|Saturday, 17 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-09-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 30 September 2008 Issue No: 3009
 Greek, Lithuanian PMs discuss bilateral relations, EU policy, regional developmentsPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Monday with his visiting Lithuanian counterpart Gediminas Kirkilas.
Replying to press questions on the international crisis and the margins of market liberalization, and on whether the efficiency and functionality of the economic model followed by the EU needed to be reassessed, Karamanlis stressed that the European economic and social model was founded on two pylons: a mixed economy and a social state.
Karamanlis said that despite the fact that the combination of the role of the state and the market differed among the European states, the state's regulatory role was significant in Europe.
He further noted that the European social model differed than that of the US and other countries, and provided the European citizens with effective but also greater security.
The prime minister added that conclusions could be reached from every experience, so as to continue improving the function of the European societies and economies.
At fiscal level, Europe had a stricter regulatory framework than the US, Karamanlis stressed, adding that what was needed, and has been decided by the European Council, was better coordination and enhancement of transparency in the European credit system, in order to avert problems such as those that have arisen in the US.
"We must always keep in mind that in conjunctures such as the present, and in the framework of the fiscal abilities of each country, we must advance the necessary developmental initiatives and support our financially weaker compatriots," Karamanlis said.
During the meeting, the two prime ministers discussed bilateral issues and cooperation prospects in all sectors, with the focus on commerce, investments and tourism.
Karamanlis said that he and Kirkilas had particularly discussed the challenges in the energy sector, and focused on matters of energy security, alternative energy forces, and the problems arising from climate change.
He said they had agreed that coordination and cooperation among the European partners were necessary prerequisites in order to meet the serious challenges being faced today in that sector.
Karamanlis said that they further discussed the prospects for implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, given that close cooperation between Greece and Lithuania was anticipated as they held consecutive places in the rotation list of the EU presidency (Lithuania is slated to hold the six-month EU presidency in the first half of 2013, with Greece taking over for the second half of that year).
The Greek prime minister added that they had also exchanged views on EU enlargement and the European good neighborhood policy, noting that "we aspire to achieving a mutually beneficial, efficient and balanced cooperation between the EU and its neighbors, which requires a more balanced approach between the EU neighborhood policy's southern and eastern dimensions, without overlapping of the individual initiatives".
The two premiers also discussed the situation in the Caucasus and developments in the western Balkans, while Karamanlis briefed his Lithuanian counterpart on developments in the FYROM name issue and the Cyprus issue.
 PASOK spokesman derides gov't economic policyMain opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou announced on Monday that his party was working on a draft law for tabling in Parliament on "the protection of the financial and credit system against economic crises".
Addressing reporters during his daily briefing and referring to earlier statements by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Papaconstantinou accused the premier as being "an observer of international economic developments".
The prime minister, Papaconstantinou charged, "understands the international crisis as an alibi for the problems created by his policy and for the failure of the government's policies."
The international crisis, the spokesman claimed, "is not responsible for growth decreasing every year in Greece, for the tax exemption of the few and the burdening of the many, for the decrease in public investments, for the decrease in funds for health and education. All these are strategic options of the Karamanlis government."
To what he described as a government policy, Papa-constantinou presented PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou's proposals at a SI's presidium meeting in New York on Friday, including establishment of "a high level work group, which will examine ways of avoiding such crises in the future and new ways of market regulation."
Reiterating Papandreou's comments at the New York meeting, the PASOK spokesman said the international economic crisis "is neither an accident nor a fatality, but the result of specific conservative options and a result of the lack of regulation and of specific ideas on the markets' role."
"This crisis highlights the fact that there are, on an international level, different conceptions regarding economic policy," the spokesman added.
Referring to recent opinion poll results in the country showing the main opposition party ahead of ruling New Democracy (ND), Papaconstantinou said they proved that "the people are turning towards PASOK because of PASOK's opposition against a government and a prime minister who occupies himself only with what is happening in his home (party)."
 KKE on PM's statementsThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), referring to statements by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday, said in an announcement that the "working class and the popular sections of the population must not be trapped by the dilemma of more or less state in confronting the economic crisis," adding that "no form of management can cancel it, both are burdening, in a different way, the people with the consequences of the capitalist crisis."
"Both in the United States and in the European Union the concentration of capital is so great that in order to secure its reproduction, the intervention of the state and of governments is very strong and decisive. It is moving in the same direction with the same strategy. It is promoting the same strategic options of the reactionary reforms, it is widening exploitation, restricting and removing popular rights. No sacrifice for the plutocracy. Anti-monopoly rallying and disobedience towards the EU and a powerful KKE. This must be the popular response," the announcement said.
 Papandreou meets UN secretary generalNEW YORK (ANA-MPS/F. Karaviti)
Main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou held talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Organisation's headquarters on Monday, focusing on the Cyprus question, the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the international monetary crisis and the SI's initiatives.
Speaking after the meeting, Papandreou referred to a "crucial period for the world and for Greek national issues" stating that he thanked the SG for his initiatives regarding the issue of Cyprus.
"I expressed my full support for the efforts for a solution to the Cyprus issue, in accordance with UN resolutions, while I stressed that with the Presidency of Demetris Christofias in the Republic of Cyprus new prospects are opening and absolute support is required, as well as the utilisation of the fact that Cyprus is a member of the European Union. The acquis communautaire must be utilised, which will contribute to the framework in which a just and European solution must be found," he said.
On the issue of FYROM's name, Papandreou reiterated the "red line" that he has set for "a name that will be composite, have a geographical qualifier and be used in all cases, with no double names," adding that "I stressed that for us the only issue that exists is that of the name."
Papandreou also outlined the positions of the Socialist International, whose directorate had convened at the UN's headquarters on Friday.
"Mr. Ban is aware of our positions. He followed our works and he is waiting for our proposals on the economic crisis with interest. A progressive proposal, a 'Road Map' on the handling of the economic crisis at international level. I stressed that the Socialist International will contribute to support for the UN, as well as a global democratic governance and a just society at global level," he said.
 FM briefs premier on UN talksPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday and was briefed on the contacts she had in France and the United States, during the 63rd UN General Assembly in New York City, as well as on the course of negotiations on the still-unresolved FYROM "name issue".
Bakoyannis stressed that efforts continue, pointing out that the issues in progress are of increased national interest and are taking place in a difficult international conjuncture.
 Interior minister on illegal immigrationInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos criticised Turkey on Monday for its stance regarding the readmission of illegal immigrants, in the framework of a briefing of the relevant Parliamentary Committee on the European Immigration and Asylum Pact.
Pavlopoulos said Turkey has not signed a relevant agreement with the European Union, while it is not honouring the agreement it has signed with Greece.
The minister also said that Greece supports the French initiative on the "European Pact" and stressed that no member-state can manage by itself the volume of the immigrant waves that it is receiving.
According to data provided by Pavlopoulos, third country citizens represent about 3.8 percent of the EU's total population and the annual influx rate in the EU ranges between 1.5 and 2 million people.
 SYRIZA seeks Vatopedi probe, briefing on economyThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Monday demanded that Parliament be briefed on the state of the economy in view of the global credit crunch and repeated a call for a Parliamentary probe into Vatopedi monastery land deals.
"The rise of the Euribor and European interest rates as a whole has created a new situation. Especially with the 7-8 percent interest rates reached by mortgages that places thousands of families in our country at grave risk. We must not forget that the major crisis of the U.S. financial system began with the collapse of the mortgage market," Alavanos pointed out.
He said Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis should brief MPs on the pressures placed on loans, small and medium-sized businesses but also the state as a result of the financial crisis, as well as the measures that the government intends to take to protect borrowers, particularly households having to pay mortgages.
Pointing to new revelations concerning the land swaps between the state and the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos, Alavanos also repeated a call for the creation of a Parliamentary investigative committee.
 Kassimis visits Greek minority centre in BudapestBUDAPEST (ANA-MPA - S. Aravopoulou)
Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, in charge of expatriate affairs, on Monday praised the work done by Hungary's Greek community to preserve their language, history, traditions and customs during his visit to the Hungarian capital.
"It is truly moving to see the work that the Greeks of Hungary have been doing for the past 60 years," he said at the Greek community's headquarters.
The Greeks in Hungary are recognised as a minority by the Hungarian state, which has turned over a building in the centre of Budapest near the Parliament building to house the community' self-administration centre, which is also equipped with a school that was visited by Kassimis. There are currently 260 children aged six to 21 studying at the school, based on the Hungarian law for minorities.
The minister expressed thanks to the Hungarian state for its support of the Greek minority and for assisting children of Greek origin to learn their language and history.
Bilateral relations between Greece and Hungary are described as excellent by both sides, with a mutual political will to further develop economic and cultural ties. Greek capital invested in Hungary comes to 500 million dollars, while Greece is currently one of the main tourist destinations for Hungarians.
Earlier on Monday, Kassimis met Senior State Secretary of the Hungarian foreign minister Marta Horvath-Fekszi and the head of the bureau of expatriate Hungarians Ferenc Gemesy. The two officials repeated the Hungarian government's intention to return 22 ancient Greek artifacts, to be discussed by a special committee due to be sent to Budapest by the Greek culture ministry, while they also discussed possible consular cooperation in third countries.
Kassimis' visit to Budapest ends on Monday night with an event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Greek community's presence in Hungary.
 Ecumenical Patriarch received by Armenian presidentYEREVAN (ANA-MPA - A. Kourkoulas)
Shortly before his departure from the Armenian capital on Monday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I was received by Armenian President Serzh Sargsian, who stressed the importance he attached to the Armenian Orthodox Church and preserving Armenia's national identity.
Patriarch Bartholomew on Saturday began an official visit to Armenia, where he took part in ceremonies of the Armenian Orthodox Church.
 Gov't on economic policy; power utilityGovernment spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday focused directly on the government's economic policy and the current state of the Public Power Corp. SA (PPC) during the regular press briefing.
Referring to investments made in the country, he announced that they increased from 24.4 percent in 2004 to 25.7 percent in 2007, and pointed out that the relatively limited increase was coincidental, noting that in the January-July 2008 six-month period foreign investments increased 21.5 percent compared to last year.
As regards the deficit, the government spokesman referred to a number of successful policies adopted during the last 4.5 years, attributing the problem to the international crisis.
He stressed that the goal for 2009 is to limit spending, increase revenues through combating tax evasion and to implement an economic policy that will boost development and keep the markets robust.
On the tax policy, he referred to two key points, namely, cutting taxes and combating tax evasion, stressing the efforts are continuous.
Called to comment on press reports according to which PPC is being led to collapse, Roussopoulos cited a statement issued by the utility, where it is pointed out that the presentation of events in the press report is distorted.
"It was unavoidable for fuel price hikes to affect the financial state of a company that bases its operation on the use of such raw materials," he added, stressing that energy rates are dropping and that Greece has among the lowest electricity rates in Europe.
 New pension reforms to go ahead, minister stressesThe reforms to the social insurance system will go into effect on Wednesday as planned, merging the 133 separate pension funds that existed up until that time into a total of just 13, Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia stressed after a meeting with trade unionists on Monday.
The head of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) Yiannis Panagopoulos, on his part, predicted that pension funds would be plunged into chaos on Wednesday when the reforms went into force, and that pensioners and the insured would suffer as a result.
According to Panagopoulos, the administrative boards of the funds being merged were not properly prepared for the mergers and would cause huge problems in the areas of health care and supplementary pension.
GSEE and the civil servants' union ADEDY also emphasised their determination to press ahead with planned strike action against the pension fund mergers in October, warning that large-scale protests by unions and the workforce in 2001 had brought about the collapse "of another unfair, counter-productive social insurance measure".
The nationwide journalists' union federation POESY has announced a 24-hour strike in the press and media sector next Wednesday in protest over the new pension fund law.
 Intralot buys 20.6 pct stake in MLV for 27.4 mln eurosIntralot on Monday announced the purchase of a 20.62 pct equity stake in Melco LottVentures Limited (a company listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange) for 27.4 million euros.
The Greek-listed company said the purcase will be made through a share equity capital increase and a convertible bond issue by Melco LottVentures Limited. Intralot said its investment in MLV was a significant step in its strategic plans to expand activities in China and the wider Asian region.
Under the agreement, Intralot and MLV will discuss ways to further raise Intralot's stake in the Chinese company.
 Piraeus Bank said it did not own any Lehman Brothers securitiesPiraeus Bank on Monday said it did not own any securities issued by Lehman Brothers, or any other interbank transaction with the bankrupt US investment bank.
In a statement, Piraeus Bank said that 25 customers of its private banking arm owned securities issued by Lehman Brothers worth 1.9 million euros.
 Piraeus Bank completes sale of OASA's 320-mln-euro bond loanPiraeus Bank on Monday announced the successful underwriting and issuing of a bond loan, worth 320 million euros, for Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA).
The eight-year bond issue was an innovative issue, since it combined the creation of a credit security based on Eurobond structure, and compatible with Greek law on bond loans, a combination offering additional credibility.
The bond issue is the first corporate bond to be accepted by the Bank of Greece's Settlement system and for trading in the Greek electronic secondary bond market.
 SYRIZA con'f on coastal shippingA meeting and public debate on the Greek coastal shipping sector was held Monday, hosted by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary opposition grouping.
SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos unveiled 10 proposals aimed at further improving the services provided to the public, as he said.
 Siemens workers hold protest in ThessalonikiEmployees of the Siemens plant in Thessaloniki held a demonstration on Monday in the northern Greek port city and marched to the Trade Union Centre offices and the National Bank of Greece regional headquarters, demanding that the facility remain in operation.
The demonstrators called on the government and all political parties to intervene with the parent company to stop the planned shutdown of the Siemens plant.
 Greek consumers have no reason to be concernedCadbury Pic announced on Monday that Greek consumers have no reason to be concerned and that it is withdrawing 11 of its products produced in China as a precautionary measure.
The company stressed that "none of the products and none of the dairy ingredients used in the production of products distributed in Greece come from China. Consequently, consumers in Greece can continue to enjoy Cadbury Hellas's products with absolute safety."
On the question of the pre-emptive withdrawal of products produced in China, Cadbury disclosed that the products in question are provided exclusively in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia and they are not exported to any other country.
 DEH trade unionists submit lawsuitThe directorate of the GENOP-DEH labour union submitted a lawsuit on Monday directed against all persons responsible.
The trade unionists of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) denounced in a 15-page report the company's administration for "mismanagement, that has resulted in the financial loss that DEH has been experiencing in the past years."
GENOP-DEH President Nikos Fotopoulos said in a statement that "the Greek consumers have paid over one billion euros. However, the profits did not disappear, they went into specific pockets. The public prosecutor must find them. We are here to stop the insane feast that has been set up."
 Greek PPI up 11.2 pct in AugustGreece's Producer's Price composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew by 11.2 percent in August, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the producer's price index fell 1.3 pct in August from July, reflecting an 1.2 pct decline in the domestic index and an 1.6 pct fall in the external market index.
 AIG Greece says premium production up 20.82 pctAIG Greece on Monday reported a 20.82-pct increase in its premium production in the nine-month period from Dec. 1, 2007 to Aug. 31, 2008, totaling 47.07 million euros.
The company said the composition of its insurance portfolio maintained its balance with AIG Personal Solutions at 56 pct and AIG Business Solutions at 44 pct.
Commenting on the figures, Chr. Adamantiadis, AIG Greece's chief executive, said the company will continue its growth course in the fourth quarter of the year and in 2009, focusing on stability, profitability and quality services of insurance holders, despite difficult conditions internationally.
 Greek stocks plunge 5.87% on MondayGreek stocks plunged in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by sharp losses in international markets. The composite index ended 5.87 percent lower at 2,840.80 points, with turnover a moderate 257.5 million euros, of which 7.0 million were block trades.
All sectors moved lower with the Utilities (17.56 pct), Raw Materials (11.30 pct), Telecommunications (7.65 pct), Technology (6.84 pct), Banks (6.48 pct) and Personal/Home Products (5.93 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE 20 index dropped 6.25 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.76 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 4.85 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 237 to 20 with another 22 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.25%
Personal & Household: -5.93%
Raw Materials: -11.30%
Travel & Leisure: -2.67%
Food & Beverages: -5.66%
Financial Services: -2.67%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Public Power Corp (PPC), Piraeus Bank and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 14.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.06
HBC Coca Cola: 15.02
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.34
National Bank of Greece: 28.96
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 12.54
Piraeus Bank: 14.78
Titan Cement Company: 23.00
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 135.452 million euros. The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.68 pct and the September contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.80 percent.
Volume in futues contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 13,915 contracts worth 109.721 million euros, with 28,732 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was two contracts worth 33,850 euros, with six open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,771 contracts worth 22.495 million euros, with investment interest focusing on PPC's contracts (4,107), followed by Marfin Investment Group (574), OTE (2,078), Piraeus Bank (435), National Bank (1,889), Intracom (685), Marfin Popular Bank (2,881), Intralot (720) and ATEbank (359).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German state bonds jumped to 0.96 percent in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with turnover shrinking to a low 195 million euros, of which 20 million were buy orders and the remaining 175 million were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (August 20,2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 95 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 4.96 pct and the German Bund 4.00 pct.
In money markets, interest rates moved further up. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.47 pct, the six-month rate 5.31 pct, the three-month rate 5.23 pct and the one-month rate 5.06 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.446
Pound sterling 0.802
Danish kroner 7.52
Swedish kroner 9.778
Japanese yen 153.52
Swiss franc 1.597
Norwegian kroner 8.374
Canadian dollar 1.504
Australian dollar 1.775
 ANA-MPA internet TV service presented in European news agencies' meetingThe internet TV service of Greece's national news agency ANA-MPA was presented atthe European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) seminar on "innovation by news agencies" held within the framework of the organization's 52nd General Assembly meeting in Nice, France on September 24-26, 2008.
The ANA-MPA representatives participating in the seminar outlined the goals of the new service pointing out that the specific investment is low-cost even though it is based on high-tech applications, while the objective set is to cover expenses through advertisements and subscriptions by private companies active in the sector of internet.
They also referred to the methods followed to promote the new service and present it to prospective buyers while official data showed that the number of visitors multiplied in just a few months after the service was launched. Innovations scheduled to take place shortly such as, morning news bulletins and customized video, were also presented.
The EANA general assembly also elected the organization's presiding board headed by the general director of the Hungarian news agency (MIT).
The general assembly and seminar attended news agency presidents and chief executives from 31 European news agencies.
 Culture minister visits new site for EMSTCulture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday visited the new temporary home of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) at the Athens Conservatory building, where the museum will be housed for the next two years until work to refurbish the museum's permanent site at the old Fix factory building is finished.
The Athens Conservatory is situated in the heart of Athens on Rigillis Street and was built 40 years ago, designed by architect I. Despotopoulos.
Liapis was shown around the areas set aside for the use of the museum and viewed a new installation, stressing that "the cooperation between the two institutions contributes to the developmental of inter-artistic relations between them".
The curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Anna Kafetsi also expressed great satisfaction with the solution given to the museum's housing woes, stressing the amount of work that had gone into preparing the two exhibitions currently underway at the new site.
The museum has chosen to inaugurate the use of the Conservatory building by organising two exhibitions, one of work by sculptor Ulrich Ruchriem and another featuring the work of David Claerbout. Both exhibitions will run through November and December, respectively.
Subsequently, the museum will inaugurate a series of exhibitions each month with selected artwork from its permanent collections.
 Green rooftop at Ecomomy MinistryEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Deputy FinMin George Papathanassiou presented on Monday the ministry's "green rooftop".
The Ministry is the first to convert its roof into green area, with the planting of suitable plants capable of withstanding all weather conditions.
The rooftop area is 650 sq. meters and cost approximately 40,000 euros. It was constructed in order to contribute to improvement of the environment in downtown Athens, energy conservation and also reduce the building's maintenance costs.
The green rooftop has already resulted in a 6 percent decrease in the building's annual airconditioning needs and a 2 percent reduction in its heating needs.
Alogoskoufis and Papathanassiou stressed that the ministry's initiative is a sequel of the programme " Green life in the city' which was planned in coordination with the Attica peripery, and is incorported in National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-2013.
 Pavlopoulos on state and corruptionInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking during the presentation of the book by the organisation "International Transparency" and the Greek department "State and Corruption," said that the radical combatting of corruption is an imperative demand at international level.
Pavlopoulos referred to the government's efforts to crack down on corruption, which are based on the three axes of support for independent authorties and of auditing authorities of all kinds, the improvement of the institutional framework and tough penalties for offenders and the intensification of checks.
The minister also recalled the recent report by International Transparency-Hellas, according to which "our country is steadfastly improving its performances in the sector of transparency and the combatting of corruption for the third consecutive year."
 Probe over absent air-traffic controller at MytileneAn air-traffic controller that was absent from his post cast Mytilene airport into turmoil early on Monday and significantly delayed two aircraft coming in to land. The two planes were forced to circle around the Aegean island of Lesvos for several minutes until someone could be found to guide them in and give them the all clear to approach the airport.
Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis ordered the Civil Aviation Service to launch an immediate inquiry into the incident and attribute blame where it was due, while apologising to the passengers of the two flights for the inconvenience they had to undergo.
According to a civil aviation authority announcement, the arrival of flights SVK 2050 from Slovakia and flight OAL 570 from Athens had been scheduled for 6:30 a.m., while the airport was supposed to begin operation at 5:30 a.m. The air-traffic controller for the morning shift was late coming into work so that when the two airport approached the island, they were directed to maintain a holding pattern above the airport and the Athens Air Traffic Control Centre took charge of the two aircraft until a replacement could be found.
The two planes were obliged to wait 25-30 minutes, during which time they both flew with absolute safety, while the Mytilene airport immediately took action and placed another controller in charge of the two flights, which finally landed at 6:57 am and 7:04 am, respectively.
 Successful rescue operation for small boat passengersAll four passengers of a small boat, left rudderless due to mechanical failure off the coasts of the island of Gavdos, south of Crete in southern Aegean, are safe and are being treated in Chania Hospital for precautionary reasons.
Three of the rescued were picked up by an all-weather Super Puma helicopter, while the fourth was brought to safety by a Coast Guard patrol boat in a rescue operation overseen by the ministry of mercantile marine.
According to information yet to be confirmed, both the passengers and boat is Arab.
 "Little Alex" trial continues in ThessalonikiThe court trial of five schoolboys involved in the case of little Alex Meshivili from Veria, northern Greece, who disappeared on February 3, 2006 and is still missing, continued in a juvenile court in Thessaloniki on Monday. The five, three Greeks (two of them brothers), a Romanian and an Albanian, now aged 14 to 15, are accused of killing 11-year-old Alex Meshivili and hiding his body.
The missing boy's mother, Natela, is still on the stand responding to questions by the defense lawyers.
The trial, which is held behind closed doors, was not interrupted despite of the fact that a four-day strike, called by the court employees' union, got underway this morning.
 Police disband motorcycle smuggling ringPolice of Kiato,northern Peloponnese, acting on a tip-off, disbanded a motorcycle smuggling ring . The 4 members of the ring, all of Romanian nationality, attempted to smuggle to Romania 7 motorcycles that stole in the latter region between July 30 to September 26.
The Romanians will be sent before a local prosecutor, while the motorcycles were confiscated and will be returned to their owners.
 Tourism ministry memorandum for 2011 Special OlympicsTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Monday announced the signature of a memorandum of cooperation between his ministry and the organising committee for the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2011.
The minister underlined that Greece would once again meet the challenge, as it had done for the Olympic Games of 2004, organising a sports event to the highest standards in 2011.
The Special Olympics will bring roughly 80,000 athletes, coaches, volunteers, family members and reporters to Greece from June 25 until July 4 in 2011.
Spiliotopoulos stressed that it was the obligation of his ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), which were sponsors of the event, to assist the efforts of the organising committee that were chiefly based on volunteer work.
The GNTO has undertaken to promote the Games through an advertising campaign, promotional events and the distribution of printed material.
 Beijing Olympic Games medalists honored by defence ministryThe 23 Greek athletes who won one of the top eight places at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and serve in the Greek Armed Forces or security forces, were honored on Monday by Deputy Defence Minister Yannis Plakiotakis, during a special ceremony held at a military sport facility.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 7C and 25C. Fair in Athens, with 3-4 beaufort southerly winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 22C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe latest opinion poll results and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' position in the aftermath of New Democracy (ND) Central Committee meeting, and theVatopedi monastery scandal dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Polls and parapolitics stifling Politics".
APOGEVMATINI: "Nationwide polls indicates reversal of climate after Karamanlis' speech at ND Central Committee".
AVRIANI: "US pressuring Karamanlis to torpedo his agreement with Moscow over the gas and oil pipelines".
CHORA: "Vatopedi Monastery Abbot Efraim blows up the political scene - Society will pass the winter with the monk-enterpreneur Efraim."
ETHNOS: "Scandal of 'bonus' in Public Power Corproration (PPC) - The corporation sinking".
ELEFTHEROS: "The third phase of social security Funds mergers, targetting the creation of 6 larger social security Funds".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Expulsion storm blows in ND - Maximos mansion (government headquarters): We are always in readiness for general elections".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis a hostage of 152 (government's slim majority in the 300-member parliament), which doesn't enable him to implement what he declared at the Central Committee meeting".
ESTIA: "ND rebels lower their voices - Government turns the page".
TA NEA: "The documents of the Vatopedi scandal of billions of euros".
VRADYNI: "The fiscal crisis knocking on Europe's door".
 President Christofias:G/c and T/c will have to jointly face water issueLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will have to jointly face the problem of water shortage on the island when the Cyprus problem is solved, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias has said.
Invited to comment on a press report according to which during the ongoing negotiations for a Cyprus solution the issue of transporting water from Turkey was addressed, President Christofias said that the issue was not raised officially at the negotiations by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
In statements Monday before departing for Strasbourg, where he will address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, President Christofias noted that the construction of a pipeline from Turkey to Cyprus is not an easy project to realise.
"This is an issue we will have to deal with in the course of time. Constructing a pipeline for transporting water is not such an easy attempt as it seems in theory. Five or ten years may be needed to build the pipeline", he said.
President Christofias expressed the wish that ''until then the Cyprus issue will be solved and that together with the Turkish Cypriot community we will deal with the issue".
 Famagusta Mayor calls for more active role by France and EuropeNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Mayor of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta Alexis Galanos has called for a more active role by France and Europe to help implement decisions that demand the return of the town to its lawful inhabitants.
Galanos told the President of the France-Cyprus Friendship Group in the French Senate Andre Rouviere that Paris and Brussels must work towards the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 550 and the high level agreements of 1977 and 1979 between the two communities in Cyprus, which advocate the return of the fenced area of Famagusta (Varosha), abandoned since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, to its lawful inhabitants.
According to a press release, issued here Monday, Rouviere met Monday Galanos and visited the cultural centre of Famagusta Municipality in Dherynia, on the east, from where he had a view of the occupied town Famagusta.
Rouviere, currently visiting Cyprus, has accepted to be proclaimed honorary citizen of Famagusta.
Since the invasion, Famagusta, on the east, has been under Turkish occupation. The fenced off part of the city is under the direct control of the Turkish military and remains to this day abandoned.
Famagusta has been declared by the government of Cyprus a closed port of entry.
The UN has called for the return of the city to its lawful inhabitants but so far Turkey has refused to comply with the UN call.
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