|Saturday, 24 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-10-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 8 October 2008 Issue No: 3015
 Greece to raise bank savings guarantee to 100,000 eurosLUXEMBOURG (ANA-MPA)
Greece intends to raise the legal protection on savings deposit guarantees to 100,000 euros, instead of a minimum level of 50,000 agreed by the European Union, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of an ECOFIN meeting, Alogoskoufis said:
"We intend, very soon, to table an amendment to Parliament, raising the savings guarantee level from 20,000 currently to 100,000".
The Greek minister also cited a political commitment by the government to do whatever necessary to ensure the savings by Greek citizens was valid. "It is a political commitment we expressively undertaken last week," he noted.
 KKE on Ecofin decisionsThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Tuesday that the announcements by the European Union and the government and the positions of the other European oneway path parties on the state guaranteeing deposits in no way concern the protection of the working class family, whether it owes or has small deposits.
According to the announcement, the increase in the limit for the state guaranteeing of deposits from 20,000 euros to 100,000 euros is not being done to protect the deposits of the middle classes. They are arrangements that are part of the effort to manage the crisis in accordance with the interests of capital and to transfer the cost to the working classes since it is they that will be burdened with new taxes and other antipopular measures.
 PM calls for fast-track legislation to regulate pricesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday urged the leadership of Greece's development ministry to quickly push through legislation designed to regulate the operation and supervision of markets and prices, after an unannounced visit to the ministry earlier that day.
"We must all go above and beyond ourselves to deal with the problems," he stressed in statements to reporters.
Karamanlis said he had asked the ministry to fast-track draft bills setting up a body to supervise markets and granting more powers to the Competition Commission.
He also called for the maximum frequency of market inspections and the prosecution of certified offences involving price-gouging to the full extent of the law.
During his visit, the prime minister was briefed on the efforts currently underway at the ministry to curb high prices and demanded that government action be faster, bolder and more efficient.
Referring to the international economic crisis, Karamanlis said that economies were undergoing sharp shocks, with strong upward pressures on inflation. Along with the long-term imbalances of the Greek market, these were increasing the pressures on households, he added.
"I am well aware that the unemployed, those on low pensions and those on low incomes in general are finding it hard to get by," Karamanlis stated.
He described the problem of high prices as "difficult and complex" and stressed that the government's efforts sought to minimise the impact of the economic crisis on the market.
Karamanlis' visit to the development ministry was the first in a series of unannounced inspections he will carry out at several ministries in order to learn about the progress in government actions and initiatives to combat the country's problems.
Replying to reporters' questions after the visit, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros denied that the premier's decision to start from the development ministry had special significance or indicated a poor performance in the ministry's campaign to curb price hikes, stressing that no interpretation should be given to the order in which the visits were carried out.
 Gov't: Local banks healthy; rails against PASOK economic pledgesÁ government spokesman on Tuesday again reminded of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' statement regarding the domestic banking system, namely, that it is absolutely secure, when asked to comment if a draft law guaranteeing deposits in local banks is being considered.
As regards the so-called Social Cohesion Fund, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros cited detailed comments by Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, according to which, relevant announcements will be made within the few next days and weeks.
"The social dimension of the 2009 State Budget is a given," he stated, pointing out that credit and social spending will be increased 13 percent compared to 2008.
Moreover, in response to press questions, Antonaros accused main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou of "making promises to everybody", resorting once again to his own and his party's favorite practice, warning of a new policy of hidden taxes, a tactic he said was implemented by PASOK governments roughly 80 times in 10 years.
"Besides the heating oil allowance, additional benefits announced by PASOK would have amounted to roughly one billion euros in just one year," he stressed.
Referring to a VAT rebate proposed by PASOK, Antonaros said it is not allowed in the EU and if implemented would mean subsidy cuts, pointing out that "displaying a sense of responsibility when exercising economic policy is necessary, especially in the current conditions."
"The government was elected a year ago for a specific term in office," he said, adding that it has the volition and the parliamentary majority it needs to implement the premier's pledges.
 FYROM 'name issue', climate change policyOn the FYROM "name issue", Antonaros commented that the Greek government position is firm and unchanged. As regards the new proposal by UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, he stated that he will not comment on the process underway, adding that a text with proposals or ideas presented by the special mediator will be assessed.
Responding to a question on whether Greece refuses to implement EU decisions on climate change, Antonaros cited a statement by Deputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Stavros Kalogiannis, who accused certain media of bringing up a non-existent issue.
Kalogiannis branded the allegations as groundless. A handful of press reports in Athens claimed that Minister George Souflias and his Polish counterpart Maciej Nowicki agreed, during a meeting last week, to hold off implementation of EU-promoted measures on climate change.
Kalogiannis also reiterated Greece's firm support for a package of EU proposals aimed at tackling climate, saying this support has been repeatedly expressed in EU council meetings on the environment.
"The key-point of proposals is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions up to 20 percent by 2020 at the EU level and up to 30 percent in case an international agreement is reached," Kalogiannis was quoted as saying.
 Karamanlis makes a surprise visit to the Development MinistryPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday made an unannounced visit to the Development Ministry in downtown Athens.
His visit is in the framework of surprise inspections that he will conduct at several Ministries in order to be informed on the spot on the progress in governmental actions and initiatives to combat the country's problems.
Deputy Development Minister George Vlachos will brief the premier on the situation prevailing in the markets and the actions of the Ministry to curb the high prices and high cost of living.
 Papandreou speaks of 'unprecedented crisis' at PASOK parliamentary group meetingMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that Greece was going through "an unprecedented crisis", which "is not due to the repercussions of the international crisis, but to (ruling New Democracy party) ND's governance in recent years.
Addressing a meeting of the PASOK parliaemntary group on Tuesday, Papandreou said that, in the face of 'this crisis of institutions and credibility, which touches the citizens' pockets, the people are turning their eyes to PASOK", and its plan for exodus from the crisis that was recently unveiled at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
"Today, the Greek citizen can once again have hope in the forces of progress," Papandreou said, calling the results of recent opinion polls an "upset" that was "not a statistical upset, but a political upset".
"This political upset fills us with responsibilities. We know where we want to take the country, how we will take it there, and with whom," Papandreou said, adding that PASOK did not hide behind excuses, nor did it fear to acknowledge its own accountability.
He said an end must be put to the age in which a government can push the people to the sidelines. "We must put an end to such rationales, with such governance," Papandreou said.
Referring to the draft 2009 State Budget that was tabled in parliament on Monday, Papandreou said it was an unjust and dead-end budget that was bringing Greece to the brink of EU economic supervision (excessive deficit procedure).
Instead of a plan for boosting incomes and advancing growth, the government had presented a "budget of taxes" that "detracts instead of adding incomes", and which "takes from the many instead of from those who have", a budget that "reduces expenditure on education, health, welfare, public investments, the periphery, the incomes of the working people and the pensioners".
Meanwhile, PASOK tabled in parliament a draft law aimed at immediate amelioration of the problems faced by the Greek citizens.
 Neolaia Synaspismou slams 2009 draft budgetThe radical Left Youth Organisation, Neolaia Synaspismou, released a statement on Tuesday on the government's preliminary draft budget for 2009, tagging it anti-social.
"This government does not miss an opportunity to show its tough anti-social and anti-education character," the statement read. "In 2009 spending on education will not just stay riveted at 3%, it will decrease."
The statement emphasized that the policy is tantamount to the depreciation and deterioration of education at all levels.
"New Democracy is continuing its war against the new generation, taking its cue from the previous PASOK governments."
 Stavros Dailakis readmitted to ND Parliamentary GroupParliament President Dimitris Sioufas announced on Tuesday the readmission to the ruling New Democracy party's Parliamentary Group of Stavros Dailakis, following a relative letter by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
The prime minister said in his letter that "I am informing you that the deputy of Drama Stavros Dailakis is admitted to New Democracy's Parliamentary Group and I appeal to you to take the actions anticipated by Parliament's Regulation."
 Sioufas calls on gov't to specify off limit occupatons for MPsParliament President Dimitris Sioufas addressed a letter to Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referring to the draft law specifying the occupations that Parliament deputies will not be allowed to exercise while in office.
Sioufas pointed out that the MP professional incompatibility clause was removed from the Constitution and replaced by a provision defining the prohibited professional activities. He also stressed that the legislation in question will have to be ready in time for the adoption of the constitutional framework on the specific matter.
The Parliament president also noted that relevant clauses should effectively guarantee both the transparent exercise of MPs' duties and Parliament's smooth operation.
 DM Meimarakis meets FYROM counterpartOHRID (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis held a courtesy meeting with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Zoran Konianoski, here on Tuesday night. The meeting was the first between the defence ministers of the two countries, since Konianoski assumed his duties as defence minister recently.
Reference was also made during the meeting to the issue of FYROM's name and Meimarakis reiterated Greece's steadfast positions on the issue.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 10th conference of defence ministers from the countries of southeastern Europe that began on Tuesday and will last until Thursday.
 U.S. State Department on Nimetz meetingsWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
Alternate U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood, asked on Tuesday to comment on the new round of meetings that UN mediator Matthew Nimetz was due to have later in the day and on Wednesday with the negotiators of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in New York, reiterated that the United States "support the efforts of envoy Nimetz to achieve a peaceful solution to the issue."
 Education minister on university reformEducation Minister Evripidis Stylianidis addressed an event on Greek universities at the Athens Concert Hall on Tuesday, on their 25 years of research and contribution in the educational sector and the country's development, referring to the reformist effort taking place in higher education.
The minister pointed out that the reform is determined by three fundamental texts: the Greek constitution, the Bologna agreement and the Lisbon process that aims at linking the modern university with society and the labour market.
"For us, for the Karamanlis government, establishing Greece as an important international educational centre is a national aim. We are working for this purpose, investing in education that can become the most important source for the development of our economy and the strengthening of our country's international position," Stylianidis added.
 Obama as Hercules! Supporters in Greece unveil commemorative coinsIt's undoubtedly a Herculean task, and the fact that a first-term US senator from Illinois apparently has a better than average chance of becoming America's first African-American president certainly hasn't escaped the attention of Greece's sizeable expatriate American and Greek-American community.
In fact, approximately 150 Barack Obama supporters gathered in the Athens franchise of the ubiquitous Hard Rock Café last Friday evening to watch the tape-delayed debate between the "number twos" on the US presidential ballot, Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's running mate.
In keeping with the ancient legacy of the host country and to the unabashed joy of local Obama campaign organisers, the hottest item on sale at the campaign stand was none other than the "Baracko": gold-, silver- and copper-plated commemorative coins sporting a likeness of Barack Obama as Hercules, complete with a lion's skin.
Located almost midway between two icons of Hellenic heritage, Greece's 19th century neo-classical Parliament building and the quintessence of "classical", the Parthenon atop the Acropolis, the touristy eatery on this evening was packed mostly with whooping and cheering Obama-Biden supporters instead of the usual assortment of out-of-town visitors.
In crediting the paternity of the "baracko", local Democrats Abroad vice-chairwoman and Obama in Greece campaign head Yvette Jarvis -- herself one of the most recognizable American ex-pats in Greece for more than two decades -- says her friend Ann Papazoglou initially came up with the fundraising idea by comparing the Democratic candidate's campaign for the White House with mythical Hercules' epic "Twelve Labours".
Jarvis, a Brooklyn native and currently a special adviser to the Athens mayor on immigration issues, said support by Americans and Greeks alike for Obama is absolutely unprecedented, the same goes for interest by eligible citizens to register to vote. Although impossible to measure due to the mail-in absentee ballot process, estimates run as high as 100,000 eligible voters in Greece for US elections.
"Greeks, despite whatever so-called 'anti-Americanism', still believe in the American dream, and Barack Obama proves the point that they are not idiots to believe in this dream," said Brady Kiesling, a noted career US diplomat who resigned his post at the US embassy in Athens five years ago in protest to the Iraq war, while watching the debate on one of the two floors reserved by the Obama campaign for the evening.
Both Jarvis and Kiesling emphasised that the 2008 campaign has piqued the interest of US citizens in Greece who are usually indifferent to political developments an ocean away, noting that previous Democrats Abroad functions drew, at most, 50 people.
With a smile, Jarvis proudly shows off a yearbook published by the Obama campaign, "50 states and Greece," she says, pointing to two photographs of Obama supporters posing in front of the Acropolis in April 2008, and two months later, waiving to motorists from atop a cutting-edge pedestrian bridge built for the 2004 Athens Games.
 Defendory International opens in AthensThe 2008 Defendory International, the "15th Specialised Exhibition of Conventional Systems for National Defence on Land-Sea-Air" was inaugurated on Tuesday at the Hellinikon exhibition centre, site of the former Athens airport, by Deputy Defence Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis.
Opening the exhibition, Plakiotakis said that events of this kind allowed Greek Armed Forces staff to learn about the latest advances made by the global defence industry and allowed Greece's defence industry to explore possible partnerships and collaboration with those of other countries.
He repeated the government's support for the domestic defence industry, both private and state-run, noting that it was a robust sector whose activities benefited the Greek economy.
The deputy minister then toured nearly all the pavilions at the exhibition, with stops at the Russian and Italian pavilions, where he was met by his counterparts in both countries, and the U.S. pavilion, where he was received by U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard.
On the sidelines of the exhibition, Plakiotakis also had formal meetings with his counterparts from the Czech Republic and Cyprus.
Taking part in the 2008 Defendory are 38 individual countries and NATO, while invitations have been accepted by representatives of 50 countries. It will run until October 11.
Among the highlights will be an airshow that will take place at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday above Faliro Bay in Athens by the French aerial acrobatics squadron, an event organised by Faliro Mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis and the French Embassy in Athens.
 Tourist development minister addresses SETE conferenceTourist Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos addressed the 7th conference of the Federation of Greek Tourist Businesses (SETE), that took place on Tuesday on the theme of "Tourism and Development," assessing that 2009 will be a difficult year for Greek tourism but stressing that "we shall handle it with self confidence."
Greece's tourism leadership will be turning its attention to new markets in 2009 as well and to developing ones, placing emphasis on Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China, etc. Moreover, the ministry will be implementing a separate strategic marketing plan for the markets of the United States, Britain and Germany.
 Industries, employers' federation says draft 2009 budet 'very ambitious'The Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) on Tuesday said a draft budget for 2009, tabled to Parliament on Monday, was a very ambitious plan amidst an unprecedented global financial crisis with no visible end in sight.
"Reducing the fiscal deficit is achieved with higher taxation and lower public spending, exactly the opposite from what this international crisis demands. It is absolutely certain that the crisis will primarily hit low-income earners and pensioners. We cannot insist on a consumer model that has exhausted its prospects, depriving the market of productive funds," the SEB said in a statement.
The employers' federation noted that the draft budget poses a series of unanswered questions, many of which crucial, such as how it is possible to maintain a high growth rate of 3.0 pct when foreign demand is falling, credit expansion slowing and taxes rising.
Also, SEB charged that a projected 11.5-pct increase in tax revenues was very high compared with a 6.3-pct increase in nominal income, while an 8.1 pct growth rate in primary spending high and spending on servicing public debt was underestimated.
 Athens Digital Week to open next MondayA week-long interactive event showcasing all manner of new technologies, entitled Athens Digital Week, has been organised by the City of Athens municipality this month, split between two venues in the city centre: the Technopolis Centre at Gazi and Syntagma Square.
Athens Digital Week begins at Syntagma next Monday and then at the Gazi site on Thursday, October 16, and ends at both venues the following Sunday, October 19. The exhibition is free and there is an open invitation to gamers, bloggers, students, programmers as well as the ordinary public to come and familiarise themselves with the latest digital advances in Greece through special events, presentations, competitions, performances and art shows.
The Technopolis site will be divided into four zones, each specialising in a particular aspect: The Live Zone will feature projections, shows and demonstrations and live presentations. Among participants is the Corallia Clusters Initiative showing microelectronic gadgets developed by Greek scientists, Athens Information Technology demonstrating cutting-edge digital recognition systems and presentations of innovations such as 'smart clothes' and distance learning using computers.
The Talk Zone will feature speeches, panels and lectures on new technologies to be held from 11:00 a.m. until 21:30 p.m. where the public is welcome to join in with discussion.
The Experience Zone will offer training and an opportunity to test and interact with the new technology, especially for those less familiar with its use, with classes such as child-safe navigation of the Internet and secure date exchange, such as banking transactions.
Finally, the Event Zone will be devoted to performances of digital music and its possibilities.
 Greek closed-end investment funds' assets down 6.8 pct in SeptGreek-listed closed-end investment funds' net assets fell by 6.8 percent in September to 281.1 million euros, from 301.7 million euros in August, official figures showed on Tuesday. A report by the Association of Institutional Investors said average numerical return of the sector was -25.36 percent so far this year, while the average weighed return was -25.38 pct.
All companies in the sector recorded negative internal market values, ranging from -12.43 pct to -43.39 pct, with all eight companies in the sector beating the performance of the composite index of the market (-44.84 pct). At the end of September, the average discount of the sector was -39.79 pct.
 Foreign investors' participation in ASE slightly down in SeptemberForeign investors were net sellers in the Athens Stock Exchange in September, with capital outflows totaling 246.1 million euros, with funds (268.2 mln) and off-shores (27.6 mln) recording the biggest outflows.
On the other hand, Greek investors were net buyers with capital inflows totaling 227.4 million euros, official figures showed on Tuesday.
Foreign investors' participation in the Greek markets' capitalization eased slightly to 51.1 pct in September, from 51.4 pct in August and down from 51.8 pct in September 2007. Turnover in the Athens Stock Exchange totaled 6.156 billion euros in September, from 3.631 bln in August, for an increase of 69.5 pct, but down 35 pct compared with September 2007. Daily average turnover was 279.8 million euros in September, from 181.6 million in August.
The capitalization of the FTSE 20 index totaled 74.5 million euros in September, down 13.8 pct from August, while for the FTSE 40 index was 14.1 billion (down 18.7 pct) and for the FTSE 80 index 5.8 billion euros (down 21.1 pct).
 Greek insurance companies to raise contract rates in summer 2009Greek insurance companies on Tuesday announced they would raise their contract rates by 10-12 percent in the summer of 2009, as part of a policy to harmonize rates with a new community regulation over minimum levels of damages paid in car accidents.
The Association of Greek Insurance Enterprises presented a survey which showed that the vast majority of citizens (97 pct) said that taking precautionary measures was very important, while only one in three said he was taking adequate measures to avoiding accidents, damages and destruction. The survey said women were more careful than men, while negligence was considered to be the most significant reason for failing to take precautionary measures.
Six in 10 citizens said they did not had regular check-ups, while 45.2 pct paid little attention to their diet, 70.6 pct said their homes were not equipped with alarm systems.
 Agricultural development minister in IoanninaThe amount of 100 million euros will be provided for plans concerning the improvement of stockbreeding facilities with speedy procedures. The amount can be used to finance up to 2,000 units, since 50,000 euros have been set as the limit for including a unit in the relative programme.
Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos announced in Ioannina, where he is currently on a tour, on Tuesday the procedures required for this development.
The minister said that applications will be made electronically and when they are submitted the applicants will be notified whether their projects have been approved. The eligible units will be those having at least 150 sheep and goats.
 Greek stocks end 0.60 pct lowerGreek stocks ended lower in volatile trading conditions in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index of the market eased 0.60 percent to end at 2,625.04 points, with turnover rising to 340.9 million euros, of which 27.9 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower with the Food/Beverage (4.07 pct), Healthcare (2.73 pct), Utilities (2.71 pct) and Telecommunications (2.65 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (2.87 pct), Raw Materials (2.43 pct) and Constructions (2.38 pct) scored gains. The FTSE 20 index fell 0.36 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.88 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.11 pct lower. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 137 to 85 with another 51 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.47%
Personal & Household: -2.28%
Raw Materials: +2.43%
Travel & Leisure: +2.87%
Food & Beverages: -4.07%
Financial Services: -0.57%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Piraeus, OPAP and Public Power Corporation.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 14.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.48
HBC Coca Cola: 10.90
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.16
National Bank of Greece: 26.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 11.60
Titan Cement Company: 24.02
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended at their fair price levels in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 160.697 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 20,019 contracts worth 145.707 million euros, with 27,695 open positions in the market, while volume on equities totaled 11,657 contracts worth 13.645 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,396), followed by Marfin Investment Group (927), PPC (1,315), Piraeus Bank (747), Alpha Bank (737), Marfin Popular Bank (1,365), Intralot (595) and Hellenic Postbank (394).
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds jumped to 0.92 percent in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 543 million euros, of which 235 million were buy orders and the remaining 308 million were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark Greek bond yielded 4.67 pct and the German Bund 3.75 pct.
In money markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month Euribor rate was 5.49 pct, the six-month rate 5.43 pct, the three-month rate 5.37 pct and the one-month rate 5.18 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.364
Pound sterling 0.777
Danish kroner 7.467
Swedish kroner 9.665
Japanese yen 139.61
Swiss franc 1.553
Norwegian kroner 8.386
Canadian dollar 1.500
Australian dollar 1.879
 New Digital Planetarium celebrates its sixth year runningThe inauguration of the sixth winter session of the New Digital Planetarium was celebrated on Monday with the official premier of a new digital screening titled "Seven Wonders of the World."
The show was hosted by the Eugenides Foundation in Athens, at one of the largest and best equipped digital planetariums in the world.
With the help of cutting-edge technology, the new production allowed viewers to witness the creation of the Pyramids of Cheops, the Statue of Zeus in Olympia, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Sanctuary of Artemis in Ephesus, the Rhodes Colossus and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Viewers then had the opportunity to explore the wonders of our Solar System and Universe: comets, space storms, frozen planets, star-nurseries, black holes and super nova explosions were just a few of the phenomena presented in the Planetarium Dome.
The New Planetarium was opened in 2003, and since then has welcomed more than 1.75 million visitors.
 State Department honours Tbilisi Hellenicare doctorsThe Hellenicare doctors of the Tbilisi department were honoured by the State Department for help they provided from the very first moment in embattled regions in Southern Ossetia last August.
The delivery of a letter of thanks took place during a ceremony held at the Ippokratis Medical Centre in Tbilisi by the director of the State Department's Humanitarian Programmes Gerald Obendofer, in the presence of Hellenicare's President, honourary president of the Council of Hellenes Abroad Andrew Athens.
The Hellenicare programme, a non-governmental organisation based in Chicago, was established in 1997 by Andrew Athens, the first president of the Council of Hellenes Abroad and it is supported by the governments of Greece and the United States.
 Asteroid named after Greek astronomerAn asteroid until recently known as "1999 RC221" has been renamed "21775 Tsiganis" after Aristotle University astrono-mer Kleomenis Tsiganis.
As minor planet discoveries are confirmed, they are given a permanent number by the International Astronomic Union (IAU) Minor Planet Center, and the people that discovered them can then submit name proposals, following the IAU's naming conventions.
Asteroid "1999 RC221" was discovered on Sept. 5, 1999 with the Lowell Observatory LONEOS telescope.
Tsiganis received his PhD in physics in 2002 from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and now teaches astrophysics and astronomy at the university's physics faculty.
 Alcohol abuse by young, women rising in GreeceDoctors on Tuesday warned of an alarming rise in the number of young people and women that consume excessive amounts of alcohol in Greece, saying that hospitals were having to deal with more patients in these groups suffering from problems linked to drinking alcohol.
According to the head of the Greek Society for Liver Research Evangelos Akriviadis, 17 percent of boys and 9 percent of girls in Greece aged 15 to 20 drink alcohol at least 10 times a month, while 4 percent of teens throughout the world drink on a daily basis. The rising use of alcohol among women is another cause for concern, since they are physically less resistant to the adverse effects of alcohol than men.
"The abuse of alcohol is responsible for 15-20 percent of patients hospitalised with cirrhosis and about 10 percent of patients that present with primary cancer of the liver," Akriviadis said in a press conference held on Tuesday to announce a seminar taking place in Thessaloniki on October 11 to inform and sensitise the public to the problems.
"In just one clinic in this city, we are dealing with two to three young patients on a daily basis, who require hospitalisation because of alcohol-related liver damage. A few years ago this would have been considered bizarre," he noted.
Equally rare in the past were women patients but this was no longer the case, since women were drinking more and were more at risk from its toxic effect because of their greater fat reserves.
"There is a fine line between use and abuse," he pointed out, adding that more and more people of every age appeared to be crossing this line in recent years.
The consumption of wine, which was the traditional alcoholic beverage consumed in Greece, did not seem to have the same toxic effect as other drinks and tended to be consumed in conjunction with food so was not absorbed so quickly, he added.
 Major bank loan scam uncovered by financial crimes squadA major scam in which a ring managed to defraud banks out of hundreds of thousands of euros through loans obtained with false documents was uncovered by the Attica police Financial Crimes squad, authorities announced on Tuesday.
Police arrested two Greeks, aged 51 abd 48 years old respectively, as masterminds of the ring and two 49-year-olds suspected of being their accomplices. A fifth man aged 42 has also been charged but not detained.
Investigating officers said the masterminds of the group found their three accomplices in Germany, where all three were unemployed, and brought them to Greece with the promise of finding them jobs and loans.
They then explained the scam and set each up in an apartment, so they could claim a permanent address, and supplied them with faked salary slips, fake tax returns and other forged official documents that they then used in order to take out housing and consumer loans from a number of banks in their name.
The two 49-year-olds were arrested while cashing in loans of 180,000 euros and 255,000 euros, respectively, from two banks in the Athens inner city districts of Patissia and Kallithea. Shortly afterward, the two masterminds of the gang were also arrested.
Since March, the ring is estimated to have bilked some 700,000 euros from various banks and a number of the fake and forged documents that were used to get this money were found in their possession, in addition to other evidence of the scam.
Police have also informed the Hellenic Bank Association about the group's action, in order to discover whether they have managed to extract more money from other bank branches.
All four men arrested were led before a public prosecutor on Tuesday, while the investigation into their activities continues.
 Late-night trolley service from this weekFollowing the introduction of after-midnight services at weekends on the Athens metro and electric railways, which both run until 2:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays, the Athens public transport organisation OASA on Tuesday announced that the measure would also be extended to the city's trolley buses.
Based on an order by Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, the number 12 trolley bus from Zappio to Peristeri will extend its timetable after midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, starting this week.
The late-night trolley buses will run every 20 minutes and link up with the metro services at Aghios Antonios, while their route will also be extended from Aghios Ierotheos to Omonia in central Athens.
The last trolley bus will depart from Omonia for Aghios Ierotheos at 1:50 am and from Aghios Ierotheos for Omonia at 2:20 am.
 Thessaloniki ATM attacksTwo arson attacks on ATMs occurred at 2:55am on Tuesday in Thessaloniki, with both incidents targeting National Insurance branches.
The attacks took place on the corners of Rempelou-Vamvaka and Metropolis-Rogkoti. In the first incident, the ATM and branch windows suffered damage, while in the second attack a nearby parked car was also affected.
The Fire Department was called to both scenes.
 Supermarket warehouse destroyed by fireÁ fire that broke out early Tuesday afternoon in the main warehouse of a well-known supermarket outlet near Thessaloniki is showing signs of abating following a swift response by the fire brigade, which dispatched roughly 50 firefighters to the scene.
Welding jobs conducted on the roof of the Lidl supermarket chain's main warehouse, located in Agios Athanasios, northwest of the northern Greek city, was apparently the cause of the blaze, which spread quickly to flammable materials stored inside.
A company spokesperson told ANA-MPA that the specific warehouse was the first to be built by the Germany-based company in Greece in 1998 and is in operation since 1999.
 Immigrant trafficking ring dismantledA ring of immigrant-traffickers operating in Athens has been dismantled by the Attica immigration police, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
Authorities have place two Iraqis under arrest as suspected members of the gang and confiscated 20,000 dollars that, according to police, they were given in payment by an unidentified individual for trafficking immigrants.
The two men led police to a Piraeus apartment, where four illegal immigrants that had been brought into the country were locked up. A number of documents were found on them and confiscated, among them an internal note of the Achaia police headquarters concerning the departure of a woman immigrant from the country due to administrative deportation and a large number of notes in Arabic that list sums of up to 400,000 euros and several names. These are believed to be payment for moving illegal immigrants.
The two men arrested were taken before an Athens public prosecutor on Tuesday.
 Cloud on WednesdayCloudy weather with variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 26C. Fair in Athens, with 3-4 beaufort variable winds and temperatures ranging from 14C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 12C to 24C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe international credit crisis and the eurozone Economy Ministers decisions on Monday, and the contents of the draft 2009 Budget tabled on Monday in parliament dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The 2009 draft Budget draft contains measures for pensioners, low incomer earners and unemployed".
APOGEVMATINI: "The Budget's benefits - Government puts priority on low incomes".
AVGHI: "The economic crisis deepens in US and Europe".
AVRIANI: "As Europe collapses, Greece withstands and gives lessons in credit management".
CHORA: "Stock market ceilings collapse resoundingly - The American virus hits European markets".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "In the midst of the global economic crisis , FinMin George Alogoskoufis tabled on Monday the 2009 draft Budget which made it clear that 'We will give more ...we will take less".
ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis backs down on the dead-end statements he made at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and the New Democracy parliamentary group".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tax increases on real estate, fuel and, in the future, the VAT".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tax 'typhoon' - Budget indicates that the last four years' sacrifices were in vain".
ESTIA: "Preposterous tax increase - Private finance is being strangled".
ETHNOS: "Nightmare over stock markets and banks - Karamanlis reassures that the Greek banking system is secure".
KATHIMERINI: "Europe in the vortex of the economic crisis - A day of chaos on international markets- First common decision by Eurogroup".
LOGOS: "Tax-'bomb' - The draft 2009 Budget. which foresees 7.4 billion euros in additional taxes, was tabled in parliament".
NIKI: "They impose taxes with the 'alibi' of the economic crisis - Alogoskoufis' policy falls flat".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Dynamic start with Communist Party of Greece Central Committee's positions for the party's 18th Congress".
TA NEA: "7.4 billion euros tax fever sinks the economy - Finishing stroke to households".
TO VIMA: "European leaders press European Central Bank president Trichet for a major reduction in interest rates in order to exit from the crisis".
VRADYNI: "Deposit's protection net - Europeanwide movement to fortify the citizen from the crisis".
 President Christofias outlines vision for CyprusSOFIA(ANA-MPA/CNA)
My vision is to see all Cypriots live together in a truly independent Cyprus, without the presence of foreign armies or illegal settlers, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has said.
Speaking on Tuesday in Sofia, during a working breakfast with Bulgarian and foreign journalists, President Christofias expressed disappointment about the Turkish Cypriot leader's stance on the Cyprus issue.
As President Christofias noted, during the first two meetings he had in Cyprus earlier this year with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Mehmet Ali Talat, Talat had agreed on a bi-zonal bi-communal solution of the Cyprus problem, and he had accepted a federal state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality.
However, "during the negotiations on the issue of governance and power sharing, Talat insisted on giving authorities to the federal entities; something that weakens the Cyprus issue and leads to confederation", Christofias added, noting that "this is a very serious obstacle".
President Christofias pointed out that "when Talat speaks publicly about a new partnership of states, he contradicts himself", and clarified that the Greek Cypriot side will not accept confederation as a solution to the problem.
Replying to a question concerning the Anan Plan, the 2004 UN proposed solution, President Christofias stressed that it was rejected by the majority of the Greek Cypriots because it was a foreign plan, drafted mainly by the US and Britain, which served the interests of Turkey and did not lead to a functional solution nor did it restore human rights.
Asked about the presence of illegal Turkish settlers, in Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas, President Christofias noted that Turkey has brought more than 160,000 Turkish people in the occupied areas since 1974, when its troops invade, and said that more than half the population of the Turkish Cypriots are now living in England.
President Christofias was critical of the illegal presence of Bulgarians in the occupied areas but welcomed the presence of thousands of Bulgarians in the southern government controlled part of the Republic of Cyprus.
Regarding Turkey's EU accession course, President Christofias said that Cyprus supports Ankara's road to Europe provided it meets the Copenhagen criteria, and its obligations to Cyprus, by opening up its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes, by recognising the Republic of Cyprus, and ending its illegal occupation.
President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in talks since early September, with a view to reach an agreement that will reunite Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Cyprus welcomes ECOFIN agreement, ready to interveneNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
Cyprus has welcomed Tuesday's agreement by European Union Finance Ministers and said it is ready to intervene, if need be, to protect its banking system, Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said, in a written statement.
The statement was issued in Luxembourg after ECOFIN committed itself to safeguarding the European credit and financial system. The 27 EU Finance Ministers also agreed to increase from 20,000 euro to 50,000 euro the guarantee of a deposit, should a credit institution declare bankruptcy.
In his statement, Stavrakis said the government is ready to support and protect the banking sector and the bank deposits, should the need arise.
"We have agreed that we need to be ready to take appropriate action to support the banks and the depositors, if necessary", Stavrakis said, adding that the agreement reached on Tuesday includes specific guidelines which EU member states should apply if they have to intervene.
According to Stavrakis, "any kind of intervention must be temporary, it must safeguard the interests of the taxpayer and aim at structural changes of banking institutions".
Each EU member may take any necessary measures to maintain stability of their credit and financial systems either through cash flow from the Central Bank to the banks or through supportive moves to the banks and strengthening of plans to protect depositors.
The government, he said, is monitoring closely developments in the financial sector in cooperation with the competent authorities.
"Cyprus' banking system remains healthy", he said, underlining though that if there is any problem, the government will take all the necessary measures to fully support both the banks and the depositors, within the framework of what has been agreed in ECO-FIN.
 UK Minister for Europe to visit CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/CNA)
The UK's new Minister for Europe Caroline Flint will visit Cyprus October 8-9 and will have meetings with leading figures on the island.
The purpose of her visit is to hear for herself how direct talks between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, aiming to solve the Cyprus question, are progressing.
A press release issued by the British High Commission here said that "The UK's new Minister for Europe Caroline Flint MP's first ministerial visit will be to Cyprus on the 8th and 9th October. Despite having only just taken up her new role, the Minister was keen to visit Cyprus as soon as possible to show the UK's support for the settlement process and build on the work of the Memorandum of Understanding" Cyprus and the UK have signed earlier this year.
It is added that Flint "will be meeting leading figures on the island to hear for herself how the talks are progressing."
The visit will end with a press reception at the British Council on 9th October.
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