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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 30 October 2010 Issue No: 3632


  • [01] Papandreou: 'Suspension of EU voting rights unacceptable'
  • [02] FM on EU Summit; details Greek positions
  • [03] KKE on outcome of EU Summit
  • [04] Papandreou-Gruevski meeting in Brussels
  • [05] PM in Thessaloniki on Monday
  • [06] ND reaction to gov't criticism of Samaras
  • [07] Papoutsis meets Belgium's Wathelet, illegal migration tops agenda
  • [08] Interior ministry on election process
  • [09] FM Droutsas on Cyprus' Missing Persons Day
  • [10] Greek FM congratulates new Spanish counterpart
  • [11] Govt's mulls drastic restructuring of debt-laden public sector enterprises, utilities
  • [12] Gov't to finalize tax policy in November
  • [13] Birbili: ITGI natgas pipeline a priority
  • [14] Piraeus Bank announces 800-mln-euro share capital increase plan
  • [15] Retails sales volume down 11.8 pct in Aug
  • [16] New Thessaloniki-London OA routes inaugurated
  • [17] Passenger traffic in Greek ports up 0.7 pct in Q1
  • [18] Athens hotels' occupancy rates down 10.3% in Sept.
  • [19] Stocks end 1.93% down
  • [20] Greek bond spreads jump to 825 bps
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [23] "Nostos" Hellenic Cultural Association literary contest: 'The Parthenon Marbles: The history of a looting, or the looting of history?'
  • [24] Preparations for historic Athens Marathon underway
  • [25] Slovenian FM to run in classical Athens Marathon
  • [26] Mt. Athos photo exhibition at Museum of Byzantine Culture
  • [27] 3- years- old toddler's organs offered for transplant
  • [28] Man fires against burglars that broke into his house
  • [29] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Papandreou: 'Suspension of EU voting rights unacceptable'


    A European Council decision on Friday to set up a permanent support mechanism for Eurozone countries was a "major victory", Prime Minister George Papandreou said here, expressing Athens' and all the member-states' firm opposition to the "unacceptable", as he said, proposal for a suspension of member-state voting rights in the EU Councils of Ministers as part of a "penalty mechanism".

    In a press conference shortly after the end of the EU Summit meeting here, Papandreou clarified that a general framework of a permanent support mechanism was presented, and pointed out that its operation will be specialised, based on a European Commission proposal after consultations with EU member-states.

    Referring to Greek recommendations as regards the future support mechanism, Papandreou stressed that it will have to be prepared in a way that will contribute to Europe's development course to overcome the existing inequalities between the member-states.

    The prime minister characterised as "unacceptable" the EU Presidency proposal, which suggested that a country with high deficits be deprived of its right to vote in the Councils of Ministers, stressing that Greece was clearly against it.

    "The fight we gave was not just Greek, but a European fight as well," he said, pointing out that the suspension of the right to vote would mean for a country that it will not have a say on important issues such as security, national defence, common agricultural policy, regional policy etc.

    "This proposal deeply hurts the democratic right of the EU states; and the EU has a tradition on democracy which we do not want to undermine," he said characteristically.

    As regards the discussion of the EU 27 on the prevention of future economic crises, Papandreou stressed that "counter-incentives" were decided for countries with high fiscal deficits as a result of bad practices.

    "From now on, countries will have to be judged by their actions and not for their past," he stressed.

    Responding to a question on the likelihood of snap elections in Greece, the premier said he is "determined to go ahead, firmly and consistently, with the major changes that will be beneficial for the people and the country."

    He pointed out that "the rising spreads showed how vulnerable the country is to moves that can be interpreted as instability."

    Papandreou concluded that his intention was to "give a boost to a responsible vote in the face of an existing crisis which the opposition often refuses to admit."

    Asked about the prospect of an extension of the period of repayment of the EU-ECB-IMF bailout, Papandreou said this specific issue was brought up, initially, by IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in order to assist Greece in overcoming its economic crisis, as he said.

    Moreover, queried over recurring press speculation of a snap election in the country, Papandreou said he was determined to move the country forward with stability and responsibility, "towards major changes that will be beneficial for the people and for Greece".

    "My proposal is to increase the vote of responsibility vis-?-vis a crisis that exists, and which the main opposition has on many occasions failed to recognise; but it (ND) has its great responsibility for its actions. I expected that it would say overseas what it says in the country, with the same language."

    ND reaction

    In a reaction to the premier's statements from Brussels, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party later characterised Papandreou as the "architect of political double-speak".

    ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos stated the prime minister calls for "renegotiations" after voting in favour of the memorandum.

    "It is not the opposition's fault because his policy was unsuccessful," he added, stressing that the prime minister "prescribed the wrong medicine, one that kills the Greek economy and its reforms every day."

    "ND President Antonis Samaras fights for real reform both in the country and abroad using a concrete exit plan from the crisis," he concluded.

    [02] FM on EU Summit; details Greek positions

    The intervention of Prime Minister George Papandreou at the EU Summit in Brussels was decisive in the rejection of a German proposal to strip "fiscally undisciplined countries" of their voting rights, and "this is a success", Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas told an Athens radio station on Friday.

    Droutsas said the Greek premier raised the issue of "national sovereignty" by strongly reacting to the likelihood of depriving a member-state of the right to vote.

    Referring to main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, Droutsas accused him of "irresponsibility" and "inconsistency" in the crucial negotiations taking place in the EU.

    Responding to the criticism exercised by the parties of the opposition, which maintain that Germany virtually managed to impose its policy on the 27 EU members, Droutsas stated - referring to the controversial issue of the possibility of sanctions - that "Germany wanted to impose horizontal sanctions, namely, to take away the voting right on all issues and not only on issues that concern economic policy and the Monetary Union."

    Droutsas stated that the comment made by the prime minister directed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking "how can you expect from Greece not to have the right to vote when, for example, the issue of Turkey is being discussed", was of decisive importance. The prime minister also addressed the Baltic countries by asking them if they "could accept not having a right to vote when issues concerning Russia are on the table."

    Droutsas clarified that "based on the EU leaders' decision, the European Council president in cooperation with the European Commission and in consultation with the EU members will discuss and study this mechanism before presenting a relevant proposal in the next European Council in December where decisions will be made that will most likely lead to a limited amendment of the Treaty."

    [03] KKE on outcome of EU Summit

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday again called on voters to shun ruling PASOK party and main opposition New Democracy (ND) in the upcoming Nov. 7 local government elections.

    Commenting on EU Summit decisions of a day earlier, Papariga stressed that "the Greek people have a responsibility not only to ignore the prime minister's snap elections blackmail, or bluff, but to reverse the issue and corner the government, making it as weak as possible while, and at the same time, to put an end to the games played by (ND leader Antonis) Samaras."

    Papariga stated that "the essence of the EU Summit discussion was the fact that there was a talk on controlled bankruptcy."

    [04] Papandreou-Gruevski meeting in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V,Demiris)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met with his counterpart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Nikola Gruevski, here on Friday, with the nagging "name issue" reportedly discussed by the two premiers.

    The one and a half hour meeting over a working lunch, had been requested by Gruevski and was held in a good climate. Reports said that the two sides reaffirmed their committment to UN sponsored process under mediator Matthew Nimetz.

    In statements afterwards, Greek Government Spokesman George Petalotis said that the two leaders proceeded to a review of the process to resolve the "name issue" without however "touching the substance of the talks".

    "On our side, there is a clear volition towards achieving progress and we consider that direct contacts can create a better climate which will have a positive impact on the negotiating process," Petalotis added.

    The Greek spokesman also noted that a mutually accepted solution was indispensable for reinforcing stability in the region, while it would open fYRoM's road to the Euroatlantic institutions.

    [05] PM in Thessaloniki on Monday

    Prime minister George Papandreou will be in Thessaloniki on Monday for his ruling PASOK party's regional conference for Central Macedonia.

    The conference will also include three political discussion labs on social, developmental and agricultural policy.

    Papandreou will close the conference with an address on Monday evening.

    [06] ND reaction to gov't criticism of Samaras

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Friday reacted sharply to criticism aimed at ND leader Antonis Samaras by several government ministers, with a party spokesman on Friday reminding that Samaras is an "exceptionally capable economist, who would never be against the fiscal restructuring of the Greek economy".

    Spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos also dismissed government and press criticism of Samaras' role and contacts this week in Brussels, where he attended an EPP grouping summit, amongst others, stresing that:

    "...institutional figures in the EU and eurozone consider the ND leader at this time as the political figure, par excellance, in favour of stability, security and trustworthiness of the country..."

    In conclusion, the spokesman emphasised again that the government is employing a wrong economic "medicine ... as there's a danger of killing the patient, i.e. the Greek economy."

    [07] Papoutsis meets Belgium's Wathelet, illegal migration tops agenda

    Greek Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis met on Friday with Belgian State Secretary for Migration Melchior Wathelet, with talks focusing on migration issues, particularly the problem of illegal immigration into the EU.

    Papoutsis told his Belgian interlocutor that illegal migration was a problem of all of Europe and not only a Greek one.

    Wathelet, on his part, expressed satisfaction over the way the problem is being tackled by Greece and his own country.

    Papoutsis also briefed the Belgian official over the problem on Greece's land frontiers with Turkey, as well as the deployment of Frontex, while he also expressed a hope that the Turkish side will cooperate in efforts to stop the massive influx of illegal immigrants.

    Greece last Monday asked the EU for the immediate deploy-ment of rapid border intervention teams (RABITS) and Frontex operational means on its eastern borders, to stem the massive influx of undocumented migrants -- mostly Third World nationals -- attempting to enter the country via Turkey.

    [08] Interior ministry on election process

    Every step has been taken to rule out tampering in the election process, an interior ministry announcement said on Friday, in reply to a report appearing in the weekly newspaper Pontiki that home addresses declared by citizens of Bulgaria, Romania and Poland in order that they may be registered in the voters' lists for the November 7 local administration elections were found to be non-existent during a journalistic investigation.

    [09] FM Droutsas on Cyprus' Missing Persons Day

    The establishment by the Republic of Cyprus of Oct. 29 as the Missing Persons Day "reminds us that the great humanitarian issue regarding the fate of a considerable number of missing persons of the Cyprus tragedy is painfully pending for the past 36 years," Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas reiterated on Friday.

    In a written statement issued by the ministry, Droutsas also said that Turkey "has the obligation to allow the opening of a substantial investigative process, which will lead to the determination of the fate of the missing."

    The Greek minister also expressed his full support to the families of the missing, both in Greece and Cyprus.

    As a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion in Cyprus, 1,619 Greek-Cypriots and Greeks were listed as missing, most of whom were soldiers or reservists, and who were captured.

    Among them, however, were many civilians, women and children, arrested by the Turkish invasion troops and Turkish Cypriot paramilitary groups, within the area controlled by the Turkish military after the end of hostilities and far removed from any conflict zones.

    Many of those missing were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military.

    [10] Greek FM congratulates new Spanish counterpart

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Friday congra-tulated newly appointed Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez.

    In his message, Droutsas noted the "the two countries' identity of views on crucial European and interrnational matters" and hailed the "excellent level of cooperation in tackling particular problems faced by Greece and Spain as countries of the Mediterranean."

    Financial News

    [11] Govt's mulls drastic restructuring of debt-laden public sector enterprises, utilities

    The Greek government is now focusing efforts on cutting the fiscal deficit and the urgent restructuring of loss-making public sector enterprises, including the Greek capital's public transports -- buses, electric bus, metro and tram line -- according to the latest reports out of Athens.

    Public sector enterprises' deficits and debt (including pension funds, state hospitals and local authorities) are added in the general government's deficit and debt figures, pushing the country's fiscal deficit to 15.4 pct of GDP for 2009, from 13.8 pct envisaged in the 2011 budget draft, probably leading to pressure for additional fiscal cutting measures in Greece..

    The situation in the 11 most loss-making public sector enterprises could be characterised as "irreversible" over their future survival, unless drastic measures were taken.

    The deficits of Hellenic Rail, ISAP (Piraeus-Kifissia electric line), HL.PAP (electric bus), ETHEL, EAS (Athens and Thessaloniki bus lines), Hellenic Aerospace Industry, Hellenic Tourism Properties, totaled 1.7 billion euros in 2009 -- up 6.3 pct from the previous year, while their debt totaled 12 billion euros, up 10 pct over the same period.

    These enterprises paid 574.1 million euros in interest in 2001, raising 1.31 billion euros with state guarantees. At the same time, the average salary of a worker in a public sector enterprise grew to 40,772 euros annually, up 6.5 pct from 2008, while total payroll in five out of the 11 most loss-making enterprises was higher than their total revenue. ISAP (56,554 euros), TrainOSE, Hellenic Aerospace Industry were at the top of the list with the highest payrolls. Public sector enterprises' revenues fell by 6.5 pct in the 2007-2009 period, while deficit jumped 31 pct over the same period.

    Two major factors contributed greatly towards these developments, over the last 10 years. Early in the decade, the state stopped servicing loans by loss-making enterprises, while during the middle of the decade public sector enterprises -mostly public transports- significantly raised their investment needs.

    The Greek government seeks to drastically cut payroll costs and operating spending while raising revenues at the same time, to stop a "haemorrhage" in the state budget.

    The government examines a plan to merge public transport companies from five into two, one with ISAP, metro and tram) and another with ETHEL and HL.PAP.

    The plan will be based on cutting payroll cost, particularly benefits and overtime pay which will save around 200 million euros this year. The government will also seek to cut operating spending by 15 pct in the last quarter of the year. Public sector enterprises spent 40 million euros on rents, 30 million on telephone bills, 11 million euros on advertising and 8.0 million euros on expendable material in 2009.

    A Special Secretariat will monitor this effort of cutting spending on a monthly basis, while in cases of deviations the authority will activate sanctions envisaged in a law on public sector enterprises.

    The government is also examining proposals to raise transport fares by 20 pct and restructuring a bus time schedule, while at the same time it has declared its position that public transport were not going to be privatized.

    The same pledge covers Hellenic Aerospace Industry, while Hellenic Defence Systems and Hellenic Vehicle Industry will be restructured and privatized.

    [12] Gov't to finalize tax policy in November

    The Greek government is expected to finalize its decision over its tax policy for 2011 within the next month. The decisions will cover the transfer of products from a tax rate of 11 pct currently to a higher rate and taxation of vehicles. This policy is included in a memorandum signed by the Greek government and the EU/IMF/ECB troika in order to be implemented from January 1, 2011 and help the government raise 1.0 billion euros annually.

    The Finance ministry is examining various scenario, such as the transfer of products from an 11 pct tax rate to an intermediate tax rate. Decisions over the issue are expected to be reached following consultations with the troika experts, expected to visit Greece in November as part of a regular inspection of the course of the Greek economy ahead of approval of a third tranche of an 110-billion euros support loan.

    The government is examining plans to cut registrations duties for middle-class cars, offering a much-needed breathe to the domestic car market hit by the crisis. The government has already decided to postpone for six months the introduction of higher tax rates in real estate property in order to avoid a further burdening of a market already 30 pct down compared with 2009. The ministry will probably raise taxes on real estate property in June 2011.

    A draft tax bill, to accompany next year's state budget, will also include a cut in corporate taxes to 20 pct from 24 pct currently.

    [13] Birbili: ITGI natgas pipeline a priority

    The ITGI-Poseidon (Turkey-Greece-Italy) natural gas pipeline, based on the relevant interstate agreements already signed by Greece, is a priority in Greece's strategy for energy security and supply security, Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili stressed during a meeting with shareholders of the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline) natgas pipeline consortium.

    Birbili also said that her ministry is interested in and welcomes proposals that advance the country's strategy of diversification of natural gas sources.

    TAP will convey natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Italy, via Greece and Albania. The project shareholders are the Swiss-based EGL (42.5 percent), the Norway-based Statoil (42.5 percent) and the German-based E.ON Ruhrgas (15 percent).

    [14] Piraeus Bank announces 800-mln-euro share capital increase plan

    Piraeus Bank on Friday announced a share capital increase plan seeking to raise 800 million euros from the market after receiving guarantees of a full coverage of the issue by financial firms Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs International and Morgan Stanley -the international coordinators of the issue. The offering price will be set before the public offer, expected in January 2011.

    The bank said that the share capital increase plan aims at strengthening its capital adequacy rates and to respond to increased expectations of the investment community along with enhancing the bank's position, taking advantage of attractive opportunities of organic growth in the wider range.

    Piraeus Bank said the share capital increase plan will raise its Equity Tier I rate to 9.5 pct and the Tier I rate at 10.8 pct, while the total capital adequacy rate will rise to 11.6 pct.

    The bank will call for extraordinary general shareholders' meetings to approve the plan, which envisages a rights issue combined with a cut in the nominal value of its common shares. The bank will seek shareholders' approval to issue a 250-mln-euro convertible bond loan. The extraordinary general shareholders' meeting is expected to be held November 23.

    Mihalis Sallas, the bank's chairman, said the share capital increase plan was a significant step for the bank which will lead to a further strengthening of its capital base, within a demanding environment which will allow the bank to take advantage from any possible improvement in financial conditions.

    [15] Retails sales volume down 11.8 pct in Aug

    Retail sales volume fell 11.8 pct in August, compared with the same month last year, after a decline of 4.5 pct recorded in August 2009, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, said the sharp decline, reflecting a shrinking consumption in Greece which will have negative effect on the country's Gross Domestic Product, was recorded almost throughout all categories of shops, with fuel/lubricants (16.2 pct), furniture/electrical appliances (15.3 pct), pharmaceuticals/cosmetics (15.3 pct), food/beverage/tobacco (12.8 pct) and super markets (11.7 pct) recording the biggest percentage declines.

    The retail sales turnover index fell 6.3 pct in August, after a decline of 3.1 pct recorded in August 2009.

    [16] New Thessaloniki-London OA routes inaugurated

    Olympic Air will commence a new direct flight between the northern port city of Thessaloniki and London starting on Sunday, Oct. 31.

    The OA flight 283 will depart from Macedonia Airport in Thessaloniki every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:55 a.m. and reach Gatwick Airport's south terminal at 9:25 a.m. (local time). The return flight will leave from London at 10:25 a.m. and arrive in Thessaloniki 15:40 (local time).

    The flight, using Airbus A319 aircraft, will offer 120 economy seats and 12 business class seats.

    [17] Passenger traffic in Greek ports up 0.7 pct in Q1

    Passenger traffic in Greek ports rose 0.7 pct in the first quarter of 2010, compared with the corresponding period last year, after a decline of 9.3 pct recorded in the January-March period in 2009, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said cargo traffic in Greek ports dropped 12.4 pct in the first three months of 2010, after a decline of 6.6 pct in the same period last year.

    [18] Athens hotels' occupancy rates down 10.3% in Sept.

    Athens hotels' occupancy rates dropped substantially in September, the Association of Athens-Attica Hoteliers said on Friday.

    In its monthly report, the association said room occupancy rates fell 10.3 pct in September, compared with the same month last year, a a decline of 6.7-pct in the nine-month period from January to September.

    Three-star hotels recorded a decline of 16.5 pct in September to a room occupancy rate of 72.4 pct, two-star hotels' occupancy rate fell 11.6 pct to 42.6 pct and four-star hotels' occupancy rate dropped 10.3 pct to 75.4 pct. Five-star hotels recorded the lowest percentage decline (2.7 pct) to an occupancy rate of 72.8 pct.

    [19] Stocks end 1.93% down

    Stocks remained under pressure during the last trading session of the week at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, hit by a sharp rise in Greek bond spreads and an announcement by Piraeus Bank of an 1.05 billion euros share capital increase plan.

    The composite index fell 1.93 pct to end at 1,547.43 points, for a net loss of 3.63 pct in the week. Turnover was an improved 156.222 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 2.31 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 1.84 pct and the Small Cap index ended 2.21 pct down. OPAP (3.59 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (0.70 pct), Titan (0.20 pct) and PPC (0.08 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Alpha Bank (6.48 pct), Eurobank (5.32 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.35 pct) and National Bank (2.72 pct) suffered the biggest losses.

    The Insurance (0.82 pct) and Travel (3.09 pct) sectors scored gains, while Health (7.53 pct) and Banks (3.81 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 123 to 47 with another 46 issues unchanged. Attikat (10 pct), Creta Farm (9.68 pct) and Druckfarben (9.62 pct) were top gainers, while Vell Group (12 pct), VIS (9.89 pct) and Olympic Catering (9.28 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.82%

    Industrials: -2.12%

    Commercial: -0.49%

    Construction: -0.98%

    Media: -2.08%

    Oil & Gas: -0.41%

    Personal & Household: -0.66%

    Raw Materials: -1.56%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.09%

    Technology: -3.07%

    Telecoms: -2.38%

    Banks: -3.81%

    Food & Beverages: -2.07%

    Health: -7.53%

    Utilities: -0.21%

    Chemicals: -1.33%

    Financial Services: -1.66%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.76

    ATEbank: 0.87

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.05

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.60

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.76

    National Bank of Greece: 7.87

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.45

    OPAP: 13.55

    OTE: 5.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.74

    Titan: 15.36

    [20] Greek bond spreads jump to 825 bps

    Greek bond spreads widened significantly on Friday reflecting investors' renewed worries over fiscal developments in Greece, Portugal and Ireland. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 845 basis points in midday trade to ease slightly to 825 bps in early afternoon trade, with the Greek bond yielding 10.50 pct.

    In Ireland, the 10-year bond yielded 7.2 pct, while in Portugal, the 10-year bond yielded around 6.0 pct. Greek bond spreads are under pressure in the last three days after comments made by US investors over the likelihood of a debt restructuring by Greece.

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.20 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday with turnover at 44.348 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,575 contracts worth 31.787 million euros, with 21,492 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 24,742 contracts worth 12.561 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (8,980), followed by Eurobank (1,654), MIG (497), OTE (439), National Bank (6,745), Alpha Bank (2,144), Ellaktor (1,025), Cyprus Bank (1,196) and ATEbank (325).

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.396

    Pound sterling 0.875

    Danish kroner 7.515

    Swedish kroner 9.435

    Japanese yen 112.76

    Swiss franc 1.381

    Norwegian kroner 8.257

    Canadian dollar 1.426

    Australian dollar 1.433

    General News

    [23] "Nostos" Hellenic Cultural Association literary contest: 'The Parthenon Marbles: The history of a looting, or the looting of history?'

    "The Parthenon Marbles: The history of a looting, or the looting of history?" is the theme of the third literary contest being organised by the Hellenic Cultural Association Nostos under the aegis of the Greek Embassy in Argentina.

    This year's contest, which is open to both Greeks and non-Greeks all over the world, with texts in Spanish, Greek or English, opens up collaboration, for the first time, with overseas agencies working for the spread of Hellenic civilisation and history, including the University of Chile's "Fotios Malleros Center for Hellenic and Byzantine Studies", the only such center in Latin America, established in 1968, and the Association of Writers of Argentina, as well as the Association of Greek Writers and Authors of the Five Continents, the Diaspora Literary Stoa from Australia, and the Greek Community of Lima, in Peru.

    "This year's contest aims to unite all Greeks and non-Greeks with one voice, in a written appeal to the world of Letters, so as to vindicate the just national demand of Greece for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, by the British Museum to the New Acropolis Museum," Nostos president Christina Tsardikos told ANA-MPA.

    "It is with great joy that we see what we envisioned four years ago has increasing appeal, as reflected in the agencies taking part," she said, adding special thanks to Greek Ambassador Michalis Christidis "who embraced the idea from the very first moment, lending not only moral but also material support, as the Embassy has undertaken the publication of the anthologies with the best works of the contests".

    The communications sponsor is ANA-MPA, which readily agreed to Nostos' request.

    "ANA-MPA has always stood at our side, including through its Greeks abroad web page. My heartfelt thanks for all the support and backing you have given us all these years, projecting Nostos' activities, and also our vision for a vibrant Greece that is present everywhere," Tsardikos said.

    The competition is open to writers of all nationalities, ages and gender, with one essay, in the Spanish, English or Greek language. The essay should not exceed 10 pages, must not have been previously published or awarded, or awaiting the results of another contest.

    The essays must be typed, on one side of the sheet of paper (A4), single space, stapled, and placed in an appropriate envelope, together with a CD containing the text in electronic form. They should be sent (signed with a pen name) to: "ASOCIACI?N CULTURAL HELENICA NOSTOS"/ CERTAMEN LITERARIO INTERNACIONAL/ AVDA BELGRANO 615 PISO 8VO "J "/ C.A.B.A (1092)/ BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA.

    The envelope should also contain a second, sealed, envelope containing a copy of the essay, the title of the work, the pen name of the writer and his/her personal information: name and surname, ID card number, address, telephone, email address and a brief CV.

    The deadline for the entries is December 31, 2010.

    The awards will be announced in March 2011, and separate awards will be given for each language. The top three winners will receive a medal and certificate, and 10 copies of the anthology containing the best works.

    Copies of the anthology will also be distributed to educational foundations, cultural centers and libraries.

    The Nostos website is:

    [24] Preparations for historic Athens Marathon underway

    The countdown for Sunday's long-awaited Athens Marathon has begun, with preparations underway in and around the Greek capital on Friday, as international attention has surged this week on the occasion of the 2,500th anniversary of the eponymous Battle of Marathon.

    Start time is at 9 a.m. (07:00GMT) on Sunday just outside the modern-day community of Marathon (east of Athens proper), with the first world-class runners expected to reach the all-marble Panathinaiko Stadium in central Athens after roughly 11:10 a.m. A five- and 10-kilometre race will be run concurrently with the classical Marathon.

    A record number of participants are expected for this year's race, including several international personalities and increased media attention.

    [25] Slovenian FM to run in classical Athens Marathon

    Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Friday received visiting Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar at the presidential mansion in Athens, with the former congratulating the top Slovenian official on his participation in the "classical" Athens Marathon on Sunday.

    "I have run in four marathons, Mr. President, but this is a unique opportunity that is now offered; the classical route for the 2,500th anniversary from the era that it was first done, I and I thought I would take advantage of this opportunity," Zbogar said in an exchange with Papoulias.

    [26] Mt. Athos photo exhibition at Museum of Byzantine Culture

    Photographs of the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos, taken by Polish photographer Tomasz Moscicki, will be on display at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki as of Nov. 1.

    The photographs were taken between 2001 and 2009 during the photographer's six trips to Mt Athos.

    The exhibition will run until Dec. 30, organized by the Photography Museum of Thessaloniki with the support of the Polish embassy, and within the framework of the PhotoBiennale events.

    [27] 3- years- old toddler's organs offered for transplant

    The organs of a 3-year old toddler who died at the University Hospital of Patras will be transplanted in patients in Greece and abroad. The toddler's heart has already been transferred to Germany while its kidneys will be transplanted to a Greek patient.

    The child was severy wounded in a car crash on Corfu and its parents decided to donate its organs when the doctors told them that their child was clinically dead.

    [28] Man fires against burglars that broke into his house

    ? 60-year-old man confronted two robbers who broke into his house in the Athens suburb of Ano Liossia early Friday.

    The man, who owns a taverna, had returned to his house with the daily earnings late Thursday and went to bed. At some time he noticed that someone had entered his house, and found himself face to face with two hooded gunmen. The businessman, who has a gun licence, exchanged shots with the suspects, during which he was injured in the left leg.

    The burglars escaped without taking anything, while the man is hospitalised and reported in good condition. Police have launched a manhunt.

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

    The EU Summit in Brussels and high-level deliberations over a so-called "penalty mechanism" against errant eurozone members, along with the upcoming local government elections, mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Ruling PASOK's new vote-rigging plan!"

    AVRIANI: "Prime Minister George Papandreou abandons position; general elections on Dec. 12".

    VRADYNI: "Germany and France want a ... 4th Reich in Europe".

    ETHNOS: "Tax bureau's 60-day raid".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Nepotism in university chairs, positions".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Europe of 27 under German occupation".

    ESTIA: "Heading in towards an (economic) adventure".

    TA NEA: "Main opposition ND's double-talk over memorandum".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "European thriller on penalty mechanism".

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