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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-03-24

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

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

Thursday, 24 March 2016 Issue No: 5138

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras speaks on the phone with NATO sec gen Stoltenberg
  • [02] EU justice and security ministers to meet in Brussels on Thursday
  • [03] Juncker, Valls agree on proposals to beef up EU security
  • [04] We should not associate refugees with terrorism, Defence Min Kammenos says
  • [05] Alternate Civil Protection Min Toskas reassures Greece does not need to worry
  • [06] Closing the borders, we are closing the enemy inside, gov't spokeswoman says
  • [07] Our concern is not to have children dying at Idomeni, Alternate Migration Min Mouzalas says
  • [08] Doctors Without Borders stop activities at Greek island hotspots and Idomeni, slam EU-Turkey agreement
  • [09] Alternate Migration Min Mouzalas visits Belgium Embassy in Athens
  • [10] Less refugees and migrants arrive over the last 24h
  • [11] It's time the Greeks acted united, President Pavlopoulos says
  • [12] Slovakian President offers wishes for Greek Independence Day
  • [13] ND's doubts about EU-Turkey deal for refugees proved valid, ND spokesman says
  • [14] ND to request pre-agenda debate on security in parliament
  • [15] Greek Alt FinMin dismisses talk of haircut for bank deposits
  • [16] Democratic Coalition MPs request parliamentary debate on negotiations with lenders
  • [17] Potami asks government to clarify what happened to 3,122 'missing' migrants
  • [18] Thirty depositors in 'Borjans' list appear willing to pay taxes due
  • [19] Education minister meets UNICEF chief in New York
  • [20] Greek banks' capital position particularly strong, BoG governor says
  • [21] Greek budget shows 3.038 bln euros primary surplus in Jan-Feb
  • [22] SEV recommends 20 pct tax on large investments
  • [23] Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce holds open discussion on Greek social security system
  • [24] Mytilineos Group reports higher turnover, lower profits in 2015
  • [25] Travel services balance shows 32-mln-euro surplus in Jan
  • [26] Greek banks to offer restricted services on March 28 due to 'special holiday'
  • [27] Thrace Plastics reports significantly improved 2015 results
  • [28] Greek stocks continue moving higher
  • [29] Greek bond market closing report
  • [30] ADEX closing report
  • [31] Aegean Airlines announced the cancellation of every flight to and from Brussels after the attacks
  • [32] Abramovic at ancient theatre of Epidaurus on March 28 for Callas documentary
  • [33] Exhibition of works by Thomas Hope opens at Benaki Museum of Islamic Art
  • [34] Two ferries with 260 refugees and migrants dock at Piraeus port on Wednesday
  • [35] Metro station reopens after 'suspicious object' turns out to be empty Styrofoam box
  • [36] Athens metro lines 2 and 3 shut down on Thursday due to 24-hour strike
  • [37] Sailing ban in force on Wednesday due to high winds
  • [38] Clouds, rain on Thursday
  • [39] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras speaks on the phone with NATO sec gen Stoltenberg

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday had a phone contact with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.

    According to sources, Tsipras conveyed to Stoltenberg the government's discontent that NATO's action has not produced the expected results, and the refugee flows continue unabated from Turkey.

    During the telephone conversation, the Prime Minister stressed that the neighboring country needs to adhere to its commitments under the agreement on NATO activation and the terms of the EU-Turkey agreement.

    [02] EU justice and security ministers to meet in Brussels on Thursday

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)

    The European Union's justice and security ministers along with representatives of European institutions will convene for an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Thursday, according to an announcement from the Dutch presidency.

    The meeting is being held after a request by Belgium and has been scheduled at 17.00 (Greek time).

    [03] Juncker, Valls agree on proposals to beef up EU security

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)

    Europe needs a security union, as much as it needs an energy, economy and customs union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday during a joint press conference with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

    Speaking to journalists, they said they agreed that the package of measures proposed by the Commission on security includes everything that is needed and should be implemented as soon as possible.

    On his side, Valls said exchanging intelligence between members-states is a priority. "We have to use all measures available to improve cooperation between member-states and guarantee security for our peoples," he said, adding that some of these measures include guarding external borders, combatting arms trafficking, the Passenger Name Records (PNR) and the European coast guard and border guard.

    [04] We should not associate refugees with terrorism, Defence Min Kammenos says

    Independent Greeks (ANEL) party is not giving a vote of confidence to Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas, its leader Panos Kammenos on Wednesday said in statements to ANT1 TV.

    Kammenos, who is also junior coalition government partner, said that he has decided with the prime minister to raise the issue after the parliament discussion on corruption.

    Regarding terrorism, Kammenos underlined that it is an important issue that everyone must be concerned with and estimated that a lot of terrorists have entered Balkans. The minister stressed that refugees are their victims. "The Syrian refugees are victims of jihadists and we should not associate refugees with terrorism," he stated.

    The minister also stressed the importance of taking strict measures for anyone entering Europe.

    [05] Alternate Civil Protection Min Toskas reassures Greece does not need to worry

    Greece does not need to worry. Greece is not a target for historical reasons, but we must be on alert because many people cross the country and we also cooperate with other governments," Alternate Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Toskas said in an interview with SKAI TV late on Tuesday after the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

    "During the meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday, we discussed measures that need to be taken immediately. This is due to the attacks in Brussels and not because of a greater danger we are facing," he underlined and added: "We are daily concerned on how to improve security measures."

    [06] Closing the borders, we are closing the enemy inside, gov't spokeswoman says

    "Closing the borders, we are closing the enemy inside," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Wednesday said in statements to Alpha FM and stressed that the peoples of Europe will have to resist.

    "Europe will have to resist to fear and respond with the values of solidarity and protection of fundamental rights," she added.

    "It is obvious that something went wrong. We have to admit that it is a difficult situation, especially when it has to do with people determined to die," she underlined.

    On the security measures, she stressed the importance of better cooperation and exchange of information among the competent authorities of EU countries.

    [07] Our concern is not to have children dying at Idomeni, Alternate Migration Min Mouzalas says

    Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas on Tuesday in an interview with Alpha TV expressed fears that children may die at Idomeni.

    "Our concern is not to let children in the camp of Idomeni die, but this is something that no serious person could guarantee amid such a large refugee crisis," he noted and added: "What I can guarantee is that we will increase our efforts to prevent this from happening."

    For the integration of refugees in Greece, Mouzalas stressed that "in the past 15 years the society has integrated some 1.5 million refugees and migrants. We already have schools for migrants as well as special integration programs. But we are not yet there. We are still in the process of setting the situation under control."

    [08] Doctors Without Borders stop activities at Greek island hotspots and Idomeni, slam EU-Turkey agreement

    Doctors Without Borders, one of the key non-governmental organisations helping refugees and migrants arriving in Greece, on Wednesday announced that it will stop all activities linked to the hotspots on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Samos. The NGO said the decision was prompted by its objections to the EU-Turkey agreement on refugees, which it described as a "cynical mechanism" that jeopardised asylum and showed "contempt" for humanitarian needs.

    The NGO has also temporarily withdrawn from the refugee camp in Idomeni, this time citing concerns about the safety of its staff but promising to monitor developments and return as soon as possible.

    As the head of Doctors Without Borders Greece Marietta Provopoulou explained, this was standard procedure for the organisation's missions throughout the world, with priority given to the safety of the personnel. She noted that the organisation's cleaning team was back at work in Idomeni but the medical team was still staying away, while there was constant contact with the refugees.

    On the Greek islands, the NGO was involved in transporting the refugees to the centres and also in running medical clinics within them. The group will continue to assist in rescue activities at sea and providing emergency medical assistance, as well as a programme providing psychological support for shipwreck survivors in Leros and Agathonissi.

    On Lesvos, the NGO will continue to operate a transfer centre at Mantamado, where new arrivals receive first aid, as well as rescues at sea on the northern coast and mobile medical units for those outside the hotspots.

    Provopoulou noted that Doctors Without Borders had never been the only organisation providing medical care at Moria, the Lesvos hotspot, though its departure would necessarily create a gap in the aid offered. She said the group was investigating the possibility of supporting local hospitals when serious cases were referred to them from Moria.

    Commenting on the decision taken by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs like Doctors Without Borders to restrict their activities at hotspots, the spokesman for the Greek Coordinating Body for Managing the Refugee Crisis Giorgos Kyritsis noted that the government considers NGOs allies in its efforts to protect human rights.

    "There is an agreement in place but the implementation framework has opaque points. We are in contact with the organisations and consider that the misunderstandings will be overcome and cooperation with them will continue," he said.

    With respect to the camp at Idomeni, Kyritsis said the tension among the residents there appeared to be subsiding and that there was no reason for NGOs to fear for their safety.

    [09] Alternate Migration Min Mouzalas visits Belgium Embassy in Athens

    Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas on Wednesday visited the Embassy of Belgium in Athens to express his condolences to the Ambassador for the victims of terrorist attacks as well Greece's support to the Belgian people.

    "It is a day of mourning for the Belgian people, for all of Europe," Mouzalas stated. "The following days are days of mourning for the terrorist attacks, the unjust violence, and of reflection on how Europe will be able to balance, to combine the security and prosperity with the freedom and human rights," he said.

    [10] Less refugees and migrants arrive over the last 24h

    Refugee and migrant flows have been reduced over the last 24 hours on the islands of the northeastern Aegean. Overall, just 474 people arrived; 327 on Lesvos, 110 on Chios and 37 on Samos.

    Nobody arrived on Wednesday as a result of strong winds blowing in the area.

    A total of 1,847 identified refugees are stranded on the islands of the northern Aegean.

    [11] It's time the Greeks acted united, President Pavlopoulos says

    President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday in his message towards the Greek Diaspora on the national holiday of March 25 stressed the need for a mutual front of responsibility and coordination for all Greeks, either they live in Greece or abroad, in order to successfully address the major challenges of our times and to ensure a better future for Greece and the later generations of Greeks.

    "The example of our ancestors who fought in 1821 should inspire us and guide us in perpetuity. Especially during the current critical times for Greece," the President underlined and added: "All Greeks, whether they live in Greece or are part of the Greeks living abroad, must create a united front of mutual responsibility and coordination of actions in order to successfully confront the great challenges of our times and to ensure a better future for Greece and the later generations of Greeks."

    "It is high time the Greeks acted as a single body, making the best use of the important potential and the exceptional quality of human resources of the Greeks of Diaspora."

    [12] Slovakian President offers wishes for Greek Independence Day

    Slovakian President Andrej Kiska called President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday to offer his best wishes for Greece's Independence Day which is marked on March 15, the presidency announced.

    Durinf the call, Kiska expressed his solidarity with the Greek people saying that the crisis caused by the refugee issue cannot be tackled unless the member-states of the European Union and other affected countries of the region take coordinated action.

    [13] ND's doubts about EU-Turkey deal for refugees proved valid, ND spokesman says

    Main opposition New Democracy's doubts concerning the EU-Turkey agreement on managing refugee flows were being proved valid, ND spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in a regular press briefing on Wednesday.

    "The answer cannot be found in unilateral decisions that lead to less Europe...Common decisions for more Europe can convert the challenge into an opportunity," Koumoutsakos commented. He attacked the government's handling of the situation and "third world" images being broadcast from Greece.

    Referring to camps like Piraeus and Idomeni, the spokesman said there was a risk that tens of thousands of refugees and migrants might become trapped in Greece. He underlined the need to relocate the refugees and migrants in these camps to more organised hospitality facilities, noting that the state and the police must be present everywhere, though not with violence.

    Among others, he criticised conflicting messages from the government side, with different ministers mutually incompatible things about how the crisis will be handled.

    He went on to attack the government's handling of economic issues, noting that Greece had slipped back into recession with stubbornly high unemployment while the government was again opting for higher taxes and pension cuts. The spokesman accused the government of dragging its feet with respect to the review of Greece's programme.

    Comparing a statement by Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos that the review must be concluded by April 22 and a statement by Eurogroup President Jeroen Djisselbloem that the institutions will return on April 2 and stop on April 15-17 for the IMF and World Bank meeting in Washington, Koumoutsa-kos said this created a "suffocating framework" with a large number of open fronts.

    "In order to conclude the review, the government must cover a massive fiscal gap that it has itself created. The convergence points show pension cuts and new taxes...the bad is over but the worse with SYRIZA's left is coming," he said.

    [14] ND to request pre-agenda debate on security in parliament

    New Democracy (ND) will request a pre-agenda debate in parliament on security, following the terrorist attacks in Belgium on Tuesday, the party announced on Wednesday.

    The decision was taken after a party meeting chaired by ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

    [15] Greek Alt FinMin dismisses talk of haircut for bank deposits

    Greek Alternate Finance Minister Tryfon Alexiadis on Wednesday categorically dismissed reports alleging that the government was examining a haircut in deposits.

    "There is not within the government's planning or in negotiations currently underway any thought of a haircut in bank deposits. Anyone suggesting otherwise is trying to create political turmoil," Alexiadis said, speaking in Parliament during a debate on legislation to adopt community directives on taxation.

    Alexiadis reassured MPs that there will be no new tax burdens for cars and said that a solution - to be reached this year- will be more reasonable, realistic and more rewarding for the state.

    [16] Democratic Coalition MPs request parliamentary debate on negotiations with lenders

    Three lawmakers of the Democratic Coalition have asked the head of the parliament's Finance Committee to hold a debate on the ongoing negotiations between the government and the institutions next Tuesday.

    The lawmakers are also asking the finance minister to state what the government's proposals are and what those of the institutions, as well as what is the actual size of the fiscal gap until 2019.

    [17] Potami asks government to clarify what happened to 3,122 'missing' migrants

    In an announcement on Wednesday, the opposition Potami party noted that the official figures for the number of refugees and migrants in Greece showed there were 3,122 fewer in just one day, from 52,207 on Tuesday to just 48,085 on Wednesday, asking the government to clarify how this came about.

    "The question that arises without effort is: what happened to so many people in one day? Were they returned to Turkey? Are the figures given mistaken? Did they leave Greece for other destinations? If yes, was this done legally or irregularly? We are awaiting the government's reply."

    [18] Thirty depositors in 'Borjans' list appear willing to pay taxes due

    Thirty depositors whose names are included in the so-called 'Borjans list' of 10,000 Greeks with UBS accounts from 2006 until 2008 have said they will submit supplementary tax returns for the amounts they had abroad and will pay to prevent further criminal proceedings against them.

    Hundreds of depositors have been summoned by financial prosecutors to explain discrepancies between their tax returns and their deposits abroad since the list was handed over to Greek authorities by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

    It is not known what will be the total amount of taxes collected through this process, as financial prosecutors are expecting the payment receipts of the aforementioned depositors to estimate the fines. Once taxes have been fully paid, the cases on these depositors will be filed.

    [19] Education minister meets UNICEF chief in New York

    Education Minister Nikos Filis who is visiting New York met with UNICEF's Executive Director Anthony Lake to discuss further cooperation in dealing with the immediate problems of children refugees.

    UNICEF is already present in Greece and is cooperating with the government to record the needs and priorities in order to start specific actions as soon as possible.

    Financial News

    [20] Greek banks' capital position particularly strong, BoG governor says

    Greek banks' capital position is particularly strong, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras said, addressing an event organized by the National Bank of Croatia in Zagreb.

    In his address, Stournaras added that actions taken so far in the non-performing loans issue will further improve banks' capital position and stressed that banks in the Eurozone have improved their capital adequacy rates to around 14 pct currently, from around 8.0 pct in 2008. He underlined the need to review an existing bank supervision framework in the coming years and stressed that challenges ahead lied with completion of a Banking Union. Another challenge was increased burdens on banks to adapt to a new regulatory framework as a demand for greater transparency is accompanied with higher costs. Another challenge is to widen the supervision field as banks have activities in a number of sectors, such as securitization, repos, collateral management and derivatives. Stournaras stressed that another challenge was the role of the central bank as a lender of last resort for the banking system.

    [21] Greek budget shows 3.038 bln euros primary surplus in Jan-Feb

    Greek state budget recorded a primary surplus of 3.038 billion euros in the January-February period this year, up from a surplus of 1.238 billion in the same period last year and a budget target for a surplus of 1.065 billion euros, official data showed on Wednesday.

    The state budget (general government) showed a surplus of 1.321 billion euros in the two-month period, from a deficit of 194 million euros last year and budget target for a deficit of 615 million euros.

    State budget net revenue was 9.622 billion euros in the first two months, up 11.1 pct from targets, while regular budget net revenue was 8.1 billion euros, up 4.1 pct from targets. Revenue surpassed targets in the categories of income tax (3.7 pct), direct taxes (46.7 pct), non-tax revenue (49.5 pct), while revenue fell short of targets in the categories of income tax (special categories) (-14.3 pct), property taxes (-22.1 pct), oil taxes (-26.7 pct), special energy consumption taxes (-38.2 pct) and other indirect taxes (-24.3 pct).

    Tax returns totaled 544 million euros, down 45 million from budget targets. Public Investment Programme revenue amounted to 1.522 billion euros, up 642 million from targets.

    State budget spending was 8.301 billion euros in the January-February period, down 975 million from targets. Regular budget spending amounted to 7.941 billion euros, down 960 million from targets, but up 196 million compared with the same period last year. Public Investment Programme spending totaled 360 million euros, down 15 million from targets.

    In February, net revenue was 5.408 billion euros, up 568 million from monthly targets, while regular budget revenue was 4.452 billion euros, up 332 million from targets. This development reflected increases in income tax revenue, VAT on tobacco and other products, and revenue shortfalls in corporate taxes, property taxes, oil and energy consumption taxes and other indirect taxes. Tax returns totaled 248 million euros in February, up 4.0 million from targets. Spending totaled 5.160 billion euros in February, down 492 million from monthly targets, while regular budget spending were down 492 million from targets to 4.935 billion euros.

    [22] SEV recommends 20 pct tax on large investments

    The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) on Wednesday recommended a cut in the taxation of large investments to 20 pct and expanding the option of offsetting losses with future earnings from five years currently to 10 years, to safeguard offsetting high losses recorded in the years of successive recession.

    SEV also recommended the set up of regional commissions to resolve pending tax disputes which could raise at least 100 million euros annual tax revenue for the next five years.

    Eftihios Vasilakis, member of SEV's board and head of the tax affairs commission, presenting the Federation's proposals, said that SEV was supporting the idea of a tax certificate - which was introduced in 2011 and 2014 - and led to an increase in tax adherence of enterprises to 92 pct, to expanding a tax base by 5.5 billion euros to annual tax revenue of 400 million euros for the state.

    Vasilakis said that over taxation of the most productive and efficient workers of the private sector was a recipe for failure adding that "instead of introducing investment incentives based on tax honesty and consistency, we raise nominal tax factors to the benefit of tax evasion and tax avoidance in an environment of limited liquidity".

    He noted that Greece occupies one of the top positions in a list of EU and OECD states in corporate and labour taxes and recommended expanding the use of e-transactions and e-billing, actions which could boost competitiveness and benefit both enterprises and the state. A survey conducted by the Athens Economic University showed that such a benefit for enterprises could reach 1.5 billion euros annually and for the state up to 1.0 billion euros.

    Haris Kyriazis, a member of SEV's board recommended that the state should award productive spending leading to profitability and encouraging emblem investments on technology, infrastructure, environment, manufacturing, etc.

    [23] Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce holds open discussion on Greek social security system

    An open discussion on "Can the Greek social security system be sustainable and provide adequate benefits?" is organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce on March 30, at Grande Bretagne hotel.

    "Today, the social security system constitutes a major national issue, strictly connected with the painful consequences of memoranda and wrong policies. It is clear that we must put an end to inefficient reforms and focus on the financing of the system that will fill the gaps resulting from the shrinking of the welfare state," according to the announcement.

    [24] Mytilineos Group reports higher turnover, lower profits in 2015

    Mytilineos Group on Wednesday reported a 12.2 pct increase in its consolidated turnover but a 26.7 pct decline in net profits in 2015.

    Consolidated turnover totaled 1.383 billion euros last year, from 1.233 billion in 2014, EBITDA fell 7.7 pct to 234.4 million euros and net after tax and minorities earnings dropped 26.7 pct to 47.6 million euros.

    The group attributed this development to a series of adverse factors such as a weak domestic economic environment, delays in completing energy and industrial policy, negative developments in international commodities markets and delays in investments in new energy projects because of geopolitical factors.

    The metals/mining sector recorded a turnover of 549.4 million euros in 2015, from 470.8 million in the previous year, while EBITDA rose to 98 million euros from 87 million in 2014.

    In the EPC project sector, METKA said turnover was 668 million euros in 2015, up from 609.3 million in 2014, EBITDA rose to 116.4 million from 103.9 million and net after tax and minorities earnings fell to 68.9 million from 90.2 million.

    The energy sector recorded an annual turnover of 187.1 million euros in 2015, from 167.5 million in 2014 and EBITDA of 22.4 million euros, down from 74.3 million in 2014.

    [25] Travel services balance shows 32-mln-euro surplus in Jan

    The balance of travel services showed a surplus of 32 million euros in January 2016, compared with a surplus of 11 million in January 2015, the Bank of Greece said a report released on Wednesday. The central bank, said that according to provisional data, travel receipts fell by 4.7 pct to 161 million euros in January 2016, down from 169 million in the same month of 2015. Travel payments also dropped by 18.2 pct (January 2016: 129 million, January 2015: 158 million). Lower travel receipts resulted mainly from a decrease of 7.8 pct in arrivals, as average expenditure per trip rose by 3.4 pct. Net receipts from travel services accounted for 14.0 pct of total net receipts from services and offset 2.8 pct of the goods deficit.

    In January 2016, as mentioned previously, travel receipts fell by 4.7 pct year-on-year. Looking at the breakdown by visitor's country of origin, receipts from residents of the EU28 decreased by 17.8 pct, while receipts from residents outside the EU28 rose by 11.8 pct. Among major countries of origin, receipts from Germany increased by 4.6 pct to 17 million euros, while those from France decreased by 5.0 pct to 4 million. Receipts from the United Kingdom also decreased, by 25.7 pct to 12 million. Turning to non-EU28 countries, receipts from Russia fell by 47.2 pct to 1 million, while those from the United States increased by 63.2 pct to 11 million.

    The number of inbound visitors in January 2016 fell by 7.8 pct year-on-year to 559 thousand.

    [26] Greek banks to offer restricted services on March 28 due to 'special holiday'

    Greek banks will offer restricted services on March 28 since the TARGET2 interbank payment system will be closed for the second day of Catholic/Protestant Easter on March 25 and March 28.

    The first of these dates coincides with the March 25 Independence Day bank holiday in Greece while the second does not coincide with a holiday for Greek banks. Greek bank branches will open on March 28 but offer restricted services, since there will be a "special holiday" for interbank transactions. The special holiday also applies for the Bank of Greece, Athens stock exchange, Hellenic Exchanges SA, Interbank Systems SA and other companies linked to the financial sector.

    For all financial obligations between financial institutions and their clients that are due on March 28, the due date is transferred to the following day, March 29, while any sanctions for non-payment will begin from that date. Transactions carried out on March 28 will be registered in the system on the following working day, March 29.

    The payment date for public debt, Greek loans and securities that mature on March 28 will also be transferred to the following day.

    The General Secretariat for Public Revenues has instructed tax and customs offices around the country on that day to accept bank cheques dated March 29.

    Organisations and businesses that have made arrangements for billing through standing orders or automatic payroll payments with their banks are advised to contact their bank for further information and clarifications.

    [27] Thrace Plastics reports significantly improved 2015 results

    Thrace Plastics on Wednesday announced a 4.0 pct increase in its 2015 turnover to 289.39 million euros, from 278.18 million in the previous year. Consolidated gross earnings totaled 59.37 million euros, up 15.7 pct from 2014, while consolidated EBIT jumped 30.2 pct to 19.08 million euros and consolidated EBITDA rose 23.2 pct to 28.98 million euros. Consolidated pre-tax earnings jumped 31.7 pct to 13.28 million euros and consolidated after tax and minorities earnings soared 50.5 pct to 9.78 million euros.

    Thrace Plastics Group said its investment plan amounted 32.3 million euros in 2015, of which 22.9 million in Greece. Net bank borrowing grew 9.6 million euros to 42.4 million.

    [28] Greek stocks continue moving higher

    Greek stocks ended higher for the second successive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 550-point level. Trading conditions, however, remained extremely thin. The index rose 1.29 pct to end at 551.31 points, off the day's highs of 558.65 points. The Large Cap index rose 1.79 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.04 pct higher. Turnover was a thin 51.472 million euros, in volume of 80,616,545.

    Piraeus Bank (6.71 pct), Eurobank (3.46 pct) and National Bank (3.30 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Ellaktor (2.21 pct), Lamda Development (0.76 pct) and Piraeus Port (0.54 pct) suffered heavy losses. Piraeus Bank and National Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day.

    All market sectors moved higher, led by Telecoms (3.29 pct), Raw Materials (3.23 pct) and Banks (2.72 pct). Broadly, advancers led decliners by 70 to 36 with another 12 issues unchanged. Fieratex (29.67 pct), Tzirakian (20 pct) and AEGEK (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while Progressive (19.77 pct), Naftemporiki (14.29 pct) and Sfakianakis (11.36 pct) were top losers.

    [29] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 8.69 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 8.52 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 8.80 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.21 pct. Turnover was a thin 4.0 million euros, two buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was -0.003 pct, the nine-month rate fell to -0.071 pct from -0.070 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.133 pct from -0.132 pct, the three-month rate fell to-0.241 pct from -0.239 pct and the one-month rate was -0.330 pct.

    [30] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.68 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,974 contracts with 11,347 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,284 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (7,929), followed by Alpha Bank (4,531), National Bank (5,010), Eurobank (3,639), MIG (731), OTE (252), PPC (224), OPAP (412), Hellenic Petroleum (207), Mytilineos (78), Motor Oil (68) and Titan (47).

    General News

    [31] Aegean Airlines announced the cancellation of every flight to and from Brussels after the attacks

    Aegean Airlines announced on Tuesday that no flight of the company will be operated to and from Brussels since the airport of the city will remain closed after the terrorist attacks.

    According to the announcement of the air carrier, the rebooking/reissue fees are waived for ticket modifications and full refund will be granted in case of cancellation, for all passengers holding tickets to/from Brussels with ticket issuance date on/before 21st of March , initial travel date on/before 31st of March and new travel date on/before 31st of May.

    For modifications/cancellations we kindly ask you to contact at 801 11 20000 or (+30) 210 6261000 (from a mobile phone or from a location outside of Greece).

    Aegean flight A3620 which departed from Athens International airport at 8:30 on Tuesday with final destination the Brussels Airport, has landed at Dusseldorf airport.

    To assist its passengers, Aegean will operate on Thursday and Friday alternative flights to and from Lille (LIL) which is 118 kilometers from Brussels. These flights will operate as follows (time is local):

    March 24 > A3 628 Athens - Lille 08:30-10:30

    March 24 > A3 629 Lille - Athens 11:20-15:20

    March 25 > A3 628 Athens - Lille 08:30-10:30

    March 25 > A3 629 Lille - Athens 11:20-15:20

    Passengers must rebook their flights before departing for the airport by calling at:

    Greece 801 11 20000 or (+30) 210 6261000 (from a mobile phone or from a location outside of Greece).

    Belgium: (+32) 275 34710

    France: (+33) 170 031323 or their travel agent.

    Passengers must ensure their transport to and from Lille airport on their own means. For more up-to-date information, go to www.aegeanair.com.

    [32] Abramovic at ancient theatre of Epidaurus on March 28 for Callas documentary

    Renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic will be at the ancient theatre of Epidaurus in the Peloponnese on March 28 to film scenes from a documentary on the life of legendary Greek-American soprano Maria Callas.

    Abramovic has been in Greece since the beginning of March to present a new project collaboration between the Marina Abramovi  Institute (MAI) and the Greek Cultural Organisation NEON, titled "As One".

    As part of the documentary titled "Seven deaths - the documentary", Abramovic will be walking around the theatre, possibly in a reference to Callas' unforgettable performance of "Medea" in 1961. Filming in the ancient theatre was made possible after the Central Archaeological Council gave permission to the crew.

    [33] Exhibition of works by Thomas Hope opens at Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

    Sixty works of Dutch and British merchant banker, author, philosopher and art collector Thomas Hope (1769-1831), which present Istanbul during the era of the Ottoman Empire, are hosted in an exhibition titled "Thomas Hope: Drawings of Ottoman Istanbul" at the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art.

    The exhibition, which opens on Thursday and will last until September 25, 2016, was described by Turkish Ambassador to Greece Kerim Uras as a "pleasant cultural break in the relations of the two countries."

    Thomas Hope (1769-1831), a scion of a wealthy banking family, went on a Grand Tour, the traditional trip to Greece and Turkey for the young men of his class, during the last quarter of the 18th century. Virtuoso, with unique collections of antiquities, sculptures and European paintings, a generous sponsor and an expert in the fields of architecture and decoration overturned the artistic settings of his time, leaving his mark on the period of the Regency.

    The exhibition reveals the artist's works from the capital of the Ottoman Empire. More specifically: Topographic views and folding panoramas of Istanbul, individual scenes from different neighbourhoods of Istanbul, monuments, temples, Ottoman palaces, halls of the seraglios, gates, mosques, funerary monuments, fountains, gates, the yal1 on the Bosporus, the sultan' s entertainments boats.

    Other scenes include details from market shops, coffee shops, images of various men, women with children of Istanbul, depictions of costumes, architectural details, accompanied by lengthy explanations and descriptions with comments. The works are of excellent quality because Thomas Hope was an unparalleled designer, a virtuoso of linear draftsmanship comparable to the qualities of a miniature painter.

    His works, 350 in total, were kept in his personal library bounded in five volumes, which disappeared after his death. The international scientific community thought they were lost, but in fact they had been bought by Antonis Benakis in 1930 and were kept at the museum's library. After an extensive search, they were discovered in 1984 by the exhibition's curator and History Professor Dr Fani Maria Tsigakou.

    However, the importance of the Thomas Hope collection is not limited to the aesthetic pleasure it offers to art enthusiasts. The designs constitute a unique treasure of visual testimonies for the scholars of the Ottoman civilization.

    [34] Two ferries with 260 refugees and migrants dock at Piraeus port on Wednesday

    Two ferries carrying 260 refugees and migrants from islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea docked at Piraeus port early in the morning on Wednesday.

    "Ariadni" ferry arrived with 241 refugees from Mytilene and another 9 from Chios. Eight autobuses were already waiting at the pier for "Ariadni" in order to transfer the refugees and migrants to a temporary hosting centre in Pieria Region.

    Also to the port of Piraeus docked the ferry "blue star 2" with 10 refugees and migrants from Rhodes, Karpathos and Kos islands.

    According to the latest counting of the authorities, the number of the refugees and migrants installed at the facilities of the port of Piraeus raised to 4,700. Due to the increased needs, the army will start from Wednesday to provide food to the people living in the passenger stations and the other premises of the port, and the authorities also installed more water facilities.

    [35] Metro station reopens after 'suspicious object' turns out to be empty Styrofoam box

    A suspicious package found in an Athens metro station on Wednesday which mobilized a bomb disposal unit proved to be an empty Styrofoam box left by a passenger on the platform.

    The station was closed by police after the object was found at the station of Agia Marina, on the blue line. Services have now resumed.

    [36] Athens metro lines 2 and 3 shut down on Thursday due to 24-hour strike

    There will be no services on Athens metro lines 2 and 3 on Thursday due to a 24-hour employee strike. Athens metro staff are striking to protest against the "undermining of structures and infrastructure and the targeting of STASY staff."

    [37] Sailing ban in force on Wednesday due to high winds

    Rising wind speeds and rough seas in many parts of Greece, in places reaching 8-9 Beaufort, have disrupted ferry connections from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio to the Greek islands.

    Weather forecast

    [38] Clouds, rain on Thursday

    Clouds, rain and southerly winds are forecast for Thursday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Clouds and rain in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 08C-15C. Clouds and rain in the western parts with temperatures between 13C-17C. Clouds in the eastern parts with temperatures between 10C-19C. Cloudy over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-19C. Clouds, rain in Athens, 12C-18C. Clouds, rain in Thessaloniki, 09C-15C.

    [39] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Brussels March 22, 2016. Bombs at the airport and the metro

    DIMOKRATIA: Big scandal at Medical School

    ETHNOS: Siege. After the terrorist attack in the heart of Europe

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Fear changes Europe

    ESTIA: Europe at war

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: One attack, a lot of targets

    TA NEA: Europe at war

    KATHIMERINI: Fear in the heart of Europe

    KONTRA NEWS: Fascism is knocking on our door. Chaos in Europe

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Vigilance and readiness

    IMERISSIA: Nightmarish scenarios. Terror returns in

    Europe

    RIZOSPASTIS: 5 new burdens on businesses

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