|Tuesday, 7 April 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 22 July 2009 Issue No: 3251
 PM: Modernisation of IKA a chief targetModernisation of the state's Social Security Foundation (IKA), which covers the majority of working people in Greece, is a chief target of the government, prime minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Tuesday, during a visit to the IKA offices in the district of Peristeri, which he noted was one of the largest IKA branches, serving more than 3,200 people daily.
Karamanlis said that significant steps forward have been made both with respect to equipment and staffing, and to upgrading the quality of services provided, but conceded that all the problems have not been solved and deficiencies and staff shortages existed, and made particular note of the long waiting lists for doctors of specific specialisations and delays in certain microbiology laboratories.
The premier said that upgrading was also necessary of the three-digit telephone line "184" for setting up medical appointments, while renewal of equipment and staffing are also needed.
The chief target is the modernisation of IKA, the social security fund that covers the great majority of the working people, the prime minister said, adding that a draft law was being prepared providing for the separation of the fund's healthcare services from the insurance division, aiming at ensuring greater efficiency and better quality of services.
In the context of the upgrading of the IKA services, Karamanlis continued, a new preventive medicine program will be introduced on September 1, initially in 8 IKA branches, including that of Peristeri, on a pilot basis. The program comprises full diagnostic testing and a full annual check-up for the IKA insured.
 Athens dismisses latest quip by fYRoM PM over 'double-name' solutionForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday afternoon dismissed published statements by the prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Nikola Gruevski, regarding Skopje's insistence on a "double-name formula" to overcome the thorny "name issue" still plaguing bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
"This statement shows that Mr. Gruevski has not realised the message of the international community, which is clear and unified: for the sake of his country's and his people's Euro-Atlantic course, a mutually acceptable solution to this issue must be achieved; a composite name with a geographical qualifier, erga omnes," the Greek foreign minister underlined in a laconic press release.
According to an ANA-MPA dispatch from Skopje, the fYRoM prime minister was quoted by a local political magazine as stating that the "double-name" solution constitutes a "natural position" for his for his landlocked country. He also accused official Greece of insisting that the one-time Yugoslav republic alter its constitutional name to "Republic of Northern Macedonia" both for external and internal use.
 Gov't on dialogue with AnkaraGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday merely underlined that the policy followed by Greece vis-a-vis relations with neighbouring Turkey is well known, and focuses on a "gradual normalisation that will lead to the complete normalisation of relations with Turkey as achieved with most of our neighbouring countries."
Antonaros reminded of an amicable pact reached with neighbouring Albania regarding the continental shelf in the Ionian Sea, adding that this policy is exercised without yielding ground on national interests.
Referring to Turkey, Antonaros stressed that it should behave showing respect to the European principles and values considering that it has chosen a European orientation.
 PASOK retort on presidential electionA main opposition PASOK alternate spokeswoman on Tuesday underlined that the party's proposal as regards early elections is "comprehensive and clear and has been tabled early enough."
She made the comment in response to a government spokesman's statements, who accused PASOK of endless "election mongering".
Spokesperson Maria Karaklioumi stated that PASOK tabled its proposal taking under consideration the political, economic, social and "national facts", accusing the ruling New Democracy (ND) party of using the presidential election as an alibi and a way out of the harsh reality.
 Alavanos addresses SYRIZA parliamentary groupCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday slammed the policies of ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK regarding elections, with the focus on the upcoming Presidential election in parliament in March, and criticised them of "hypocrisy" in their disagreement on the matter.
SYRIZA, he said, was against both their policies, and said it was important that the entire discussion turn to the serious issues concerning the working people, the pensioners and the youth.
Referring to prime minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to the Social Security Foundation (IKA) offices in Peristeri earlier in the day, Alavanos called on the premier to give answers to the essential problems that concern the insured working people.
 Meeting focuses on stepped law enforcement presence in central AthensA wide-ranging meeting was hosted by the tourism development ministry on Tuesday to focus on the recently topical issue of security and stepped up law enforcement in downtown Athens, especially during the ongoing tourist high season.
According to brief statements afterwards, each individual ministry will announce new measures that it will take. Specific measures were not announced on Tuesday.
Participants included Minister Costas Markopoulos as well as Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, who holds the public order portfolio, police, municipal and tourism sector officials.
Recent negative press reports came on the heels of several incidents mostly involving illegal migrant gangs and squatters in certain urban blocks of central Athens, particularly around Omonia square.
 Last migrant squatters evacuated from old Court buildingThe last remaining migrant squatters were evacuated on Tuesday morning from the vacant building that formerly housed the Athens Appeals Court on Socratous street in downtown Athens' Omonia square.
The evacuation of the squatters began Monday night, under police supervision, while the six migrants, from Nigeria and Romania, were evacuated by police on Tuesday morning.
The vacant building has served as a refuge for hundres of homeless illegal migrants who have squatted on the premises, resisting several attempts by authorities and police to drive them out on the grounds that the building is unfit for use and presents a hazard to public health.
According to police, the migrants were given a deadline until Tuesday to evacuate the building, after fires broke out some 10 days ago on three floors of the building, with piles of rubbish and mattresses on fire in what were believed to be acts of arson following a clash among the squatters living in the building.
After the evacuation was completed, police teams searched the building and reported that the conditions inside were "squalid".
A sanitation team of the City of Athens was sent to the building to clean and disinfect the building and its surrounds, after which the premises were sealed off and placed under police guard.
 Disciplinary probe into judicial official's ties to warden, convictSupreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes briefed Justice Minister Nikolaos Dendias on Tuesday over his decision to order the Crete court of appeals prosecutor to begin a disciplinary preliminary investigation on a member of the judiciary.
According to a ministry of justice announcement, the investigation was commenced as a result of alleged relations the judicial official had with a prison warden, currently under disciplinary investigation, as well as the wife of a convict.
Ôhe investigation is linked to the so-called "Gang of 16" case, which was allegedly led by convict Panagiotis Vlastos, who stands accused of masterminding the kidnapping of shipping tycoon Pericles Panagopoulos, among other crimes.
 Abduction gang members testify before examining magistrateTwo alleged members of the gang that abducted shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos in January returned to prison on Tuesday after testifying before the examining magistrate.
Constantine Andrea and Servos Dejan (alias Boban Ivanov or Rifstoschi), are among 16 people charged in early July with criminal offences related to the kidnapping in January of Panagopoulos and other crimes, based on evidence collected by a police investigation lasting more than six months.
All 16 were charged with forming a criminal organisation and acting in concert to carry out the kidnapping, while they also face charges of homicide and moral complicity in connection with the previously unsolved murder of George Gousios in Penteli in 2008, causing explosions (again in connection with the Gousios murder), supplying and manufacturing explosives and aggravated cases of theft as a habitual practice and a means of livelihood, as well as charges of moral complicity for all the above.
The gang was also involved in executing contract killings and other serious criminal offences, according to police.
In their testimonies before the examining magistrate on Tuesday, the two men denied the charges and were technically released under restrictive terms, but returned to prison where they are serving sentences related to the transport of an explosive device in April.
 Health minister briefs Archbishop over New FluArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Tuesday received Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, with talks focusing on the New Flu and a related awareness campaign.
Ieronymos said afterwards that he was briefed by the minister on developments on the issue, noting that no panic should prevail among citizens.
He also said that the Church of Greece was ready to contribute to the ministry's awareness campaign.
 Papoulias meets with delegation of Cypriot studentsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias met with University of Cyprus students at the presidential mansion on Tuesday and underlined that they "imbued him with additional courage on a grim anniversary," pointing out that "hopefully a day will come when there will be no occupation army on the Republic of Cyprus."
"There is no greater insult to human rights than the presence of an occupation army in an EU member-state," he stressed, adding that "I, as a European citizen, cannot accept it. There are certain Europeans who can, but I believe that we will manage to win them over too."
"We have never excluded anyone," he said, adding that "we do not exclude anyone now as well", clarifying that this is also the policy shared by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
The university rector accompanying the students presented Papoulias with the medal of the University of Cyprus and a representative of the students offered him a commemorative plaque.
Earlier, he received a delegation of mayors of municipalities in the occupied northern part of the island.
 Improved Balance of Payments in Jan-May 2009Greece's Balance of Payments presented an improved picture in the five-month period from January to May 2009, with the Current Account balance marrowing by 3,774 million euros (23.3 percent), while a significant decline of 18 percent was posted in revenues from tourism during the same period, according to a periodical report released by the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, on Tuesday.
Below is the full report released by the central bank:
Current account balance
In May 2009, the current account deficit narrowed by ¬ 1,239 million year-on-year to ¬ 2,039 million, reflecting mainly a large contraction of the trade deficit and, secondarily, a decline in the income account deficit and a rise in the surplus of the current transfers balance. By contrast, the surplus of the services balance decreased.
The narrowing of the overall trade deficit by ¬ 1,522 million stemmed from a ¬ 930 million drop in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships (as the import bill fell by 30.1%, i.e. at a rate double than export receipts, which decreased by 16.1%) and declines of ¬ 485 million and ¬ 107 million in the net oil import bill and net payments for purchases of ships, respectively. The surplus of the services balance shrank by ¬ 539 million, mainly owing to a fall in net transport and travel receipts (of ¬ 356 million and ¬ 240 million, respectively). Specifically, non-residents' travel spending in Greece and residents' travel spending abroad dropped by 24.2% and 10.9% year-on-year, respectively. The income account deficit decreased by ¬ 165 million, mainly owing to a contraction in net interest, dividend and profit payments. Finally, the surplus of the current transfers balance almost doubled, mainly due to an increase in net EU transfers to general government. (It should be recalled that gross current transfers from the EU mainly include receipts from the Guarantee Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy, as well as receipts from the European Social Fund, while current transfers to the EU include Greece's contributions (payments) to the Community Budget.)
In January-May 2009, the current account deficit narrowed by ¬ 3,774 million or 23.3% year-on-year and stood at ¬ 12,396 million, reflecting a considerable decrease in the trade deficit. By contrast, the surpluses of the services balance and the current transfers balance shrank and the income account deficit showed a limited increase.
The ¬ 5,876 million decline in the overall trade deficit is attributable to decreases of ¬ 3,310 million, ¬ 1,948 million and ¬ 617 million in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, the net oil import bill and net payments for purchases of ships, respectively. Regarding the trade deficit excluding oil and ships, the import bill fell by ¬ 4,043 million or 23.9%, i.e. much more than export receipts, which declined by ¬ 733 million or 13.7%.
The surplus of the services balance shrank by ¬ 1,487 million, mainly reflecting lower net transport and travel receipts. It should be noted that gross transport receipts (mainly from merchant shipping) fell by 27.0% and net receipts by ¬ 1,124 million. Moreover, travel spending in Greece by non-residents and travel spending abroad by residents of Greece dropped (by 17.9% and 6.6%, respectively); as a result, net travel receipts declined by ¬ 299 million. Finally, net payments for other services grew by ¬ 64 million.
The income account deficit expanded by ¬ 114 million, as a result of higher net interest, dividend and profit payments. This development is mainly associated with a rise in net interest payments on Greek Government bonds, Treasury bills, deposits and loans, which more than offset a decrease in net dividend and profit payments.
Finally, the surplus of the current transfers balance declined by ¬ 500 million, mainly reflecting a decrease in general government receipts from the EU and, secondarily, a rise in the corresponding payments.
Capital transfers balance
In May 2009, the capital transfers balance showed a very small surplus of ¬ 13 million, compared with ¬ 314 million in May 2008. (Capital transfers mainly include receipts from the Structural Funds - except for the European Social Fund - and the Cohesion Fund under the Community Support Framework.)
In January-May 2009, the capital transfers balance showed a surplus of ¬ 827 million, compared with ¬ 2,108 million in the corresponding period of 2008. This mainly reflects a decline in EU capital transfers to general government. Thus, the overall transfers balance (current transfers plus capital transfers) recorded a surplus of ¬ 2,425 million, compared with ¬ 4,206 million in the corresponding period of 2008.
Combined current account and capital transfers balance (according to the old method of presentation)
The deficit of the combined current account and capital transfers balance (which reflects the economy's external financing requirements) came to ¬ 2,026 million in May 2009, compared with ¬ 2,965 million in May 2008. In the January-May 2009 period, this deficit reached ¬ 11,569 million, compared with ¬ 14,062 million in the corresponding period of 2008, i.e. it dropped by 17.7%.
Financial account balance
In May 2009, non-residents' direct investment in Greece showed a net inflow of ¬ 244 million. The most important transactions in this category concerned, first, a ¬ 152 million inflow for the participation of Crédit Agricole SA (France) in the capital increase of Emporiki Bank, as a result of which the French company' s stake rose to 82.48%; and second, a ¬ 55 million inflow for the participation of Hofer KG (Austria) in the capital increase of Aldi Hellas Supermarket LP. Residents' direct investment abroad recorded a net outflow of ¬ 45 million. The most important transaction in this category concerned a ¬ 59 million outflow for the participation of Eurobank in the capital increase of Bank Post SA (Romania).
Under portfolio investment, a net inflow of ¬ 11.9 billion was observed, reflecting a ¬ 11.3 billion increase (inflow) in non-residents' investment in Greek bonds and Treasury bills and a ¬ 0.6 billion decline (inflow) in residents' purchases of foreign bonds and Treasury bills.
Under other investment, a considerable net outflow of ¬ 9.9 billion was recorded, which mainly reflects a ¬ 9.2 billion decrease (outflow) in non-resident credit institutions' and institutional investors' deposit and repo holdings in Greece and a ¬ 0.5 billion increase (outflow) in residents' corresponding deposit and repo holdings abroad.
In January-May 2009, direct investment showed a net inflow of ¬ 1.2 billion. Specifically, net inflows of non-residents' funds for direct investment in Greece came to ¬ 1,554 million, while net outflows of residents' funds for direct investment abroad reached ¬ 389 million.
During the same period, a net inflow of ¬ 19.8 billion was observed under portfolio investment. Specifically, there was an inflow of funds for non-residents' purchases of Greek government bonds and Treasury bills (of ¬ 17.2 billion). There was also an inflow owing to a ¬ 3.2 billion decrease in residents' investment in foreign bonds and Treasury bills.
Finally, under other investment, a net outflow of ¬ 8.9 billion reflects a ¬ 8.7 billion increase (outflow) in resident credit institutions' and institutional investors' deposit and repo holdings abroad and a ¬ 2.0 billion outflow for the repayment of loans granted by non-residents to both the public and the private sector. These developments more than offset the inflow recorded due to a ¬ 1.9 billion rise in non-resident credit institutions' and institutional investors' deposit and repo holdings in Greece
At end-May 2009, Greece' s reserve assets stood at ¬ 2.8 billion. (It should be recalled that, since Greece joined the euro area in January 2001, reserve assets, as defined by the European Central Bank, include only monetary gold, the "reserve position" with the IMF, "Special Drawing Rights", and Bank of Greece claims in foreign currency on residents of non-euro area countries. Conversely, reserve assets do not include claims in euro on residents of non-euro area countries, claims in foreign currency and in euro on residents of euro area countries, and the Bank of Greece participation in the capital and the reserve assets of the ECB.)
 1.5bln raised in bill auctionGreece raised 1.5 billion euros from the auction of a 13-week interest-bearing bill on Tuesday, the Public Debt Management Organisation announced on Tuesday.
The Organisation said the auction showed a significant decline in the bills' yield to 0.52 pct, from 1.25 pct in the previous auction in April. The Greek state raised another 450 million euros from additional bids.
 Gov't eyes greater protection for borrowers, bank customersDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Tuesday unveiled a series of actions aimed at offering better protection to consumers vis-a-vis bank products and services.
In unveiling the actions, the minister said the financial services and bank products market was very significant and complex, offering solutions to consumers but at the same time it can cause problems, whereas the government is willing to intervene.
Hatzidakis said the market was recently at the epicentre of "populist criticism" and noted that the government's choice was to take focused legal initiatives, regulatory interventions and information actions to protect consumers.
He unveiled several actions: operation of a telephone line for consumers; charting of all bank products; counselling support to consumers and legal support; integrating community directives into Greek law and accelerating decisions on abusing terms used by banks.
 Gov't: nuclear energy not included in long-term planningA relevant development ministry official on Tuesday said the Greek government is not including nuclear energy in the country's long-term electricity production planning.
Instead, Deputy Minister Ioannis Bougas said, the government was looking to greater use of natural gas, better exploitation of "greener" energy sources and substantive energy-saving measures.
Bougas spoke in the wake of a relevant Parliament committee's approval -- by a majority vote -- of the 2004 Protocol to Amend the 1960 Paris Convention, and specifically to "expand liability and to broaden the types of damage provided for in the existing nuclear liability regime".
Meanwhile, in a related development, the mayor of a town in the central Peloponnese that hosts a Public Power Corp. (PPC) thermo-electric plant, the Megalopolis station, on Tuesday expressed his municipality's opposition to the prospect of Greece's first potential nuclear power plant being constructed in the area.
Megalopolis Mayor Panayiotis Bouras was reacting to a handful of local press reports claiming that PPC is considering the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in Megalopolis, which lies in Arcadia prefecture.
Bouras said the local community is also against the construction of a lignite-fired plant in the area, whereas it would back construction of a photo-voltaic park and the construction of a fifth natgas-fired PPC unit.
 PASOK critical of RES policyMain opposition PASOK rapporteurs on development lashed out at the government in a press conference on Tuesday, blaming it for the "chaos" allegedly evident even in minimum coordination for simple administrative acts between the ministries of development and environment, town planning and public works concerning the promotion of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and energy efficiency.
PASOK MP charged "criminal omissions" in the promotion of RES, accusing the ministry of environment, town planning and public works of engaging in persistent procrastination when it comes to the co-signing of the regulation on energy efficient buildings and the installation of photovoltaic systems for non commercial use.
 PASOK condemns privatization plans for Hellenic Saltworks S.A.Main opposition PASOK spokesperson on economy issues Louka Katseli and political spokesperson on development issues Michalis Chrisochoidis characterized the government's decision to proceed with the privatization of Hellenic Saltworks S.A. as "incomprehensible" and "serving specific interests".
In a joint statement the PASOK MPs called on the government not to proceed with its plans and pointed out that the privatization of the specific company - edible and industrial salt manufacturer and distributor - will lead to the creation of a vertical private monopoly with negative consequences for consumers, companies active in the sector and local communities.
 Overnight stays in Greek hotels up 0.31 pct in 2008Overnight stays in Greek hotels and camping grounds grew by 0.31 pct in 2008, the National Statistical Service announced on Tuesday.
In an annual report, the statistics agency said customer arrivals fell 0.15 pct in the year, compared with 2007, while it said that domestic customers' overnight stays rose 1.8 pct, while foreign customers fell 0.22 pct in the same period.
Tourist arrivals in Greek hotels and camp sites fell 0.75 pct (foreign) and rose by 0.61 pct (domestic), while hotel room occupancy rates eased to 56.7 pct in 2008, down from 57 pct in 2007.
The statistics agency said 70 pct of customer arrivals and 81 pct of overnight stays were on Crete, the southern Aegean region, central Macedonia, the Ionian islands and Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area). The Ionian islands (70 pct), Crete (69.9 pct) and southern Aegean (68.4 pct) -- all tourism-heavy regions, recorded the highest room occupancy rates in the year.
 Tourism revenues down 17.9 pct in Jan-MayTourism revenues fell 24.2 pct in May and were down 17.9 pct in the five-month period from January to May, the Institute for Touristic Research and Forecasts (ITEP) said on Tuesday.
ITEP, in a report, attributed the disappointing figures to a decline in hotel room prices, smaller overnight stay by foreign tourists and lower daily spending. The report said that tourism revenues figures for Greece were the worst among its competitors, with Portugal reporting a 12.4 pct decline in revenues, Spain (11.7 pct0 and Cyprus (11.7 pct).
Tourist arrivals at the country's main airports fell 8.9 pct in June, with arrivals in Athens down 1.1 pct, while arrivals in the six-month period from January to June were down 9.3 pct.
Portugal (15.8 pct), Spain (11.8 pct) and Cyprus (10.8 pct) also recorded lower figures for the same period.
 Black Sea Bank offers 20-mln-euro loan to Romanian power utilityThe Black Sea Commerce and Development Bank on Tuesday announced a secured business loan, worth 20 million euros, to SC Electrocentrale Turceni, Romania's state electricity company.
The loan will finance an environmental protection and modernisation project in Turceni energy station, Romania's largest. The project, budgeted at 170 million euros, is coordinated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with the participation of commercial banks.
 ASE removes AB Vasilopoulos from market indexesThe Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday announced that it was withdrawing the shares of AB Vasilopoulos SA, a supermarket retailer, from all market indexes and said it will not replace them with shares from any other listed company in the market. The changes are valid as of Thursday, July 23.
 Stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors took profits after a several-day rally of the market. The composite index eased 0.19 pct to end at 2,271.07 points, with turnover at 185.8 million euros, of which 8.1 million euros were block trades.
Sector indices ended mixed, with the Health (4.84 pct), Media (4.53 pct) and Financial Services (3.46 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (2.21 pct), Banks (0.83 pct) and Oil (0.69 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.46 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.59 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.55 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 138 to 72 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.69%
Personal & Household: +0.90%
Raw Materials: +1.28%
Travel & Leisure: -2.21%
Food & Beverages: +0.01%
Financial Services: +3.46%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 9.00
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.74
HBC Coca Cola: 14.82
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.16
National Bank of Greece: 19.35
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.31
Bank of Piraeus: 7.98
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 737 million euros on Tuesday, of which 375 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 362 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 325 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank further to 140 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.82 pct and the German Bund 3.42 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved down. The 12-month Euribor rate fell to 1.38 pct, the six-month rate 1.18 pct, the three-month rate 0.93 pct and the one-month rate 0.57 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.49 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover at 57.95 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 7,949 contracts, worth 46.425 million euros with 25,345 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,534 contracts worth 11.525 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,434), followed by OTE (1,122), OPAP (614), Piraeus Bank (1,207), GEK (889), Alpha Bank (756), Marfin Popular Bank (1,308) and Hellenic Postbank (491).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.433
Pound sterling 0.872
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 10.979
Japanese yen 135.17
Swiss franc 1.530
Norwegian kroner 9.023
Canadian dollar 1.581
Australian dollar 1.757
 British tourist, 26, dies after falling ill aboard ferryboatA 26-year-old British national died on-board a high-speed ferryboat on Tuesday headed for the major mainland port of Piraeus.
The woman, whose identity was not released pending notification of her next of kin, reportedly hailed from Birmingham. She was found unconscious in the restroom of the vessel "Super Jet". The vessel immediately headed to the island of Folegandros, where the woman was transferred by ambulance to the isle's health centre.
The cause of death has yet to be determined.
 Ultra-modern helicopter joins YPA fleetAn ultra-modern helicopter capable of undertaking multiple missions was added to the Civil Aviation Authority's (YPA) airborne fleet on Tuesday, for the purpose of inspecting and certifying the helipads throughout Greece.
The German manufactured twin-engine, five-seat BO 105, which is similar to helicopters used by the Greek Police (ELAS), belongs to the Tourism Development ministry and until now had been conceded for use to Olympic Airlines (OA).
Following agreement between the transport and tourism development ministers, it was decided that the optimum solution was for the YPA to undertake supervision of the helicopter, according to an YPA announcement.
Its mission, according to the operational plan drafted by YPA, includes the inspection and certification by air of the approximately 20 helipads scattered throughout the country, the immediate transport of staff to remote and inaccessible spots for the quick restoration of malfunctions in radar and auxiliary equipment, participation in search and rescue operations if required, transport of personnel in an emergency (fires, floods, earthquakes), and transport of senior-ranking officials.
YPA further undertakes the obligation of lending the helicopter to the tourism development ministry when needed.
The BO 105 is in excellent condition and operational readiness, while the cermony for its induction into the YPA fleet will take place on Monday, attended by the transport and tourism development ministers.
 International insurance fraud ring uncoveredAn international ring, masterminded by Italians and three Greek nationals that defrauded Italian insurance companies, was uncovered by the ministry of finance's Special Audit Service.
An unknown number of Italians and another ten Greeks were also involved in the racket ,collecting over 4 million euros from Italian companies as insurance compensations through fictitious beneficiaries and channeling them to non-existent commercial transactions. The defrauded amounts were then transferred through Italian and Greek banks to accounts belonging to Greek nationals.
After being collected by the Greeks, a large part of the money was channeled to an unknown destination, most probably to the Italian members of the ring. The uncovery of the fraud put a halt on similar dealings of roughly 9 million euros that were in the pipeworks..
The Greek nationals maintained that the money was used by the Italians for investments in country houses mainly on the Dodecanese islands but considering that such investments were never made the amounts sent were returned to their initial beneficiaries.
In one of the cases, a Cypriot company served as an intermediary before the money reached a Greek company and subsequently forwarded to the Greek members of the ring. In all the cases, complex bank transactions were conducted before the money reached the Greek ring members.
The case is already before a prosecutor, while the Special Audit Service is continuing the investigation on the activities of the Greek nationals and companies involved.
 Illegal migrants found wandering south of Hania, CreteForty three of a total of 45 illegal migrants, detected in the southern coast of Hania prefecture on Crete, are temporarily being hosted in a school building in the village of Kountoura, while two suspected migrant smugglers have been arrested.
Late on Monday afternoon, 20 of the illegals were spotted by locals wandering along a rocky coast and, according to their testimonies, they had reached the island on board a sail boat, which was later intercepted.
A total of 25 illegal migrants were found on the vessel, including two women, one of which was pregnant.
The would-be migrants had set off four days ago from Antalya, southern Turkey, with Italy as their destination
 Ferry collides with tourist boat, no injuries reportedA car/passenger ferry on the Patras-Italy route collided with a small tourist boat on Tuesday off the western port of Patras, but no injuries were reported.
The accident took place as the ferry was manoeuvering near the pier of Aghios Nikolaos, and the tourist boat's skipper safely jumped into the sea before his boat sank.
Coast Guard crews quickly put floating barriers into place to avoid marine pollution until the wreckage of the boat was recovered.
The tourist boat was conducting small afternoon routes between Patras and Rio, so there were no passengers on board at the time of the collision.
 "Culture train" in Larissa, central GreeceThe route followed by a small train in Larissa, central Greece, links the city's cultural spaces and allows communication between them.
Tourists and locals can rediscover Larissa while, at the same time, its most important cultural sites and monuments are being highlighted.
The interurban buses (KTEL)-operated train makes stops at the Folklore Art Museum, the Diachronic Museum of Larissa (Archaeological & Byzantine), the Fortress hill, the Ancient Theatre, the statue of Hippocrates, the Municipal Gallery and the statue of Liberty.
The two-hour long guided tour is offered in Greek and in English to 68 passengers at a time, while plans are being made to include it in the excursions of local schoolchildren.
 'Worshipping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens'An impressive exhibition titled "Worshipping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens" was inaugurated at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday night, in a ceremony also attended by culture minister Antonis Samaras.
The exhibition, through the 172 rare and extraordinary archaeological artefacts on display that are divided into five sections, explores the manifold ways in which women's religious worship contributed not only to personal fulfillment, but also to the civic identity of the leading city of the Classical Greek world.
The first section of the exhibition introduces the principal of "Female Deities" of Athens and Attika, in whose cults and festivals women were most actively engaged: Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter and her daughter Persephone. In between goddesses and mortals was a small group of heroines -explored in the next section-, women who were believed to have lived in the distant past and after their deaths became figures of cult worship.
The exhibition then enters the world of "Priestesses", historical and mythological, and looks at their visual iconography focusing on their principal attribute, the large temple key.
The several kinds of "Ritual Acts", some that apply universally to all cults and others that were specific to the worship of a particular divinity, are presented in the third section.
The fourth section deals with the participation of women in major religious "Feasts", such as the Panathenaia, or in strictly women's feasts, such as Adonia or Thesmoforia.
The fifth and final section focuses on the "Life-Cycle" of Athenian women, from birth to death, highlighting certain key moments of transition and the role of ritual in each of these.
The exhibition, through the study of religion seeks to correct the unremittingly bleak picture that the lives of Athenian women were highly restricted when it came to public sphere and participation in the political process.
Women's involvement in cults and festivals, whether alongside men or separate from them, was as essential for the successful functioning of the "polis" as that of any member of society.
The exhibition which will be on display through November 30, is part of a series of celebrations planned for the 180th anniversary since the Museum's founding and the 120th anniversary of its inauguration at its current premises on Patission street.
It is organised in collaboration with the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and had previously been on display at the Foundation's Onassis Cultural Center in New York from December 2008 to May 2009.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSpeculation of early general elections in light of the Presidential election in parliament in March -- given that if parliament fails to elect a President, which requires a reinforced majority vote under the Constitution, the House must be dissolved and general elections called for a new parliament to emerge, which will have the ability to elect a President with a simple majority vote -- Turkish provocations in the Aegean and the new flu pandemic were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Fire from inside the party, too, against (main opposition PASOK leader George) Papandreou (over his stated intention to force early general elections, making use of the Presidential election in March) - Dimitris Tsatsos (respected Constitutional expert) charges that the institution of President is being turned into a 'tool' for serving political expediencies".
APOGEVMATINI: "Greece's borders comprise European borders - End to illegal migration, by virtue of the European Pact for Migration and Asylum".
AVGHI: "October restructure - SYRIZA (SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance): Rendezvous at the organisational convention".
AVRIANI: "President Papoulias poised to resign if the undermining of the institution of President of the Republic continues".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "If Ankara does not implement the illegal migrant readmission protocol, EU membership is out of the question".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis, wishing to avoid early general elections in March, seeks life raft in the President".
ESTIA: "Prospect of early general elections diminishing - Pressure on Papandreou increasing".
ETHNOS: "US pressure for dialogue with Ankara 'on all issues' - Come to understanding over the Aegean, and quickly".
KATHIMERINI: "Industry reveals the recession - 30.7 percent slump in industrial turnover in the month of May".
LOGOS: "Constitutional expert Tsatsos' statement gave rise to new clash between government and main opposition PASOK".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Attempt to misorient the people through the election-mongering".
TA NEA: "Terror scenarios for 4,400 patients in Intensive Care Units - What the specialists fear regarding the new flu".
TO VIMA: "Will the schools open in September? - Europe-wide alert over the new flu A/H1N1".
VRADYNI: "With their backs against the wall - Group fire against PASOK over early elections".
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