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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-01-28

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

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

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 Issue No: 3107

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs Inner Cabinet on energy issues
  • [02] KKE's Papariga on the farmers' mobilizations
  • [03] SYRIZA support for protesting farmers
  • [04] Bulgarian media focus on farmers mobilizations in Greece
  • [05] PASOK accuses gov't of 'secret' borrowing
  • [06] PASOK leader addresses members of Greek community in Berlin
  • [07] FM meets with visiting Iraqi counterpart, Economic and Commercial Affairs office to open in Iraq
  • [08] FM welcomes Guantanamo shut-down decision
  • [09] KKE on education dialogue
  • [10] Ecumenical Patriarch appears on Turkish TV show on Gaza
  • [11] 3rd leg of liquidity plan activated
  • [12] Farmers, Hatzigakis agree to new meetings
  • [13] Farmers continue protests as deadlock deepens
  • [14] Peloponnese farmers decide to withdraw from Canal roadblock
  • [15] PASEGES confederation on farmers demands
  • [16] National Bank report
  • [17] Ratification of Piraeus container terminal concession in coming two weeks
  • [18] PASOK against placing EFET under farm ministry
  • [19] ADEDY calls work stoppage at noon on Wednesday
  • [20] Ferie 2009 tourism exhibition ends in Copenhagen
  • [21] Air-traffic controllers strike on Wednesday
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday
  • [23] Child pornography ring members face felony charges
  • [24] New digital systems at Navy Hydrographic Service
  • [25] Private school teachers to strike on Thursday
  • [26] SYRIZA honours Holocaust victims
  • [27] Missing man's body found in Lousios river
  • [28] Twelve-kilometre cycling route in Thessaloniki
  • [29] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday
  • [30] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM chairs Inner Cabinet on energy issues

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday chaired an Inner Cabinet meeting that focused on energy issues.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, development minister Costis Hatzidakis said that energy was a very important issue as it concerned our everyday lives and investments and the creation of new jobs, but also the counry's geostrategic position and the environment.

    He noted that the latest natural gas crisis had proven that Greece was shielded, adding that this was due to the government planning that has been materialized.

    "However, we are not complacent and are continuing to proceed on the basis of that plan," the minister continued, elaborating that the plans for the South Stream and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipelines were progressing smoothly, enhancing Greece's geostrategic position.

    Regarding Greece's energy sufficiency, he said there was no cause for worry, noting that new units have been placed in operation this year by both the Public Power Corporation and private investors.

    The issue occupying the government was the smooth operation of the market with respect to competition, particularly in the field of petrol products, Hatzidakis said.

    Regarding a recent decision by the Competition Committee, Hatzidakis said that the government was in contact with all involved in the oil products sector, adding that it was prepared, in a short time, to take specific measures for the smooth operation of the market, competition and the protection of consumers.

    Hatzidakis further stressed that the government put great importance on renewable energy sources, noting that the capacity of installed renewable energy sources had been forecast to triple by 2008, while the fact that the country has currently exceeded 1,400 megawatt from the initial 45o megawatt reflected the importance placed on this by his predecessors at the ministry, and added that he would continue in the same direction and would try to accelerate the pace.

    He said that the government wanted 2009 to be the year of renewable energy sources, adding that "this is our duty to the younger generations of Greece, as it has to do direcly with protection of the environment as well".

    FM, Development Minister on farmers issue

    Replying to press questions on ongoing farmers' blockade after an Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that the free circulation of products is not only mandatory for the Greek economy but also is an international obligation.

    Bakoyannis added that it is "absolutely necessary for the blockades to stop in order for the free movement of products to begin".

    The government, she stressed, has given and exhaust all financial margins to support the farmers. The effort will continue, she said, not on economic issues, but, rather, the dialogue that has begunn on institutional issues will continue. She added that we must reallize that it will not help any social group if another social group is devastated.

    Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis stressed that the government understands the farmers' demands and their problems, buit the farmers, too, must understand that whatever the government haas given all that that it could give in these difficult moments. The government cannot give any more and furthermore the farmers must realize that they must not keep the roads closed.

    [02] KKE's Papariga on the farmers' mobilizations

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Tuesday called on the protesting farmers to react to the government's effort to break the roadblocks, underlining that the next few hours will be crucial for their mobilizations.

    Papariga accused main opposition PASOK of playing a leading role in the effort to put an end to the blockades and warned the farmers not to trust Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA). She also warned that if the farmers give way now, developments will be even more unfavourable for them after 2013.

    The KKE general secretary also stressed that the current situation is difficult, being marked by a considerable drop in production and a big increase in imports.

    [03] SYRIZA support for protesting farmers

    Arriving in Crete on Tuesday, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos expressed his support for protesting farmers manning road blocks throughout the country, noting that Monday's statements by Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis were "a procla-mation for the mobilisations to continue".

    He said the measures announced by the government were deliberately divisive and arbitrary, failing to address the problems based on merit, adding that the farmers' protests were supported by the rest of society.

    Alavanos repeated his party's position regarding the need for long-term measures to support farming and stock breeding, and sharply criticised the government's measures for seeking to address the problems only for this year, predicting that many farmers would be led to bankruptcy in the years to come and calling for an increase in support for farm production.

    [04] Bulgarian media focus on farmers mobilizations in Greece

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA / B. Borisov)

    The farmers' mobilizations that have blockaded major transportation routes in Greece dominated the Bulgarian media over the past few days, which reported that they were having a direct impact on the country's tourism sector and haulage contractors.

    Television news bulletins and popular talk-shows focused on the situation in Greece, underlining that in the crossing point of Kulata-Promahon hundreds of trucks and cars were backed up for five kilometres on both sides of the borders.

    According to the press reports, the Bulgarian haulage sector has suffered losses that reach 10 million euros due to the mobilizations, while business owners in the ski resort of Bansko and the city of Sandanski, near the borders with Greece, who work mainly with Greek tourists, fear that they will go bankrupt if the present situation continues.

    However, there was one person who benefited from the mobilization, according to the Bulgarian newspaper Standart, referring to a local farmer who bought a tractor from a Greek colleague participating in the roadblocks for 600 euros. A very good price considering that a new tractor would have cost him 20,000 euros and a used one no less than 10,000 euros.

    [05] PASOK accuses gov't of 'secret' borrowing

    Main opposition PASOK on Tuesday called on the government to "stop handling the economic crisis by using communications terms and announcing fragmentary measures," and accused it of sabotaging the country's developmental reserves by resorting to secret and hugely expensive borrowing.

    During a Tuesday press conference, the party's spokesperson for economic issues, Louka Katseli, called for greater transparency in the management of state funds and said the government had an obligation to Greek voters to submit the Stability and Development Plan to Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee before it was sent to the European Commission.

    According to Katseli, the government should also revise the 2009 budget and release information on planned borrowing requirements of the Greek State.

    Commenting on road blocks set up by protesting farmers, PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that the main opposition was not in favour of blocking roads but noted that there was "a democracy" in the action taken by farmers over the past weeks.

    "There are farmers who make decisions through their collective representation. We respect this autonomy," he said, adding that farmers "had nothing to expect from this government".

    "They cannot expect a solution to their short-term problems and they cannot expect any vision or programme about where Greek agriculture is going," he said.

    Questioned about PASOK's stance on an issue raised by ruling New Democracy, which called for the support of current President Karolos Papoulias for a second term in office, Papaconstantinou noted that "this was not an issue at present".

    "Our position is known and clear: respect for the person of the president and decisions based on the interests of the country. And I will leave it at that," he told reporters, suggesting that the government was raising this issue for obvious reasons.

    "Let the government do its work and be judged by the Greek people. We are sure that general elections will be held long before the presidential election takes place," he added.

    [06] PASOK leader addresses members of Greek community in Berlin

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA/V. Mourtis)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking to members of the Greek community here on Tuesday night, said that the forthcoming Euroelections have the character of a referendum, while mentioning for the first time publicly the possibility of early Parliamentary elections.

    Papandreou said that over the period up to the Euroelections, Parliamentary elections might be held, not because PASOK is calling for them but because Greece is calling for them to put an end to the crisis currently being experienced in the economy and in society, as well as to the crisis of values.

    The PASOK leader accused the government as being to blame that Greece is entering the global economic crisis unfortified and added that, unfortunately, Greece's crisis began much earlier.

    Papandreou, referring to national issues, said that it is unacceptable that Turkey, that desires to follow a European course, is not contributing to a solution to the issue of Cyprus and is threatening in the Aegean.

    On the question of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Papandreou said that its intransigence must end and it must help in finding a solution (to the issue of FYROM's name) that will satisfy both sides.

    [07] FM meets with visiting Iraqi counterpart, Economic and Commercial Affairs office to open in Iraq

    The establishment of a Greek Economic and Commercial Affairs Office in Iraq was decided on Tuesday during a meeting in Athens between foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari, as well as Greece's assistance in the protection of Iraq's cultural heritage and erecting a statue of Alexander the Great in Gaugamela.

    Speaking to reporters fter the meeting, Bakoyannis said the discussions included a review on international developments, particularly the Middle East.

    She also stressed Greece's steadfast stance in favor of the unity, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq.

    Bakoyannis further noted that Greece was "participating in the financing of Iraq's developmental effort" with emphasis on the improvement of infrastructures, adding that, for the facilitation of the development of bilateral relations, was planning to open an Economic and Commercial Affairs Office in the city of Irbil.

    In response to a request by her Iraqi counterpart, Bakoyannis pledged that Greece would assist Iraq in the restoration of the country's museums, and in erecting a statue of Alexander the Great in Gaugamela.

    Foreign minister Zebari, in turn, warmly thanked Greece for its steadfast support, noting that Iraq was on a steady course of democratization, and requested strengthening of contacts between technical experts on cultural matters and on Iraq's reconstruction, and renewed his invitation to Bakoyannis to visit Baghdad.

    [08] FM welcomes Guantanamo shut-down decision

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday welcomed new US president Barack Obama's decision to shut down the Guantanamo detention facility, in reply to press questions.

    To questions on Monday's discussion by EU foreign ministers regarding the hosting of former Guantanamo inmates who are unable to return to their home countries due to conditions prevailing there, Bakoyannis reserved reply on whether Greece would accept former inmates who have not been tried and are therefore considered generall not guilty, but stressed that a big discussin has opened in Europe on the conditions and legal status of hosting such individuals.

    [09] KKE on education dialogue

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, in a letter addressed to the education minister, announced her party's refusal to participate in the dialogue on education because KKE will not legitimise with its participation a dialogue attempted by the government with the aim of preparing options decided in advance that have taken place in the framework of the European Union.

    Papariga reminded that during the recent discussion on education in Parliament, KKE had stated its position publicly on the dialogue proposal submitted by the government, presenting its overall proposal on education.

    She added that KKE insists on the framework of this proposal, as well as on the access system from a unified 12-year general education school in a unified higher and exclusively public and free education.

    Lastly, Papariga noted that the positions of parties can be outlined at the Parliamentary Educational Affairs Committee and the options made by the government and the Education ministry can be discussed.

    [10] Ecumenical Patriarch appears on Turkish TV show on Gaza

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA / A. Kourkoulas)

    "What happened in Gaza is upsetting and embarrassing for the human race," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I stressed, speaking on Turkish television channel TRT1 during a relief campaign programme for the victims of the Israeli attack.

    "The fact that most of the dead were children, women and old people is incomprehensible," he stressed, adding that "we are saddened because fellow human beings suffer such pains" while pointing out that "only love can eliminate wars from the surface of the earth".

    The Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that Jews, Christians and Muslims should help the suffering Palestinian people by offering them material and spiritual assistance.

    Financial News

    [11] 3rd leg of liquidity plan activated

    The Greek government on Tuesday activated the third leg of a 28-bln-euro plan to boost liquidity in the economy, offering state guarantees on bank loans.

    Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Nikos Legas signed a ministerial decision activating the program, which envisages offering state guarantees up to 15 billion euros to Greek financial institutions.

    Guarantees to bank loans will be approved with separate ministerial decisions and will cover loans issued up until December 31, 2009 that have a duration of between three months and three years.

    A ministry statement said the aim of the program was the continue the smooth supply of liquidity in the credit system with low money cost to cover the needs of households, enterprises, and public works.

    Speaking to reporters, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said the plan was being implemented rapidly and consistently to ensure more favourable terms in the funding of households and enterprises.

    Antonaros also announced the finance ministry will immediate start paying out state grants to 14,543 businesses whose plans have included in action to support small and micro businesses. The spokesman said that these plans are expected to create 15,000 new jobs, while the finance ministry is determined to accelerate the rate of absorbing community funds.

    [12] Farmers, Hatzigakis agree to new meetings

    In the first signs that the deadlock between the government and farmers was finally easing, Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis on Tuesday afternoon retracted an earlier decision to cancel meetings with farmer representatives.

    After earlier announcing that he had cancelled meetings with the farmer union PASEGES and the farmers manning the road blocks at the Isthmus in Corinth, Hatzigakis eventually agreed that the meetings should take place at around 19:00 on Tuesday evening.

    At the same time, farmers at the Corinth road block decided to open the road to traffic as a sign of good will.

    In statements on Tuesday, the agriculture minister had stressed that the issue of the government's proposed 500-million-euro aid package to farmers was "closed" and that dialogue on the problems of the farming sector would begin only after the roads had been opened.

    Farmers had initially rejected the aid package offered by the government on Monday, and thousands of tractors had ensured that road blocks remained in place at dozens of key junctions on the national road network, as well as several border crossings, throughout most of Tuesday.

    These included the Athens-Thessaloniki national motorway at Tempi and Nikaia, central Greece, while tractors were parked along the Egnatia Odos national motorway, in northwest Greece, as well as at the Malgara toll gate, outside Thessaloniki. In addition, farmers from Xanthi, in the northeast, had set up roadblocks on the Strimona Bridge and motorists were using provincial roads to reach their destination.

    The border crossings at Exochi, Kipi and Promachonas were entirely blocked off while those at Evzoni and Doirani are being opened sporadically.

    In the Peloponnese, southern Greece, scores of tractors had blocked the bridge over the Isthmus of Corinth and forced all traffic onto the old Athens-Corinth national motorway, while several access roads and highways remain closed.

    Meanwhile, farmers on the southern Aegean island of Crete blocked the Heraklion-Chania national motorway.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday stressed that the government had already done the best it could to meet their demands and that it was now the farmers' turn to respond to the government initiatives. "They have no reason to keep the roads closed," he said.

    Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Exporters Association, PEA, underlined in a letter addressed to Rural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis that the continuing farmer roadblocks will lead to the collapse of production and exporting enterprises in the country, considering that border access is blocked by farmer tractors. Their complaints were echoed by retailers and other groups around the country.

    The problem was not confined to Greece's border either, with the farmers' protests dominating headlines in neighbouring Bulgaria and noting its impact on the local tourism and haulage sectors, in particular.

    [13] Farmers continue protests as deadlock deepens

    Protesting farmers on Tuesday decided to continue crippling roadblocks for a second week after rejecting the 500-million euros aid package offered by the government in response to their demands on Monday. Dozens of key junctions across the national road network, as well as several border crossings, remained closed by thousands of tractors.

    The deadlock deepened as Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis took a hardline stance and insisted that the discussion over the aid package was "closed," cancelling scheduled meetings with the farmers union PASEGES and representatives of protesting farmers in the Peloponnese.

    "Dialogue on the serious problems of Greek farming will begin over the next few days, once the roads are open," the minister underlined.

    As the protests continued, the Athens-Thessaloniki national motorway remained closed at Tempi and Nikaia, central Greece, while tractors were parked along the Egnatia Odos national motorway, in northwest Greece, as well as at the Malgara toll gate, outside Thessaloniki. In addition, farmers from Xanthi, in the northeast, have set up roadblocks on the Strimona Bridge and motorists were using provincial roads to reach their destination.

    The border crossings at Exochi, Kipi and Promachonas were entirely blocked off while those at Evzoni and Doirani are being opened sporadically.

    In the Peloponnese, southern Greece, scores of tractors blocked the bridge over the Isthmus of Corinth and forced all traffic onto the old Athens-Corinth national motorway, while several access roads and highways remain closed.

    Meanwhile, farmers on the southern Aegean island of Crete blocked the Heraklion-Chania national motorway.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday stressed that the government had already done the best it could to meet their demands and that it was now the farmers' turn to respond to the government initiatives. "They have no reason to keep the roads closed," he said.

    Meanwhile, the Panhellenic Exporters Association, PEA, underlined in a letter addressed to Rural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis that the continuing farmer roadblocks will lead to the collapse of production and exporting enterprises in the country, considering that border access is blocked by farmer tractors.

    [14] Peloponnese farmers decide to withdraw from Canal roadblock

    Farmers from the Peloponnese decided on Tuesday afternoon to withdraw from the roadblock in the region of the Corinth Canal, following a meeting between a delegation of theirs and Agricultural Development Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis. However, another group remained in the area and called on farmers to reinforce the roadblock.

    A Coordinating Committee representative said that Hatzigakis agreed to include Corinthian raisins, citrus fruit, potatoes and animal fodder in the support package. As regards the development of the mobilisation, he said that the farmers' withdrawal from the Canal region is final and added that if there are some who create problems for traffic they are not farmers and have nothing to do with the farmers' struggle.

    In other roadblocks, apart from the roadblock at "Prasina Fanaria", outside the city of Thessaloniki, that has opened as of noon, farmers are remaining assembled and in many cases an effort is being made to bring in more tractors.

    A heated discussion took place during the farmers' meeting at Tempi, where disagreements were voiced openly on the continuation of mobilisations, but the final decision was for the tractors to stay where they are.

    At the Malgara tollgate, the farmers will make a goodwill gesture by opening the road during the night, while they are scheduled to return to the roadblock in the morning.

    [15] PASEGES confederation on farmers demands

    The representatives of the country's cooperatives and trade union organisations issued a resolution on Tuesday, at the end of a nationwide meeting called by the Panhellenic Confe-deration of Farmers Unions and Cooperatives (PASEGES), demanding the taking of immediate and medium and longterm measures for tackling the crisis in the farm sector.

    Analysing the government's proposals, the trade unionists claimed that announcements made are merely the compensation that farmers are entitled to. On the question of the distribution of the amount of 500 million euros announced by the Agricultural Development and Foods minister, they said that it is characterised by vague and unfair criteria since it does not include many categories of products that have suffered losses and that are being harmed by the crisis.

    They added that in the same category of products it also creates two-speed farmers, a fact that has already led to strong reactions and protests.

    [16] National Bank report

    An international financial crisis and an expected slowdown in economic and mainly tourism growth rates (for the period 2009-2010) will negatively affect passenger traffic in the coastal shipping sector, a report by National Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The report, by the bank's analysts, said that economic growth in the country was not expected to surpass 2.1 pct on average in the next four years, while a slowdown in global economic growth would affect other demand factors (tourism, commerce, regional growth). Under these circumstances, turnover in the sector is projected to grow by 3.8 pct this year, from an 8.0 pct growth rate in 2007, and to recover to an average growth rate of 7.4 pct in 2010-2012.

    The report also noted that low oil prices would significantly strengthen the financial health of the sector, as fuel costs accounted for 40 pct of total costs.

    Return on equity fell to 0.2 pct in 2008, affected by high fuel costs in the year, while projections that international oil prices would average 33 US dollars per barrel rising to 65 dollars in 2012 would boost the sector's operating profit margin to 24 pct in 2009 and to 18 pct in the next three years. Net profit margin is projected at 18 pct in 2009.

    The Greek coastal shipping market is one of the largest in the world, with companies in the sector accounting for 7.0 pct of global passenger traffic. Turnover in the sector accounted for 0.7 pct of Greek GDP.

    [17] Ratification of Piraeus container terminal concession in coming two weeks

    The vote on a bill ratifying the recent agreement signed for concession of the Port of Piraeus' container terminal to the Chinese-based COSCO will take place in the next two weeks, it was announced on Tuesday after a meeting between economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou and merchant marine, Aegean and island policy minister Anastasis Papaligouras.

    The two ministers met on Tuesday morning to discuss matters related to ratification of the concession agreement.

    [18] PASOK against placing EFET under farm ministry

    Main opposition PASOK on Tuesday said it was completely against the government's decision to transfer responsibility of the Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) from the development ministry to the agriculture ministry.

    "EFET should remain at the development ministry because it is linked, as laid out in the law founding the authority, with the protection of consumers, which is in the development ministry's sphere of responsibility," said PASOK's 'shadow development minister' Mihalis Chrysohoidis after a meeting with the staff and management of EFET.

    He urged the government to give up the plan as "unheard of, misplaced and ineffective" and instead strive to give the authority real support in terms of its institutions, financing and staffing needs, adding that PASOK would do everything in its power to avert the government's decision.

    [19] ADEDY calls work stoppage at noon on Wednesday

    The Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) has called a work stoppage from 12 noon on Wednesday until the end of the shift, for all people employed in the public sector, the legal entities of public law and the local administration organisations.

    ADEDY is highlighting demands concerning the social security issue, with emphasis on major financial problems facing health and welfare funds, and it will be holding a protest rally in Klafthmonos Square in Athens at 1 p.m.

    The tense climate between the government and trade unions in the public sector was worsened by the Interior, Transport and Finance ministries resorting to justice and requesting that the mobilisation be declared illegal and abusive.

    ADEDY spoke of an industry for declaring strikes illegal and abusive and warned of an escalation of mobilisation, while stressing that authoritarianism and the penalisation of trade union struggles will not produce results.

    [20] Ferie 2009 tourism exhibition ends in Copenhagen

    COPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA)

    The annual international "Ferie 09 Tourism Exhibition", held in Copenhagen's Bella Center exhibition centre and attracting the interest of professionals in the sector, the Danish public and the mass media, came to an end on Monday night.

    Participating in the exhibition were tourist organisations, travel agencies, airline companies, hotel chains and other agencies in the sector which chose the exhibition to promote their services.

    Greece participated again in the exhibition this year with an elegant Greek Tourist Organisation pavilion that was decorated with posters and banners that highlighted the Tourist Development ministry's message of "Greece the true experience," while screens constantly showed scenes from Greek tourist destinations and focused on every aspect of their beauty.

    People visiting the pavilion were provided with printed tourist material, from all over the country, useful information and advice about Greece, while they also had the opportunity of tasting local Greek wines and beverages, as well as other traditional Greek products.

    According to the organisers, the exhibition was visited by about 40,000 people.

    [21] Air-traffic controllers strike on Wednesday

    All domestic and international flights scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled due to a strike by air-traffic controllers, who have decided to participate in a 24-hour strike called by the civil servants' union ADEDY.

    This will essentially lead to the "shutting down" of Greece's air space for civilian aircraft and most passengers have already been informed by airlines, who are scheduling additional flights on Thursday to serve as many passengers as possible, using bigger aircraft and more frequent flights.

    As usual, skeleton staff will remain on standby to deal with any emergencies that may arise.

    In the meantime, the civil aviation service has begun legal proceedings at the Athens first-instance court, asking that the strike be declared abusive and illegal. A decision is expected to be issued later on Tuesday.

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates: Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.327

    Pound sterling 0.942

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 10.621

    Japanese yen 118.53

    Swiss franc 1.513

    Norwegian kroner 8.968

    Canadian dollar 1.632

    Australian dollar 2.004

    General News

    [23] Child pornography ring members face felony charges

    Four of the eleven men arrested for involvement in a big child pornography ring broken by the Greek police have been charged with felonies, authorities announced on Tuesday.

    The four are Spyros Symeonidis, Charalambos Charalambidis, Phaedon Hasiotis and Giorgos Iliopoulos. Their names were made public by the prosecutor, based on legislation that allows such a move in the case of crimes against minors.

    A total of 24 people across the country were accused of possessing and trafficking hard-core child porn on the internet following an investigation that lasted roughly three months, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Eleven men were arrested, among them Archimandrite Fotis Makrystathis, aged 44, who is a priest in the Peloponnese but was taken into custody in Attica prefecture. He was charged by a Piraeus prosecutor with repeated criminal counts of habitually using and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

    He asked for and received a 48-hour postponement to answer the charges, during which time he will be held in police custody.

    Police tracked 137 electronic traces on the Internet that belonged to a total of 35 users in Greece, who in fact were the 24 suspects indicted as some of them used more than one electronic address.

    The Greek users had bought or attempted to buy access and membership rights on VIP websites by using credit cards.

    Police have confiscated a total of 28 computer hard-drives, 8 portable PCs and a large number of DVDs with a capacity of 28,000 GB.

    The investigation on the case was launched after a relative document was forwarded by the London Metropolitan Police via Interpol, informing police authorities that following a global investigation on the Internet it had traced over 200 websites for VIP members with hard-core material involving small children.

    The users were trafficking explicit child pornography material showing among others even 6-month-old babies, with their hands tied behind their backs, in sexual activity with minors.

    [24] New digital systems at Navy Hydrographic Service

    The development of a Maritime GIS (Geographic Information System) for the Hellenic Navy Hydrographic Service has been successfully concluded, according to an announcement issued on Tuesday by the Space Hellas-Intracom consortium assigned to carry out the project.

    The announcement said that the total cost of supplying and installing the Maritime GIS system and software and of training personnel came to 1,496,880 euros, while it also adapted the new systems to the existing communications infrastructure at the Hydrographic Service and digitalised bathymetric and landscape charts that were in an analog format.

    The main aim of the project was to create the necessary infrastructure for automating procedures for the management and processing of geographic information of the Greek sea region that is under the Hydrographic Service's jurisdiction. It also empowered the Hygrographic Service to make its products available for distribution and sale over the Internet using e-commerce.

    [25] Private school teachers to strike on Thursday

    The federation of teachers in private schools intends to call its members out on strike next Thursday and plans a protest rally in Syntagma Square the same day, according to a press conference given by the union federation on Tuesday.

    They said teachers employed by private schools were currently facing huge problems mainly due to the behaviour of school owners "that leaves workers in private education defenceless".

    They cited specific instances of such abuses, saying the federation had initiated legal proceedings over incidents in Hania, Trikala and Karditsa to address the illegal actions on behalf of school owners.

    [26] SYRIZA honours Holocaust victims

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) honoured Tuesday the memory of the thousands of Greek Jews who perished in Nazi concentration camps during WWII.

    A SYRIZA delegation laid wreaths at the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki.

    [27] Missing man's body found in Lousios river

    The body of a 30-year-old man who had been swept away on Sunday by torrential waters while rafting in the Lousios river in Arkadia perfecture, southern Greece when his boat overturned, was recovered on Tuesday morning by members of a rescue team.

    The body of the man, who went missing at noon on Sunday, was recovered in the Alfeios River, of which the Lousios is a tributary.

    [28] Twelve-kilometre cycling route in Thessaloniki

    The northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki will have a 12-kilometre-long marked cycling route by the end of the year spanning along its seafront.

    The cycling route will allow for alternative transportation both for city dwellers and visitors.

    Hundreds of municipal bicycles will be parked in 20 spots along the route to be used free of charge and GPS technology will help to be easily traced in case they are stolen.

    Weather Forecast

    [29] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 1C and 16C. Cloudy in Athens with local showers in the morning, with southwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 13C.

    [30] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The farmers' determination to continue the blockades after the fruitless netogiations with Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzidakis Monday evening, the financial crisis and the uprecedented wave of dismissals in Europe and the US dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The government increased the amount of the support package, but the farmers persist".

    APOGEVMATINI: "1.3 billion euros to small and medium sized enterprises".

    AVGHI: " 57 Blockades are the answer to intransigence - Corinth Canal closed, farmers' mobilisations intensify".

    AVRIANI: "Opinion polls' results give the 'green light' for elections - The difference between ruling party New Democracy and main opposition PASOK narrows".

    CHORA: "Bargaining at the blockades - Karamanlis appeals to farmers to open up the roads".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Impasse after 17 days of dialogue - Crash test for government and blockades".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "We are not leaving .....farmers toughen their positions after the collapse of the negotiations ".

    ESTIA: "Tractors democracy - The new way to impose positions".

    ETHNOS: "Government hopes for a 'civil war' among the farmers - Impasse with tractors - Problems in the market".

    KATHIMERINI: "The country in a state of captivity - The farmers persist - Karamanlis calls for opening of the roads".

    LOGOS: "Farmers dismiss the Ministry's benefits - Corinth Canal closed by farmers".

    NIKI: "Karamanlis does't not convince that he is able to change policy".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The government continues to mock the low-income farmers - Farmers at blockades throughout Greece intensify their struggle".

    TA NEA: "Farmers toughen their stance, fears of shortages - Conflict scenery after the new impasse ".

    TO VIMA: "The country paralysesd once again - Blockades severely effect trade and tourism - Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' plea to farmers: Open the roads!".

    VRADYNI: "Impasse - Greece cut off at 57 spots - Problems become visible".

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