|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 6 September 2011 Issue No: 3882
 PM speaks by phone with van RompuyPrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday had a telephone communication with European Council President Herman van Rompuy, within the framework of the premier's contacts with European leaders.
Discussion focused on implementation of the government's reform programme and the course of the fiscal measures adopted, government spokesman Elias Mossialos said.
The European Council president expressed support to the government's efforts and assured that the issue of guarantees was not raised, Mossialos commented.
In a radio interview earlier, van Rompuy had ruled out the likelihood of Greece exiting the Eurozone or any other country faced with difficulties.
 Van Rompuy statement on issue of Eurozone guaranteesHELSINKI (ANA-MPA)
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy Monday reaffirmed the Euro area's volition to resolving a dispute over guarantees, first requested by Finland, in order to finalise a second support mechanism for Greece, worth 109 billion euros.
Speaking after a meeting Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, Van Rompuy said that "we're committed to finding a solution to this matter ...a solution that addresses Finland's concern and that does not undermine the wider purpose of reinforcing confidence and financial stability.
"... I'm confident we will find an agreement soon. Of course, we expect Greece also to deliver on all its commitments as to the strict implementation of the reforms agreed with the EU," he added.
 PM to chair Cabinet meeting on TuesdayPrime Minister George Papandreou will chair a Cabinet meeting in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
Issues to be discussed, amongst others, will be draft bills concerning the liberalisation of taxi cab sector, restructuring of the National Health System (ESY) and changes in legislation on the issue of illegal drug use.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will reportedly brief Cabinet measures regarding structural changes, while Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis will raise the issues of illegal immigration and border management.
 DM Beglitis meets Israeli PM NetanyahuDefence Minister Panos Beglitis, speaking after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday on the second day of his official visit to Israel, termed cooperation between Greece and Israel a strategic option for both the Greek government and for Israel, as he ascertained during his meetings with the government and the country's political forces.
"It is evident that both countries have the political will to shape a stable strategy on all levels and of course in the sector of defence and military cooperation," the Greek minister said.
Beglitis added that both sides are concerned over developments in the wider region and this, as he said, was the focus of the meetings that he had both on Sunday with his counterpart Ehud Barak and his meeting with Netanyahu on Monday. He also expressed his fear over stability in the region, on the occasion of developments in the Arab world. "I fear the 'Arab spring' that created many expectations under specific preconditions and with a wider international initiative, developing into an 'Arab winter' and creating centrifugal forces, therefore contributing to the destabilisation of the wider region and harming the interests of Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean," the Defence minister said.
He also underlined that Greece and Israel are the two pylons of stability in the region, stressing that the discussion on developments on bilateral Israeli-Turkish relations and its threats on research in the exclusive economic zone were at the focus of his contacts. In his meetings, Beglitis also discussed the Palestinian issue on which, as he stresses in a statement of his, Greece supports the creation of an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state, based on the borders of 1967.
Beglitis will conclude his three-day visit o Israel on Tuesday and he will be received by President Shimon Peres, meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and visit Jerusalem Patriarch Theofilos.
 Government denies 'breakdown' in talks with EU-ECB-IMF troikaTalks with the EU-ECB-IMF troika have not "broken down" and the government is going ahead with the measures and reforms envisaged in the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy as planned, government spokesman Elias Mossialos stressed on Monday. He underlined that talks with troika officials on the implementation of the programme will be repeated around the middle of the next week.
Mossialos said the government's immediate aim was to cover the country's loan needs with the sum that is expected to be disbursed in September, whether this is considered the sixth installment of the first loan or the first installment of a new loan agreement.
The spokesman underlined that the processing of the 'labour reserve' measures for the core public sector will be completed soon and any Constitutional obstacles will be examined. He also explained that such obstacles would not apply for state-funded private-sector organisations and public utilities and enterprises.
Mossialos advised all sides to display calm and make sure the right messages were being broadcast abroad since the ratification of the July 21 agreement, which the government sees as crucial for covering the country's borrowing needs, was still pending in several EU national Parliaments.
He also denied reports that the prime minister will be announcing a flat VAT rate during his speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair, saying that all measures will be included in the new national taxation plan that will be announced at the end of September.
 ND call for elections 'irresponsible', government saysGovernment spokesman Ilias Mossialos on Monday said that New Democracy's demand for early elections was "exceptionally irresponsible" and accused the main opposition party of "seeking to exploit people's anxiety about what will happen in order to complete the work of the Karamanlis government, in other words destruction".
"In other countries, with smaller deficits than 15.4 percent that ND left in its wake, the parties reached consensus," Mossialos added, criticising ND's stubborn refusal to respond to the government's overtures for a consensus on key economic policy issues.
Noting that the government's only concern was to secure the country's future, he stressed that ND's stance was "clearly undermining".
Asked about the results of weekend opinion polls showing a pronounced lead for the main opposition party, Mossialos replied that governing on the basis of opinion polls and failing to do what was needful "does not best serve the nation's interests".
 Minister's 'drachma' comments generates reactionA radio interview by Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Monday, who referred to a worst-case scenario with an exit from the Eurozone and a return to the drachma, generated sharp political reactions.
"Imagine the worst scenario that can take place in this country: us returning to the drachma and the next Prime Minister being a drachma Prime Minister... I am saying this of course as an extreme approach in a country that I hope will never reach there because it will be a disaster," she said in a radio interview.
"By saying the word 'drachma' alone, Ms Diamantopoulou is terrorising the citizens and dramatically harming our national economy," main opposition New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis said, adding:
"Did Ms Diamantopoulou not see that the spreads reached 1,730 points today. Nor did she hear the statements by Mr. (Herman van) Rompuy, who ruled out Greece's exit from the euro."
The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) also stressed that the government, with the memorandum policies all this period of time, is leading the country to chaos.
 KKE in favour of Palestinian state recognition by UNCommunist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday met with Palestinian envoy Samir Abu Ghazaleh, where she backed recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN General Assembly.
"Any government - the Greek government included - that will not recognise Palestine's right to acquire the status of a Palestinian state in the UN General Assembly in September should be regarded as a moral instigator and accessory in the massacre of the rights of a people and in a new round of wars and possibly an all-out war in the region."
As regards a statement made a day earlier by Greek Defence Minister Panos Beglitis in Israel, on the "recognition of Israel's right to legitimate self-defence in response to Palestinian terrorist attacks," Papariga said such statements are "unacceptable and dangerous" and "could be indicative of Greece's stance at the UN".
 SYRIZA's leader attacks government for poor preparation of school yearCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras strongly criticised the government on Monday for its failure to properly prepare for the start of the school year. In statements after talks with the presidency of the Greek federation of primary school teachers DOE, he said that "the government of the Memorandum was taking the country back several decades".
Tsipras underlined that schools without funding and support could not be called state schools, while schools without teachers and books were not schools at all. He stressed that students having to resort to photocopies and old books was something that had not been seen for many decades and fully blamed Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou for the disorganised state of the Greeks school system and the poor relations between government and teachers at all levels.
SYRIZA's leader appealed to the prime minister to take action to shelter education from the "maelstrom of memorandum policies" and not go ahead with choices that Tsipras termed "catastrophic".
 Greece mission to Libya, humanitarian aid to TripoliDeputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis is to depart for Libya on Tuesday morning, at the head of a Greek mission carrying 48,000 bottles of drinking water to the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
The team of foreign ministry officials will depart in two Greek Airforce C-130 transport planes, with stops at Tripoli and then Benghazi, where they will hold talks with the chairman and members of Libya's National Transitional Council.
Dollis will also visit Tahrir Square and a Greek school in Libya, where he will meet with members of the Greek community of the country.
 Justice ministry mulling changes to deportation legislationJustice Minister Miltiades Papaioannou on Monday announced a special working team that will study and process changes to legislation governing deportation orders issued by Greek courts.
The nine-member team of legal and law enforcement experts will examine the existing legislation and seek ways to overcome the obstacles that arise when courts seek to deport foreign nationals that are in the country illegally, especially when there are pending criminal proceedings or outstanding court sentences against them.
The ministry cited cases were foreign nationals might be deported but cannot because there are outstanding charges or sentences against them for entering the country illegally. In such a case, they have to remain imprisoned in Greece, further burdening the already overcrowded prison system.
The team of experts is due to complete its work and present its findings by October 15.
 City of Athens briefs Parliament on municipal development agency; electoral rollsThe City of Athens has proceeded with the abolition of the Municipality of Athens Development Agency S.A. (AEDA) subsidiary in Bulgaria, while an audit is in progress at the AEDA offices in Athens, according to a municipality document forwarded to Parliament on Monday.
The document was sent to Parliament in response to a relevant question by opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) MPs Adonis Georgiadis and Thanassis Plevris.
The two MPs demanded information by the ministry of the interior on action taken by the City of Athens as regards the AEDA management reform, the AEDA subsidiary in Bulgaria, as well as on its mode of operation and purpose.
Responding to a relevant question by the two LA.O.S MPs, municipal officials said that 72 of the 284 Bulgarian nationals who had registered to vote in the 2010 municipal elections were struck from electoral rolls after being established that they had declared false addresses.
 Former minister Mangakis passes awayLaw professor and PASOK former minister Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis passed away at an Athens hospital on Monday at the age of 89.
He was a law professor and was jailed by a military junta in 1969-1972. In 1974 he participated in a national unity government. In 1980 he joined PASOK and in 1982 took over the justice ministry portfolio.
President Karolos Papoulias extended his condolences to the family of Mangakis.
"He was a charismatic jurist, a passionate fighter of democracy, an inspired politician who was distinguished for his honesty, dignity, sensitivity on issues of rights and freedoms," Papoulias said.
 Youth Parliament event completedThe 16th Youth Parliament ended on Monday with a vote on five draft laws processed by special committees over the weekend focusing on measures against violence in sports, granting Greek nationality to foreigners, speedy development of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), gender equality, drug addiction and rehabilitation.
Addressing the 2011 Youth Parliament, Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos underlined that the participation of the young is "comforting and encouraging" showing that "the new generation wants to assume an active role in public life".
The annual Youth Parliament event is attended by tens of secondary education students from Greece, Cyprus and Greek communities abroad who act as "teenage MPs".
The Youth Parliament plenum was attended by Republic President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister George Papandreou, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, representatives of opposition parties, the ministry of education leadership and Cyprus' ambassador, among others.
 Gov't: Co-funded projects total 3.2 bln eurosProjects worth 3.19 billion euros have been included in a National Strategic Benchmark Framework Plan in the last six months, of which 90 are projects focus on the environment, 18 are large infrastructure projects, another 105 actions touch on e-governance and IT systems, along with dozens of other interventions in tourism, health and culture, Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, the minister said the National Strategic Benchmark Framework programme is seen as a catalyst for growth and efforts to exit the current economic crisis, while he added that the programme would accelerate further during the current quarter.
Chryssohoidis said he will announce updated figures over progress of the programme by the end of September. He said new environmental projects worth 542 million euros have been included in the plan.
In the transport sector, a total of 18 new projects, budgeted at 917 million euros, have been included, while in the digital convergence programme a total of 105 new projects, worth 191 million euros, have been included.
 SEV President: Eurozone exit will return Greece to 1950s-era conditionsHellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos on Monday warned that if Greece proves to be "unable or weak to keep up with the hard European core eventually will be forced to leave the Eurozone".
Speaking in an event entitled "Greece 10 year ahead" hosted by McKinsley & Co, a management consulting firm, Daskalopoulos added that if this happens "the country will return to the 50s, poverty will be the rule and the people will be condemned to live in one of the poorest countries. All acquisitions won over the past decades and future prospects for the new generations will be lost. This is a nightmare scenario that will have to be prevented."
He said that it is not a coincidence that that our partners, international organizations and global markets foresee a decade of low growth, high unemployment and social distress for Greece, adding that "by forecasting annual growth rate under 1.5 pct they condemn us to the economic fringes of Europe, if not forcing us to exit the Eurozone".
Daskalopoulos stressed that the only way to salvage the country is to implement strict fiscal discipline; curb consumer extravagance; focus on production oriented economy, extroversion and investments and ensure survival through a long phase of intensive economic growth.
 Labour minister presents new Disability Certification CentreLabour Minister George Koutroumanis on Monday presented a new 'Disability Certification Centre' that he said would help get rid of the inequity, corruption and extensive benefit fraud that riddle the current disability pension and benefits system.
The minister said that the new centre will be in charge of coordinating a uniform system that was previously scattered between a number of social insurance funds and local or regional authorities, thus ensuring significant cost savings and closing loopholes that allowed cheating on a large scale.
The centre will operate under the oversight of IKA-ETAM and aims to make the system more transparent, simpler, more efficient and prevent 'fake' pensions or people cashing in double benefits from different sources.
To illustrate the problems of the previous system, Koutroumanis pointed out that IKA was paying 135,000 disability pensions - or 11.7 percent of the total - in 2010, while the same percentage in the farmers' fund OGA was 16.56 percent and in the freelance workers' fund OAEE 10.6 percent.
The ministry's leadership hopes to restrict these percentages to 9 percent for IKA, 12 percent for OGA and 8 percent for OAEE by 2012. In the longterm, they aim to bring these percentages in line with the EU average by 2020.
The operation of the centre for IKA-ETAM pensions has already yielded results, leading to a 6.6 percent reduction in disability-related spending in 2011.
Unveiling plans for the centre in the near future, Koutroumanis said that the number of specialist doctors assessing applications will increase from 250 at present to 500 in the near future and ultimately to 1,000 in order to process the 28-30,000 applications for disability pensions received each month and reply to pension applications within roughly 40 days.
There are currently 324,000 people receiving disability pensions in Greece (in a population of roughly 11 million), while there are hundreds of thousands more that are eligible for various kinds of benefits, tax relief and other assistance. The government's aim is to quickly draw up a national register of persons with disabilities to be coordinated by the labour ministry and a register of those qualifying for various kinds of benefits and welfare.
 Civil service labor reserve deniedThe finance ministry on Monday categorically denied press reports that 50,000 employees in the core and wider public sector will be put into labor reserve.
Ministry secretary general Elias Plaskovitis, speaking on state NET television Monday morning, said the reports were "out of the blue", adding that the reserve labor measure will not affect permanent employees in the public sector, the Peripheries and the municipalities.
 ND leader's schedule for TIF events announcedMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras will meet with local representatives in Thessaloniki on Friday, Sept. 16, within the framework of his three-day visit to the northern city on the occasion of the 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (ITF), it was announced on Monday.
On Sept. 17, Samaras will meet with ITF S.A. and Helexpo S.A. board members, tour the fair's pavilions and later in the evening he will address local business community leaders at the Velidis convention centre and unveil ND's economic programme.
On Sept. 18, the ND leader will give a press conference.
 Bank credit remained negative in JulyThe annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector remained negative at -1.2 percent in July 2011, unchanged from the previous month (December 2010: 0.0 percent), the Bank of Greece announced on Monday.
The central bank, in a monthly report, said that net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was positive amounting to 13 million euros (July 2010: negative net flow of 126 million euros).
The net flow of credit to enterprises in July 2011 was positive, amounting to 564 million euros (July 2010: positive net flow of 105 million) and the annual growth rate of credit increased to 0.6 percent from 0.2 percent in June 2011 (December 2010: 1.1 percent). The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to EUR -53 million in July 2011 (July 2010: positive net flow of EUR 36 million), and the annual rate of change of credit decreased in comparison with the previous month (July 2011: -4.0 percent, June 2011: -3.4 percent, December 2010: 0.3 percent).
In July 2011, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to euros -497 million (July 2010: -268 million euros). As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions slightly decreased further (July 2011: -2.7 percent, June 2011: -2.5 percent, December 2010: -1.2 percent).
 Budget revenues up 3.0 pct in AugBudget revenues grew more than 3.0 pct in August compared with same month last year, Alternate Finance Minister Pantelis Economou said on Monday.
In a statement, the minister said increase was stable and of permanent nature, and he predicted that trend would be strengthened as long as an economic recession showed signs of improvement.
Economou stressed, however, that efforts against tax evasion, an "informal economy" and smuggling was far from over and that the government will intensify efforts towards achieving its goals of boosting tax revenue.
 Car registrations down 37.1 pct in Jan-AugThe Greek car market continued shrinking in August, with car registrations falling 37.1 pct at the end of the eight-month period, while passenger car sales were down 36.8 pct over the same period despite a government-sponsored car fleet renewal incentive program.
Hellenic Statistical Authority in a report said car registrations (new or used) totalled 93,962 in the January-August period, down 37.1 pct from the same period last year, after a decline of 30.8 pct recorded in the January-August period in 2010. Car sales were down 7.0 pct in August.
Motorcycle registrations also fell by 21.2 pct to 37,022 in the eight-month period this year from 46,959 units in the same period in 2010.
 Business Briefs-- AMC, Cosmote's subsidiary in Albania, on Monday announced it has acquired a second third generation license in Albania. The company participated in an international tender organised by AKEP, Albania's telecoms authority, and submitted the highest bid worth 15 million euros.
 Stocks end at new 2011 lowsStocks came under strong selling pressure at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market to new 2011 lows.
Bank shares were the focus of selling activity, with Alpha Bank and Eurobank suffering heavy losses.
The local market followed a negative trend prevailing in other European markets, hit by worries over developments in the Eurozone debt crisis and its impact on European banks.
The composite index dropped 3.14 pct to end at 863.90 points, with turnover shrinking to a low 37.077 million euros. The Big Cap index ended 3.74 pct down, the Mid Cap index plunged 5.06 pct and the Small Cap index ended 4.39 pct lower.
OPAP (3.91 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (0.88 pct) and Jumbo (0.26 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Alpha Bank (10.71 pct), Eurobank (9.86 pct) and Piraeus Bank (8.47 pct) were top losers. National Bank shares fell 5.72 pct.
Travel (3.32 pct) was the only sector to record gains (3.32 pct), while Health (10.65 pct), Banks (6.99 pct) and Insurance (6.98 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 112 to 33 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Boutaris (14.29 pct), Sarandopoulos Mills (9.71 pct) and Livanis (8.70 pct) were top gainers, while Hygeia (13.89 pct), Apha Bank (10.71 pct) and Revoil (9.86 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.72%
Personal & Household: -0.76%
Raw Materials: -6.25%
Travel & Leisure: +3.32%
Food & Beverages: -2.17%
Financial Services: -6.39%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.75
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.43
HBC Coca Cola: 13.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.72
National Bank of Greece: 2.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.28
Bank of Piraeus: 0.54
 Greek bond prices sharply up, ASE under pressure in middayGreek bond yields continued rising on Monday, following a similar trend in other European markets on worries over developments in a Eurozone debt crisis.
The Greek two-year bond yielded 49.47 pct, while the 10-year benchmark bond yielded 17.28 pct. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 15.36 pct, while the Greek CDS rose to 23.5 pct.
Prices remained under pressure also on the Athens Stock Exchange with the composite index of the market testing new year lows around 866.61 points in midday trading. Bank shares were at the focus of selling activity.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.10 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to a low 11.546 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,876 contracts worth 7.003 million euros, with 23,564 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16.192 contracts worth 4.544 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,381), followed by Eurobank (1,316), Alpha Bank (1,829), Piraeus Bank (669), OPAP (627), MIG (300), OTE (273), GEK (277), Mytilineos (454), Cyprus Bank (486), Hellenic Postbank (424) and ATEbank (237).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.433
Pound sterling 0.888
Danish kroner 7.560
Swedish kroner 9.234
Japanese yen 110.19
Swiss franc 1.127
Norwegian kroner 7.787
Canadian dollar 1.417
Australian dollar 1.357
 40th Book Festival opens at ZappeionThe 40th Book Festival opened Sunday evening at the Zappeion Mansion in central Athens.
The Festival, currently in its 30th year, is dedicated this year to the 2011 European Year of Volunteering.
The 40th Book Festival, which was inaugurated by Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, is organised by the Association of Book Publishers in collaboration with the City of Athens' Cultural Organisation.
Some 150 publishers are presenting more than 50,000 books at the Festival, which also includes a pavilion dedicated to books and magazines that were censored or prohibited during the 7-year dictatorship in Greece and a pavilion of the National Transplants Organisation with informational material on organ donation.
Running through September 18, the Festival is open to the public Mondays-Thursdays from 6:00 in the afternoon to 10:30 at night, on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
 Emir of Quatar arrives in Greece for Ionian holidayThe Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, arrived in Greece at dawn on Monday for an Ionian holiday.
The Emir, accompanied by Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani and their entourages arrived by royal plane at the Ioannis Capodistrias Airport on the island of Corfu, from where the boarded a luxury yacht and set sail for the Ionian.
According to information, the Emir, who is a frequent holiday visitor to the Greek seas, in recent years has been 'flirting' with two islets in the Ionian, one of which is Skorpios, formerly owned by the late Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis which has passed to his granddaughter Athena Roussel, and another nearby islet some 3 miles to the south.
 One dead, two critically injured in rumble among football fansOne person was killed and two others were critically injured in a rumble between some 30 opposing football team fans in the early hours of Monday on a coastal road in Irakleio, Crete.
A 21-year-old man from Mallia died of stab wounds while two others were hospitalised and reported in critical condition.
Police have made several arrests and are continuing the investigation to locate the perpetrators.
Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Monday placed absolute responsibility for the bloody incident on football team-affiliated fan clubs, and expressed his condolences over the incident and fatality.
"This case, has nothing to do with fans or supporters, the responsibility of the heads of the clubs is absolute..."
 Kolonos police dismantle migrant trafficking operationPolice in the Athens district of Kolonos on Monday announced the dismantling of a ring of migrant traffickers operating out of the Kolonos area, in collaboration with the Attica Aliens Directorate.
Two Afghan men aged 23 and 25 years old, respectively, were arrested when 31 illegal migrants were found in the truck they were driving. The migrants, 27 Afghans and four Pakistanis, hoped to get passage to Italy.
A police investigation showed that members of the ring operated an internet service provider on Acharnon Street, through which they made deals for the transport of illegal migrants to European countries and received the sums agreed on.
A search of the premises revealed 1,080 euro, a bank book with two withdrawal and one deposit slip, three cash transfer receipts and three mobile phones. Police also confiscated a private truck.
 Alleged migrant smuggler, migrants interceptedAn Iraqi man, 38, was arrested on Sunday in the northwest port city of Igoumenitsa on migrant smuggling charges after three Afghans and a minor were found in his car.
During a police check, the man showed forged documentation for the vehicle, while ferry boat tickets were found along with three forged Bulgarian passports. The illegals reportedly aimed to travel to Italy.
 Wildfire near KonitsaAn extensive wildfire erupted on Monday morning in a forested and remote area near the village of Pedes, near the northwest town of Konitsa, on Mt. Smilakos.
According to initial assessments by the fire brigade and police, arson is suspected as the wildfire broke out simultaneously in at least from two different locations.
 Greece beats Croatia 74-69 in EurobasketThe Greek national basketball team beat Croatia 74-69 in a Eurobasket Group C game played in Lithuania on Monday evening, on the last day of the competition's first phase.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 36C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 35C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEconomic issues in view of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF, where the prime ministers traditionally unveil economic policy for the following year) mainly dominated the front pages of Athens' newspapers on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "All the public transport means and taxis planning to strike".
AVRIANI: "Papandreou going to the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF, where the prime ministers traditionally unveil economic policy for the following year) with 11,000 policemen".
DIMOKRATIA: "Where is Venizelos headed? - Makes one gaffe after the other, sees ghosts and 'pushing' behind-the-scenes for early elections - To announce layoffs and salary reductions in public sector after the TIF".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Sweeping salary reductions and layoffs in the public sector".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Europe undermining its own plan".
ESTIA: "Huge losses in just two years (of PASOK governance)".
ETHNOS: "Golden 'party' with salaries in the municipalities".
IMERISSIA: "Fears and objections to BlackRock's (world's largest asset manager) methods in evaluating the quality of the Greek banks' loans portfolio".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Reductions in VAT, tax rates open for TIF 'basket' of measures (to be presented by premier)".
TA NEA: "The Papandreou-Venizelos plan - Operation 'troika' - The good and the bad scenario".
VRADYNI: "ND leader Samaras: Elections will give the solution".
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