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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-05-20

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

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

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 Issue No: 3198

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't OKs major railway reforms
  • [02] PASOK spokesman on restructuring of Hellenic Railways Organisation, Euroelections
  • [03] President Papoulias in Denmark for second day
  • [04] President Papoulias attends concert in Copenhagen with Queen of Denmark
  • [05] ND Euroelections Central Committee convenes, statements by Yiannakou, Zagoritis
  • [06] PM Karamanlis to visit Tripolis on Sunday
  • [07] PASOK leader visits GSIS in Moschato
  • [08] Government following mistaken 'recipe' in economic policy, PASOK official says
  • [09] KKE leader visits National Foundation for Disabled
  • [10] SYN's Tsipras addresses Egaleo shop-keepers
  • [11] EU urges Turkey to actively support ongoing Cyprus talks
  • [12] Intracom Telecoms signs 85-mln-US dollar contract in India
  • [13] MPB, Marfin Egnatia Bank boards approve merger plan
  • [14] PPC says Q1 results significantly higher
  • [15] PPC approves 1.3-bln-euro power unit project
  • [16] Fiscal deficit to fall to 3.7 pct of GDP in 2009
  • [17] Filiatra Dam construction project signed
  • [18] ASE lifts suspension of trading in Rainbow
  • [19] Stocks up 3.8% on Tues.
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Greek bond market closing report
  • [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [23] Health minister says 'no alarm' after first case of H1N1 in Greece
  • [24] Civil aviation service announcement on airport surgeries
  • [25] Antiquities returned to Greece from Germany, Belgium and UK
  • [26] Event in memory of Pontian Hellenism genocide
  • [27] Koumoutsakos on the Pontian Greek Genocide Memorial Day
  • [28] PASOK leader issues message
  • [29] South Australia State minister in Thessaloniki for Pontian Greek Genocide Day events
  • [30] Education Minister Spiliotopoulos visits special school in Argyroupolis
  • [31] Greek Sale at Bonhams on Tuesday
  • [32] Tribute to Yannis Ritsos by Gorky Library in Odessa
  • [33] Fire on Mt. Athos under control, no Monasteries endangered
  • [34] Domestic dispute in Kallithea leaves 3 dead, boy injured
  • [35] Firebombs thrown outside PASOK's old offices in Athens
  • [36] Ferry rams into pier in Limnos port, passengers safe
  • [37] Man arrested attempting to smuggle cocaine he had ingested
  • [38] Drug dealing arrest in Corinth
  • [39] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [40] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [41] Foreign Minister says Turkey has role to play in outcome of Cyprus talks Politics

  • [01] Gov't OKs major railway reforms

    The government on Tuesday approved a major reforms package and the urgent rationalisation of loss-making Hellenic Railways (OSE), during a meeting of the Inner Cabinet, again chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Transport Minister Evripides Stylianidis afterwards told reporters that major reforms are absolutely necessary, as OSE's accumulated debts are now close to nine billion euros and the utility's cost-revenue ratio stands at 8:1, when the European average is 10:8.

    "Greek citizens currently pay two million euros a day to maintain a network that is, unfortunately, declining, due to choices made in the past; this network is only able to survive and operate because of the earnest efforts of its workforce," Stylianidis stressed.

    He said the government's aim was to press ahead with changes and once again link up Greece with important European and international railway networks, providing high quality services to Greek citizens and ending the isolation of Greece's outlying rural areas.

    The minister emphasised, meanwhile, that the plan aims for rationalisation and not privatisation of the organisation, while adding that "deregulation allows the participation of private service providers".

    In addition to the reform efforts, the government was attempting to speed up work being carried out on the central line between Patras, Athens, Thessaloniki, Eidomeni and Promahonas (PATHEP), he added.

    On its part, however, the OSE employees' union called a strike.

    The railway workers' union POS has also called a 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday, according to an announcement by the railways' management.

    [02] PASOK spokesman on restructuring of Hellenic Railways Organisation, Euroelections

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, who is also heading the party's ticket in the upcoming Euroelections, commented on statements made on Tuesday by the relevant minister concerning the "restructuring of OSE (the Hellenic Railways Organisation)", saying that the organisation's debt, which had been 2.3 billion euros in 2004, "has reached 9 billion euros in 2009" and, as it is predicted, will move above 12 billion euros in 2010. This, he added, "is the result of OSE's mismanagement" during the New Democracy (ND) party's five-year governance.

    Papaconstaninou referred to the campaign for the Euroelections, expressing his satisfaction in principle because, as he said, a substantive discussion is beginning to take place.

    He underlined a basic, as he noted, difference between PASOK and ND that has appeared in positions stated so far by Marietta Yiannakou (who is heading ND's Euroelections ticket). ND accepts that the Stability Pact is good as it stands. According to ND, he added, all that a small country has to do is to accept the rules set by others in Europe.

    Papaconstantinou stressed that PASOK disagrees with this and believes that a country, no matter how small it is, jointly sets rules as PASOK had done with the Mediterranean Integrated Programmes and the Community Support Frameworks.

    [03] President Papoulias in Denmark for second day

    COPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA/N. Megadoukas)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was given a guided tour of environmentally friendly facilities and model energy efficient buildings on the second day of his formal visit here.

    President Papoulias, known for his environmental awareness, expressed special interest in the world's largest offshore wind farm, established outside Copenhagen by the Middelgrunden Wind Turbine Co-operative, which has been in operation since May 2001.

    A total of 20 wind turbines are installed in shallow waters some 2 kms off the port of Copenhagen. The 24-million-euro project has an annual electricity production of 199,000 MWh covering approximately 3 pct of the electricity consumed in the Danish capital.

    President Papoulias also toured by boat facilities used as warehouses and for other purposes, which have been harmoniously integrated into the urban landscape of the Danish capital, as well as a complex of 80 energy-efficient residences in the region of Orestad that were awarded the prize for the best housing and ecological solution in the 2008 World Architecture Festival in Barcelona.

    At noon, Papoulias attended a business forum held by the Confederation of Danish Industries.

    The meetings held by President Papoulias and Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, who is accompanying him, focused on bilateral commercial and economic relations with an emphasis on the environment and tourism, considering that Greece is a tourist destination for 7 pct of the Danish population on an annual basis.

    Papoulias also laid a wreath at the Monument of Danish Resistance.

    [04] President Papoulias attends concert in Copenhagen with Queen of Denmark

    COPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA/N. Megadoukas)

    Visiting Greek President Karolos Papoulias and the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, attended a concert by the "New Greek quartet" at Copenhagen's State Art Museum on Tuesday night.

    The "New Greek quartet" was founded in 1991 and is considered one of the best chamber music groups in Greece and it has participated in many European festivals.

    Afterwards, the President of the Republic hosted a reception in honour of the Queen of Denmark.

    On Wednesday, President Papoulias will be having consecutive meetings with the president of the Danish Parliament and the prime minister and he is expected back in Athens late at night.

    [05] ND Euroelections Central Committee convenes, statements by Yiannakou, Zagoritis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis chaired a meeting of his ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Euroelections Central Committee on Tuesday, while the candidate heading its Euroelections ticket, Marietta Yiannakou, appeared optimistic.

    Yiannakou said she "feels great optimism personally both for the citizens' participation in the Euroelections and for preference for ND." She added that with the Lisbon Treaty the role of the European Parliament and of citizens is strengthened and stressed that the "responsibility shown by ND through time has given the country the position that it deserves in the European Union."

    ND secretary Lefteris Zagoritis also referred to the dilemma of the Euroelections, saying that the choice "is simple, between a responsible stance and populism" and noted that the people "realise what is right and what is wrong and this will become apparent in the elections."

    [06] PM Karamanlis to visit Tripolis on Sunday

    Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) party president Costas Karamanlis will address an open Euro-Parliament election campaign rally in Aghios Vassilios Square in Tripolis, southern Greece, at 7:30 pm on Sunday, May 24.

    [07] PASOK leader visits GSIS in Moschato

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou visited the Ministry of Finance General Secretariat for Information Systems (GSIS) in Moschato, Athens on Tuesday and conferred with employees.

    Papandreou stated afterwards that "three issues of decisive importance must change in the country."

    The leader of PASOK referred to the taxation system which he described as "unfair" because it "lays the burden on the average household instead of the large incomes and real estate." He also mentioned the lack of transparency in the management of public wealth and the absence of effective e-governance.

    [08] Government following mistaken 'recipe' in economic policy, PASOK official says

    Main opposition PASOK party Economy Sector representative Louka Katseli, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said that the "Greek economy's monetary deviation, the recession that it is entering and its very low competitiveness are the result of very specific economic options of the government," adding that it is a "mistaken recipe" continues to be followed.

    Katseli placed emphasis, as she said, on the collapse of the state's controlling mechanisms, both in the sectors of revenues and expenditutes that also constitutes a basic cause of the monetary deviation, stressing that the government's assessments of a deficit amounting to 3.7 percent "are overoptimistic, if not unattainable".

    Referring in particular to the government's tax policy, Katseli said that it burdens low and medium-level incomes considerably for the benefit of high incomes and mentioned that all the tax exemptions given as a favour will be examined on a zero basis by PASOK when it comes to power.

    Katseli further said that a fair tax system "must be characterised by simple principles and not by exemptions according to the case and not untransparent arrangements that are concealed behind fine print."

    [09] KKE leader visits National Foundation for Disabled

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking at the National Disabled Rehabilitation Foundation on Tuesday, said that the parties "that have ruled, or the parties that have applauded the European Union, such as the Coalition, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) which has supported and the Ecologists likewise must be punished."

    "These parties exercise criticism by setting limits, that the EU can change from within. It will not change. For this reason, the vote that yields results is the vote for KKE," she said.

    Papariga reassured working people that her party is telling the truth and that "it will not play with the vote of the working people."

    She also spoke of a "dirty attack" on KKE which, as she said, always happens when elections are drawing near, because "what will make them afraid is the strength of KKE" and that "they are well aware that they cannot get their hands on KKE."

    The KKE secretary general also predicted that new measures will be coming on June 8 (the day after the Euroelections).

    Papariga concluded that "it is necessary for us to prevent the worse. The two mainstream parties have played enough on the backs of others. The struggle will be tough, it needs sacrifices, it will not be a struggle strewn with roses."

    [10] SYN's Tsipras addresses Egaleo shop-keepers

    Visiting the west Athens working-class district of Egaleo to talk to shop owners on Tuesday, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras proposed the creation of "special-purpose" banks to support small and micro-businesses in order to curb the "excesses" of banks in their dealings with SMEs.

    Tsipras stressed that Greece's trade sector was going through difficult times, with more than one billion in bounced cheques circulating on the market and more than 1.5 million blacklisted by the Teiresias credit-risk monitor, while the government's only response was to hand out 28 billion euros to banks without terms or guarantees and to set up a loan guarantee fund for companies that were already financially healthy.

    "It is not enough to just talk about the backbone of the Greek economy being small and very small businesses. You have to support them also," he said.

    He urged voters to send the government a strong message in the European Parliament elections to show that they had had enough of policies that backed the rich and powerful to the exclusion of everybody else.

    [11] EU urges Turkey to actively support ongoing Cyprus talks

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis/CNA)

    The EU has urged Turkey to actively support the ongoing Cyprus negotiations and stop blocking the accession of EU member states in international organizations.

    The EU position was outlined Tuesday during the 47th meeting of the EC-Turkey Association Council. Present at the Council were current President of the Council Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, Enlargement Commissioner Oli Rehn, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    The EU also underlined the importance of progress in the normalization of bilateral relations between Turkey and all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.

    It also expressed its regret over the fact that Turkey has not yet implemented the Additional Protocol of the EU-Turkey Association Agreement.

    Furthermore, the EU expects Turkey to actively support the ongoing negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem and make concrete steps to help bring about a climate favourable to such a comprehensive settlement.

    In statements at a press conference after the Council, Swedish Foreign Minister, whose country will assume next semester the EU rotating Presidency, said that "the negotiations in Cyprus are probably the most important issue in Europe today, more than the Irish referendum itself".

    "Today years after the fall of the Berlin wall it is a shame to have a divided capital in Europe", he stressed, adding, "now we have two leaders with a personal commitment to reach a solution and I believe it is our duty to do whatever possible to facilitate their common effort to overcome this division".

    Noting that the Cyprus negotiations are a procedure, which takes place under UN auspices, Bildt said, "it is our duty to do whatever possible to facilitate this very important procedure".

    Bildt, Rehn and Kohout stressed during the press conference that Turkey's accession to the EU and the opening of more chapters depends on Ankara's progress regarding its EU course.

    In his statements, the Turkish foreign minister said that his country would speed up the process of reforms.

    The EU position on Turkey's EU accession refers to Cyprus and the Cyprus problem and notes that "as emphasized by the Negotiating Framework, the EU also expects Turkey to actively support the ongoing negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the Union is founded, including concrete steps to help bring about a climate favourable to such a comprehensive settlement".

    Moreover, the EU "underlines the importance of progress in the normalization of bilateral relations between Turkey and all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus. In this regard, the EU calls on Turkey to stop blocking the accession of member states to international organizations and mechanisms. Furthermore, the EU stresses again all the sovereign rights of EU member states which include, inter alia, entering into bilateral agreements, in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea".

    The EU, also "notes with regret that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not made progress towards normalization of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus. The EU will continue to closely follow and review progress made on the issues covered by the declaration of the European Community and its member states of 21 September 2005, in accordance with its conclusions of 11 December 2006. Progress is now urgently awaited".

    Cyprus, which entered the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus northern territory.

    Turkey, is the only country in the world which does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with an aim to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem and reunite the island.

    Financial News

    [12] Intracom Telecoms signs 85-mln-US dollar contract in India

    Intracom Telecom, a member of Sitronics, on Tuesday announced the signing of an 85-mln-US dollar contract with ZTE, India's top telecoms equipment and network solutions provider, for the construction of Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd.'s CDMA network in the country.

    SSTL's deputy chief executive Raymond Armes, commenting on the deal, said the partnership between Intracom Telecom and ZTE would take advantage of the combined technological power of the two companies, while Alexandros Manos, Intracom Telecom's chief executive said: "We are very satisfied with our partnership with ZTE and the confidence showed by SSTL to our products for expanding its network throughout India".

    [13] MPB, Marfin Egnatia Bank boards approve merger plan

    The boards of Marfin Egnatia Bank and Marfin Popular Bank on Tuesday approved to begin a merger plan with a transformation date set for June 30, 2009.

    The share exchange ratio between the two banks will be set after the transformation date and based on the financial results of the two companies.

    Under the existing legal framework, the two boards will agree on the exchange ratio, which will be subject of approval by the two banks' general shareholders meetings.

    According to bank executives, completion of the merger procedure is expected around seven months after the transformation date.

    Last week Marfin Group announced a merger plan, under which Marfin Egnatia Bank will absorb Marfin Popular Bank.

    [14] PPC says Q1 results significantly higher

    Public Power Corporation, Greece's utility electricity grid, on Tuesday reported a significant increase in its profits in the first quarter of 2009, with pre-tax, intetrest and amortization earnings rising to 471.8 million euros, from 205.5 million euros in the corresponding period in 2008, while EBITDA margin soared to 31.5 pct from 14.6 pct over the same periods, respectively.

    Pre-tax earnings jumped to 292.7 million euros in the first three months of 2009, from 34.3 million euros last year. Net profits soared to 219 million euros in the January-March period, from 30 million euros in 2008, while revenues totaled 1.49 billion euros, up 6.0 pct from last year.

    Income form electricity energy sales grew 7.6 pct to 1.406 billion euros, reflecting a 7.3 pct average increase in electricity prices, while the volume of sales fell 1.4 pct.

    Commenting on the results, PPC's chairman and chief executive, P. Athanasopoulos, said 2009 began with positive prospects, with satisfactory results for the first quarter reflecting a drastic fall in oil prices and higher hydro-electric energy production.

    Investments totaled 219.3 million euros, up 36.3 pct, while net debt rose 12.5 pct to 4.448 billion euros

    [15] PPC approves 1.3-bln-euro power unit project

    A Public Power Corporation's board meeting on Tuesday agreed an 1.320 billion euros investment project to build a new energy production unit in Ptolemais and said that a tender for the construction of the unit will be published after securing the size of land needed for the project.

    The new unit will have a power production of 550-660 MWel, with a net return grade of at least 41.5 pct, fully harmonized with the demands of both the Greek and community legislations on environment protection.

    [16] Fiscal deficit to fall to 3.7 pct of GDP in 2009

    Greece's general government's deficit is projected to total 9.314 billion euros this year, down from 12.195 billion euros in 2008, while consolidated debt is projected at 251.2 billion euros from 237.18 billion euros in the previous year, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics agency said these projections were included in a report sent to Eurostat on March 31, 2009. The EU executive's statistics agency expects the Greek general government's deficit to reach 14.267 billion euros this year, while local authorities and social insurance organisation are projected to report a surplus totaling 5 billion euros, leaving a general government's deficit of 9.314 billion euros.

    The country's Gross Domestic Product, in current prices, is projected at 252.250 billion euros this year, up from 242.946 billion euros in 2008. The statistics agency said fiscal deficit reached 5.0 pct of GDP in 2008, and it is projected to fall to 3.7 pct in 2009.

    [17] Filiatra Dam construction project signed

    The contract for the construction of the Filiatra Dam in Messinia Prefecture, southern Greece, with an estimated budget of roughly 45 million euros, was signed Tuesday by Minister of Rural Development and Foods Sotiris Hatzigakis.

    The project is of major importance for the irrigation of the region's cultivated land.

    [18] ASE lifts suspension of trading in Rainbow

    The board of the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of a temporary suspension in trading of Rainbow's shares in the market and urged investors to remain cautious ahead of the conclusion of talks between Info-Quest and Rainbow's main shareholder.

    [19] Stocks up 3.8% on Tues.

    Greek stocks soared to new year highs at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index of the market jumped 3.80 pct to end at 2,253.73 points, with turnover an improved 300.6 million euros of which 6.8 million were block trades.

    All sectors moved upwards, with the exception of the Personal/Home Products which ended 0.14 pct down. Media (13.91 pct), Health (10.27 pct), Banks (6.94 pct) and Financial Services (4.11 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 4.75 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.02 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 2.41 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 173 to 47 with another 46 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.62%

    Industrials: +2.36%

    Commercial: +2.23%

    Construction: +3.14%

    Media: +13.91%

    Oil & Gas: +0.74%

    Personal & Household: -0.14%

    Raw Materials: +2.64%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.75%

    Technology: +0.93%

    Telecoms: +3.26%

    Banks: +6.94%

    Food & Beverages: +1.05%

    Health: +10.27%

    Utilities: +2.00%

    Chemicals: +1.31%

    Financial Services: +4.11%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Bank of Cyprus and OTE.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 8.54

    ATEbank: 1.43

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.57

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.23

    National Bank of Greece: 18.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.00

    Intralot: 4.65

    OPAP: 21.46

    OTE: 11.40

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.40

    Titan Cement Company: 19.75

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.08%

    Industrials: +0.20%

    Commercial: -0.05%

    Construction: +3.33%

    Media: +1.48%

    Oil & Gas: +0.32%

    Personal & Household: -0.18%

    Raw Materials: +1.25%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.05%

    Technology: -0.88%

    Telecoms: -0.71%

    Banks: +3.31%

    Food & Beverages: -3.65%

    Health: +1.11%

    Utilities: +1.78%

    Chemicals: unchanged

    Financial Services: -1.67%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Vovos, Public Power Corp (PPC) and Bank of Cyprus.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 8.05

    ATEbank: 1.41

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.10

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.40

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.84

    National Bank of Greece: 16.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.40

    Intralot: 4.27

    OPAP: 21.50

    OTE: 11.22

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.05

    Titan Cement Company: 19.30

    [20] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.40 percent in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 100.697 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 14,161 contracts worth 80.609 million euros with 30,553 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,773 contracts worth 20.088 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,040), followed by Eurobank (1,313), OTE (1,509), PPC (1,591), Piraeus Bank (1,467), Alpha Bank (1,464), Intracom (937), Marfin Popular Bank (4,206), Cyprus Bank (1,431) and Mytilineos (489).

    [21] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market soared to 1.745 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 1.090 billion were buy orders and the remaining 655 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.005 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 170 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.13 pct and the German Bund 3.43 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.59 pct, the six-month rate 1.43 pct, the three-month rate 1.23 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.

    [22] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.372

    Pound sterling 0.886

    Danish kroner 7.506

    Swedish kroner 10.554

    Japanese yen 131.96

    Swiss franc 1.526

    Norwegian kroner 8.815

    Canadian dollar 1.588

    Australian dollar 1.770

    General News

    [23] Health minister says 'no alarm' after first case of H1N1 in Greece

    Health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that there was no alarm, nor complacency, following the confirmation late Monday night of the first case of swine flu in Greece, in statements to the press after an emergency meeting he chaired on Tuesday morning, stressing that there was no cause for alarm and that the ministry and health services were well prepared.

    The first case of the H1N1 virus, in a 19-year-old Greek student recently returned from the United States, was confirmed Monday night by the Pasteur Institute in Athens after carrying out a second round of tests to confirm the first results.

    Avramopoulos announced that precautionary measures were being extended, adding that, apart from the existing the negative pressure chambers in the Sismanoglio and Sotiria hospitals in Athens and the AHEPA hospital in Thessaloniki, additional chambers were currently being set up at the Children's Hospital and the Elena maternity hospital in Athens, and the University Hospital on Crete, while, in view of the summer, further such chambers would be in operation in Larissa, Ioannina, Alexandropoulis, and the islands of Corfu and Rhodes, while 200 staff members would be hired for the negative pressure chambers.

    The student, who is in the Sismanoglio Hospital in Athens, was studying in New York, and the symptoms appeared a few hours after his arrival in Athens, Avramopoulos explained, elaborating that the patient had mild systems and was in excellent spirits. He added that the young man was in the Sismanoglio's negative pressure chamber only for precautionary reasons, and would remain there for seven more days.

    Also, the results of the first tests on the patient's family and friends were negative for H1N1, while a further 16 people who were seated in the immediate vicinity of the student on the airplane will also be tested.

    Avramopoulos noted that the student was informed of the 'new flu' by the ministry's informational leaflets passed out at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA), adding that the young man drove himself to the Sismanoglio Hospital after ascertaining symptoms resembling those of the 'new flu'.

    An official of the Epidemiology Monitoring Center said that more incidents should be expected, mainly among travellers, as Greece was a popular destination internationally. He did not rule out that, epidemiologically, Greece could find itself in a similar situation as the US was in today, but clarified that in the US the death rate was very low and the situation was under complete control.

    On a vaccine being developed against the new flu, the official said that the first stage of tests has been completed and, if all goes well, the first batch of the vaccine should be ready in early October.

    [24] Civil aviation service announcement on airport surgeries

    In light of the discovery of the first case of swine flu in Greece, the Civil Aviation Service issued an announcement on Tuesday to remind the public that all international airports in Greece were currently equipped with a surgery where travellers who felt unwell or presented suspicious symptoms might go for help and advice.

    Specialised surgeries existed at all airports serving as gateways into the country, including the Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens and the airports of Thessaloniki, Iraklio, Corfu, Rhodes, Mytilene, Hania, Kavala, Alexandroupolis, Kos, Ioannina, Mykonos, Samos, Chios, Kefallonia, Zakynthos, Kastoria, Skiathos and Karpathos.

    [25] Antiquities returned to Greece from Germany, Belgium and UK

    Culture Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday addressed a special event held at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens to mark the return of hundreds of ancient artifacts to Greece by Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.

    The majority of the antiquities on display dated from the 5th to the 2nd centuries BC, apart from a section of a Byzantine-era carved window sill or architectural element dating from the 11th-12th century AD, possibly from the Plaka area in Athens, that was presented to the Greek Embassy in London by a private citizen.

    The artifacts returned by Belgium were handed over by the Belgian School of Athens, while those from Germany are believed to originate from a Hellenistic-era graveyard in Thessaly and were found and confiscated by German customs authorities in Nuremberg in May 2007, inside a truck from Greece.

    Noting that the items had found their way back to Greece through both voluntary private initiatives and organised state intervention, Samaras said that this reflected a change in attitudes.

    "Today, societies are coming to realise more and more that cultural goods are not just works of art and creations of a specific historic moment but valuable links in the historic identity and continuity of peoples," he said.

    [26] Event in memory of Pontian Hellenism genocide

    Hundreds of Pontians (Black Sea Greeks) from 20 societies throughout the country held an event in honour and memory of the victims of Pontian Hellenism's genocide by the Turkish state, with a rally in Syntagma Square in downtown Athens and a march to the Turkish embassy on Tuesday night.

    A memorial service was held and a wreath was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Afterwards, the Pontians, holding a large banner that read "I will not forget. May 19 a day of memory. Three hundred and fifty-three thousand dead seek vindication" marched to the foreign ministry where a delegation met with a representative and delivered a resolution for the minister and the prime minister.

    Shouting slogans for the internationalisation of the recognition of the genocide and the setting of May 19 as a day of memory, they headed towards the Turkish emassy where police allowed a Committee delegation to approach and pin up a resolution.

    [27] Koumoutsakos on the Pontian Greek Genocide Memorial Day

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party MEP candidate George Koumoutsakos stressed that "May 19 has been declared by the Greek Parliament as Pontian Greek Genocide Memorial Day. We honor their memory and do not forget their sacrifice."

    "When Turkey declares - and this is positive as an intention - a policy of zero problems with its neighbors, it is time to launch a parallel effort of zero problems with its history as well," he pointed out.

    Former foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos resigned from his post following his placement on the ND Euro-Parliament elections ticket.

    [28] PASOK leader issues message

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou issued a message for May 19, the Day of Memory for the Genocide of the Black Sea Greeks.

    "May 19 is a day of honour and of historical memory for the thousands of Greeks who were sacrificed in the harsh years of persecution and uprooting in Pontos. It is clear that the history of a nation cannot be offsetted and cannot be written off. The responsibility of defending historical memory constitutes a demand of historical self-knowledge. A nation without a memory is a nation without a future," he stressed.

    Papandreou further underlined that "the PASOK government had set since 1994, May 19 as a day of memory for the genocide of the Pontians."

    [29] South Australia State minister in Thessaloniki for Pontian Greek Genocide Day events

    Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Stavros Kalafatis on Tuesday received the visiting South Australian Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, and Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Rann Government Michael Atkinson, who spearheaded efforts leading to the recognition of the Pontian Greek genocide by the South Australia State Parliament.

    In the meeting they discussed issues of mutual interest that concern the Greek expatriate community in Australia and Pontian Greeks.

    Kalafatis welcomed Atkinson underlining that he is a philhellene and friend of Pontian Greeks worldwide, stressing that his visit to Thessaloniki is of great importance.

    On his part, Atkinson referred to the South Australian Parliament decision "to recognize the atrocities committed in Anatolia between 1915 and 1925" and stressed that "we should have also recognized the multiculturalism of the populations in Anatolia" underlining that "the Greek community in Australia must preserve its language and culture."

    Atkinson also referred to the leading role the Greek community plays in the Australian society, with many of its members occupying high-profile public positions.

    Atkinson is visiting Thessaloniki to attend events commemorating the Pontian Greek Genocide Day celebrated in Greece on May 19.

    [30] Education Minister Spiliotopoulos visits special school in Argyroupolis

    Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos visited on Tuesday the Special School for the Deaf and the Hearing Impaired in Argyroupolis, Athens, and stated the ministry's determination to support the special schools institution.

    He stressed that in the past the state hadn't done everything it should for the people with special needs or abilities and underlined that "our society is open to everyone, embraces everybody and gives equal opportunities."

    [31] Greek Sale at Bonhams on Tuesday

    Landmark Modern Greek artwork was to be auctioned in London on Tuesday in a Greek Sale by Bonhams Auction House.

    According to Bonhams, the auction contains an impressive range of 145 selected works by top classical to modern and contemporary Greek artists, as well as works by foreign artists with Greek themes.

    With paintings and sculptures from the 19th to the 21st century and estimated going prices of between 2,000 and 5,000 British pounds, the auction provides art lovers the opportunity to expand their collections and also to invest in works of art.

    Among the most prominent works for sale are the paintings: "Dawn" (Aurora) by Constantinos Parthenis, with an estimate of 300,000-500,000 pounds; "L'hiver sur la plaine" (Snow-covered Landscape) by Pericles Pantazis with an estimate of 100,000-150,000 pounds; "A Greek fisherman narrating his adventures in front of Cape Sounion" by Pierre Bonirote estimated at 180,000-220,000 pounds; and "Studio with easel" by Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, estimated at 100,000-150,000 pounds.

    Other noted Greek painters whose works are on sale include Constantinos Volanakis, George Bouzianis, Nicolaos Lytras, Thanos Tsigos, Yianns Moralis, and Vlassis Kaniaris.

    [32] Tribute to Yannis Ritsos by Gorky Library in Odessa

    The Odessa A. M. Gorky State Scientific Library in cooperation with the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) will host a three-day tribute to poet Yannis Ritsos on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth.

    On display will be 50 publications of poem collections in Russian, Ukrainian and Greek, presentations in Ukrainian and Russian magazines dedicated to Ritsos, biographical information and photographic material.

    The event will be held on May 21-23 are part of the 10th Ukrainian Book Fair organized by the library.

    Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990) is among modern Greece's most widely translated poets. He moved from an early concern with classical themes and style to a more deeply personal lyricism. His writing reflects family tragedies and his political engagement against the dictatorship in Greece.

    New group claims attacks on buildings under construction destined to house police stations in Athens, Thessaloniki

    A previously unknown group calling itself the Conspiracy Fire Cells of Athens-Thessaloniki on Tuesday claimed two early morning attacks on two buildings under construction in Athens and Thessaloniki destined to house the Penteli and Stavroupolis police stations, respectively.

    Two explosive devices with time mechanisms, comprising small propane canisters, exploded at 4:35 a.m. in a building under construction in the Stavroupolis district of Thessaloniki, causing material damage to the building's entrance.

    A second explosion targeted another building under construction, this time in Nea Penteli in Athens, at 6:57 a.m.

    An unidentified caller claimed the attacks later in the morning on behalf of the group, in anonymous telephone calls to an Athens daily and an on-line newspaper.

    [33] Fire on Mt. Athos under control, no Monasteries endangered

    A fire that broke out due to lightning on Monday evening at a remote mountainous area on Mt Athos (Aghion Oros) was placed under control on Tuesday morning.

    The Fire Brigade remained at the site in the event of rekindlings. Monasteries were not endagered.

    [34] Domestic dispute in Kallithea leaves 3 dead, boy injured

    A domestic dispute in the central Athens district of Kallithea ended in tragedy on Tuesday afternoon, culminating in deaths of a toddler and his parents and the serious injury of his three-year-old brother.

    According to accounts, the 40-year-old father first killed his 26-year-old wife by stabbing her in the neck on the balcony of their 5th-floor apartment, then plunged to his death with their two young boys, aged two and three years old, gripped in his arms.

    All three landed on the roof of a three-storey building next door, resulting in the death of the man and the toddler, while the three-year-old sustained grievous injuries and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

    According to police, the man had left a note in the family's home, explaining the reasons for his actions.

    An inquiry into the tragic incident is being carried out by the Kallithea police station.

    [35] Firebombs thrown outside PASOK's old offices in Athens

    A group of 40 unidentified individuals hurled firebombs against the police force outside the main opposition PASOK party's former offices at Harilaou Trikoupi St in central Athens in an early morning flash attack on Tuesday and disappeared running toward the Exarchia Square.

    No one was injured by the roughly 20 firebombs thrown against the riot police squad. Only two cars parked nearby suffered minor material damage.

    [36] Ferry rams into pier in Limnos port, passengers safe

    The car/passenger ferry 'Theofilos' rammed into the pier in the port of Limnos island as it was maneuvering to moor, causing a 30 cm crack in the vessel some two meters above its water line.

    All 165 passengers aboard the ferry were safe and well, and 100 of the passengers disembarked in Limnos, while the rest were destined for the next ports on the itinerary on the islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos.

    [37] Man arrested attempting to smuggle cocaine he had ingested

    A 25-year-old Bulgarian national, who had swallowed 28 cocaine-filled pellets weighing 322 grams in total in an attempt to smuggle them into Greece, was arrested four days ago by Drug Enforcement Agency officers at Athens' "Eleftherios Venizelos" International Airport.

    The suspect, who came from Ecuador via Madrid, was immediately taken to a hospital where the pellets were removed and on Monday was led before a prosecutor to face charges.

    [38] Drug dealing arrest in Corinth

    A Greek man and two others of foreign nationality were arrested onTuesday in Corinth, northern Peloponnese, charged with drug trafficking.

    Police officers, during a routine search, revealed in their car one kilo of cannabis. The suspects were sent before a local prosecutor while Corinth police are conducting an investigation.

    Weather Forecast

    [39] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather with local showers, and northeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 32C. Fair in Athens, with northeasterly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 28C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 28C.

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

    The first case of the 'new flu' (H1N1, the human strain of swine flu) in Greece and the alert in the Health services, the Siemens case, and next month's European Parliament elections dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers .

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "30 persons will be sent to court on the Vatopedi monastery case".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Government stops MPs' salary and pension raises".

    AVGHI: "Workers of Europe on stage - Thousands of workers protested against unemployment and insecurity in many European cities".

    AVRIANI: "Major raises and back pay to former and current deputies".

    CHORA: "Siemens slush funds manager Reinhard Siekaczek's testimony: I have given 60 million euros to the two major parties over a 4-year period".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis satisfied with Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis' work and called for a new measure every week".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Surcharge on credit cards - Extremely high interest rates in Greece, while they are falling in Europe".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Suburban railway: The special examiner 'bumped' on Ministers but he was late and the statute of limitations expired".

    ESTIA: "The results of Euroelections are predictable - Reversal of the 1999 election percentages".

    ETHNOS: "Swine flu on the horizon - Alert after the first instance in Greece".

    KATHIMERINI: "Mirco-particals stifling Athens and Thessaloniki".

    LOGOS: "Alert in Greece-The first swine flu case confirmed".

    NIKI: "The virus came to our country - Alert over the first swine flu case in Greece".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga states: They use immoral and indecent ways to combat the KKE".

    TA NEA: "Swine flu knocked on our door - The first case confirmed".

    TO VIMA: "The June 9 new taxes, targeting cars, real estate properties and the black economy".

    VRADYNI: "Revival of the real estate market - Buyers turn to smaller and older houses".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [41] Foreign Minister says Turkey has role to play in outcome of Cyprus talks

    LONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcos Kyprianou said on Tuesday that direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to solve the island's political problem is a Cypriot process but pointed out that Turkey has an important role to play in the outcome of the negotiations.

    Speaking at the Royal Institute of International Relations in London, Kyprianou said Turkey is not a mere observer but part of the problem and must thus be part of its solution.

    He noted the importance of Ankara's support to the process of the talks in practice, towards achieving a bicommunal bizonal federation with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international identity.

    Kyprianou said Turkey must also cooperate for the equal status of the two communities, as set out in UN Security Council resolutions, and not insist on its policy for a confederation of two independent states.

    The minister conveyed the determination of the Greek Cypriot side to reach a settlement to the benefit of all Cypriots, as well as Turkey and the region, which would contribute to peace in the broader region and establish Cyprus as a source of stability.

    He also referred to the positive role the Republic of Cyprus plays as a full member of the EU, as well as the fact that Cyprus contributes more in financial terms than what it receives from the Union.

    Later on Tuesday, Kyprianou was to be meeting Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    The leaders of the two communities have been engaged in direct talks since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

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