|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-06-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 25 June 2015 Issue No: 4985
 Tsipras meeting with institutions ends; ministers, EU officials arrive at EurogroupBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni, C. Vasilaki)
Eurozone finance ministers were gradually arriving for a Eurogroup meeting on Greece, even though the chances for an agreement on Wednesday appeared to be receding after talks between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the institutions ended without a conclusive result.
Diplomatic sources said the talks will be repeated on Thursday and that Wednesday's Eurogroup will most likely not be the last, with a new meeting on Greece expected to be held soon.
Tsipras made no statements to the press as he left the meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
According to Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt, in a doorstep statement arriving for the Eurogroup, everyone was waiting for the institutions' report to begin the discussion.
"First we must see what the institutions bring to the table. They have been negotiating very hard for the last 48 hours..." he said.
"We need to reach a good deal for the Greek economy....that's important for every Greek citizen. We also need a deal that is good for monetary union," Overtveldt told reporters in response to questions. Asked if it was time to present Greece with a "take it or leave it" ultimatum, he replied that doesn't like "these kind of deadlines."
He noted that it was important for the IMF to continue to be part of the Greek programme and said it was wrong to say that the programme for Greece had failed because no government had implemented it fully.
Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir said the three Eurogroup meetings and two summits will be enough to reach a solution on Greece, adding that he's curious as to what the Eurozone will look like after today's meeting.
Speaking to journalists as he arrived for the Eurogroup, he said the institutions will have to agree and then the issue will be taken up at the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers.
Arriving for the same meeting, European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said progress has been made but there are more issues to be resolved, noting that negotiations are intense.
European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said the Eurogroup would work towards a solution which is necessary and possible.
 Eurogroup ends, Tsipras to continue deliberations with institutionsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)
The Eurogroup meeting in Brussels ended without any results and a new meeting has been called for Thursday at 14.00 (Athens time).
According to information, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will continue his deliberations with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at midnight, with possible participation of the heads of the other two institutions.
 Tsipras: Either they do not want an agreement or they serve specific interests in Greece"Either they do not want an agreement or they serve specific interests in Greece", Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said to his colleagues, shortly before departing for Brussels, referring to the insistence of certain institutions not to accept equivalent measures.
"The non-acceptance of equivalent measures is unprecedented. Neither in Ireland nor in Portugal. Nowhere! This strange stance may be due to two reasons. Either they do not want an agreement or they serve specific interests in Greece," Tsipras said, according to a government source.
 Creditors proposals 'extremely harsh,' Greek government sources sayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ Ch. Vasilaki)
The counter-proposals sent by the institutions at 5:00 in the morning were "extremely harsh" to the point of "barbarity," Greek government sources said here on Wednesday evening.
According to the sources, the Greek side was raising the issue of debt but the institutions' reply was that an agreement must first be reached on a technical level before this.
Outlining the creditors' demands, the same sources said these included a reduction in public-sector pay differences, pension cuts, abolition of the EKAS benefit to supplement low pensions, higher social insurance contributions by employees and reduced contributions by employers, an increase in VAT on catering/restaurants to 23 pct and reduction of a one-off corporate tax on profits, reduction of corporate tax to 28 pct instead of 29 pct, while they do not mention labour law.
A meeting of the Eurogroup will begin after the meeting with the institutions has been wrapped up and this may delay, the same sources reported.
 Greece has rejected counter-proposals from institutions, gov't sources confirmGovernment sources on Wednesday confirmed a report that the Greek side has rejected the counter-proposals of the institutions, posted by the website left.gr.
The measures outlined in the counter-proposals included both fiscal targets, such as a 1 pct of GDP increase in revenues from VAT and charging 23 pct VAT for restaurant, cafes and other catering services, as well as a series of measures for pension reforms.
The list of measures demanded include the following:
Increasing revenues from VAT by 1 pct of GDP and raising VAT on catering services to 23 pct.
100 pct tax advance from legal entities
Abolition of tax exemption for fuel used in farming
Reduction of defence spending by 400 million euros (instead of 200 mln proposed by Greece)
Smaller hikes in the taxation of legal entities (to 28 pct instead of 29 pct proposed by Greece)
No tax relief for island residents (to offset an increase in VAT for islands)
The institutions also refused to accept taxation revenue proposed by Greece from: e-gaming-VLT gaming machines (electronic gambling)
Revenue from 4G and 5G licences
The creditors insist on full implementation of law 3863/10 that deals with the way pensions are calculated, raising the lower pensions and increasing the higher pensions.
The insist on equivalent measures to offset suspension of the zero deficit clause
They demand cuts of 0.25-0.5 pct of GDP in 2015 and 1 pct of GDP in 2016
Complete abolition of early retirement by 2022 (at age 67 independent of years of work and at 62 with 40 years full employment).
Abolition/replacement of the EKAS low-pension benefit until December 2017
Increase in pensioners' health contributions from 4 pct to 6 pct
Gradual abolition of exemptions financed by the state budget and harmonisation of social insurance contributions with the structure of IKA from July 1, 2015.
Abolition of all levies for third parties (such as the advertising stamp duty) by October 31, 2015.
Finding equivalent measures that will cover the cost of a Council of State ruling reversing past pension cuts.
 Greece cannot agree to the new proposal tabled by the institutions, say gov't sourcesThe Greek side cannot agree with the direction the new proposals submitted by the institutions are heading, government sources said on Wednesday, noting that negotiations continue on all levels.
"Representatives of the Greek government arrived in today's negotiations using as a basis the document which the institutions had accepted as a basis for talks on Monday," the sources said.
On their side, they continued, the institutions submitted a new proposal which transfers tax burdens on salaried workers and pensioners in an unjust way, while at the same time they suggested measures to avoid burdening those who are better off.
"The Greek side cannot agree to move to this direction," they noted.
 The creditors' proposals are 'absurd', SYRIZA Political Secretariat saysThe latest proposals from the institutions are "absurd" and exceed the limits of Greek society's endurance, SYRIZA's Political Secretariat concluded on Wednesday after a sweeping discussion on the proposals and the next moves for the government and the party.
Sources at the meeting reported harsh criticism of the creditors' demands, as well as the government's handling, after SYRIZA Secretary Tasos Koronakis and Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris addressed the meeting.
Speakers said that an agreement will be extremely painful for society and hard to support, since it contradicts the party's positions, and several referred to a resort to snap elections.
They stressed that any agreement must make a clear reference to a restructuring of the debt, otherwise it would be very hard to get it accepted. If the prime minister was able to come away with a commitment from the creditors concerning the debt, many might have a change of heart when it came to a vote, since it was considered a key issue for dealing with the crisis, party sources added.
Other party members emphasised that any agreement must be sustainable and able to resolve the problems, not create new obstacles and problems down the line.
The meeting decided to convene SYRIZA's Central Committee on Friday and the party's Parliamentary group the following day to state their opinions on the agreement, if a proposed agreement was reached.
Addressing the meeting earlier, Koronakis said that any proposed agreement must be evaluated by the party as a whole, based on SYRIZA's mandate from the voters, while Flambouraris said the government's goal was a "decent agreement".
 Institutions' proposal must precede Eurogroup decision on Greece, German gov't saysBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
Germany's position on the issue of Greece remains unchanged, the German chancellor's spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday. He underlined that the three institutions must evaluate the proposals together and submit a joint proposal to the Eurogroup before an decision can be made.
The spokesman, who had been asked to comment on reports that the Greek proposals had been rejected, said he did not know have precise information on what was happening in Brussels, only that the Eurogroup will convene on Wednesday evening "and we will see the next steps from there."
German finance ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger commented that there was still a lot of distance to cover and that an agreement did not yet exist, adding that the German side was heading toward the meeting with "realistic expectations". He also noted that the three institutions had also shown an "exceptionally generous" stance toward Greece in their joint position and that it was now up to the Greek side to make a move.
 Dijsselbloem, Regling: Much works remains to be done"Much works remains to be done today," Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said upon his arrival at the institutions' meeting on Wednesday adding "we have not yet reached an agreement."
On his part, European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) head Klaus Regling said "much work needs to be done."
 EU Parliament President Schulz confident a deal between Greece and its creditors will be reachedEuropean Parliament President Martin Schulz on Wednesday expressed certainty that an agreement between Greece and its creditors will be reached and underlined the need for Greece to stand again on its own feet.
The disbursement of the last installment of the second aid package for Greece is a prerequisite for any further step, Schulz told the German news agency, so that Greece can stand again economically on its feet.
"Investments are necessary in order to do that," he noted, adding that some of them may be financed by the investment package agreed by the European Parliament and the European Commission.
Schulz stressed the importance of a change of policy in order to address the economic crisis in EU countries. "We cannot force countries to proceed to spending cuts to the death. Cuts and austerity alone cannot help a country stand again on its own feet."
Moreover, the European Parliament President urged Greek deputies to cooperate and impose taxes on those people that have not contributed to solving the crisis so far.
 Eurozone member states' aim is the agreement on Greece to close on Wednesday, EU official saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Vassilaki)
The eurozone member states' aim is the agreement on Greece to close on Wednesday at the Eurogroup meeting and not on Thursday or the day after at the EU summit to be held in Brussels, an EU official said.
The same official added that Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem has been invited to participate and brief the heads of states and governments on the results of the Eurogroup, which the 28 member states will probably welcome.
The Eurogroup, if necessary, will convene all night, the official said, stressing that the sole objective is to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile, the report of the five presidents of Europe (Juncker, Tusk, Schulz, Draghi and Dijsselbloem) to deepen the economic and monetary union will be the first issue to be discussed at Thursday's summit.
 Greece must know that in the European institutions there is a large number of countries that will do anything to help it, Italy's PM Renzi saysROME (ANA-MPA/T. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Wednesday during a speech to the Italian parliament said that "Greece must know that in the European institutions there is a large number of countries that will do anything to help it, but the effort must be mutual."
Renzi also noted that deliberations at the Eurogroup should be made with a deep awareness of the risks, in particular for Greece, in case of failure to reach agreement.
"The Greeks should know, and we say that with friendly affection and the closeness of those who are aware of the difficulties of the Greek people, that there is strong pressure to make use of that opportunity in order to permanently close all pending issues with Greece and be excluded from the eurozone," Renzi warned adding that this stance is mainly adopted by countries that have recently joined the European Union.
 Cyprus president, EU's Tusk hold talks in Brussels; stress need for solution to Greek problem soonBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ Ch. Vasilaki)
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and European Council President Donald Tusk stressed the need to find a solution to the Greek problem as soon as possible, following their meeting here on Wednesday. They emphasised the need for an agreement that would ensure Greece's presence in the euro zone, for the benefit of both Greeks and Europe.
During the meeting, Anastasiades briefed Tusk on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue after the start of substantive talks between the two communities on the island, as well discussing the state of Cyprus' economy.
 Chinese premier Li Keqiang expresses hope for successful outcome of talks on GreeceChinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday expressed hope for a successful outcome in the negotiations between the Greek government and the institutions, so that Greece remains in the eurozone. The Chinese premier also expressed support for the process of European integration, saying he wanted to see a united, prosperous Europe with a strong euro.
He made the statements during a meeting with King Philippe of Belgium, who is currently visiting China.
"Greece's current debt problems are going throught a crucial period and China hopes that Greece will remain in the euro zone, especially appreciates the efforts of the interested parties and hopes for the success of the negotiations. China supports Europe and the growth of EU-Chinese relations," Li Keqiang said, according to an announcement.
 We achieved the most balanced agreement provided the circumstances, Economy Min Stathakis says"We achieved the most balanced agreement taken into account the circumstances," Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis on Wednesday said in statements to Mega TV.
The Minister described the measures "balanced" because as he said "lenders initially demanded direct pensions and wages cuts and an overall VAT increase on certain categories."
Regarding ENFIA, Stathakis said if it is abolished, then we should have equivalent measures that will counterbalance the decline in revenues. Asked whether ENFIA will exist in 2016, the minister replied: "In September, in the 2016 budget, we will tell you if and what you have to pay."
Furthermore, he predicted that despite the fact that marginal recession was recorded in the first quarter, the economy in 2015 is expected to show a growth rate close to 1.5 pct.
 The agreement in its entity will not be recessionary, Alternate FM Tsakalotos saysThe agreement in its entity will not be recessionary, Alternate Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said in statements to state broadcaster ERT.
Tsakalotos said the Greek government is fighting so that the burden is shared in a more fair way.
"We are closer than ever to an agreement," he underlined adding that a failure to reach an agreement it would trigger problems to all Europe. Tsakalotos added that the debt is issue has also been raised and underlined that the government's aim is a sustainable and social fair solution.
 Greece is not aiming at a temporary agreement, EU Parliament Vice President Papadimoulis tells ANA-MPA"We are not aiming at a temporary agreement, but at a single agreement which even if implemented in two phases, its terms, its prior conditions, will be clear and agreed beforehand," European Parliament Vice President and SYRIZA MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
"The agreement has not locked yet. I am optimistic that it can and should be locked today and at this time that the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is giving the final battle, I think the keys are: Absolute consistency of SYRIZA, government stability and a development plan for the country so as to ensure that apart from the work that need to be done in Greece, by the government and by the forces that support the government, a clear, a double commitment on the part of the partners is needed:
First, a commitment for debt reduction in order to render it sustainable. Second, a development package that makes use of the existing as well as new EU resources, so that the Greek economy returns to growth with security, stability, and unemployment is reduced.
The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.
 ND leader Samaras: If gov't loses MP support on deal, a transitional gov't is neededIf the government majority does not support the potential agreement between Greece and its creditors whenever it comes to parliament, then a different government formation should be formed, main opposition leader Antonis Samaras told Crash magazine in an interview published on Wednesday.
"If the government loses the majority, the only thing that can be done is for Mr Tsipras to continue with those who agree with him for a deal with Europe, with our help," Samaras, who leads New Democracy, was quoted as saying, noting that a government will have to form to push these things forward.
He said if the government majority doesn't support whatever deal he brings to parliament, then he loses its confidence and in this case there should be a wider national consensus to keep Greece in the euro and exit the crisis.
Samaras also said the next step would be to form a transitional government of national consensus in which "neither him, nor Mr Tsipras would participate."
Main opposition spokesman Karagounis stresses the importance of a sustainable deal that will remove uncertainty
The government needs to reach a "sustainable and development agreement with our European partners in order to remove uncertainty and economic suffocation and prevent a national catastrophe," main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Costas Karagounis on Wednesday said in a statement.
Regarding the debt and the so-called "Juncker Development Package," Karagounis noted that "the agreement must include the fulfillment of our partners' commitments for the final settlement of the debt issue in the framework of the Eurogroup decisions of November 2012 and May 2014, that we have already secured."
 Alternate Admin Restructuring Min Katrougalos optimistic over a dealAlternate Interior and Administrative Restructuring Minister George Katrougalos in an interview with Europe1 reassured tourists not to fear for lack of money this summer and expressed optimism for reaching an agreement.
"I am very optimistic, these hours, however, the ball is in our creditors' court," the minister said in reply to a question whether "there will be agreement or not."
Referring to pensions, Katrougalos noted: "We have to rationalise our pension system, to reform the early pensions system."
On VAT, the minister reiterated the government's desire to protect the weakest classes: "We want to cover our expenses with our revenues," he explained. "We do not want a new loan, but we do not want to pass the burden of taxes once again to the middle class and the poorest. We are talking, therefore, with our partners to see what products will move to a higher rate," he added.
Asked if it is "socially acceptable" for the Greek people to suffer from a new series of measures, Katrougalos replied: "Everyone understands that it will be a tough compromise. We have made many concessions. Greek voters can understand that we make efforts provided, however, that this agreement provides for debt reduction and recovery. If we have those two conditions in place, I think we will have a fair deal, a mutually beneficial compromise."
The Greek minister admitted that "the priority is to stay in the eurozone, but without the continuation of the deadly spiral of austerity and recession."
 Agreement on Greece must be linked to debt restructuring, ANEL's Terens Quick saysAn agreement on Greece must be linked "with something powerful that concerns a debt settlement," according to Deputy Minister for Coordinating Government Operations Terens Quick, a member of the ruling coalition's junior party Independent Greeks (ANEL).
Speaking to the radio station 'Sto Kokkino' on Wednesday, he stressed that the government wanted a commitment to this effect in writing, in a document linked to the measures Greece will be asked to take - unlike in 2012 when the country's creditors made a verbal promise to restructure Greece's debt.
Quick also described the proposal submitted to the institutions by Greece as "much much better than the equivalent measures imposed since last year by the previous government, and which would be imposed with the Hardouvelis e-mail."
While everyone was waiting for the results of Wednesday's meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi, Quick suggested that the "main thing was for the institutions to work things out between them," and accused the IMF of "shuffling the deck" and preventing an agreement.
 Finance ministry denies reports claiming Varoufakis wants Greece to withraw from talksThe Greek finance ministry denied on Wednesday media reports according to which minister Yanis Varoufakis allegedly wanted the Greek government to withdraw from the ongoing negotiations with the country's lenders if the IMF doesn't back down on its demands.
 We are heading to the final stretch of the negotiations, FinMin Varoufakis says"We are heading to the final stretch of the negotiations, which we hope, we are striving to be the last one in times of crisis," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis before departing for the Eurogroup.
 FinMin Varoufakis denies media reports on alleged return of Greek proposalsFinance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday denied on Twitter reports claiming the document with the Greek proposals was returned by the institutions to Greece because it "included the signature of the finance minister instead of the prime minister".
Varoufakis tweet is as follows:
"Lie #1: The document was returned due to 'wrong' signature (It was never returned)
Lie #2: The signature was mine (It was the PM's)".
 Interior Min. Voutsis: Policy of European partners is not up to the circumstancesInterior Minister Nikos Voutsis said on Wednesday the policy of Greece's European partners is not up to the circumstances and the times, saying that they are blind on migration as they are on their instance on austerity and impairment of welfare state.
"Concerning the negotiation, the harsh confrontation evolving in relation to the Greek issue, it appears that some leading cycles, what we call the elite in EU neoliberal traditions, have lost touch with reality...the problems surrounding the EU's fortress EU. We cannot explain it differently," the minister said during a debate in parliament on a draft bill which would grant Greek nationality of children that are second-generation migrants.
Commenting on the bill, Voutsis noted it's a "sign of maturity that all parties, except Golden Dawn, converge on this crucial issue, that people born here are not immigrants and must have the Greek nationality."
 Greece to dominate discussion in European ParliamentPolitical group leaders will comment on the outcome of the Euro Summit on Greece and discuss the most urgent policy issues to be addressed by EU heads of state or government at their 25-26 June meeting: migration, security and economic challenges.
 Karamanlis-Bakoyannis meeting on debt talks; ND should vote for agreement, Bakoyannis saysFormer prime minister Costas Karamanlis and New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday had a one-hour meeting at Karamanlis' offices to discuss the ongoing negotiations between Greece and its creditors on an agreement.
Bakoyannis commented that the draft agreement presented was not good for the Greek side, containing recessionary measures that did not promote growth, but must be voted by the Greek Parliament in spite of this. She noted that ND, as a primarily European party, could not fail to vote for an agreement that would ensure that the country remained in the EU.
 FM Kotzias agrees on confidence-building measures with FYROM's counterpartSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/S. Aravopoulou)
The Foreign Ministers of Greece and FYROM, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Poposki respectively, agreed on Wednesday on 11 confidence-building measures in the sectors of education, culture, trade, transport, energy, domestic security and justice, but also ways to restore political negotiations between the two foreign ministries.
Following their meeting in Skopje, the two ministers told journalists at a press conference these measures could also contribute significantly in resolving the name dispute.
"We want all of our neighbours to be members of the EU, to have rule of law, to have economic development, because my country, too, depends to a great extent on what happens in the Balkans as a whole," Kotzias said.
Poposki said the meeting's conclusion is that the two countries "are making a new step for an active approach and cooperation" and noted that, for decades, the problem in bilateral relations was the lack of trust at a political level, while "the strongest link was the interest of the people, businesses and societies to cooperate and connect."
 Potami leader Theodorakis meets European Commissioner Moscovici in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Spinthourakis)
Opposition Potami party leader Stavros Theodorakis on Wednesday met with European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici in Brussels.
"It was a meeting at a crucial time, on a difficult day," Theodorakis said as he left the Commission's headquarters, reiterating that an agreement on Greece must be reached on Wednesday.
According to Theodorakis, he informed Moscovici that Potami and the greater majority of the Greek Parliament will support an agreement that bears the signature of the Greek government and the country's European allies, adding that Greek society wants "an end to this torture".
He told Moscovici that Potami objects to certain proposals, chiefly those dealing with taxation, underlined the need to boost growth and said there were still margins for cutting state spending.
 KKE Gen.-Sec meets visiting Cyprus Parliament President OmirouCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas on Wednesday met Cyprus Parliament President Yiannakis Omirou, who is currently on a visit to Greece. They discussed developments concerning the Cyprus issue but also the ongoing negotiations between Greece and its EU partners for Greece's debt.
Koutsoumbas said KKE confirmed its solidarity with Cyprus and its steadfast positions on the principles regarding to the Cyprus problem, as one of invasion and occupation.
 Migrant naturalisation bill expected to pass in principle but without ANEL supportThe government's bill on Greek citizenship and the naturalisation of second-generation migrants looks set to be passed in principle by the Parliamentary plenum in later on Wednesday, though without the backing of MPs from the ruling coalition's junior member Independent Greeks (ANEL).
The bill was instead supported by the rapporteurs of the opposition 'centre-left' parties Potami and PASOK, opposed by centre-right New Democracy, far-right Golden Dawn and ANEL, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will abstain by voting 'present'.
ND asked for a roll-call vote on articles 1 and 10, which form the crux of its disagreement with the legislation, while PASOK's secretary Leonidas Grigorakos raised an issue of whether the government had lost its majority, since ANEL did not back the bill.
Parliament Vice-President Nikitas Kaklamanis clarified that an issue of loss of majority did not arise during the vote of a bill in principle, unless the government raised an issue of confidence.
The vote in principle is expected to take place later on Wednesday evening, while a decision will be announced on Thursday on the dates for the debate before the plenum on the individual articles.
 Clawbacks imposed on pharmaceutical firms in 2012 constitutional, Council of State rulesThe six 'clawback' decisions imposed on pharmaceutical firms by the health ministry in 2012 as an emergency fiscal measure in response to the economic crisis were on Wednesday ruled constitutional by Greece's supreme administrative court, the Council of State.
According to the court, the forced return of payments made to pharmaceutical companies were in accordance with the Greek Constitution, the European Covention on Human Rights and with European and Greek law.
 Four Turkish fighter jets violated Athens FIRFour Turkish F-16's flew for the third time in 2015 over the islet of Anthropofagi which constitutes part of the Fourni island cluster in the eastern Aegean on Wednesday, Greece's Armed Forces (Hellenic National Defence General Staff) announced.
The fighter jets entered Athens' FIR at 14.41 local time north of Chios island without submitting a flight plan and flew over the islet at 15.06 at a height of 3,200 feet. The F-16's exited the FIR at 15.09, south of Samos island.
"All the aircraft were intercepted and identified according to international rules and as a standing practice," the announcement said.
 ECB raises ELA for Greek banksThe European Central Bank (ECB) on Wednesday raised the ceiling of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) provided to Greek banks after a request of the Bank of Greece.
The ECB will meet again in the next 24 hours if need be, according to banking sources.
 Greek stocks end lower on profit takingRenewed concern over progress in negotiations between Greek authorities and the country' s creditors dampened sentiment in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with sellers taking the upper hand after a two-day rally which pushed the composite index 15.66 pct higher. The composite index ended 1.77 pct lower to 780.90 points, off the day's lows of 757.75 points. The Large Cap index eased 1.97 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 2.61 pct lower. Turnover was a moderate 98.418 million euros.
Terna Energy (3.01 pct), Grivalia Properties (2.71 pct) and Titan (1.81 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (10.12 pct), Eurobank (6.80 pct) and Alpha Bank (6.23 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Among market sectors, Real Estate (2.26 pct), Food (1.69 pct) and Utilities (0.83 pct) scored gains, while Banks (6.56 pct), Financial Services (5.62 pct) and Raw Materials (4.08 pct) suffered heavy losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 63 to 37 with another 16 issues unchanged. Galaxidi (21.33 pct), Alfa Grissin (20 pct) and Nexans (18.95 pct) were top gainers, while Kekrops (18.83 pct), Hatzikranioti (15.38 pct) and Piraeus Bank (10.12 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Financial Services: -5.62%
Industrial Products: -2.15%
Real Estate: +2.26%
Personal & Household: -0.49%
Food & Beverages: +1.68%
Raw Materials: -4.08%
Travel & Leisure: -1.29%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE
Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.286
Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.43
Coca Cola HBC: 20.49
Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.59
National Bank of Greece: 1.14
Piraeus Bank: 0.382
Grivalia Properties: 7.19
Aegean Airlines: 6.09
 Greek bond market closing reportGreek state bond prices came under renewed pressure in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the two-year bond yield rising to 22.13 pct from 21.04 pct the previous day. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 9.47 pct from 10.22 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.29 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.82 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.163 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.099 pct, the six-month rate was 0.048 pct, the three-month rate was -0.014 pct and the one-month rate was -0.066 pct from -0.065 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe July contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.59 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,083 contracts with 19,905 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 75,455 contracts with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (18,950), followed by National Bank (16,761), Piraeus Bank (18,462), Eurobank (12,864), MIG (639), OTE (1,012), PPC (2,218), OPAP (780), Hellenic Exchanges (627), Mytilineos (245), Hellenic Petroleum (215), GEK (166), Folli Follie (240) and Ellaktor (68).
 Big pharma artificially manipulating drug availability in Greece, Greek drug development institute claimsBig multinational pharmaceutical companies are engineering artificial shortages of drugs in Greece by arbitrarily adopting "ceilings" for drugs sold per pharmacy and demanding personal data on customers and patients, the Pharmaceutical Developmental Institute of Greece (FANIE) asserted on Wednesday.
FANIE claimed the practice extended to vital medication - such as insulin, drugs for serious psychiatric disorders or injections for the management of osteoporosis and prostate ailments - creating serious risks for patients' lives.
According to the institute, the problems created by some multinational firms concerning the availability of their products had recently become more acute, while it accused them of arbitrarily "deciding" via their employees whether or not to sell their products and imposing supply 'ceilings' well below the demand of pharmacies and patients.
This forced pharmacies to only partially fill prescriptions since they were unable to secure the quantities and range of drugs required by patients.
At the same time, pharmaceutical firms were demanding that pharmacies provide personal data on patients in order to supply them with drugs, violating laws on the provision of personal information and data, FANIE said.
 Labour union PAME, pensioners march against imminent deal with creditors in central AthensA rally of communist party-affiliated labour union PAME against the imminent agreement between Greece and its creditors concluded in central Athens on Tuesday, while at the same time, pensioners representing all insurance funds participated in a separate rally nearby.
"No tolerance. Everyone should be out in the streets. We say no to the new agreement against the people. We're not afraid of a rift with the EU, the capital and their power. We request, we demand the abolition of all memorandums and implementation laws, immediate recovery of all popular income losses," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Dimitris Koutsoumbas told PAME protesters in Omonoia square.
Protesters in both rallies described the imminent deal as a "guillotine for the people" and asked that no more pension cuts are imposed.
They then united in one group and marched towards Maximos Mansion to submit their demands to the prime minister.
 237 undocumented migrants rescued in the last 24 hoursCoast Guard rescued 237 undocumented migrants over the last 24 hours in seven separate incidents in the eastern Aegean Sea.
According to the port authorities, the incidents were recorded near the islands of Lesvos, Chios, and Kos.
 Scattered clouds on ThursdayCloudy weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Scattered clouds in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 14C-28C. Clouds with possibility of rain in the western parts with temperatures between 16C-28C. Clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 16C-30C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 20C-28C. Scattered clouds in Athens, 18C-28C. Same weather in Thessaloniki, 17C-27C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: IMF-intertwined interests undermine the agreement
DIMOKRATIA: 8 billion euro intolerable measures in 18 months
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: IMF suddenly discovered recession measures that hurt entrepreneurship
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Secret cuts in pensions
ESTIA: Euro-taxes or SYRIZA-taxes?
ETHNOS: The ball is in SYRIZA's court. Will they vote for the agreement or go to elections?
IMERISSIA: Problems with the IMF. PM Alexis Tsipras rushes to Brussels
KATHIMERINI: New obstacles at the last moment
KONTRA NEWS: Dramatic conversation between Tsipras-Putin. The Russian President advised the Greek Prime Minister not to leave the euro
NAFTEMPORIKI: Kiss of life with recession measures
RIZOSPASTIS: We do not accept the new anti-popular agreement, thousands of pensioners say
TA NEA: Another 700 million euros are requested to seal the agreement
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