|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-03-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 2 March 2016 Issue No: 5123
 Greece to request compulsory relocation of refugees at Summit, says PM TsiprasBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Greece will ask all EU member-states at the summit meeting next Monday to participate in the distribution of refugees and migrants on a compulsory rather than a voluntary basis, depending on each country's population and economic strength, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with German public TV channel ZDF which was broadcasted on Tuesday.
Tsipras also spoke out against unilateral actions on the refugee crisis and warned that failure to find a common European solution would endanger the common future of all European countries.
"It's unacceptable to have unilateral actions. One country alone cannot tackle the refugee crisis. We have to find European solutions. At the last European Council meeting we agreed that no country along the Balkan route would take unilateral, uncoordinated actions which have not been agreed upon," he was quoted as saying.
"Many of our European partners said during the negotiations last summer that we have to implement the agreements; 'pacta sunt servanda'. I will now say the same. Agreements must be kept," he added, noting that if Europe doesn't manage to find a common solution, this will not only be a problem for Greece, but for Europe's entire common future.
 PM Tsipras discusses funding of Greek businesses with head of EBRDPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed on Tuesday the start of operations of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Greece, during a meeting with its president, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, at Maximos Mansion.
EBRD is participating in Greece with seven investment plans and Tsipras noted its contribution in the recent recapitalization of the country's lenders. The two sides discussed the crucial role of small and medium-sized businesses in the Greek economy as well as EBRD's funding plans for those businesses, with an emphasis on their openness and a focus on exports.
Plans also include investments in infrastructure, regional development and the creation of jobs in dynamic sectors of the Greek economy.
 Tsipras: Conclusion of first program review paves the way for debt relief discussion"We are experiencing the greatest refugee crisis and displacement of people after World War II," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with Star TV late on Monday, adding that "we have to face a problem that is beyond the capacity of a country and a government."
He noted that Europe itself cannot rise to the occasion. "We are witnessing the results of the unreasonable choices of the West," he said referring to the situation in Syria.
Regarding Turkey he said that the credible government does not escalate the tension and seeks cooperation with the neighboring countries. "If Turkey does not cooperate, I fear that not even NATO's presence will reduce the refugees flow."
Tsipras stressed the need for the European forces to understand the threat and ask from the IMF to clear out its stance.
"I was not in favour of the IMF's participation in the program, but I had to accept it in order to reach an agreement," he explained.
Referring to the disagreements among the institutions on the Greek program, he underlined that the European institutions should ask from the Fund to turn to realism and accept reforms in the program or withdraw.
The Greek prime minister reiterated the need for the immediate conclusion of the first program review, adding that Greece fully respects the agreement and the conclusion of the program review will pave the way for the discussion on debt relief. "The first program review will give the green light for the disbursement of funds and a large part will be given for servicing the public debt. The main thing is, however, economic growth," he stated.
On non-performing loans, he reassured that the government protects the first residence.
Regarding capital controls, Tsipras estimated that they will be lifted in the second half of the year. "After the first program review and the debt relief, the country will turn page," he noted.
 Greece and Austria are partners, not opponents, Greek FM tells Austrian state television, criticising Vienna meetingVIENNA (ANA-MPA/ D. Dimitrakoudis)
Greece and Austria are partners, not opponents, and must reach an understanding on finding a common European solution to the refugees problem, not a solution that the one side wants to impose on the other, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Tuesday, in an interview broadcast by Austrian state television.
Referring to the tension in relations between the two countries since last week, in the wake of Austria's decision to exclude Greece from the Vienna Conference for the Western Balkans on restricting refugee flows, Kotzias noted that Austria has for months now used a vocabulary against Greece "that is not the best in the world" and ignored the Greek foreign ministry's protests. The Greek side had then proceeded to take measures "to make it understood that this was not about a game but about people, the future of countries and the future of European integration," he said.
Regarding the conference itself, Kotzias noted that it was not right to hold a discussion about Greece's borders without Greece being present and that this violated all EU treaties, something that he had pointed out to his Austrian counterpart at the EU foreign ministers' council in Amsterdam.
Some parties in central Europe laboured under the illusion that closing the border with Greece will trap refugees there, where there was a humanitarian crisis, and thus stop refugee flows, the Greek foreign minister said. In reality, he added, while the risk of a humanitarian crisis in Greece was real and something the country was taking steps to avoid, the refugees themselves were unlikely to think in the way that some in central Europe expected. On finding their path through Greece barred, he explained, they were unlikely to return to their countries but would instead seek other ways to enter central Europe and continue their journey north.
 Tusk urges support for Greece, return to Schengen after talks on migration crisis in ViennaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki)
Europe's readiness to stand by Greece as it struggles to handle migration flows and returning to the Schengen code will be a test of the union's ability to handle the migration and refugee crisis, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday in statements after meeting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann in Vienna.
"The country which we must support in particular is Greece. The number of migrants arriving in Greece is on the rise not because they want to make Greece their home but because they are hoping that from Greece they will move to other European countries. A test of our Europeanness will be, on the one hand, going back to Schengen and on the other our readiness to stand by Athens during these hard times," he said.
He said his visit to Vienna and other capitals along the western Balkan route, as well as his upcoming visit to Turkey on Thursday, centred on how to implement the decisions taken at the last European Council, where EU leaders "agreed that we need to get back to a situation where all member-states without exception fully apply our common rules, the Schengen borders code."
A return to the application of the Schengen code does not imply the end of Schengen, Tusk pointed out. "On the contrary, a return to the application of the Schengen rules is the only way to preserve Schengen. The question, therefore, should not be whether we want to do it but how we are going to do it," he added.
"I know that restoring effective controls on the borders is not an easy decision but the truth is that there is no alternative to it. I can only hope that this difficult truth has finally been understood by all in Europe. We must talk about it around the table that sits 28 member-states, none of which should be excluded, otherwise the risk will be a further erosion of trust," he said.
The second challenge would be to face the humanitarian consequences of the decisions made, which meant supporting Greece, and lastly continuing efforts to cooperate with the countries neighbouring the war-torn regions, especially Turkey.
"Europe is ready, as it has already demonstrated, to grant substantial financial support ....but at the same time we expect a more intensive engagement from our partners as an absolute precondition for avoiding a humanitarian disaster. This will be the subject matter of my talks in Turkey this Thursday and Friday," he said.
Acknowledging that Austria had been in the "eye of the storm" and bore a heavy burden from the migration crisis, Tusk noted the need to stay calm and focused on developing and implementing a common European plan.
"After today's talks, I am confident that Austria will contribute to working out a European consensus in the face of the migration crisis," he said, adding that Tuesday marked a new chapter in the struggle with the migration crisis called 'back to Schengen'.
 EPP head: 'We must help Greece with all means to control the refugee crisis'BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Greece must be helped with all means available to deal with the refugee crisis, the Chairman of the European People's Party group (EPP) Manfred Weber said in a statement on Tuesday, noting that financial assistance should be provided to the country.
"The refugee situation in Greece could deteriorate over the next few days. We must avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and the further destabilisation of an EU Member State. Therefore we are pushing for European Commission plans to provide financial assistance to Greece and to other countries facing similar problems. This is a matter of urgency. We must help Greece with all our means to control this crisis," he stated.
However, he argued, Prime Minister Tsipras should not link the migration crisis to reforms in the country. "His strategy of skirting around the much needed reforms failed last year and will fail again. Only when Greece implements the necessary reforms will the country be able to return to the path of economic recovery to the benefit of all Greeks," the statement continues.
 Greece must be ready for the worst scenario, says Shipping Min. DritsasGreece must be prepared for the worst scenario, stated Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas adding that the government does not want to create permanent and large camps because "it is very difficult for someone to handle areas hosting 10,000 people".
Speaking to private TV MEGA on Tuesday, Dritsas said that the hotspots have a transitive and pre-departure role adding that the state can construct permanent hosting facilities for the migrants and the refugees but "we mustn't do something like that now".
Dritsas estimated that the fact that the refugees do not want to stay here (in Greece) is a safeguard for us adding that "in case of a fair allocation of refugees to all the European countries then we will have our share of refugees that will remain in Greece".
Finally, Dritsas said that Greece has asked for emergency financing from the European Union for the refugees as well as for the people that will finally stay in Greece.
 We are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII, UN High Commissioner for Refugees tells ANA-MPA"What Greece is faced with is not fair," the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Melissa Fleming on Tuesday said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
Regarding the new restrictions some countries imposed on refugee flows, she said that that "they are particularly isolationist and are not consistent with the spirit of unity and European values."
"This is not fair for Greece. It is not a problem that should be a problem of only one country due to its geographical location. This is a problem of the entire European Union; it must fight it and show solidarity to all those that bear the main burden," she underlined.
She reassured that the UNHCR "does its best to help Greece and will do even more," but she admitted that "it will be a very difficult situation."
"The issue is that we have proposed a lot of solutions to relieve Greece and there are also European proposals, but some countries decided to act unilaterally and they did not wait for the substantial and efficient proposals," she stated.
Fleming admitted that "we are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II."
Moreover, she said she is moved by the stance of the Greek government and the Greek people. "It is a very human and humanitarian approach (of the government), but the Greek people are also amazing. Of course, there are some right wing movements, as we have seen in all European countries, and this worries us a lot. Of course, this kind of chaotic situations, with huge groups of people, can be used in a very negative way to generate fear and xenophobia with the sole purpose of gathering votes. We hope, however, that the compassion of the Greek people will prevail."
When asked if they would ever be an end to all this tragedy, she admitted that the situation will not change overnight. "There could be an end if the global forces could think of a way to stop the war. But this would be too idealistic. However, we hope that there will be a renewed peace process and that hostilities will cease - as we now have truce. All the Syrians I know want to return home," she concluded.
 Merkel: Greece must be supported and we must return to Schengen systemBERLIN (ANA-MPA/ F. Karaviti)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday said there must be support for Greece, while Europe must face a difficult situation and return to the Schengen system. Speaking during a joint press conference with Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Ore?kovi , Merkel said she was in regular contact with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
"The images from Greece daily make it clear that there is an urgent need for talks," Merkel said, noting that the situation in relation to the refugees crisis was not satisfactory.
Oreakovi acknowledged that Germany had done a great deal during this refugee crisis and that his country understood the problems and wanted a common solution within the European Union.
 Conditions at Idomeni very alarming, says EC spokesman SchinasBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ Ch. Vassilaki)
European Commission on Tuesday expressed its concern over the prevailing conditions at the Greek-Fyrom borders.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas stated: "Fyrom has the right to protect its borders; however, the pictures at the Greek-Fyrom borders are very alarming and show that the solution can only be collective and European."
He also added that all the measures taken should be according to the international and European law" noting that this concern will be also expressed at the deliberations of the countries of the western Balkans Corridor.
Referring to the emergency plan for Greece, Schinas confirmed that on Wednesday's meeting of the College of the Commissioners, the Cyprus Commissioner Christos Stylianides will present the Commission's proposals for a new humanitarian support mechanism to countries within the EU.
"This is a necessary step to prevent the humanitarian crisis as a result of the unprecedented arrivals of refugees in the EU. From the very start of the crisis, EU's priority was to protect the human lives, to protect those who wanted to get away from the war and to offer them better living conditions," underlined Schinas.
Moreover, Schinas said that on Monday European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had a phone contact with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who reassured him that the EU and himself fully support him on the refugees' crisis.
 FYROM authorities increase security on border with Greece at IdomeniSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/ F. Fragopoulos)
Authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have reinforced security measures in the no-man's land between the Greek and FYROM border at Idomeni, in order to avert another attempt by migrants and refugees to break through the barriers and cross the border, FYROM media reported on Tuesday.
They have significantly increase the police and military forces deployed in the no-man's land, while two army and police helicopters are carrying out regular aerial patrols. According to sources, an additional 700 police officers and military troops had been sent to the area.
FYROM has stopped allowing any refugees through as of Monday afternoon, following the clashes between refugees and security forces at the border. FYROM police sources said the point of passage in the no-man's land between Idomeni and Gevgelija, the border town on the FYROM side, will remain closed until tensions subside and the situation normalises.
 7,000 people waiting at Idomeni; Fyrom continues to keep the crossing point closedFour Greek railway trains are waiting at Idomeni (Greek-Fyrom borders) to get the green light to continue their trip through Fyrom.
According to sources, the neighbouring country's authorities keep the iron gate closed because they are afraid that if they open it the refugees will try to massively cross the borders.
Six more trains are waiting on the other side of the border to get into the Greek territory, according to the same sources.
The crossing point at Greece-Fyrom buffer zone remains closed from Monday when a series of scuffles broke out between refugees and Fyrom police.
Roughly 7,000 refugees are currently at Idomeni camp, some of them waiting for at least 10 days, to cross the border and continue their trip to the countries of western Europe.
 Large number of identified refugees stranded on the Aegean islandsApproximately 6,000 identified migrants and refugees are on the Aegean islands waiting to get on board a ferry for Piraeus or Kavala port.
4,000 of the identified refugees are stranded on Lesvos, 496 of them left late Modnay and approximately 600 people are waiting to be identified today
Police said on Tuesday that the refugees inflow is low due to the southern gusty winds blowing in the area.
Meanwhile, roughly 1,300 persons are hosted at the four terminal of Piraeus Port Authority while a large number of refugees left or transferred to temporary hosting camps in the wider region.
 Undocumented migrants readmitted to TurkeyA total of 147 refugees from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria were sent back to Turkey on Tuesday.
Another 158 refugees will be sent back to their countries on Wednesday.
 Refugee crisis should not be used for domestic political confrontations, says FM spokesmanGreece's place in Europe and the management of the refugee crisis should not be used for domestic political confrontations, foreign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras told journalists on Tuesday.
"Greece's place in Europe and the management of a complex issue such as the refugee and migrant crisis should not and must not become an object for domestic political confrontation," Koutras said, responding to a question on the critical comments made against Greece by the leaders of Slovakia's political parties during a TV debate.
"Such petty political tactics are obviously used to serve political ends, but they eventually harm not just Slovakia and its relations with Greece, but Europe as well," he added.
 Greece has received 13,500 asylum applications, says Alt. FMGreece has received 13,500 applications for asylum which will be examined and those refugees that fulfill the conditions will be asked to stay, if they wish to, Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs Nikos Xydakis said on Tuesday speaking to private radio station Vima FM.
"We have 13,500 asylum applications which will be examined. Some of these people who have an explicitly refugee profile will be entitled to international protection and we'll have to ask them if they will stay in the country, should they wish to," Xydakis was quoted as saying.
Commenting on NATO and Turkey's role in tackling the refugee crisis, he said the main issue is to decrease refugee flows. "All the political and diplomatic efforts by Greece and the European Union are in this direction. This is why we're extending a hand of cooperation to Turkey, this is why we expect Turkey to cooperate and this is why the NATO operation is being planned - to control the flows ... to reach a point where they are manageable and to be able to relocate [people] from Turkish soil," he added.
 Greece turns down invitation to participate in police chiefs meeting in Belgrade on borders issueGreece did not accept the invitation to participate in the second meeting of police chiefs of the five Balkan countries, Fyrom, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria, that is held on Tuesday at Belgrade on the issue borders issue.
The first meeting was held in Zagreb on February 18.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had condemned this initiative as unilateral and outside the institutions, clarifying that its decisions violated the agreement at the recent European Summit on the borders issue.
Greece clearly turned down the invitation which could indirectly 'make legal' the previous meeting in Zagreb.
 Ministry scraps plan for refugee camp in western Athens due to unstable groundThe construction of a temporary accommodation camp for refugees and migrants in Ilion in western Athens was halted on Tuesday, after crews discovered the ground in the area was unstable and it would be very costly to do the necessary work to support it, sources from the ministry of migration said on Tuesday.
Work at the 70,000-square-meter camp near the "Antonis Tritsis" park started only yesterday, with the Armed Forces collaborating with local authorities to speed up the project.
According to the ministry sources, the cost to fortify the ground would jump to 200,000 euros and authorities decided it is too high for a camp that would only house up to 400 refugees. The ministry is now looking for a new location in Attica.
 Gov't seeks fruitful dialogue with political party leadersThe government seeks a fruitful and honest dialogue with the political party leaders, government spokesman Olga Gerovassili said on Tuesday.
Gerovassili said that the government is looking into the positions it will present at the EU summit. In any case the government is willing to use whatever diplomatic tool for the fair allocation of the refugees and the rapid implementation of the refugees' relocation so that unilateral actions are prevented.
The cabinet will convene on Thursday and then Tsipras will meet with European Council President Donald Tusk. The meeting will focus on the management of the refugees crisis.
Referring to the negotiations with the institutions, Gerovassili said that IMF must explain why it insists on positions not included in the last summer's agreement, especially now that the economic figures on which the agreement was based are much better.
 Main opposition leader Mitsotakis lashes out at PM TsiprasMain opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaking at the party's parliamentary group on Tuesday lashed out at Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
"The refugee issue is out of control, the situation is even more tragic, the economy is sustained technically, the society is boiling, nothing progresses, the country is close to zero point," he said and added: "The only one who sees the things differently is the person who led the country to that situation. Tsipras' interview on Monday was revealing and worrying. Mr Tsipras has lost control when the country needs to be governed."
He also said he is in favour of the political leaders meeting so that a national policy that will reduce the harm on the country is drafted.
"We are working with all our strength to restore the prestige of the country. The government needs to get serious and agree on Friday on an efficient action plan to address the crisis," he added.
 Review must close as soon as possible, says Econ Minister StathakisThe program review needs to close as soon as possible, Economy Minister George Stathakis said on Tuesday to realFM.
"We do not have the luxury the review to be extended, it must be completed as soon as possible and that is the government's aim. I believe that it is the other side's aim as well."
At a question if he agrees with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos' position that it will be disastrous if it delays until May or June, he said: "I totally agree. The review must close; it is highly imperative for the economy and there is no reason why it should not close."
Moreover, the minister announced that the government will table the development law in March. "The law is ready. We have sent it to the European Commission and we received their comments, which were positive in general, three months ago. The only thing that is pending is the institutions' evaluation because it has fiscal cost and it will be tabled in parliament."
 Deputy FM presents Greece's candidacy for UN's Human Rights CouncilDeputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis presented Greece's candidacy for inclusion in the UN's Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2021 during a speech in Geneva on Tuesday.
Speaking at the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Amanatidis said that if Greece is for the first time selected, it will work to cooperate with all relevant UN bodies and member-states, as it is convinced of the added value of an approach based on consensus.
Highlighting Greece's priorities, he said the country supports its policy on human rights through synergy and cooperation and expressed the belief that to enhance the capacity of UN member-states to fulfill promptly and effectively their obligations in the area of human rights, an approach based on building bridges will be more realistic to achieving concrete results.
 Greek unemployment eased to 24.6 pct in Nov 2015, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
Greek unemployment rate eased to 24.6 pct of the workforce in November 2015, from 24.7 pct in October, Eurostat said on Tuesday.
In a report released here, the EU executive's statistic service said that the unemployment rate in the Eurozone was 10.3 pct in January 2016, from 10.4 pct in December, the lowest level since August 2011. In the EU-28, the unemployment rate was 8.9 pct, down from 9.0 pct in December, the lowest level since May 2009.
The unemployment rate was 11.3 pct in the Eurozone and 9.8 pct in the EU in January 2016.
There were 21.78 million people unemployed in the EU and 16.64 million unemployed in the Eurozone in January.
Greece (24.6 pct) and Spain (20.5 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates in the EU, while Germany and Czech Republic (4.5 pct), Malta and the UK (5.1 pct) the lowest unemployment rates.
There were 1.18 million unemployed people in Greece. The unemployment rate among young people was 48 pct in Greece, down from 48.3 pct in October. Spain (45 pct), Croatia (44.1 pct) and Italy (39.3 pct) also recorded high unemployment rates among young people.
 Greek economic sentiment index down in FebGreek economic sentiment index deteriorated in February, reversing an increase recorded in January, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Tuesday.
IOBE, in a monthly report, said that the economic sentiment index fell to 89 points in February, from 91.6 points in January, down compared with a 98.8 point reading recorded in February 2015.
IOBE attributed this development to a decline in business expectations in the services sector and to a deterioration in consumer confidence which fell to its lowest level since September 2013. On the other hand, business expectations in the manufacturing sector, retail commerce and construction recorded a small improvement. A delay in completing a first review of the Greek economic programme, difficulties in implementing structural reforms and tax burdens are raising uncertainty and raise hurdles to investment initiatives. IOBE noted that developments in the refugee crisis is undermining consumer sentiment.
More analytically, business expectations in the manufacturing sector showed a significant improvement in production, while estimates over inventories remained unchanged and negative estimates on new orders and demand rose.
In the services sector, negative estimates over the current situation of enterprises and current demand deteriorated, along with estimates over short-term demand.
In the construction sector, business expectations improved reflecting a slight increase in estimates over current work programme and an increase in employment estimates.
The consumer sentiment index showed a new decline, reflecting deteriorating estimates by households over their finances in the next 12 months and of the country's finances in general.
 SEV delegation in BrusselsA Federation of Hellenic Enterprises' (SEV) delegation, headed by president Theodore Fessas and members of the governing council, were in Brussels on Tuesday for a series of meetings with top representatives from European institutions and the European business world.
During the meetings, the delegation will underline the need to swiftly and successfully complete a first review of the Greek economic programme and to present the agenda of Greek enterprises concerning the 3rd programme, the conditions of lack of funding and over-taxation in production, promoting a new industrial policy and attracting investments, through a drastic abolition of business disincentives.
SEV representatives will present the necessity and acute concern felt by the Greek business community for an immediate and successful completion of the first review of the new programme, in order to dispel an climate of uncertainty over the outlook of the Greek economy, further burdened by dramatic developments in the refugee crisis.
The delegation will meet with the vice-president of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president Andrus Ansip, commissioner Pierre Moscovici, commissioner Jonathan Hill, commissioner Gunther Oettinger and commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
 Greek businessmen, EBRD discuss cooperationMembers of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) on Tuesday met with the president of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Sir Suma Chakrabarti and discussed ways to exploit all the modern funding tools offered by the European Union to Greek enterprises.
The meeting focused on opportunities to access funding for productive investments, exports, innovation and crucial sectors of the Greek economy, such as the food chain, energy, transport, agricultural sector. The discussion also focused on a "Trade Facilitation Program" offered by EBRD to Greek exporters.
Representatives of SEB said that the country was facing an investment gap worth more than 100 billion euros in the next seven years, of which existing public funding covers only a small part (around 15 billion euros, while a development law has not adequate funds and the domestic banking system is unable to resolve the problem of non-performing loans). Therefore, new investment initiatives and mobilization around this target of all international credit institutions was necessary, SEB said.
SEB president Theodore Fessas, speaking to reporters after the meeting said that an immediate completion of the first review of the Greek programme and the lifting of uncertainty would allow active business forces to set in motion their investment planning and in that context EBRD's contribution would be priceless and useful.
Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: "We are determined to contribute significantly in the recovery of the Greek economy and my visit here today will help understand issues of primary importance. Our priority is to act towards making investments, supporting the private sector and strengthening activity in the wider region".
 National Bank signs agreement to join EBRD Trade Facilitation ProgrammeNational Bank of Greece on Tuesday announced the signature of an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) that will help support Greek trade through a facility under the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP).
The facility will now help NBG to increase its trade finance activities, despite continuously difficult financial market conditions.
An NBG announcement said that the bank was continuing its efforts to support the economic activity of outward-oriented Greek businesses, being the first to sign an agreement with EBRD for the trade facilitation programme and placing an additional solution at the disposal of the market to offset the difficulties faced by trade partners to accept Greek risk.
"Supporting the expansion of trade finance in Greece is critically important for the revival of the country's economy. We are pleased to welcome National Bank of Greece into our TFP and strengthen our co-operation with the bank also in the area of trade. The programme will help National Bank of Greece to better meet its clients' trade finance needs and further expand their activities, which will benefit the whole economy," says EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti.
Leonidas Fragiadakis, CEO of National Bank of Greece, added: "National Bank of Greece, which has the lowest loan-to-deposit ratio among Greek banks, continues to finance the economy by developing new tools and partnerships with the aim of revitalising economic activity.
"We are ready to use our expertise and long-standing tradition in trade finance for the successful implementation of the programme."
The facility will assist the bank's efforts to increase its trade finance activities and reaffirm its position as preferred trade partner, supporting the activities of exporters, importers and distributors of imported goods in Greece.
 Greek banks cut borrowing from ELA in JanGreek banks reduced their borrowing from the Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism (ELA) by around 0.1 pct in January, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. The central bank, in a monthly report, said that borrowing from ELA fell to 68.83 billion euros in January, from 68.91 billion in December, while borrowing both from ELA and from the European Central Bank dropped to 106.1 billion in January from 107.5 billion in December.
 Greek PMI down in FebruaryGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 48.4 points in February reflecting a decline in productin volumes for the second successive month this year, Markit said in a report released on Tuesday.
The latest data showed a further decline in incoming new works at the fastest rate since September 2015, while new export orders shrank further. The number of workers in the manufacturing sector fell in February, for the first time in three months, although the rate of decline was minimal. Greek manufacturers continued cutting their purchasing activity in February, while average delivery times were extended for the 15th successive month.
Outflow prices in the manufacturing sector fell again in February, extending their decline for the 60th successive month, reflecting a decline in inflow prices which fell at the fastest rate since January 2009.
Inventories fell in February, although at the lowest rate in eight months.
The PMI measures business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Eurobank completes acquisition of Alpha Bank's branch in BulgariaEurobank and Alpha Bank on Tuesday announced the completion of an acquisition of Alpha Bank's branch in Bulgaria by Eurobank's subsidiary in the country, Eurobank Bulgaria AD (Postbank).
Following the completion of the acquisition, Postbank becomes the fourth largest bank in Bulgaria, based on deposits and loans and was looking forward to further enhance its position in the Bulgarian market and to expand its customer base in the retail banking and corporate banking sectors.
 Greek capital market authority suspends trading in Hellenic Sugar Industry's sharesGreek capital market authority on Tuesday announced it was suspending trading in the shares of Hellenic Sugar Industry SA, valid immediately.
In an announcement, the Capital Market Commission said a full and correct information necessary to investors was not safeguarded therefore a smooth operation of trading in the company's shares was also not safeguarded. The suspension will last until the auditor expressed a new opinion on the company's balance sheet safeguarding a full and correct information of investors.
 Greek bank deposits up 1.15 bln euros in DecGreek bank deposits grew 1.15 billion euros in December, a "small but significant return of deposits" after six years of losses which amounted to 114 billion euros, Louka Katseli, National Bank' s chairman and president of Hellenic Bank Association said on Tuesday.
Speaking in Parliament, Katseli said that a full return of deposits should be expected in the next three years after a review of the programme was completed, normality returned to the market and capital controls were lifted.
"Challenges we face after the recapitalisation of banks is the return of deposits, managing non-performing loans and channeling liquidity in the market," Katseli said, adding that adoption of EU directive 2014/49 into Greek law preserved a guarantee of 100,000 euros per depositor per credit institution, plus another 300,000 euros for deposits destined for certain types of transactions such as real estate sale, or compensations.
"Greek citizens' deposit are fully safeguarded," Theodoros Mitrakos, vice-governor of the Bank of Greece told parliament, adding that the new system introduced offered shorter deadlines for compensation of depositors.
 Greek motorcycle market grew further in 2015The domestic motorcycle importers and dealers market grew further in 2015, IBHS SA said in a report released on Tuesday.
Alexis Nikolaidis, Senior Analyst Economic Research & Sectorial Studies, aid that an economic recession began in late 2008 drastically reduced consumers' available income, leading several candidate buyers to postpone buying a new motorcycle or opting to buy a used one instead.
New registrations fell from 100,000 units in 2008 to 29,536 in 2013, a loss of 70 pct, but a stabilisation in economic conditions in 2014 favored the sector with registrations rising 9.3 pct to 32,278 units and by 6.8 pct to 34,485 units in 2015.
The imposition of capital controls in June 2015 halted this advance as registrations fell 40.8 pct, the survey said.
SYM raised its market share to 17 pct, followed by Yamaha (14.8 pct), Honda (13.3 pct), Piaggio (10.8 pct), KYMCO (10.4 pct), Daytona (7.9 pct), Aprilia (2.2 pct) XGJAO (2.2 pct).
Maria Metaxogeni, chief executive of Infobank Hellastat said that low-cylinder motorcycle market will benefit if the prevailing economic uncertainty period were to be extended further.
Turnover by the 20 companies in the survey grew 10.7 pct in 2014 to 115 million euros, while EBITDA jumped 82 pct to 6.28 million euros and pre-tax earnings surpassed 3.0 million euros from 430,000 million in 2013. EBTIDA margin improved by one percentage point to 3.2 pct.
 Ionian Hotels reports improved 2015 resultsIonian Hotel Enterprises on Tuesday said its EBITDA rose to 6.8 million euros in 2015, from 6.4 million in the previous year, for an increase of 6.0 pct.
Turnover was 29.8 million euros, up from 28.9 million in 2014, reflecting an improvement in capacity and an increase in average room price last year.
After tax earnings amounted to 2.2 million euros in 2015, from 300,000 euros in 2014, helped by a change in tax rates.
 Greek stocks end slightly higherGreek stocks ended slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, during a day marked by high volatility of prices. The composite index was down 1.50 pct early in the session, after a three-day strong rally during which the index rose 8.95 pct, but later buying activity reappeared in the market pushing the index up as much as 1.20 pct. Interest focused on selected blue chip stocks such as Hellenic Exchanges, OPAP, Jumbo and Coca Cola HBC.
The composite index ended at 520.08 points, up 0.65 pct. The Large Cap index rose 0.85 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.17 pct higher. Turnover was a low 67.709 million euros in volume of 113,275,928.
Hellenic Exchanges (3.98 pct), OPAP (3.93 pct) and Jumbo (2.68 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Grivalia Properties (4.35 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.85 pct) and Piraeus Port (2.70 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Piraeus Bank and National Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Insurance (6.87 pct), Travel (3.46 pct) and Personal Products (2.8 pct) scored big gains, while Real Estate (3.13 pct), Health (2.66 pct) and Utilities (1.48 pct) suffered losses.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 55 to 39 with another 16 issues unchanged. Dromeas (22.58 pct), Vioter (20 pct) and Sfakianakis (19.44 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (20 pct), Pegasus (19.35 pct) and G.E. Demetriou (12.5 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased further to 10.02 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 10.17 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 10.16 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.14 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to -0.026 pct from -0.024 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.080 pct from -0.079 pct, the six-month rate eased to -0.135 pct from -0.134 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.207 pct from -0.205 pct and the one-month rate rose to -0.265 pct from -0.270 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 1.06 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,706 contracts with 14,910 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 73,614 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (21,554), followed by Alpha Bank (8,940), National Bank (21,269), Eurobank (14,168), MIG (2,912), OTE (758), PPC (1,266), OPAP (693), Mytilineos (571), Hellenic Petroleum (96), GEK (304), Ellaktor (262), Jumbo (259) and Frigoglass (109).
 Idomeni's refugees camp: The life n the Waste LandAt 6 o'clock in the morning, with the first light of the sun, the refugees camp at Idomeni, attached to the frontiers of Greece with FYROM, is already on stir. Everyone, whether grown-ups or kids are on their feet, if they have ever slept the night before, because of the cold, or the coughing and the crying of the babies. Armed with patience, if not with the resignation of who had to wait for more than ten days for the borders to open to him, or his family, begins the usual routine of each day, similar to the one the day before, which was similar to the one before, and so on.....
One of the first moves, before even to stand in line for the latrines, or to fill the bottle with drinkable water, is to light a fire and try with every possible mean, a broom, or a paper cup, to clean the waters around the tent. The filthy water, stagnated from the previous days' rain and sometimes filled with rubbish of every kind, which the humidity won't let them dry easily, in spite of the sun and the rather warm temperatures, unlikely for this area.
The good weather is a fact that all the volunteers of the Medicines Sans Frontieres and the other organizations assisting the refugees, underscore in their conversations. Otherwise the whole condition would have been even worse.
The Monday's incidents in front of the fence with FYROM, caused by the anger and the despair the perspective to remain indefinitely in that limbo zone, is on everybody's lips. "It's normal", explains one volunteer of the Medicines Sans Frontieres, who does not want to be identified. "What can you do, if every day cross the border only 200-300 people and 1,999 more arrive?"
"FYROM is no good, Skopje is a problem", explains Ahmed, a Syrian who left his home with the family of a wife and two small children, in order to make it to Germany. After ten days in the camp, he stresses that he just want to go to Germany and not remain in FYROM, Serbia, or even Greece. "Germany is a good country to work, treats people who work humanely".
"In my country rules the rule of Daesh, and everyone fights each other, Assad, the opposition, Kurds, all fight", added and he let us enter the big tent, inside which at least thirty people are trying to make space and sleep, warmed only by a blanket and the coexistence of many in a limited place.
Outside, the first lines are shaped also for the only point to charge the mobile phones, set up by the authorities to avoid any possibility of speculation. The other line, stable all day long, is before the canteen that sells coffee, beverages and sandwiches.
"The food is not enough for everyone, they only give one sandwich for the whole day. If you don't want to be hungry, you have to buy your own food. But since we don't know how long we are going to stay, we have to be careful not to spend much", told us Mohsen, another Syrian refugee, who thanks God that he didn't take his family along to this strenuous journey from Turkey, to Idomeni, through the Aegean Sea and a short stay in Athens.
"Everywhere you go, all we do, we have to pay. Two euros for tomatoes, or apples for the children", says another refugee, who eardrops, while he and his wife try to light a fire to boil some tea.
"You know what we did yesterday? We just bought some bread and bananas and made sandwiches with them", tells us Mohammed, a civil engineer in his previous life in Syria. He is the only one who dares to joke and laugh, when he tells us his story, his adventure from Turkey to Idomeni. "If not laughing, I should take a gun and kill all those who guard the closed border", he explains. "I'm not even thinking of going back to my country. If I do, I will take you with me to see what is happening there", added Mohammed.
No one else shares his good humour. You can see the despair into their eyes. But the worst of all is that behind this despair and resignation, one can see they have adaptated to the situation of the refugee's status, the total self-abandonment to a life on the road, in camps, to a life that is not life at all, that has lost every hope...
From every tent comes the voice, the songs, or the coughing of a child. The volunteers explain that the half or more of the population of this camp are children. Children are the only ones who have adapted to the situation, they still play and manage to laugh. They stare with genuine curiosity the cameras and the TV crews from every part of Europe that they trespass the fragile privacy of this forest of tents, they are the only who long for a fond gesture of their parents, or the neighbors, as if they used to when they lived in their country, as if their parents and homeland lived in peace. They still have the power to transform the mud and the bare land to a paradisiac place, to play with non-existing toys, or to endure with ataraxy the long hours of the empty days of this buffer zone, that has managed to buffer every hope their parents had so far.
 Greek Red Cross distributes food, water to refugees in AthensA team of professionals and volunteers of the Social Welfare Sector and Samaritan Rescuers of the Greek Red Cross distributed on Tuesday food and water to refugees and migrants who have found a temporary shelter in Athens' central Victoria Square.
"In this period of increased refugee flows, the Greek Red Cross is escalating its response, implementing a broad set of actions throughout the Greek territory to provide decent reception conditions to new refugees and migrants," the NGO said.
 No more ferry tickets for refugees and migrants for next 48 hoursTourist companies representing ferries operating routes to Lesvos and Chios stopped issuing ferry tickets on Tuesday evening and for the next 48 hours to refugees and migrants, in line with a decision by the Shipping ministry to delay the transport of people to the mainland.
The only exception will be made for refugees and migrants who are Syrians and Iraqi nationals and have been staying at Kara Tepe camp and who have purchased a ticket in previous days.
One ferry is expected to leave Lesvos this evening carrying 515 refugees and migrants to Piraeus, while tomorrow "Blue Star 1" will carry another 325 refugees and migrants. More people may board these ferries in Chios.
 Two ferries with 1,046 refugees aboard to dock at Piraeus port on Tuesday"Blue Star 1" carrying 623 refugees from Mytilene and Chios is expected to dock at Piraeus port on Tuesday.
Another 423 refugees from Rhodos and Kos will be transferred by "Diagoras" ship.
 Cloudy on WednesdayClouds, rain and winds from variable directions are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and local rain mostly in the afternoon in the northern and the western parts of the country and temperatures ranging from 06C-19C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts, 10C-20C. Possibility of rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-21C. Mostly fair in Athens, 12C-20C. Partly cloudy with a chance of rain in the afternoon in Thessaloniki, 10C-16C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Disagreements with IMF peak
DIMOKRATIA: Pensioners' Social Solidarity Benefit (EKAS) to be abolished for 60,000 people
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Humanism without borders
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: New NSRF program
ESTIA: Greece to become denationalised
ETHNOS: The Turks' trap in the Aegean
IMERISSIA: Seven 'burning' days
KATHIMERINI: Refugee flows without an end
NAFTEMPORIKI: Stocks plunge
RIZOSPASTIS: Anti-popular measures for pensioners and workers
TA NEA: He is not given the money not even for the refugees
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