|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 1 July 2009 Issue No: 3233
 EPP Group Study Days discusses illegal migrationIllegal migration was the topic of Tuesday's morning session at the European Peoples' Party (EPP) Group Study Days meeting, which was addressed by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
In an indirect reference to Turkey, Pavlopoulos stressed that the provisions of the EU Immigration and Asylum pact were a part of Community law and were therefore among the things evaluated as a part of the accession process.
He also pointed out that migration was likely to be a more long-term problem than the current economic crisis for the European Union.
The minister was careful to distinguish between illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers, pointing out that this was a human rights issue, while stressing the need to adhere to the rules and to reinforce FRONTEX, the EU agency for coordinating security of external borders, which he said should be restructured along the lines of Europol.
Pavlopoulos went on to underline the need for readmission treaties between the EU and immigrant-origin or transit countries, stressing that these were essentially a condition for EU accession. The minister added that these countries would actually benefit from signing such agreements, since this would slow down the flow of migrants across their territory.
He also called for measures to tackle the problem of illegal migration at its roots, by encouraging greater balance in development that would stop "feeding the trade in hope," adding that this would be the central issue addressed by the Global Forum on Migration and Development taking place in Athens in early November.
European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, like a number of MEPs addressing the meeting, stressed the need to uphold the rules for immigration and asylum and to strike a balance between "control and repression, security and solidarity".
Barrot agreed with suggestions for reinforcing FRONTEX, asked that there be uniform EU specifications for asylum, a joint policy for readmission and common inspection and control in order to safeguard security beyond European borders as well.
The Commissioner underlined, also, that Turkey would be subject to strict evaluation of its handling of illegal migration.
 Dimas addresses EPP Group Study Days on environmentEuropean Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas was among speakers addressing a Tuesday discussion on the environment at the European Peoples' Party (EPP) Group Study Days meeting taking place in Athens.
Dimas said that the EU was the only region that had taken measures to arrest climate change and had achieved the first target, which was to implement the Kyoto Protocol, but lagged in the area of research and technology where the United States had taken the lead.
The Commissioner clarified that nuclear energy could not be considered "renewable" but described it as "clean" and emphasised the success of the EU's carbon-trading scheme, which had been extended to also include airlines.
"With this system, there are benefits for the environment beyond European territory, firstly, and secondly, by adopting this system the EU has passed into the lead," he said, adding that two thirds of carbon dioxide emission reduction targets would be achieved as a result of the system.
He was less sanguine about the chances of achieving environmental targets, however, such as that of preventing further biodiversity loss.
Other speakers referred to the different rates of progress between EU countries in achieving environmental targets, attributing the sharp rise in the vote for 'green' parties during the European Parliament elections to the failure of several national governments to spend the money allocated for environment-related research.
 PM meets separately with Barroso, BarrotPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis held separate meetings on Tuesday in Athens with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, who holds the justice, freedom and security portfolio in the EU. The latter meeting was held in the presence of Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
No comments were made afterwards. The meeting took place at the Maximos Mansion government house.
During a latter press briefing, a government spokesman in Athens referred to the Karamanlis-Barroso meeting, noting that talks focused on European developments, the Lisbon Treaty and existing prospects, while the Cyprus issue was also raised.
The spokesman reminded that Barroso has recently visited Cyprus and was briefed on talks held on the island.
 PM meets with Niarchos Foundation chairmanIn the morning, premier Karamanlis had a meeting with the chairman of the board of directors of the Stavros Niarchos Public Benefit Foundation, Andreas Drakopoulos.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 FM receives support for 'Corfu Process' in LithuaniaVILNIUS (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis visited Lithuania for a few hours on Tuesday, on the occasion of the OSCE's annual Parliamentary Assembly session, receiving support from the country's political leadership for the promotion of the "Corfu Process", with tangible results in Athens in December being the first goal.
A positive spirit was also recorded by the members of the "difficult" and very often critical Parliamentary Assembly, during the minister's welcoming, who was asked questions by deputies regarding the Greek intiative, at the OSCE's Corfu meeting last weelkend, which has "revived" the organisation's role and has provided the opportunity, due to its informal character, for an open and sincere dialogue to be developed in the direction of starting a new overall dialogue on European security.
Shortly before visiting Parliament in Vilnius, Bakoyannis held bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and President of the Republic Valdas Adamkus.
Emphasis was also placed during the bilteral meetings on cooperation for promoting the "Corfu Process", both for the preparation of the final ministerial session in December and within the troika in which the two countries will be participating in 2010.
"The future of the Corfu process will be judged by how determined we are to turn a page," the Greek minister said, while her Lithuanian counterpart said that "the Corfu process must go ahead."
Bakoyannis also stressed the need for cooperation between the two countries, which are situated at the two extremities of Europe, to have different geopolitical dimensions and priorities arranged.
Speaking before the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, the Greek foreign minister referred to Georgia, saying that the OSCE's mission was formally concluding its operation on Tuesday, but added that "we are not giving up diplomatic weapons, we have proposals on the table and we are ready to contribute as soon as there is an indication of a positive intention."
The Geneva negotiations, in which the OSCE is jointly presiding with the UN and the EU, are also keeping the issue "warm."
Questions she was asked by deputies at the end of her address focused on the situation in Georgia, illegal immigration, Iran, European security and the pressing need for practical measures to be taken immediatly on all three aspects being managed by the Organisation, that is military security, the human one, the environment and energy.
The minister will be leaving for Baku and Yerevan on Wednesday, where she will be visiting two of the OSCE's most important missions.
 Government on PASOK, presidential electionGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros strongly criticised main opposition PASOK on Tuesday for threatening to force early elections by failing to support the re-election of Greece's current president Karolos Papoulias, himself a former PASOK minister.
"The election of the president of the Republic is an important moment in the operation of our democracy," Antonaros stressed, adding that no one had a right to use this process to further their own petty party political ends.
"This is exactly what the main opposition is doing when it says that it will vote against the president in order to force elections," the spokesman added and accused PASOK of "trivialising" the institutions of democracy.
Regarding the prospect of early elections and press speculation on this issue, Antonaros once again repeated that the government had no such plans and claimed that the rumours were being perpetuated by the main opposition.
"Only one thing concerns the men and women of the main opposition: their hunger for power and nothing more," he added.
Asked whether the election of the president should be "separated" from that of Parliamentary elections, the spokesman pointed out that the method for electing the president was established by the Constitution and was thus not subject to revision at the present time, nor something that he was prepared to discuss.
"What concerns the government, what occupies and absorbs all our energy and attention, is the government's work. It is taking the country forward through the initiatives we are undertaking, with the necessary reforms and the measures we are taking for the benefit of the citizens and the country," he stressed.
 Gov't on illegal migration, PASOK chargesGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday reiterated stressed that main opposition PASOK should "stop turning a blind eye to the government's initiatives aimed at tackling illegal migration."
Speaking at a regular press briefing in Athens, he underlined that coordinated efforts made during the recent EU Summit in Brussels were productive, thereby contradicting the main opposition, which he said had rushed to accuse the government of being unsuccessful.
Antonaros made the comment in response to opposition statements that the government lacks a comprehensive policy to combat illegal migration.
 2 former PASOK treasurers testify in Siemens investigationTwo former treasurers for main opposition PASOK party testified on Tuesday before a special judicial magistrate in Athens in the ongoing and high-profile Siemens kickbacks and bribery case.
Spyros Avgerinos and Dimitra Papachristou were questioned ahead of Wednesday's expected testimony by former PASOK MP and high-ranking aide Theodoros Tsoukatos, who has claimed that he received a one-million Deutschmark "campaign contribution" by Siemens Hellas -- a major public sector contractor for the Greek state -- in late 1999, which he subsequently handed over to the then ruling party's officials.
However, PASOK leader George Papandreou and other current party officials have adamantly denied Tsoukatos' claim.
In exiting the Athens first instance courts complex, both Avgerinos and Papachristou repeated earlier statements, namely that Tsoukatos regularly handed over donations to the party, therefore, they cannot know if the sum in question was deposited into PASOK's coffers and in what form.
In a related development, the chief magistrate assigned to the case, Nikos Zagorianos, and the appellate prosecutor responsible for extradition matters, Evangelos Pantioras, are expected to travel to Germany to meet with German judicial authorities in Munich regarding Greek justice's extradition request for fugitive Mihalis Christoforakos, a one-time Siemens Hellas CEO who was recently arrested in Germany on an international arrest warrant issued by Greece.
 PASOK spokesman on Siemens affairMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, commenting on the Siemens affair on Tuesday, repeated charges that the government has rejected the creation of a factfinding committee three times.
"We shall not accept being the hostage of anyone, and we are adamant. We want Mr. (Mihalis) Christoforakos to come to Greece and to present evidence on anything concerning anyone, and as long as this does not happen, the political system will be on the receiving end of serious blows, and the responsibility for this will lie with the government of Mr. Karamanlis," the PASOK spokesman said.
 Hellenic Parliament President reaffirms support for Cyprus causeNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
The Hellenic Parliament will continue to support the struggle of the people of Cyprus for a viable solution, fully in line with European principles, the President of the Greek parliament Demetris Sioufas said here Tuesday.
Sioufas, on an official visit to Cyprus at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, had successive meetings Tuesday with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Garoyian. He was also made an honorary citizen of the Turkish occupied town of Morphou, on the northwest.
Speaking after his meeting with the President of the Republic, Sioufas said he assured him of the unwavering support of the Hellenic Parliament, the Greek political parties and the people of Greece in the common strategic goal to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.
"The solution must restore the integrity and the full sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, it must demolish the last wall of division on European soil and it must also be viable and functional," he stressed.
Sioufas pointed out that the settlement must also be consistent with UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire, fully aligned with fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and justice.
In his remarks after a meeting with Garoyian, Sioufas said the political settlement must reunite the island's two communities and ensure progress and development in the Republic of Cyprus.
Sioufas thanked the House of Representatives for its decision to issue a resolution demanding the return of the Parthenon marbles to their birthplace, describing this move as proof of solidarity with the Greek parliament.
"The decision of the House of Representatives will contribute to the global movement to have the marbles return from the British Museum to the Parthenon, an effort which has been given a boost after the opening of the Acropolis Museum earlier this month," he added.
The President of the Cyprus House of Representatives thanked Sioufas for his cooperation and his "devotion to what we both believe is important and should be done for the benefit of the two parliaments and the people of Cyprus and Greece."
"We exchanged views on ways to further enhance our relations, I briefed him on recent developments in the Cyprus issue and we both highlighted our resolve to strengthen the already existing ties," he added.
Thanking Sioufas for his interest in the future of the people of Cyprus, Garoyian assured him of the support of the House of Representatives in the objectives of the Hellenic Parliament to render Greece a more powerful player in the region and in the international arena.
 Parliament president honored by occupied Cypriot town of MorphouGreek parliament president Dimitris Sioufas was declared an honorary citizen of the occupied town of Morphou on Cyprus at a ceremony on Tuesday morning, during which he was presented with the Gold Key to the town.
Receiving the key from Morphou mayor Haralambos Pittas, Greece's parliament president said that, from his school years "when we were rallying for Cyprus, for its just rights, I felt I was a Cypriot".
"Today, you give me the opportunity to state myself as being a citizen of the martyrous town of Morphou, which I cannot freely visit, because it is behind the lines that divide Cyprus in two," Sioufas said in an emotional statement, adding that the honor presented to him embraces all the members of the Hellenic Parliament in their entirety.
The town of Morphou, but not only Morphou, reflects the deeper dimension of the Cyprus issue, from the Turkish invasion in 1974 and the ongoing, since then, occupation of the northern part of the island republic, Sioufas said, adding that occupied Morphou is a symbol of the resistance and endurance of the Cypriot Hellenism aimed at vindication and the reunifcation of the island, and reaffirming the Greek parliament's support to the Cypriot people for the resolution of Cyprus' political problem.
"We support your struggle for a just, viable and functional solution that will restore the (territorial) integrity and full sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, will be in agreement with the resolutions of the United Nations and the EU's acquis communautaire, and will restore and ensure the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Cypriot people, including the refugees' right to return to their homes and properties," Sioufas stressed.
Mayor Pittas, addressing Sioufas, said "we are entrusting to you the key to our occupied city, the key to our hearts, which for us is the most valuable thing we have held on to in the 35 years of bitter refugeeism".
He said that in the person of the president of the Hellenic Parliament is embodied the firm determination of the Greek Nation to fight strongly and selflessly until the day of vindication and freedom.
Present at the ceremony were Cyprus House of Representatives (parliament) president Marios Garoyian, Greece's ambassador to Cyprus Vassilies Papaioannou, Cypriot MPs, and the commander of the Greek Force on Cyprus (ELDYK) colonel George Thalassinos, among others.
Sioufas, heading a Greek delegation, arrived in Cyprus on Monday afternoon on a three-day official visit, where he was received by Garoyian upon arrival at Larnaka Airport.
 Council of State president resigns postThe President of the Council of State George Panagiotopoulos resigned on Tuesday, 10 days ahead of the expiration of his four-year term, which is the longest period allowed in the post under Greek law.
Panagiotopoulos, whose term ends on July 10, tendered his resigation to justice minister Nikos Dendias to facilitate the Cabinet in speedily filling the posts becoming vacant in the justice sector's leadership so that no gap will arise.
In a statement, Panagiotopoulos said he decided to submit his resignation 10 days in advance of his term's expiry due to two factors. Firstly, he noted the importance of the positions in the justice sector leadership, stressing that they must not remain vacant for more than just a few hours. Second, he cited the fact that the authoritative body for the promotion of judges, which is the Cabinet, and due to its large number of members, cannot possibly convene several times in a short space of time for the same issues.
Thus, he said, in order to facilitate the Cabinet's institutional role and so that problems will not arise in the justice system, he was resigning a few days earlier so as to enable the Cabinet to fill the posts of the presidents and vice presidents of the country's three highest courts in a single session.
It is noted that the president and chief prosecutor of the Areios Paghos (Greece's supreme court), three Areios Paghos vice-presidents and 10 more senior ranking officials, three vice presidents of the Council of State, two vice presidents of the Council of Auditors were being pensioned on Tuesday after reaching the maximum age limit.
 Papoulias receives Euro-Parliament president; new envoysPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering at the presidential mansion in Athens .
Earlier, Papoulias accepted the credentials of the new ambassadors to Greece from Indonesia, Ahmad Rusdi; ; Serbia, Dragan Zupanjevac; Estonia, Andres Talvik, and Vietnam, Dang Khanh Thoai.
 LA.OS leader meets with Iranian envoyPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday met with Iranian ambassador to Greece Mehdi Honardoost, with bilateral and international issues reportedly discussed.
"We are watching, with interest, what is taking place in Iran and we believe that it will overcome this intra-family crisis, because Iran is a strong balancing factor on the international scene."
 Greek permanent representative at UN hosts farewell receptionNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the international organisation's three alternate secretary generals, Lynn Pascoe, responsible for Political Affairs, Alain Le Roy, responsible for Peace Operations and Angela Kayne, responsible for the UN's management, and the General Assembly's president, Miguel d'Escoto from Nicaragua, as well as dozens of permanent representatives of UN member-states attended a farewell reception given by Greece's permanent representative at the international organisation, Ambassador Ioannis Mourikis.
Those attending the event also included the permanent representatives of the Security Council member-states, such as Susan Rice of the United States.
The reception was held at the Alexandros Onassis Foundation, in Manhattan, and the Archbishop of America Demetrios and members of the Greek American community were also present, apart from officials and diplomats at the UN.
 PASOK slams gov't policy for OSEMain opposition PASOK on Tuesday attacked the government's policy for Hellenic Railways (OSE), after the transport ministry announced its reform plan for the group of companies.
PASOK officials for transport issues accused the government of intending to sell off public property and alleged large-scale mismanagement and inefficiency of the railway company that had allowed its debts to rise from 3.2 billion euros to 8 billion euros between 2004 and 2008.
They also blamed the government for delaying 5.5 years to draw up a reform programme for OSE and of losing one billion euros available for OSE under the 3rd Community Support Framework.
 Credit growth at 8.8% in MayCredit expansion fell further in May, with the credit growth rate at 8.8 pct, down from 10.2 pct in April 2009 and 15.9 pct in December 2008, the Bank of Greece announced on Tuesday.
The central bank, in its monthly report, said credit expansion slowed both towards domestic enterprises and domestic households. The Bank of Greece has already cut its forecast for credit growth in the country to 5-6 pct this year, from an initial estimate of 10 pct.
However, the report said net fund flow to domestic enterprises and households reached the highest level so far this year in May, with net fund flow to enterprises totaling 765 million euros for a credit growth rate of 10.2 pct in May, from 11.8 pct in April and 18.7 pct in December 2008.
Credit expansion slowed significantly towards the manufacturing sector (5.9 pct in May, 9.0 pct in April and 15.8 pct in December 2008) and commerce (14.0 pct, 16.5 pct and 19.5 pct, respectively), while credit expansion grew towards the electricity-gas-water sector and the communications and transport sectors excluding shipping.
Net fund flow to Greek households (mortgage and consumer loans) totaled 338 million euros in May, with credit growth slowing to 7.3 pct in May, from 8.4 pct in April and 12.8 pct in December 2008.
Mortgage loans totaled 186 million euros in May, for credit growth rate of 6.9 pct, from 7.8 pct in April and 11.5 pct in December 2008, while consumer loans totaled 109 million euros for a 12-month growth rate of 8.4 pct in May, 9.8 pct in April and 16.0 pct in December.
 Greek PPI down 9.5 pct in MayGreece's Producer's Price Index, measuring both the domestic and external markets, dropped 9.5 pct in May, compared with the corresponding month in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics agency, in a report, attributed the 9.5 pct fall in the index to a 24.8 pct drop in energy goods' prices and an 1.4 pct fall in intermediate goods' prices. The durable consumer goods' index, however, grew 3.3 pct in May. The domestic producer's price index fell 9.4 pct in May, while the external market index was down 10 pct.
The producer's price index was up 1.2 pct in May from April 2009, while the average index in the 12-month period from June 2008-May 2009 was up 1.4 pct.
 Retail sales index down 14.2 pct in AprilGreece's retail sales turnover index dropped 14.2 pct in April, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics agency attributed the 14.2 pct fall in the turnover index to a 42.1 pct plunge in the fuel sales category, a 5.0 pct fall in food sales and a 13.9 pct decline in other shop category sales.
The retail sales volume index dropped 15 pct in April, from the same month last year, reflecting a 31.1 pct in fuel sales, an 8.3 pct fall in food sales and a 16 pct decline in other shop category sales.
The retail sales volume index was up 10.3 pct in April from March 2009, while the volume index dropped 14.5 pct in the January-April 2009 period, compared with the corresponding period in 2008, and the turnover index fell 13.7 pct over the same period.
 ERGOSE signs safety contract with France's SNCF-IERGOSE, the project management arm of Hellenic Railways, on Tuesday signed a safety cooperation contract with SNCF-I, the French railways organisation, as part of a bilateral cooperation agreement between Greece and France on railway transport and know-how exchange matters.
Under the contract, ERGOSE will hire SNCF-I (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais-International) as a consultant on safety matters for its Athens-Thessaloniki line and the greater Athens area's Proastiakos urban rail unit. The cost of the agreement, which lasts until January 2010, will total 210,000 euros.
 Stocks jump 1.99% on Tues.Greek stocks jumped 1.99 pct at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 2,200 level, ending at 2,209.99 points. Turnover was an improved 193.1 million euros, of which 7.8 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Food/Beverage (4.59 pct), Financial Services (3.39 pct) and Industrial Products (2.90 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (1.66 pct), Telecommunications (1.62 pct) and Media (1.29 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.31 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.51 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.39 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 115 to 105 with another 50 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.59%
Personal & Household: +0.21%
Raw Materials: +2.11%
Travel & Leisure: +2.23%
Food & Beverages: +4.59%
Financial Services: +3.39%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and Hellenic Postbank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.70
HBC Coca Cola: 14.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.89
National Bank of Greece: 19.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.50
Bank of Piraeus: 7.10
Titan Cement Company: 18.80
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 saw its discount widening to 2.53 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover an improved 58.015 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,435 contracts worth 46.571 million euros, with 23,313 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,873 contracts worth 11.444 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Hellenic Postbank's contracts (2,199), followed by Eurobank (709), OTE (694), OPAP (943), Piraeus Bank (741), National Bank (1,993), Alpha Bank (960), Marfin Popular Bank (859) and Cyprus Bank (1,085).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 848 million euros on Tuesday, of which 339 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 509 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 168 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 168 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.08 pct and the German Bund 3.40 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were slightly lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.50 pct, the six-month rate 1.31 pct, the three-month rate 1.09 pct and the one-month rate 0.75 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.424
Pound sterling 0.858
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 10.899
Japanese yen 136.59
Swiss franc 1.538
Norwegian kroner 9.090
Canadian dollar 1.640
Australian dollar 1.749
 The nine geo-wonders on Pindos Mountain RangeThe rocks of Deskati in the prefecture of Grevena, northwestern Greece, have attracted the interest of geologists worldwide as they tell the geological history of the earth and were the basis for the development of the tectonic plates theory.
Deskati and the greater region of Vounasa are among the nine geo-wonders in the Pindos Mountain Range that were the subject of a scientific conference held in the Prefecture of Grevena aimed at their promotion into tourist destinations.
The rocks of Deskati were created 700 million years ago when the ancient supercontinent Pangaea (meaning "all earth" in Greek) broke up to form the European and African continents. Later they were submerged into the Tethys Ocean that existed between the continents and united the region of today's Britain with China.
After several hundred million years the continents of Europe and Africa collided, resulting in the creation of the Alps. Tethys Ocean defined the landscape of the eastern Mediterranean and one of its underwater mountain ranges formed Mt Vourinos in Grevena, the region's second geo-wonder. Rocks that are part of the earth's ancient crust that were brought to the surface as a result of the Europe-Africa collision can be found across the Valia Calda National Forest.
The nine geo-wonders of Pindos include the heavily deformed limestone rocks at Mt Tsourgiakas and their small waterfalls, the gorge of Portitsa, the Pierced Rock formed as a result of erosion, Vasilitsa and its multicoloured rocks, the villages of Dotsiko and Mesolouri with their 30-million-years old coral reef and the village of Monachiti with its 50-meter wide vertical rocks.
Meanwhile, the Aliakmon River Gorge is currently being studied by scientists from the United States, the UK, Serbia, Italy and Greece in an intense effort to have its geological data recorded considering that by the end of the next decade it will be flooded as soon as the construction of the Public Power Corporation SA "Ilarion" Dam is completed.
 Contemporary production of Euripides 'The Trojan Women'A modern production of Euripides' "The Trojan Women" (Troades) will be presented by the National Theatre of Northern Greece. The revised production unfolds at a bombarded school building that serves as a temporary camp for civilians, where a group of women mourns for all defeated and exiled peoples of the world.
The production reflects a more female theatrical perspective, as it bears the signatures of Eleni Varopoulou, who did the translation, and director Niketi Kontouri.
"The Trojan Women" will open at Thessaloniki's Theatre in the Forest (Theatro Dassous) on July 2.
 Businessman injured by foreign tourists on ZakynthosA 35-year-old bar owner in Laganas Beach on the Ionian island of Zakynthos was injured over the weekend during a dawn brawl with a group of rowdy young British tourists who had consumed large quantities of alcohol.
The man, had sustained a head injury, was transferred to Rio Hospital, northwestern Peloponnese, in southern Greece.
The victim was attacked at 4 am when he tried to stop a group of five tourists from destroying the bar's outdoor chairs and sun beds.
An investigation is underway for the arrest of those involved in the incident.
 Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem to visit KavalaPatriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem will be in the northeastern city of Kavala on Wednesday to bless the proceedings of the 3rd Summit of the Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Technological Educational Institutes (TEI) to be launched on Thursday morning.
On Thursday evening, he will address an audience at the TEI of Kavala auditorium on the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the significance of the Holy Land sacred sites.
On Friday, July 3, the Patriarch of Jerusalem will depart for Athens.
 Vigil at Philippi site commemorates Apostle PaulA vigil was held on Monday evening within the framework of the feast day of the Apostle Paul, the patron saint of the northeastern city of Kavala.
The Orthodox ceremony was held at the archaeological site of Philippi, where the ruins of a landmark early Christian basilica are located.
Hundreds of faithful attended an outdoor liturgy adjacent to the spot where the Apostle Paul was incarcerated for night, as well as the ancient Agora in Philippi where he preached to the Philippians.
Metropolitan Prokopios, in his sermon, noted that the vigil's revival aims to honor to the man who brought Christianity to the Hellenic world and the rest of Europe, beginning from the site where modern Kavala stands, which in antiquity was the port of Neapolis.
 Vessel carrying aid for Gaza blockedNICOSIA (ANA-MPA)
Israeli patrol boats intercepted the vessel "Arion" carrying humanitarian aid and constructions materials for the Gaza Strip, it was reported here on Tuesday.
Israeli authorities demanded the vessel return to Larnaca, from where it had set off.
 OTE moves hawks nesting on Maroussi headquartersGreece's main telecom utility, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), on Tuesday reported the successful conclusion of an operation quite unlike the company has attempted before - moving a family of hawks that had made its nest on the OTE Tower in Maroussi, the multi-storey building housing OTE's headquarters.
The five hawk fledglings were transferred to a new, custom-built nest prepared by the Greek Ornithological Society and the animal welfare group ANIMA, so that renovation work on the building might be carried out.
The baby birds were moved by OTE linemen and the parents soon started to feed the young family in their new home. The young hawks have just recently tested their wings for the first time, while one had to be transferred to ANIMA after struggling with its first attempt to fly.
According to the Greek Ornithological Society, high buildings in Athens and other Greek cities have become a refuge for several species of birds and other animals, providing many of the features of natural rocks and crags that make them suitable nesting places.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy weather and possible local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 32C. Cloudy in Athens with possible local showers, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 32C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 28C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Public Administration General Inspector's annual report, the Siemens bribery scandal and the recent arrest of fugitive Siemens Hellas former CEO Michalis Christoforakos in Germany, illegal migration, political party affairs and reactions over the new tax measures expected in October were the main front-page headlines in Athens' newspapers on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Corruption stifling the State - Official report of the Public Administration Inspector".
APOGEVMATINI: "NO to politicians' holidays - The citizens of France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and the US seek of their political leaders to cancel their vacations this year due to the global financial crisis".
AVGHI: "Corruption - Big-time doctors with off-shore companies for their 'gifts', scandal with the unlicensed buildings and real estate at the expense of the State".
AVRIANI: "Politicians received 250 million euros in kickbacks for the C4I, Hermes, Patriot, OTE, OSE and other major contracts of projects tendered to Siemens under gratuitous terms".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "According to the annual report of the Public Administration General Inspector, we have a...State of Corrupt Civil Servants".
ELEFTHEROS: "Papathanassiou (economy and finance minister) formally announced new tax-storm as of October".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The bargaining with the bribes - Christoforakos' games in order to avert extradition to Greece".
ESTIA: "Total failure of taxation policy - What New Democracy (ruling party) was saying in 2004".
ETHNOS: "The 'extraordinary' taxes becoming...permanent - Papathanassiou announced new measures on the horizon in the autumn".
KATHIMERINI: "Corruption, mismanagement and bureaucracy - The observations in the Public Administration general inspector's annual report".
LOGOS: "Corruption rules - Shocking report on the public sector".
NIKI: "Nervous breakdown in ND - Mutual back-stabbing over the collapse of the economy".
TA NEA: "Write-off of Christoforakos with arrest warrants for crimes on which the statute of limitations expires in 2003".
TO VIMA: "Rakintzis (Public Administration General Inspector Leandros Rakintzis) reveals: Money laundering by doctors with offshore companies".
VRADYNI: "European Court landmark ruling - Five-year retroactive raises in public sector affecting 500,000 civil servants and pensioners".
 US senior diplomat: Cypriot sides desire progressNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza believes that the two sides in Cyprus have the desire to keep moving forward, exchange views in good faith and attempt to bridge differences, acknowledging at the same time that there are differences between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides at the ongoing peace talks.
Commenting on the progress of the dialogue between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus after his meeting with President Demetris Christofias, Bryza said that on some issues they have bridged their differences and have come to a lot of agreed language.
"There are fundamental philosophical differences that are quite difficult to resolve. There are different views about the continuation of the state, formation of the federal state, the federated state and how the constituent states will make sure that there is a balance of political power that both respects minority rights and majority rights", Bryza told reporters.
Bryza pointed out that the US is not party to the talks and that the country has to listen to see if any of the parties or both of them want the US to be involved more actively.
"I don't particularly sense anybody is looking for us to be more active than what we've been", he noted.
The US official described as "a major step forward" the opening of the Limnitis crossing point, on the northwest, to facilitate movement to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas, adding that this step involved compromise on both sides and injected new energy into the whole peace process.
Replying to a question, Bryza rebuffed calls from the Greek Cypriot side that the US must put pressure on Turkey.
"I don't think it is very helpful for the US to be putting pressure on anyone at this point. I think the best thing we can do is to listen and then try to help the sides smooth out their differences", he stated. He added that there are strategic and political thinkers in the US who may help the sides bridge their differences.
Bryza also expressed the view that Ankara gives freedom to Mehmet Ali Talat to manoeuvre at least on the issues that have been discussed so far.
"Now some tough ones remain to be resolved," he added.
He also said that throughout his trip in Cyprus he gained a feeling of desire by both sides to keep moving forward, exchange views in good faith and an attempt to bridge differences.
The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State said his meeting with the Cypriot President was very "in depth, warm and constructive", noting that there are really no differences in their views.
"I was just listening to the President's analysis where the talks are and we are also exploring ways to deepen our bilateral relationship. We have a good relationship with the Republic of Cyprus but we can always improve, always do more together", said Bryza.
As he pointed out the US and Cyprus have done a lot on arms proliferation, trafficking in persons and preservation of cultural heritage. He added that the US are still grateful for what Cyprus did in July 2006, when the country was evacuating its citizens from Lebanon. Furthermore Bryza said that there is a lot both countries can do in the Middle East.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island, divided since the Turkish invasion in the summer of 1974.
 FM: no arbitration or timeframes in Cyprus processNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
There is a clear agreement that there will be no timeframes and no arbitration in the Cyprus peace process, which aims at achieving a political solution in Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has said.
Kyprianou, who met Tuesday in Nicosia US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, said the meeting focused on the ongoing process for a solution, which began September last year between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus. He noted that this was the main purpose for Bryza's visit here.
Invited to comment on Bryza's statements that the US will not impose anything on Cyprus and that "we would like to look forward and anticipate there will be an agreement by the end of the year", Kyprianou said that the Greek Cypriot side also wishes for an agreement to be reached the soonest possible.
He recalled that there is a clear agreement and commitment by all sides, in Cyprus and abroad, that the procedure to be followed would not include any timeframes or arbitration.
"It has been proven that timeframes, especially technical timeframes, work negatively and are counterproductive", he said.
He recalled that the Greek Cypriot side is a victim of invasion and occupation and the Greek Cypriots are refugees who have lost their properties and suffer every day the consequences of the Turkish occupation.
"So, we do not need to be called upon by third parties regarding the need to solve the Cyprus problem. What counts is that the solution is viable and follows the right parameters and principles so that all inhabitants of Cyprus benefit from that", he added.
The Cypriot foreign minister underlined that "any rushed move would either end in failure in the negotiations or in a solution that would collapse".
"We welcome the interest, but the agreed process constitutes a basic factor for the success of this procedure and should remain part of this process", he underlined.
Kyprianou said that the US are interested in the Cyprus issue but there is also a prospect of cooperation between the two states in other issues as well, bilateral and regional.
He also said that this was one of the main conclusions during his meeting in April with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, "that the two countries enter a phase of closer cooperation, apart from the Cyprus question, on international issues which concern and interest the two countries".
During Tuesday's meeting with Bryza they discussed issues of mutual concern like the situation in Georgia, in Nagorno-Karabakh, and issues concerning southeastern Europe.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island, divided since the Turkish invasion in the summer of 1974.
 Cypriot MP: Turkey encourages illegal immigration to CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Around 90% of illegal immigrants who come to Cyprus reach the government controlled areas through Turkey and through the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus, Cypriot Member of the House of Representatives Christos Stylianides has said.
Addressing Tuesday the 18th annual meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vilnius, Stylianides said that Turkey refuses to sign an EU agreement for readmission of immigrants, despite the appeals on behalf of Cyprus and Greece.
He also recalled that Turkey continues to occupy 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus in violation of international law and the relevant UN resolutions.
The Cypriot MP said that one consequence of the continuous occupation of Cyprus by Turkey is Ankara's policy to encourage illegal immigration to Cyprus.
He also called upon Turkey to show a spirit of good will and cooperation at the ongoing Cyprus talks which aim at reaching a viable solution in Cyprus.
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