|Wednesday, 26 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-04-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 5 April 2016 Issue No: 5145
 PM Tsipras: Greek program review must end by April 22For the first time after six years there's complete agreement between the Greek government and the institutions on when the country's program review will conclude, which will be by April 22, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday speaking to Syriza's parliamentary group.
Commenting on the letter sent to the government by IMF head Christine Lagarde following the leak of a telephone conversation between senior IMF officials by Wikileaks on Saturday, Tsipras said that he agreed that a tactic to delay negotiations between Greece and the institutions to pressure the country to back down is 'nonsense'.
"I completely agree with this view and I'm glad that at least this common ground between the Greek government and Mrs. Lagarde is recognized," he said.
"At the same time, I wonder whether the others agree with this view, and I hope that in the next few days we will not see an intention to handle the negotiations between Greece and the institutions in a foolish way. Because it will not be the first time. Besides, since 2010, a lot of foolish things have happened," he added.
The prime minister also said that after the Wikileaks revelations he contacted foreign leaders and officials, including U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and French President Francois Hollande, from which he understood that "there's widespread support for the Greece's position that a review that should already had concluded must conclude by April 2."
He then noted the confrontation between the IMF and the European institutions and said: "We won't allow Greece and the Greek people to become the victims in this confrontation." He acknowledged however that "the situation is crucial and serious" and that the seriousness of the situation is recognized by everyone in Europe.
"Greece is no longer alone in its efforts to make a fresh start and create a prospect of recovery," he added.
Tsipras went on to criticize the main opposition, New Democracy, for "siding with the IMF", saying that the party chooses to identify "with the most extreme views" of the Fund. He said ND wonders why the government doesn't identify with the published demands of the Director of the IMF's European Department, Poul Thomsen. "His [Thomsen's] position doesn't just say there should be a debt haircut. But that it must be done in exchange for a general attack on rights and conquests that in reality blows up the July agreement," he said, noting that the deal foresees a specific commitment in debt restructuring without the extreme measures now demanded by Thomsen.
"I ask, what exactly do they want? To adhere to the view that requires a debt haircut at all cost?" he said.
Commenting on the revelations made by the Panama papers, he said that nobody from New Democracy or anywhere else described these data as "nonsense". In fact, he continued, countries like France have stated they will investigate the information provided to find possible tax evaders, money laundering cases and other illegal activities.
 Greece, institutions conclude first meeting in new round of talksThe first meeting in a new round of talks between the Greek government's economic team and representatives of the institutions to conclude the review of Greece's programme ended in Athens on Monday. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said that it was "an introductory talk" that set a schedule for the first week of negotiations until next Monday and a road map until the Eurogroup meeting on April 22.
According to the finance minister, there was no discussion regarding the Wikileaks transcript released at the weekend. Asked if the government was troubled by the fact that the European side appeared to be siding with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Tsakalotos declined to comment.
Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis also attended the meeting at the Hilton Hotel, which was surrounded by protestors taking part in a rally organised by the civil servants' union federation ADEDY against austerity measures, with slogans demanded that the IMF leave Greece.
There was stringent security around the hotel, with riot police preventing protestors from approaching, while one lane on Vassilisis Sofias Avenue was closed.
 IMF's Lagarde responds to PM Tsipras over Wikileaks concernsIMF leader Christine Lagarde on Sunday responded to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' letter of April 2, saying that her positions had not changed and calling on him to "ensure an environment that respects the privacy of (the) internal discussions" of the Fund team coming to Athens for the loan negotiation discussions.
Reiterating an earlier statement by the Fund, Lagarde said that Greece and the IMF were "still a good distance away from having a coherent program that I can present to our Executive Board", saying the lender could "only support a program that is credible and based on realistic assumptions, and that delivers on its objective of setting Greece on a path of robust growth while gradually restoring debt sustainability."
"Of course, any speculation that IMF staff would consider using a credit event as a negotiating tactic is simply nonsense," she said, while standing by the decision that "if it were necessary to lower the fiscal targets to have a realistic chance of them being fully met, there would be an attendant need for more debt relief. In the interest of the Greek people, we need to bring these negotiations to a speedy conclusion."
Referring to the prime minister's concerns over recently released Wikileak documents, she in turn expressed concern "as to whether we can indeed achieve progress in a climate of extreme sensitivity to statements of either side." Lagarde added her full backing of the IMF team and said that "for them to be able to do their work, as you have invited us, it is critical that your authorities ensure an environment that respects the privacy of their internal discussions and take all necessary steps to guarantee their personal safety."
She concluded by saying that "the IMF conducts its negotiations in good faith, not by way of threats, and we do not communicate through leaks," and said she was releasing her letter to the Fund's website "to further enhance the transparency of our dialogue."
 The strategy of delays in negotiations in order to cause credit event is nonsense, gov't saysPrime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday chaired a meeting on the course of the negotiations.
"The strategy of delays in the negotiations in order to cause a credit event in Greece before the Brexit referendum is indeed great nonsense. Nonsense that we all need to prevent," according to a government announcement issued after the meeting.
"The negotiation must be concluded soon, without unrealistic demands for additional measures, beyond those agreed in July's agreement," the announcement added.
Regarding security, the "Greek government ensures that Greece is a totally safe country, more than other countries where the vast majority of the WikiLeaks has occured."
 Head of Greek intelligence service says agency operates in line with Greek lawThe mission of the Greek intelligence service is to protect national security and sovereignty and always operates in line with the country's laws, the head of the service, Yiannis Roubatis, said on Monday, responding to allegations in the media that the secret service was involved in the wiretapping of a conversation between senior IMF officials, leaked by Wikileaks on Saturday.
"The mission of the National Intelligence Service is to protect national security and national sovereignty," Roubatis said in a press release. "NIS operates in line with Greek laws which always require an order by the prosecutor to tackle criminal activity or other threats," it added.
 EU Commission aims to conclude program review as soon as possible, its spokesman saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
The European Commission wishes Greece's first program review to be concluded as soon as possible, its spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Monday.
"We are committed to our work, we work feverishly and in good faith to successfully conclude the program review as soon as possible and meet our targets," Schinas said adding that the Commission is committed to the agreement reached in August. He added that the Commission wants to help the Greek economy return to sustainable growth, stable fiscal figures while boosting competitiveness and employment.
Asked if the Commission and the IMF share the same view on the program review, Schinas noted that the heads of the institutions are in Athens in order to continue negotiations and conclude the review as soon as possible.
Asked to comment on the release of a secret transcript by Wikileaks, he declined to comment. "The Commission does not comment on leaks," he stated.
 President Pavlopoulos urges for an end to war in Syria in meeting with Robert F. Kennedy HR headThe world must aim at stopping the so-called Islamic State and ending the war in Syria President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Monday, during a meeting with Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, who was accompanied by the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Marianna Vardinoyan-nis.
"Please relate to your country, the United States ... that the entire civilized world should have two aims at this point: First, finishing with ISIS. It is inconceivable for civilization and our democracy to have this new outbreak of barbarism, called ISIS. And secondly, the war must end immediately so that refugees can return to their homes," Pavlopoulos told Kennedy.
"These refugees didn't leave [their country] looking for a better fate in other European countries. They left because there was a war," he added.
On her side, Kennedy mentioned the way Greeks have welcomed refugees despite the economic crisis. "The day before yesterday I was fortunate enough, because Mrs. Vardinoyiannis and I were able to visit Schisto [refugee camp]. And I have to admit that, considering the economic crisis facing Greece, it is very impressive the fact that Greeks were so accepting and open towards these refugees," she said. "The compassion t=Greeks showed towards them is impressive."
Vardinoyiannis also commented on her visit to Schisto, saying it was emotional and also expressed her satisfaction with Kennedy's assessment that the camp was well organized.
She also said that her institution is willing to cooperate with the State to organize a center that will accommodate unaccompa-nied refugee children, adding this issue was discussed in a meeting with Interior Minister Panos Kouroum-blis earlier today. "This center will be a model for other such centers abroad," Vardinoyannis said.
 First returns to Turkey, refugee resettlements to EU launched on Monday, EU Commission announcesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ C. Vasilaki)
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Monday announced the launch of two parallel processes for refugees and migrants, with returns to Turkey from the Greek islands and the resettlement of refugees in Turkey in European Union member-states. According to the spokesman, the aim was to make clear that attempting a clandestine entry into to the EU was both dangerous and pointless.
Schinas said that Monday's returns and resettlements were the "first visible step" in the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement of March 18, which sought to put an end to illegal migration and the "business model" of the migrant traffickers.
According to the Commission spokeswoman for migration issues Tove Ernst, the returns on Monday were exclusively of individuals that had not wished to submit asylum applications in Greece and therefore had no right to stay, regardless of nationality. She was unable to confirm the nationalities among those returned on Monday.
Schinas noted that Monday's operation was conducted smoothly, without incidents and was properly organised, with an adequate presence by the EU border agency Frontex and adequate safeguards. He also pointed to a UNHCR tweet saying that UNHCR staff had informed the individuals involved about their rights to request asylum.
According to the Commission, the returns of asylum seekers whose applications have been turned down by Greece will begin once the required legal and other measures are in force, both in Greece and Turkey. Spokespersons for the Commission also repeated that no asylum seeker would be returned unless they have fully exercised their rights to request asylum in Greece and their application has been examined on an individual basis, including any possible appeal.
In Greece this meant that the legislation passed the previous Friday must be in force, while Turkey must sign the legal measures on the protection status to be given to Syrians, Ernst said. The Commission was also waiting for guarantees from Turkey that returnees of other nationalities, in addition to Syrians, will have access to asylum processes. Schinas noted that European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos would be in Ankara on Monday and Tuesday for meetings to settle all the above issues.
The first refugee resettlements from Turkey to the EU also began on Monday, with 32 Syrians resettled in German and 11 in Finland. A third group of Syrians is due to leave for the Netherlands on Tuesday.
"For every shipload that returns migrants to Turkey, an airplane of refugees will leave Turkey for Europe," Ernst said, adding that the refugees will be selected based on UNHCR "vulnerability criteria".
The Commission also announced that 206 Frontex escort officers had arrived in Greece over the weekend, in addition to 32 European Asylum Support Office (EASO) staff and five permanent employees, while an additional 30 were expected to arrive by Wednesday.
 Greece returns 202 migrants and refugees to Turkey with Frontex's assistanceGreece completed the first 202 readmissions of refugees and migrants from Lesvos and Chios to Turkey with Frontex's assistance, as part of the EU-Turkey agreement, it was announced on Monday.
The operation, which included 180 escort officers deployed by Frontex, as well as Greek officers, is coordinated between the Greek and Turkish authorities.
According to information provided by the Greek authorities, 136 people boarded from Lesvos - 135 and one woman - of the following nationalities: 124 Pakistanis, 3 Bangladeshis, one Iraqi, 2 Indians, 4 Sri Lankans and 2 Syrians. Another 66 people boarded in Chios - 56 men and 10 women: 42 Afghanis, 10 Iranians, 6 Pakistanis, one Indian, one Somali, one from the Ivory Coast and 5 from Congo.
None of the migrants and refugees who were readmitted applied for an asylum in Greece, including the two Syrians who asked to return to Turkey. The readmission operation will continue in the coming days.
 Refugees at Idomeni showing greater interest in relocation programmes, UNHCR staff reportUNHCR staff at the refugee camp in Idomeni, near the border crossing between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), on Monday reported that the refugees were showing a greater interest in the EU relocation programmes than they had in previous days. According to UNHCR representative Liene Veide, this was because they were better informed and "have started to understand how things are."
"I would say that before there was a sense that the borders will open and they did not show a great interest in obtaining information. Now that it is becoming clear that this prospect does not exist and that the borders will not open, they are starting to consider 'Plan B'," she added.
In addition to those interested in the relocation programme, there were those considering applying for asylum in Greece and those seeking to be reunited with their families. In all three cases, she added, the refugees had to understand that things would not happen overnight. This was hard for them to accept, Veide noted, since they had already been in Greece for a long time and that made the UNHCR's role in explaining the situation even harder.
Commenting on a break-in at the UNHCR storage facility in Idomeni, containing dry food and other items, Veide said that the police had been informed and that the UNHCR had asked for increased security.
 Refugees and migrants refuse to leave Piraeus port for other hosting facilitiesRefugees and migrants hosted at Piraeus port continue to refuse leaving the port for other hosting facilities in several parts of the country.
Port authority officials assisted by translators are trying to persuade the refugees to get on board a bus, however, they are called to overcome the refugees and migrants insecurity and mistrust.
Some refugees told ANA-MPA that they wish to go elsewhere if the conditions are better while other expressed the fear that if they are sent elsewhere, everyone will forget them.
They also expressed concern over their future after they got informed that the readmission process to Turkey has started. Four buses are currently parked at Piraeus waiting for refugees to get on board while at the same time UNCHR officials provide information to those refugees who want to seek asylum.
According to the latest official report, 4,725 refugees and migrants remain at the port of Piraeus.
 Protesting refugees block Evzones-Thessaloniki national highwayProtesting refugees on Monday blocked the national highway between Thessaloniki and the Evzones border crossing in both directions, demanding the opening of the borders. The protestors also had an angry spat with a local motorist trying to get past them from the side of the road, forcing police to intervene.
Police had earlier given over one of the Evzones lanes to cars heading in the opposite direction, toward Thessaloniki, but the protestors then occupied that side of the road as well, once they realised what had been done. Police attempted to prevent them but the protesting refugees succeeded in occupying the entire road in both directions.
 4,800 refugees stranded at Piraeus port"Ariadni" ferry arrived at the port of Piraeus on Monday morning carrying 25 migrants and refugees from Mytilene.
Another 73 refugees from Samos were transferred on Sunday night by "Nisos Mykonos."
According to the latest data, 4,800 refugees are now stranded at Piraeus port.
Despite the fact that three buses arrived at the port on Sunday to transfer migrants and refugees to accommodation centres, nobody boarded. Many of the refugees and migrants fear that the centers are far from the city and expressed their concern that they would be trapped there.
 Turkish General Consul Okan visits refugees in IdomeniThe Turkish General Consul in Thessaloniki Orhan Yalman Okan visited on Monday the refugees camp in Idomeni. The Turkish official toured the camp as well as tents scattered on the railway tracks that remain blocked for over two weeks.
According to information, the Turkish consulate went to Idomeni to inspect the condition in Idomeni.
 Government spokeswoman meets Russian counterpart in MoscowGovernment spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili had a customary meeting with the spokesman of the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, at the Kremlin on Monday, as part of her two-day visit to Moscow to mark the inauguration of the Greek-Russian Year.
Earlier, Gerovasili attended the opening of the photographic exhibition titled "Athos: The Holy Mountain", which took place at a hall of the Duma, saying it is an important cultural exhibition.
 "We must move quickly", says newly appointed Hellenic festival director TheodoropoulosDirector Vangelis Theodoropoulos who was appointed curator of the Hellenic Festival will attempt to eventually put his own mark.
"I accepted the position at a crucial time for the course of the Festival and because I believe that this year's Festival should not be cancelled" stated Theodoropoulos to ANA-MPA.
"Today (Monday) I will be informed if former director Giorgos Loukos has submitted a programme for 2016 and if contracts have been signed, otherwise, we must move quickly and choose responsibly from the proposals sumbitted. Being aware of the Greek theatrical landscape, I am certain that a lot of worthwhile proposals will have been submitted. If I will be able to put my personal mark to the Hellenic Festival, it will be something that will be seen next year," he said.
"The task of the new artistic director is difficult, but we are sure that he will work constructively with the board of the Hellenic Festival and the Greek artists to have the best possible result under the current circumstances. And always with the eyes set on the future," the Culture ministry said in an announcement.
Theodoropoulos was appointed curator of the Festival after the resignation of Jan Fabre on Saturday.
 Multiple airspace violations by Turkish military aircraft in AegeanFormations of Turkish military aircraft on Monday committed 21 violations of Greek airspace above the Aegean, after first carrying out seven separate infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region, which they entered without submitting flight plans.
Sixteen of the Greek airspace violations were committed by a Turkish CN-235 naval cooperation aircraft that flew north to south from the island of Limnos to the island of Rhodes. Four violations of Greek airspace were committed by six Turkish fighter planes and one airspace violation by a Turkish helicopter flying south of the Aegean island of Samos. According to Turkey, helicopters patrol the region in response to the refugee crisis.
In all cases, the Turkish aircraft were identified and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force fighter jets. Two of the Turkish planes were armed.
 Greek unemployment eased to 24.0 pct in Dec 2015, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
Greek unemployment rate eased to 24.0 pct of the workforce in December 2015, from 24.4 pct in November, Eurostat said on Monday.
In a report, the EU executive's statistic service said that the unemployment rate in the Eurozone was 10.3 pct in February 2016 compared to 10.4 pct in January, the lowest level since August 2011.
The unemployment rate was 8.9 pct in the EU in January 2016.
There were 1.15 million people unemployed in Greece in December.
 Lufthansa includes seven more Greek destinations in its summer scheduleLufthansa group will offer a variety of destinations to its clients wishing to visit Greece in the summer.
The group announced on Tuesday that it will carry out seven more flights with destination Corfu, Zakynthos, Mykonos, Iraklio, Kos, Rhodes and Santorini along with the flights to Athens and Thessaloniki.
According to the group's general director in Greece Constantinos Tzevelekos the group's airlines will carry out approximately 200 flights per week from Greece. The flights will be carried out by Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and Edelweiss.
Asked on the refugees crisis effect on the Greek tourism and the ticket reservations, Tzevelekos said that a drop in the reservations for the northeastern Aegean islands has been observed, however, "We estimate that it will be counterbalanced by the reservations for Crete and the Ionian islands".
 Greek stocks continue decline on MondayGreek stocks moved lower for a third session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with investors wary ahead of a resumption of talks with creditors in the afternoon on concluding the review of Greece's programme, especially in the wake of the Wikileaks revelations at the weekend about the IMF's stance. The composite index fell below 560 points in mid-session and turnover was stubbornly low, with pressure focused on banking stock.
The composite index fell 1.19 pct to end at 564.75 points, after falling as much as 2.09 pct to 559.6 points earlier in the day.
The Large Cap index fell 1.58 pct and the Mid Cap index fell 1.72 pct lower. Turnover was a very low 41.246 million euros in volume of 257,702,556.
Folli Follie (2.06 pct), Coca Cola HBC (1.66 pct) and OPAP (1.27 pct) made the biggest gains among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (8.48 pct), National Bank (5.51 pct) and Eurobank (4.81 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. National Bank and Piraeus Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day.
Among market sectors, Commerce (2.06 pct), and Foods (1.66 pct) scored gains, while Banks (5.35 pct), Insurance (3.97) and Technology (3.39 pct) had the greatest losses.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 68 to 37 with another 16 issues unchanged. Boutaris (19.57 pct), Nafpaktos Mills (9.71 pct) and Fieratex (9.63 pct) were top gainers, while Mathios Pyrimaha (29.86 pct), Lavipharm (15.32 pct) and Viokarpet (12.57 pct) were top losers.
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds rose to 8.75 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 8.51 pct at the end of last week. The Greek bond yielded 8.89 pct and the German Bund yielded 0.14 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros, with two sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to -0.001 pct from -0.002 pct, the nine-month rate was -0.068 pct, the six-month rate fell to -0.132 pct from -0.131 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.246 pct from -0.245 pct and the one-month rate was -0.339 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.26 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. The FTSE/ASE Large Cap index closed at 154.91 points, registering losses of 1.58 pct. Volume on the Large Cap index totaled 1,281 contracts with 11,924 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 41,711 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (15,452), followed by Alpha Bank (5,783), National Bank (13,170), Eurobank (4,374), MIG (656), PPC (419), OPAP (387), OTE (554), GEK (79), Mytilineos (121), Hellenic Petroleum (207), METKA (70), Motor Oil (76), Ellaktor (40) and Viohalco (35).
 Athens Science Festival opens its doors in Gazi's Technopolis Centre on TuesdayThe Athens Science Festival (ASF) that will take place at the City of Athens Technopolis Centre in Gazi on April 5-10 opens its doors to the public on Tuesday afternoon, for the third consecutive year. The five-day festival will feature talks, contests, performances, science theatre, exhibitions and documentaries, as well as giving visitors an opportunity to take part in workshops, labs, educational activities and educational games.
Among the topics to be explored in the 2016 ASF are life and matter, the making of 'smart' machines, the human brain, fighting disease, new materials with 'magical' properties, climate change and many others.
Svante Paeaebo, Director of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany will give the opening talk on Tuesday evening on the topic "Your Internal Neanderthal", followed by the MIT's Michalis Bletsas speaking about "Internet Connectivity."
Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet 'Troopy' - a humanoid robot built by high school student Dimitris Hatzis from Kavala in northern Greece - and a chance to learn more about 3D printing and its uses, such as for building a robot arm.
Entrance to the ASF is free of charge but talks by some of the speakers may need tickets. The full programme is available at the website http://www.athens-science-festival.gr.
The ASF is organised by the educational organisation SciCo, the British Council, the Onassis Foundation Scholars Association, the General Secretariat for Research and Technology and the Technopolis Centre, while it is supported by Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship & Innovation - EPAnEK and the EU's 2014-2020 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and a host of research and academic institutions.
 Migration minister admitted to hospital after feeling unwellAlternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas was admitted to hospital on Sunday after feeling unwell during the parliamentary debate on the EU-Turkey deal last Friday.
Mouzalas was first led to the parliament's clinic where he was given first aid but the symptoms did not pass, it was decided to admit him to hospital for further medical checks, where he remains until now.
 Mostly fair on TuesdayMostly fair weather and winds from variable directions are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern and the western parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 08C-23C. Mostly fair in the eastern parts with temperatures between 11C-24C. Sunny over the Aegean islands and Crete, 14C-21C. Mostly fair in Athens, 10C-23C; the same for Thessaloniki, 08C-22C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceDIMOKRATIA: Bankruptcy bomb
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: IMF bomb
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: New pension limits for women
ESTIA: Ten questions for government, IMF
ETHNOS: Three scenarios after the IMF gate
KONTRANEWS: Poul Tomsen and Delia Velculescu are criminals
NAFTEMPORIKI: At the shadow of IMF gate
TA NEA: Confusion over the lines
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