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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 14-01-31

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

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

Friday, 31 January 2014 Issue No: 4574

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras in Parliament: Primary surplus to reach 1 bln euros
  • [02] PM Samaras holds meeting with FinMin
  • [03] SYRIZA responds to the prime minister's speech
  • [04] Independent Greeks leader on premier's speech
  • [05] KKE comments on the prime minister's speech
  • [06] Prime Minister Samaras meets new DT Group head; DT announces 1.2-billion-euro investments
  • [07] Prime Minister Samaras' address to HABC event via taped message
  • [08] Part of the surplus should be redirected to real economy, Korkidis says
  • [09] FM Venizelos expresses optimism over hydrocarbon exploration
  • [10] FM Venizelos, Environment minister to meet Thursday
  • [11] FM meets MEPs conducting inquiry into troika's role in euro area
  • [12] 'Troika was a necessary evil,' EU Parliament deputy Karas says in Athens
  • [13] EU official's statements in Greek Parliament prompt SYRIZA's reaction
  • [14] SYRIZA spokesman on EU official's statement
  • [15] MEP Karas should publicly apologize, SYRIZA says
  • [16] SYRIZA MEP Hountis on Karas' statements
  • [17] FM Venizelos on EU official's comments regarding SYRIZA leader
  • [18] ND MEP Koumoutsakos on Tsipras' meeting with European Parliament committee evaluating the troika's role
  • [19] Europarliament deputy Karas says his statements over Tsipras are not contradictory
  • [20] KKE on the European Parliament committee reviewing the troika' practices
  • [21] Gov't spokesman rules out early elections
  • [22] ND Parliamentary delegation to visit Kefalonia on Sunday and Monday
  • [23] FM to meet Norwegian counterpart on Friday
  • [24] Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis addresses event on 'open government'
  • [25] There are no political motives for terrorists, Public Order Minister says
  • [26] Greek police delegation in Tirana to examine self-professed hit man
  • [27] Former Defence ministry official describes 'the routes of illegal money'
  • [28] Education minister to visit Cephalonia on Friday
  • [29] ND, Varvitsiotis lash out on SYRIZA over invasion at shipping minister's political office
  • [30] 45 detained after protest outside Shipping minister's political office
  • [31] Protest marches in Athens, Thessaloniki over Farmakonissi incident
  • [32] Venizelos on the recent political developments in Tunisia
  • [33] Navy and National Defence General Staff conclude exercises in northern, central Aegean
  • [34] Joint training of Greek, US squadrons
  • [35] President Papoulias receives Reform Network officials
  • [36] ND deputy Giakoumatos says prosecution against his wife and brother was planned and organized
  • [37] Entrepreneurship in Greece shows signs of recovery, IOBE survey
  • [38] Greek unemployment to fall to 26 pct in 2014, IOBE report
  • [39] Entrepreneurs should leave skepticism behind, Greek-American Chamber of Commerce says
  • [40] Agriculture minister Tsaftaris addresses Agrotica trade fair
  • [41] Intralot announces new organizational structure
  • [42] J&P AVAX wins 700-mln-euro road project contract in Qatar
  • [43] Tax service to place lien on inherited property until related debts on it are paid
  • [44] Deputy Dev't minister visits London
  • [45] Sea cruise passenger traffic in Greek ports up 3.34 pct in 2013
  • [46] Two-day European conference on Regional Development and Employment
  • [47] PPI falls 0.2 percent in December year-on-year, ELSTAT says
  • [48] Greek stocks rebound strongly on Thursday
  • [49] Greek bond market closing report
  • [50] ADEX closing report
  • [51] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [52] International prize 'Nikos Kazantzakis' launched
  • [53] Exhibit on perceptions of the ancient Greeks on death and Hades to travel to New York
  • [54] Seminar on nanotechnology use in medicine, especially cancer, held at Athens University
  • [55] Search still on for Dutch-flagged sailboat and sailor
  • [56] Police dismantle large drug trafficking group in Chania
  • [57] Travelling tobacco exhibition reconstructs long-gone trade routes
  • [58] Doctors and hospital employees hold strike on Feb 6
  • [59] Former FC president arrested for outstanding debts to the state
  • [60] Overcast on Friday
  • [61] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies Politics

  • [01] PM Samaras in Parliament: Primary surplus to reach 1 bln euros

    Greece has suffered and is still suffering, but it is exiting the crisis, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (below) said in Parliament on Thursday.

    In his speech to the New Democracy (ND) parliamentary group, Samaras also noted that national "elections will be held in 2016."

    "We achieved our basic commitment and held the country in the eurozone, not letting it collapse," the premier said. "Now with the primary surplus we will have met most of the 18 actions we have committed to. With the help of God and the support of the Greek people, we shall achieve a lot more in the remaining two years," he added.

    He clarified, "When we spoke about a primary surplus in the beginning, they were making fun of us. But according to recent data, the primary surplus will reach 1 billion euros. Some doubted it, saying we did not pay the state's outstanding debts; this is a lie - the surplus is indisputable and viable, with everything settled and paid. Some are saying the economy is suffering. My response is that 70 percent of the surplus will return to Greek society."

    He added that "hundreds of millions of euros will be redistributed to society by the end of the year, to people in the armed forces and security services and to low-income pensioners, as we had promised."

    His greatest priority is to reduce taxes, the premier said, which will be achieved "if we meet targets," while National Strategic Reference Framework funds will provide work opportunities to over 440,000 unemployed people.

    "We came to power 19 months ago," he told the ND group, adding, "Few gave us chances of success at the time, and many took bets that we would not last until December. Others abroad bet that Greece would exit the euro."

    "Consider what has happened in the interim: We proved the Cassandras wrong, we proved those who saw an exit from the euro wrong," he noted, recalling the example of Argentina. "Look at what is happening to Argentina, which has still not recovered 13 years later. We have avoided collapse and we are putting Greece back on its feet," he stressed.

    The prime minister also launched a strong attack on main opposition SYRIZA, including criticism for what he called the party's inconsistency between its earlier position on leaving the eurozone and its present stance. SYRIZA, he said, accepted and placed Greece at risk of exiting the euro. "We prevented (the exit) despite its (SYRIZA's) fierce resistance."

    Speaking about the party's role as opposition, he said, "The problem is that SYRIZA is a party of the extreme fringe. It cannot be a party of revolt and a party of responsibility. They cannot understand that what is happening in Greece now cannot be compared to what happened in the past."

    He added, "There are many ways to let Greece slide back into the crisis, and people do not want this. They (SYRIZA) do not understand that time works against them, and that the more growth indications we have the more they will fade away. They also have not undrestood that there is unrest around Greece, with countries collapsing. Nobody, especially not the Greeks, would take the risk of destabilizing the only stable country of the region."

    Commenting on the main opposition's proposals for reducing the public debt, Samaras accused SYRIZA of not being able to prevent the country's default. "How will they avoid the repercussions of Greece's default? Will they use blackmail? Will they use threats?...They will not have a government to face, they will have the EU member-states," Samaras noted. "We will not let them throw us back," he added.

    [02] PM Samaras holds meeting with FinMin

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held a meeting with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras at the government headquarters in Maximos Mansion on Thursday.

    The finance minister said that they held talks in light of the troika's arrival and that the target is to have an agreement first and then the disbursement of the tranche by March.

    "We are planning the next steps," Stournaras said and that the representatives of the creditors will be arriving in Athens in the coming days.

    Asked about the statement by Eurodeputy Liem Hoang Ngoc, who is a member of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Committee currently investigating the role and operations of the troika in eurozone bailout programme countries, who referred to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) request for a debt haircut, Stournaras denied knowledge of the statement and refused to comment.

    [03] SYRIZA responds to the prime minister's speech

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday lashed out at the prime minister commenting on his speech before his party's parliamentary group.

    "It is sad that the prime minister who leads a country in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis has reached the point of bragging to the Greek people about the 'successes' of the memorandum," SYRIZA underlined.

    "In Samaras' imaginary world the conclusions of the Parliament's State Budget Office on the non-sustainability of the primary surplus and public debt, as well as the ominous forecasts on the country's return to the markets that refute all government statements, do not exist," SYRIZA noted and wondered "if the government has its own viewpoint about the debt haircut or it repeats only what is allowed by (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and the country's lenders".

    The party said that the pledges made according to which the primary surplus and the "stolen money" will be distributed to the Greek people, who were robbed and continue to be robbed by the memorandum "saviours" constitute major mockery.

    SYRIZA also noted that the prime minister's stance towards it is absolutely understandable underlining that it is an indication of a government in panic and of a prime minister who is collapsing.

    [04] Independent Greeks leader on premier's speech

    Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos leveled harsh criticism on Thursday against Prime Minister Antonis Samaras following his speech at New Democracy (ND) parliamentary group.

    "We predicted yesterday that after the 19th action of hiring 440,000 unemployed people, Samaras would return to the 18 actions he has never implemented," Kammenos said and asked: "How much does it cost the determination of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the one and only investigation, the armed forces' return of pensions and salaries? Do we need 500 million euro surplus?"

    Kammenos underlined that "if eventually 500 million euros is needed for the 18 actions, this is what he gave to (Bank of Piraus chairman Michael) Sallas for the Cypriot banks's branches to Greece."

    Piraeus Bank acquired Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB) and Hellenic Bank's subsidiaries in Greece. The agreement was made on the need to protecting financial stability in the Greek banking market and safeguarding direct access of clients to services and products offered by the three Cypriot banks' branch network in Greece.

    [05] KKE comments on the prime minister's speech

    Opposition Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday commented on the prime minister's speech before his party's parliamentary group, noting that "primary surpluses, competitiveness, the country's return to the markets and the return to a capitalist recovery, are the goals of the capital holders and their implementation by the present or a future government go hand-in-hand with the abolition of the people's rights."

    "The promises of breadcrumbs given as relief to people in extreme poverty are not a solution," KKE underlined, noting that "they seek to befool the people and give a kiss of life to a economic growth path which, in the years to come, will further exacerbate the people's problems."

    [06] Prime Minister Samaras meets new DT Group head; DT announces 1.2-billion-euro investments

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday met with the new head of Deutsche Telekom group Timotheus Hottges, OTE chairman & CEO Michael Chamaz and Deutsche Telekom Management Board member for Europe and Technology Claudia Nemat.

    The prime minister was briefed on the development strategy implemented by the DT group and on the 1.2-billion-euro investments planned to be made in Greece in the next four years. The meeting also focused on the successful transformation of OTE from a former state monopoly into a high performance competitive company and on the 1,000 new jobs created in a period of 12 months following successful voluntary retirement programmes.

    Referring to the tangible confidence in the Greek economy displayed by an international giant like DT in a period when great emphasis is being given to the country's efforts for economic growth, the prime minister said that "investments like those made by DT and OTE take the country to the future by creating the necessary infrastructures for the new digital era."

    "New technology and innovation investments are high on the government agenda as a driving force for entrepreneurship," the prime minister underlined.

    On his part, Hottges said that OTE is a long-term strategic investment, adding that it has been successfully transformed into a high performance company with healthy finances. He noted that investments of 1.2 billion euros wil be implemented, while new jobs positions are being created.

    Earlier, Hottges had met with OTE executives. Addressing roughly 400 OTE employees, he referred to the difficult task he was assuming and the challenges he expected to face, being in charge of a big, international company.

    He also outlined DT's vision on telecoms sector's future, with the emphasis being on technological and commercial innovation, noting that his main target was to make DT group the top telecoms provider by 2020.

    He referred to the 2.0 billion euros that DT has invested in the Greek market in the past few years and the 1.2-billion-euro investments the company plans for the next four years, pointing out they will have a positive impact on the labour market.

    Hottges praised OTE employees, saying the company has a strong performance despite adverse conditions.

    [07] Prime Minister Samaras' address to HABC event via taped message

    Greece, exiting a multifaceted and long crisis, offers investment opportunities and an improved institutional framework for enterprises, according to participants addressing a Hellenic-Australian Business Council (HABC) event marking the Australian G20 and the Greek EU presidencies.

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who was unable to attend the event on Tuesday night as initially scheduled, sent a recorded message that referred to the close ties between the two peoples, noting that Australia has always been "a very honest and good friend" for Greece, both in times of war and of peace.

    He also underlined the potential for cooperation between the two countries during their respective presidencies, with a focus on kickstarting the global economy, and referred to the important role of HABC and the business community in general in bilateral trade relations.

    Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis, on his part, said that Australia is a tangible example of success by managing to promote reforms that converted its economy, which was in recession during the '80s, into an open, competitive and export-oriented economy, which was the 12th strongest in the world.

    He said that Greece also follows the path of reform and underlined that, according to an OECD report, Greece ranks first in the world in terms of structural reforms for economic growth, laying the foundations for a business and environment-friendly environment.

    Australian Ambassador to Athens Jenny Bloomfield encouraged Greek entrepreneurs to examine closely the trade and investment opportunities in Australia.

    In a video-taped message, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott underlined the common goals of the Australian G20 Presidency and the Greek EU Presidency, noting that a strong world economy should be built by using the private sector as a driving force, by increasing trade and by creating more jobs and also, through greater economic growth and improved infrastructure.

    [08] Part of the surplus should be redirected to real economy, Korkidis says

    High taxes do not safeguard the sustainability of primary surplus and they fail to promote any positive reforms, the

    National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (NCHC) said on Thursday following the parliament's report on the economy.

    "Higher taxes have become the nightmare of all taxpayers since they can not meet their obligations, neither through scheduled debt payments or arrears settlement," NCHC head Vassilis Korkidis said.

    Korkidis also said that it was a shame that the real improvement of economic indicators and the gradual progress of the country's fiscal data - achieved at a heavy cost for the vast majority of Greek citizens - was not accompanied by transferring part of the surplus in the real economy, adding that this contradiction must be lifted.

    [09] FM Venizelos expresses optimism over hydrocarbon exploration

    Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis on Thursday briefed Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos over the conclusion of seismic survey data procession regarding hydrocarbon exploration.

    Venizelos expressed his optimism on the whole exploration process and pointed out that "Greece is a factor of stability in the energy map of the wider region." Maniatis said that the processed data would be uploaded on a data base, whose information would be available to potential investors.

    [10] FM Venizelos, Environment minister to meet Thursday

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be briefed by Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis on the latest developments in the energy sector at a meeting at 11:00 on Thursday; the Foreign ministry announced. The meeting will take place at the Foreign ministry.

    [11] FM meets MEPs conducting inquiry into troika's role in euro area

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Thursday met with a representation of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Issues committee, including Othmar Karas and Li?m Hoang Ngoc, rapporteurs of a report on the troika's role and operations in the euro area countries that entered fiscal adjustment programmes, the finance ministry said in a statement.

    Stournaras briefed the MEPs on the progress of the country's economy and referred to the problems of the adjustment programme. He later responded to questions regarding Greece's economy and the replies he has given to European Parliament questions on the troika, the ministry said.

    Nils Torvalds, Philippe Lamberts, Juergen Klute and Nikos Hountis are also members of the representation.

    [12] 'Troika was a necessary evil,' EU Parliament deputy Karas says in Athens

    The troika was a "necessary evil", Austrian MEP and European Parliament vice-president Othmar Karas said during a press conference held at the European Parliament's offices in Athens on Thursday. Karas led an EU Parliament committee conducting an inquiry into the role and operations of the troika in euro area countries that had entered bailout programmes.

    He also pointed to the need for a more "balanced" fiscal adjustment, reforms and investment in Greece, adding that Europe will be there to contribute.

    Karas explained that the involvement of the troika, comprised of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had been necessary because the EU had lacked the tools to deal with the greatest crisis since WWII. Despite the many mistakes the troika had made, he added, its efforts had proved effective and both Greece and the Eurozone were now "out of danger" and able to discuss democratic legitimacy and accountability for the policies implemented.

    According to Karas - an MEP from the European Peoples' Party (EPP) group - most of the troika's mistakes had been made in the initial stages. He noted that it was an intergovernmental process that did not operate according to rules but differently between one country and another.

    "No member state is alone, we have a common responsibility and it is important that no doors are shut," he said.

    Statements were also made by the Socialist and Democrats MEP Liem Hoang Ngoc, who pointed out that the ECB was the only institution that suffered no losses during the crisis. He also raised the issue of whether the ECB and European Commission were authorised to force economic policies on member-states, a position questioned by the representative of the EU Parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats ALDE group Nils Torvlands.

    He referred to the debt restructuring and the committee's discussion on Thursday with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, noting that there were several methods of restructuring debt, and said it had been a mistake to put so much emphasis on fiscal reform. In addition to his criticism of the troika, the MEP also accused Greece of "fiscal irresponsibility".

    The members of the committee will now work on their final conclusions, which they said would be presented before the European Parliament elections.

    [13] EU official's statements in Greek Parliament prompt SYRIZA's reaction

    European Parliament Vice President Othmar Karas' comments in Greek Parliament late on Wednesday regarding his meeting with main opposition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras in Strasbourg were "false and slanderous claims," according to SYRIZA deputies.

    "We met with Tsipras in Strasbourg for over an hour and asked him about his experience as the main opposition leader, about his goals, his proposals, what he can improve, and for an hour he had nothing to say. The only thing he said is that he supports the European Parliament and he wants to give it a more central role in the negotiations with the troika," Karas said.

    The EU official is heading a seven-member delegation of the Economic and Monetary Issues committee of the Europarliament paying a two-day visit to Athens in the framework of the Europarliament's review of troika policies in bailout members-states. Its first of a series of meetings was at the Greek Parliament. (Greece is represented in the delegation by Europarliament MPs Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou and Nikos Hountis.)

    According to an announcement by SYRIZA deputies on Thursday, Tsipras' reaction was attributed to a mistake in the translation of Karas' words. Specifically, the party's announcement claimed that "Tsipras" in Karas' question was translated as "Cyprus", which led to the question being misunderstood.

    Speaking to private Skai TV on Thursday, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou charged that until his statements about Tsipras, SYRIZA treated Karas with respect but "once they saw that his statements didn't serve their interests, they relegated him to the outer reaches of space, the same thing they did with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. It's SYRIZA a la carte." The spokesman called on the party to clarify its position and decide whether they want Greece to stay in Europe or not.

    [14] SYRIZA spokesman on EU official's statement

    Main opposition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panagiotis Skourletis on Thursday characterized the statement of European Parliament Vice President Othmar Karas on Alexis Tsipras as "a vulgar and false attack".

    "We all know the political friendship between himself and (Prime Minister Antonis) Samaras," Skourletis said at private TV station Ant1.

    Karas said that he met with Tsipras in Strasbourg for over an hour and asked him about his experience as the main opposition leader, about his goals and proposals and for an hour he had nothing to say. "The only thing he said is that he supports the European Parliament and he wants to give it a more central role in the negotiations with the troika," he noted.

    SYRIZA in a statement early on Thursday described the comments "false and slanderous claims" and attributed the whole issue to a wrong translation. "Tsipras' reaction was attributed to a mistake in the translation of Karas' words. Specifically, the party's announcement claimed that "Tsipras" in Karas' question was translated as "Cyprus", which led to the question being misunderstood," according to the announcement.

    [15] MEP Karas should publicly apologize, SYRIZA says

    Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday asked European Parliament deputy Othmar Karas to make a public apology for his comments concerning SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, particularly his claim that Tsipras did not present any proposals for Greece's exit from the crisis during their meeting in Strasbourg.

    SYRIZA pointed out that Karas may not be brave enough to take back his comments concerning his meeting with Tsipras. Nevertheless, SYRIZA added, Karas had admitted receiving SYRIZA's detailed proposals for an exit from the crisis, as had another member of the EU Parliament committee investigating the troika's role in Euro area countries entering bailout programmes.

    Karas, and those who cited his comments, should publicly apologize, SYRIZA said.

    [16] SYRIZA MEP Hountis on Karas' statements

    SYRIZA MEP Nikos Hountis underlined on Thursday that European Parliament Vice President Othmar Karas, heading the European Parliament committee on the troika, "tries to serve, for ideological and political reasons, the hopeless effort made by Mr. Samaras and Mr. Venizelos".

    In an interview with ANA-MPA, Hountis spoke about "political intervention in domestic political developments" and of an effort of "bad taste" to "support the Greek government propaganda using false evidence".

    He said that Karas is trying to hinder the work of the committee, namely to record correctly the consequences of the troika policies in Greece, because it would be against the memorandum, noting that (Karas) also tries to support the efforts made by the government.

    Hountis underlined that Karas' allegations were refuted by French Socialist MEP Liem Hoang Ngoc, a co-rapporteur of the European Parliament committee.

    [17] FM Venizelos on EU official's comments regarding SYRIZA leader

    Government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos called on main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday to give up pronouncements to create impressions domestically and not underestimate the difficulty of international negotiations.

    Commenting on statements Wednesday by visiting European Parliament Vice President Othmar Karas in Greek Parliament regarding his meeting with Tsipras in Strasbourg, Venizelos said that "the whole issue shows that words domestically are easy, but negotiation abroad is very difficult," adding, "Without something specific, responsible and tangible to say we cannot defend the country's interests and cannot improve conditions to serve Greece's interests."

    The Foreign minister was in Parliament to respond to an urgent question by Independent Greeks (ANEL) leader Panos Kammenos on the name issue for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    "Greece is prepared to accept a compound name with a geographic qualifier on the term 'Macedonia' that will explicitly differentiate this state from the Greek Macedonia, and, of course, we want such a name, erga omnes - a name for every use, domestic and international, bilateral and multilateral," Venizelos said.

    This position is expressed at all meetings Greece has, including with the UN Secretary General and with UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz and at other international fora. He said however that FYRoM "does not accept Greece's position because undoubtedly the other side has no intention to come to talks, does not respect international law and does not respect the moderation in attitude and the creative and responsible stance of the Greek side."

    [18] ND MEP Koumoutsakos on Tsipras' meeting with European Parliament committee evaluating the troika's role

    New Democracy (ND) MEP George Koumoutsakos on Thursday accused Greece's main opposition party Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) of "exporting" its lack of reliability to Europe. The MEP was replying to media questions concerning the controversy that has arisen between SYRIZA and MEP Othmar Karas, the chair of a European Parliament committee conducting an inquiry into the role of the troika in euro area countries that entered fiscal adjustment programmes, concerning his meeting with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on December 11, 2013 in Strasbourg.

    Koumoutsakos said that it is not a secret among MEPs that in the meeting, Tsipras' "contribution" was limited to tabling a text listing the consequences of the troika's policies.

    "To the repeated questions by Mr. Karas on whether he has specific proposals to present, SYRIZA's leader followed the familiar and comfortable tactic by not responding or presenting a specific proposal," Koumoutsakos underlined.

    "Then silent, now loud," he said, adding that "SYRIZA's unreliability is now being exported to Europe".

    [19] Europarliament deputy Karas says his statements over Tsipras are not contradictory

    Europarliament deputies Othmar Karas and Hoang Ngoc on Thursday contradicted each other regarding the meeting they had with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras during a press conference at the European Parliament offices in Athens.

    Austrian Europarliament deputy Karas pointed out there was no contradiction nor did he do any corrections compared to the previous day, responding to a remark by SYRIZA Europarliament deputy Nikos Hountis that Karas had restated and corrected a previous comment.

    Referring to Tsipras, Karas said that SYRIZA leader had given them a text and had offered his support to their work. He clarified though that he did not intend to interpret or evaluate Tsipras' work.

    French socialist Ngoc said Tsipras did not go to Strasbourg without a proposal, but with a text termed as "Greek bail-out programme", which the two Europarliament deputies included in the agenda of their report and refers to points 17 and 18 regarding the social impact of the troika's policy in Greece.

    [20] KKE on the European Parliament committee reviewing the troika' practices

    Opposition Communist Party (KKE) on Thursday said that the findings of the European Parliament committee reviewing the troika policies in bailout member states, do not question the anti-popular measures that have been approved by the European Parliament.

    KKE also underlined that the goal of the committee and those who are in favour of it, is to beautify the EU and its bodies in a period when more people realize the EU's anti-popular nature.

    [21] Gov't spokesman rules out early elections

    Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Thursday ruled out the possibility of early elections.

    "There is no possibility of national elections; we need to finish our work," Kedikoglou said at private TV station Mega.

    "Negotiations with troika are under way and they will return when the discussion on technical issues is completed," he noted. He also expressed optimism about reaching an agreement before the Eurogroup on February 17.

    [22] ND Parliamentary delegation to visit Kefalonia on Sunday and Monday

    The general secretary of the Parliamentary Group of New Democracy Athanasios Bouras along with two members will visit Kefalonia on Sunday and Monday.

    Members will be briefed by authorities on the island and will record the problems caused by the recent earthquake in order to inform ND's parliamentary Group and facilitate parliamentary control, thus assisting in the implementation of the prime minister's orders for continuous monitoring of the disaster relief effort on the island and the restoration of damages.

    [23] FM to meet Norwegian counterpart on Friday

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is to meet Norway's Finance Minister Siv Jensen and Norway's Ambassador to Greece Sjur Larsen on Friday. The meeting will take place at 11.30, according to a ministry statement.

    [24] Administrative Reform Minister Mitsotakis addresses event on 'open government'

    Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Deputy Minister Evi Christofilopoulou on Thursday stressed that citizens must have open access to public data for the benefit of economic growth, transparency and democracy, while addressing a workshop on "Open Government - Open

    Data: A challenge to Economic Growth" held at the National Centre for Public Administration and Local Government.

    Referring to Open Government, Mitsotakis said that it is very timely because it can help bridge the confidence gap between political leadership and citizens and also, because open data can become a catalyst in the country's efforts for economic growth.

    On her part, Christofilopoulou noted that an Open Government that respects citizens creates opportunities and brings to the foreground new production forces that the country needs.

    A ministerial decision defining the ways in which such data can be accessible to citizens will be presented shortly to the social partners before being put to public debate.

    [25] There are no political motives for terrorists, Public Order Minister says

    There are no political motives for terrorists and murderers are just murderers, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said on Thursday. "Terrorism hits first the weak, the unemployed and the poor," Dendias said adding that "in a climate of terror, there are no investments."

    On the issue of illegal immigrants to Greece, he said: "We have expressed our disagreement with the view that the country the immigrant enters is responsible for him. We cannot be responsible, responsibility should be allocated." He added that the quality of illegal immigrants in Greece "is tragic". "Immigrants of the former Soviet Union to Sweden have an educational level, but we in Greece are dealing with immigrants from Bangladesh and Afghanistan, with a different, from another world. This is our misfortune," he added.

    [26] Greek police delegation in Tirana to examine self-professed hit man

    Greek authorities on Thursday said that a Greek police delegation currently in Tirana will question an Albanian detainee who has made allegations concerning death contracts and acts of terrorism in Greece. The police officers were already in Tirana in order to examine 28-year-old Albanian jailbreaker Ilir Kupa, who escaped from a prison in Trikala, Greece.

    Another Albanian national arrested by local police, Julian Sinanaj, said during questioning by Albanian police that he has carried out several contract killings in both Albania and Greece. He also claimed to have planted a bomb at the Thessaloniki courthouse in May 2010, which is attributed to the terror group "Conspiracy of Cells of Fire".

    Albanian authorities do suspect Sinanaj of being a hired killer and have charged him for the murders of at least two people in Vlore, in 2012 and 2013, respectively, as well as with making bombs.

    The Greek police officers have reservations about the veracity of Sinanai's claims, since he initially spoke of some 40 killings carried out in Albania and Greece under questioning but then revised the figure downward to 20 death contracts in Greece.

    Police say it is possible that the greater part of his testimony is a fiction, but do not entirely rule out the possibility that there is some basis in fact since, for at least one of the killings that he claims to have perpetrated in Greece the investigation carried out by the authorities in Greece has turned up evidence that backs up his story.

    [27] Former Defence ministry official describes 'the routes of illegal money'

    Former Defense ministry official Antonis Kantas described on Wednesday in his testimony before examining magistrates the "routes of illegal money" in armaments programs.

    According to sources, Kantas testified on illegal money given to the German defense company Wegmann, citing details on the procedures followed before signing the agreements as well as people involved.

    Though the magistrates did not order his detention on remand for the specific charge, allowing his release on condition he did not leave the country, Kantas remained in custody over the ongoing submarines and anti-aircraft systems cases that he allegedly received kickbacks for.

    Kantas had testified before examining magistrates Spyros Georgouleas and Christoforos Markou on charges of money-laundering and taking kickbacks in order to favour the German company Wegmann as the supplier of the self-propelled Howitzers.

    [28] Education minister to visit Cephalonia on Friday

    Cephalonia authorities are continuing efforts to restore damages and every day life on the earthquake stricken island, while Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos on Friday will inspect the island's schools.

    The head of the Ionian Islands Prefecture Spyros Spyrou told ANA-MPA that "we are trying to restore everyday life in Cephalonia. Residents, especially in Lixouri and nearby villages, are facing quite a few problems but the state mechanism has supported them since the beginning."

    Spyrou said that authorities continue recording damages on houses and other buildings.

    "We continue recording damages. We are now checking houses. Some schools are having problems and certain prefab halls have been transferred to island so that students can continue their lessons. Education minister Arvanitopoulos, who will arrive tomorrow morning, will inspect those facilities."

    [29] ND, Varvitsiotis lash out on SYRIZA over invasion at shipping minister's political office

    New Democracy on Thursday lashed out on main opposition party, saying "Today's unprovoked attack by SYRIZA youth against the offices of (Shipping Minister) Miltiadis Varvitsiotis are a disgrace for democracy."

    "The violent invasion, the insults, the threats and the vandalism is a 'peaceful show' according to SYRIZA," ND said.

    "That is obviously opposed to burning shops, terrorist actions and murders, occupations of buildings to manufacture petrol bombs and a series of other unlawful acts, which SYRIZA defends vigorously," New Democracy added.

    Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis put out a statement on the incident, saying "The violent invasion, the damage and the insults by SYRIZA members in my political office today is not a political act. They are extreme acts of intimidation and targeting that are not related to Democracy, and for this they should be condemned by the political parties that are committed to democracy."

    Forty-five people were detained by police outside the political office of Varvitsiotis in central Athens on Thursday, following incidents during a protest related to the recent accident involving undocumented migrants off Farmakonissi.

    [30] 45 detained after protest outside Shipping minister's political office

    Forty-five people were detained by police outside the political office of Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis in central Athens on Thursday, following incidents during a protest related to the recent accident involving undocumented migrants off Farmakonissi.

    The detainees, mainly members of the "Unity of the Left" students' movement, have been taken to Athens police headquarters. Main opposition SYRIZA party deputies and supporters have gathered outside the police building, demanding their release.

    About 50-60 people had entered the building shouting and putting stickers on the walls on their way to the minister's office on the seventh floor, where they were planning to present a resolution. Office staff kept the glass doors shut and the protesters left the building, spraying the outer walls with graffiti.

    [31] Protest marches in Athens, Thessaloniki over Farmakonissi incident

    Leftist and pro-migrant organisations in Athens and the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki held marches late on Thursday night to protest against an incident near the islet of Farmakonissi, where several migrants were drowned after their craft had been intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard, in what some of them subsequently claimed was a botched pushback operation.

    The Athens march was held along Vassilisis Sofias Avenue to the offices of the European Union in Athens and was preceded by an anti-racist rally at Propylaia. The march in Thessaloniki, which ended shortly after 20:00, passed through the city centre.

    The protestors demanded that those responsible for the Farmakonissi tragedy, whose victims included nine children, be punished and that the bodies of those drowned be retrieved from the sunken fishing boat. They also called for the illegal migrants rescued be given shelter and asylum.

    [32] Venizelos on the recent political developments in Tunisia

    Government vice-president and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday commented on the recent political developments in Tunisia, noting that the adoption of a new Constitution and the formation of a government under the new Prime Minister, Mehdi Jomaa, are milestones in Tunisia's course towards democratic reform, progress and economic growth.

    He said that Greece congratulates the people and political forces of Tunisia on their willingness to work together and on their real desire for progress in their country.

    Venizelos expressed certainty that the effort to consolidate democratic reform in the country will continue, adding that Greece expresses its solidarity and that the EU will stand by Tunisia's efforts towards democracy, peace and economic growth.

    [33] Navy and National Defence General Staff conclude exercises in northern, central Aegean

    The Navy's exercise "ASTRAPI" and the National Defence General Staff's exercise "PYRPOLITIS" have been concluded successfully, according to an announcement on Thursday. The exercises were carried out in the region of the central and northern Aegean.

    "ASTRAPI" had been underway since January 28 until Thursday with the participation of Greek Navy frigates, general support ships, missile boats, submarines, helicopters and the Underwater Demolitions Administration staff, while there was cooperation with Air Force aircraft on Wednesday as well.

    According to reports, at the same time on Thursday, in the early hours, and in the framework of the PYRPOLITIS exercise, a part of the air forces of the rapid reaction force was activated, on a scenario based on an attack on a naval force in a region of the central Aegean. According to the same reports, the exercise was held to the west of the island of Chios.

    [34] Joint training of Greek, US squadrons

    The Hellenic Air Force 31 Search & Rescue Operations Squadron and the US Air Force 37th Airlift Squadron, part of the 86th Airlift Wing in Ramstein Air Base in Germany, will undergo joint training on February 1-15, it was announced on Thursday.

    During the training, which will take place in the Greek mainland, paratrooper units will participate.

    [35] President Papoulias receives Reform Network officials

    President Karolos Papoulias received the president of the Network on Reform in Greece, Anna Diamantopoulou, and seven more members of the Network at the Presidential Mansion on Thursday. The Network's members outlined their initiatives on education in countries harmed by the crisis in Europe.

    [36] ND deputy Giakoumatos says prosecution against his wife and brother was planned and organized

    New Democracy MP Gerassimos Giakoumatos on Thursday claimed that a prosecution against his wife and brother for inaccurate tax information was planned and organized and not related to institutional bodies or 'disappointed' citizens.

    He also stated that it was a personal, political attack and that he has no business ties with the retirement home managed by his wife and brother.

    The trial of the wife and brother of Giakoumatos, who were arrested on Monday for tax-related offences, was postponed by the Misdemeanours Court for February 11.

    Financial News

    [37] Entrepreneurship in Greece shows signs of recovery, IOBE survey

    Greece fell to the 12th place in an international list of innovation countries in 2012, from 4th in 2011, as an unprecedented economic recession took its toll on new investments and business start-ups, a survey by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research said on Thursday.

    In spite of this, the survey also noted two interesting findings, which indicated the beginning of a change in climate in Greece. The first is that the percentage of citizens saying there would be business opportunities in the next six months was 12.9 pct in 2012, up from 10.9 pct in the previous year. The second is that more Greeks thought that entrepreneurship was a good career choice (64.4 pct in 2012 from 61 pct in 2011).

    The survey on business activity in Greece in the period 2012-2013 was conducted by IOBE in cooperation with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and highlights business activity issues in the country.

    The survey showed that the early stages entrepreneurship in the age group 18-64 fell to 6.5 pct in 2012, from 8.0 pct in 2011, while early data showed that the index could fall to 5.5 pct in 2013. Established entrepreneurship was 12.3 pct in Greece, the highest performance in the list, surpassing the average rate of Group A countries (their economies are based on the exploitation of primary production factors). This figures enhances the view that Greece remains an economy of small businessmen.

    The survey also showed that the percentage of businessmen who cited need as their basic incentive for running a business fell steadily in the years before the crisis, but this trend has halted abruptly since 2008, with almost three out of 10 businessmen citing need as their basic incentive to begin a business.

    In Greece, more than 50 pct of new enterprises were product and services to final consumer in 2012. This rate has fallen significantly during the crisis because of a sharp decline in consumer demand. The survey noted it was clear that the crisis has set in motion restructuring procedures even at the level of small entrepreneurship.

    The percentage of Greeks who terminated their business activity in 2012 in the previous 12-month period was 2.4 pct, significantly lower compared with a 3.0 pct rate in 2011. Lack of profitability was the main reason for such a decision (48.9 pct), compared with a 28.6 pct average in other innovation countries. On the other hand, however, only 6.6 pct of Greek businessmen cited funding problems, while the international average was 10.9 pct. A 37.3 pct of Greeks also said that retirement was a basic reason for terminating their business (6.8 pct in other countries).

    [38] Greek unemployment to fall to 26 pct in 2014, IOBE report

    Greek unemployment rate is expected to fall to 26 pct of the workforce in 2014, from 27.3 pct in 2013, the first decline since 2008, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.

    IOBE, in a quarterly report on the Greek economy, attributed an expected decline in unemployment to rising investment activity, higher exports and reforms in the labour market in the last two years. It also expects a decline in rising employment in the public sector due to a restructuring programme (around 10,000 dismissals are projected this year).

    IOBE said that Greece will remain in a deflation trend (-0.3 pct in 2014 from -0.9 pct in 2013) and projected that the Greek economy will shrink by 4.0 pct in 2013 before stabilizing. IOBE said that it did not exclude the possibility of a new small decline in the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2014.

    Professor Nikos Vettas, director general of IOBE, said the government should take advantage of a primary surplus signalling a policy towards a prudent fiscal policy with a systematic gradual reduction of the country's deficits. At the same time, the government should seek stable growth rates and the mobilisation of its partners and creditors to implement debt restructuring procedures.

    A primary surplus by itself is not adequate to lead to a long-term solution and should not be used for purposes undermining growth and signalling a return to the past, Vettas noted. He underlined that the European Parliament elections and local elections could reignite political controversy and delay implementation of the necessary structural reforms in the country.

    [39] Entrepreneurs should leave skepticism behind, Greek-American Chamber of Commerce says

    The Greek business community should leave scepticism behind and become a catalyst in restarting the economy, the head of the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce Simos Anastassopoulos said during the traditional New Year's cake-cutting event of the Chamber.

    Deputy Development Minister Thanassis Skordas noted that 2013 was a very difficult year and expressed the wish that 2014 would be the year of the exit to the markets and the start of a new growth cycle.

    US Ambassador to Greece David Pearce termed the United States as a one of the oldest and the most significant partners of Greece. Addressing the business audience, he said they could help Greece in productivity and competitiveness issues.

    Anastassopoulos pointed out that the chamber would continue its export-oriented activities in a bid to strengthen entrepreneurship and help conclude reforms.

    [40] Agriculture minister Tsaftaris addresses Agrotica trade fair

    Agricultural Development and Food minister Athanasios Tsaftaris on Thursday evening appeared optimistic that should Greece depends on farming it would succeed to be driven to sustainable growth conditions. Addressing an audience during the opening ceremony of the Agrotica trade fair in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Tsaftaris reassured that as the country makes efforts to recover, "the government is on farmers' side, not against them."

    The minister announced that Greece, in its capacity as EU president, has reached agreement on the new Common Fisheries Policy, underlining the importance of fisheries for Greek exports.

    "I had promised you that our strategic choice was to turn Greek agriculture from a low-cost one to a quality agriculture," Tsaftaris told farmers, stressing the need to capitalise on the farming sector's educated and trained people.

    He also announced plans for hiring 100 specialists in applied farming research.

    Earlier, Tsaftaris met with farmers' representative from the Halkidiki area, mainly olive oil producers. The government is open to dialogue and tries to provide solutions to farmers' concerns, he said after the end of the meeting.

    President of Thessaloniki Trade Fair-Helexpo Tasos Tzikas estimated that more than 100,000 visitors will be registered at this year's Agrotica, as its space is double in floor area compared to previous years.

    [41] Intralot announces new organizational structure

    Intralot on Thursday announced its new organizational structure and the members of the Executive Committee, who will report directly to the group CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos.

    The company will be organized around three distinct divisions: Products & Services, Global Operations & Sales and Technology.

    The new members of the executive committee will be the following:

    - Socrates S. Kokkalis is appointed Group Deputy Chief Executive Officer

    - Ioannis Pantoleon is appointed Group Chief Operating Officer, for all Global Operations and Sales

    - George Zenzefilis? is appointed Group Chief Products & Services Officer.

    - Konstantinos Farris is appointed Group Chief Technology Officer.

    - Athanasios Chronas is appointed Group Chief Legal & Compliance Counsel.

    - Antonios Kerastaris is appointed Group Chief Financial Officer.

    - Nikos Nikolakopoulos is appointed President Latin America, Western Europe & Africa.

    [42] J&P AVAX wins 700-mln-euro road project contract in Qatar

    A consortium between J&P AVAX SA and J&P Overseas won an international tender to build a road project in Qatar, worth around 700 million euros.

    The Greek-listed company announced the signing of a contract to build a project titled "Design and Construct New Orbital Highway and Truck Route - Contract 1: New Doha Port to Orbital Highway". The contract was signed with Qatar's public works authority ASHGHAL. The project has a deadline for completion in 36 months.

    J&P AVAX has signed work projects worth 1.05 billion euros in Qatar.

    [43] Tax service to place lien on inherited property until related debts on it are paid

    The tax service will place a lien on inherited property awaiting a transfer of ownership until outstanding debts on it are paid; it was announced on Wednesday night.

    According to a provision in the latest tax law, the title to a property designated by parents as inheritance may not be transferred to their children until all outstanding debts linked to the property are paid.

    The same rule will be applied to any property on sale as well.

    The tax service said the measure was a way of guaranteeing that debts were paid.

    [44] Deputy Dev't minister visits London

    Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis on Friday will have separate meetings with British Trade Minister Lord Ian Livingston and City of London Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf in London, according to a ministry statement.

    [45] Sea cruise passenger traffic in Greek ports up 3.34 pct in 2013

    Sea cruise passenger traffic in the country' s 42 sea cruise ports grew 3.34 pct to 5,661,867 passengers in 2013, from 5,478,620 passengers in 2012, official figures showed on Thursday.

    A report by the Association of Greek Ports showed that a total of 4,288 ship arrivals were recorded in the country's 42 ports in 2013, from 4,753 in 2012.

    Piraeus port reported a 7.83 pct increase in sea cruise passenger traffic last year, while a number of sea cruise companies selected new Greek destinations, such as Gythio (+520 pct), Zakynthos (+506 pct), Thessaloniki (+82 pct), Kos (+57 pct), Mytilene (+42 pct), Volos (+82 pct), Igoumenitsa (+154 pct) and Kavala (+61 pct). New destinations with significant participation in the last few years are also Chania, Patmos, Kefalonia and Aghios Nikolaos (Crete).

    On other hand, "classic" destinations such as Santorini (-7.25 pct), Mykonos (-10.65 pct) and Rhodes (-13.19 pct) recorded declines. Port officials expect sea cruise vessel arrivals to be lower this year, although passenger traffic is expected to have only minor changes. Sea cruise officials said that instability in the Eastern Mediterranean is negatively affecting sea tourism in the region.

    [46] Two-day European conference on Regional Development and Employment

    The European Parliament Office in Greece and the Representation of the European Commission in Greece are holding a conference on "Regional Development and Employment - Athens' Potential" on Friday, from 13:30 to 16:45, at the Athens 9.84 FM amphitheatre, 100 Pireos Street.

    Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis will make the introductory speech. Other speeches by MEPs Marietta Giannakou, Nikos Chrysogelos, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Thodoris Skylakakis and Georgios Papanikolaou will follow. Ambassador of Holland to Greece Jan Versteeg will also speak.

    On Saturday, Feb.1, a conference on "Regional Development and Employment - Piraeus' Potential as a Development Port" will be held at the Saint Paul's amphitheatre, 229-231 Kountouriotou Street.

    [47] PPI falls 0.2 percent in December year-on-year, ELSTAT says

    The producer price index in industry (PPI) fell 0.2 pct in December 2013 on a yearly basis, according to data released by Greece's statistics agency ELSTAT on Thursday.

    The index had recorded a 1.9 pct rise in December 2012 compared to December 2011.

    On a monthly basis, PPI rose 0.2 pct. The index had recorded a 0.3 pct fall in December 2012 compared to November 2012.

    The 12-month average index, from January 2013 to December 2013, compared to the same index of the period January-December 2012 decreased by 0.9 pct. The previous year the 12-month average index had increased 4.7 pct.

    [48] Greek stocks rebound strongly on Thursday

    Greek stocks rebounded strongly on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, recovering after a four-day decline which pushed the composite index of the market 7.92 pct lower. The index jumped 2.62 pct to end at 1,155.81 points, off the day's highs of 1,171.74 points. Turnover remained a moderate 81.75 million euros. The Large Cap index rose 2.67 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.41 pct higher. National Bank (5.38 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (4.77 pct), Mytilineos (4.63 pct) and Piraeus Bank (4.38 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks. All sectors ended higher with the Media (5.71 pct), Banks (4.58 pct), Financial Services (4.40 pct) and Raw Materials (4.10 pct) recording the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 107 to 34 with another 17 issues unchanged. Douros (19.92 pct), Kreka (19.39 pct) and Boutaris (18.52 pct) were top gainers, while Alpha Grissin (19.05 pct), Teletypos (17.86 pct) and Logismos (13.29 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.76%

    Industrial Products: +1.01%

    Commercial: +0.47%

    Construction: +1.32%

    Oil & Gas: +2.31%

    Personal & Household: +0.51%

    Raw Materials: +4.31%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.39%

    Media: +5.71%

    Technology: +1.70%

    Telecoms: +4.07%

    Banks: +4.58%

    Food & Beverages: +2.14%

    Health: +1.81%

    Utilities: +3.07%

    Financial Services: +4.40%

    Chemicals: +0.96%

    Real Estate: +2.65%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OTE, Piraeus Bank, Motor Oil and National Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.65

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.55

    Coca Cola HBC: 20.13

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.03

    National Bank of Greece: 3.33

    Eurobank Properties : 7.39

    OPAP: 9.63

    OTE: 10.48

    Piraeus Bank: 1.67

    Titan: 18.80

    [49] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened again to 7.08 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 6.97 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.79 pct and the German Bund yielding 1.71 pct. Turnover totaled 16 million euros, mostly buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates fell across the board. The 12-month rate fell to 0.562 pct from 0.566 pct, the nine-month rate eased to 0.487 pct from 0.49 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.399 pct from 0.402 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.298 pct from 0.30 pct and the one-month rate fell to 0.232 pct from 0.237 pct.

    [50] ADEX closing report

    The February contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.20 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 32.375 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,746 contracts worth 22.167 million euros, with 46,472 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,851 contracts worth 10.208 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (4,277), followed by National Bank (2,884), Piraeus Bank (4,225), MIG (970), OTE (3,271), PPC (2,384), OPAP (701), Hellenic Exchanges (222), Mytilineos (842), Hellenic Petroleum (193), Motor Oil (163), GEK (145), Ellaktor (215), Intralot (177) and Frigoglass (155).

    [51] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.377

    Pound sterling 0.836

    Danish kroner 7.574

    Swedish kroner 8.967

    Japanese yen 141.37

    Swiss franc 1.241

    Norwegian kroner 8.595

    Canadian dollar 1.540

    Australian dollar 1.569

    General News

    [52] International prize 'Nikos Kazantzakis' launched

    The International Society of Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis (ISFNK) on Thursday announced the launch of the International Prize Nikos Kazantzakis, which will be awarded in October 2016 in Athens, inviting visual and performance artists and musicians to enter their work for consideration. The competition is open to all 'original artistic creations', including paintings, prints, photographs, music, theatre, dance, film, documentaries and television series.

    During its recent World Assembly held in Melbourne, the ISFNK also decided to collect and publish the great Cretan writer's letters.

    As stated in the prospectus of ISFNK "Synthesis" (which apart from English, French, Greek, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian will be also published in Japanese, Chinese and German) Nikos Kazantzakis was a great letter writer. He exchanged hundreds of letters with his family, friends and various writers and people in the arts and letters.

    Eleni Kazantzaki (his wife) had already published letters to Pantelis Prevelakis while the 'Nikos Kazantzakis Museum' has published more letters and recently his correspondence with the Aggelaki family. Last year Peter Bien published a large number of letters in English translation, a work considered important.

    The ISFNK stressed the need to set up an international committee to undertake the collection of letters, their classification and their publication.

    [53] Exhibit on perceptions of the ancient Greeks on death and Hades to travel to New York

    Seventy-nine ancient Greek works of art from ten state museums and collections are to travel to New York as part of the exhibition 'Epekeina' (or 'beyond'), which deals with the way that ancient Greeks viewed death and the 'hereafter' in Hades. It is organised by the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, in collaboration with the Onassis Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and Sport. at the headquarters of the institution in New York.

    The exhibition, which will be held at the Onassis Foundation's base in New York, will run from December 10, 2014 until March 14, 2015. It will then return to Athens and remain on display at Cycladic Art Museum from April 14 to June 21, 2015. 'Beyond ' is the last part of a trilogy which began at the Museum in 2010 with 'Eros: From Hesiod's

    Theogony to Late Antiquity' and will continue in November 2014 with 'Healing: Health, Illness, Treatment in antiquity from Homer to Galen'.

    'Beyond' is divided into five sections, with the first one including projects related to the moment of death, like presentations depicting the sacrifice of Iphigenia and Polyxeni or the murders of Clytemnestra and Cassandra, while the focus is on a variety of emotions of the protagonists. The second section refers to the rich funerary ritual. Vases, figurines and offerings that accompanied the dead "speak " for the preparation, lament, transport and burial, while items like golden masks, wreaths and grave marks indicate perceptions of the ancients about life after death. The 'special' dead, those that died during the war or died very young or suddenly, present a great interest.

    The third section is called 'Homeric Hades' and is dedicated to information provided by the epics of Homer and other epic poets of the underworld as reflected in ancient artifacts. The Bacchic-Orphic Hades of the next section includes references to the mystery cults, which flourished from the 6th century BC and were dedicated to Dionysus, Orpheus, Persephone and Demeter. Among them are the gold plates, the 'tickets' to another life on which instructions for the journey or the name of the mystic were engraved. Plato's views on the afterlife have a special place in the fifth section where one can find the 'Throne of Boston' the marble relief of the 5th century BC exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which illustrates an interesting aspect of Plato's Hades.

    The exhibition will be accompanied by works from foreign museums, including the Archaeological Museum of Basel, the National Library of Paris, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

    [54] Seminar on nanotechnology use in medicine, especially cancer, held at Athens University

    Nanomedicine as the 'wave of the future' in medical practice, especially in the treatment of cancer, was the focus of a seminar held at the University of Athens on Thursday. Speakers stressed that all the parties involved in Greece - doctors, the healthcare system, education, research bodies and industry - must do everything they can to promptly adopt the relevant technologies and treatments. The workshop was organized in the central hall of Athens University by Greek representatives of the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine (ETPN).

    The event took place in the context of today's 'Nano-World Cancer Day', a European action in 13 countries (including Greece) which took place shortly before World Cancer Day (February 4) under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT) and University of Athens.

    Nanomedicine is a rapidly growing segment of medicine that uses nanoparticles, (matter manipulated at an atomic or molecular level) for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, particularly for diseases like cancer. As pointed out, all of the three main "weapons" against cancer (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery) can be improved by using nanotech applications.

    Around 250 drugs and other nanomedicine products have already been used or tested clinically in humans. About 60 of them are already on the market, whose size is expected to surpass $100 billion by 2014 and reach 130 billion by 2016 . More than 500 small nanomedicine companies are already operating in Europe and ETPN is the relevant 'forum' with 130 members, mainly companies. Nanomedicine products are eventually forecast to represent 10 pct of the total pharmaceutical market.

    The head of the GSRT Dr Christos Vasilakos stressed the importance of nanomedicine applications in Greece, especially for cancer and stressed the need to inform and sensitise the Greek public.

    He sees the participation of Greece in the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine ( ETRN ) as very important and stressed that new types of drugs and general medical applications of nanotechnology will be a priority of the General Secretariat. At the same time, however, he added that nanomedicine raises issues of bioethics and environmental protection which should be studied.

    Penelope Bouzioti, responsible for the laboratory of radiochemistry research at the 'Demokritos' institute said that, although there is still a lack of trust from the public, nanomedicine applications are important in four areas: early diagnosis (better imaging, nano-sensors, nano-biopsy, pill-camera, etc.) nano-drugs, nano-assisted regenerative medicine and nano-devices (nano-robots) within the body.

    [55] Search still on for Dutch-flagged sailboat and sailor

    A search at sea is continuing for the 27-year-old who went missing at noon two days ago on a Dutch-flagged sailing boat.

    The young man was the sole passenger of the sailboat, which had left the Alimos marina south of Athens and headed for Lavrio, on the southeastern Attica coast. The Coast Guard is employing speedboats and a helicopter in the search.

    [56] Police dismantle large drug trafficking group in Chania

    Police in Chania, on the island of Crete, on Thursday announced an island-wide operation to dismantle a drug-trafficking gang. After three months of surveillance, 16 people were arrested and charges drawn up against 19 more people.

    The head of the Chania security police announced that those arrested were aged from 26 to 52 years old and face charges of criminal association, possession and trafficking of drugs, and money-laundering.

    According to him the mastermind of the gang is a 52-year-old man currently being held on remand for drug trafficking charges, while his assistant was another inmate. Those arrested were found in possession of 532 grammes of heroin and quantities of cannabis. The police seized four private cars used for drug trafficking, 16 mobile phones and the sum of 1600 euros.

    Lately, the Chania police have stepped up efforts to fight drug trafficking. As announced by Chania police chief Artemis Koutsaftakis, 11 criminal gangs have been dismantled during the last year, 65 people were arrested and 26 kilos of cannabis, 774 grammes of heroin , 397 grammes of cocaine and 1333 narcotic pills have been seized in Chania.

    [57] Travelling tobacco exhibition reconstructs long-gone trade routes

    A traveling exhibition on the history of tobacco and its historical routes in Europe which began on January 22 in the northern Greek city of Drama and will be shown in Xanthi and Thessaloniki before ending up at the Benaki Museum in Athens.

    "Kapnos-Tabak" will be following the same traveling route the commerce of tobacco took a century ago within Greece.

    The exhibition focuses on the influence accepted by the influence of architecture (tobacco shops, corporate offices and tobacco merchants' homes) from European and mainly Austrian trends, dating from the mid-19th century until the interwar period.

    Maria Radetzi, a historian and associate professor at the National Technical University who is curating the exhibition, said the the tobacco trade's network was extensive and the exhibit shows the role cities played during the Ottoman rule. "In the early twentieth century, cultivation, trading and processing of tobacco leaves for export was the main economic activity in the cities of Kavala, Xanthi, Drama and Thessaloniki," she told ANA-MPA.

    Spyros Flevaris, an architect-engineer at the Graz University of Technology, explained the structure of the show, which he said is divided into five sections: tobacco, trading, technology, tobacco shops and architecture. The first three sections provide a general introduction: tobacco as an agricultural product; its trading path and the foreign banks' introduction into Greece; and the different technologies used for tobacco processing.

    Tobacco, Flevaris told ANA-MPA, was a great economic growth factor and considered key in empowering Greeks in areas that were under Ottoman occupation. The growth of the sector attracted foreigners who came to live here and helped the industry develop. On the other hand, tobacco also became an exotic luxury product, around which an entire culture of smoking was built, as its cultivation was risky but brought huge profits as well.

    "The exhibition's goal is for the history of tobacco to be retold through its trading routes, this time in a different way, by using the power of images and objects," added Radetzi.

    Exhibits in the show include an Austrian tobacco cutting machine of the early twentieth century, Austrian monopoly cigarette packages of the same era, a series of hitherto unknown photos from the Swedish Match Tobaks Museum, a large collection of photos from the archives of ELIA-MIET in Athens, photographs of from the University of Lausanne Paul Collart archive, as well as other rare, original photographs and objects.

    [58] Doctors and hospital employees hold strike on Feb 6

    The federations of doctors and employees at public hospitals and the umbrella social security fund EOPYY, Greece's medical association and dentists' federation have called a strike on Thursday, February 6, protesting the bill on health care that is being voted in Parliament on that day.

    They will also hold a rally outside the health ministry at 11.00 and a march to the Parliament, while they plan nationwide protests until the day of the vote.

    [59] Former FC president arrested for outstanding debts to the state

    Former president of Larissa FC Kostas Piladakis was arrested in Athens' Glyfada district for debts to the state of two companies he represents amounting to roughly 4 million euros, police announced on Thursday.

    Piladakis has been led before a prosecutor.

    Weather forecast

    [60] Overcast on Friday

    Overcast throughout Greece with light rain locally. Mostly easterly winds, 4 to 7 Beaufort. Temperatures from 0C to 17C. In Athens, overcast with north-northeasterly winds 4 to 6 Beaufort. Temperatures from 7C to 14C. In Thessaloniki, overcast with rain, especially in the west. Easterly winds 3 to 5 Beaufort. Temperatures from 4C to 9C.

    [61] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies

    AVGHI: "Restructuring of debt or austerity for decades" on visiting EU committee.

    DIMOKRATIA: "(Main opposition) SYRIZA's chaotic recipe" for the economy, due to internal strife.

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Replacing forests with concrete" on developers destroying rural Greece and the islands.

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Arguing about their special favours" between New Democracy and PASOK ahead of local and EU elections in May.

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The plan for 440,000 new job openings" on a two-year 1.5-bln euro program announced by the PM.

    ESTIA: "SYRIZA seeking economic chaos", judging from their speeches in Parliament on energy lately.

    ETHNOS: "Changes in retirement lump sums" which will be calculated differently and range around 24,000 euros.

    IMERISSIA: "Land exchange for building" offered by a draft law on public consideration to unblock building cooperatives.

    KATHIMERINI: "Justice suffers stroke" in terms of the backlog at courts, costing 7 bln euros to the state over lost taxes and fines.

    LOGOS: "400,000 opportunities for work" for the unemployed.

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "New land use bill against state arbitrariness" by local townships which build land improperly.

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Programs to recycle and take advantage of the unemployed" by the government.

    TA NEA: "A block to inherited houses over debts", about a new law placing liens on to-be transferred property until taxes are paid.

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