|Thursday, 15 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-12-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 31 December 2013 Issue No: 4549
 PM Samaras: The difficulties are over; 2014 will be the first year of recovery and hopePrime Minister Antonis Samaras stressed in his New Year's message to the Greek people that "we have passed through the difficulties and avoided the worst; 2014 will be a year of recovery and hope".
Samaras stressed that "we are no longer asking for loans, we achieved what is self-evident: to meet our needs and, this, with the primary surplus. We took the first step to stand on our feet, we put an end to the vicious circle of recession and 2014 is dawning with prospects of recovery and growth".
The prime minister also said that the primary surplus is not simply figures, it is the foundation of Greece's independence and hope, and said the government would "return its largest part to society, to the weaker and the most unfairly treated. Recovery, as he said, will begin to create jobs and salary increases - the first collective labour agreement has already been signed after four years".
"The reversal of the climate has begun and recovery will spread everywhere", he said and added that Greece will enter the markets in 2014 and will become a normal country and furthermore the Greek debt will be proclaimed sustainable without memorandums.
The prime minister said Greece had honoured its commitments, and its partners will honour theirs, and asserted that Greece shall exit the memorandum; at the end of 2014 "all will see the light at the end of the tunnel," he noted.
He further said that the great difficulties have passed and also that "we proved that we are dealing a blow at corruption everywhere - more and more and prominent figures are facing justice".
The great wave of reforms shall begin in 2014, the premier said, while discussion will also begin on constitutional revision, paving the way for the participation of young people in politics with merit criteria, without family rule.
The prime minister made special reference to the attack on the German ambassador's residence earlier on Monday, "We had a cowardly attack at the home of the German ambassador - some are trying to deal a blow to the country, they shall not succeed. Those trying to undermine our stability hate Greece. Greece held out, democracy held out and is holding out".
Addressing the Greek people, the prime minister stressed:
"I wish to say a big thank you to all; it is the admirable maturity of the Greek people that will be rewarded. The last few years were painful and pain still exists - mainly the unemployment of our young people - and mistakes and injustices took place that shall be remedied. We have the ground now to correct them. We cannot leave the country to slide to instability. Some are sorry for Greece's achievements. We are not dealing with the past, we are dealing with the future. We put an end to the downslide in 2013. 2014 shall be the first year of recovery. The Greece that we are building needs firm foundations to go far and to hold out. We win whenever we are united in difficulties and not divided. We are now turning grumbling into hope. Warmest wishes to all, and a happy New Year".
 German ambassador's house targetedSix persons were taken in for questioning in relation with the armed attack against the house of the German ambassador Wolfgang Dolt in the Athens suburb of Halandri at 3.30 on Monday.
According to initial information, the perpetrators used kalashnikov and shot several times at Dolt's house. The police guard of the diplomat's house said that he saw four persons shooting without targeting something in specific.
Police arrived immediately to the spot and cordoned off the area.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who was informed by Citizens Protection Minister Nikos Dendias, spoke on the phone with the German ambassador.
A police investigation is in progress and the area is still cordoned off.
 Sixty bullet cases against the German ambassador's residenceSixty spent bullet cases have been collected so far following the fire opened by unidentified attackers against the German ambassador's residence in Athens with assault rifles on Monday.
Officials collected from the point the 60 bullet cases of 7.62 mm and sent them for examination and ballistics research in forensic laboratories. Due to the large number of bullet cases, it is estimated that the perpetrators were probably four people and used two Kalashnikovs or changed cartridges.
All bullets hit the wall and the metal gate of the residence with no injuries or damage reported. The police guard of the diplomat's house saw the whole scene without having time to react. Six people have been taken in for questioning in relation with the armed attack.
 German ambassador's statement on attackGerman ambassador Wolfgang Dold in an announcement on Monday expressed his gratitude to the Greek government and the Greek police for their immediate mobilisation and interest after the attack against his residence in the Athens district of Halandri early Monday.
"I thank the Greek police and the Greek government for the immediate reaction and for their interest. Whoever is responsible for the attack will not disturb the close and friendly relations between our countries. Moreover, the reversal of the country's apparent economic recovery or the creation of a climate of insecurity will not be achieved," said Dold in his statement.
 PM Samaras on the attack against German envoy's residence"The only thing terrorists do not care is Greece", Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told reporters on Monday following the attack against German ambassador Wolfgang Dold's residence.
A senior government source noted that what interests them is to destabilise Greece and to create a climate of insecurity as well as to damage the Greek Presidency of the EU.
 Samaras, Merkel contact on attack against German envoy's residencePrime Minister Antonis Samaras spoke on the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday on the attack against German ambassador Wolfgang Dolt's residence in the Athens suburb of Halandri.
Samaras strongly condemned the attack, adding that light will be shed in the case and the perpetrators will be brought to justice. He also stressed that the government will not let the terrorists to meet their goals.
 President Papoulias' message of support to German ambassadorHellenic Republic office general secretary Ambassador Konstantinos Georgiou on Monday contacted German Ambassador to Athens Wolfgang Dold to condemn on behalf of the Greek people and President Karolos Papoulias the terrorist attack on his residence and also to convey President Papoulias' friendship and support.
Ambassador Georgiou contacted the German ambassador by orders of the President of the Republic who is expected in Athens later in the day from Germany where he spent the Christmas holidays with his family.
 German FM spokesman: Greek security reacted to terrorist attack with speed and prudenceBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
German Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer, referring to the terrorist attack on the residence of the German ambassador in Athens, said that the Greek security authorities reacted with speed and prudence and asserted that the Greek authorities are honouring their obligations on protecting of foreign diplomatic missions in Greece.
Schaefer, replying to a question on whether the security measures at the German embassy had been intensified "due to the two countries' tense relations and increasing criticism against the Germans", stressed that he cannot provide details on security issues, but reassured that "there is close contact between the embassy in Athens and the Greek security authorities", adding that "the Greek authorities will strengthen the security measures that have been in effect already in the past months".
On his part, referring to the telephone communication that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Chancellor Angela Merkel held on Monday, Chancellery spokesman Steffen Seibert spoke of a "clear example of German-Greek ties that cannot be harmed by such a blow".
 Foreign Minister Venizelos on the attack against German ambassador's residenceGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos strongly condemned the attack against German ambassador Wolfgang Dolt's residence in the Athens suburb of Halandri early on Monday.
"The Greek government expresses its outrage and outright condemnation of today's cowardly terrorist act with the only aim to damage Greece's image abroad, a few days before Greece's assumption of the EU presidency," Venizelos told the German ambassador. "The immediate mobilization of the Greek police, which gives an effective and coordinated battle against terrorism, will soon bring the perpetrators before the Greek justice," he added.
Six persons have been taken in for questioning in relation with the armed attack against the house of the German ambassador.
According to initial information, the perpetrators used kalashnikov and shot several times at Dolt's house. The police guard of the diplomat's house said that he saw four persons shooting without targeting something in specific. No injuries or damages were reported.
 Venizelos has phone contact with German FM SteinmeierGovernment Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday spoke on the phone with the newly appointed German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The German minister expressed his government's satisfaction for the immediate mobilisation of the Greek authorities regarding the attack against the German ambassador Walter Dold's residence in the Athens district of Halandri early Monday, as well as Greece's determination to combat terrorism.
Venizelos and Steinmeier had the opportunity to discuss Greece's fiscal and economic developments and referred to the assumption of Greece's EU presidency in January.
Finally, they both agreed to meet as soon as possible, probably in Athens after Greece's official assumption of the EU Presidency scheduled for January 8.
 PASOK strongly condemns attack on German ambassador's residence in AthensPASOK on Monday strongly condemned the "cowardly terrorist attack" on the German ambassador's family and residence in Athens earlier in the day.
"The obvious target of the attack was the country's international image a few days before the launch of the Greek EU Presidency," a PASOK announcement underlined, adding that "the terrorists have failed, because the authorities' swift reaction proved that Greece has European level mechanisms and institutions".
PASOK also expressed confidence in the "professionalism and abilities of the responsible agencies of the Greek Police, which have showed that they can find the culprits and lead them before justice".
The Greek people condemn terrorism and all forms of violence, and defend political stability, social cohesion and national unity, the PASOK announcement underlined.
 SYRIZA condemns attack against German ambassador's residenceThe attack with assault rifles on Monday against the German ambassador's residence is totaly condemned and does not serve the Greek people's interests, main opposition SYRIZA said in an announcement on Monday.
"On the contrary, it offers the opportunity for the creation of a climate of general insecurity and defamation of the social struggles," it added.
According to the announcement, "this kind of actions have nothing to do with the peaceful, social and mass struggles of the Greek people against the unfair memorandum policies that have brought extreme poverty and misery over the last years. The Greek people respect the presence of all diplomats in our country."
 DIMAR condemns attack against German envoy's residenceDemocratic Left (DIMAR) in an announcement on Monday categorically condemned the terror attack against the German ambassador's residence in the Athens suburb of Halandri early Monday.
"Such actions damage our democracy and insult Greece's image abroad," noted DIMAR in its announcement.
 Guns used in the attack targeting the German ambassador's residence are clean; KKE condemns the attackThe two Kalashnikov assault rifles, used in the attack targeting the German ambassador's residence in Athens' Halandri district earlier on Monday, are "clean", police announced.
Both guns had not been used in another crime based on the results of the ballistics testing conducted on the 60 cartridge cases collected at the scene.
Opposition Communist Party (KKE) condemned the attack on the German ambassador's residence, noting that "such acts have no relation with the struggles of the workers and the people".
 German-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry condemns attack on German ambassador's residenceThe German-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry condemned the attack on the residence of the German ambassador to Athens earlier on Monday.
"The smooth course of the country and its economy, bilateral relations, the stable investment environment, the Greek people's interests and democracy itself, can only be damaged by such acts," a German-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry announcement noted.
 "Europe will not disappoint Greece" Schaeuble saysEuropeans "will not disappoint" Greece and they will open their door to further help, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in an interview to Bild newspaper.
Schaeuble, who called the Greek assumption of the EU presidency as a "great opportunity", he noted that the presidency will show to the Greek people that the future lies in Europe.
"The assumption of the presidency is a source of identity, confidence, and pride. The EU presidency is a great opportunity for the country and for Europe," he underlined.
"We will decide in the middle of 2014 if we will help Greece again," Schaeuble said, adding that if the country stays on the reforms' path, if it meets its obligations, it will not be disappointed.
The full interview will be published on Tuesday's edition of the German newspaper.
 Greece can count on Germany's support, German government spokesman saysGerman government spokesman Steffen Zaimpert said on Monday that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had a telephone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel on the attack against the residence of the German ambassador in Athens.
Zaimpert also conveyed Merkel's best wishes ahead of the Greek EU presidency, adding that Greece can count on Germany's support.
German Foreign Minister spokesman Frank-Walter Steinmeier had said earlier on Monday that the response of the Greek authorities to the attack was "quick and careful."
 German Press and Information website on Greek EU presidencyBERLIN (ANA-MPA / F. Karaviti)
The German Press and Information website makes special reference to the assumption of the EU presidency from Greece, saying that Athens wants to keep the cost low.
"Greece has set high goals. Until the elections of the European Parliament on May 25, 2014, it wants to complete as many legislative projects as possible", it said and listed the main priorities of the Greek presidency, the Banking Union, the further development of Growth and Employment Pact in European investment programmes and immigration issues, "a traditionally important sector" for the country.
The website also refers to the low cost of the presidency: "With expenses not expected to exceed 50 million euros, the cost (of the presidency) will be the lowest so far."
 Carols to PM SamarasThe Philharmonic Orchestra of the municipality of Pylos on Monday sang the New Year's carols to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his wife Georgia at the Maximos Mansion.
Carols also sang to the premier children from Hatzikyriakio Child Care Institution.
 PASOK leader and vice president's wishes for New YearThe Greek people, "following many years of pressure, anxiety and tough sacrifices, have a right to feel more secure and optimistic," PASOK president and government vice president Evangelos Venizelos said in his New Year's message on Monday, noting that 2014 would mark a change towards "a final exit from the memorandum and the crisis."
In the message, Venizelos said that because of the Greek presidency of the EU, the first half of the new year would be "a good opportunity for Greece to promote instead of an image of crisis the face of a normal, institutionally equal EU member-state with a point of view on the future of Europe."
The vice president said that Greece was "at the end of this dramatic experience," after having "avoided much worse trials than those we went through," and must "protect the sacrifices and achievements of the Greek people, with which nobody has a right to play for petty party reasons." He encouraged the public not to lose its patience and stamina, but said Greeks must "preserve our cohesion as a society and our unity as a nation."
"Let us safeguard our ability to hope for simple and basic human needs for one another and let us all, together, hope that we can hope and fight for a Greece that is strong, proud and truly independent, in a peaceful world and within a Europe that is rediscovering its historical pace," he said.
 SYRIZA's New Year's messageMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) in its message for the New Year underlined on Monday that three years have passed since the imposition of the memorandums in the country, "three years since the worn-out political leadership of the bipartisan system handed over the country's keys to its creditors".
According to SYRIZA, the year 2013 "was a year of resistance and struggles and a reminder that the Greek people will never stop claiming their rights".
On the New Year, SYRIZA noted that "it is everybody's obligation to make 2014 the year during which democracy will be victorious over authoritarianism and the people's needs will be placed above the needs of the creditors," adding that this will be the year when "we will put an end to memorandums and new paths of solidarity will be opened across Europe".
"Hope will conquer fear and solidarity will conquer disaster," SYRIZA's message concluded.
 Administrative Reform ministry to merge agencies, change hiring rules for managersRestructuring the public sector, reducing the administrative burdens and e-governance will be the priorities of the Administrative Reform ministry during Greece's presidency of the EU and during the 18-month trio presidency of Lithuania, Greece and Italy.
According to ministry sources, the Administrative Reform and e-Governance ministry will focus on reorganising the public sector, reducing ministry structures by 40 percent and reducing staff by 200,000 (as of 2009), whether by natural attrition or the mobility scheme, in the core and wider public sector.
The ministry also wants to present a plan to better manage its human resources and play a central role in hirings in the public sector, as well as in the way managers are hired, the sources said.
Two draft bills will be promoted by the ministry during the new year, they said: one will introduce the merger or abolition of 12 agencies, and another will change the way managers are selected in the public sector, based on qualifications and abolishing the current waiting list of appointments.
(The trio presidency, established by the European Council in 2007, consists of the previous, current and future EU presiding countries. All EU member-states ar divided into groups of three consecutive rotation presidencies of the Council, to achieve continuity and consistency in the work of the Council of the EU and to allow for greater cooperation and exchange of expertise among the three states.)
 Health Minister to meet EOPPY doctors on MondayHealth Minister Adonis Georgiadis is meeting again on Monday with National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY)doctors in order to find the "golden mean" on the doctors' inclusion in public-sector mobility scheme.
 Deputy Health Minister Bezas meets with doctors' representativesDeputy Health Minister Antonis Bezas on Monday met with representatives of the country's Medical Association and the fedeartion of doctors at the National Organisation for the Provision of Healthcare Services (EOPYY), who are on strike until January 3 protesting against the mobility scheme affecting them.
Bezas noted that "the main principles of the health sector reform have been decided and what's left is to discuss is the road map that will lead us to the new regime," noting that "with the cooperation of the doctors, practical solutions will be found and answers will be given to various issues that have arisen".
According to the doctors' representatives, the terms set by the health ministry for doctors wishing to move from EOPPY to the National Health System (ESY) on a full-time and exclusive work status, are aimed at forcing them out of the public health sector.
Doctors, however, have already decided to extend their strikes to January 3.
 Arrest warrants against persons involved in the armaments kickbacksMagistrate for Corruption Gavriil Mallis issued arrest warrants against persons named by former defence ministry official Antonis Kantas, who served as alternate director for armaments purchases, alleged to be involved in the armament kickbacks case.
According to information, Mallis in cooperation with prosecutor for Corruption Eleni Raikou ordered the arrest of at least two persons involved in the illegal payments that Kantas admitted to have received for Defence ministry's armaments programmes.
 Former minister Liapis sentenced to 4-year suspended sentenceFormer Transport Minister Michalis Liapis was sentenced to four year suspended imprisonment, redeemable for 50 euros a day, after being arrested for driving an uninsured vehicle with fake number plates.
The former minister, who did not attend the trial , was imposed an additional fine of 3,000 euros because the vehicle was uninsured.
Earlier, the prosecutor had asked to declare him guilty without mitigating circumstances. Referring to the fake plates, the prosecutor said that the former minister acted fraudulently having premeditated the act.
The lawyers of the former minister claimed earlier that Liapis acted recklessly, adding that he feels bad and is remorseful. They also explained his absence from the court saying that there are 30 reporters and cameras outside that he wanted to avoid.
 German defence company representative arrested for alleged involvement in kickbacks for defence contracts caseAuthorities in Greece have arrested the representative of a German company that has supplied the ministry of defence with self-propelled artillery systems, it was announced on Monday.
Former defence ministry official Antonis Kantas, who is held on remand on money-laundering charges linked with illegal payments concerning defence ministry armament programmes, has named Dimitris Papachristos in his testimony.
Papachristos, who is the representative of the German defence company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, has allegedly paid 750,000 euros to Kantas when he served as alternate director for armaments purchases, as a kickback for the supply of 24 "PZH 2000" artillery systems and other defence material.
The 195,709,774-euro contract in question was signed on July 5, 2001 between the state and the German company when Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is in jail over a kickbacks for defence contracts scandal, was the minister of defence.
The charges in the specific case are active and passive bribery against the state and money-laundering.
Meanwhile, a preliminary investigation into the supply of 54 K/B STINGER systems, equipment and spare parts has been completed. The 142,731,079-euro contract (No 030A/2000) was signed on August 3, 2000 between the state and STN ATLAS ELEKTRONIK defence company when Tsohatzopoulos was the defence minister.
The criminal charges filed are also for active and passive bribery and money-laundering.
Copies of Kantas' testimony have been forwarded to Prosecutor for Corruption Eleni Raikou considering that the defendant has referred to a number of cases concerning kickbacks for defence contracts.
 Government examines discount on electricity rates in smog stricken areasA substantial discount on electricity rates in the areas with smog problems are among government's new incentives expected to be announced on Tuesday.
The issue was examined earlier on Monday at a meeting between the Finance and the Environment ministries' leadership at the Finance ministry.
 SYRIZA leader's letter to parliament president on change of party's name and emblemSYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in a letter on Monday informed parliament president Evangelos Meimarakis that from 1 January 2014 the name of his party changes from "SYRIZA-United Social Front" to "SYRIZA-Coalition of the Radical Left" according to the party's founding congress decision.
Tsipras also said that the emblem of his party is a five point yellow star behind three waving flags coloured red, green and purple respectively which rest on the word SYRIZA.
 SYRIZA leader Tsipras extends condolences on Volgograd victimsMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday addressed a letter of condolences to Russian Ambassador to Athens Vladimir I. Chkhikvishvili for the victims of the terrorist attacks in the city of Volgograd.
In his letter, the SYRIZA leader expressed solidarity and support to the Russian political leadership in these "trying times for the people of Russia".
 KKE party condolences message for Volgograd terrorist attacksThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a message of condolences for the victims of the terrorist attacks in the city of Volgograd, stressed that "not only the time but the place that these attacks took place is not random, since the contribution of this city, of Stalingrad and its battle, to World War II and to the defeat of fascism are known to all humanity."
"These attacks are pieces of the puzzle of the barbarism of capitalism, which the citizens of Russia have been facing for 22 years, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the completion of the process of the overthrow of socialism," the message said.
 FYROM rejects ban on use of Vergina Sun symbolSKOPJE (ANA-MNA/N. Frangopoulos)
A motion by a party at the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to ban the use of the contested symbol known as "the Vergina Sun" was soundly defeated on Monday, as expected.
The motion was introduced in early November by deputy and opposition Liberal Party leader of Ivon Velickovski, who was the only one to support it. All other parties voted against it, with the exception of Albanian party DUI, part of the governing coalition, which voted "present".
In his argument, Velickovski said that if the use of the symbol were banned, something he said was a FYROM obligation set out in an interim agreement with Greece since 1995, it would strengthen good neibhbouring relations which are important for the European and Euro-Atlantic prospects of the country.
His party collaborated with the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) party in the last elections on June 2011 and elected one deputy.
FYROM used the Sun of Vergina on its flag from 1991 to 1995, removing it following the signing of the 1995 agreement, which stipulated in article 7, paragraph 2 that FYROM would stop using the symbol in all its forms and in any manner. Despite that, the symbol is still widely used by state agencies and private individuals.
 Over 900 jobs open for public education staff on reserve, Admin. Reform ministry saysSecondary education personnel, affected by the labour reserve measures in the public sector, can apply for job positions in nursery schools and lifelong education institutes, according to a decision signed by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday.
The decision will fill a total of 925 vacancies in various education ministry sectors with an emphasis on lifelong education. A total of 150 job positions are available in nursery schools.
Applications should be filed within 15 days of the decision's publication in the Government Gazette.
 New public radio and television agency announces job openingsNERIT, the New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television public entity, has opened nine managerial positions and two coordinator positions, it announced Monday.
The eleven job openings will each run on three-year contracts. The managerial positions cover administrative and news departments while the other two relate to the archives and musical ensembles, respectively.
A person may not apply for more than one positions, while the deadline for applications through the website http://www.opengov.gr/nerit/ is January 20, 2014 at 24:00.
 Judges' salary cuts are unconstitutional, tribunal rulesThe salary tribunal on Monday found cuts in judicial salaries unconstitutional and ruled in addition that 25 pct of the judges' income should be tax-free, as in the case of deputies.
The court, presided by the Council of State Vice-President Maria Sarp, ruled that a state decision to oblige judges to return retroactively payments they had legally received contravened articles 26, 87 and 88 in the Greek constitution.
"Judicial salaries should guarantee a decent living for judicial officials, meaning a living consistent with the prestige of their profession and mission," stressed the court.
In addition, the salary tribunal in another decision finded that judicial officials are entitled to a 25 pct tax-exemption, similar to that given to state deputies.
The decisions made use of article 26 of the Constitution, which distinguishes between the three branches of authority (executive, legislative and judicial) but treats them as having equal rights. The salary tribunal decisions call for equal treatment between the authorities officials' salaries and taxation.
 Defence Minister Avramopoulos meets with outgoing Chinese ambassadorDefence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday met with outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Athens Du Qiwen.
The farewell meeting was attended by the Greek military leadership, according to a ministry announcement.
 '2014 a milestone year for Greece', ACCI head says"2014 will be a milestone year for Greece as it will mark the end of the crisis and the beginning of a gradual but stable recovery", Constantinos Mihalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said on Monday.
"Our country has met almost all its obligations, and now it is our partners' turn to prove their solvency and promote positive decisions on the Greek debt," Mihalos noted.
All fiscal accomplishments are thanks to the Greek people who cannot tolerate any more sacrifices, he said, adding that what the country needs to boost economy and create new jobs is less taxes, restructuring of the public administration, acceleration of the structural reforms, boosting liquidity and supporting entrepreneurship.
 Legislative regulation on social insurance contribution payments is likelyThe finance ministry on Monday left open the possibility of a future legislative regulation providing that gross salaries will be deposited by employers to the bank accounts of their employees, who will have access to their net pay, while contributions will be deducted and paid to social insurance funds directly by the banks.
According to a document forwarded to parliament by Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis in response to a proposal against contribution and tax evasion tabled by PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis, the proposal will be considered and if it is deemed necessary it will be included in a future legislative regulation.
 Eurobank to complete merger with New Hellenic Postbank in April 2014, CEO saysA full operational unification between Eurobank and a new Hellenic Postbank is expected to be completed in April 2014, Eurobank's chief executive Christos Megalou said on Monday.
In a letter addressed to Eurobank's personnel on the occasion of completing a legal merger of the two banks, Megalou stressed that the merger plan would be completed within set timetables, as it happened with the legal merger and the absorption of New Proton Bank, "thanks to the quantity and the quality of the work contributed by everyone involved in this project."
"The merger with New Hellenic Postbank and New Proton Bank safeguarded the group's systemic role. We completed a voluntary retirement program -which leads to a significant cost restructuring- and launched the transformation of our business model, to adapt to future challenges. We move to actions which will allow us to implement a share capital increase plan, attracting private capital and international investors," Eurobank's CEO said in his letter, adding that a positive outcome of this effort will signal the return of Eurobank to the private sector, offering a strong vote of confidence to the Greek economy's prospects.
 Viohalco Group announces 889.5-mln-euro syndicated loanViohalco Group on Monday announced the signing of a series of five-year syndicated loans worth 889.5 million euros to refinance its subsidiaries' debt obligations.
More specifically, ETEM announced the refinancing of part its existing debt with the signing of a guaranteed syndicated bond loan worth 38.25 million euros with National Bank, Alpha Bank and Eurobank Ergasias. The loan will represent around 72 pct of the company's bank debt. It has a five-year duration with the option of a two-year extension.
Hellenic Cables announced the refinancing of part of its existing debt with the signing of a guaranteed syndicated loan worth 76.53 million euros with National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank. The loan represents around 80 pct of the company's bank debt, it has a five year duration with the option of a two-year extension.
Halcor signed a guaranteed syndicated loan worth 270.12 million euros with National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank. The loan represents around 74 pct of the company's debt, it has a five-year duration with the option of a two-year extension.
Sidenor signed a guaranteed syndicated loan worth 298.4 million euros with National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank. The loan represents around 81 pct of the company's debt, it has a five-year duration with the option of a two-year extension.
Elval signed a guaranteed syndicated loan worth 158.9 million euros with National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank. The loan represents around 79 pct of the company's debt, it has a five-year duration with the option of a two-year extension.
Finally, Korinth Pipeworks signed a guaranteed syndicated loan worth 47.3 million euros with National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank. The loan represents around 99.9 pct of its bank debt, it has a five-year duration with the option of a two-year extension.
 State revenues secretary sees no extension to road taxes paymentThe political leadership of the Finance ministry will decide whether to grant an extension for the payment of road taxes, Secretary of State Revenues, Haris Theoharis, said in an interview to ANA-MPA on Monday.
"We do not see any technical or other problem which will make us decide an extension of payment," he said.
"The payment is carried out wihout any problems and it is estimated that the state has collected road taxes for about 250,000-300,000 more vehicles compared to the same period last year," he added.
 Greek hotels sign new labor contractHellenic Hoteliers Federation on Monday is signing a new labor contract with the workers' union in the sector, envisaging zero pay rises in 2014 and an 1.0 pct pay increase in 2015.
The new labor contract has a two-year duration and covers around 130,000 workers. The previous contract -which ends on Tuesday, 31 January- envisaged a 15 pct cut in wages and salaries.
Basic wages in the sector vary from 753.69 euros to 821.96 euros. The new labor contract also envisages that in the peak tourism period of July and August, hotels with room occupancy rates of more than 75 pct would be allowed to employ their staff up to 10 hours daily for a period of eight weeks in exchange for repos or reduced employment hours in other periods.
 Labour Minister welcomes Hoteliers Federation's agreementLabour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis in a statement on Monday welcomes the new labour contract signed by the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation.
"I welcome the signing of the agreement between the hotel employees and the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, the first agreement providing wage increases in recent years," Vroutsis noted.
"Both the real and the symbolic meaning are special. Not only because it affects a very large number of workers in the tourism industry and ensures labour peace in a sector with excellent growth momentum in the coming years. But also because it marks the gradual transition to a new upward cycle with positive prospects for the Greek economy, the labour market and workers' incomes," he added.
The new labour contract provides zero pay rises in 2014 and an 1.0 pct pay rise in 2015. It has a two-year duration and covers around 130,000 workers.
 Tourism Minister on Hoteliers new labour contractThe new labour contract signed on Monday by the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation is positive for Greek tourism, Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said.
"It ensures stability, it protects the rights of the employees and it is a result of dialogue and agreement between workers and employers in the industry," Kefalogianni noted, adding that it also reflects the good cooperation of both sides and their dedication to promote Greek tourism.
The new labour contract provides zero pay rises in 2014 and an 1.0 pct pay rise in 2015. It has a two-year duration and covers around 130,000 workers.
 No reason for extension to tax liabilities deadlines, Finance ministry saysFinance ministry officials said on Monday that there is no reason to give an extension to road tax and other tax liabilities whose deadlines expire tomorrow.
 Piraeus Bank acquires full control of Piraeus Wealth MgmtPiraeus Bank on Monday announced the acquisition of BNP Paribas Wealth Management's equity stake in Piraeus Wealth Management, raising its equity stake in the subsidiary company to 100 pct.
Piraeus Bank said its Wealth Management operations were continuing normally and its headquarters remained at Vassilissis Sofia Avenue, Athens.
 Karatzis completes 3.5-mln-euro share capital increase planKaratzis SA will begin trading with a new nominal share price of 1.68 euros per share in the Athens Stock Exchange from January 3, after the listed company completed a share capital increase plan worth 3,523,150 euros.
Following the plan's completion, Karatzis said its equity capital rose to 24,662,050 euros, or 14,679,792 shares with a nominal value of 1,68 euros.
 Kri-Kri: Primary goal to continue smooth supply of marketsKri-Kri, a Greek-listed dairy industry, on Monday said its management was making every effort possible to continue supplying the market despite a fire that severely damaged its yoghurt and milk production unit in Serres.
In a statement to the Capital Market Commission, Kri-Kri stressed that participation of the dairy production line in its nine-month turnover was 33.9 million euros and noted that the management will inform investors over the final estimate of the damage as soon as possible, along with its estimate over its impact on financial results and the timeline for restoring the damage.
 Greek stocks end moderately lowerGreek stocks moved moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as investors took profits following Friday's sharp advance. The composite index of the market fell
0.62 pct to end at 1,158.03 points, near its day's lows of 1,157.75 points. Turnover fell to 88.24 million euros.
The Large Cap index dropped 0.62 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.14 pct higher. Frigoglass (2.14 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (1.72 pct) and Titan (1.46 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (3.07 pct), MIG (2.84 pct), National Bank (2.73 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (2.28 pct) were top losers.
Sector indexes ended as follows:
Industrial Products: 3,275.44 (+0.21%)
Commerce: 3,298.46 (-1.25%)
Constructions: 2,648.59 (-0.29%)
Oil/Gas: 2,871.57 (+0.55%)
Personal Products: 6,008.22 (-0.12% )
Raw Materials: 2,746.54 (-1.24%)
Travel/Leisure: 1,699.54 (+0.04%)
Technology: 784.24 (+1.66%)
Telecoms: 2,639.71 (+0.10%)
Banks: 179.15 (-1.43%0
Food/Beverage: 7,772.62 (-0.50%)
Health: 218.40 (-3.95%)
Utilities: 3,763.09 (-0.74%)
Financial Services: 1,717.34 (-2.44%)
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 79 to 63 with another 25 issues unchanged. Parnassos (17.09 pct), Selonda (14 pct) and Forthnet (11.43 pct) were top gainers, while Teletypos (19.88 pct), NEL (19.81 pct) and Atti-kat (17.86 pct) were top losers.
Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, MIG and National Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day, while OTE, PPC and Metka recorded the highest daily turnover. The market' s capitalization eased to 67.886 billion euros.
Blue chip stocks ended as follows:
ALPHA BANK: 0.628
GEK TERNA: 3.30
COCA COLA HBC: 20.80
HELLENIC PETROLEUM: 7.68
NATIONAL BANK: 3.92
ATHENS WATER: 7.68
MOTOR OIL: 8.12
PIRAEUS BANK: 1.49
MARFIN INVESTMENT GROUP: 0.376
PIRAEUS PORT: 17.58
HELLENIC EXCHANGES: 7.72
TERNA ENERGY: 3.83
EUROBANK PROPERTIES: 8.50
KORINTH PIPEWORKS: 2.22
 ADEX closing reportThe January contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.63 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 10.129 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,545 contracts worth 6.917 million euros, with 47.513 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totalled 5,774 contracts worth 3.212 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (955), followed by Alpha Bank (668), National Bank (503), MIG (344), OTE (622), PPC (480), OPAP (456), Titan (102), Mytilineos (319), Hellenic Petroleum (245), Motor Oil (220), GEK (147), Ellaktor (239) and Hellenic Exchanges (73).
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.399
Pound sterling 0.848
Danish kroner 7.572
Swedish kroner 9.062
Japanese yen 147.2
Swiss franc 1.244
Norwegian kroner 8.551
Canadian dollar 1.498
Australian dollar 1.575
 Archaeological finds in private plot in Athens to become accessible to publicA small area with antiquities within a private plot with a separate entrance for guests will be created in the Athens district of Makrygianni near the Acropolis.
Finds from the geometric to the late Roman era, have been identified at this point, however, those of the last period are the most preserved and will be maintained.
The Central Archaeological Council gave the green light to the proposal for the development the monument, which is adjacent to the antiquities found a few years ago in the neighboring plot. Finds of a Roman villa from the 2nd century BC, were discovered inside the plot, during an excavation. Part of the villa, which was destroyed in the second half of the 3rd century AD by the Heruli tribe as well as the adjacent residential sanctuary of Cybele, Mother Goddess of of Mountains and Wild Animals, are today visible and accessible to public.
 Women of Thessaloniki support local institutions by knitting large Christmas sock, worthy of a Guinness awardWomen-residents of the Thermi region, in Thessaloniki, knitted a red Christmas sock of 30 metres in length, aiming at gathering food, medicine,clothes and other essentials during these festive days and donate them to local institutions.
Over the last days, 58 women from cultural societies and Thermi's elderly care center (KAPI) managed to complete their work and even exceeded their initial plan to knit a 25 metre sock.They will now pursue a place in the Guinness book of World Records, as the previous largest sock featured in the book, was 18 metres.
The sock will remain hanging at Thermi's Dam until the end of January and the municipality invites people of all ages to take photographs and offer anything they can for people in need.
"The sock is rigged and we wait for the visitors to come and see it up close, get photographed and offer anything they can to help the institutions in the region. We are in the process of counting the sock and will pursue a place in the Guinness book," said Kostas Kougioumtzidis, responsible for civil protection in Thermi, to the ANA-MPA.
 Dangerous medical refuse emergency plan fully implementedThe Attica Region has fully implemented a 30-day emergency plan to deal with dangerous medical refuse, by sorting it at a special location in the Fyli landfill area as of December 25.
Following directions issued in a Health ministry circular, accumulated hospital refuse is taken to landfills and dangerous medical refuse is checked and separated, to distinguish between material that can be buried and material that needs to be incinerated.
Over the past week, 120 tons of medical refuse have been unloaded and separated at the landfill. Twenty tons, or 16.5 percent, was sent to the incinerator as dangerous refuse. The medical refuse came from 15 public, 10 private and 4 military hospitals.
 President of the Republic congratulates Greek world youth chess championPresident of the Republic on Monday congratulated Stavroula Tsolakidou, a gold medallist at the World Youth Chess Championships 2013 in Al Ail, United Arab Emirates.
Tsolakidou competed in the girls-under-14 category.
In a telegram, the president said her victory "gave everyone great joy and optimism" and expressed the hope that her future is "full of similar achievements that confirm the great potential of our youth, which the state ought to always nourish."
 Gov't seeking new incentives to tackle smog phenomenonNew incentives aiming to tackle the smog phenomenon were examined in a broad government meeting on Monday at the Finance Ministry with the participation of Finance and Environment ministries' leadership.
The specific interventions will be announced within the next days, according to a Finance ministry's announcement.
 Police uncovers illegal casino in downtown AthensThe police located on Monday a three-floor casino operating illegally, disguised as a cafeteria, in downtown Tritis Septemvriou Street, considered one of the city's busiest.
The police arrested 105 persons, 16 of whom were casino operators. During the sting the police confiscated 38 computers, 27 gaming machines, 7 electronic roulettes, 6 black jack tables, 19 surveillance cameras, one communication radio, small amount of drugs, smuggled alcohol bottles, money and other evidence.
The operation conducted by the Greek police's Internal Affairs department, because of suspicions of police officers' involvement.
The arrested persons were led before a public prosecutor.
 Athens-Patras old national road closed due to landslideAthens-Patras old national road closed on Monday at Platanos due to landslide.
Traffic is diverted to the new national road at the interchanges of Akrata for cars moving to Patras and Pounta for cars heading to Athens.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 0C and 15C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures between 4C and 13C. Local showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 3C and 10C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Arrests for the party with the armaments.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: First arrest warrant for the armaments kickbacks to be issued.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Pension with 25 years of work in public sector.
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: The reversals in retirement age limit and pensions in 2014.
ESTIA: Despair leads to SYRIZA (main opposition).
ETHNOS: Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) hits vein of gold.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Reversals in professionals' taxation in 2014.
TA NEA: Troika's (EC, ECB, IMF) Christmas carols.
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