|Thursday, 15 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-08-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 2 August 2016 Issue No: 5219
 Greece and Bulgaria can be an axis of stability in the region, Tsipras and Borisov agreeSOFIA (ANA/ N. Lionakis)
The Greek-Bulgarian High-Level Cooperation Council held on here on Monday will allow Greece and Bulgaria, two highly important countries of the Balkan peninsula, to make a significant new start toward establishing very close and constructive relations, Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday, in joint statements with his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov after the Council ended.
Tsipras and Borisov pointed to the role of the two countries as pillars of stability within the surrounding region, at a time of generalised destabilisation in their neighbourhood, and noted their agreement for deeper cooperation within the EU and NATO in order to strengthen this role and to ensure security, stability, peace and growth in the region.
"Looking at recent developments in our neighbourhood, one sees that the need for cooperation is more urgent than ever," the Greek prime minister commented. He noted that there were major challenges to face as three parallel crises unfolded - the economic, refugee and security in Europe crises - and noted that Greece and Bulgaria fortunately remained outside the last of these as pillars of security and stability.
"Our cooperation will help so that we stay out of this crisis," he added. Developments in Turkey and the need to progress faster toward a "better, social and democratic Europe" demanded the closest possible cooperation between the two countries, he said.
The Greek and Bulgarian people had the wisdom to overcome any past differences and forge a relationship that was very constructive and mutually beneficial for both sides and for the region, Tsipras noted. Greece and Bulgaria could be a model for a constructive cooperative relationship to promote peace and stability in the region, between two countries in the EU and NATO, he added.
"We can do a lot together within the EU and NATO with a flexible policy benefiting both states," Borisov said, noting that relations between the two countries and their governments were marked by "personal relations and understanding" and that both sides had supported the other in times of crisis. Even though the two governments were from different political "families," he added, they agreed on issues of critical importance.
Tsipras gave his Bulgarian counterpart an open invitation to visit Athens, Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis to examine the progress of their initiatives and said there would be "open communication" between them.
Both prime ministers focused on the importance of energy cooperation between the two countries, with Tsipras noting it would play a pivotal role in their relations. He noted that the construction of the Interconnector Greece Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline as a section of the vertical corridor was a priority project that would boost the position of both countries on the region's energy map and bring multiple benefits.
Following the Council meeting, the government delegations from the two sides signed a series of bilateral agreements, including a Joint Declaration of the 3rd Greek-Bulgarian High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, a Joint Declaration on energy cooperation, an Executive Programme for Educational and Cultural Cooperation in 2016-2018, and a Joint Action Programme for Tourism in 2016-2018.
According to sources, emphasis was also given to infrastructure and dam management, with Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Christos Spirtzis and his Bulgarian counterpart called in during the Tsipras-Borisov meeting to discuss these issues in more detail, including plans to extend the Burgas-Alexandroupolis rail line. The Greek side emphasised the issue of water management on the Evros River through dams on the Bulgarian side to avoid flooding in winter months, while the Bulgarian side was open to suggestions for finding a solution.
 'Bulgaria is a strategic ally,' PM tells High-Level Cooperation CouncilIn his address to the Greek-Bulgarian High-Level Cooperation Council meeting held before the joint statements with Borisov, Tsipras had stressed that Greece's northeastern neighbour was a "strategic ally" in Athens' view.
"We consider Greece and Bulgaria can be an axis of stability in a difficult region, in a broader destabilised region, and at the same time also drag broader forces within the Balkans and the EU toward a prospect of stability and creative cooperation," Tsipras said.
Referring to his earlier private meeting with Borisov, the Greek prime minister said they had an opportunity to discuss crucial issues for the region in the wake of worrying developments in Turkey. These included the refugee crisis and the need for Greece and Bulgaria to play a constructive role within the EU in order to preserve the EU-Turkey agreement and keep refugee flows low, while continuing to put pressure on EU countries to continue relocation programmes.
They also noted a need for constructive projects in the areas of the economy, energy, transport, trade and tourism, especially the rail link between the ports of Burgas and Alexandroupolis, and the links through the TransAdriatic Pipeline (TAP) and IGB pipeline, the LNG station in Alexandroupolis, trade in agricultural goods and an increase in tourist flows, with an estimated one million tourists from Bulgaria expected in Greece this year and a matching increase in Greeks visiting Bulgaria.
According to sources, Borisov said that the Greek premier's visit was very positive and referred to the possibility for steady cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria, along the lines of France and Germany. He stressed the importance of preserving friendship and understanding in a destabilised region, adding, "We must generate more peace and more friendship in the Balkans."
 Urgent need for cooperation in times of instability, says PM TsiprasPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed the need for closer cooperation with Bulgaria in times of instability during his meeting with the country's President Rosen Plevneliev, at the Presidential Mansion in Sofia on Monday.
According to information, during the meeting Tsipras said the cooperation wouldn't be against third countries but would involve the peoples in the region. He also hailed Plevneliev's role in supporting closer bilateral relations and Bulgarian support of Greece during the refugee crisis. He then spoke of bilateral cooperation in tourism, energy, transport and the rail connection between Alexandroupolis and Burgas.
On his side, Plevneliev noted that strategic importance of bilateral cooperation in Europe, the refugee issue, energy, transport and infrastructure, tourism and the ongoing projects for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB). He also discussed the need for joint actions on a diplomatic level and responsible decisions for both countries and Europe. The Bulgarian President also thanked Greece for its help in the country's NATO and EU accession.
With this meeting, Tsipras concludes his official visit to Sofia.
 Upholding EU agreement on refugees in Turkey's interests, Alt. Defence Minister saysIt is in Turkey's financial and international interests to uphold the agreement with the European Union on the handling of refugees, Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas said in an interview on the state broadcaster ERT on Monday. He linked Turkey's European course to a non-revival of the death penalty in the neighbouring country, as well as to upholding the EU-Turkey agreement.
Using the issue of the refugees as a "political spearhead" would be a huge political mistake, Vitsas noted, but on the other hand, one had to also factor in the size of the aggressive action if Turkey's shores were left unguarded or the refugees were simply waved through.
"The Turkish coast guard has an obligation to guard Turkey's coastal borders. This is its own obligation in relation to the country, not its international obligation. The measures that we are taking concern the guarding of the sea borders and preparation for the reception of refugees and international procedures relating to political asylum," he said.
On the extradition of the eight Turkish military personnel that have sought refuge in Greece since the attempted coup in Turkey, Vitsas said this would be examined if their asylum application was denied but not if they were given political asylum on the basis of Greek and international law. Asked if this might have a negative impact on relations between Greece and Turkey, Vitsas noted that bilateral relations between states did not depend on such issues.
"It would be as if Greece's relations with Germany depended on the fact that Germany does not extradite Mr. Christoforakos (wanted in Greece in connection with the Siemens case). These are issues that affect but are not decisive," he added.
The minister also ruled out further cuts to wages for the military.
 We believe that we will set the fire under control very soon , says Alt. Citizen Protection Minister ToskasAlternate Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas on Monday visited the fire stricken area of Limni, northern Evia. "All means were used and the state mechanism was present from the first moment and all the local authorities thanked us for the good coordination and organisation as well as the cooperation with the local entities and the volunteers" he said in statements to AMNA.
"The result is already visible. The people are satisfied from the performance of the state mechanism provided that it was a difficult wildfire".
The minister said that they decide to declare the area in condition of emergency. It is a major wildfire and the best possible coordination is necessary, the weather conditions are expected to be better in the next days and we believe that very soon we will set the fire under control" noted Toskas.
 Wildfire in northern Evia under control"The condition with the major wildfire that raged throughout the weekend in the northern Evia was better on Monday. The town of Limni is not at risk any more" said Public Order secretary general Dimitris Anagnostakis to AMNA.
Currently, firemen assisted by four firefighting aircrafts and four water dropping helicopters are at the fire front in the area of Pefkeli.
 Main opposition ND asks for off-the-agenda debate on education in ParliamentMain opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has asked for an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on education issues, in a letter sent to Parliament President Nikos Voutsis on Monday. ND sources told the ANA they expect the discussion to take place in the first 10 days of September, before the start of the new school year.
In his letter, Mitsotakis criticises the education policy followed by the ruling coalition that he said acted as a "steam roller" over the country's education system, with decisions driven by "ideological obsessions and incompetence" that seriously downgraded public education and dismantled private education.
 ND leader meets Athens mayor, discusses security in central AthensMain opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday met Athens Mayor George Kaminis at the Athens City Hall, for a meeting focused on issues of security and law enforcement in Greece's capital.
"The citizens must feel safe. Security is an essential condition for freedom. The gradual slide into a state of lawlessness that is occurring with the government's tacit approval can no longer be accepted," Mitsotakis said.
ND's leader said such phenomena appeared to be multiplying dangerously in recent weeks, pointing to an occupation of the Thessaloniki University campus or the disruption of a Sunday service at a Thessaloniki church by self-styled anarchists at the weekend.
"In the municipality of Athens alone, there are 21 buildings under occupation. I repeat ND's unqualified support for imposing law and order. We assure the citizens that ND will raise these issues to the front line of its political priorities," Mitsotakis said.
Kaminis, on his part, noted that security was not an issue of policing only but also required a state with social structures that was able to resolve some issues before they took on criminal aspects. "The foremost thing is for jobs to open up," he added.
 Independent Greeks condemn attack on church service in ThessalonikiThe Independent Greeks (ANEL) party categorically condemns the the "irreverent and abhorrent behaviour" of self-styled "anti-establishment" activists that disrupted the Sunday service at a Thessaloniki church, ANEL spokeswoman Mandalena Papadopoulou said on Monday.
"The intrusion ...and violent interruption of the Holy Mass was an inconceivable and unacceptable action that is a direct insult to the religious sentiments and beliefs of the Greeks and our religious faith," said the spokeswoman for the junior party in Greece's ruling coalition.
"Their contemptuous behaviour to all that the Orthodox Church and the Greek people hold sacred and for the rules of a state of law "cannot meet with any tolerance. The freedom of one stops where the freedom of another begins," she added.
 Pre-registration of asylum applications in mainland completed, authorities sayThe Asylum Service said on Monday the pre-registration of applications for international protection by refugees living on mainland Greece has been completed and applicants will soon receive a message on their mobile phone with the date and place of their next appointment.
Asylum seekers will then be able to submit their official request to remain in the country, reunite their family or relocate.
Those who didn't register but wish to do so now can obtain a registration appointment preferably through Skype, the Service said, adding that access to Skype will run more smoothly as the number of users will be much lower.
Pre-registration started on June 8 and was supported financially and logistically by the European Commission, the UN High Commission for Refugees and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). Through this large-scale procedure, thousands of persons were provided with asylum seeker cards, allowing them to reside legally in Greece and have the right to access health and education services.
A detailed statistical report based on the findings of the pre-registration exercise will be released in the coming days.
 Kos mayor expresses concern over migration issueThe mayor of Kos island Giorgos Kyritsis in a letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and to all the political party leaders expressed his concern over the danger the EU-Turkey agreement on migrants and refugees to become inactive.
Kos mayor in his letter noted that Kos has done a huge effort to counterbalance the negative repercussions by the uncontrolled migration flows on the island's tourism and managed to reduce the losses. "Our islands that are now the most sensitive national area can't be turned into warehouses of souls, as some want".
 Former ELSTAT chief to face charges for allegedly inflated 2009 deficit, Supreme Court decidesGreece's Supreme Court on Monday partially revoked a decision to drop charges against Andreas Georgiou, the former head of Greece's independent statistics agency ELSTAT, for presenting artificially inflated figures for Greece's deficit in 2009. The court accepted a motion filed in 2015 by then Deputy Supreme Court Prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou, now a Supreme Court Prosecutor, that Georgiou should face criminal charges for making a false statement.
As a result, Georgiou is once again indicted to appear before an Appeals Justices' Council for a new judgement on two counts, the original charge of misconduct for which he has already been indicted and the additional criminal charge of making a false statement.
The court revoked a 2015 ordinance that decided against charging Georgiou and two senior ELSTAT officials - Konstantinos Molfetas and Athanasia Xenaki - for false statement at the expense of the public sector, aggravated due to the extremely high sums involved.
According to the charges, the inflated figures for the deficit given by Georgiou and the other two officials in 2009 were used to justify Greece's entry into memorandum programmes.
As a result, the case will now go before an Appeals Justices' Council for consideration once again.
The issue of ELSTAT was first raised by the Athens Bar Association in 2011, in a lawsuit that had been shelved at the time, but was then revived in 2013 through a letter that the bar association sent to the Supreme Court prosecutor.
 NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS: WORK STOPPAGE 11:00-16:00 ON TUESDAYThere will be no ANA services from 11:00 until 16:00 on Tuesday, including the midday English Bulletin on Tuesday afternoon, due to a five-hour work stoppage announced by the Athens Union of Journalists (ESHEA).
 Greek PMI fell to 48.7 points in JulyGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) shrank to 48.7 points in July from 50.4 in June despite a rapid increase in workforce in Greek manufacturers' factories (the fastest rate in the last nine years), as production fell again due to a significant decline in incoming new orders and a decline in supply inventories, Markit said on Monday.
The seasonally-adjusted PMI index showed that Greek manufacturers were hit by a decline in production volume in July, the fifth decline in the last seven months, reflecting weaker demand as new incoming orders fell for the 23rd successive month. New export orders, however, grew reflecting increased demand from France, Lebanon and Bulgaria. Despite a shrinking production Greek manufacturers continued raising their workforce numbers in July, at the highest rate recorded in the last nine months. Pending works continued falling, while purchasing activity fell for the third successive month. Average delivery times continued rising for the 20th successive month, hit by strike mobilization in Greek ports. Inflow costs rose further in July for the fourth month in a row, while outflow prices fell.
The PMI measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Greek economic sentiment index up in JulyGreek economic sentiment index improved slightly but consumer confidence deteriorated slightly in July, the Foundation of Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.
In a monthly report, IOBE said that the economic sentiment index recovered slightly to 90.9 points in July form 89.7 points in June and 82.1 points in July 2015, reflecting improving expectations in the services sector (hotels included). On the other hand, however, consumer confidence lost ground and deteriorated slightly.
A Brexit vote in the UK, geopolitical developments in the region and domestic developments, such as tax obligations are expected to affect economic sentiment in the future, IOBE said.
Business expectations in the manufacturing sector eased over production levels, rose over inventories and deteriorated further over new orders and demand.
In the services sector, negative estimates over current conditions improved slightly, although estimates over current demand remained negative.
In the retail sector, positive estimates over current sales remained unchanged, but estimates over short-term trends deteriorated.
In the construction sector, estimates over work programme and employment continued falling.
Consumer confidence fell in July reflecting more negative estimates over savings intention and unemployment trends, while estimates over households' finances in the next 12 months were almost unchanged and improved slightly over the country's finances.
 Tourism from Turkey drops 20 pct in Lesvos in JulyArrivals of Turkish tourists to the island of Lesvos fell by 20 percent or by about 2,500 people to 11,850 in July compared to the same month last year, official data showed on Monday.
Initial indications from the start of the previous month pointed to a new jump in tourism which would exceed last year's arrivals of more than 14,500, but the failed coup of July 15 in the neighbouring country resulted in a cancellation of most bookings.
Island officials say some of the bookings were transferred to September when Muslims celebrate Kurban Bayrami, but these are subject to the condition that the restrictions on travelling abroad imposed by the Turkish government will have been lifted by then.
 Passenger traffic in Athens' airport posts 9.4 pct jump in JulyPassenger traffic in Athens International Airport jumped 9.4 percent in July compared the same month last year to reach 2.37 million passengers, the airport said on Monday.
According to the data, domestic and international traffic increased 9.7 percent and 11.7 percent respectively, with Greek travellers showing a 20 percent jump and foreign travellers rising by 8 percent.
In the seven months to July, passenger traffic at "Eleftherios Venizelos" exceeded 11 million tourists, posting a rise of 9.4 percent, with domestic and international traffic rising 12.4 percent and 7.6 percent respectively. Greek and foreign travellers rose by 15 percent and 6 percent respectively.
The number of flights handled by Athens' airport in the period from January to July reached 107,552, posting an increase of 7.3 percent year on year. Both domestic and international flights increased by 7.4 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.
 Greek stocks end lower, banks hitGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by a sharp fall in bank shares in domestic and other European markets as the market reacted negatively to the results of a stress test round of European banks. The composite index of the market fell 0.30 pct to end at 569.60 points, off the day's lows of 567.16 points. The Large Cap index eased 0.40 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.73 pct lower. Turnover was a thin 29.147 million euros in volume of 48,953,499 shares.
GEK Terna (2.06 pct), Grivalia Properties (2.02 pct) and Terna Energy (1.88 pct) scored big gains while National Bank (6.44 pct), Eurobank (5.10 pct) and Folli Follie (3.18 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day among blue chip stocks. Among market sectors, Construction (1.56 pct) and Travel (1.45 pct) scored gains, while Commerce (3.18 pct) and Banks (3.17 pct) suffered losses.
National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 48 to 41 with another 13 issues unchanged. Revoil (25.94 pct), Douros (20 pct) and Varvaresos (19.44 pct) scored big gains, while Motodynamic (26.33 pct), Selonda (9.68 pct) and Elinoil (9.45 pct) were top losers.
 ADEX closing reportThe August contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.13 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,540 contracts with 5,383 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 39,360 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (15,297), followed by Alpha Bank (3,959), Piraeus Bank (10,664), Eurobank (7,685), MIG (1,118), OTE (74), PPC (81), OPAP (210), Mytilineos (42), Hellenic Petroleum (48), Viohalco (23), Grivalia Properties (22) and Folli Follie (32).
 Wildfire around Limni on Evia under control, fire brigade reportsThe wildfire near the town of Limni in northern Evia was now under control, the fire brigade said late on Monday. They reported that the fire-fighting effort had focused on a single front moving south toward Mount Kantili, with crews working to set up two fire zones to avert the danger of the fire passing to the village Troupi, on the foothills of the mountain.
The fire started on Saturday afternoon and appeared to be under control by Sunday before flaring up again late on Sunday afternoon due to high winds and the inaccessible terrain, which made it hard for fire-fighters to reach the site of new blazes. According to authorities, it has burnt through thousands of hectares of forest, inflicting incalculable environmental damage, but has so far not claimed homes or lives.
 Boat with refugees and migrants located off the coasts of LesvosA dinghy with 34 refugees and migrants was located off the northern coasts of Lesvos on Monday.
The rescued were sent to Mytilene port and afterwards will be transferred to Moria hotspot.
Refugees and migrants arrivals posted a significant increase from July 15, day of the failed coup in Turkey, however, in the last three days no arrivals were recorded on the island of Lesvos.
In the same period, 51 refugees and migrants arrived on Chios while no arrivals have been recorded on the island of Samos for a long time.
A total of 7,192 identified migrants and refugees were on the northern Greek islands on Monday.
 57,115 identified migrants and refugees in Greece on Monday57,115 identified refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Monday while no new arrivals were reported in the last 24 hours.
According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 22,450 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 10,205 are hosted in the region of Attica and 2,545 are hosted in facilities of central and southern Greece. 7,296 refugees and migrants are hosted in several facilities rented by the UNHCR, 3,070 in non-organised facilities 2,150 persons are living outside organised facilities.
9,399 refugees and migrants were recorded on the eastern Aegean islands.
 Thessaloniki court acquits 26 arrested for disrupting church serviceA Thessaloniki court on Monday acquitted 26 defendants charged with disrupting a Sunday service in a Thessaloniki Church, finding that it was not their intention to disrespect to the church and the premises. The court handed down sentences of six months imprisonment, suspended for three years, however, for 19 defendants also facing charges of insubordination and refusing to cooperate with police processing their arrest.
All 19 filed for an appeal and were released.
The defendants were taken into custody and arrested by riot police after a group of anti-establishment activists entered the church while the mass was in progress on Sunday to distribute flyers and protest at the demolition of an old orphanage that had been occupied by refugees and migrants.
 Search for missing Russian tourist continues on MondayRhodes coast guard search to locate a Russian tourist that was reported missing on Sunday continues on Monday.
The 39-year-old tourist have went diving in the at the west side of Rhodes. The man's disappearance since Sunday afternoon was reported by his wife but the search has not yet turned up anything.
 Young Briton arrested for alleged rape in CorfuPolice on the Ionian island of Corfu on Monday arrested a 20-year-old British man for alleged rape, acting on a complaint filed by an 18-year-old British woman holidaying on the island.
According to the woman, the incident took place after a night out, in the early morning hours, when the young man forced her to have intercourse against her will.
The 20-year-old will beled before a Corfu Misdemeanours Court prosecutor.
 Mostly fair on TuesdayMostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 21C to 37C. Scattered clouds in the western and the eastern parts with temperatures between 21C and 38C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 25C-35C. Fair in Athens, 25C-38C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, 24C-36C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Anti-establishment activists disrupt church service in Thessaloniki.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Political games at the teachers' expense
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 30 windows for pension before the age of 62
ESTIA: Greek fans of Djihad.
ETHNOS: Sweeping changes in education system
NAFTEMPORIKI: New financial instruments
TA NEA: Inaugurations and amendments expose the government.
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