculture, labour, energy and finance, and we will then decide in a general meeting any further action," the member of the Western Macedonia's coordinating committee of roadblocks, Dimitris Moschos, told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

    The president of Katerini's agricultural association, Giorgos Harisopoulos, said farmers will remain at the roadblocks and will continue blocking tax offices and banks. "What we will do, will be decided at the general meeting tomorrow."

    [19] Farmers' conclude protest rally and march in Athens

    Greek farmers concluded a protest rally and march through central Athens on Tuesday, arriving in Syntagma Square. A delegation representing farmers throughout the country will present a resolution outlining their demands to Parliament.

    These include, among others, a tax-free income allowance of 12,000 euros a year with an additional 3,000 euros per child, abolition of recent increases in social insurance contributions, a lower minimum age of retirement, tax-free fule and an 'unseizable' ceiling of 15,000 euros in deposits.

    Earlier, police had closed roads in central Athens around Syntagma for the rally, which had started in Vathis Square outside the rural development ministry, with the participation of farmers from some 40 protest road blocks around the country.

    Among those not taking part are the farmers from Central Macedonia, who are scheduled to meet government vice-president Yiannis Dragasakis and the other ministers involved on Wednesday afternoon.

    Financial News

    [20] Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed agreement to cooperate in tourism

    Greece, Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement during the international tourism exhibition IMTM 2017 held in Israel for the creation of an organisation that will enhance Greek tourism and support the wider region of eastern Mediterranean.

    The first phase of talks on the new organisation entitled EMTTAAS (East Mediterranean Travel and Tourist Agents Associations Synergies) has been concluded. This is an initiative of the Federation of Associations of Travel & Tourism Agencies Greece, FedHATTA.

    The organisation will create an effective network of synergies between the tourist offices of the three signatory countries for enhancing tourism in the region of the eastern Mediterranean. These countries, together with Greece, will form the core of the initiative to "unite" touristally the wider region of SE Mediterranean.

    The aim is to boost tourism between the countries, increase cruise and ferry connections, but also to attract compatriots living in the US, Canada, Australia and Africa so as to expand their holiday when they return home.

    The new organisation will be present in third markets, a "mega destination" of three continents through joint presence in fairs, roadshows and B2B meetings, in cooperation with Aegean Airlines and the airlines of member countries.

    [21] Foreign Ministry aims at promotion of Greece to new tourism markets

    The extroversion of the Greek economy, particularly of the tourism market, dominated a meeting of Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and the Vice President of Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Eftychis Vassilakis.

    More specifically, they discussed the further promotion of the Greek tourist product to certain markets and the opening to new markets such, including Russia, China and Iran.

    [22] Primary surplus and revenue targets again surpassed in January, finance ministry reports

    The Greek state budget primary surplus was 1.012 billion euros in January 2017, exceeding a target of 670 million euros and ending marginally higher than the January 2016 surplus of 1.003 billion euros, according to provisional budget execution figures released by the finance ministry on Tuesday.

    Regular budget revenues also exceeded the monthly target by 325 million euros. Net state budget revenues reached 4.158 billion euros in January, exceeding the January target by 166 million euros, or 4.2 pct. The finance ministry said a detailed breakdown of the various categories of revenues will be given when the finalised figures are released. Net regular budget revenues were 4.041 billion euros, surpassing targets by 325 million euros or 8.7 pct.

    Revenue returns totaled 314 million euros in January 2017, up 18 million from targets. Public Investment Programme revenue amounted to 117 million euros, down 159 million euros from targets.

    State budget spending totaled 3.326 billion euros in January 2017, down 137 million from targets, while regular budget spending amounted to 3.299 billion euros, down 19 million from targets. Regular budget spending was up 107 million from the same period in 2016, while an additional 175 million euros was spent on payments to the EU.

    Public Investment Programme spending was 27 million euros, down 118 million from targets.

    [23] Businesses and competition in Greece in the context of the digital single market conference on Wednesday

    The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Hellenic Competition Commission are jointly organizing a conference "Businesses and competition in Greece in the context of the digital single market" at Grande Bretagne hotel.

    The conference will examine the interaction between e-commerce and competition law within the EU digital single market and consider vertical restraints of competition in commercial distribution systems, including issues such as market places/bans on sales via third-party internet platforms in selective distribution systems.

    The conference will also look at contractual sales restrictions in distribution agreements which may render cross-border shopping/online shopping more difficult, including geo-blocking, i.e. business practices whereby retailers and service providers prevent online shoppers from purchasing consumer goods because of the shopper's location.

    European Commission officials from the "Task Force Digital Singe Market" and the "Antitrust Policy Unit" will present the research on the electronic market and the rules for the distribution contracts.

    The Competitiveness Committee will brief on the recent legislation and the trends in politics and the implementation of the rules of competitiveness while other speakers will present the challenges of the digital economy for the Greek enterprises and on compliance issues regarding the regulatory framework.

    [24] Greek GDP grew 0.3 pct in fourth quarter of 2016 - ELSTAT

    The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) announced on Tuesday the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the 4th quarter of 2016 (flash estimates).

    The available seasonally adjusted data indicate that in the 4 th quarter of 2016 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in volume terms decreased by 0.4% in comparison with the 3rd quarter of 2016, while it increased by 0.3% in comparison with the 4th quarter of 2015.

    The available non-seasonally adjusted data indicate that in the 4th quarter of 2016 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in volume terms increased by 0.2% in comparison with the 4th quarter of 2015.

    The present flash estimates are expected to be revised when provisional estimates are produced and disseminated on 6/03/2017 on the basis of updated primary data that will have become available at that point.

    GDP for the previous quarters of 2016 was revised mainly on account of updated General Government data.

    [25] Aluminium of Greece and GE sign deal to implement digital smelter solutions

    Greek smelter Aluminium of Greece (AOG), a Mytilineos Group subsidiary, and American conglomerate GE signed a 10-year agreement to implement global first-of-their-kind digital smelter solutions for AOG to enhance its aluminium smelting process and contribute to increased operational efficiency and productivity.

    The deal, signed in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, is a significant step in charting the next generation of smelting ope-rations globally. The agreement was signed by Dimitris Stefanidis, AOG CEO and Joseph Anis, President and CEO of GE's Power Services business in the Middle East and Africa, in the presence of senior officials of both companies in Dubai.

    "As the largest vertically integrated bauxite, alumina and aluminium production and trading unit in the European Union, we are constantly looking at innovative technologies to enhance our performance standards. The application of digital industrial solutions is a remarkable opportunity to achieve process optimization across our operations and to push productivity levels," said Dimitris Stefanidis.

    "With GE's digital smelter solutions, we are setting a global first for the aluminum industry that will contribute to our operational efficiency and set new benchmarks in the sector."

    Commenting on the deal, GE's Joseph Anis said: "GE has been at the forefront of digitizing the future of industry globally and in the region, providing digital industrial solutions for power generation and the LNG industry, among others. By bringing together the strengths of our multi-locational teams and GE Power's Digital Smelter Center of Excellence in Dubai, we will collaborate with AOG to create a new chapter in the history of smelting operations as well."

    [26] Zagori village presents its natural beauties at Alternative Tourism Exhibition in Utrecht

    The village of Zagori, in northwestern Greece, was presented for the first time in the exhibition of alternative tourism in Utrecht, Hollande.

    Zagori unveiled its natural beauties, including mountain bike, trekking routes and the Vikos geopark.

    The exhibition was held on February 11 and 12.

    [27] Greek stocks advance for third session in a row

    Greek stocks ended higher for the third session in a row in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the market overcoming its morning nervousness.

    The composite index of the market rose 066 pct to end at 633.32 points. Turnover was a low 42.9 million euros in a volume of 77.5 million shares. The Large Cap index rose 0.47 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.55 pct higher.

    Lamda (6.61 pct), Alpha Bank (3.55 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (2.41 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (-1.29 pct), OPAP (-1.21 pct) and Piraeus Bank (-1.09 pct) suffered losses.

    National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Advancers outpaced decliners by 69 to 34, with another 139 issues remain unchanged.

    Among market sectors, Financial Services (1.91 pct) and Oil and Gas (1.26 pct) scored big gains, while Travel and Leisure (-0.74 pct) and Telecoms (-0.70 pct) suffered losses. Ktima Lazaridis (29.85 pct), Alumyl (15.92 pct) and Intracom (12.58 pct) were top gainers, while Centric (-9.52 pct), ELGEKA (-9.49 pct) and Epilektos (-8.81 pct) were top losers.

    [28] Greek bond market closing report

    Greek bond yields rose on Tuesday as uncertainty remained about the conclusion of negotiations between Greek authorities and its creditors to complete a second review of its program.

    The 10-year Greek benchmark bond yielded 7.45 pct from 7.02 pct on Monday, and the German Bund yielded 0.37 pct, with the yield spread between the Greek and German bonds rising to 7.12 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was -0.104 pct from -0.102 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.164 pct from -0.163 pct, the six-month rate was -0.240 pct, the three-month rate was -0.329 pct from -0.328 pct and the one-month rate was -0.374 pct.

    General News

    [29] The Berlin Painter and his World; an exhibition on one of the most influential pottery artist in Ancient Athens

    Who was the Berlin Painter and why is he so interesting? An exhibition starting on March 4 at Princeton University attempts to shed light on the life and work of the most important and influential artists living in ancient Athens in early 5 BC.

    The exhibition "the Berlin Painter and his World: Athens angiography in early 5 BC" is the title of the first big exhibition dedicated to the angiographer for whom we know almost nothing not even his name. However a plethora of his works, over 500 potteries speak for himself. 54 of his works will be at display along with works of other artists of the era as Phidias and Kleophrades.

    The Berlin Painter who was named by Sir John Beazley for a large lidded amphora in the Antikensammlung Berlin (the Berlin Painter's name vase), was a humble craftsman. We don't know if he was a citizen of Athens, a slave or a settler, said the exhibition's curator Dr. Michael Padgett to Athens Macedonian News Agency.

    "His art was unique, the Painter of Berlin prefers to isolate each pattern which is depicted with style and precision on a black font with the minimun decoration, in some cases with no adorment at all. His style is exquisite and intellectual which is in total contract with his huge component Painter of Kleop-hrades," underlined Dr. Padgett.

    His career was long (505 -465 BC) and his works were found in several regions from Italy to Krimea and from Etruria to Libya on Rhodes and all the eastern Mediterrenean. Probably his name was not known outside Athens because he did not sign his works.

    Approximately 30 vases or pottery fragments which are at display in Greek museums are attributed to the Berlin Painter including a wonderful lekythos depicting Nike that is in Benaki Museum in Athens, however most of his works found under the Parthenon on the Acropolis Hill are displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

    The exhibition will run until June 11 and afterwards it will travel to the Art Museum of Toledo, Ohio where it will run until October 1.

    [30] Archaeological body rejects Gucci's proposal for fashion show on Acropolis Hill

    Greece's Central Archaeological Council, the body that oversees archaeological sites, rejected unanimously on Tuesday a request by Italian luxury brand Gucci to lease an area on the Acropolis Hill for a fashion show on June 1.

    "The particular cultural character of Acropolis' monuments is inconsistent with this event, as they are unique monuments and world heritage symbols, and UNESCO's world heritage monuments," the council said in a statement.

    According to media reports, the company was offering one million euros for the 15' fashion show, another 55 million euros in promotional activities and permission to film and broadcast the show internationally.

    [31] Love is not blind anymore

    Love in the recession era goes through the stomach. Romance can wait because the priorities have changed even in love and realism come first. Women's top priority is security, according to the Andrology institute.

    The research revealed that women that reside in working class districts of Athens want security and faith from their lover. Their love life is not considered so important any more. However, women with high income want to have a good love live confirming the historic experience "love to bloom needs full stomach and silk sheets," Andrology institute president Constantinos Konstantinidis underlined.

    The research was held in three phases in a sample of 600 women aged from 25-45 of high and medium education.

    The economic crisis had a terrible effect to Eros, the god of love. The ancient quote "love goes through the stomach" contradicts the rosy impression where love (Eros) was blind and chose his victims regardless of their economic situation.

    [32] Athens Observatory to arrange visits for refugee and migrant children this month

    The National Observatory of Athens, in collaboration with the migration policy ministry, is making arrangements for refugee and migrant children to visit the observatory this month, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The children will be given a tour of the Sina building and learn about the function and use of astronomy equipment, while they will also have an opportunity to observe the night sky using the historic Doridis telescope on the Pnyx Hill.

    [33] Egnatia Highway staff announce strike on February 21

    The staff working on the Egnatia Highway in northern Greece have announced a 24-hour strike on the following Tuesday, February 21. They are protesting against plans to privatise the highway through a concession contract and demand that installation of a distance-based road toll system with "a socially acceptable level of charges" and discounts for frequent users.

    The strike is timed to coincide with the date of a tender for the construction of toll posts on the Egnatia Highway.

    Weather forecast

    [34] Mostly fair on Wednesday

    Mostly fair weather and northerly winds are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 7 on the Beaufort scale. Mostly fair in the northern and western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from -03C to 15C. Scattered clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 1C and 14C. Partly cloudy over the Aegean islands and Crete, 03C-13C. Mostly fair in Athens, 04C-12C; the same for Thessaloniki, 01C-12C.

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

    ETHNOS: They are paving the road for an agreement

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Plan B for free lancers' contributions

    EIDISIS: There is time for an agreement

    AVGHI: (Main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos) Mitsotakis in favour of the creditors

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Corruption in the army

    KATHIMERINI: Greece amid the German elections

    RIZOSPASTIS: Rallies in Athens from the blockades around the country

    TA NEA: Tax free threshold down, pensions to be cut

    IMERISSIA: Racing against time

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Later will be too late

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