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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-17

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

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

Saturday, 17 January 2009 Issue No: 3098

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM on Middle East, new warning to Skopje
  • [02] Bakoyannis briefs Austrian FM on FYROM gov't provocations
  • [03] Gov't spokesman on elections speculation, Gaza position
  • [04] Group condemns blocked aid to Gaza, Israeli embassy response
  • [05] PASOK criticises gov't on foreign policy
  • [06] PASOK on Euroelections
  • [07] KKE leader meets with diplomatic staff
  • [08] Interview with LAOS spokesman Kyriakos Velopoulos
  • [09] Parliament President Sioufas in Kavala
  • [10] Athens Mayor presents City Medal to Guyanese President
  • [11] FinMin, banks discuss liquidity
  • [12] FinMin, merchant marine minister meet
  • [13] High-level meeting on OA privatisation
  • [14] UAE's Etihad Airways to launch flights to Athens, link Australia with Greece
  • [15] Bulgaria minister: Greece to cover natgas shortage
  • [16] Farm import price index up 1.2 pct in Nov 2008
  • [17] Piraeus Bank announces merger of Avis, Best Leasing
  • [18] Geniki Bank announces 180-mln-euro share capital increase plan
  • [19] Greek stocks end 2.35% up on Fri.
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Greek bond market closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/Monday
  • [23] Event on public diplomacy, int'l relations in Athens
  • [24] Expatriates' support for reforestation around Greece
  • [25] Swiss physicist receives Latsis 2008 award
  • [26] Cocaine shipment intercepted at Thessaloniki port
  • [27] Driver, Italy-bound illegals arrested after truck inspection
  • [28] Extradition of Turkish national denied due to political asylum request
  • [29] Police avert suicide announced by teenage girl in chat-room
  • [30] Rethymno mayor receives president of Cretans Abroad
  • [31] Cloudy on Saturday
  • [32] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM on Middle East, new warning to Skopje

    The government is proceeding with the interests of Greece as its sole criteria, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reiterated on Friday in Parliament, while at the same time sending another strict message to Skopje, warning that as long as the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) continues a policy of intransigence, its road toward the EU and NATO would remain closed. Karamanlis' latter statement came in reply to a question tabled by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party during the "Hour of the Premier" session in Parliament. The Greek PM also said that Athens continues to advocate the achievement of a lasting solution in the Middle East with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will live peacefully side-by-side with the State of Israel, in reply to another question tabled by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos. Karamanlis noted that Greece had been among the first European countries to back the three-point solution comprising an immediate and lasting ceasefire, the creation of humanitarian corridors and the solution of two independent states -- that of Israel and a Palestinian state. "It goes without saying that the interventions of every European country are more effective if they are part of a unified European framework," Karamanlis added. Greece, he continued "was among the first, if not the first, to send humanitarian aid (to Gaza)", while he also categorically denied the existence of a trans-shipment of (US) war supplies to an Israeli port via the western Greek port of Astakos. Karamanlis explained that a relevant request had been submitted, but "no trans-shipment was ever made". "Let me stress, once again, the need for an immediate truce. We condemn violence from wherever it originates," the prime minister stressed. Addressing himself to Alavanos, specifically, Karamanlis said that "no service is done to the country's interests with vilifications and fireworks", while he reiterated that "no trans-shipment of materiel has taken place at any Greek port". "No one can dispute the credibility of Greece, a Greece that developed and is developing the role, one that has been acknowledged by everyone over the times," the premier stressed. Karamanlis clarified that "indeed, last November, when there was no military involvement in our region, the US side put forward an issue of trans-shipment of US at the (Greek) port of Astakos, with the designation that the supplies were destined for a US stockpile in Israel." "The (US) ship approached off Astakos early in the month. However, there was no permit from the Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy ministry and no trans-shipment was made. In brief: Yes, there was a request. Yes, the ship arrived off Astakos, but no trans-shipment was carried out and the vessel departed." "The fact cannot be ignored that the request for trans-shipment of materiel by a country for its own forces was submitted in an unsuspicious period ... the request submitted in November by the US side categorically stressed that the trans-shipment of material was between American stockpile units and that this material would remain in the custody of the US government, without transfer of either the custody or the proprietorship to the Israeli government".

    Alavanos

    On his part, Alavanos sharply criticised the government for not condemning the latest Israeli bombings of hospitals, UN officers and international media offices (in Gaza), and also called on the prime minister to deny a report appearing on the US army's Surface Deployment and Distribution Center's website on the trans-shipment of 690 containers from Astakos to Israel in September 2007. He further demanded that Greece's ambassador to Israel be recalled for consultations, and that the 1993 military cooperation agreement between Greece and Israel be 'frozen', so that Greece would not lose its credibility in the Muslim world, as he said. Replying, Karamanlis warned that although over-simplification and distortion could benefit those who "invest in populism", they did not, however, serve the interests of the country. He reiterated that there had been no issue, nor would there be an issue of trans-shipment, nor could anyone dispute the foreign ministry statement immediately after the relevant press speculation had appeared, adding that "this was also explicitly acknowledged by the US Defense Department's press spokesman". The premier further characterized as "at the least unfair for Greece any attempted aimed at making the country appear distanced from its steadfast positions for peace in the Middle East', and "at the least strange that unilateral actions are proposed that do not guarantee any positive result for the suffering people of Gaza". "No one can accuse Greece of lack of sensitivity or quick diplomatic reflexes, nor of lack of initiatives for putting an end to the tragedy," Karamanlis stressed.

    Strict warning to FYROM leadership

    Meanwhile, Karamanlis sent a terse warning to FYROM on Friday that so long as the neighbouring country's leadership continues to cultivate an atmosphere of provocations, nationalism and intolerance, not a single euro would be forthcoming from Greece towards the financing of the pan-European "Corridor X" road axis, "the renaming of which the country (FYROM) provocatively took". The premier was referring to Skopje's renaming, as "Alexander of Macedon" no less, of the one-time Yugoslav republic's main highway, which that runs from Serbia in the north to the Greek border in the south, and for which 152 million euros have been earmarked in the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB). Replying to a relevant question tabled by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, the prime minister reiterated that Skopje's European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations would not be satisfied so long as the neighbouring country purposely continued its persistence on "a grey past and its leadership, with its unpredictable policy, does not care about the future but only about petty party benefits in view of elections". Karamanlis further blasted the Skopje government's intransigence and its provocative decisions, as he said, referring to the "historically ungrounded renaming of sport stadiums, airports, roads and Corridor X". The Greek premier warned that "this short-sighted policy is in conflict with the good neighbourhood principles and relations".

    Karatzaferis

    Karatzaferis charged that various Greek governments, despite the continuing provocations by Skopje over the past years, did not "block" the chanelling of funds towards the landlocked Balkan country, which he said have exceeded 1.11 billion euros. "This means that we are financing Skopje's arrogance, impudence and cowboy tactics," Karatzaferis charged. Karamanlis replied that "our positions and decisions are based always on the criterion of the country's interests, and everything is done with absolute transparency and crystal-clear positions". "We say: a name with a geographical qualification for all purposes and uses. We call on Skopje to cooperate in seeking a mutually acceptable solution. We don't want them to find themselves excluded from the EU and NATO. The interests of the region mandate that the leadership of the neighbouring country abandons the grey past and return to its European future," Karamanlis elaborated. "Greece has the means, it is not abandoning them, it is making use of them with prudence and reliability, at the appropriate time," the prime minister added.

    [02] Bakoyannis briefs Austrian FM on FYROM gov't provocations

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis) Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis briefed her new Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger in detail on Friday on a series of provocations against Athens by the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), during a one-hour meeting here. FM Bakoyannis has been in Austria since Wednesday on the occasion of the official commencement of Greece's OSCE chairmanship for 2009. The Austrian foreign minister was briefed on FYROM PM Gruevski's "provocations, made for petty (domestic) political purposes which, in essence, place his people under hostage," Bakoyannis emphasised. She also stated that discussion focused on the Greek OSCE chairmanship and its proposals at settling the issue of the organization's observers in Georgia and Ossetia. They also discussed potential cooperation between Greece and Austria in the humanitarian sector, focusing on joint initiatives in Gaza for the relief of the local population. As regards the OSCE Greek chairmanship, Bakoyannis commented that expectations are high, while pointing out that these are difficult times. She also stressed that the organization's role has to be strengthened, considering the rapid changes experienced, adding that efforts should focus on the common values shared by its members and on dialogue, the supreme principle of diplomacy. The Greek FM expressed a wish that progress will be made in pending issues for OSCE underling that the Greek diplomacy is well-prepared.

    [03] Gov't spokesman on elections speculation, Gaza position

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Friday dismissed notions of a "pre-election" climate in the country, stressing that if such a mood is promoted it is certainly not the work of the government. Referring to New Democracy MPs' tabled questions on agriculture issues, Antonaros said it is natural in a democracy for parties' deputies to table questions in Parliament and to defend the interests of groups in their election precincts. Moreover, he referred particularly to government initiatives in the agricultural sector, underlining that "we have embraced farmers from the first day we assumed the country's reins, and we will continue to do so." In response to press questions regarding developments in Gaza and the Greek government's positions, Antonaros referred to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' position in Parliament. "The Prime Minister, responsibly and without cries and shouts, as some people wanted, made clear his position on these issues," Antonaros concluded.

    [04] Group condemns blocked aid to Gaza, Israeli embassy response

    Members of an ill-fated attempt to deliver humanitarian aid directly to Gaza on Friday accused Israel of "cynicism", speaking at a press conference in Athens. A Greek-flagged vessel, the 'Arion', carrying the humanitarian aid was intercepted in international waters by Israeli gunboats on Thursday before it could reach the Gaza coast. The Arion had departed from the Cypriot port of Larnaca with 17 passengers of different nationalities and four crewmembers. Meanwhile, another 32-member delegation, headed by five Greek MPs from the main opposition PASOK party and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party, remained on the Egyptian border with Rafah -- since Thursday -- with the purpose of entering Gaza Strip. Finally, members of the organisation "Doctors of Peace" also held a press conference on Friday in Athens regarding their recent mission to Gaza, where they condemned the Israeli and Egyptian governments' restrictions on their right to offer humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Members of the group were finally able to enter Gaza via the Egyptian border.

    Israeli embassy response

    Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy in Athens issued a reply on Friday vis--vis the Arion affair, an initiative of the "Free Gaza" movement. "The Embassy of Israel would like to state the following concerning the Arion 'Free Gaza' boat expedition: Since Israel attaches great importance to humanitarian assistance, 24,356 tons of aid in 1,029 trucks has been delivered to Gaza through Israeli border crossings via official channels, by international aid organizations and governments, including Greece. The crossings have been open to humanitarian aid since day one. If members of the boat expeditions were truly interested in delivering humanitarian aid they could easily do so through official channels. However, that is not their goal. In previous missions members of the Free Gaza movement were received and attended a reception by the Hamas leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization recognized as such by the EU, which rejects Israel's right to exist," the response read.

    [05] PASOK criticises gov't on foreign policy

    A main opposition PASOK party spokesman on Friday commented on earlier statements in Parliament by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, charging that the Greek premier is following a policy of double standards, something that is inconceivable in foreign policy. Spokesman George Papaconstantinou said the prime minister spoke with bravado about the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) provocations, while remaining silent in the face of Turkish military provocations in the eastern Aegean. On the question of developments in Gaza, the PASOK spokesman attributed to the prime minister a "policy of equal distances, vague reasoning and an absence of the country from the diplomatic and humanitarian sector." In reference to debate in Parliament on Monday revolving around the Vatopedi affair and the establishment of an investigatory committee to probe possible criminal responsibilities of former minister, Papaconstantinou said the overall stance of ruling New Democracy party towards "scandals", as he put it, and their cover-up will be judged there.

    [06] PASOK on Euroelections

    PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou on Friday said his party will be giving the Euroelections (scheduled to take place in June) a referendum character, if national elections have not taken place by then. He added that from now until June and until the date of national elections, if they precede, PASOK will be unveiling its campaign planks.

    [07] KKE leader meets with diplomatic staff

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga supported the demands of the diplomatic service staff in the meeting she had Friday with their union representatives. Regarding the prime minister's position earlier in the day in Parliament as regards the use of the western port of Astakos for the alleged trans-shipment of ammunition to a US military stockpile in Ashdod, Israel, Papariga said he (PM) cannot hide the facts.

    [08] Interview with LAOS spokesman Kyriakos Velopoulos

    "Early elections is a one-way street for the government," Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) spokesman Kyriakos Velopoulos underlined in an interview with ANA-MPA. He accused the government of lacking the will to confront business cartels and criticised its reaction to the Turkish provocations. Velopoulos doubted the credibility of the opinion polls pointing out that they will allegedly define the early elections date and called for an understanding between the political party leaders allowing for solutions in the sector of the economy.

    [09] Parliament President Sioufas in Kavala

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas announced in Kavala, northern Greece, on Friday that the Greek Parliament and the Parliament Institute will be expanding their activities in regional areas. Sioufas had arrived in the city for the inauguration of the exhibition titled "Deputies and Eurodeputies write: 1974-2008." The exhibition had been inaugurated for the first time in the Parliament Mansion during the summer and will be hosted in Kavala for two weeks. The Parliament President stressed that the aim of the exhibition is to provide the citizen with the opportunity of having a close up view of the literary work of Parliament's elected members as well, while archives are also being created for the researcher, the mass media and the historian of the future.

    [10] Athens Mayor presents City Medal to Guyanese President

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday morning conferred the City of Athens Medal to the visiting President of the Republic of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, as a token of respect and friendship to him personally and to the Guyanese nation. Mayor Kaklamanis and Athens City Council chairman Theodoros Bechrakis received President Jagdeo at City Hall, where they held a meeting on matters of mutual interest.

    Financial News

    [11] FinMin, banks discuss liquidity

    Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on Friday met with the presidency of the Federation of Hellenic Banks for talks regarding the all-important level of liquidity of the domestic banking sector and ways to adequately fund business activity. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Greek minister said the aim of both sides was to immediately activate the third pole of a government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the economy with 28 billion euros. He added that the meeting touched on liquidity in the banking sector and noted that the two sides agreed to immediately activate the programme's third axis - state guarantees. He stressed that the economy ministry, in cooperation with the Bank of Greece, will hold regular and substantive inspections to ensure that the programme is implemented for the benefit of the market and businesses. The meeting also agreed that state commissioners would be placed in banks next week, with the responsibility to monitor liquidity in the banking sector and in the real economy.

    Federation president

    In earlier statements, Secretary General Christos Gortsos recommended the unreserved guarantee by the Greek State to boost utilisation of the guarantee fund (TEMPME S.A.) for small-to-micro enterprises. In statements to a public TV network, he said that the 28-billion-euro package in support of liquidity of the Greek economy is in the process of implementation, in response to criticism that the domestic banking system is "dragging its heels" in dealing with the credit crisis. Gortsos pointed out that Greek banks are not exposed to the viral banking products responsible for the global financial crisis, and that local banks' credibility is unaffected.

    [12] FinMin, merchant marine minister meet

    Economy and Finance Minister Yannis Papathanassiou on Friday met with Merchant Marine Minister Anastassis Papaligouras at the economy ministry for talks concerning the funding for the 2009 ferryboat routes schedule and whatever problems of state subsidised routes.

    [13] High-level meeting on OA privatisation

    A meeting held at the Transport and Communications ministry on Friday focused on the course of the Olympic Airlines's privatisation through international tendering that is already under way. The meeting, apart from Transport and Communications Minister Evripides Stylianidis, included his predecessor and current Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, while three advisers also briefed the meeting that their cycle of clarifying contacts with the potential investors has been completed and it was further confirmed that the deadline for submitting binding bids will expire on Jan. 30, 2009. The monitoring commissioner appointed by the European Commission to safeguard the sale procedure for the country's national carrier was also present at the meeting.

    [14] UAE's Etihad Airways to launch flights to Athens, link Australia with Greece

    Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is set to boost its flying programme to Europe with the addition of a major new route to Athens, the Abu Dhabi-based airline announced. Direct flights to the Greek capital city will start at the beginning of June 2009. Etihad's latest destination will bring the airline's global flight network to 53 cities, supplementing services to Melbourne in Australia due to be launched in March 2009. The Greek capital of Athens will initially be served non-stop, three times a week from early June, increasing to five services a week from October 2009 and then daily from the start of 2010. James Hogan, Etihad Airways' chief executive, said: "The launch of flights to Athens illustrates Etihad's ambitions to boost its European network and link key strategic cities of the world through our Abu Dhabi home base. We anticipate strong demand for flights to and from Athens which will help open up new commercial and cultural ties between the UAE and Greece." "The new route also offers excellent connecting opportunities between Athens and the rest of our growing network, helping to link this historic European city with Greek communities worldwide," Hogan added, noting that the addition of Athens will bring to 12 the number of European destinations served by Etihad. "Athens, with a population of nearly three quarters of a million people, is one of the world's oldest cities with a recorded history which spans more than 3,000 years. The city, as well as the surrounding islands, is a top European holiday destination with traffic expected from across the Etihad network, particularly Australia which has a strong Greek community," an Etihad announcement said.

    [15] Bulgaria minister: Greece to cover natgas shortage

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA / B. Borisov) Bulgarian Finance and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov announced on Friday that Greece will supply Bulgaria with natural gas, adding that two million cubic metres of methane will also be imported from Greece on a daily basis. He further said that a relevant understanding has been reached with Greece, according to which Bulgaria can use the gas contained in pipelines -- initially destined for the Greek market -- that pass through Bulgarian territory in order to cover its current needs. Similar negotiations are also taking place with Turkey, the Bulgarian minister revealed. Dimitrov went on to say that Bulgaria is negotiating the purchase of liquefied natural gas from the terminal located near Piraeus, a reference to the Revythoussa islet plant.

    [16] Farm import price index up 1.2 pct in Nov 2008

    The import price index in the farm sector rose by 1.2 pct in November 2008 after an increase of 13.2 pct recorded in November 2007, the National Statistics Service said on Friday. The statistics service, in a report, also said the export price index in the farm sector dropped 4.0 pct in November, after an increase of 15.4 pct in November 2007.

    [17] Piraeus Bank announces merger of Avis, Best Leasing

    Piraeus Bank group on Friday announced the merger of two group members, Avis and Best Leasing, two prominent players in the local car rental sector. The aim of the merger is to ensure more efficient management of the group's customer base and to seek scale economies. The merger is expected to result in an increase of profitability. Turnover totaled 152.6 million euros in 2008, of which 132.6 million euros were long-term car leasing and the remaining 20 million euros were short-term leasing. The company operates a car fleet of 26,700 vehicles in the long-term leasing business and 5,200 vehicles in the short-term leasing sector.

    [18] Geniki Bank announces 180-mln-euro share capital increase plan

    Geniki Bank on Friday called for an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting for Jan. 29, 2009 to discuss a board plan for a share capital increase worth 180 million euros, through the issuance of preferred stock in the framework of a government-sponsored plan to boost liquidity in the economy and to deal with the impact from the international financial crisis.

    [19] Greek stocks end 2.35% up on Fri.

    Greek stocks jumped 2.35 percent on Friday, reversing a seven-day sharp decline of prices at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index ended 2.35 pct up to reach 1,749.95 points, with turnover a low 135 million euros, of which 10.2 million euros were block trades. Most sectors moved higher, with the Travel (5.26 pct), Financial Services (3.60 pct) and Banks (3.52 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Healthcare (1.13 pct), Media (0.57 pct) and Telecommunications (0.51 pct) suffered losses. The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.99 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.27 pct up and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.17 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 122 to 73 with another 54 issues unchanged.

    [20] ADEX closing report

    Greek futures contract prices ended with a widened discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover a low 41.006 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.40 pct, with volume of 6,844 contracts worth 30.295 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,029 contracts worth 10.173 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,093), followed by Eurobank (913), MIG (520), OTE (897), PPC (610), OPAP (1,445), Alpha Bank (1,490) and Piraeus Bank (281).

    [21] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 1.170 billion euros on Friday, of which 470 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 700 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 395 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 252 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.45 pct and the German Bund 2.93 pct. Greece's Public Debt Management Agency announced it would issue a syndicated 5-year bond loan next week. Greece mandated five banks for the issue. The yield spread between the five-year Greek and German bonds was 297 basis points. In interbank market, interest rates fell further, with the 12-month Euribor rate at 2.61 pct, the six-month rate at 2.53 pct, the three-month at 2.45 pct and the one-month rate at 2.11 pct.

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank: U.S. dollar 1.337 Pound sterling 0.896 Danish kroner 7.511 Swedish kroner 10.852 Japanese yen 121.07 Swiss franc 1.498 Norwegian kroner 9.286 Canadian dollar 1.656 Australian dollar 1.976

    General News

    [23] Event on public diplomacy, int'l relations in Athens

    "Greece has proved that is a reliable interlocutor," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed on Friday in reference to the Middle East issue, speaking at an event on international relations and public diplomacy hosted by the secretariat general of information in Athens. The guest keynote speaker at the event was renowned academic Eytan Gilboa, a visiting professor at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy in Los Angeles and a distinguished professor of communication and government at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Koumoutsakos stated that the Middle East is a difficult region and that Greece has proved its reliability as an interlocutor through its actions. He underlined that Athens supports human rights, being among the first countries to send humanitarian aid to suffering Gaza residents. "A good policy is a precondition for proper public diplomacy," Koumoutsakos added, pointing out that "public diplomacy is a democratic process in an interactive relation with society and credibility is a key factor."

    [24] Expatriates' support for reforestation around Greece

    A reforestation campaign will be launched on Sunday in the regions of Artemisia, Piges and Alagonia, all in the Kalamata municipality in extreme southern Greece. The initiative by the environmentalist group Friends of Mt. Taygettus is funded by the Greek-American Plant Your Roots in Greece Foundation, and is aimed at the restoration of the burned forestland on the eponymous mountain range. The 50,000-euro donation will be used for 15,000 tree plantings in the wildfire-ravaged area. Meanwhile, a total of 170 sycamore trees have been planted in the archaeological site of Dion in Pieria prefecture, north-central Greece, part of an initiative by the Thessaloniki-based Friends of Green Association, financed with 14,000 euros by the Greek-American foundation for this purpose. Tree plantings supported by the foundation will take place in Ancient Olympia and other sites around the Peloponnese, as well as in Halkidiki prefecture in the north.

    [25] Swiss physicist receives Latsis 2008 award

    GENEVA (ANA-MPA) Physicist Franz Pfeiffer, a professor at the Paul Scherrer Institute and assistant professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), was awarded the Latsis Award of 2008 for an innovative method that provides greater clarity for X-rays produced by conventional X-ray machines, such as those equipping medical and hospital laboratories. The Fondation Latsis Internationale is a non-profit foundation established in 1975. Since 1983 it has bestowed the Latsis Awards in Switzerland. The Latsis national award, amounting to 100,000 Swiss francs, remains one of Switzerland's most distinguised prizes. It is awarded every year on behalf of the Latsis Foundation by the Swiss national scientific research fund to an academic or researcher under the age of 40, whose work contributes to the progress of various disciplines of science and technology.

    [26] Cocaine shipment intercepted at Thessaloniki port

    Seventy kilos of cocaine, hidden in a specially modified container, were confiscated at the port of Thessaloniki by authorities following collaboration with the National Information Service (NIS) and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) squad in Athens. The container from Cartagena, Colombia arrived at the port of Thessaloniki on Jan. 9 loaded with coffee, timber, bottled fruit juice and fruits, according to its accompanying invoice. On Jan. 14, police acting on a tip-off, impounded and searched the container and discovered the cocaine. Its purported recipient, a Bulgarian entrepreneur active in Thessaloniki, is wanted.

    [27] Driver, Italy-bound illegals arrested after truck inspection

    A foreign national was arrested in Megara, west of Athens, on Friday on charges of migrant smuggling, while other three suspects are wanted. Police arrested the man after detecting 19 illegal migrants in a specially modified 1.5-meter-wide crypt located in the cabin of a truck, which was pulled over en route to the western port city of Patras. The illegal migrants' final destination was Italy, authorities said.

    [28] Extradition of Turkish national denied due to political asylum request

    An appeals council in Thessaloniki on Friday rejected a request by Turkish authorities for the extradition of a 30-year-old Turkish national accused in the neighboring country of being a member of the illegal organisation "Hezbollah". The man, identified as a Kurd from the Diyarbakir Province in southeastern Turkey, has resided in Thessaloniki over the past few years. He was arrested on New Year's Eve, pending an Interpol "Red Notice", when he filed for political asylum at a local police precinct. Based on the appeals court decision, the 30-year-old cannot be extradited because he has already applied for political asylum.

    [29] Police avert suicide announced by teenage girl in chat-room

    The Police Electronic Crime Squad in Thessaloniki averted the suicide of a 14-year-old girl who had revealed her intention to put an end to her life to chat-room visitors on the internet. The electronic crime squad officers traced the messages to the young girl's home in the region of Veria, northern Greece, and informed her parents that she was planning to commit suicide.

    [30] Rethymno mayor receives president of Cretans Abroad

    The Mayor of the city of Rethymno on Crete, Georgis Marinakis, met on Friday with the president of the International Council of Cretans Abroad, George Aerakis, and discussed among others the organisation of a congress of expatriate Rethymno natives in the summer.

    Weather Forecast

    [31] Cloudy on Saturday

    Cloudy weather with local showers and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 16C. Cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 12C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 9C.

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

    The state of the Greek economy, FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou's message to banks to back enterprises' liquidity, measures the unemployed, and the ongoing conflict in Gaza Strip dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS "Unemployment rate in Greece dropped to 7.4 % despite the global financial crisis".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia preannounced in parliament a to double or raise the Easter bonus to the unemployed"

    AVGHI: "After the enviroment, democracy also to be buried in concrete - Ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK state: The bipartisan consensus is the Law".

    AVRIANI: "FinMin's severe warning to bankers ".

    CHORA: "FinMin's message to the bankers on the (government's) 28 billion euros (liquidity-boosting package): Open the faucets!"

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "They thirst for police officers' blood - The Revolutionary Struggle proclamation is a text written with extreme impudence, full of sarcasm for the police and provocative towards Society".

    ELEFTHEROS: "ND's secret trump cards aiming to reverse the political climate - Hirings with limits in public sector".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Emergency packag: Double Easter bonus to the unemployed, subsidized employment in public sector also, acceleration of borrowing procedures for the small and medium sized enterprises and completion for 800,000 professionals".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Shock and horror - International outcry over Israel's merciless bombing of Gaza".

    ESTIA: "The Constitiution stipulates general elections every four years - The climate of political instability harms the country".

    ETHNOS: "The increase in bounced checks on the market is suffocating the real economy".

    KATHIMERINI: "Stifling conditions prevailing in the market - The largest monthly increase in bounced checks since 1960".

    LOGOS: "Government's severe message .....to the banks on the 28 billion euros".

    NIKI: "Former FinMin George Alogoskoufis 'message' to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis not to downrate him".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Determined public resistance against the policy of profiteering".

    TA NEA: "The banks capitalizing on the (benefits from the) interest rates' reductions - Gift without substance for the borrowers".

    TO VIMA: "New FinMin sends signal to the bankers: It's time for the banks to open up their coffers".

    VRADYNI: "New breather from ECB decision to reduce the interest rates".

    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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