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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 29 July 2009 Issue No: 3257


  • [01] PM briefed on A/H1N1 flu
  • [02] Second serious case reported
  • [03] Third serious case of A/H1N1 novel influenza reported
  • [04] Interior minister on the social integration of immigrants
  • [05] KKE head visits UN High Commission for Refugees office
  • [06] Insurance coverage for medically assisted reproduction signed
  • [07] Crime Victims Compensation Bill to be tabled in parliament
  • [08] IT sector shows signs of recovery
  • [09] Greek minister on Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline
  • [10] Stocks end 2.47% down
  • [11] ADEX closing report
  • [12] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [13] Foreign national arrested for stepdaughter's rape
  • [14] 'Drug mule'arrested at Athens int'l airport
  • [15] Drug arrests in southern Greece
  • [16] Fires in Aspropyrgos, Ano Liossia
  • [17] Spate of firebombings of party offices reported
  • [18] Athens Newspaper Headlines
  • [19] Foreign Minister briefs EU colleagues on Turkish provocations
  • [20] Cyprus FM satisfied over meeting with Carl Bildt

  • [01] PM briefed on A/H1N1 flu

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Tuesday with Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and the chairperson of a scientific committee on the new flu, Eleni Giamarelou, who briefed the prime minister on the planning and updating of the national plan under discussion in the relevant committee.

    Avramopoulos told reporters after the meeting that flu instances were being stringently monitored, in cooperation also with the relevant council that advises the state on the measures that need to be taken.

    The minister explained that there was scientific uncertainty over how the virus will develop, but stressed that the state was planning ahead for the worst case scenario.

    He further assured that the Greek state will continue to treat the matter with seriousness, a plan and a strategy, stressing that the national plan will be updated in accordance with the development of the virus.

    Avramopoulos said that the updated national plan "activates the state mechanism", in continuation of the two preceding plans, while, with respect to inoculation, he said that Greece will be among the first countries to acquire the vaccines, which will cover the needs of the country's entire population.

    The minister urged that "we must carry on normally with our lives, without worry", noting that in the next two days the scientific council will submit its observations on the updated national plan, which in turn will be submitted to the prime minister on Friday as well as to the political party leaders.

    Asked whether a second serious case of the new flu A/H1N1 has been recorded in Greece, Avramopoulos noted that if a serious incident occurs, this is announced by the Centre for the Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO), and added that the number of cases were no longer being counted, since 95 percent of all the cases have completely recovered.

    Asked to comment on criticism by main opposition PASOK over the government's handling of the new flu issue, Avramopoulos accused PASOK of lacking seriousness, and noted that Greece has received international praise over its handling of the problem.

    Gov't spokesman

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros referred to the meeting between the premier and the health minister, noting that the latter briefed the PM on the national action plan, which will be updated, depending on the development of the flu season and the scientific data available.

    He underlined that Greece is among the first countries with a national action plan in an environment of scientific uncertainty and added that specialised scenarios have also been prepared.

    As regards the number of the vaccines and their cost, Antonaros said these are issues to be answered by the ministry of health.

    [02] Second serious case reported

    A 42-year-old man is the second serious case of A/H1N1 novel influenza reported in the country, the ministry of health announced.

    The patient's clinical state is deteriorating rapidly and the man condition's was reported as critical. The patient, who suffered from flu symptoms, requested treatment on July 24 at the Venizelio Hospital where he tested positive for the novel influenza virus, according to the ministry.

    [03] Third serious case of A/H1N1 novel influenza reported

    A 16-year-old British girl is the third serious case of A/H1N1 novel influenza reported in the country, the ministry of health announced on Tuesday evening.

    The patient is being treated at the Penteli Childrens Hospital in Attica.

    [04] Interior minister on the social integration of immigrants

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, addressing a one-day conference held at the Secretariat General of Communication on Tuesday, presented the social integration programmes implemented within the framework of the 2007-2008 European Integration Fund (ETE) for third country nationals.

    The minister referred to the establishment of the National Committee for Immigrants with the participation of local government and society of citizens representatives aimed at the implementation of social integration policies. He also referred to the facilitation of reunions of immigrant families and the implementation of the special regime for longtime immigrants that also concerns the children of immigrants born in Greece.

    In addition, Pavlopoulos mentioned the 26.2-million-euro, 2007-2013 programme approved by the European Commission which is aimed at ensuring the immigrants' access to and participation in public goods and services.

    He made a special reference to the printed information campaign (in five languages: Greek, English, Albanian, Russian and Arab) addressed to nationals of third countries as regards the sectors of health, entrepreneurship, education and issues of daily life and the public awareness campaigns through the mass media and a one-day conference aimed at eradicating stereotypes, racist and xenophobic phenomena. He also referred to the Greek language and history programmes for immigrant mothers; the Greek language teaching programme through music and singing for immigrant children; the cross-cultural training programmes for public servants who interact with nationals of third countries and the programmes of cross-cultural mediators creating yet another channel of communication between the nationals of third countries and the reception country.

    [05] KKE head visits UN High Commission for Refugees office

    Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga stated after meeting with head of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Greece, George Tsarbopoulos, that "Greece gives political asylum stringently".

    Responding to a relevant question she also commented that "elections will not be regarded as being early even if they were to be held now."

    [06] Insurance coverage for medically assisted reproduction signed

    The government on Tuesday ratified a presidential decree instituting insurance coverage for medically assisted repro-duction, such as artificial insemination and invitro fertilisation.

    Social insurance funds will cover the cost for preliminary physical exams, drugs, clinical and lab tests, birth and pregnancy benefits, according to the new regime.

    According to the presidential decree, public hospitals will take over the medically assisted reproduction cost for the financially weaker couples and the uninsured.

    [07] Crime Victims Compensation Bill to be tabled in parliament

    Justice minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday informed parliament that his ministry will be tabling a bill in the next few days introducing state compensation for victims of criminal actions.

    Briefing the House on the main principles of the bill, Dendias said that the State will provide compensation to victims of crime initially for property damage in three instances: first, if the perpetrator does not have the necessary resources to compensate the victim; second, if the identity of the perpetrator cannot be discovered; and third, if the perpetrator cannot be prosecuted due to expiration of the statute of limitations or is mentally unfit.

    Dendias explained that the legislation is founded on a rekevant EU decision and a 2004 EU Directive, and also introduces the establishment of two committees, the "Greek Compensations Authority", which will make decisions on the prerequisites and sum of the compensations, and the "Greek Cooperation Authority for Crime Victims' Compensation", which will be the ministry's service for cross-border cooperation and exchange of information with the other EU member states.

    Replying to an MP's question, Dendias said that at present compension was not foreseen for mental anguish, only for property (material) damage, adding that all monies paid by the State for the victim's treatment, money received by the victim from the perpetrator, social security or other sources, will be deducted from the compensation amount.

    Objections were expressed only by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), whose MP Vera Nicolaidou charged that the bill was part of the "terror-montering" framework, opining that the only victims who will be compensated are the "industrialists who become abduction vitims or banks when they are robbed".

    Financial News

    [08] IT sector shows signs of recovery

    The economic climate index in the Greek IT and communica-tions sector recovered in the second quarter of 2009, following a similar trend in other European countries, a quarterly bulletin by the Information Society Observatory said on Tuesday.

    The report said that the economic climate index rose by 8.2 points in the second quarter of 2009 to 91.7 points, from 83.5 points in the first quarter of the year, reflecting a significant recovery of expectations in services and the retail commerce sectors. The report noted that business expectations in information technology and communications companies rose for the first time in the last 1-1/2 year to 98.2 points in the second quarter of 2009, from 87.5 points in the first quarter of the year, offering signs of a recovery in the sector.

    Business expectations in information technology and communications companies with activities in the retail commerce also recorded a rise for the first time in two years, with the index rising to 91.5 points in the second quarter from 83.4 points in the first quarter.

    [09] Greek minister on Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline

    Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis expressed on Tuesday night his conviction that Bulgaria will not change its position and will continue its cooperation with Greece smoothly regarding the construction of the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

    The Greek government was closely following the issue after elections in the neighbouring country, Hatzidakis said while briefing the Parliament's relative committee.

    "We consider that the agreement which was signed and the committment undertaken by all sides, that is Greece, Bulgaria and Russia, are valid," the minister noted.

    [10] Stocks end 2.47% down

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as investors took profits after a several-day rally of the market.

    The composite index fell 2.47 pct to end at 2,286.15 points, with turnover a moderate 149.5 million euros, of which 4.2 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the exception of the Chemicals sector which ended 0.39 pct up. Media (5.71 pct), Utilities (4.42 pct), Raw Materials (4.24 pct), Constructions (3.84 pct) and Financial Services (3.35 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 2.71 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.43 pct down and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.95 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 173 to 59 with another 27 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: unchanged

    Industrials: -2.86%

    Commercial: -2.18%

    Construction: -3.84%

    Media: -5.71%

    Oil & Gas: -0.93%

    Personal & Household: -1.83%

    Raw Materials: -4.24%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.08%

    Technology: -1.73%

    Telecoms: -0.67%

    Banks: -2.92%

    Food & Beverages: -0.77%

    Health: -2.19%

    Utilities: -4.42%

    Chemicals: +0.39%

    Financial Services: -3.35%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Public Power Corp (PPC), OPAP and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 9.05

    ATEbank: 1.61

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.60

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.99

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.25

    National Bank of Greece: 19.71

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.81

    Intralot: 4.29

    OPAP: 16.60

    OTE: 10.45

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.10

    Titan: 19.76

    [11] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.34 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 48.488 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,294 contracts worth 37.240 million euros, with 23,073 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaeled 11,835 contracts worth 11.248 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,264), followed by Eurobank (735), OTE (939), PPC (716), Piraeus Bank (1,126), Alpha Bank (631), Marfin Popular Bank (1,232), Cyprus Bank (777) and Hellenic Postbank (605).

    [12] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.434

    Pound sterling 0.869

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 10.669

    Japanese yen 135.61

    Swiss franc 1.534

    Norwegian kroner 8.836

    Canadian dollar 1.550

    Australian dollar 1.727

    General News

    [13] Foreign national arrested for stepdaughter's rape

    A 41-year-old foreign national was arrested on Monday afternoon in western Attica prefecture, west of Athens, on charges of repeatatedly raping his stepdaughter.

    The suspect was allegedly abusing his stepdaughter, who hails from from Kazakhstan, since February 2005, when she was 14 years old.

    The case was brought to light when the girl confided to a friend, claiming that her stepfather was threatening her. Her friend told the mother who reported her companion to police.

    [14] 'Drug mule'arrested at Athens int'l airport

    A 37-year-old Nigerian national, who had apparently swallowed 49 pellets filled with cocaine and weighing a total of roughly 570 grams, was arrested at Athens's Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport on Sunday evening after he arrived from Brussels. The suspect is scheduled to appear before a prosecutor on Tuesday.

    The drugs were confiscated by police after the suspect was taken to a hospital.

    [15] Drug arrests in southern Greece

    Police in Kalamata, southern Greece, destroyed a cannabis plantation of 14 plants, between 2 and 3 meters tall, in a forest region in Arios earlier on Tuesday while an investigation is underway to trace its owner.

    Meanwhile, an Albanian national admitted during questioning that he is the owner of a cannabis plantation located by police in the rural region of Liopasi in Mystras, southern Greece a few days ago. The suspect was arrested following a police stake out. A total of 27 cannabis plants and 20 dried plants, up to 2.5 meters tall, were seized and destroyed.

    In a separate case, two locals and two Albanian nationals are allegedly the owners of a large cannabis plantation comprising 1,300 plants that was located last August in the wooded region of Sgournas on Mt Taygetos, southern Greece. An investigation led to the suspects and the warrants for their arrest are expected to be issued by a prosecutor in Sparta.

    [16] Fires in Aspropyrgos, Ano Liossia

    Two fires broke out almost simultaneously early Tuesday afternoon in Aspropyrgos and in Ano Liossia.

    Strong teams of firefighters, assisted by airborne means, were battling the blazes, which broke out at approximately 2:40 p.m.

    [17] Spate of firebombings of party offices reported

    A series of early morning firebomb attacks, a phenomenon usually associated with self-styled anarchist and "anti-state" youth, was reported against political parties' offices early Tuesday morning in Athens and Piraeus .

    A Popular Orthodox Rally MP's office in the Koukaki district was targeted, while seven more attacks were reported before dawn.

    Perpetrators threw firebombs against PASOK offices in Votanikos and Goudi, and against New Democracy party offices in Koukaki, Kaminia, Drapetsona and Halandri.

    [18] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    Continuous mid-summer press speculation over a possible early election and concerns over the A/H1 virus mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens ' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Benefits up to 1,156 euros foreseen in a new Manpower Employment Organisation decision".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos comments on main opposition PASOK's stance regarding presidential selection: That's PASOK leader George Papandreou's two faces."

    AVGHI: "The government owes billions to social security funds".

    AVRIANI: "MIG wants to acquire the Public Water Supply Co. of Thessaloniki".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK continue to cross swords over presidential election".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Farm unionists' outburst against government spokesman's statements".

    ESTIA: "Mr. Papandreou is extremely inconsistent over presidential election issue".

    ETHNOS: "Slicing away at public school teachers appointments".

    KATHIMERINI: "Plan for early elections in September".

    LOGOS: "Social security funds financial landscape vague".

    RIZOSPAPASTIS: "Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga: Counterattack against big capital's attack".

    TA NEA: "Masks and vaccines sold out ".

    VIMA: "Women priests! Metropolitan's radical proposal causes stir".

    VRADYNI: "Tax bureau setting up electronic 'trap' for citizens who forget their obligations".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [19] Foreign Minister briefs EU colleagues on Turkish provocations


    Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou briefed his EU counterparts on Monday in Brussels, during a working dinner of the EU General Affairs Council members, on the repeated violations by Turkey of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Kyprianou pointed out the provocative actions of Turkey within Cyprus' exclusive economic zone, the harassment of ships carrying out research on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus within the zone, and the recent decision of the Turkish government to approve an application by Turkish Petroleum Corporation to carry out investigations for hydrocarbons in an area which partially includes Cyprus' exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

    Other issues discussed at the General Affairs Council were the situation in Somalia, Iran and Georgia.

    Furthermore, the Swedish presidency of the EU presented its priorities and there was an exchange of views on the European Commission's proposal for a strategy covering the Baltic Sea region.

    Kyprianou said the Swedish presidency's priorities ''satisfy us in general, since they include issues such as the environment, the financial crisis, unemployment and social matters, as well as immigration and asylum, which are sectors in which Cyprus is facing problems.''

    ''A priority of the Swedish presidency will be the Middle East question, which is a fundamental priority for us as well,'' he added.

    Kyprianou said that during the dinner he had the opportunity to brief his colleagues on Turkey's behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean, and that Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis also spoke about Turkey's actions in the Aegean Sea.

    ''I briefed them on the continuous violations of the air space and territorial waters of Cyprus, both those emanating from the occupation and those that are part of specific activities, such as the latest search and rescue exercise in Cyprus' territorial waters, even if it was in the occupied areas,'' he said.

    Kyprianou noted that he also briefed his colleagues on ''the problems concerning the exclusive economic zone and the dispute on behalf of Turkey, as well as the absence of legal basis for these demands.''

    He pointed out that Cyprus is acting in line with international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, adding that ''Turkey is not only violating the international and legal framework but is also violating its obligations as a candidate for accession to the EU.''

    ''As evidence I reminded my colleagues of the December 2008 European Council conclusions and the negotiating framework, which refer to good neighbourly relations and the peaceful solution of differences,'' he said.

    Kyprianou reiterated that the problem also includes the threat of the use of violence, as well as harassment by war ships and planes, which in some cases placed the crews of research vessels in danger.

    ''These actions are certainly not part of the peaceful solution of differences. Of course, I reminded my colleagues of the common position of the 27 in the EU-Turkey Association Council of May 2009, which specifically refers to the right of member states to enter bilateral agreements based on the acquis communautaire and international law, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea,'' he said.

    He added that ''we warned that this gunboat policy and the violation of these obligations do not befit a candidate country and that there will be consequences if Turkey continues to maintain this approach.''

    ''The Swedish presidency said it will monitor the issue and we will be discussing it again, if necessary,'' Kyprianou concluded.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [20] Cyprus FM satisfied over meeting with Carl Bildt


    Cyprus Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou described a meeting he had on Monday in Brussels with his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt as "very open" and "sincere", adding that they had the chance to clarify certain issues and that he presented the positions of the Republic of Cyprus and explained why Cyprus reacted to statements which Bildt made before the European parliament last week.

    In statements Tuesday at Larnaca airport after his arrival from Brussels where he attended the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Kyprianou said that he had the chance to inform his counterparts and denounced Turkey not only about the continuous occupation of part of Cyprus, the violations of Cyprus' airspace and territorial waters and the illegal research and rescue exercise, but also about challenging Cyprus' territorial rights regarding research in its exclusive economic zone and its continental shelf to exploit its own energy sources.

    He noted that these areas have been determined on the basis of the international law and the Convention of the Sea that has been ratified by the EU member states.

    "We underlined that Turkey's position contradicts not only the international law but also the conditions included in Turkey's EU negotiating framework," he said, adding that "we warned that if Turkey continues to implement this obsolete tactic and strategy, to threaten with the use of violence and with violations, then there will be repercussions to its accession course."

    As regards his meeting with Bildt, he said they discussed the Cyprus question, the EU-Turkish relations and other issues, which concern the EU this period.

    "Of course we had the chance to discuss the issue that came up after Bildt's statements in the European Parliament last week. We had the chance to clarify certain issues, and our side was able to present its positions and why it reacted to what was said," he said, adding that "we have agreed to stay in close contact and have an open and continuous dialogue".

    Referring to the EU Swedish Presidency Programme, Kyprianou expressed satisfaction, noting that it includes priorities in which Cyprus is interested in, as the issues of illegal immigration and asylum seekers, unemployment, social issues affected by the financial crisis as well as the Middle East problem.

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