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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 4 July 2009 Issue No: 3236


  • [01] PM meets with merchant marine minister, UGS
  • [02] FM visits Armenia
  • [03] Papandreou calls for elections in September
  • [04] PASOK National Council meets after Euro-polls
  • [05] Gov't dismisses call PASOK call for early elections
  • [06] Gov't: PASOK interest in transparency 'hypocritical'
  • [07] PASOK spokesman on political party funding issue
  • [08] Papoulias wraps up visit to Serbia
  • [09] Moscow Patriarch Kyrill visiting Phanar in Istanbul
  • [10] Sioufas welcomes Cyprus Parliament resolution for Parthenon Marbles
  • [11] Greek economic sentiment index up in June
  • [12] Greek consumption low for natgas, high for oil
  • [13] Car registrations down 29.5 pct in H1
  • [14] Conference in Athens on underwater tourism
  • [15] Black Sea Bank offers 40-mln-USD credit line to Turk Eximbank
  • [16] Stocks end 0.29% down
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] Greek state bond yields down in June
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [21] Powerful bomb in Ambelokipi causes extensive damage, no injury
  • [22] Arsonists target Migration Policy Institute in Kolonaki
  • [23] Group of 31 tourists from US and Panama with new flu symptoms
  • [24] Diplomas given by Foundation for Rehabilitation of Expatriates from Albania
  • [25] Fire in Sithonia under partial control
  • [26] Illegal migrant trafficking ring dismantled
  • [27] Heroin found in Alikarnassos prison fridge
  • [28] Cloudy, rainy on Saturday
  • [29] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [30] Local community chiefs discuss opening of Limnitis
  • [31] UN General Assembly adopts UNFICYP budget

  • [01] PM meets with merchant marine minister, UGS

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Friday with merchant marine minister Anastassis Papaligouras, and later received the presidium of the Union of Greek Shiowners (UGS).

    Papaligouras told reporters afterward that the discussion focused on the impact of the global credit and financial crisis on the shipping sector, and the problem of piracy at sea.

    The minister stressed that the safety of the crews and the ships was of grave concern, given that Greece is the world's number one maritime power, adding that Greece was a contributor to the EU's anti-piracy force (EUNAVOR) off Somalia for confrontation "of the anachronistic phenomenon of piracy in the 21st century".

    The EU in November 2008 formally launched an anti-piracy security operation (EUNAVOR) off the Somali coasts, in its first-ever naval mission, dubbed Operation Atalanta, under which EU ships also help protect UN and other vessels transporting aid to the area.

    They also discussed the issue of maritime training and ways of attracting youth to the shipping profession and incentives for keeping the graduates of the maritime academies in the profession.

    The prime minister later received the UGS presidium, headed by the Union's president Theodore Veniamis, on a courtesy call.

    Veniamis said in reply to press questions after the meeting that the repercussions from the crisis in Greek shipping were "controllable".

    He also said that they had a "very good exchange of views" and also discussed the piracy problem.

    [02] FM visits Armenia


    Greek foreign minister and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) chairperson-in-office Dora Bakoyannis arrived here on Friday, where she met with her Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian.

    Speaking to the press afterwards, Bakoyannis said: "It is a real pleasure to be in Yerevan. A Greek feels like home in Armenia. Our peoples have shared too much history together and this has built strong, long lasting ties that continue to serve as a catalyst for our two countries' relations. The signing of the aviation agreement is testimony of our excellent relations".

    "I am here today both in my capacity as chairperson of the OSCE and as the foreign minister of Greece. I am here as a friend who can contribute in Armenia's path towards a closer relationship with Europe and its institutions," Bakoyannis noted.

    "Let me start with the OSCE. As you probably know, last weekend, Greece hosted the first-ever informal ministerial OSCE meeting that launched the Corfu Process. I want to thank Minister Nalbandian for his significant contribution. We count on Armenia's continued support as we embark on our open and frank dialogue on European security, in view of the Athens December Ministerial Meeting," she added.

    "Today we will inaugurate the OSCE's new offices in Yerevan. It is very important that the OSCE Office in Yerevan enjoys such a high level of cooperation with Armenia. Its activities include mitigating the impact of the financial crisis at a critical time, co-operation with the police and supporting the office of the Human Rights Defender. I am confident that we can deepen this cooperation. The Office is here to serve the people of Armenia and to assist them as they build an open, free and democratic society. As they lay the foundation for a stronger civil society, respectful of its past and ready to take the future into its own hands," Bakoyannis continued.

    "For more than a year now, Armenia and Azerbaijan (which Bakoyannis visited on Thursday) have participated constructively, at the top level, in a new round of negotiations that have inspired optimism. Talks are at a critical point. I am encouraged by the political will expressed by both sides and the Minsk Group's commitment to bring about positive results," she said.

    Bakoyannis further stressed that: "Armenia is an important country for stability in the South Caucasus. While continuing political reforms at home, it had begun a sensitive dialogue with Turkey. It has demonstrated maturity and self-confidence that larger and stronger countries often miss. I wish you well in your efforts and express sincere hope they will be successful".

    In closing, Bakoyannis noted that Greek-Armenian bilateral relations "are excellent".

    "Greece and Armenia are natural friends and partners. We consider Armenia as part of Europe and we are ready to work with you in order to bring your country closer to the European Union," she concluded.

    Nagorno-Karabakh issue

    She also urged Armenia to make use of the OSCE services for a peaceful solution in Nagorno-Karabakh and the implementation of democratic reforms in the country. Bakoyannis also expressed hope for progress in the meeting of the presidents of the United States and Russia next week in Moscow considering that they co-chair the Minsk Group and South Caucasus is expected to be one of the issues under discussion.

    The FM will depart for Athens later on Friday.

    [03] Papandreou calls for elections in September

    A call for early elections in September was made by main opposition leader George Papandreou on Friday, while addressing the first meeting of PASOK's National Council after the European Parliament elections. He also proposed an agreement with the government to re-elect the current Greek president Karolos Papoulias, provided Papoulias desired to stand.

    "Holding early general elections will give rise to a new government that will be able to draw up a reliable budget for 2010 and will chart a new course of hope and re-organisation for the country," PASOK's leader stressed.

    He also clarified that PASOK would support Papoulias' re-election if the president chose to stand, adding that Papoulias had served his current office in the best possible way.

    Papandreou proposed that PASOK and the government agree on Papoulias's re-election right away, combined with a decision to go to elections immediately.

    He stressed that elections are necessitated by the country's interest, since the new government that will have a fresh popular mandate will be able to negotiate with the European Union a reliable plan to exit from the crisis.

    He added that, in parallel, the aim of supporting the income of the weaker classes and the middle class through bold tax reforms would be served.

    Papandreou said that PASOK's tax policy would aim at taxing wealth where it really existed and named offshore companies, dividends in high incomes, profits from stock exchange transactions, large real estate and even ecclesiastical property that is utilised financially.

    The PASOK leader also referred to the way with which he will handle problems during the first 100 days of PASOK's governance. He said that the first concern will be to tackle the deep economic crisis which is dealing a blow at the Greek economy and the citizen's pocket and, secondly, the restoration of the citizens' trust in the state, institutions and the political system.

    The second concern of PASOK's government during the first 100 days of its governance, as he said, will concern the taking of measures to restore the citizens' trust in the state "and this will not have an economic cost but necessitates political will which PASOK possesses."

    Referring, lastly, to the results of the recent Euroelections, Papandreou said that the message emerging is that "we can take the situation into our hands and change the country's course."

    [04] PASOK National Council meets after Euro-polls

    PASOK National Council Secretary Yiannis Ragoussis on Friday addressed the first meeting of the party's National Council since the European Parliament elections, underlining that PASOK's goal was victory and the largest possible independent majority at the next general elections.

    "No other individual goal can supersede the necessity of achieving the main goal," he stressed, clarifying that matters relating to local and prefecture elections would be raised once the party's official organs decided how to proceed with the relevant processes.

    He also criticised the New Democracy government as "a hostage of random events" and announced that PASOK would announce a committee for its pre-election campaign after August 17, "when the country, of necessity, enters a formal pre-election period".

    [05] Gov't dismisses call PASOK call for early elections

    Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday dismissed main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou's call for early elections in September, saying the government had no intention of "following him in an effort to trivialise institutions."

    "Mr. Papandreou has again today tried to entangle, in an inadmissible manner, the President of the Republic in his own petty party projects," Antonaros said in a written statement.

    "Mr. Papandreou's position that he does not intend to support the re-election of the current President of the Republic, thus provoking early general elections, is well known. It is self-evident that we will not follow him in the effort to trivialise institutions, an effort whose only motive is PASOK leadership's greed for power," Antonaros concluded.

    On his part, ruling New Democracy (ND) central committee secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said "the country does not need elections, it needs seriousness and responsibility."

    [06] Gov't: PASOK interest in transparency 'hypocritical'

    A government spokesman on Friday stressed that the interest in transparency expressed by main opposition PASOK comes "too late" and is "hypocritical". Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros made the comment referring to PASOK's proposal for an extraordinary plenary session in Parliament and the establishment of a parliamentary investigation committee to focus on the Siemens bribery and kickback furor.

    Antonaros underlined "the actions and omissions made by the main opposition party in the present and in the past when it was in power" and referred to PASOK's rejection of a proposal made by the PM last year for the establishment of a parliamentary committee on transparency.

    He reminded that PM Karamanlis -- as a follow-up to an off-the-agenda discussion in parliament on July 7, 2008 and after a relevant proposal tabled by the government during the Constitutional revision -- had addressed a letter to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on June 7, 2008 requesting the establishment of a cross-party committee to study transparency issues.

    Antonaros stated that "PASOK is not interested in solving the cases," pointing out that it "merely attempts to protect its own."

    The government spokesman reiterated that the government and the ruling party of New Democracy (ND) has made specific efforts citing the proposal tabled in the Special Permanent Committee on Institutions and Transparency on Thursday by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    "Papandreou's comments reflect his political desperation," Antonaros stated, referring to the statements made by the leader of PASOK addressing his party's political council meeting Thursday.

    [07] PASOK spokesman on political party funding issue

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papacon-stantinou underlined that the proposals made by its leader George Papandreou "were met with a positive response by the public and even by certain ruling New Democracy (ND) party cadres and MPs but, as expected, they were rejected by the government."

    On the prospects of "special treatment" suggested for those who provide tangible evidence against "corrupt politicians", Papacon-stantinou clarified that the proposal did not refer to an amnesty, adding that motives will be taken under consideration.

    On PASOK's position as regards the funding of political parties and the interior minister proposal suggesting that they be funded only by the state budget, he stated that he wishes not to rush into making a relevant comment pointing out that PASOK's position will be expressed within the framework of the discussion held in parliament.

    Papaconstantinou said the minutes of PASOK's political council meetings are not made public adding, however, that he "will not issue a denial or a confirmation." He made the comment responding to a question on whether a proposal was made in the meeting suggesting that former PM Costas Simitis take a stance on Tsoukatos' issue as regards the Siemens bribery investigation, adding that the former PM had commented on the issue soon after it had surfaced.

    Papaconstantinou also condemned the early morning bomb attack in Ampelokipi, Athens and criticised the government spokesman for not making a relevant comment in the regular press briefing, underlining that the people do not feel safe.

    [08] Papoulias wraps up visit to Serbia


    Greek President Karolos Papoulias termed the outcome of the official meetings he had with the political leadership in Serbia as very positive and auspicious. His two-day visit here will be completed late on Friday with the inauguration of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) Centre.

    The prospects are very good in the business, trade and economic sectors, while in the political sector relations are impeccable and cordial, he stressed.

    "We fully understand the difficulties and problems with which the Serbs are faced," he said, adding that "we support the country's European prospect and Serbia fully understands the problems we are being faced with".

    "The meeting with President (Boris) Tadic was cordial and friendly, which is very important for the next steps," he concluded.

    [09] Moscow Patriarch Kyrill visiting Phanar in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    The new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kyrill will begin the traditional visit to local Orthodox churches from the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Saturday.

    According to an announcement by the Moscow Patriarchate, "the aim of the visit by Patriarch Kyrill is strengthening the unity of Orthodox churches. The local Orthodox churches constitute a family."

    On arrival of Patriarch Kyrill at the Phanar, a religious service will be held which will be attended by many members of the Holy Synod who are in Istanbul for the welcoming of the new Patriarch. The primate of the Orthodox Russian Church will also attend a concert by a Russian choir at Saint Irene, together with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    Kyrill, who succeeded the late Alexiy and who has a longtime friendship with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, will tour Istanbul and attend the inauguration of the chappel located in the yard of the Russian General Consulate in Istanbul, before travelling to Ankara to meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

    [10] Sioufas welcomes Cyprus Parliament resolution for Parthenon Marbles

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Friday welcomed a Cyprus Parliament resolution calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum, so that they can be put on display in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.

    "This is the first resolution by the House of Representatives [Cypriot Parliament] that aligns itself with the effort being made throughout the world, recently with ever-increasing intensity, so that the "captive" symbols of our culture at the British Museum are returned here, where they were created," Sioufas said in the Greek Parliament after the resolution was read out.

    The Cypriot Parliament resolution, which was passed on Thursday, hails the completion of the New Acropolis Museum and says that its inauguration was a cultural event of global importance.

    "[The Cyprus Parliament] believes that the Parthenon Marbles, which are currently in the British Museum, must find their natural place in this ultra-modern museum of exceptional inspiration and technique. Today it is clear that the place of the marbles is alongside the other marbles in their museum, next to the Acropolis itself."

    Pointing out that the Athens Acropolis is a symbol of freedom and democracy for the entire world, the resolution urges the government and all other appropriate authorities in the United Kingdom to "bring the adventure of the marbles to an end by returning them to their natural environment," while adding that the operation of the new museum is the most powerful argument for their safety, preservation and for displaying the marbles as a single cultural heritage monument.

    Financial News

    [11] Greek economic sentiment index up in June

    Greece's ecoomic sentiment index rose for the third consecutive month in June, following an upward trend prevailing in most other European countries, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Friday.

    The report said that June figures further strengthened expecta-tions of a recovery in the country. The June index rose to 59 units from 49.2 units in May, the highest level since November 2008.

    The rise is spread across all economic sectors, led by the construction and retail sectors, while consumer confidence also showed a significant improvement, rising to the highest level in 12 months.

    Business expectations in the manufacturing sector rose markedly, in the services sector, business expectations for domestic demand improved and in the retail sector, expectations over current sales rose significantly while a sigmificant part of inventories has been sold.

    In the construction sector, business expectations recovered strongly, while in the consumer confidence, Greek consumers were more optimistic over their financial situation and state finances, while expectations over employment continued impro-ving for the fourth consecutive month, although they remained negative for the past 14 months.

    [12] Greek consumption low for natgas, high for oil

    Greek households occupy one of the lowest positions in the European Union for the average consumption of natural gas but boast the highest EU consumption rate for oil, according to figures released by the EU for the year 2007 and relayed by the Hellenic Consumer Centre.

    The figures for energy consumption in the 27 EU member-states in 2007 show that natgas consumption accounted for 39.8 percent of energy needs, with the highest natgas consumption rates in the Netherlands (72 percent), the United Kingdom (67 percent) and Italy and Hungary (57 percent).

    The lowest rates were in Greece (3.3 percent), Sweden (0.6 percent), and Portugal (6.8 percent).

    Average electricity consumption throughout the EU was 24.2 percent of all energy consumption, with rates highest in Malta (70 percent), Sweden (51 percent) and Cyprus (46 percent). In Greece it was slightly above average at 29 percent and the lowest positions were held by Romania (11.9 percent) and Poland (12.5 percent).

    Direct oil consumption in the EU was 14.9 percent on average, with Greece having the highest EU consumption rate at 50 percent of energy use, followed by Ireland (39 percent) and Cyprus (36 percent). The lowest oil consumption was in Bulgaria (1.2 percent) and the Czech Republic (0.4 percent).

    [13] Car registrations down 29.5 pct in H1

    Car registrations (including new and used ones) dropped 29.5 pct in the January-June period, compared with the corresponding period last year, the National Statistical Service said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said car registrations fell 12.3 pct in June compared with the same month in 2008, totaling 29,229 vehicles, while in the first half of the year car registrations totaled 144,174 vehicles.

    Registration new motorcycles fell 29.6 pct in the first half, compared with the corresponding period in 2008 to 36,425 units. In June, new registrations fell 28.1 pct to 9,753 motorcycles.

    [14] Conference in Athens on underwater tourism

    Tourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos underlined that boosting underwater tourism in Greece is among the goals set, addressing a relevant conference hosted by Athens' "Apogevmatini" daily.

    Opening the conference, Markopoulos pointed out that a special reference to scuba diving tourism will be made in the draft law for special forms of tourism, while the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) will support scuba park projects. Two of the four parks currently in the works will be ready by 2010, Markopoulos stated.

    Referring to the tourist arrivals recorded so far, Markopoulos reiterated that the ominous projections for the current year have been proven wrong and called for calm.

    [15] Black Sea Bank offers 40-mln-USD credit line to Turk Eximbank

    The Black Sea Bank for Commerce and Development on Friday announced it will offer funding of up to 40 million US dollars to the Turkish state bank Turk Eximbank through a five-year, revolving pre-export credit line. The new credit line, added to an existing 10-year cooperation between the two sides, will be used by Turk Eximbank to continue funding the country's export-oriented companies.

    The Black Sea Bank has loaned Turk Eximbank more than 361 million US dollars as part of its revolving short-term pre-export finance. Turk Eximbank is fully owned by the Turkish state and it is the official export finance vehicle of the country.

    [16] Stocks end 0.29% down

    Greek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, with the composite index of the market falling 0.29 pct to end at 2,211.04 points. Turnover was a low 95.7 million euros, of which 18.5 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Constructions (2.22 pct), Media (2.02 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.02 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oil (2.73 pct), Travel (1.27 pct) and Utilities (1.02 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 0.16 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 1.14 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.29 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 120 to 87 with another 46 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.70%

    Industrials: -0.14%

    Commercial: -0.38%

    Construction: -2.22%

    Media: -2.02%

    Oil & Gas: +2.73%

    Personal & Household: -0.20%

    Raw Materials: -1.54%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.27%

    Technology: -1.06%

    Telecoms: -1.01%

    Banks: -0.16%

    Food & Beverages: -2.02%

    Health: -0.90%

    Utilities: +1.02%

    Chemicals: -0.13%

    Financial Services: -1.24%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Alapis, National Bank, OTE and OPAP.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 7.30

    ATEbank: 1.52

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.90

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.72

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.40

    National Bank of Greece: 17.86

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.26

    Intralot: 4.40

    OPAP: 19.35

    OTE: 10.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.10

    Titan Cement Company: 18.88

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank further to 375 million euros on Friday, of which 204 million were buy orders and the remaining 175 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 215 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 160 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.94 pct and the German Bund 3.34 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.46 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month rate 1.05 pct and the one-month rate 0.70 pct.

    [18] Greek state bond yields down in June

    Greek state bond yields fell in June, following a similar trend that prevailed in other Eurozone markets, the Bank of Greece said on Friday. In a monthly report, the central bank said the five-year benchmark bond yield fell by 54 basis points to 3.69 pct at the end of June, from 4.23 pct a month earlier, while the three-year benchmark bond yield fell 39 basis points to 2.69 pct from 3.09 pct over the same period, respectively. The 10-year benchmark bond yield dropped by 42 bps to 5.05 pct and the 30-year yield eased 8 bps to 5.79 pct. The yield spread between the 30- and three-year benchmark bonds widened to 309 bps in June from 278 bps in May, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 179 bps.

    Bond prices rose markedly across the yield curve, with the 10-year bond price ending at 107.24, from 103.97 in May, while the three-year bond price rose to 104.14 from 103.20 and the five-year bond price jumped to 108.21 from 105.72.

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 27.77 billion euros in June, from 20.22 billion in May, and 26.69 billion euros in June 2008. Daily average turnover was 1.32 billion euros, up from 1.01 billion in May, while the 10- and 15-year bonds were the most heavily traded securities of the month, accounting for 52 pct of total turnover.

    [19] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.94 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover shrinking to a low 25.427 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 3,516 contracts worth 19.209 million euros, with 25,696 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 6,496 contracts worth 6.218 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (1,346), followed by OTE (584), Piraeus Bank (265), National Bank (1,341), Alpha Bank (455), Cyprus Bank (288) and Hellenic Postbank (335).

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.412

    Pound sterling 0.863

    Danish kroner 7.505

    Swedish kroner 11.000

    Japanese yen 135.39

    Swiss franc 1.535

    Norwegian kroner 9.037

    Canadian dollar 1.633

    Australian dollar 1.769

    General News

    [21] Powerful bomb in Ambelokipi causes extensive damage, no injury

    A powerful bomb exploded at dawn Friday at a building housing a Tax Bureau office and a MacDonald's fast food restaurant in the Athens district of Ambelokipi, after warning calls a half hour earlier to two newspapers. No one was injured in the blast, which caused extensive damage to the building.

    The explosion occurred at 4:35 a.m. on the corner of Iteas and Larissis streets. Earlier, an anonymous caller telephoned 'Eleftherotypia' newspaper at 3:51 and 'Ta Nea' at 4:07, warning of an impending bomb explosion at the specific address, but did not assume the attack on behalf of any organisation.

    Police who rushed to the site immediately stopped traffic in the surrounding area, which is heavily populated.

    The blast caused extensive damage to the building and to surrounding apartment buildings and nearby parked cars.

    [22] Arsonists target Migration Policy Institute in Kolonaki

    Arsonists targeted the building housing the Migration Policy Institute in the central Kolonaki district of Athens at dawn on Friday.

    The unidentified arsonists doused the Institute's entrance with a flammable liquid which they subsequently set fire to, resulting in material damage but no injuries.

    Attica security police were investigating the incident.

    [23] Group of 31 tourists from US and Panama with new flu symptoms

    A group of 31 tourists from the US and Panama who are visiting northern Greece presented symptoms of the new flu A(H1N1) virus on Thursday night, president of the Disease Control Center (KEELPNO) Ioannis Pieroutsakos told ANA/MPA.

    Pieroutsakos said that the group was taken to AXEPA hospital in Thessaloniki for testing, adding that 11 of the tourists were hospitalised for treatment while the other 20 were moved to a hotel in the city where they were staying under controlled conditions.

    The results of the tests would be made known on Friday, he said.

    [24] Diplomas given by Foundation for Rehabilitation of Expatriates from Albania

    The Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Expatriates from Albania awarded for yet another year 22 diplomas to students of the Professional Training Centre of Pogoniani and honoured 11 students of the Ioannina University.

    According to an announcement, the ceremony for awarding the diplomas to this year's graduates took place on June 26. The Centre has been operating in Pogoniani in Epirus since 1993.

    Every year, about 100 expatriates from Albania are hosted and trained in the country, while since 1993 to date the educational establishment has hosted more than 1,000 students. Students graduating this year were specialising in cookery/confectionery and hairdressing.

    [25] Fire in Sithonia under partial control

    The fire brigade on Friday said that a wildfire that broke out in Sithonia, in the northern Greek prefecture of Halkidiki, was now partially under control.

    The fire was probably caused by a lightning strike and was first sighted early on Friday afternoon, in an area of forest in Vourvourou.

    A large fire-fighting force has been deployed to combat the fire, including several volunteer fire-fighters and two water-bombing aircraft.

    [26] Illegal migrant trafficking ring dismantled

    An illegal migrant trafficking ring formed by illegal migrants was dismantled by police in Thessaloniki.

    Five suspects were arrested accused of transporting illegal migrants from Soufli, northeast Greece to the mainland. According to police, they intended to transport 29 adult illegal migrants and 17 minors to the district of Xirokrini in Thessaloniki.

    [27] Heroin found in Alikarnassos prison fridge

    Some 40 grammes of heroin were discovered hidden in a refrige-rator within a communal area of the Nea Alikarnassos prison on the island of Crete, the justice ministry reported on Friday. The drugs were split into 13 paper packets containing individual "fixes" and a small bag, all of which were hidden in a tin of tobacco, itself in a bag containing ordinary groceries.

    The drugs were found by a prison guard, who had been ordered to search the area by the prison warden.

    The Iraklio police narcotics squad was called in to take charge of the drugs and the Iraklio public prosecutor has been alerted to the incident.

    Weather Forecast

    [28] Cloudy, rainy on Saturday

    Cloudy weather and possible local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 34C. Cloudy in Athens with possible local showers, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 33C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 29C.

    [29] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Cutbacks in health spending, political party finances and the Siemens kickbacks and bribery scandal were the main front-page items in Friday's newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Upgrading of IKA (state-run Social Security Foundation), disability pensions, health spending, etc. are the priorities - Strict timetable set out by prime minister during visit to development ministry".

    APOGEVMATINI: "A giant is born in the insurance sector - PostBank and ELTA (Hellenic Posts) establishing giant insurance company" to be called Post Insurance Brokerage S.A.

    AVGHI: They're demolishing the Health funds - Prime minister announced separation of IKA into Pensions branch and Health branch, paving the way for downgrading of all the health funds".

    AVRIANI: "Explosive proposal by Christoforakos (fugitive Siemens Hellas former CEO who was recently arrested in Germany on an international warrant issued by Greece) that causes terror in the 'system': I'll hand over the CD containing the names of the politicians who took the bribes, on condition that the (two) warrants (for his arrest) are rescinded".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Illegal migrants a lethal threat - Tragic observation by EU commissioner for justice, freedom and security issues Jacques Barrot (who visited Athens earlier in the week), who spoke of a threat of "destabilisation of Greece's democracy".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Barrot: Illegal migration a danger for Greece - The uncontrolled migration a threat to Greek democracy".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Political parties, OTE (Hellenic Telecoms Organisation) took the bribes, Christoforakos admitted in his second marathon testimony".

    ESTIA: "Immense harm to the economy - The measures (announced earlier in the week) intensify the negative climate".

    ETHNOS: "Triple blow against the social security system - New round of upsets, in the guise of 'reform'."

    KATHIMERINI: "Political money on the agenda - After pressure by the public opinion, the political parties examining stricter measures for transparency".

    LOGOS: "Battle for Christoforakos' extradition - He's playing all his negotiating 'aces' in Germany to avert his extradition to Greece".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Dangerous ND-PASOK methodisations targeting the KKE".

    TA NEA: "Plethora of ambiguities in arrangement for building code transgressions".

    TO VIMA: "They're breaking up IKA into two in order to put the chaos in expenditures under control - Karamanlis, Petralia separating the pension and health divisions".

    VRADYNI: "Omnibus bill for the incorporations (into the city plans)".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [30] Local community chiefs discuss opening of Limnitis


    Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot members of community councils engaged in the opening of the Limnitis crossing point held their first meeting Friday to discuss progress achieved on the issue, following an agreement reached between the leaders of the island's two communities to open Limnitis.

    On June 26th, 2009, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed to open the Limnitis crossing point on the northwest of Cyprus. Its opening would facilitate movement between the island's northern Turkish occupied areas and the southern government controlled part of the country.

    Head of Kato Pyrgos Community Council Costas Michaelides expressed the view that the crossing point would open in four months, whereas head of occupied Limnitis village Goksel Kabaran estimated it would only probably take two months.

    In his statements, Kabaran said that next week the aides of the two leaders, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami, would discuss progress regarding the work that needs to be carried out before opening the crossing point.

    According to information, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots living in the area will organise an event in Kato Pyros, mid summer, and invite the Christofias and Talat to attend.

    President Christofias and 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.

    [31] UN General Assembly adopts UNFICYP budget


    The plenary of the UN General Assembly adopted on June 30 the budgets of 14 peacekeeping forces, including the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

    According to an official press release, the General Assembly adopted the report of the Fifth Committee, approving the sum of 56,794,900 dollars for the period beginning on July 1, 2009, and ending on June 30, 2010, which is necessary to cover the functional and operational costs of UNFICYP.

    The decision on UNFICYP also refers to resolution 186(1964), which established the peacekeeping force in Cyprus, as well as the resolutions renewing the mandate, the last of which is resolution 1873 (2009) of May 29, 2009.

    Furthermore, it expresses appreciation to the governments of Cyprus and Greece for their voluntary contributions of 18,074,373 dollars and 6.5 million dollars respectively.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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