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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-03-30

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

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

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 Issue No: 5141

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM announces Parliamentary investigation into 'shady' loans given to parties and media, during off-the-agenda debate on justice
  • [02] ND leader: Today's Greece is far from being a normal democracy
  • [03] Draft bill on cybercrime opened for public consultation until April 1
  • [04] Debate on justice issues started at 7 pm in Parliament
  • [05] Draft law on management of refugee crisis to be tabled in parliament within the next days, says gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili
  • [06] Greece should be ready for a long stay of refugees in Greece, says gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili
  • [07] Refugee flows reduced in the past few days, government spox confirms
  • [08] Commission spokeswoman: Sharp drop of refugee flows to Greece is encouraging
  • [09] Alleged NGO members urging refugees in Piraeus to skip organized centers, says coast guard official
  • [10] No refugees and migrants arrive at Piraeus port on Tuesday
  • [11] FM Kotzias meets Commissioner Hahn in Athens
  • [12] European Parliament delegation to visit Athens on March 30-31
  • [13] ND spox sues gov't counterpart for slander; relations between spokespersons are political, Gerovassili comments
  • [14] Greek armed forces chief in Qatar for DIMDEX 2016 maritime security and defence fair
  • [15] Members of PAME protest against reforms
  • [16] 2016 will be an excellent year for Greek tourism, Alternate Tourism Min Kountoura says
  • [17] Some fiscal measures may be avoided if revenues continue to rise, says minister
  • [18] Agreement with investors on Ellinikon airport to be submitted to parliament in autumn
  • [19] Bank credit to the domestic private sector in February 2016
  • [20] Temporary suspension of the trading of the shares of Druckfarben
  • [21] Greek stocks rally for fourth time in buoyant opening session for this week
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Greeks believe justice is under pressure from business, political interests, poll shows
  • [25] Numbers of unaccompanied refugee children spiked in 2016, coast guard reports
  • [26] Refugees and migrants at Idomeni clash with police trying to clear railway tracks
  • [27] The Ancient Theatre of Larissa, one of the largest of the ancient world, opens its doors to public
  • [28] Aegean Airlines continues extra flights to Lille as Brussels airport remains closed
  • [29] Moderate earthquake jolts Zakynthos
  • [30] Mostly fair on Wednesday
  • [31] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM announces Parliamentary investigation into 'shady' loans given to parties and media, during off-the-agenda debate on justice

    Launching an off-the-agenda debate on justice issues in Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras challenged main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to distance himself from the "dark recent history of his party" and also announced that SYRIZA will propose a Parliamentary investigation into suspect loan agreements between banks, political parties and the media. He also raised questions concerning the allegations of intervention levelled against Alternate Justice Minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos.

    The prime minister accused ND, on the pretext of a so-called revelation about a supposed government intervention in justice, of acting in close concert with some of the well-known "media of corruption" in order to create a hubbub and false impressions.

    "This is not naivete but effrontery and arrogance...You did not even think that in this way, you would be opening Pandora's box yourselves," he said.

    Tsipras specifically highlighted the "notorious Papangelopoulos intervention" - relating the minister had attempted to influence a prosecutor's handling of an investigation into the businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos. He noted that a disciplinary inquiry was already underway concerning the handling of the specific case, which involved major financial interests, and the actions or omissions that had resulted in three separate cases files being shelved.

    According to the prime minister, three questions naturally sprung to mind in connection with this affair and the minister's involvement.

    Firstly, whether the meeting for which Papangelopoulos stood accused had been requested by the minister or the public prosecutor. Secondly, why the specific case was in the hands of Appeals Prosecutor Georgia Tsatani at all and why it had been removed from the prosecutors for corruption. Lastly, why had the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor issued a document on April 22 stating that all corruption cases were the exclusive province of the corruption prosecutors, then on December 18 in the same year, the same person issued a second document saying that the Vgenopoulos cases had been rightfully removed from the corruption prosecutors.

    "I ask you: is there not a very obvious legal contradiction here?" Tsipras said, noting that members of the opposition had also talked publicly of a cover-up in the specific case.

    He went on to announce that SYRIZA's Parliamentary group will table a proposal for a Parliamentary examining committee to carry out an in-depth investigation of loan agreements between banks, political parties and the media, whose final conclusions will be issued no later than the end of May.

    Tsipras stressed that the issue of shady loans given to political parties could not end "overnight" because the previous ND-PASOK coalition government had slipped through an amendment pardoning and giving immunity to those responsible.

    The prime minister went on to give a shopping list of 13 major instances of what he alleged were interventions in justice by previous governments, including what he called a direct intervention in the self-administration of courts by a justice minister in the government of former Greek premier Antonis Samaras, shortly before the January 2015 elections, to favour his cronies. There has always been intervention in justice, Tsipras claimed, but the "plot was entirely lost" during the three-year Samaras-Venizelos coalition government.

    Omissions were also sometimes a form of intervention, he added, with the most flagrant being the failure to hand over the Lagarde list evidence to the appropriate authorities, while he also spoke of a cover-up in the Siemens' kickbacks case and slammed the out-of-court settlement with the company as "unacceptable". He announced that the government will set up a committee of experts and political staff to renegotiate this settlement, calling on the opposition to participate.

    Tsipras also repeated that the next constitutional revision "must put a final end to the shame that is the law on ministerial responsibility. Ministers must be treated as any other citizen."

    Referring to the recent case involving former Samaras aide Stavros Papastavrou, the lawyer who paid a 3.3-million-euro fine to avoid criminal charges for undeclared deposits of 5.4 million dollars in Switzerland, Tsipras this was a resounding example of the decadence of the old political system. He asked main opposition ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to explain why he was "covering for" the former premier and Papastavros and why he did not distance himself from the "dark recent past of his party," and also called on him to explain the revelations of possible ND links with a ring of corrupt journalists.

    [02] ND leader: Today's Greece is far from being a normal democracy

    Main opposition party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis slammed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday for government actions which he said violated the operation of Justice, during an off-the-agenda debate on justice issues in Parliament.

    Taking the podium after Tsipras, the leader of New Democracy (ND) said that in well-functioning democratic countries in Europe and the western world, everyone respects the principle of separation of powers and the full and complete independence of Justice, but this isn't the case in Greece.

    "Today's Greece Mr. Tsipras is far from being a normal democracy," he said. "You're not the accuser but the accused in this debate for the worst lies ever uttered by a prime minister."

    Mitsotakis went on to say that for Tsipras "the end justifies the means", adding that all he cares about is staying in power using any means available.

    He also mentioned press reports in certain newspapers and implied the prime minister has entered into "secret bargains" with publishers for positive media coverage. "Why does the opponent of vested interests meets secretly with a representative of vested interests? And why so many meetings? To tell him 'No'?" Mitsotakis asked.

    "You're a government in tatters. You want to criminalize political life," the ND leader added. He then criticized the "so-called humanism" of the Left, saying that it has "crumbled in the muds of Idomeni".

    Mitsorakis then called on Tsipras to resign noting that the cost Greece pays from the SYRIZA-led government is higher than the one to replace it. "Since you cannot govern, there's only one beneficial decision you can take: To resign. To leave before you destroy the country," he said, adding that Tsipras has already led Greece to elections three times without a real reason.

    "Now there is a national reason. Greece cannot tolerate you any longer. And as this parliament, as it seems, cannot provide the solution, let the people provide it. The cost of keeping you in power is higher than that of the process to remove you," he added.

    Commenting on an ongoing corruption investigation against a journalist and a newspaper publisher, whom Tsipras insinuated had close relations with New Democracy members, Mitsotakis replied that he has sued the publisher in question for writing unsubstantiated articles about him, which wouldn't be the case if they were in cahoots.

    On the contrary, he continued, the man under investigation signed last year a private advertising agreement with state broadcaster ERT, which raises questions. "There's a nice fabrica here. Somebody knows the content of these [leaked] conversations. He leaks part of it in the press and a newspaper publishes it illegally. And then the real orchestrator, the government, highlights it. This is the deep state and you're setting it up methodically," Mitsotakis said.

    [03] Draft bill on cybercrime opened for public consultation until April 1

    A draft bill by the Justice ministry on cybercrime which ratifies a convention approved by the Council of Europe and criminalizes racist and xenophobic actions committed through the internet has been published online on Tuesday for public consultation.

    The bill refers to crimes such as child pornography, racism, genocide, crimes against humanity, intellectual property, etc and its additions will allow the Greek government to adopt the necessary criminal legislation. It also adopts a European Parliament directive on cyber-attacks against information systems.

    [04] Debate on justice issues started at 7 pm in Parliament

    The debate on justice issues, which was postponed last week due to the terror attacks in Brussels, started on Tuesday at 19.00, in Parliament.

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a letter to the president of the Parliament Nikos Voutsis asked for this debate because as he said the public opinion has been lately poisoned by groundless complaints concerning the government policy on justice.

    [05] Draft law on management of refugee crisis to be tabled in parliament within the next days, says gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili

    The draft law on the management of the refugee crisis will be tabled in parliament in the next days, governnment spokeswo-man Olga Gerovassili said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

    The draft law will provide, among others, additional support to the local administration in order to meet refugees and migrants' reception and accomodation needs. It will also incorporate a European directive on international protection and asylum regime and will settle issues for meeting staff needs.

    The bill will not recognise Turkey or any other country as a safe 'third' country. Meanwhile, the government implements its plan to create facilities that will host 30,000 refugees.

    The volutary removal of refugees from Idomeni has started and the government aims to intensify this effort so that refugees are persuaded to leave Idomeni.

    Referring to the progress of the Greek program review, she said that the institutions will return to Athens at the weekend and the negotiations with the Greek authorities will resume on Monday.

    Referring to the imminent meeting of the political leaders, Gerovassili stressed that the government has taken the initiative for this meeting so that the Greek people are informed on who are really afraid of the independent operation of justice adding that the government will seek an in-depth debate.

    [06] Greece should be ready for a long stay of refugees in Greece, says gov't spokeswoman Gerovassili

    Greece should be prepared for a lengthy stay of refugees in the country, stated government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili during a press briefing on Tuesday.

    She also added that the implementation of EU-Turkey agreement creates a legal corridor for the refugees to Europe.

    The government implements everything agreed and gives a battle so that the agreement is respected by all sides, she noted.

    Regarding Alternate Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas' issue, she said that the government has expressed its intentions. The issue will be discussed immediately after Monday's debate in parliament, said Gerovassili.

    [07] Refugee flows reduced in the past few days, government spox confirms

    Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili on Tuesday confirmed that refugee flows had slowed in recent days and said the government was monitoring them carefully and assessing whether the reduction will be maintained.

    "We hope that Turkey will act within the framework of the commitments it has made, especially regarding the dismantling of trafficking rings and the implementation of the obligations it has assumed under the EU-Turkey agreement," she said.

    Asked about the economic measures agreed in order to conclude the review of Greece's programme, Gerovassili noted that the government had at no time believed that higher taxes will help the economy. However, she pointed out, the government was obliged to honour the agreement signed with its EU partners in the summer of 2015 and was seeking to shift the burden of taxation on those that could more easily bear it, rather than on low and middle incomes.

    She noted that there were still differences with the institutions over the handling of non-performing loans, while noting that the negotiation will continue on Monday. The government was very concerned with the issue of primary homes and businesses associated with primary homes, Gerovassili added.

    "We want small and medium-sized businesses to be supported to the extent possible; we want to be as demanding as possible today because that will determine the future," she noted. In response to other questions, she said the government might pass legislation for pension and tax reforms but these could not be separated from the timely conclusion of the review, which could not be examined piece-meal.

    [08] Commission spokeswoman: Sharp drop of refugee flows to Greece is encouraging

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)

    The sharp decrease of the number in daily refugee and migrant arrivals towards Greece is encouraging, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said on Tuesday during a press briefing in Brussels.

    The spokeswoman said arrivals to Greece have dropped to under 1,000 per day, compared to over 2,000 in the past. "This sharp decrease is encouraging," she said.

    Commenting on the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal from Greece, she said Greece is ready to approve legislation recognizing Turkey as a safe third country, adding that the government is ready to submit the draft bill to parliament "in the next few days, if not tomorrow." Bertaud also said any changes are "fully compatible with European and international law."

    [09] Alleged NGO members urging refugees in Piraeus to skip organized centers, says coast guard official

    Most refugees camping in Piraeus port are susceptible to a web of misinformation as some individuals who present themselves as members of non-governmental organizations often urge refugees not to board busses that will take them to organized accommodation facilities, the head of the Greek union of coast guard personnel said on Tuesday.

    Speaking at a press conference, Athanasios Tatsoulis said that this information was received from coast guard officials and once collected will be submitted to relevant authorities. He added however that NGOs play an important role in assisting refugees and migrants.

    Commenting on the situation at the port, Tatsoulis said that despite the drop in new arrivals from the islands, the makeshift camp is growing by the day, as many refugees return to Piraeus from organized centers.

    According to the most recent count by the coast guard, there are currently about 5,600 people staying in Piraeus versus 5,467 on Monday.

    [10] No refugees and migrants arrive at Piraeus port on Tuesday

    No refugees and migrants arrived at the port of Piraeus on Tuesday.

    The two ferries "Ariadni" and "Blue Star 1" docked earlier in the morning carrying no refugees from the islands of Aegean Sea.

    According to the Port Authorities, the number of the refugees and migrants at the port's facilities was raised to 5,600, from 5,467. Volunteers and Aid Organizations estimated that some of the refugees must have returned to Piraeus from accommodation centres elsewhere.

    Numerous refugees and migrants still remain in tents within the premises of the Piraeus Port Organization, since the passenger stations and the other buildings are already jam-packed with people.

    [11] FM Kotzias meets Commissioner Hahn in Athens

    European policies and the negotiations on European enlargement were the main issues discussed in a meeting between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn in Athens on Tuesday.

    During the long meeting, the two sides also focused on the most important issues in Hahn's portfolio.

    [12] European Parliament delegation to visit Athens on March 30-31

    A 12-member European Parliament delegation is to visit Athens for two days on Wednesday and Thursday, led by the Chair of the EP's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) Roberto Gualtieri.

    The visit is taking place in the framework of the European Parliament's decision to monitor the implementation of the Greek programme. It is expected to include meetings with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, government ministers, the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Bank of Greece governor Yannis Stournaras, MPs and representatives of business associations and social groups.

    [13] ND spox sues gov't counterpart for slander; relations between spokespersons are political, Gerovassili comments

    Main opposition New Democracy spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Tuesday initiated legal proceedings to sue his government counterpart Olga Gerovassili for slander, in response to comments she made at the weekend concerning possible links between Koumoutsakos and journalists accused of setting up a blackmail and extortion ring.

    Justice would now have its say, Koumoutsakos said, accusing Gerovassili of attempting "a deliberate slur on his character". As soon as the lawyers' strike had ended, he would proceed with the next step in filing a lawsuit, he said.

    Commenting on Koumoutsakos' decision to file a lawsuit, in response to questions during the regular press briefing on Tuesday, Gerovassili said it was "a mistake when someone does not want to reply on an issue, to try to present a political issue as personal."

    They both had roles and made statements based on these roles, she added.

    "I continue to believe that there is a lack of level-headedness," Gerovassili noted and said the lawsuit was welcome but the government "continues to expect ND's explanations concerning the blackmailers' ring and awaits the submission of the invoices."

    [14] Greek armed forces chief in Qatar for DIMDEX 2016 maritime security and defence fair

    Hellenic National Defence General Staff (HNDGS) Chief Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis on Tuesday had a series of meetings in Qatar, where he is attending the 5th Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (DIMDEX 2016), the biggest maritime defence and security exhibition in the Middle East.

    Admiral Apostolakis was received by Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and had brief discussions with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz.

    He also met his counterparts from other countries and had private meetings with the armed forces' chiefs of Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates, as well as the commanders of the Qatar, UAE and Pakistan navies.

    [15] Members of PAME protest against reforms

    Members of the PAME trade union front carried out a symbolic occupation of the Finance ministry building in Syntagma Square early on Tuesday morning, in protest against the "anti-labour measures" included in planned pension reforms, tax reforms and foreclosure auctions.

    PAME urged all workers to take part in rallies planned in Thessaloniki later the same day, and in Athens on Thursday to make a "mass and universal demand that the bill should not come to Parliament."

    Financial News

    [16] 2016 will be an excellent year for Greek tourism, Alternate Tourism Min Kountoura says

    Russian, German and British tourists have shown a special interest in visiting Greece this summer, Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura on Tuesday said in statements to Praktorio 104.9 FM.

    "It is estimated that 2016 will be an excellent year for Greek tourism," Kountoura underlined.

    She also noted that Greece has managed to establish itself as a global tourist cruise destination, and made special mention to the increase in tourism from Russia and the events to be held within the Greece - Russia year.

    As she said, in consultation with her Russian counterpart Alla Manilow, a forum will be held in Greece on May 20 with the view to promoting religious tourism.

    "The flow from Russia is expected to be very large and Ms Manilow underlined the interest of all Russian regions to visit Greece in order to recommend it to their residents," Kountoura stressed.

    [17] Some fiscal measures may be avoided if revenues continue to rise, says minister

    The biggest challenge for 2018, if revenues have increased, will be not to have to implement several of the fiscal measures which have been passed since August, Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Chouliarakis said during a debate in a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

    The minister said that European institutions and independent organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimate the Greek economy will return to positive growth rates as of this summer and will remain high in the next few years.

    He also said that data from the country's statistics agency which will be published next Thursday foresee a primary surplus of 0.2 pct of GDP for 2015, or 880 million euros, compared to a budget target for 0.25 pct.

    Commenting on the budget execution, Chouliarakis said there are "very encouraging data" as in January 2016 there is a significant overrun of the monthly primary surplus target. "This development is due to the successful implementation of the measures voted in August and if continued "will allow us in the medium-term to take less measures for 2017 and 2018," he added.

    [18] Agreement with investors on Ellinikon airport to be submitted to parliament in autumn

    The government will table to parliament in autumn the agreement between the Greek state and the investors for the development of the old Ellinikon airport, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told parliament on Monday.

    Asked by Democratic Coalition MP Odysseas Konstantino-poulos who wanted to be informed on the timeframe of the deal, the minister said it is possible to complete by then talks which are underway with the investors and then bring the agreement to parliament for approval.

    Tsakalotos also said there are a number of prior actions that need to be completed by the government in order to complete the deal, but added that some issues will be renegotiated to benefit the State and local communities.

    [19] Bank credit to the domestic private sector in February 2016

    In February 2016, the annual growth rate of total credit extended to the domestic private sector stood at -2.3% from -2.1% in the previous month. The monthly net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative at 295 million euros, compared with a negative net flow of ? 504 million in the previous month.

    In February 2016, the monthly net flow of credit to corporations was negative at 48 million euros, compared with a negative net flow of 205 million euros in the previous month, while the annual growth rate of credit stood at -1.9%, against -1.4% in the previous month. In particular, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial corporations remained at -1.6%, unchanged from the previous month, and the monthly net flow of credit to non-financial corporations was negative at 49 million euros, against a negative net flow of ? 14 million euros in the previous month. The annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries stood at -6.1% in February 2016, from 1.3% in the previous month, while the monthly net flow of credit was positive at 1 million euros, compared with a negative net flow of 191 million euros in the previous month.

    The monthly net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative at 20 million euros, compared with a negative net flow of 12 million euros in the previous month, while its annual growth rate stood at -1.0% from -1.2% in January 2016.

    The monthly net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative at 226 million euros, compared with a negative net flow of 287 million euros in the previous month, and its annual growth rate stood at -2.9%, from -3.0% in the previous month.

    [20] Temporary suspension of the trading of the shares of Druckfarben

    The Athens Stock Exchange, following the request of Druckfarben Hellas, temporarily suspended trading of its shares, as of today March 29th, 2016 and until the company provides adequate information to the investment community, regarding the operational and financial impact of the fire that burst out at the company's plant, on March 28th, 2016.

    The announcement of the company is available on the website of Athens Stock Exchange.

    [21] Greek stocks rally for fourth time in buoyant opening session for this week

    Greek stocks extended their rally in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, making significant gains in a buoyant opening session after the four-day break for Catholic Easter, but with low turnover. The composite index of the market rose 1.73 pct to end at 566.67 points, off the day's highs of 568.50 points, for accumulated gains of 4.61 pct over the last four sessions.

    The Large Cap index rose 2.43 pct and the Mid Cap index eased 0.05 pct lower. Turnover was a thin 41.280 million euros in volume of 70,801,929.

    Piraeus Bank (10.27 pct), National Bank (6.64 pct) and Viohalco (5.885 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while ELPE (1.6 pct), METKA (0.90 pct) and Ellaktor (0.77 pct) suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day.

    Among market sectors, Banks (5.97 pct) and Commerce (2.90 pct) scored big gains, while Health (0.74 pct) and Chemicals (0.71 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 39 with another 19 issues unchanged. Fieratex (29.66 pct), Domiki Kritis (18.23 pct) and Nakas (17.14 pct) were top gainers, while Pasal (20.00 pct), Akritas (19.67 pct) and Proodeftiki (15.94 pct) were top losers.

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    No transactions were recorded in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday.

    In interbank rates, interest rates did not show significant change. The 12-month rate remained almost unchanged at -0.006 pct from -0.005 pct, the nine-month rate remained at -0.071 pct, the six-month rate increased to 0.134 pct from -0.132 pct, the three-month rate rose to -0.242 pct from -0.239 pct and the one-month rate remained at -0.332 pct.

    [23] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.38 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday. The FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed at 156.44 points, registering gains of 2.43 pct.

    Volume on the Large Cap index totaled 2,512 contracts with 11,227 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 40,684 contracts with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (12,949), followed by Alpha Bank (5,839), Piraeus Bank (12,612), Eurobank (5,316), MIG (1,359), OPAP (692), Ellaktor (553), PPC (535), OTE (183), Hellenic Petroleum (103), GEK (96), Mytilineos (82), Viohalco (37), Motor Oil (37), METKA (25), and Frigoglass (56).

    General News

    [24] Greeks believe justice is under pressure from business, political interests, poll shows

    Nine in 10 Greeks believe that justice has come under pressure to not investigate possibly damning cases, such as the Lagarde and Borjans lists sent to Greece, according to a Palmos Analysis opinion poll published by the www.altsantiri.gr website on Tuesday, ahead of a debate on justice issues in Parliament.

    An overwhelming 91 pct of Greeks agreed when asked whether political and business interests exerted pressure on the justice system to not investigate cases such as the Lagarde and Borjans lists or loans to media companies. Another 89 pct of Greeks believe that Greek governments have perennially exploited the fact that broadcasting licences are temporary in order to engage in graft with the media, while 69 pct believe that television channels do not pay the state as much as they should and 67 pct consider that the government should immediately issue permanent licences. Just over three quarters, of 76 pct, say the channels do not treat the government in an objective, unbiased way.

    On the refugee crisis, 74 pct consider that the EU-Turkey agreement is good for Greece, provided Turkey honours its terms, and 79 pct say the EU should have a single and comprehensive approach to the refugee crisis.

    [25] Numbers of unaccompanied refugee children spiked in 2016, coast guard reports

    The number of unaccompanied refugee children arriving in Greece from the shores of Turkey spiked in the first quarter of 2016, according to figures presented on Tuesday by the head of the Hellenic Coast Guard's personnel union federation (POEPLS) Thanos Tsatsoulis in a press conference.

    Tsatsoulis said that 537 unaccompanied minors up to the age of 13 had arrived on the island of Lesvos alone in the first three months of the year, compared to a total of 750 in 500,000 people arriving on the island throughout 2015.

    Coast guard officers at the press conference described harrowing scenes during their rescues of refugees and migrants and said that some of the children that spoke English said they had come alone because their parents did not have enough money. They majority, they added, communicated with their families via Facebook and had been instructed to post their whereabouts as soon as they arrived at any kind of institution in Greece or Europe, so that their parents or relatives could come and find them.

    Talking about rescues in the Aegean, officers said that panic was the cause of many shipwrecks as refugees - crammed as many as 50 to a boat designed for six - moved about and caused the dinghies to capsize. Many of the people on board did not know whether they were in the sea or a river, they said, while many infants had no lifejackets and even when these existed, they were of poor quality.

    A Super-Puma helicopter operator noted that the most difficult rescues were those of babies and small children. In one hair-raising incident he recounted, the occupants of the boat had insisted that the rescuers first lift a travel bag into the helicopter which, once opened, proved to have an 11-day-old baby inside.

    Tsatsoulis and the other coast guard officers said those serving in the Aegean rescue missions were under immense psychological strain as a result of all they have witnessed over the past year, with many on the verge of psychological collapse, and asked that the state provide care but also some form of material compensation for their very important work.

    [26] Refugees and migrants at Idomeni clash with police trying to clear railway tracks

    Clashes broke out at Idomeni on Tuesday afternoon between police and the migrants and refugees occupying the railway tracks leading to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the past 11 days, demanding that borders open.

    The protestors reacted violently when police attempted to clear the tracks, throwing stones at police. A minor scuffle then ensued when the police officers detained a woman and put her into a patrol car, with the gathered refugees rushing the officers and pulling her out.

    Calm was restored a short while later in the Greece-FYROM no-man's land, with the protesting refugees remaining on the tracks. They have now also set up a sound system so that they can keep those staying at the Idomeni camp informed and send their own message to Europe, they said.

    [27] The Ancient Theatre of Larissa, one of the largest of the ancient world, opens its doors to public

    One of the best preserved ancient theatres, the Ancient Theatre of Larissa dated back to the 3rd century BC, opens its doors to the public.

    According to Larissa Antiquities Ephorate decision, the theatre will be open for visitors every day from 10.00-13.00 from April 1 with free entrance.

    The Ancient Theatre of Larissa is one of the best preserved and larger theatres of the ancient world that could host approximately 12.000 spectators.

    The visitors will have access to the area of the orchestra and the stage. However, the seats and the other areas of the theatre will not be accessible because they are under restoration.

    [28] Aegean Airlines continues extra flights to Lille as Brussels airport remains closed

    Greek airliner Aegean Airlines will continue to divert its flights which were originally bound for Brussels to Lille until April 4, as Brussels' international airport remains closed, the company said on Tuesday.

    According to its press release, the airliner will add flights to Lille on April 2,3 and 4. Passengers are advised to contact the company at the telephone numbers below for any ticket changes or bookings before arriving at the airport.

    Greece: 801 11 20000 (from land line), (+30) 210 6261000 (from mobile phone).

    Belgium: (+32) 275 34710

    France: (+33) 170 031323 or contact your travel agent

    [29] Moderate earthquake jolts Zakynthos

    A moderate earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale jolted the island of Zakynthos on Tuesday morning.

    The earthquake, which took place at 4.05 pm, was felt across the island, while many aftershocks followed.

    According to the Institute of Geodynamics in Athens, the earthquake occured at a depth of about 10 kilometers.

    There have been reports of any damages or injuries so far.

    Weather forecast

    [30] Mostly fair on Wednesday

    Mostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Wednesday. Wind velocity will reach 4 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts with temperatures ranging from 06C-19C. Scattered clouds in the western parts with temperatures between 07C-21C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures from 06C-21C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 12C-21C. Mostly fair in Athens, 09C-21C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki, 07C-18C.

    [31] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Less harsh measures thanks to budget surplus

    DIMOKRATIA: Vehicles with diesel are 'robbed'

    ETHNOS: Mystery over milk prices

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Lower pensions and salaries

    ESTIA: What is happening with sugar prices

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Intertwined interests, corruption and (former PM Antonis) Samaras' advisor

    TA NEA: Threats and lies

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Licences 'express' for new businesses

    KATHIMERINI: Ease with taxes, dystocia over expenditure

    RIZOSPASTIS: We rally massively against anti-popular measures

    IMERISSIA: Breather in car market

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