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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Thursday, 18 September 2008 Issue No: 2999

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU approves OA rescue plan
  • [02] Tajani: OA plan a product of fruitful discussions with Greek gov't
  • [03] Transport minister presents restructuring plan for Olympic Airlines
  • [04] FM Bakoyannis to attend UN General Assembly
  • [05] FM Bakoyannis to participate in 1st EU-Central Asia Forum
  • [06] FM Bakoyannis delivers awards to French academics
  • [07] Government on Fouere statements regarding FYROM
  • [08] Gov't on reshuffle speculation
  • [09] Papoulias meets Parliament president
  • [10] Doukas meets Polish Undersecretary Wypych-Namiotko
  • [11] Alavanos tables question on global economic crisis
  • [12] US ambassador hosts 'Iftaar' meal for envoys, religious leaders
  • [13] International conference on role of ports
  • [14] Minister on national fisheries strategy
  • [15] Greek M&A activity unaffected by global crisis, PwC report
  • [16] Greek trade deficit shrank in H1, Eurostat
  • [17] Modios Bridge opens to motorists
  • [18] Con'f on organic products cooperation between Greece, FYROM
  • [19] Railway workers protest at transport ministry
  • [20] Household borrowing slows in July
  • [21] Greek mutual funds' assets down 27.03 pct in 2008
  • [22] ASE amends rules on stock share liquidity rates
  • [23] Greek stocks end 0.83 pct higher
  • [24] Greek bond market closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates: Thursday
  • [26] Scientists sound alarm over water management, planning
  • [27] PASOK MPs visit new Acropolis Museum
  • [28] Concert to encourage organ donors in Athens
  • [29] Culture ministry grant to Babel comics festival
  • [30] Thousands of Greek-Americans teach in US universities
  • [31] Man attempting to pass anabolic pills in Greece, arrested
  • [32] Art for the blind at Cycladic Art Museum
  • [33] Athens prefect calls for measures to curb migrant-driven crime, activity in Omonia square
  • [34] Arrests for transportation of illegal immigrants
  • [35] Illegal immigrants arrested in Samos
  • [36] Cloudy on Thursday
  • [37] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [38] Spokesman: we go to talks with flexibility and determination Politics

  • [01] EU approves OA rescue plan

    The European Commission on Wednesday approved a Greek government plan to rescue ailing national carrier Olympic Airways, Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis announced after an Inner Cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Costas Karamanlis. The Commission formally announced its approval of the plan shortly afterwards.

    Hatzidakis referred to a "major structural intervention" by the government regarding the thorny OA problem that "permanently solves an issue that has occupied Greek society and the political system for the past 30 years".

    He told reporters after the meeting that the new air carrier would be privatised, offering job security for its workforce. The plan provides for closure of the existing debt-ridden company, with a parallel commencement of procedures for the establishment of a new company managed by private investors.

    The new company will inherit the Olympic Airways name and logo and its valuable routes and airport slots in Greek and international airports.

    [02] Tajani: OA plan a product of fruitful discussions with Greek gov't

    "The Olympic Airways and Olympic Airlines cases have been a source of contention between the Commission and Greece since 1994. Even today in partially closing a further investigation we have found a further 850 million euros of State aid has been granted to these companies." Vice President Antonio Tajani was quoted as saying in Brussels.

    "I strongly hope that with today's (Wednesday) Commission approval of the privatisation plan we send the message that we want a definitive break with the past. It is my conviction that a new air transport market in Greece undistorted by state aid can develop. Our experience with previous cases involving other air transport companies facing similar challenges proves that these companies not only thrive but compete successfully in a market free from State aid. The privatisation processes approved today, which are the product of long, tough but nevertheless always fruitful discussions between the Greek authorities and the Commission, offers a solution which will be better for Greece, for competition and for passengers," the Commissioner responsible for transport told reporters.

    Gov't

    "The systematic and hard work done with the EU Commission leading to an important solution that helps Olympic Airlines (OA), respects its employees and creates better conditions in the search for an investor," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said during his regular press briefing.

    Responding to a question on whether the solution will be binding for the next government, in case there is any change in the current situation, Roussopoulos stressed that "the government has plenty of time ahead", underlining that "the solution was discussed meticulously with the EU Commission."

    He also stated that this is the best possible scenario for OA, its employees and prospective investors.

    PASOK

    On its part, main opposition PASOK noted, via a relevant spokesman, that "the country's development passes through air transports. The existence of a private monopoly will turn the country back many years ago."

    Former minister Nikos Sifounakis charged that the government has repeatedly announced OA's closure and has left the carrier with 10 less planes and lost revenues of 230 million euros. He also claimed that the EU Commission will tack on an 800-million-euro fine for illegal subsidies between 2004 and 2008.

    The Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), a fierce opponent of any privatisation of the state-run carrier, referred to OA's "tombstone" in the form of the "so-called reform plan".

    [03] Transport minister presents restructuring plan for Olympic Airlines

    Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Wednesday presented the restructuring plan for Olympic Airways, after its approval by the European Commission. In a press conference which lasted almost three hours, the Greek minister said the government's aim was the transition into a new competitive airline company through a solution with two legs: a) the privatization plan and b) ensuring workers.

    The privatization plan envisages five stages. Pantheon will set up three new companies, one the airline, another for ground services and a third the technical base. The second stage envisages selection of a private investor through an international tender, by the end of the year.

    The new airline company will cover 65 pct of Olympic Airlines' current flight schedule, while the two other companies will employ no more than Olympic Airways-Services' current workforce. Initially, Pantheon will hold 51 pct in all three companies while the remaining 49 pct will be held by a private investor. This ratio will gradually change until the private investor holds 100 pct of the company.

    Hatzidakis said the Greek state will offer all assets owned by Olympic Airlines -including the most important slots- while the investor will participate in the new company phorm with cash. "We are not selling the brand name, but we give the license to operate to a private investor," he stressed.

    The plan envisages special care for workers in the national carrier. The government will offer full retirement or subsidized early retirement for 2,745 workers, while others will be offered the choice of a transfer to another public sector agency or enterprise, or income subsidy for the period of three years. Hatzidakis stressed, however, that the state will not participate in talks between the private investor and workers.

    The Greek minister said the social benefit plan for Olympic Airlines' workers will total 1.2 billion euros for a period of 25 year.

    Under the plan, the Transport ministry will hold an international tender for the sale of the company by the end of December, the three new companies will be ready by April and full privatization of the airline company is expected by the end of 2009.

    Lazards, National Bank, Emporiki Bank and Alpha Bank have been named consultants to the Greek state.

    PASOK spokesman on Olympic Airlines

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring on Wednesday to statements by Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hadjidakis, said that "for the first time we heard a government minister rejoicing over a solution that will include an EU commissioner" and that in announcing the "end of Olympic Airlines" he spoke "not as a minister of the government, but as an EU commissioner."

    Papaconstantinou termed the outcome of negotiations on Olympic Airlines as the "worst possible result" and when asked if "specific interests lie behind the government's choice" he said that "objectively, the specific choice serves interests. In no way do we want to incriminate other business activities in the air transport sector. We want neither a private nor a state monopoly, we want healthy and viable Olympic Airlines that will convince its customers. What is about to be lost at this moment is the citizen's possibility of making choices."

    The spokesman further said that "we all know that Olympic Airlines need a new framework to be able to stand up to competition, we are all aware that it has had problems for years and that new viable Olympic Airlines are necessary with state and private capital and with strategic alliances."

    [04] FM Bakoyannis to attend UN General Assembly

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will have a series of contacts with many of her counterparts, on the sidelines of the 63rd UN General Assembly, the sessions of which will start on September 23.

    Bakoyannis is due to arrive in New York on Saturday. She will meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and attend receptions given by the U.S. president and the UN Secretary General.

    On September 22 and 25 respectively, a High Level Meeting will be held at the United Nations for Development in Africa and a Summit Meeting for the Development Target of the Millennium, at which the Greek delegation will participate.

    Bakoyannis will address the plenum of the General Assembly on Monday, September 29.

    On the occasion of her presence in New York, Greece's foreign minister will meet with officials of the Greek-American community, while she will attend a reception which will be given by Greece's Consul General, Agi Baltas, on the 25th of the month.

    It is expected that Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis will also arrive in New York on Friday for the sessions of the General Assembly.

    [05] FM Bakoyannis to participate in 1st EU-Central Asia Forum

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will participate in the 1st EU-Central Asia Forum on security issues which will be held in Paris on Thursday.

    Political and military issues will be discussed at the Forum, as well as energy and environmental security and the struggle against terrorism and drugs.

    The minister will be meeting on the sidelines of the Forum with her counterpart from Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, with whom she will sign a Bilateral Consultations Protocol between the foreign ministries of the two countries.

    Bakoyannis will also be having bilateral meetings with her counterparts from Kazakhstan and Kyrghyzstan, Marat Tazhin and Ednan Karabayev respectively.

    She is also scheduled to have bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of Tajikistan, Hamrokhon Zarifi, and Uzbekistan, Vladimir Norov, on Wednesday.

    [06] FM Bakoyannis delivers awards to French academics

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis awarded the medal of the Order of the Phoenix to three distinguished French academics, on behalf of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, during a special ceremony held at the Greek embassy here on Wednesday. The awards were given to Francois Terre, Michel Albert and Gabriel de Broglie.

    Bakoyannis referred to the contribution of the three academics to the proliferation of the Greek spirit and culture, "which is expressed with the three basic values, that are common in both countries: democracy, peace and the harmonious coexistence of peoples."

    She said that "this culture, which unites Greece and France, also shapes our identity" and thanked them for their work "through which the ideals of culture emerged, that has its roots in classical Greece and which, at the same time, determines present-day Greece."

    Bakoyannis will be participating in the two-day European Union-Central Asia Conference, organised by the French EU Presidency and whose sessions will be starting at the OECD's building on Thursday.

    The minister's programme includes bilateral meetings with counterparts of hers from the countries of Central Asia.

    [07] Government on Fouere statements regarding FYROM

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Wednesday commented on the statements by the EU Special Representative for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Erwan Fouere, saying that they highlighted the mistaken tactics used by Skopje's government in blaming Athens for its problems.

    "Until now [FYROM Prime Minister Nikola] Gruevski had tried, in spite of all the problems he faced, to always point a finger at Greece. The recent statements of the European Commission's representative in Skopje Mr. Fouere contradict this logic and show that alibis cannot be sought where these do not exist."

    [08] Gov't on reshuffle speculation

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos dismissed press questions on Wednesday related to widespread press speculation over a government reshuffle, citing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' statement in Thessaloniki two weeks ago.

    He also responded negatively to the question if he is alarmed by widely reported contacts between ruling New Democracy Party (ND) MP Petros Tatoulis has with the leader of the small opposition party LA.OS.

    [09] Papoulias meets Parliament president

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday had a meeting with Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas.

    Leaving the presidential mansion, Sioufas said the meeting had been mainly formal in nature, in order to brief the president on the diplomatic and other activities of the Greek Parliament, such as those for protecting the environment and the special Parliamentary session held two days ago to mark the International Day of Democracy with the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Pier Ferdinando Casini attending.

    [10] Doukas meets Polish Undersecretary Wypych-Namiotko

    Deputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas on Wednesday met with visiting Polish Infrastructure Ministry Undersecretary of State Anna Wypych-Namiotko for talks on maritime and fisheries issues on both the bilateral and EU level, a foreign ministry press release said.

    Wypych-Namiotko, a maritime academy graduate, is currently in Greece to attend a conference organised by the merchant marine and island policy ministry.

    Doukas and the high-ranking Polish official also discussed developments in the Caucasus and other international issues.

    On her part, Wypych-Namiotko invited Greek shipbuilders and shipowners to invest in the country, including participation in the Polish shipyards' privatisation programmes.

    [11] Alavanos tables question on global economic crisis

    The head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday asked the government to brief Parliament on how it intends to deal with the global economic crisis. He was speaking during a Parliamentary discussion on a draft bill regulating issues concerning security firms and private detectives.

    Alavanos pointed to the problems faced by major financial institutions with links to Greece like Lehman Brothers, one of the country's creditors, the investment bank Goldman Sachs and American International Group that was now faced with imminent bankruptcy and also had a Greek subsidiary, stressing the need for a Greek contingency plan.

    "The citizens are seeing the fall of all stock markets - including the Greek one - and we don't have a plan B for active intervention of the public sector in these matters," he said, pointing to the intervention of the U.S. government with its own ailing mortgage firms.

    [12] US ambassador hosts 'Iftaar' meal for envoys, religious leaders

    The US ambassador to Athens on Tuesday evening joined other high-ranking US envoys around the world in hosting an "Iftaar" meal, the traditional Muslim fast breaking at sunset, which occurs during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

    Among the guests at US ambassador Daniel Speckhard's official residence in Athens were Iraqi ambassador Hatim Abdul Hassan Al-Khawam, who addressed the gathering, Bishop of Velestino Damaskinos, who represented the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, and the chief rabbi of Athens, Jacob Arar.

    Other guests included high-ranking diplomats from Arab and Muslim countries and officials from the Greek foreign affairs and education & religious affairs ministry.

    Financial News

    [13] International conference on role of ports

    An international conference on the theme "The role of ports as hubs of communication between land and sea transports" took place at the Piraeus Port Authority on Wednesday.

    The conference's sessions were opened by newly appointed Merchant Marine & Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras.

    In his speech, Papaligouras stressed the importance of the conference and that its holding by the economic committee of the United Nations for Europe, in cooperation with the Merchant Marine & Island Policy Ministry, signals the great weight which the organization gives in the promotion and dissemination of knowledge on the issue.

    The minister said that the participation at the conference of representatives of states and agencies from a great number of countries demonstrates the importance which is attributed to transports in the framework of the globalized economy.

    He said that a basic element of contemporary economic developments is the consistently increased demand for the transport of individuals and cargo, while sea cargo transports increased internationally at an average annual rate of 9.2% during the decade 1997-2007 and from 4.8 billion tons of transported cargo in 1997, it was shaped to 7.1 billion tons in 2005.

    [14] Minister on national fisheries strategy

    LEADER-type projects and processes will be used in Greece's fishing sector, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos announced on Wednesday during a seminar at the ministry on a national strategy for fisheries.

    The minister announced an upcoming meeting with European Commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries Joe Borg at the end of the month to discuss the major problem facing Greece's fishing industry, which was the fishing carried out in deep waters of the Mediterranean by fishermen of non-EU countries.

    [15] Greek M&A activity unaffected by global crisis, PwC report

    Merger and acquisition activity between Greek enterprises jumped to 15.7 billion euros in 2007, while M&A activity is expected to grow further this year, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers reported on Wednesday.

    The value of the top 10 mergers and acquisitions in Greece totaled 10 billion euros, or 64.7 pct of total activity, PwC's executive Aemilios Giannopoulos told reporters, presenting the report.

    Giannopoulos stressed the value of M&A activity in the first half of 2008 totaled 8.9 billion euros, up from 6.4 billion in the corresponding period in 2007.

    Banks and other financial services recorded the biggest activity in merger and acquisitions, with 34 transactions worth 3.1 billion euros, while the technology and telecommunications sectors recorded the biggest value in M&A activity (16 transactions worth 5.6 billion euros), followed by the shipping sector (20 transactions worth 1.1 billion euros).

    The report stressed that large Greek banks continued their investment activity in the Balkans and the wider region, although with smaller acquisitions. The global credit crisis that began in August 2007 affected the "confidence feeling", higher prices and liquidity, the "raw material" of the banking system, PwC said adding that it was rather unlikely that foreign banks decided to invest in Greece through acquisitions of domestic banks. The report underlined, however, that it would be logical any domestic consolidation of the banking sector, particularly between smaller Greek banks.

    Giannopoulos said that the Greek M&A market was affected more lightly compared with other international markets.

    [16] Greek trade deficit shrank in H1, Eurostat

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)

    Greece's trade deficit shrank to 18.1 billion euros in the first six months of 2008, down 1.3 billion euros from the corresponding period last year, Eurostat said on Wednesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said Greek exports totaled 8.5 billion euros in the January-June period, while imports totaled 26.6 billion euros. Exports were slightly up from 8.4 billion euros in the first half of 2007, while imports eased from 27.8 billion euros.

    Germany recorded the biggest trade surplus (103.2 billion euros), followed by the Netherlands (21.8 billion), while Britain (61.1 billion euros), Spain (50.2 bln), France (31.9 bln) and Greece (18.1 bln) recorded the biggest trade deficits.

    Eurozone recorded a trade deficit of 2.3 billion euros with the rest of the world in the first six months of 2008, while the EU-27 posted a trade deficit of 21.5 billion euros.

    [17] Modios Bridge opens to motorists

    The newly built Modios Bridge on the Thessaloniki-Kavala motorway, northeast Greece, opened to motorists Wednesday replacing an older construction that had collapsed in October 2006 due to heavy flooding.

    The 2.25-million-euro bridge construction project also included road surface repair and anti-flood works.

    [18] Con'f on organic products cooperation between Greece, FYROM

    Trade and technological cooperation between organic product companies in Greece and the neighbouring former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) will be examined during a one-day conference in Thessaloniki on Oct. 1, hosted by the by the Federation of Northern Greece Industries' network of organic producers.

    Organic products appear to constitute an attractive business option for more and more producers and entrepreneurs in the Balkan, and recently in fYRoM, organisers said.

    Launched in 2000, the sector of organic products in the neighbouring country corresponds to roughly 1 percent of the country's cultivated land in 2006.

    [19] Railway workers protest at transport ministry

    Striking railway workers on Wednesday staged a demonstration outside the transport ministry, in the framework of a 24-hour strike to demand wage increases above the rate of inflation and collective labour agreements.

    All services of the Railway Organisation of Greece (OSE) and the Proastiakos suburban railway have been cancelled for the duration of the strike, with the exception of essential skeleton services, while the Athens metro has also cancelled all metro services between Doukissis Plakentias station and the Athens airport.

    A delegation of striking workers met Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis in order to outlined their demands, which the minister said he would discuss with the other government ministers involved, after which the protestors departed without incident.

    [20] Household borrowing slows in July

    Greek households' and enterprises' debt to banks totaled 235.9 billion euros in July, up 18.1 percent from the corresponding month last year, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a report, said July figures showed a slowdown in household borrowing, with Greek households' debt to banks totaling 122.9 billion euros, up 16.9 pct from the same month last year. Mortgage loans totaled 74.8 billion euros, up 16.2 pct in July, from 17.1 pct in June, while the remaining 35.1 billion euros covered consumer and credit cards, which grew by 18.8 pct in July, from 21 pct in June.

    Saving deposits' figures showed a 43.7 pct jump in time deposits in July, totaling 93.8 billion euros, while saving deposits showed an annual decline of 8.4 pct to 68.3 billion euros.

    [21] Greek mutual funds' assets down 27.03 pct in 2008

    The six largest mutual fund management companies operating in the Greek market accounted for around 90 percent of total mutual funds' assets, official figures showed on Wednesday. A report by the Federation of Institutional Investors said that National Asset Management, a subsidiary of National Bank Group, ranked first with total assets of 17.8 billion euros, or 29.17 pct of market assets, followed by Alpha Asset Management (28.23 pct), EFG Mutual Fund (19.20 pct), Insurance Organisations (4.97 pct), Emporiki (3.32 pct) and HSBC (2.13 pct).

    Greek mutual funds market assets totaled 17.8 billion euros on Sept. 16, down 27.03 pct so far this year.

    [22] ASE amends rules on stock share liquidity rates

    A board meeting of the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday agreed on the amendment of a market regulation covering stock share liquidity rates in regular semi-annual reviews of market categories. The decision was taken in view of a negative climate in international capital markets, a development that could lead the transfer of a large number of listed shares from the Large Capitalisation category to the Medium and Small Capitalization category and from the Medium and Small Cap category to the low liquidity category.

    Under the new rules, the liquidity rate for a stock share to be included in the Large Cap category was set at 10 pct, while the transfer rate for a lower category was set at below 10 pct. A stock share will be transferred immediately to the low liquidity category when its liquidity rate fells below 3.0 pct. The new rules will be valid from October 2008, when the ASE has scheduled its net regular revision of market categories.

    Meanwhile, Performance Technologies, on Wednesday became the eighth company to be listed in the Alternative Market of the Athens Stock Exchange. The company's share began trading at 3.0 euros per share, valuing the company at 11.7 million euros. Performance Technologies was founded in 1993 and has listed 3.9 million shares in the market.

    The Alternative Market started operations seven months ago.

    [23] Greek stocks end 0.83 pct higher

    Greek stocks rebounded on Wednesday, ending a five-day sharp decline of the Athens Stock Exchange. Trading conditions improved in the Greek market, in line with other international markets. The composite index rose 0.83 pct to end at 2,957.92 points, with turnover shrinking to 272.2 million euros, of which 12.1 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Industrial Products (2.73 pct), Food/Beverage (1.16 pct), Banks (0.96 pct) and Technology (0.85 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecommunications (1.32 pct), Insurance (0.35 pct) and Commerce (0.30 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.59 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.69 pct and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.37 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 135 to 87 with another 59 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.3%

    Industrials: +2.73%

    Commercial: -0.30%

    Construction: -0.05%

    Media: -0.23%

    Oil & Gas: -0.03%

    Personal & Household: +0.59%

    Raw Materials: -0.10%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.02%

    Technology: +0.85%

    Telecoms: -1.32%

    Banks: +0.96%

    Food & Beverages: +1.16%

    Health: +0.13%

    Utilities: +0.63%

    Chemicals: -0.30%

    Financial Services: +0.58%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 15.06

    ATEbank: 2.18

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.74

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.22

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.48

    National Bank of Greece: 27.80

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.20

    Intralot: 6.80

    OPAP: 22.60

    OTE: 13.50

    Piraeus Bank: 15.10

    Titan Cement Company: 23.90

    [24] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.237 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 605 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 632 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 595 million euros. The yield spread was 0.81 pct, with the Greek bond yielding 4.88 pct and the German Bund 4.05 pct.

    In money markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.36 pct, the six-month rate 5.20 pct, the three-month rate 4.97 pct and the one-month rate 4.53 pct.

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates: Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.433

    Pound sterling 0.801

    Danish kroner 7.519

    Swedish kroner 9.689

    Japanese yen 151.46

    Swiss franc 1.604

    Norwegian kroner 8.356

    Canadian dollar 1.529

    Australian dollar 1.804

    General News

    [26] Scientists sound alarm over water management, planning

    Proper water management is necessary even though water will not be scarce for now and in the immediate future, Hellenic Committee of Hydrogeology President George Stournaras said on Wednesday in summing up the problematic state of water resources in Greece.

    The causes of the problem, political responsibility and solutions, were presented during a meeting organised by the group in view of the 8th Hydrogeological International Congress of Greece and the 3rd MEM Workshop on Fissured Rocks Hydrology, to be held in the Agricultural University of Athens in early October with the participation of roughly 400 delegates from more than 30 countries.

    Scientists referred to an "extended drought period", pointing out that the situation is deteriorating rapidly, with water resources becoming limited due to climate changes, increased water consumption and water-related activities. They also stressed the lack of a centralised policy for water management and planning.

    Hydrogeology is the area of geology that deals with the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the earth's crust (commonly in aquifers).

    [27] PASOK MPs visit new Acropolis Museum

    A delegation of MPs of the main opposition PASOK party, headed by its officer for Culture issues Maria Damanaki, visited the new Acropolis Museum on Wednesday, where they were given a tour of the premises and briefed on progress in ongoing works by its director, Prof. Dimitris Pantermalis.

    The PASOK parliamentarians reminded that the effort had commenced at the initative of the late Melina Mercouri, a former culture minister, whose vision was the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. They noted the need for completion of the Museum, which they said was a "jewel" for Athens that would be a constant reminder of Greece's demand for the repatriation of the stolen and looted Marbles.

    [28] Concert to encourage organ donors in Athens

    A benefit concert to encourage people to become organ donors and raise funds for the National Transplant Organisation will take place at 20:30 on Thursday at the Attiko Alsos theatre, with many popular Greek performers taking part.

    The concert has been organised by the Athens-Piraeus Super-Prefecture, whose prefect Dina Bei on Wednesday invited all Athenians to attend.

    Tickets can be bought in advance at the Attiko Alsos Theatre box office and the Athens Municipality Cultural Organisation's offices at 50 Akadimias Street. Further information is also available at the websites www.ypernomarhia.gr και www.eom.gr.

    [29] Culture ministry grant to Babel comics festival

    The culture ministry will grant 350,000 euros to fund this year's 'Babel' Comics Festival in Athens, by order of Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis, according to an announcement on Wednesday. The dates and location of the festival are due to be announced by the organising committee in the next few days.

    [30] Thousands of Greek-Americans teach in US universities

    Some 3,000 distinguished Greek-American scientists teach in US universities, Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said on Wednesday, speaking on the "Voice of America" Radio's Greek Service.

    Responding to a question on whether the Greek state contributes to the education of the Greek expatriate children, Stylianidis referred to his trip last February to Chicago, New York and Washington and the visit to the School of the Future in Philadelphia established by Microsoft's Bill Gates as a new education model with branches around the world.

    The minister stated that during his visit to the US he discussed with Archbishop Demetrios of America and the leaders of the Greek-American community the form and size of the assistance Greece intends to send to ecclesiastical and charter schools.

    The next trip to the United States will include stops from Florida to Boston, the country's higher education centre, Stylianidis said, adding that the roughly 3,000 distinguished Greek-American scientists constitute a priceless resource with potentially notable contribution to the higher education reforms underway in Greece.

    [31] Man attempting to pass anabolic pills in Greece, arrested

    A 22-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday at the "Promahomas" border station for attempting to smuggle from Bulgaria 200 pills of the anabolic steroid "Methandorste-nolone".

    According to police the man claimed to be a former weightlifting athlete, which has not been been verified yet.

    [32] Art for the blind at Cycladic Art Museum

    A special exhibition for the sight-impaired, featuring tactile reproductions of 28 works of art belonging to the Russian avant-garde movement, is taking place at the Museum of Cycladic Art and will run until October 17. The works reproduced form part of the Costakis Collection owned by the State Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Also taking place at the Museum of Cycladic Art in the exhibition "Five seasons of the Russian avant-garde," featuring 90 works from the Costakis Collection that ends on October 20.

    The works on display were created for the partially and totally blind by a team of experts from a wide variety of fields, working under the guidance of the Panhellenic Association of the Blind - Regional Union of Central Macedonia and of the Foundation for the Protection of the Blind of Northern Greece.

    According to the exhibition curator, the team used outlines and materials with various textures to "reconstruct" the paintings on a tactile basis, in addition to the use of captions written in Braille and audio guide tours.

    The exhibition is part of the State Museum of Contemporary Art programme "Touching Art".

    [33] Athens prefect calls for measures to curb migrant-driven crime, activity in Omonia square

    Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros has personally addressed a letter to the prime minister to request urgent measures over what he calls the problem of illegal immigrants congregating in the Omonia district of central Athens.

    In a letter released by his office, Sgouros said the area is in danger of losing its "identity, downgrading citizens' life and dynamiting every effort at intervention."

    Sgouros also referred to "hundreds of economic migrants that are labelled, en masse, as 'political refugees', only to be crammed into buildings with rudimentary to non-existent hygiene, resulting in these spaces becoming dangerous for themselves and other residents".

    He also referred to increased reliance by local drug peddlers on newly arrived illegal migrants and increasing rates of crime in the area.

    [34] Arrests for transportation of illegal immigrants

    Two Greeks were spotted by border guards in the region of Sayiada in Thesprotia, northwestern Greece, and were arrested for carrying women illegal immigrants of Albanian nationality in a state-owned car of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry.

    The two civil servants had picked up the illegal immigrants near the Greek-Albanian border and, in return for a fee, they had taken them inland. Both were brought before a public prosecutor in the city of Igoumenitsa after files of proceedings were drawn up against them.

    Another Greek was arrested at the Nea Selefkia crossing in Igoumenitsa for carrying four Albanian illegal immigrants in his car and after having received a fee. He was also brought before a public prosecutor.

    [35] Illegal immigrants arrested in Samos

    A total of 82 illegal immigrants were arrested on the island of Samos on Wednesday.

    They told police that they had set off from the Turkish coast.

    Specifically, port authority officers arrested 33 illegal immigrants (32 men and a woman), who declared that they had arrived at the island's coast with a boat which was destroyed during their disembarkation.

    Shortly after, a patrol boat located and arrested in the sea region "Prasso", 49 illegal immigrants (35 men, four women and 10 minors). They too had departed with a boat from the Turkish coast.

    The arrested were transferred for precautionary reasons to Samos General Hospital, while the port authority has launched an investigation.

    Weather Forecast

    [36] Cloudy on Thursday

    Cloudy weather with northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 29C. Cloudy in Athens with possible showers, with 4-5 beaufort northerly winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 27C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 23C.

    [37] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The brainstorm taking place in ruling party New Democracy(ND) after dissapointing poll results indicating main opposition PASOK leading by 2.2 percent, national aircarrier Olympic Airways privatization according to European Commission's plan and the global financial crisis dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "15 million dollars seeking beneficiaries - It sounds like a fairy tale, but it's true", noting to a US insurance company's search for the heirs of 1,031 Greeks who had taken out insurance policies between 1895 and 1914, to give them 15 million dollars accruing from those policies.

    APOGEVMATINI: "13,247 job opportunities in public sector".

    AVGHI: "Olympic Airways' sell-off amidst the economic storm - Athens and EU to agree on Wednesday".

    AVRIANI: "Collossal insurance companies are collapsing."

    CHORA: "Karamanlis poised to change the key faces on the political stage - He will remove those who have been implicated in the Vatopedi monastery scandal".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Government reshuffle is mandatory".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Insurance policies in the financial crisis domino - Pressure suffocating AIG - Why Greek banks are selling their subsidiary insurance companies".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Panic prevails in Maximos mansion (government headquarters) - Karamanlis the target of his party members' critisicm".

    ESTIA: "Chilidish political mistakes - ND gives unhoped-for gift to PASOK".

    ETHNOS: "Panic scenarios in Maximos mansion - Emergency planning after the shock of poll results".

    KATHIMERINI: "Attempt to halt the financial crisis - (US) Fed keeps interest rates unchanged".

    LOGOS: "Government's comments on the poll results: We have received the message".

    NIKI: "Panic moves in Maximos mansion - The government scheduling appearances by Karamanlis' hroughout Greece".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "We must put a stop to bipartisanism".

    TA NEA: "The proof of the sell-off (referring to Vatopedi monastery case) - The order came 'from above' ".

    TO VIMA: "General elections strategy - The government redeploys itself in fear".

    VRADYNI: "Olympic Airways: The plan of the company's new structure".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [38] Spokesman: we go to talks with flexibility and determination

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias will attend Thursday's meeting, in the context of substantive negotiations on the Cyprus issue, with determination and flexibility.

    This was stated Wednesday by Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou when asked about the second meeting between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, as part of peace talks which take place in the Nicosia buffer zone, under UN auspices, and aim at reaching a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem.

    "The Greek Cypriot side and the Cypriot President have always tackled these negotiations with great responsibility and seriousness, with good preparation and adherence to principles, with determination and flexibility", he said.

    The spokesman added that the main goal is to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem, that would reunify the island, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

    He acknowledged however that negotiations will be "really hard". The Greek Cypriot side, he said, expects that during Thursday's meeting between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, there will be a continuation of the substantive negotiation.

    President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat held September 11th their first substantive meeting in the context of direct talks with the aim to reunify Cyprus.

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


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