|Wednesday, 13 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-03-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 4 March 2009 Issue No: 3136
 PM to meet President, party leadersPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis intends to seek a common denominator that will enable consensus between the political forces of the country in dealing with the economic crisis, the government announced on Tuesday.
Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that Karamanlis will have successive meetings on Wednesday with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias at 11:30 and Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas at 13:00, and was seeking meetings with the political party leaders.
A later announcement by the prime minister's office said that Karamanlis will have successive meetings to discuss the state of the economy and the international economic crisis on Thursday with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou at 11:00, with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga at 12:30, with Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis at 14:00 and with the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos at 17:00.
 Cabinet briefed on EU summit, Bakoyannis tripsThe inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis focused on the global financial crisis and the results of last weekend's EU summit meeting, held in view of the ECOFIN meeting to convene next week.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stated afterwards that "each day we experience unexpected and unpleasant developments in the unprecedented financial crisis that touches economies worldwide and, therefore, Greece's economy as well."
"The goal is to manage the crisis with the fewest possible consequences, particularly for the middle and lower incomes. Our plan aspires to contain the public deficit and support developmental actions that will create new sources of income and jobs for the Greek people. We are, however, on the lookout to protect the country's economy," he stressed.
On her part, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis briefed the inner cabinet on her trip to the United States and the international donors' conference for the rebuilding the Gaza Strip held in Egypt. Referring to the global economic crisis, she stressed that "every day, new facts are creating concern across Europe, particularly after the EU Summit meeting and in view of the upcoming one."
"Our goal is absolute coordination of all European countries, as well as cooperation and solidarity in efforts aimed at managing the crisis," Bakoyannis stressed.
Referring to an incident targeting Greek tourists in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in the city of Ochrid, she stated that the foreign ministry has issued an announcement briefing the Greek citizens wishing to travel to FYROM on "all the facts".
"The unfortunate events in Ochrid show that (FYROM PM Nikola) Gruevski's election campaign rhetoric has an impact," she commented.
 PASOK spokesman on political developmentsMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring to Tuesday's Inner Cabinet meeting, the prime minister's presence at the extraordinary EU summit, the release of information last Friday regarding the implementation of the budget and the prime minister's upcoming meetings with party leaders, spoke of "an absolute policy vacuum that the Greek citizen is paying for".
Papaconstantinou said that it is "absolutely unacceptable" that information should be announced "secretly" on the eve of a three-day period and added that it is an unprecedented effort by the government to have this information have the least possible publicity, while terming the budget's data "tragic".
The spokesman referred to "data on the complete collapse of the government's reliability, both with regard to the budget for 2008 and the updated stability and growth programme defended in Parliament by the relevant minister himself a few days ago."
Papaconstantinou further said that in his meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, PASOK leader George Papandreou will refer to PASOK's proposals on exiting from the economic crisis and he will also be reiterating the party's steadfast position on the holding of early elections and the consensual election of the President of the Republic.
 FinMin Papathanasiou replies to PASOK spokesmanFinance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, replying to a statement made by main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou earlier on Tuesday, said that "the data announced on the implementation of the budget for 2008 have been taken into consideration during the preparation of the updated Stability and Growth Programme, which the Government has submitted to the European Commission."
Papathanasiou added that "on the basis of these data, the deficit of the General Governance was set at 3.7 percent of GDP as, in any case, it is mentioned in the revised Programme. Instead, therefore, of the representative of PASOK asking about nonexistent issues, he should better ask the economic staff of his party how it succeeded in discovering again an issue that does not exist?"
 Papandreou cites 'strangled' marketMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday tabled a question for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Parliament regarding the lack of credit 'strangling' the Greek market.
"The market has frozen, unemployment is increasing and prices are not falling in spite of the reduction in demand," Papandreou claimed.
He also accused banks of failing to fulfill their role as providers of credit for the real economy, in spite of a drastic cuts in the interest rates of the European Central Bank, Euribor and the Greek government's 28-billion-euro support package.
Papandreou cited a "deficit in policy" in terms of boosting demand, averting the repercussions of joblessness and restoring the lost confidence of Greek consumers prey to rampant and uncontrolled price gouging, as well as its failure to ensure that banks made credit available to businesses and households.
In a press conference on Tuesday, meanwhile, PASOK MP Michalis Chrysochoidis called on consumers to boycott "the government of high prices". He strongly criticised "the unjustified inconsistency observed between the prices of producers and store prices in a number of basic products and foodstuffs," citing figures made public by producer and consumer price watchdogs.
Referring to liquid fuel prices, Chrysochoidis stated that Greece is the 6th most expensive among the 27 EU member states as regards the pre-tax price of unleaded gasoline, while car fuel retail prices have recorded a notable rise in an international environment of dropping fuel prices.
On the issue of worker layoffs, Chrysochoidis said that the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest trade union umbrella organisation, had recorded a total of 4,136 layoffs in February, a record-high 774 mandatory leaves and 180 worker suspensions.
The issue of the overpriced natural gas was also underlined, being up to 20 pct more expensive than heating oil in certain regions of the country.
 ND secretary calls for consensus for country's benefitRuling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis stressed the need on Tuesday for consensus for the country's benefit, following a meeting of ND's intersecretarial body.
The meeting focused on the party's preparations for the Euroelections and the holding of events in Greece and Europe, as well as the creation of an election campaign committee.
Zagoritis said after the meeting that "at a time when there is no mere storm but an unprecedented tempest all over the world, the least thing required is consensus for the country's benefit."
He added that this is the policy followed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and called on the leaders of the opposition parties "not to hide behind tension and populism to conceal their own political vacuums and their grey and sinful past."
 SYN leader meets with police trade unionistsCoalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday strongly criticised Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, stressing that while he calls for a consensus on the economy and national issues he refuses it when it comes to a very important issue for the Greek society - namely, the establishment of a cross-party committee on police reform.
In comments after meeting with police trade unionists, Tsipras pointed out that his party will reiterate its proposal to set up a cross-party committee.
Responding to a question by a reporter on the PM's invitation extended to the political party leaders for a dialogue and his proposal for consensus, Tsipras stressed that "they want consensus in order to carry out their own policy."
 Protest demarche to FYROM for Ohrid incidentsSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
The head of Greece's Liaison Office in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou, visited to FYROM's Foreign ministry on Tuesday afternoon and delivered a protest demarche regarding Sunday's incidents against Greek tourists in the city of Ohrid.
Papadopoulou called on FYROM's authorities to detect and arrest the perpatrators of the incidents against Greek visitors in Ohrid and to protect Greek citizens travelling to the neighbouring country.
She also stressed that Greece "desires and strives for the development of good and harmonious relations between the peoples of the two countries."
"We want the peoples of the two countries to maintain close contacts. We want the citizens of your country to come to Greece and Greek citizens to visit your country," Papadopoulou said.
 Greece issues travel advisory on FYROMGreece on Tuesday issued a travel advisory for citizens traveling to FYROM.
The advisory came after an incident Sunday night FYROM in which a group of some 20-30 people attacked three Greek tourist coaches in downtown Ohrid as they were waiting for Greek holidaymakers to return from a tour, which was condemned by the Athens government.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mr. G. Koumoutsakos has issued the following announcement:
The Foreign Ministry informs Greek citizens who wish to travel to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - whether for a stay or in transit, for professional or personal reasons - that they may experience problems. Reasons for this include the following:
A. The negative climate that has been created with regard to our country during the past year has provoked the abuse of persons - usually drivers - and attacks on and damage to cars with Greek license plates.
B. Local legislation and procedural regulations, including those regarding:
· transit hauling,
· leaving the country with over ¬ 2,000 in foreign currency, unless the currency was declared on entry into the country, and
· traffic regulations, are very strictly enforced by the authorities in FYROM with regard to Greek citizens, in blatant abuse of authority and with disproportionate consequences.
It should also be borne in mind that FYROM legislation changes constantly and without any previous notification of the public or interested professional groups.
The competent Greek authorities have observed cases of the above, particularly in recent months.
Greek citizens are encouraged to familiarize themselves in a timely manner regarding the regulations in effect in FYROM, to comply with them carefully and, mainly, to exercise caution and prudence regarding their safety and that of their property during their stay in, or journey through, FYROM.
The Greek diplomatic and consular missions in the country are at the disposal of Greek citizens to provide clarifications or assistance in the case of an unpleasant incident.
 Education Minister Spiliotopoulos on education dialogueEducation Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos has sent a letter to the members of the political committee on dialogue on education, who have been appointed by the Parliamentary parties, proposing the date and time for the holding of the committee's inaugural session.
The minister stresses in his letter that "the beginning of the dialogue on education in the framework of the political committee is aimed at seeking solutions of widespread and universal acceptance, through a democratic dialogue without decisions taken in advance, on upgrading first and second stage education, reshaping the senior high school, its release from the Panhellenic Examinations and the creation of a new system of selecting candidates in third stage education."
Spiliotopoulos concluded his letter by saying that "in this framework, I propose that the first session of the political committee on education issues be held on Monday, March 9, and at 11 a.m. at the Education ministry."
 Church foundation wins ECHR case against TurkeyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The Foundation of the Koimisis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church on the island of Tenedos (known in Turkish as Bozcaada) was vindicated by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday in its case against Turkey.
In a judgement posted on Tuesday, the court unanimously found that the rights of the "Bozcaada Kimisis Teodoku Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi Vakfi" (as the foundation is registered with Turkish authorities) had been violated when Turkish courts to register the immovable property of the applicant foundation in the land register in its name.
Specifically, the court held that there had been a violation of article 1 of Protocol 1 (protection of property) of the European Convention of Human Rights by Turkey and awarded compensation of 100,000 euros to the foundation in pecuniary damages and a further 5,000 euros for costs and expenses.
The case concerns three plots of land and a chapel that the foundation acquired through donations or legacies.
 EU reiterates solidarity for member states with economic problemsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)
The European Union will show its solidarity to Eurozone member-states, as it did recently with some states outside the euro area, Monetary Affairs Commissioner's spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, in Brussels, Amelia Torres said that the EU has a plan and will show its solidarity in the extremely unlikely case that a Eurozone member-state faced problems because of the global economic crisis. The spokeswoman reiterated that there was no serious evidence of unresolved problems in the Eurozone, noting that all member-states were obliged to take measures for the recovery of their economies, while she underlined that not all countries have the same room of maneuvering. Torres said that countries, like Greece, have limited room for maneuver and should pay special attention to the situation of their public finances.
 Economy minister presents export policy prioritiesThe priorities of the government's export policy was boosting export-orientation of the economy, improving product quality and services and facilitating access to foreign markets, Greek Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Tuesday.
Addressing a HELEXPO event to present the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair, Papathanasiou said that Greek exports were successful in the last few years and predicted that exports would grow by an annual rate of 2.4 pct by 2011.
The Greek minister noted that the government was encouraging private investments with subsidies covering up to 60 pct of the budget and that a total of 5,170 investment projects have been approved so far, worth 9.8 billion euros, creating 27,400 new jobs in the country. He predicted that private investments -excluding homes- would grow by an annual average rate of 4.2 pct in the period 2009-2011.
Papathanasiou stressed that the government was implementing an integrated plan to maintain the growth dynamism of the economy, supporting employment and lower income earners, while it was also seeking to gradually cut its fiscal deficit.
 Greek exports up 1.1 pct in 2008Greek exports grew by 1.1 percent to 17.333 billion euros last year, from 17.139 billion euros in 2007, while excluding oils exports grew by 2.6 pct in 2008, Hellenic Export Promotion Organisation said in an analysis of official statistical figures.
Italy and Germany were the top export countries accounting for 11.5 pct and 10.5 pct of Greek exports, followed by Bulgaria, Cyprus, US, UK, Romania and Turkey.
Greek exports to Russia grew by 17.4 pct to 418.9 million euros, of 2.4 pct of Greek exports, with main export products furs, fresh fruit and vegetables, telecom equipment, cosmetics and cooling, heating equipment.
Food and Beverage products accounted for 18.1 pct of total Greek exports last year, up 5.1 pct from 2007 to 3.145 billion euros, while exports of building material (16.6 pct of total exports) grew 10.5 pct to 2.879 billion euros.
 Development ministry-sponsored energy saving programme presentationDevelopment Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) President and Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis presented a 100-million-euro energy saving programme on Tuesday to be implemented in 228 municipalities nationwide, with a population of over 10,000 people each. The energy saved is expected to be between 10 and 40 pct, according to official estimates.
The programme, financed by the National Strategic Reference Framework, NSRF, (70 pct) and the municipalities (30 pct) will focus on energy saving interventions in municipal buildings, public spaces, municipal transport means, etc.
Relative proposals will be submitted for a period of three months beginning on March 16, and evaluation will take place in the two-month period of June-July 2009. The programme is scheduled to get underway in September.
The specific programme is expected to contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by up to 6,800 tons annually and combined with the projects aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings will boost the construction sector currently hit by the ongoing economic crisis, Development Minister Hatzidakis stressed.
The NSRF programme on young and women entrepreneurs will by announced by the minister on Wednesday, while a comprehensive presentation of all NSRF programmes will be held by Thursday.
 House ratifies Greek-China contract on port terminalsParliament ratified in principle on Tuesday night an agreement between Greece and China for the concession to a Chinese company of the container terminals II and III at the Piraeus port. Ruling New Democracy (ND) deputies voted for while all opposition parties voted against the ratification.
 Finance minister meets with ADEDY presidentThe income policy will be announced at the end of March, according to statements made by civil servants' trade union ADEDY president Spyros Papaspypos after meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou on Tuesday.
In addition, he pointed out that Papathanasiou has pledged that the public sector's debts to doctors, suppliers etc will henceforth be paid off within a period of three months.
 FinMin Papathanasiou on municipalities, economic crisisFinance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou called on municipalities on Tuesday to contribute to the collective effort to tackle the repercussions of the economic crisis.
"If we kill the cow that gives tourist municipalities 2 percent or 0.5 percent, the municipalities will then have nowhere to receive from," the minister said.
Referring to the proposal made by the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) on the replacement of the 2 percent duty on a fairer basis, he said that the government is committed on examining it.
However, Papathanasiou pointed out that "this year, in light of the existing problem, we have to help the small and medium-size enterprise, particularly in sectors where we are expecting unfavourable repercussions."
 FinMin Papathanasiou attends event on 74th TIFThe characteristics and innovations of the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), that will be taking place between September 5-13, were presented on Tuesday night to the ambassadors and commercial and economic advisers of foreign diplomatic delegations in Athens by the organising HELEXPO company.
The event was held under the auspices of Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, who stressed in his address that the country's aim is to preserve its growth momentum, strengthen its extroversion and maintain its competitive advantages.
Referring to the current global economic crisis, he said that all must keep the economy's channels open and focused on the plan being implemented by the government to back the monetary system and the financially weaker social groups.
Papathanasiou further said that the Greek government is proving in practice its conviction that protectionism is no solution, pointing out that growth will come through the free market.
 Gender wage gap still holds in Greece, EU Commission saysBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The wage gap between men and women continues to hold strong in Greece, even more so than in other European countries, according to figures released by the European Commission on Tuesday. Launching a campaign to reduce the differences in wages between the genders, the European Commission on Tuesday noted that differences remain on several levels, in spite of progress made in promoting gender equality.
The Commission's campaign will seek to sensitise public opinion, employers and the workforce on the issue and ways of dealing with it, promoting best practices in this area and distributing a range of tools for use by employers and trade union organisations on a European and national level.
According to the Commission's figures, the number of women in work has increased steadily in recent years and 58.3 percent of women now work in the EU, compared to 72.5 percent of men. In Greece, 47.9 percent of women work compared to 74.9 percent of men. Nonetheless, women continue to do part-time work more often than men (31.2 percent of women and 7.7 percent of men in the EU; 10.1 percent of women and 2.7 percent of men in Greece), while they continue to be over-represented in sectors with lower pay. At the same time, women represent 59 percent of young graduates in the EU.
The difference in wages between men and women also affects women's income throughout their lifetime and their pensions, so that women at more at risk of poverty than men. In the EU, 21 percent of women aged over 65 faces the risk of poverty in comparison with 16 percent of men. In Greece, the equivalent rates are 27 percent and 23 percent.
The Commission also found that women are greatly under-represented in decision-making, both in the economic sector and the European political scene. All the central banks of the 27 EU member-states are headed by a man, while men still make up 90 percent of the boards of the major EU businesses (that form the high-cap index of each country), with minimal improvement in recent years.
The percentage of women that are members of national parliaments has increased by roughly half in the past decade, from 16 percent in 1997 to 24 percent in 2008. In Greece, the representation of women in Parliament is at 16 percent.
On average, the majority of ministers in national governments are men by a ratio of three to one (25 percent women, 75 percent men) in the EU. In Greece, 11 percent are women and 89 percent are men, according to the figures of the Commission.
 Greek manufacturing sector activity at record low levels in FebruaryActivity in the Greek manufacturing sector worsened for the sixth consecutive month in February, reflecting a record decline in new orders and inventories, pushing the country's Purchasing Managers' Index to a new record low of 38.9 points.
Total income new orders for the Greek manufacturing sector fell rapidly in February, particularly from the domestic market reflecting a weakening confidence and demand amid a continuing economic crisis.
Production levels fell but at a slower pace in February, compared with a fall in orders, while employment shrank further in the sector. Purchasing activity fell in the month as companies opted for a complete use of inventories as a solution to cutting spending.
Factory gate prices in the Greek manufacturing sector fell sharply in February. Commenting on the figures of the Greek PMI, Gemma Wallace, an economist at Markit Economics, said business conditions remained difficult for Greek manufacturers, while latest data showed that this condition would continue in the near future.
Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 Babis Vovos to skip dividend paymentBabis Vovos, a Greek-listed engineering and property developer company, on Tuesday said it would skip dividend payment this year. The company said it would release its annual financial report on March 31, 2009.
 Greek stocks end 1.62 pct lowerGreek stocks fell to new six-year lows in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, ignoring a recovery in other European markets. The composite index ended 1.62 pct lower at 1,510.99 points, with turnover an improved 137.6 million euros, of which 21.7 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Commerce (5.73 pct), Banks (4.66 pct), Insurance (4.57 pct), Healthcare (3.85 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.87 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Telecommunications (2.33 pct), Oil (0.61 pct) and Media (0.29 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.80 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.36 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.62 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 150 to 52 with another 43 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.61%
Personal & Household: -0.55%
Raw Materials: -1.14%
Travel & Leisure: -0.55%
Food & Beverages: -2.87%
Financial Services: +0.23%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.00
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.90
HBC Coca Cola: 9.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.88
National Bank of Greece: 9.38
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.76
Bank of Piraeus: 3.68
Titan Cement Company: 13.60
 ADEX closing reportThe March contract was traded at a discount of 1.03 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, in low turnover of 33.684 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,458 contracts worth 23.498 million euros, with 34,335 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,304 contracts worth 9.851 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,265), followed by Eurobank (436), MIG (1,262), OTE (2,108), PPC (646), OPAP (1,326), Piraeus Bank (739) and Marfin Popular Bank (844).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.271
Pound sterling 0.902
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 11.577
Japanese yen 124.63
Swiss franc 1.494
Norwegian kroner 9.084
Canadian dollar 1.634
Australian dollar 1.977
 Conference on local and regional administrationsPARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
The 16th Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe opened in Strasbourg on Tuesday, focusing on the role of local and regional administrations in international challenges and their contribution towards solving crises.
The Conference belongs to the Council of Europe and on whose premises the session is taking place.
Euromediterranean cooperation, water management and the intercultural character of cities were, among others, main issues on the agenda.
Moreover, the "Dosta" award will be given, in the framework of a special ceremony, to three cities that distinguished themselves in managing the issue of gypsies in their regions.
The first award is shared by the cities of Mostar and Priedor from Bosnia-Herzegovina, the second award goes to the city of Volos in Greece and the third to the city of Lom in Bulgaria.
 Spiliotopoulos on Arts Competitions Coordinating CommitteeThe Artistic Competitions Coordinating Committee convened at the education ministry on Tuesday under the chairmanship of its new President Marina Lambraki-Plaka, in the presence of Education and Religious Affairs Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos.
The minister termed the artistic competitions "extremely important" because "the possibility is provided for about 35,000 boy and girl pupils from all over Greece to promote whatever skills or whatever talents thay may have."
Spiliotopoulos further said that "as a matter of fact, what we are interested in is where talents exist, where skills exist to motivate them and to give Greece the possibility to present the modern cultural production."
The minister also said that he requested from Plaka to chair the committee, believing that "the competitions are not only music, they are not only dancing but, in parallel, they are theatre and painting. They are all those arts with which many Greek men and women became known, in all the extremities of the world."
 Pavlos Doulamis appointed new Korydallos prison directorBy decision of Justice Minister Nikolaos Dendias, Pavlos Doulamis has been appointed the new director of the Korydallos prison, following an assessment by the relevant service council and in the wake of the escape from the prison of detainee Vassilis Paleokostas.
According to an announcement by the Justice ministry, Doulamis is a graduate of the Pantios University's Political Sciences Department and since March, 2005, he had been the director of the Drug Addict Detainees Rehabilitation Centre of Eleonas in Thebes. He has also been a member of the first stage prison service council and has taught at the Prison Guarding Staff School.
Throughout his entire employee career, he has never had disciplinary action taken against him and he has no pending disciplinary issue.
 Photography exhibition on Maria Callas opens in BostonWashington (ANA-MPA / A. Ellis)
A photography exhibition titled "Tribute to Maria Callas" opened at the Maliotis Cultural Center in Boston with a special event featuring a concert by soprano Stella Markou. The exhibition will run until March 29 before opening in Houston, Texas.
Organized by the Hellenic Parliament Foundation under the title "Maria Callas: 30 Years Later" the exhibition was first presented in Athens in 2007 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Maria Callas, one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. In 2008, under its current title, the exhibition was presented at various locations in Greece, in Trieste, Italy and in Washington, DC.
Focusing on Callas's stage appearances in Greece and across the world, the exhibition presents a selection of photographs from the archives of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Greek National Theatre, Associated Press, Hellenic Literary and Historical Archives, Benaki Museum in Athens, EMI Classics, ERT Historical Archives and the Arena Theatre in Verona, as well as private collections.
 St Petersburg Museum wax figures' exhibition in ThessalonikiAn exhibition of 80 wax effigies, inspired by the heroes of ancient Greek myths, world famous figures in politics and the arts and famous characters in children's films, will be held at Thessaloniki's "Aristotelion" Theatre Hall foyer between March 12 and May 12 hosted by the local municipality.
All exhibits come from Russia's Saint Petersburg Wax Museum. Among the wax figures on display will be Russia's PM Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin, as well as Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, Hercules, the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite and Disney films' heroes.
 Arson attack on ISAP train, extensive damage causedA group of some 20 individuals wearing carnival masks torched six wagons of an ISAP train at 1:07 a.m. at the Kifissia terminal, and police attributed the attack to an organized plan.
Police sources said that the group of masked troublemakers entered the Kifissia-bound train at the Patissia station, and according to passengers' accounts were making trouble along the way, but when the train reached the terminal in Kifissia they took out containers containing gasoline from the bags they were carrying and started throwing the flammable liquid throughout the train wagons.
When train stopped the troublemakers warned the 7-8 other passengers on board to disembarked and distance themselves from the train.
The train driver, who was unaware of what was happening, entered the wagon and told the troublemakers to calm down, but they immoblized him and made him leave the train, locking d him up with the woman station master in the station master's cubicle, after which they set fire to the wagons with propane canisters.
The train was engulged in flames, resulting in the total destruction of six wagons and extensive damage to three other wagons.
The perpetrators fled the scene and disappeared, possibly with cars waiting for them outside the terminal and driven by accomplices.
The fire was quickly extinguished by 30 firemen who rushed to the scene with 10 fire engines.
Security police were investigating the incident.
 Foreign national arrested for migrant mugglingPolice on Tuesday announced the arrest of an Albanian national in Ladochori, Thesprotia prefecture in northwest Greece, who is accused of attempting to smuggle into Greece a total of five Albanians in return for a fee.
Both the smuggler and the illegal migrants found in his car were led before a prosecutor while the vehicle was seized.
A total of 180 illegal migrants from neighbouring Albania were intercepted in the north-western province of Epirus over the past three days and have already been repatriated via the Kakavia border crossing.
 Illegal immigrants clash with police in Patras portClashes broke out Monday night in a side-street off the port of Patras between illegal immigrants and police, after an illegal immigrant was injured by a truck.
The illegal immigrant was injured while trying to board the truck, and immediately afterwards tens of illegal immigrants flocked to the site and started throwing stones at the truck.
The illegal immigrants also threw stones at police who arrived on the scene, and police used tear gas to disperse them.
A passer-by and two police officers were injured in the violence, while several cars were also damaged.
 Track theft for ransom alarms authoritiesPolice and the management of Hellenic Railways on Tuesday said they were gravely concerned by a strange case of theft discovered that morning, in which a small section of railroad track was "abducted" by an unknown individual or individuals for ransom.
Though small, the section of track removed was sufficient to cause an accident and the theft was preceded by a threatening phone call to demand money.
A railway maintenance engine discovered the missing section of track - a piece just 10 cm long - about 2.5 kilometres from Zevgolati station on the railroad track going toward Kalamata. The line was immediately closed down until the damage was repaired.
The ransom call had been made to the Kalamata station master shortly before midnight on Monday. The unidentified caller had demanded 1.5 million euros in return for not sabotaging the track and had even pinpointed the location between Zevgolati and Kalo Nero.
The station master had contacted engine drivers using the line and advised them to use extreme caution.
The site where the piece of track was removed was inspected by local police and a team sent by Attica Security, who collected evidence and are conducting an investigation.
 Hania guard committed after shooting deathAn examining magistrate on Tuesday ordered that the Hania prison guard who shot and killed one man, while seriously injured a second, is to be committed to the Korydallos Prison psychiatric facility.
The 23-year-old perimeter guard faces charges of intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide after his attack on two men and a taxi driver with a shot gun. He had been due to appear before the magistrate on Tuesday to make his statement but the magistrate ruled that he was not competent to do so, based on the report of the specialist psychiatrist appointed to examine him.
On Wednesday last week, the accused killed a 50-year-old resident of Sougia in Hania and seriously injured another, aged 45, while firing shots at a taxi driver in the vicinity.
 Amnesty International Greek section to host Int'l Women's Day eventsSpecial events on the occasion of International Women's Day celebrated on March 8 will be held in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in Hania on the island of Crete, organized by Amnesty International Greek section.
The events will include exhibitions, film screenings and music concerts.
 Refund option for ISAP annual travel card holdersThe management of Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) on Tuesday announced that it was extending the services available to holders of Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways (ISAP) annual travel cards, as a result of the work being done on ISAP lines that was interfering with the regular operation of the trains. Alternatively, passengers can return their annual card to OASA offices for a refund, less the value of the time that the card has been in use.
Specifically, while the work is underway and until further notice from OASA, holders of ISAP one-year cards (exclusively for use on ISAP trains), will also be able to use alternative means of public transport free of charge, enjoying the same services as holders of 350-euro annual travel cards for all public transport.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy weather with rainfall in the evening, especially toward the north, are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday. Winds blowing mainly from the southeast, ranging from 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 21C. Scattered cloud and late-night showers in Athens, with 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 8C to 20C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 7C to 16C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe aftermath of the EU Extraordinary Summit and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' upcoming meetings with party leaders this week aimed at consensus dominated the headlines on Tuesday in the Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Greeks set aside the financial crisis for a while and enjoyed the carnival".
APOGEVMATINI: "PM to political leaders: Urgent call".
AVRIANI: "Banks and insurance giants are collapsing worldwide, dragging the social security Funds down with them".
CHORA: "Raises in public sector salaries will be given in two installments".
ELEFTHEROS: "Mr. Karamanlis, speak clearly - He rejects early elections just as he did in the summer of 2007, but he is exploiting the early elections speculation".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "500,000 acres of state property for sale".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "European leaders raise a wall to the eastern European countries' call for help".
ESTIA: "Europe unshielded before the new wave of the crisis".
ETHNOS: "Raid on salaries and pensions - Karamanlis sends message for austerity and new taxes".
TA NEA: "Brussels ordered Karamanlis to impose harsh measures before the Easter holidays".
VRADYNI: "Draft law revokes years of injustice for 110,000 employees in public sector".
 Christofias: Greek Cypriot side focuses on the agreed solution's basisNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Greek Cypriot side is participating in the direct negotiation process, aiming at finding a mutually accepted solution to the Cyprus problem, with the political will that is needed for an honest compromise, while at the same time remains focus on the basis and the principles of the solution, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has said.
Speaking Tuesday at an event in the memory of Gregoris Afxentiou, a Cypriot hero of EOKA at the fight against British colonialism in 1955-59, President Christofias said that the Greek Cypriot side is fighting for a solution that will give an end to the Turkish occupation and settlement, and will reunite Cyprus in the framework of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined by the relevant UN resolutions.
"A solution that will ensure the territorial integrity and unity of Cyprus, with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship. This solution should be based on the International Law, the relevant UN resolutions, and should be consistent with the principle and values upon which the European Union was founded", he said.
President Christofias noted that the ongoing process belongs to the Cypriots, as it has been agreed between him the UN Secretary General and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community. "This process has been adopted by recent UN resolutions. We will safeguard this principle until the end. We should work constructively, without arbitration and tight time frames, in order to reach convergences and agreements in all the issues", he added.
Noting that the solution of the Cyprus problem depends to a large extent on Turkey's good will, President Christofias stressed the need the international community to exert pressure on Ankara in order to alter its stance towards Cyprus, and cooperate for a solution.
Referring to the hero Gregoris Afxentiou, President Christofias said that he has been one of the most important persons in the history of Cyprus. "With admiration, we pay tribute to a twenty-nine year old young man who watered, with his own life, our country's tree of freedom", he concluded.
Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September last year with a view to solve the question of Cyprus. The island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Cyprus announces 1 million dollar donation to GazaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cyprus government will contribute the sum of one million dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza.
The announcement was made on Sunday by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou at Larnaca airport, on his return from Egypt, where he represented the Republic of Cyprus at the International Conference to support the Palestinian economy for the reconstruction of Gaza.
The Conference was held at Sharm el-Sheikh, it was co-chaired by Egypt and Norway and attended, among others, by the President of France, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the US Secretary of State.
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