The Athens metro stations Sepolia, Metaxourgio, Evangelismos and Katehaki will remain closed on Saturday and Sunday for technical works referring to the installation of the new automatic ticket service. Trains will pass through these stations without stop.

A group of engineers from the Chinese construction company CMEC will visit Greece next week for a close inspection of the facilities of Public Power Corporation's power station in Florina, the site on which the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a lignite electricity power station with a power of 450 MW, Manolis Panagiotakis, chairman and CEO of PPC told reporters on Wednesday.

He said that in the period since the signing of the agreement last September, the two companies were in close contact on strategy and technical issues.

The MoU signed envisages the construction of a lignite unit in the Florina power station with an initial budget of 750 million euros, which could be shrank by 100 million through flexibility offered by the participation of private sector investors in the project. The unit will be build by a joint company in which PPC will contribute its existing unit in Florina with a power of 330 MW, the infrastructure and the licence to build a second unit along with participations in lignite sites of the region. CMEC will offer the necessary funds, while private shareholders of the lignite sites in Vevi and Achlada will also contribute. Each side's participation will be evaluated by an independent company.

Panagiotakis said that a business plan should be drafted for Larco - PPC's largest debtor - allowing a private shareholder to enter the company and to fund all necessary investments. He said that PPC did not question a target set by a memorandum with the country's creditors to reduce PPC's market share, but noted that the company's goal was this reduction to be made in a balanced way and added that in this framework PPC was promoting the creation and sale to private competitors of a customer portfolio based on consumption and payment.

Panagiotakis said PPC aimed to raise collection of arrears to 75-80 pct, from 70 pct currently, and noted that arrears worth 1.3 billion euros have been rescheduled, from an 1.5 billion euros target.

The funeral of Greece’s ambassador to Brazil Kyriakos Amiridis, who was murdered last December while on leave for the Christmas holidays will be held on Sunday in Thessaloniki.

Amiridis’ body was found in a burned-out car abandoned under a bridge in the Nova Igua?u neighbourhood where the ambassador went missing. Police in Brazil have questioned his wife, a military police officer and his cousin for the crime.

The Greek foreign ministry will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Amanatidis.

The extremely bad weather conditions prevailing in Greece in the last days prevented refugees from attempting to cross the Aegean.

No arrivals were recorded on the northern Aegean islands in the last 48 hours.

Police said that the number of refugees and migrants that have sought asylum which has not been examined yet was 10,810 on Thursday. 5,405 of them are on Lesvos, 3,486 on Chios and 1,919 on Samos.

Greek CEOs were more optimistic over the country's financial situation and their company's prospects in the fourth quarter of 2016, with the ACEO/ICAP-CEO General Index rising to 130 points in the October-December period.

This development reflects a positive view of CEOs over the current financial situation as the economy stabilized in the second half of 2016 despite friction in talks with the country's creditors over reforms agreed in the framework of a second bailout programe. All categories showed an increase in the fourth quarter. The ACEO-CEO current status index grew to 124 points from 115 in the previous quarter, the ACEO-CEO expectation index grew to 136 points from 134 in the previous quarter.

The current financial situation index grew to 147 points in the fourth quarter from 138 points in the previous quarter, while the percentage of CEOs saying that the current financial situation of the country had improved was unchanged and those saying the situation deteriorated fell to 54 pct from 64 pct. The percentage of CEOs saying the country's economic situation will improve next year grew to 15 pct from 13 pct in the previous quarter.

The percentage of CEOs expecting the situation in their sector to improve grew to 13 pct from 9.0 pct and the percentage of CEOs saying the financial situation of their companies was better compared with one year ago grew to 44 pct (57 pct for CEOs in very large enterprises).

ACEO, in co-operation with ICAP Group, has created the CEO Index, a new index which surveys the opinions and expectations of business executives from all sectors of the Greek economy. The survey is conducted on a quarterly basis, and the results are published every January, April, July and October.

The survey aims at recording the opinions and short-term expectations of CEOs regarding the overall financial situation, their own company and their company’s operation sector.

Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos and German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth reaffirmed their intention for the continuation and further enhancement of their cooperation during their meeting on Wednesday in Berlin.

According to a Greek Foreign Ministry announcement, the two officials focused on matters of bilateral, European and international interest.

Moreover, Katrougalos met with the federal deputy and member of the executive committee of Die Linke Thomas Nord and the president of Ver.di Frank Bsirske.

Katrougalos noted the need for the promotion of a progressive agenda at political and social level which will rekindle the European citizens' interest for the fundamental values, the ideals and the EU vision and intercept the extreme nationalist and demagogic trends in Europe. He also noted that a new political alternative must emerge against the forces the continue to insist on the fruitless policies of austerity without a social perspective.

The beginning of the conference on the Cyprus issue is expected to be crucial as the stance of all sides and particularly of Ankara on issues of security and guarantees will determine the continuation of the talks.

Greece is represented by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. However, top government sources said to Athens Macedonian News Agency that "if it appears that they are close to a solution, then the negotiations will be held at prime-minister level."

In that case Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will depart for Geneva.

The conference may be extended as it has already been cleared out that it is an open ended procedure.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci exchanged maps detailing the respective zones’ boundaries, during their talks in Geneva on Wednesday, sources said.

The maps will now be examined in detail by the land registry officials to decide whether the proposal of the other side is within the framework of the recent agreement.

The critical conference on the issue of guarantees on Cyprus will take place on Thursday in Geneva.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will open the conference at 11.15 am (Geneva time).

The conference will take place in the Council Chamber, in the Palace of Nations "with the participation of His Excellency Nicos Anastasiades, His Excellency Mustafa Akinci, the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General on Cyprus ESPEN Barth Eide and representatives of the guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and United Kingdom. The EU will also participate as observer."

The representation of the three guarantor powers is at the level of Foreign Ministers. The first part of the conference will end at 13:00 and the conference will resume at 18:00 (Geneva time).

Meanwhile, according to the program, the UN Secretary General will make a statement to the media at 14:45 in the presence of Anastasiades and Akinci.

The arrivals of the heads of the delegation will begin at 9:15 (Geneva time).

GENEVA (ANA/N. Papadimitriou) - The top-level meeting between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots in Geneva is the first time since 1976 where maps have being exchanged, Cyprus’ government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides told journalists on Wednesday during a briefing about the ongoing talks.

He said it is ?an important development? noting that there are "no reasons to justify" interrupting the talks. ?It’s the start of the negotiations,? he said.

He noted however that the Cypriot side has already specific objections regarding the draft-map handed over by the Turkish Cypriots, which Anastasiades already submitted them in writing. Asked about the objections, Christodoulides refused to specify them. Asked whether Akinci has submitted similar objections, he said he is not aware of any.

He also said that there are no inter-communal talks scheduled for Thursday as the multilateral convention will focus solely on the issues of security and the guarantees.

GENEVA (ANA/S. Aravopoulou) - Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had a brief meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Geneva on Wednesday evening at the hotel where the Greek delegation is staying.

Earlier, Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had exchanged maps detailing the respective zones’ boundaries. Kotzias will continue talks with Anastasiades and Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides over a working dinner this evening.

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