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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-11-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 19 November 2013 Issue No: 4515
 Troika negotiations 'still have a long way to go' Finance ministry officials sayGreek authorities on Monday completed a second round of negotiations with troika officials with a meeting between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the representatives of the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank troika. The negotiations, which government officials said "still have a long way to go", focused on ways to cover a fiscal gap for 2014 which the Greek Finance ministry estimates at around 1.3 billion euros.
Under the Greek proposal, the Labour ministry will carry the biggest burden in covering the fiscal gap for 2014, with measures approaching 700 million euros envisaging raising proceeds for social insurance funds and combating contribution evasion.
The political leadership of the Development ministry, in negotiations held early in the afternoon, warned that the troika's demands on the issue of home foreclosures could lead to a rift within the government. The Greek side insists that it will not allow a full deregulation of home foreclosures from January 1, 2014 and stressed that any solution should not hurt weak households and should have approval by both government partners. The two sides have to reach an agreement by December 9. Monday's negotiations failed to make any progress and the negotiations will continue in the coming days.
Development ministry officials told ANA-MPA that the talks focused on general principles of the issue and the climate of the meeting was good. The officials noted, however, that the troika seemed to ease its stance on the issue of commercial property leasing contracts, demanding a full deregulation only for new contracts. There was no agreement on the issue since an agreement with junior coalition partner PASOK party was still pending.
Meanwhile, the Labour ministry plans to freeze all subsidies, support and VAT return for all debtors of social insurance funds, as a way to combat widespread contribution evasion. Ministry sources said the measure was discussed during a meeting between Labour ministry officials with the troika on Monday and was accepted, on principle, by the country's lenders. The ministry estimates that the measure will save around 500 million euros, from the 700 million euros necessary to deal with shortfalls in pension funds and to avoid hurting pensions.
The troika is opening new fronts in its negotiations with Greek authorities over agreeing on a fiscal gap for 2014, which the Greek government estimates at around 1.3 billion euros.
The representatives of the country's creditors believe that a "hole" in a new property tax -following changes in a legislation- surpassed by at least 100 million euros a government estimate for a "hole" of 250 million euros.
A Finance ministry official, speaking to ANA-MPA said that ministry officials estimated an additional gap from a single property tax at 150 million euros and noted that the troika officials expressed reservations over a government-proposed further cut in a Public Investment Programme.
The government aims to reach an agreement with the troika by December 9. The date is considered to be crucial because of a Eurogroup meeting during which the Greek side must prove it has achieved results in implementing the four prior actions needed.
 Gov't will try to achieve a deal with the troika by Dec. 9, finmin Stournaras says after meeting with PM SamarasAfter the end of a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday evening, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras described the current negotiations with the EC-ECB-IMF troika of lenders as tough, but said the government aimed at achieving a deal by December 9, when a Eurogroup meeting is scheduled to be held.
Stournaras' meeting with the premier followed two rounds of talks with the troika earlier in the day. Reaching an agreement "is rather difficult, but I believe we can succeed," he said, adding that the financing gap was enlarged owing to changes in the real estate tax.
"We are trying to cover it (the gap)," Stournaras noted, clarifying that no cuts will be made to salaries and pensions. He said, however, that the implementation of the single payroll system in the public sector will go ahead.
The Finance minister also said that the country is not facing a liquidity problem, "but for reasons of substance and policy, a solution has to be found."
 DIM.AR on the government-troika negotiationsOpposition Democratic Left (DIM.AR) on Monday commented on the ongoing negotiations with the country's troika of creditors and called on the government to reject any idea for further cutbacks in the public investment programme.
DIM.AR also pointed out that the government will have to reject new wage and pension cuts, protect first-home owners from foreclosures and prevent the imposition of more property taxes.
 Venizelos, Avramopoulos on EU Foreign and Defence policyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The handling of migrant flows in the Mediterranean was one of the central topics discussed in Monday's Foreign affairs Council held hre jointly with the union's Defence ministers, Government vice-president and Foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos said after the end of the meeting.
Venizelos added that "a key priority of the Greek presidency of the EU in the first half of 2014 will be the horizontal policy on the sea and the Mediterranean, which also includes security issues."
"Migration flows are a humanitarian problem but also a security issue for Europe," especially for southern European countries like Greece, he added.
In this respect, said Venizelos, a European initiative on Libya was regarded as especially significant.
Discussion also touched upon the Eastern Neighbourliness, as it is especially important to Greece that countries such as Azerbaijan -owing to the TAP pipeline - be included in that policy.
Venizelos said that discussion focused on the major pending issues, "such as the situation in Syria, and the prospects of the Common Security and Defence Policy - a basic element of which is the European Defence Industry, and hence the Greek defence industry, which should be retained at all costs as a component in our defence policy."
Also attending the EU Council was Greek National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who said that mapping out and implementing a Common Defence and Security Policy would confirm Europe's common pursuits, enhancing European solidarity, which suffered during the debt crisis.
Faced with common risks, Europe is formulating its own policies, its own "firewall," Avramopoulos remarked, listing the protection of sea routes against piracy, the development of cyber security, European defence infrastructure and dealing with illegal migration as the top themes and action fields.
 Government spokesman Kedikoglou on MP defection; SYRIZA responseThe government on Monday accused main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras of banking on defection, saying that he has reached a "sorry state".
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that Tsipras called on government MPs to defect but still refused to say where he will find the money to meet his pledges, which Kedikoglou described as "populist".
"And because there is no answer, he evades the question, hoping that there will be government MPs to overthrow the government instead of the people. The revolution he had been professing is now replaced by defection," the government spokesman said.
In response to Kedikoglou's accusations that Tsipras has issued an "invitation to defection" in an interview in Avgi newspaper, SYRIZA cited the 1993 overthrow of the Constantine Mitsotakis-led government by current Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
SYRIZA repeated Tsipras' statement saying that his exact words in the interview were that "those who decide to put an end to the country's catastrophic course with their vote (...) will have the wide support of the popular base, the local communities and the citizens who voted for them and cannot bear the situation any longer".
"All MPs will have to assume their share of responsibility. They should choose if they want to be with the memorandum policy and corruption or with the people. There is no middle ground solution," SYRIZA said, adding that "as regards defection, Mr. Kedikoglou can ask his party president about it".
Commenting on the negotiations with the troika, SYRIZA lashed out at the government saying that insisting on the memorandum and austerity will not bring a "happy ending" for society, despite the assurances to the contrary given for publicity purposes.
SYRIZA underlined that "the success story and primary surplus fiasco was replaced very quickly by the financing gap and new measures that will have to be included in the state budget".
It is also noted that the property tax, the lifting of a ban on foreclosures, the abolition of public organizations, the layoffs and the wage and pension cuts do not constitute structural reforms. They are deeply reactionary reforms that smother economic growth and employment.
 Gov't spokesman: Main opposition leader Tsipras 'writing the darkest page in SYRIZA's history'Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Monday replied to a press question on main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' invitation to government's MPs to defect noting, "There is no end to Tsipras' political and moral decline. After slanders and threats, he has come to promise electoral transactions with deputies in order to govern," and accused him of seeking defectors, something that "goes back to the darkest pages of Greece's parliamentary system (history)."
Kedikoglou added, "He will not find willing victims. However, with his uprecedented action he is trying to poison political life and is writing the darkest page in SYRIZA's history."
 PASOK leader strongly criticises main opposition SYRIZA's attitude towards its MPsGovernment Vice President and socialist party PASOK's leader Evangelos Venizelos levelled harsh criticism against main opposition party (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras for his "overt and vulgar" attitude towards PASOK deputies.
In a statement to daily "Ta Nea", Venizelos characterized Tsipras' speech as "innefectual" and argued that it reflects "a moral and institutional issue." He also accused him of investing politically in the country's destruction and of being upset with the prospect of exiting the crisis.
Venizelos concluded than an official PASOK response will be given to Tsipras following an extraordinary meeting of the party's parliemantary group on "the protection of parliamentary institutions and morals from new forms of political hooliganism."
 SYRIZA parliamentary group spokesman Kouroublis' interviewMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group spokesman Panagiotis Kouroublis on Monday said that the accusations PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos has directed against SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras for allegedly issuing an invitation to PASOK MPs to defect from their party, are "out of place and out of time".
In an interview with ANA-MPA, Kouroublis underlined that "Mr. Tsipras merely said the self-evident, namely that citizens who are suffering demand from their political representatives to show that they resist".
He said that "the problems faced by PASOK are inherent. They are political, ideological and personal in nature because every day our colleagues in PASOK are called to defend policies which they should reject. PASOK is completely identified with a neo-liberal policy which, in essence, offers no prospect".
He underlined that "the draft bill on property taxation in particular, is probably the most crucial point for this government. This government started out with 179 MPs and now has 153. This means that any move could create an issue," adding that "this concerns many New Democracy (ND) MPs as well and not only PASOK's."
 Parliament budget for 2014 approvedParliament President Evangelos Meimarakis called on Monday evening for a debate to open on Tuesday on the issue of parliament members' remuneration, provided that there will be unanimity by the plenum. Speaking in Parliament during a debate on the Parliament budget for 2014, Meimarakis said that what should also be examined was the coordination of the debate by all the parties on Constitutional revision on political money.
He said that he wished for the largest possible consent on the abovementioned issues and called on deputies not wishing to receive their remuneration by turning down the tools provided by the Parliament for the execution of their duties, to request so.
The budget was passed with the positive votes of the New Democracy and PASOK parties, with all the opposition parties voting against.
ND Rapporteur Maximos Senetakis said the Parliament's budget for 2014 was trimmed down by 4.61% compared to 2013.
Speaking on behalf of the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), Dimitris Gelalis explained the negative vote of his party's by saying that the budget did not contain a rationalisation of spending.
 Health minister notes 'surprise' at EOPYY doctors' strike next week, urges dialogueHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Monday urged doctors at the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY) to hold off strike action due to start next week until they had seen the ministry's final plans and presented their counter-proposals.
"It would be best if this reform is carried out with the cooperation and presence of EOPYY's medical staff and not with them opposed," he said, urging doctors to submit their proposals and begin dialogue. He also expressed his surprise at the decision to call rolling strikes before the plans were even finalised.
The minister was commenting on EOPYY doctors' decision to launch 24-hour rolling strikes from next Monday in protest against the prospect of losing their jobs under the "mobility" and labour reserve schemes to cut down the size of the public sector.
On his part, Georgiadis noted that a committee in charge of planning the reforms had not yet presented its views on EOPYY's assessment, adding that these would be presented to doctors and, "in a spirit of dialogue they must jointly find the best solutions for the citizens."
The reaction from EOPYY doctors was prompted by the minister's statements the previous week that, unlike state hospital doctors, they would not be exempt from dismissal since the government reforms were directed toward making EOPYY a 'purchaser' rather than provider of healthcare services.
Asked whether the mobility measure might also affect other EOPYY staff, in addition to medical personnel, Georgiadis confirmed that administrative staff will also be affected in the framework of the reforms, though the details "would be seen in due course". He clarified, however, that the changes would be in the direction of an administrative merger of local EOPYY branches rather than their closure.
He also denied reports that the changeover will lead to local EOPYY units closing for up to a fortnight, stressing that any administrative changes will be carried out in such as way that local branches will not close for even one day.
Meanwhile, hospital doctors throughout the country have announced plans for a strike on November 29 and the Panhellenic Medical Association has asked for the meeting with the prime minister and the political party leaders to brief them on health issues.
 Hospital infections to be factor for assessing hospital managements, minister saysThe degree to which hospital managements deal effectively with hospital-acquired infections will be among the assessment criteria for hospital governors, Deputy Health Minister Zetta Makri said in a press conference on Monday.
The deputy minister, citing expert scientific opinion, emphasised the need for measures to limit the spread of drug-resistant micro-organisms in her message for the European Day against antibiotics overuse.
She announced that Greece, in collaboration with Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, was intiating an action protocol first implemented in Cambridge that helped eradicate hospital-acquired infections, starting at the Attikon Hospital in Athens on a nine-month pilot basis.
Makri said that Greece was among the European countries with the highest rate of infections contracted within hospitals, as well as one of the highest rates of pathogens with multiple resistance and highest use of antibiotics within hospitals. More alarming, microbial resistance in Greek hospitals was not limited to intensive care units but also found in ordinary wards, long-term care and recovery wards, with hospital infections causing up to 3,000 deaths in Greece each year and cost of treatment exceeding 1.2 billion euros annually.
 Deputy FinMin provides data on number of tax officials, following MP's complaintA hundred and sixteen tax officials have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs since July 1, 2012 , according to a document tabled in parliament by Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis.
Mavraganis responded to a request by Independent Greeks (ANEL) parliamentary spokesman Vassilis Kapernaros who had asked for data on the number of number of staff in tax revenue offices, as staff shortages are creating delays in services for thousands of taxpayers.
According to the data provided by the deputy finance minister, in the period between June 2012 and October 2013, another 897 tax officials retired early and 46 tax officials retired after completing their term. However, 449 officials have been hired since January 2012 while a procedure for the hiring of 52 more employees is under way, he said.
 President Papoulias receives Raoul Wallenberg Foundation AwardPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias has received the centennial Raoul Wallenberg Award, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, in a solemn ceremony at the Presidential Mansion on Monday.
President Papoulias was awarded the distinction in recognition of his contribution to the protection of human rights and his devotion in defending the memory of Jews who were the victims of Nazi atrocities.
Receiving the award from the foundation's chairman Eduardo Eurnekian and its founder Baruch Tenembaum, President Papoulias said that it was an honour for him and the Greek people.
President Papoulias said that human rights and democratic freedoms are being tested in an unacceptable manner and repeated the statement he made last July when he visited Auschwitz saying that "those who deny this sacrifice of thousands of European citizens cannot be a part of the European family".
Papoulias also referred to the Jewish community in his hometown of Ioannina that perished in Nazi concentration camps during WWII.
The event was attended by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Interior Minister Yiannis Mihelakis, Athens' Rabbi Isaac Misan and presidents of local Jewish communities.
Also present were Greek Jewish survivors and the people who rescued them.
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He rescued tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary while serving as Sweden's diplomatic envoy to Budapest in 1944. Wallenberg issued protective passports and sheltered Jews in buildings designated as Swedish territory, saving tens of thousands of lives.
 FM spokesman dismisses Turkish press reports on Cyprus talksThe Greek foreign ministry on Monday dismissed Turkish press reports claiming a divergence of views between Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos regarding a possible meeting between the Turkish Cypriot community's negotiator in the Cyprus inter-communal talks and the Greek foreign ministry's secretary general, in order to facilitate a corresponding direct contact between the Greek Cypriot negotiator and the general secretary of the Turkish foreign ministry.
"As regards the strategy and handling of foreign policy issues, there is a complete identity of views and agreement between the prime minister and the government vice president and foreign minister, who are in continuous contact. If this is true once, as regards all chapters of government policy - within the framework of the policy agreement between the two coalition government parties - it is doubly true with respect to foreign policy issues," foreign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said in response to relevant press questions.
"As has been repeatedly noted by Mr. Venizelos, both in Parliament and the mass media, the Greek government - and consequently both the prime minister and the government vice president - have accepted a relevant proposal from the President of the Cyprus Republic, to precisely facilitate direct contact between the Greek Cypriot negotiator and the Turkish government," the spokesman added.
 Dep. FM Gerontopoulos visits Cape Town, first stop on South Africa tourDeputy Foreign Minister Kyriakos Gerontopoulos discussed issues related to the archdiocese's mission during his meeting with Archbishop Sergios of the Cape of Good Hope in Cape Town, the first stop of his tour in South Africa.
The minister was in Cape Town from November 15 to 17.
Following the meeting, Gerontopoulos visited the offices of the large Greek community; he was given a tour of its school and dance academy and met with the community's president and other Greeks and discussed issues concerning the community.
On Sunday, he attended the liturgy at St. George Church in Cape Town. Archbishop Sergios in his address welcomed Gerontopoulos and said, "We discussed issues of the Greeks who reside in Africa and particularly in South Africa. We are impressed by the interest he showed for all issues. His presence in Cape Town and in South Africa in general shows that Greece stands by us".
On his part, Gerontopoulos thanked the Archbishop and the Greeks for their reception and hospitality. "I know that you are the best representatives of the Greek nation in South Africa", he noted. "Wherever Greeks are, they are successful professionals, scientists, family men and well-liked every-where. Church is the gathering place for all Greeks living abroad, because it brings them together in bad and good times.
The Church supports Hellenism and, of course, the Greeks are close to Church because these things are inter-related".
 Statements about converting Hagia Sophia to mosque 'incomprehensible', foreign ministry saysGreek foreign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras on Monday strongly criticised "repeated statements from Turkish officials" calling for the conversion of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul's iconic Byzantine cathedral that is now a museum, into a mosque.
According to Koutras, the statements were "an insult to the religious sensibilities of millions of Christians" and were an "anachronistic and incomprehensible actions from a state that declares it wants to participate as a full member of the European Union."
Responding to a reporter's question, the spokesman stressed that respect for religious freedoms was a fundamental principle of the EU and also that Christian Byzantine churches were an intrinsic element of world cultural and religious heritage that "should receive the necessary respect and protection".
 KKE party calls on working people to abandon parties of the EU and capitalThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday commented said that scenarios linked to calls for possible 'defections' by deputies and other cadres, in the framework of reshaping the political scene within the limits of the new dual polarity and the accelerating socialdemocratisation of SYRIZA, aimed to trap the people in new formations and "coalition" governments made up of the same 'old' materials and continuing the same antipopular policy.
In an announcement, KKE stressed that workers and the popular classes must move away from and abandon the parties of the EU and of capital, which they voted for and supported until last year's elections. It urged them to join forces with the KKE in the formation of a great popular alliance that will obstruct anti-popular measures and open the way for an exit from the crisis truly benefiting the people.
 University staff planning to continue strikes; ASEP releases mobilisation listsAthens University staff said they would hold another two 48-hour strikes this week, according to their union, continuing their protest strikes against transfers and layoffs by the government for the 11th week.
The Federation of University Administrative Staff called a 24-hour strike on Monday, the same day the board responsible for state hirings (ASEP) released preliminary listings of academic staff coming under the mobilization programme, which seeks to reduce the number of employees in the civil sector. Institutions slated for staff reduction include the Unersities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Crete, Thessaly and the National Polytechnic, and are based on experience and educaiton assessments by the Ministry of Education.
The university association is awaiting the ratification of their decision by the university's senate, which meets today (Monday) at 15:00.
Staff of the National Polytechnic University are also meeting to decide on whether to continue striking as well.
 Athens University Senate resigns en masse; Rector Pelegrinis files lawsuit against university councilAll members of the University of Athens (UoA) Senate resigned en masse on Monday in response to a decision by the university's administrative staff to continue industrial action. The resignations were handed to UoA Rector Theodossis Pelegrinis after a rowdy senate meeting earlier in the day.
UoA sources say that the Senate's resignation was prompted by the state hiring agency ASEP draft lists with the names of administrative staff of eight higher education institutions affected by the public sector employee mobility programme and the fear of police intervention on campus in the next days if the strike continues.
Meanwhile, Pelegrinis filed a lawsuit against UoA Council members, claiming one million euros compensation for moral damages. Pelegrinis said that if he wins the case in court, he will donate the money to the university.
According to Pelegrinis' lawsuit, the Council had slandered him, holding him personally responsible for the current state of the institution.
 Education minister to take fresh court action against striking UoA administrative staffEducation and Religious Affairs minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos said on Monday evening that "the unacceptable decision by University of Athens (UoA) administrative staff to carry on with a fresh 48-hour strike is against the law as it does not comply with court decisions that already have declared their strike illegal."
In a press release issued by the Education ministry, Arvanitopoulos added that "the university's Senate and Rector's unwillingness to observe the law makes them solely accountable for the missed semester."
The Education ministry will on Tuesday again take recourse to court in an effort force administrative staff to observe the law, while it appealed on teachers and students to attend lectures.
 Greek presidency Twitter account and website in operation, foreign ministry saysThe official Twitter account of the Greek Presidency of the EU Council (@ gr2014euom) has been in operation since November 15, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The temporary website of the Greek Presidency of the EU Council (www.gr2014.eu) is accessible as of Monday 18. It will be replaced by the official website in mid-December, the ministry added.
 Alt. Environment minister continues round of meetings against illegal loggingAlternate Environment Minister Stavros Kalafatis on Monday continued a round of meetings with local and regional authorities in Greece to combat the phenomenon of illegal logging and the resulting reforestation, this time in the far northeast of Greece in Serres.
The minister repeated that the severity of laws and penalties against illegal logging had been greatly ramped up, with on-the-spot inspections and immediate confiscation of illegal goods.
The meeting also discussed issues relating to water management and town planning.
 Court of Audit to inspect six major public sector organizationsSix major public sector organizations, including local administration organizations, will be inspected by the Court of Audit, Greece's supreme fiscal court, over the next six months. The inspections will determine, among others, if there were instances of mismanagement of taxpayers' money and whether project or procurement contracts were observed, it was announced on Monday.
The organizations selected are the IKA-ETAM social insurance fund, Manpower Employment Organization OAED, Hellenic Agricultural Insurances Organisation ELGA, Attica Tax Offices, a public hospital in Thessaloniki, as well as Thessaloniki municipalities.
 Former PM Simitis on Clerides deathFormer prime minister Costas Simitis, referring to the death of former Republic of Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides, with whom he had cooperated closely for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, said that Clerides is a "course compass for today".
Simitis also said that "we must materialise the vision of Glafcos Clerides, that of the reunification of Cyprus, as a tribute to a great politician".
Simitis extended his warm condolences to the family of Glafcos Clerides and to Cypriot Hellenism.
 Lecture at KEPE on Australia-Greece, by Ambassador Jenny BloomfieldAustralian Ambassador to Greece Jenny Bloomfield will be giving a lecture at the Planning and Economic Research Centre (KEPE) on the theme "Australia-Greece: Prospects and Lessons from the Successful Course of the Australian Economy," in the framework of the series of distinguished lectures organised by KEPE.
Deputy Development Minister Notis Mytarakis will be attending the lecture, to be held on the occasion of the Australian presidency of the G20.
The lecture will be given at KEPE, 11 Amerikis street, on Tuesday, November 26 at 4 in the afternoon.
 Greece's primary surplus may force Europe to provide debt relief, BofA Merrill Lynch report saysSo long as Greece has a primary surplus, threats from the EU-IMF troika to cut the country's funding become less credible, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in its report "The inconvenient truth about Greece" unveiled on Monday.
The report predicted that if Greece's debt proves unsustainable, and provided its programme remains on track, its European creditors will be forced to agree on at least partial debt relief, which the bank predicted would fall short of a fullblown "haircut".
The bank notes that if Europe does not make it easier for Greece to repay its debts to its European partners, then Greece may not be able to repay them. As long as Greece has a primary surplus, however, a threat from the troika to stop the programme instead of agreeing on a debt restructuring would not be credible, as Greece would be able to meet its internal needs simply if it were to stop servicing its debt, most of which is with the rest of Europe.
According to BofA Merrill Lynch, the current dynamics of Greek debt/growth are unsustainable and it concludes that "we don't expect an official sector haircut but extension of maturities and some reduction in interest rates".
Pointing to the negotiations currently underway and International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands for official debt relief for Greece, the bank says that delayed or ineffective reforms, coupled with lower long-term growth performance in line with projections, may mean that as much as 100 billion euros in debt relief will be needed. This would require lower EFSF rates but also a substantial extension of maturity.
It notes that the first is likely to be "politically difficult" because it would mean that the EFSF would face losses when its market funding rate increases, depending on market conditions. The bank argues that debt relief conditional on specific reforms, rather than quarterly programme reviews, could help address moral hazard concerns and increase the chances for a sustained recovery of the Greek economy.
According to BofA Merrill Lynch, the financing gap of the Greek programme comes to 10.9 billion euros (4.4 billion euros in 2014 and 6.5 billion euros in 2015). It considers that there are incentives for both sides to agree to austerity measures for the coming year and to cover the financing gap, and a number of choices, such as more programme funding, the use of leftovers from the recapitalisation of banks, the issue of bonds, further fiscal adjustment or the more unlikely prospect of a rollover of maturities by central banks.
 New investment projects' budgets up 57.1 pct in H2, ministry reportThe value of new investment plans included in a Greek development law jumped 57.1 pct in the second half of 2013 compared with the first half of the year, the development ministry said on Monday.
More analytically, in a report, the ministry said that the budgets of investments plans included in the second cycle of 2013 totaled 842,242,825 euros, up from 536,014,738 euros in the first cycle. The implementation of these investment plan will have very significant impact on employment, as job positions were projected to grow by 15.6 pct.
"With great joy and satisfaction we note a big increase of demands made by Greek small- and medium-sized enterprises for new investments with the support of a development law. Enterprises are daring again and this creates optimism that 2014 will become the first year of growth for the Greek economy after six years of recession".
 Piraeus port, Cosco agreement on West Pier container Terminal III signedAn agreement between Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) and the Chinese-owned Cosco subsidiary Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) for new investments amounting to 230 million euros in Piraeus' port was signed on Monday, the Shipping and Aegean Ministry announced.
The agreement, originally announced on November 12, was signed in the presence of Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis and needs to be reviewed by the European Union and ratified by Greek Parliament.
The agreement includes the construction and exploitation of OLP's West Pier Container Terminal III by PCT, the construction of an Oil Refuelling Pier and the upgrade of Pier II and East Pier Container Terminal III with new mechanical equipment.
According to the ministry, the investment is expected to create 700 new jobs directly and 1,500 indirectly, and will ensure the growth prospects of Piraeus' port.
Representing OLP were TAIPED state privatisation agency CEO Yiannis Emiris and OLP president and CEO George Anomeritis, while representing PCT were its deputy manager Angelos Karakostas and its CEO, Captain Fu Cheng Qiu.
The rent fee to be collected by OLP as a percentage of PCT's turnover remains unchanged at 21 percent until 2016 and 24.5 percent as of 2017, while there will be a suspension of the minimum guarantee, which will be counterbalanced by the increased, annual, guaranteed capacity of the piers under PCT's management (4,750,000 TEU).
The agreement will be forwarded for review to the state Court of Audit, the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition, OLP's general assembly of shareholders. It will then be tabled by the ministry in Parliament for ratification.
 Environment minister to attend IEA ministerial in ParisGreece's Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis is to depart for Paris on Monday evening to participate in the International Energy Agency (IEA) ministerial taking place there on Tuesday and Wednesday. The meeting is to focus on global synergies for the future of energy and the IEA report "World Energy Outlook 2013".
The ministers are also expected to exchange views on issues such as the role of energy in growth, climate change management, innovation, energy security and cooperation.
On the sidelines of the ministers' meeting, Maniatis will have bilateral contacts with foreign officials, including Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz, Italian Industry Ministry Undersecretary Claudio de Vincenti, Finland Employment and Economy Ministry State Secretary Marja Rislakki and Swedish IT and Energy Minister Anna-Karin Hatt.
 Changes in property tax on the right track, Alt. Agriculture Minister saysCommenting on the latest version of a planned 'comprehensive' property tax that will for the first time tax farming land, Alternate Agriculture Minister Maximos Harakopoulos on Monday commented that this will lead to the tax base being broadened and individual taxpayers paying less. He was speaking on the margins of a New Democracy (ND) conference on "an alternative approach to rural development".
The changes to be implemented in the property tax draft bill are on the right track, Harakopoulos underlined.
 Hellenic Petroleum expands renewable energy sources activitiesHellenic Petroleum Renewables, a member of Hellenic Petroleum Group, on Friday completed the acquisition of Pylos-Methoni Energy SA, owner of a windpower park with a power capacity of 6.8 megawatts (MW). The windpower park has 8 wind energy turbines with an estimated annual electricity production of 15,000 MW.
Hellenic Petroleum aims to develop a significant grid of renewable energy sources in the coming years, including windpower and photovoltaic projects. Its portfolio includes a series of photovoltaic projects currently in operation and projects with a total power of 200 MW.
 Eurobank says more than 1,100 participated in voluntary retirement programEurobank on Monday announced the successful completion of a voluntary retirement programme which attracted participation by around 1,100 workers.
Bank sources said there was a balanced distribution of workers in the network and administration services who participated in the programme, a development that supported a restructuring plan, allowing the achievement of synergies in the framework of a merger plan with Hellenic Postbank and Proton Bank.
Eurobank expects that that the voluntary retirement program will help reduce payroll cost at around 55 million euros annually, while total synergies from the merger with Hellenic Postbank and Proton Bank are estimated at more than 200 million euros, annually.
The bank's restructuring program is currently underway, while Eurobank also launched a share capital increase plan worth 2.0 billion euros aimed at facilitating the smooth and successful return of the bank to the private sector.
 Greek trade deficit down in Jan-Aug, EurostatGreece's trade deficit shrank to 12.9 billion euros in the January-August period, from 15.4 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, Eurostat said on Monday.
The EU executive's statistics service said that Greek exports grew 5.0 pct in the eight-month period, while imports fell by 5.0 pct.
Eurostat said that Greece recorded the third highest trade deficit in the EU-27, following France (50.1 bln) and the UK (44.5 bln euros), while the highest trade surplus was recorded by Germany (127.8 bln euros), Holland (36.0 bln) and Ireland (25.3 bln).
 Samos examines drop of tourist flow on the islandThe need for the eastern Aegean island of Samos to create a brand name in tourism was a recurring theme in speeches at a one-day conference organised by a volunteer group working on the promotion of the island's tourism and by the Society of Active Citizens of Samos.
The issue "Samos' tourism: Challenges and prospects" was held to deal with the low tourist flow on the island despite an increase of tourists in Greece nationally this past summer season.
Speaking at the meeting were professors in marketing while messages of support were delivered by local government authorities and presidents of hotel and food establishment associations.
 Greek stocks end up on MondayGreek stocks ended higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, although the composite index of the market was unable to surpass the 1,150 resistance levels. Buying activity focused on blue chip stocks such as PPC, OTE, Piraeus Bank and Motor Oil, while National Bank's shares suffered losses.
The index rose 0.69 pct to end at 1,141.33 points, after rising as high as 1,150.21 points during the session. Turnover eased to 73.24 million euros.
The Large Cap index ended 0.79 pct higher and the Mid Cap index ended 0.34 pct lower. Eurobank Properties (5.83 pct), Jumbo (4.0 pct), Piraeus Bank (2.17 pct) and PPC (2.04 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while National Bank (2.4 pct), Piraeus Port (2.15 pct) and Terna Energy (1.96 pct) suffered losses.
The Personal Products (2.81 pct), Telecoms (1.70 pct) and Utilities (1.38 pct) sectors were top gainers, while Technology (0.89 pct), Banks (0.40 pct) and Commerce (0.35 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 69 to 63 with another 29 issues unchanged. Teletypos (19 pct), Kathimerini (18.91 pct) and Sidma (14.32 pct) were top gainers, while AAA (19.95 pct), Logismos (19.84 pct) and NEL (17.65 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.38%
Personal & Household: +2.81%
Raw Materials: +0.89%
Travel & Leisure: +0.39%
Food & Beverages: +0.93%
Financial Services: +0.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OPAP, OTE and National Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.635
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.00
Coca Cola HBC: 21.06
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.90
National Bank of Greece: 4.07
Eurobank Properties : 8.90
Piraeus Bank: 1.41
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 6.81 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 6.75 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 8.49 pct and the German Bund 1.68 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.497 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.416 pct, the six-month rate rose to 0.319 pct, the three-month rate was 0.218 pct and the one-month rate was 0.123 pct, up from 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.58 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to a low 10.529 million euros.
Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,749 contracts worth 7.155 million euros, with 49,304 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,134 contracts worth 3.374 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (1,637), followed by National Bank (608), Alpha Bank (661), MIG (568), OTE (838), PPC (804), Mytilineos (571), GEK Terna (400), Intralot (164) and Hellenic Petroleum (81).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.372
Pound sterling 0.851
Danish kroner 7.570
Swedish kroner 9.049
Japanese yen 137.26
Swiss franc 1.250
Norwegian kroner 8.392
Canadian dollar 1.429
Australian dollar 1.459
 Microsoft recognises two Acharnes schools for innovative teachingTwo Greek public schools housed in the same building, the 26th and 29th Secondary Schools in the Acharnes city of East Attica, were jointly recognised by Microsoft corporation for innovative education for 2013.
The two schools, competing as a single group, included four Greek teachers. The group was was one of 250 individual teachers or groups selected from 23,000 applicants globally for "leveraging technology in the classroom and preparing students for life in the 21st century," according to Microsoft's Partners in Learning site.
Selection was based on an online application with an amateur three-minute video presenting their teaching innovations. Microsoft will work closely with the applicants selected to improve technology use in the classroom.
All selected teachers and schools are invited to attend the Partners in Learning Global Forum 2014 in Barcelona, Spain, from March 11 to 14, 2014. Attendance at the forum is by invitation only and includes participants from the Microsoft Expert Educators Program, the Microsoft Mentor Schools Program, higher education faculty members and education leaders. Last year's event was attended by more than 800 attendees from 80 countries, along with government officials, policy makers and partners.
The principals of the 26th and 29th school, Dr. Mattheos Patrinopoulos and Fotios Perris, respectively, expressed their satisfaction for their schools' distinction and their teachers' recognition for their innovative approaches in the classroom.
 James Thierree's 'Tabac Rouge' coming to the Onassis Cultural CentreThe Onassis Cultural Centre announced on Monday James Thi?rr?e's upcoming show "Tabac Rouge", which will be presented at the Main Stage on Friday, November 22nd until Sunday, November 24th.
A showman, acrobat, magician and mime, Charlie Chaplin's grandson directs and choreographs the story of a disappointed and spoiled king, who is fed up with the system he rules, but whose subjects won't let him resign. The story unfolds with the king surrounded by dancers and acrobats, all trapped in a ritual dance that seeks to cast off the despair of their small community, which is trying to envision its future.
Thi?rr?e created a choreodrama about the end and corrosive influence of power, with the elements of his own theatrical genre, which combine circus, burlesque, dancing, music and spectacular sets.
The first time Thi?rr?e came to Greece was three years ago for the presentation of the show "Raoul", which mesmerised audiences with its special artistic universe.
 Stavros Niarchos Foundation donation for Philippines typhoon victimsThe Stavros Niarchos Foundation announced on Monday that it will donate 500,000 dollars for emergency aid and support for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.
The foundation will donate the money to three humanitarian aid organizations active in the region, which offer support to the citizens of Philippines. Among them "Oxfam", which offers disaster relief and has already taken action in the Philippines with programmes for water, hygiene and agriculture development and "Save the Children", which has an extensive experience in providing humanitarian aid and has helped in the aftermath of three destructive typhoons in the Philippines over the past three years. The third organization to which the Stavros Niarchos Foundation made a donation is "Doctors without Borders", which has gained access to remote areas in Philippines that other organizations have not reached yet.
 Courts of Piraeus to move to renovated Keranis tobacco warehouseThe Courts of Piraeus will move to the former Keranis tobacco company warehouse on Thivon Avenue, with the state paying an annual rent of 2.6 million euros, according to a document sent to Parliament by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF), Greece's privatization agency on Monday.
The Fund was responding to a question by Independent Greeks (ANEL) deputy Panagiotis Melas, who called the sale of the building to a private investor and its subsequent lease to the state "an unacceptable waste of public money."
"The building on Thivon Avenue belongs to a portfolio of 14 properties; its contract was temporarily awarded to Ethniki Pangaea company for 115.5 million euros," HRADF told Parliament in its letter. "The rental for this building of about 40,000 square metres in surface area was set at 2.6 million euros. This building has been turned over to the Justice Ministry to house the Piraeus courts, while there is more space on the ground floor for food establishments and retail stores," it added.
Justice Minister Charalambos Athanassiou has also replied to the deputy, saying that former the Keranis warehouse has been renovated and consists of a basement, ground floor and six floors, while recent renovations converted it to an office building. He said the move could take place immediately, without additional changes, and was agreed to by the judges, staff and bar association of Piraeus.
"The Justice Ministry's purpose is to cooperate with other ministries and public agencies to bring more public services under the same roof so it becomes a model citizen services office, saving on expenditures," Athanassiou said, adding that the use of the building by the courts would also help upgrade the greater area.
 Cache of arms, ammunition found in Ippokratios Politeia area in AtticaA plastic barrel containing arms, hand grenades and ammunition was on Monday discovered buried in a stand of woodland in Ippokratios Politeia, a northeast Attica settlement within the limits of the Oropos municipality. The barrel was discovered by a foreign national that informed the police.
It contained four Kalashnikov rifles, 10 hand grenades and 752 bullets of various calibres.
The arms and ammunition were confiscated by a police team from the state security sub-directorate, the criminal investigations department and the bomb disposal department that sped to the scene.
The evidence has been sent to the police forensic research section for a full range of tests and an inquiry launched by the Attica security police.
 Four arrested in Palero Syrian migrant case to be remanded in custodyThe four people arrested in the case concerning the trafficking of the 27 migrants to Palero, in the Etoloakarnania prefecture, in which 12 people lost their lives including four children, will be remanded in custody following a joint decision reached on Monday evening by an investigator and a prosecutor.
More specifically, a 34-year-old foreign national, a 53-year-old woman and a 20-year-old from Konopina in Etoloakarnania, as well as another 58-year-old foreign national, who was the vessel's navigator, were led before the Lefkada investigator at noon on Monday. After their testimonies were completed, the prosecutor and the investigator decided to have them remanded in custody.
Meanwhile, police and Port officials are continuing investigations for the detection and arrest of two more persons who are reportedly involved in the case of the Syrian migrants' trafficking.
 14 people arrested on Sunday during Polytechnic uprising marchA total of 189 pe?ple were taken in for questioning and 14 of them arrested by police on Sunday during the march marking the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Polytechnic uprising against the military junta.
Three policemen were also injured and were taken to hospital for first aid while those arrested, for minor incidents before and during the march, will appear before a prosecutor.
 Turkish truck driver arrested with 7 kilos of heroin at ThebesA 45-year Turkish national was arrested at Thebes for transporting 7 kilos of heroin in a truck, police said on Monday.
Acting on a tip, police searched the truck's cabin when the driver, who was driving from Turkey to an Attica prefecture final destination, made a stop at the Athens-Lamia highway.
Police confiscated the drug; the driver is expected to appear before the prosecutor in Thebes.
 Light quake jolts CreteA light earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale jolted on Monday at 6.00 the island of Crete. The quake's epicenter was located 119.3 km southeast of the city of Heraklio.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures between 7C and 21C. Possible local showers in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 11C and 19C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 7C and 17C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Looting with 'fine words' in real estate.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Party with constructors.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: List of shame to the troika (of Greece's lenders).
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Pension with 35 years of work before the age of 58!
ESTIA: The next step will be to tax the windows!
ETHNOS: Theatre of the absurd in Universities.
NAFTEMPORIKI: List with 13 interventions to 2014 State Budget.
TA NEA: SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras's invitation-call to PASOK deputies to defect.
 German envoy Dold visits ANA-MPAPicture: German Ambassador to Greece Wolfgang Dold (R) on Monday paid a cordial visit to the ANA-MPA headquarters in Athens.
Ambassador Dold was received by ANA-MPA President-General Director Antonis Skyllakos (L) and conversed with the Agency's political reporters on bilateral and European issues. The ambassador's meeting with ANA-MPA journalists inaugurates a series of ANA-MPA contacts with foreign diplomats and prominent personalities in the country.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS