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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 16-04-12

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

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

Tuesday, 12 April 2016 Issue No: 5149

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras: FYROM police stance towards refugees in Idomeni is shameful
  • [02] Greece and Portugal sign joint declaration agreement against austerity
  • [03] It is now more important than ever to promote an agenda of solidarity, social cohesion and democracy, PM Tsipras says
  • [04] Europe needs to leave behind austerity policies, PM Tsipras says
  • [05] President Pavlopoulos sends message to Fyrom authorities during his meeting with Portuguese PM Costa
  • [06] Interior Minister discusses refugees issue with his Portuguese counterpart de Sousa
  • [07] New government meeting with representatives of institutions underway
  • [08] Greece has achieved convergence with creditors on income tax and measures to cover fiscal gap, State Min says
  • [09] EU Commission sees progress in negotiations between Greece and institutions
  • [10] UNHCR laments Sunday's violence in Idomeni, says it's a 'matter of great worry'
  • [11] ANEL party slams FYROM police's 'abominable' reaction against refugees in Idomeni
  • [12] Greek police in Lesvos started examining asylum applications on Sunday
  • [13] Hundreds of refugees, migrants transferred from Piraeus to Skaramangas accommodation center
  • [14] 53,117 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Monday
  • [15] Refugees and migrants arrivals on Greek islands at low levels
  • [16] FYROM foreign ministry suspects involvement of NGOs in Sunday's refugee protest in Idomeni
  • [17] President Pavlopoulos to visit Switzerland on 11 and 12 April
  • [18] Serbian President to visit Corfu on April 18
  • [19] Greeks negative over IMF's role, poll says
  • [20] Second formation of Turkish fighter jets enter Athens FIR
  • [21] National Bank's chairman presents policy priorities
  • [22] Greek CEOs less optimistic over economic developments
  • [23] Government extends ban on sale of NPLs until May 15
  • [24] Wage employment in private sector up in March
  • [25] ASE lifts suspension of trading in Pegasus shares
  • [26] Greek stocks end flat on Monday
  • [27] Greek bond market closing report
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Greek, Italian ministers each return others' looted ancient objects in symbolic move
  • [30] Mostly fair on Tuesday
  • [31] The Monday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras: FYROM police stance towards refugees in Idomeni is shameful

    The first joint front against austerity policies and in favour of adopting alternative policies in the EU was formed by the governments of Greece and Portugal on Monday, following a joint admission by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Portuguese counterpart Ant?nio Costa that the memorandums didn't provide the solutions to the countries' problems.

    The two leaders met in Athens to discuss economic, political and refugee issues, as well as the need to have more solidarity in the EU and form a wider front of progressive forces which will promote alternative policies in the region.

    Speaking during a joint press conference after the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Tsipras asked for the July agreement on Greece's economic program to be implemented, warning that he will not accept conditions on starting a talk on debt relief, as the deal didn't include any conditions. He said once talks on debt start, they will lead to some conclusion.

    The premier then continued by taking a jab at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying that despite admitting its mistake on the Greek program, it insists on its mistake, but at some time "we must get serious". He then said the Greek economy is outperforming its projected targets and insinuated that there might be some sides that do not want the first program review to conclude, so as to avoid starting debt relief talks.

    Commenting also on the economy, Costa said the adjustment program implemented in his country left behind serious problems, such as a jump in public debt from 97 pct of GDP to 130 pct, poverty, unemployment and social problems.

    Answering questions on the refugee crisis, the Portuguese prime minister said his country will welcome a significant number of refugees from Greece. Tsipras publically thanked him for the move and noted that Portugal, a country with a small population and economic problems is welcoming refugees, while other countries with better economies are refusing to take them in.

    Costa urged the EU to rise to the occasion and not allow the entire burden of the refugee crisis to fall on one country like Greece, because this is a European problem.

    Commenting on the joint declaration signed by the two leaders, Tsipras emphasized the common targets highlighted for a change of policy in the EU and on the need to end austerity policies. The only divergence between the two countries, the Greek premier noted, is on the issue of debt relief, with Portugal openly being against cutting it, while the Greek side believes it is unsustainable.

    Asked about the incident in Idomeni during the weekend when protesting refugees and migrants were pushed back by FYROM border police with teargas and rubber bullets, Tsipras said that Idomeni is and continues to constitute an embarrassment for European culture, adding the cause of the situation in the makeshift camp is the unilateral actions of some countries who decided to close the borders. He then stressed that this is a situation that cannot be changed and that the government is doing all it can to convince all these people that they have to move to organized facilities.

    Tsipras also said that in this effort, apart from the objective difficulties, the government has to deal with some NGOs which are doing the opposite job by trying to convince those people to remain there, regardless of the fact that this move poses enormous risks, as it appears that these NGOs are more concerned with receiving funding, rather than helping.

    Asked about Sunday's clashes in Idomeni, the prime minister said they constitute a "double provocation" because they were encouraged by some "solidarity volunteers", representatives of NGOs, some of whom are foreign nationals and don't live in the country.

    The second provocation, he said, is the stance of FYROM authorities, who responded with teargas and rubber bullets against people who were clearly unarmed, which constitutes a great shame for European civilization and for the countries who want to become part of this civilization. "I expect European authorities, international organizations and the UNCHR to say something on what happened yesterday," he added.

    [02] Greece and Portugal sign joint declaration agreement against austerity

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa, who is paying an official visit to Athens, on Monday signed a joint declaration entitled "Against Austerity, for a democratic and progressive Europe with social justice and cohesion" aiming to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.

    On the refugee issue, the two governments stressed the need for cooperation in the European refugee policy on the basis of solidarity and expressed their opposition to unilateral actions and closed borders. They also said they are in favour of the revision of the Dublin regulation so the burden to be fairly allocated.

    The two governments pledged for a democratic and social Europe and stated that the eurozone crisis is the result of the asymmetrical process of the European integration and the absence of effective tools to tackle it.

    ?Both governments agreed that the policy based solely on austerity is wrong and ineffective and that austerity hinders the economic growth and divides the society. It also causes unemployment, poverty, social exclusion and economic stagnation.

    According to the declaration, from now on emphasis should be placed on a closer fiscal policy and social integration and not on fragmentation stressing the need for a new European social contract, and to the return to policies that foster nationalism, xenophobia, extremism and populism.

    The two governments agree on the need to cooperate more closely in order EU to strengthen its diplomatic efforts for peace and stability in the wider region (the Mediterranean, Middle East, Black Sea) and in parallel support a coherent, complete and targeted policy against terrorism. They also agreed to support efforts for peace in Syria and Libya and the two-state (Israel and Palestine) solution .

    ???On Cyprus, the Declaration stated that both governments are supporting the peace process for a just and viable solution on the basis of the international law, the decisions of the UN and the status of Cyprus as an EU member state and stressed that the solution of the Cyprus problem will become a factor of stability in the wider region of the southeastern Mediterranean.

    [03] It is now more important than ever to promote an agenda of solidarity, social cohesion and democracy, PM Tsipras says

    "We are facing a multi-faceted crisis in the economy, security and migration," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday while welcoming his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa at Maximos Mansion.

    "Therefore I believe that all these difficulties force us to move ahead in order to promote an alternative agenda," he stated.

    "And now it is more important than ever to promote an agenda of solidarity, social cohesion and democracy," he added.

    [04] Europe needs to leave behind austerity policies, PM Tsipras says

    "We believe that Europe needs to leave behind the austerity policies," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday posted on Twitter during a meeting with Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa at Maximos Mansion.

    "We seek a democratic, progressive Europe with social justice and social cohesion," he added.

    [05] President Pavlopoulos sends message to Fyrom authorities during his meeting with Portuguese PM Costa

    Countries that adopt unacceptable behaviours in terms of humanity, such as FYROM's behaviour against refugees on Sunday, do not have place either in the European Union or in the NATO, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Monday said during his meeting with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

    Moreover, Pavlopoulos referred to the need for further strengthening the EU institutions in order to support a real European intergration that will put an end to the huge democratic deficit observed lately in the European Union.

    Pavlopoulos noted that the very essence of the European Union is not the currency but the human being and characterised the refugees issue a problem of existence for the European Union. He said that we must behave to refugees with humanism and solidarity adding that phobic syndroms do not have place in Europe.

    The Greek president referred to the need for the agreement between EU and Turkey to be implemented as well as to the need the conflict in Syria to end. On terrorism, he stated: "Terrorists and particularly ISIS jihadists are the representatives of a new barbarism and commit crimes against humanity and that is how they must be treated."

    Addressing the Portuguese prime minister, he noted that Greece and Portugal have much in common adding that they are two countries with clear European orientation that can contribute in the European Union's future.

    On his part, Costa thanked Pavlopoulos for the warm reception and expressed his country's will for a closer cooperation between the two countries while on the refugees issue he stated that beyond everything it is a humanitarian crisis and estimated that EU should focus on the refugees protection adding that Greece can't bear the burden by itself and it must be allocated to all the European state members.

    Costa made a special reference to solidarity, noting that the closing of the borders does not constitute a solution and expressed Portugal's readiness over the relocation of refugees. He pointed out that 2,000 positions are available in Portuguese universities for young people that want to continue their studies.

    He stated that he clearly supports the monetary integration in EU and he pointed out the need to invest in growth and to proceed with a structural reform of the eurozone.

    [06] Interior Minister discusses refugees issue with his Portuguese counterpart de Sousa

    Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis received on Monday his Portuguese counterpart Constanca Urbano de Sousa at the Citizen Protection Ministry.

    The refugees issue dominated the meeting in which were also present Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, Migration Ministry general secretary Vassilis Papadopoulos and other officials.

    According to an announcement, Kouroumblis thanked de Sousa for her government's good will on the relocation of refugees and migrants to Portugal accepting up to 6,000 persons, a larger number than the one required by the EU Summit's agreement.

    [07] New government meeting with representatives of institutions underway

    A new meeting between the government's economic team which includes Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis and the representatives of the institutions started on Monday evening in central Athens.

    According to information on the format of the talks, the two sides started by discussing the thorny issue of non-performing loans (NPLs) at 20.30, while at 21.30 they switched to the reforms of the social security and pension system with Labour Minister George Katrougalos. The representatives of the institutions will then hold talks with the ministers of education, energy and justice.

    The meeting follows marathon negotiation talks that started on Sunday and concluded at 06.50 this morning, in which progress was made but no agreement was achieved.

    [08] Greece has achieved convergence with creditors on income tax and measures to cover fiscal gap, State Min says

    "The Greek side has achieved convergence with the creditors on income tax and measures to cover the fiscal gap," State Minister Nikos Pappas on Monday said in statements to Kokkino FM.

    He also estimated that the agreement will soon be concluded.

    "Everyone is aware of the Greek government's determination," Pappas said and added: "The IMF makes gloomy forecasts for the Greek economy now that its participation in the Greek program is reexamined. This not only proves IMF's insolvency but also differences in financial policies."

    "On covering the 2 billion euro fiscal gap, we propose a small increase in social security contributions," Pappas noted.

    [09] EU Commission sees progress in negotiations between Greece and institutions

    The European Commission sees progress in the negotiations between the heads of the institutions and the representatives of the Greek government, according to EU Commission deputy spokeswoman Mina Andreeva.

    "There was progress during the weekend. The negotiations continue with the view to concluding the review as soon as possible," she underlined.

    [10] UNHCR laments Sunday's violence in Idomeni, says it's a 'matter of great worry'

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/C. Vasilaki)

    The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Monday it was "greatly worried" about violence on Sunday at Idomeni on the border of Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) border, including the use of tear gas.

    "The extensive scenes we have all seen of teargas in use are a matter of great worry to UNHCR. It should be too for all who are concerned with Europe's response to the situation of refugees and migrants," UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said in a statement.

    "Time and again in recent months we have seen tension unfolding at various European borders, between security forces on the one hand and people fleeing war and in need of help on the other. People get hurt and property is damaged. Harm is done to perceptions of refugees and to Europe's image alike. Everyone loses," he added.

    He also warned about the nearly 46,000 refugees and migrants on the Greek mainland who arrived before the EU-Turkey agreement took effect. "At Idomeni, about 11,000 have been sleeping for many weeks now in the open in dismal conditions, fuelling hopelessness and despair," he added.

    [11] ANEL party slams FYROM police's 'abominable' reaction against refugees in Idomeni

    Junior government coalition partner, the Independent Greeks (ANEL) criticized the heavy-handed reaction of FYROM's police against protesting refugees and migrants in Idomeni on Sunday.

    "The brutal behavior of the authorities in Skopje towards refugees and migrants who threw teargas and rubber bullets was atrocious, inhumane and of course absolutely condem-nable," party spokeswoman Mandalena Papadopoulou said in a statement.

    "At the same time, it constitutes a practice which causes legitimate concern within the European Union on the need for all parties to rigorously comply with the agreement in order to manage the migration crisis," she added.

    US Embassy donates humanitarian aid to refugees; I'm impressed by the Greek people's generosity, says US envoy Pearce

    The US mission to Athens and the 409 Contracting Support Brigade(CSB)of the US Army donated on April 7-8 essential humanitarian supplies for migrants and refugees in Greece on behalf of the US Government Beds, sleeping bags, blankets and other material were offered to the First Reception Service of the Greek Republic for distribution to refugees camps throughout the country.

    "This latest donation demonstrates the US government's commitment to helping Greece address the emergency needs of migrants and refugees, and comes on top of last week's announcement of our additional 20 million US dollars contribution to UNHCR and other groups caring for migrants in the region." said US Ambassador to Greece David Pearce and added, "We have been impressed by the generosity of the Greek people who, even in the midst of the severe economic crisis, have offered food, shelter, and medicine to those in need."

    Major La'Tasha Watson, the Chief of Contracting for the 409th CSB said, "It's so deeply gratifying to be part of the process - to be able to help people. When I saw the news of the sheer number of individuals, leaving everything behind, I knew I wanted to be part of the relief effort."

    The humanitarian assistance project began earlier this month, when Greek government officials identified the critical need for certain humanitarian items. U.S. Embassy officials then worked with local vendors to find sufficient quantities which could be rapidly delivered.

    "We've had immense support in this endeavour, from U.S. officials stateside, U.S. European Command, to the Hellenic National Defense General Staff - everyone wants to help," noted Colonel Jay Gardner of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Greece. Colonel Gardner added that U.S. authorities are also coordinating delivery of other items from excess property stocks.

    [12] Greek police in Lesvos started examining asylum applications on Sunday

    Greek authorities started examining asylum applications at Moria's hotspot on the island of Lesvos, adding that almost all refugees and migrants who arrived on the island after March 20 have submitted applications, the police said.

    Speaking to public broadcaster ERT, Brigadier general Zacharoula Tsirigoti, the head of Greece's immigration police, said about 3,500 refugees and migrants are currently in Moria and have all submitted an application. Out of those people, about 700 vulnerable groups have been transferred to the municipality's accommodation center in Kara Tepe, while only 15 people have said they want to return to Turkey.

    Tsirigoti also said the asylum service has been strengthened by an additional 46 officers from Brussels and Athens and its aim is to examine 50 applications per day. She added that Syrians will be returned by plane to Adana in Turkey where Turkish authorities have set up a refugee center.

    She also said the readmission procedure will stop during Pope Francis' visit and resume when he leaves the island.

    [13] Hundreds of refugees, migrants transferred from Piraeus to Skaramangas accommodation center

    At least 570 refugees and migrants who were residing at the makeshift camp of Piraeus port were transferred on Monday with busses to the accommodation center of Skaramangas, in the western part of the Athens agglomeration, authorities announced.

    Greece's coast guard said another 75 people are expected to board the next bus to Skaramangas, as the government intensifies efforts to decongest the country's biggest port. The operation will continue late into the night and on Tuesday morning.

    [14] 53,117 identified refugees and migrants in Greece on Monday

    53,117 refugees and migrants were on the Greek territory on Monday among them 18 new arrivals recorded in the last 24 hours.

    According to the Refugee Crisis Management Coordination Body's figures, 29,429 of the refugees are in northern Greece, 11,194 of them are in Idomeni camp, 14,387 are hosted in the region of Attica (4,510 at Piraeus port), 6,976 on the Greek islands and 2,325 are hosted in different areas in Central Greece.

    [15] Refugees and migrants arrivals on Greek islands at low levels

    Refugees and migrants arrivals on the Greek island remained at low levels in the last three days.

    Despite the excellent weather conditions prevailing in the area, only 176 arrivals were recorded from Friday to early Monday.

    35 migrants and refugees were identified at Chios hotspot while not a single identification was recorded at the hotspots of Moria on Lesvos and at Samos hotspot.

    [16] FYROM foreign ministry suspects involvement of NGOs in Sunday's refugee protest in Idomeni

    SKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)

    FYROM's foreign ministry expressed suspicions on Monday that Sunday's refugee protests in Idomeni which resulted in violent clashes with the country's border police were the result of incitement by NGO activists.

    "Different reports speak about migrants being incited, misled and organized by NGOs activists to cross the Greek-FYROM border by using violence," the ministry said in a statement. "Distribution of leaflets was registered containing false information that once migrants manage to cross the Greek-FYROM border, by using violence, they will be able to continue the journey to the EU member-states with no further impediments."

    The foreign ministry also said the organized, massive and coordinated attempts of illegal border crossing resemble in many aspects - including the involvement of NGOs activists - the patterns of the similar massive illegal border crossing incident involving 2,500 migrants that occurred at the Greek -FYROM green borderline on March 14.

    It said its police force, which included officers from several EU member-states, responded "swiftly and accordingly and prevented illegal entry," adding "tear gas was used to disperse the violent mob. No other riot control means were used, nor physical force against the group."

    It said 23 FYROM security officers were injured during the incident. "Several damages of the border protective fence were recounted."

    The ministry also noted that FYROM authorities requested the assistance of the Greek police while the attacks coming from Greek territory persisted, adding that there have been continuous requests for cooperation, information sharing and preventive action to dissuade violent rioting of migrants and illegal border crossing from Greek into FYROM territory. "The establishment of law and order in the borderline zone, in and around the migrant reception centres is essential to prevent such incidents in the future," the ministry concludes.

    [17] President Pavlopoulos to visit Switzerland on 11 and 12 April

    President of Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos will pay an official visit to Lausanne, Switzerland on 11 and 12 April following an invitation by the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

    Pavlopoulos will also meet on Monday in Geneva the Metropolitan of Switzerland Jeremiah (Ieremias) as well as representatives of the Greek communities in Switzerland.

    [18] Serbian President to visit Corfu on April 18

    Serbian President Tomislav Nikoli will visit Corfu on April 18 to attend celebrations marking the 100th anniversary from the arrival and accommodation on the island of Serbian soldiers and civilians during the First World War.

    Nikoli will be accompanied by the ministers of defence, culture and labour and social security and veterans, while after the celebrations, he will be proclaimed honorary citizen of Corfu and be awarded the Golden Medal of Corfu Worthiness.

    [19] Greeks negative over IMF's role, poll says

    Greeks are negative over IMF's role, according to an opinion poll conducted by Palmos Analysis for "Efimerida Ton Syntakton" newspaper.

    More specifically, 79 percent of the participants believes that IMF's role towards Greece is negative, while 78 percent of the respondents believe that the IMF blackmails the government to impose harsher measures.

    63 percent of the respondents said that the government should ask the IMF's retirement from the programme

    Finally, 77 percent said that the government should not accept additional measures.

    The nationwide poll was conducted between April 6 and April 8.

    [20] Second formation of Turkish fighter jets enter Athens FIR

    A second group of Turkish F-4 Phantom II fighter jets and a KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft entered Athens' FIR at 14.59 (local) without submitting flight plans on Monday, Greece's National Defence General Staff said on Monday.

    The aircraft flew over the northeastern part of Lesvos at 22,000 feet, it said in a press release. The Turkish aircraft, which exited Athens FIR at 15.01 north of Lesvos, were recognized and intercepted by Greek fighter jets.

    Earlier, two Turkish F-16 entered Athens' FIR (13.26 local) between the islands of Lesvos and Chios without submitting a flight plan. The fighter jets flew over the islets of Inouses at 9,000 feet and a minute later they exited Athens FIR through the same route. The Turkish formation was recognized by Greek fighter jets

    The Turkish overflights were witnessed by the Dutch frigate "Van Amstel" which is operating east of Chios as part of the NATO operation in the area to stop migrant smuggling rings. The Greek frigate "Salamis" and the Turkish "Gokova" both operate east of Lesvos.

    Financial News

    [21] National Bank's chairman presents policy priorities

    Preserving and enhancing solvency and profitability of National Bank and the Group, developing new markets, products and services and funding the real economy, investing in IT, new technologies and human resources along with further upgrading corporate governance systems, were the main priorities of National Bank Group, Luca Katseli, the bank's chairman told the annual meeting of the bank's executives on Monday.

    Referring to the funding of the Greek economy, Katseli focused on a programme -to be announced soon- to fund small- and medium-sized enterprises "Chain Value", a new innovative funding tool for all enterprises included in production chain value, starting with the shipbuilding sector.

    The Greek banker noted most analysis and surveys estimate that almost all basic banking services will be offered also outside the regulated banking environment in the next few years. This means that competition will intensify, adding players which are not on the horizon of our competitors, Katseli said, adding that an explosive growth of technologies and the use of internet will create different requirements from a completely different customer base. "We will have to change our culture, to take more seriously the new role of the network," Katseli said.

    Leonidas Fragiadakis, chief executive of National Bank, addressing the meeting, said that 2016 will be a profitable year for National Bank and said that a voluntary exit programme will begin in the summer. Our aim is not just the exit of workers but new hirings as well to promote new ideas, Fragiadakis said. He reiterated that the bank's strategic plan focused on improving productivity, portfolio quality, raising revenue and digital upgrade.

    [22] Greek CEOs less optimistic over economic developments

    Greek CEOs were less optimistic over economic developments in the country in the first quarter of 2016, on concern over the outcome of negotiations to complete a first review of the Greek economic programme and worries over reported new tax burdens on taxpayers and enterprises. CEOs also sounded worried over developments in a refugee crisis.

    The EASE/ICAP-CEO General Index, measuring economic sentiment in the country, edged up to 114 points in the first quarter of 2016 from 113 points in the previous quarter, while the EASE-CEO Current Status Index eased to 103 points from 106 in the previous quarter and the EASE-CEO Expectation Index fell to 124 points from 134 points over the same periods, respectively.

    The quarterly survey was conducted on a sample of 3,020 CEOs from the largest Greek enterprises in the period from March 18 to April 5, 2016.

    The percentage of CEOs saying that the country's current economic condition improved fell to 2.0 pct from 4.0 pct in the previous quarter, while those saying that economic conditions deteriorated fell to 80 pct from 82 pct. One in two CEOs expects that the country will be in a worse condition 12 months from now, while the percentage of CEOs expecting an improvement fell to 10 pct from 23 pct in the previous quarter.

    The investment expectations index grew to 124 points in the January-March period, from 118 points in the previous quarter, while the percentage of CEOs expecting their investment spending to rise this year was only 27 pct (54 pct for large enterprises). The employment index eased to 96 points from 97 points.

    [23] Government extends ban on sale of NPLs until May 15

    The Greek government extended on Monday the current ban on selling non-performing loans (NPLs) to funds until May 15 through an amendment tabled by the economy ministry to parliament.

    According to the amendment, banks are not allowed to sell NPLs which mortgage the main residence, consumer loans and those of small and medium-sized businesses. The move was taken to allow the government more time to formulate the relevant legislation which is currently being debated with Greece's lenders.

    The amendment also extends for two more months (until June 30) a relevant law passed by the previous government until a new framework is prepared to reform the debts of small businesses and professionals to the banks.

    [24] Wage employment in private sector up in March

    Wage employment in the private sector grew in March as the hiring/dismissal balance showed a surplus of 29,351 job positions, official data showed on Monday.

    A monthly report by "Ergani", the IT system of the Labor ministry, said that new hirings totaled 149,028 in March, while dismissals amounted to 119,677. On an annual basis, the hiring/dismissal balance showed a surplus of 7,038 job positions. In an announcement, Ergani said that the March performance was positive for the fourth successive year and it was the highest performance in March since 2001.

    In the January-March period, new hirings totaled 377,876 and dismissals amounted to 344,042, for a surplus of 33,834 new jobs, the second highest quarterly performance since 2001.

    [25] ASE lifts suspension of trading in Pegasus shares

    The Athens Stock Exchange on Monday lifted a temporary suspension of trading in the shares of Pegasus Publication SA as of today April 11th, after the company reissued its annual results for 2015 on which the auditor's report includes opinion with matters of emphasis. The shares of the company will be trading in the "Under Surveillance" segment.

    Additionally, upon relevant request of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission and further to the ATHEX announcement of December 1st, 2015, the suspension of trading of the shares of "PC SYSTEMS S.A." will be continued, based on HCMC's evaluation that the complete and correct disclosure of information and as a consequence the smooth operation of the market for the company's shares, was not ensured

    [26] Greek stocks end flat on Monday

    Greek stocks ended flat on Monday with investors remaining on the sidelines awaiting the outcome of crucial negotiations between Greek authorities and the country's creditors. The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange eased 0.11 pct to end at 560.97 points, after rising as much as 1.01 pct early in the day. The Large Cap index fell 0.14 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 3.79 pct higher. Turnover was a thin 40.704 million euros in volume of 72,751,966.

    Piraeus Port (4.72 pct), Ellaktor (1.71 pct) and National Bank (1.67 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Lamda Development (2.27 pct), Piraeus Bank (1.91 pct) and Aegean Airlines (1.75 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Piraeus Bank and National Bank were the most heavily traded securities of the day. Among market sectors, Health (18.7 pct) and Industrial Products (1.90 pct) scored big gains, while Raw Materials (1.57 pct) and Telecoms (1.18 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 50 to 49 with another 21 issues unchanged. Attica Bank (27.08 pct), Pasal (19.78 pct) and Hygeia (18.71 pct) were top gainers, while Creta Farms (14.34 pct), Ideal (9.94 pct) and Attica Publications (9.92 pct) scored the biggest losses.

    [27] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 8.85 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 9.06 pct at the end of last week, with the Greek bond yielding 8.97 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.12 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate fell to -0.011 pct from -0.010 pct, the nine-month rate was -0.072 pct, the six-month rate was -0.133 pct, the three-month rate fell to -0.251 pct from -0.248 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.340 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The April contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a discount of 0.13 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 1,860 contracts with 14,679 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,568 contracts with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (7,171), followed by Alpha Bank (2,254), National Bank (6,712), Eurobank (4,080), MIG (4,153), OTE (166), PPC (148), OPAP (88), Viohalco (55), Hellenic Petroleum (204), Metka (43), Folli Follie (33) and Piraeus Port (49).

    General News

    [29] Greek, Italian ministers each return others' looted ancient objects in symbolic move

    Greece's and Italy's culture ministers returned ancient artefacts of Italian and Greek origin respectively which were proven to be the products of illicit antiquities trade, during a meeting in Athens on Monday. The move was part of a cooperation agreement between the two countries to tackle illegal trafficking of cultural goods.

    "This moment is important. Italy and Greece are bounded by eternal bonds," Aristidis Baltas said during his meeting with Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

    The artefacts are an ancient Greek vase, a Corinthian black-painted compass from the 4th c. BC, which had been illegally exported from Greece and was located in northern Italy and an ancient clay relief which was recently certified by the services of Greece's Culture ministry as an object of Italian origin which had been illegally trafficked.

    According to a ministry press release, the two ministers noted that the exchange of these objects is not just a symbolic move, but one of essence, which seals the cooperation between the two sides. Baltas and Franceschini also agreed to further their cooperation. "The exchange of the two objects which came into our hands by chance shows how we understand cultural heritage at a level of historical ownership," they said.

    Weather forecast

    [30] Mostly fair on Tuesday

    Mostly fair weather and northwesterly winds are forecast for Tuesday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Partly cloudy in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 08C-22C. Mostly fair in the western parts with temperatures between 10C-23C. Sunny in the eastern parts, 08C-26C. Mostly fair over the Aegean islands and Crete, 12C-21C. Sunny in Athens, 11C-25C; the same for Thessaloniki, 11C-21C.

    [31] The Monday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    DIMOKRATIA: (German Finance Minister) Wolfgang Schaeuble involved in Panama Papers

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: Extra memorandum for the debt

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: 400,000 new pensioners before the age of 62

    ESTIA: The country's borders are permeable

    ETHNOS: Playing with the fire (referring to the refugees issue)

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Solution without relief

    TA NEA: The country of anxiety

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