|Thursday, 19 April 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 11 June 2009 Issue No: 3217
 PM Karamanlis confers with parliament president on planned legislationPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Wednesday with parliament president Dimiris Sioufas to discuss the govern-ment's planned legislation, ahead of the commencement of the first summer recess session of parliament on Tuesday, June 16.
 FM Bakoyannis discusses regional, int'l issues with Norwegian counterpart in OsloOSLO (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Foreign minister of Greece Dora Bakoyannis paid a lightning visit on Wednesday to Oslo, where she met with her Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store for a discussion of regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The two foreign ministers discussed, inter alia, ways of tackling the problem of illegal migration, as well as preparation of the two upcoming ministerial summits on the Greek island of Corfu at the end of the month: The NATO-Russia foreign ministers' summit, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial summit under the Greek OSCE chairmanship.
The discussion covered a broad range of topics, with special attention on illegal migration, which is a vital problem for Greece.
"Norway institutionally and actively, with funding, supports the European Union's efforts for tackling the problem of illegal migration," Bakoyannis said after the 90-minute meeting with Store.
She added that this cooperation could become even closer regarding the repatriation of illegal migrants, chiefly to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and stressed that particular attention needs to be placed on the humanitarian aspect of the repatriated.
Preparation of the Corfu ministerial summits on June 27 (NATO-Russia) and 28 (OSCE) and the drafting of their agendas were also discussed, given that Norway will be taking part in both meetings, as it belongs to both NATO and the OSCE.
The two foreign ministers further expressed satisfaction with their identity of views on a series of regional and international issues, noting that developments in the Middle East, the Balkans, energy security and shipping were among items discussed during their working breakfast.
Bakoyannis is due to leave for Stockholm on Tuesday evening, where she will take part in an informal dinner to be hosted by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt for his EU counterparts ahead of Sweden's assumption of the EU presidency on July 1, during which the priorities of the Swedish presidency will be presented.
 FM Bakoyannis visiting Sweden at invitation of Swedish counterpartSTOCKHOLM (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said here on Wednesday that "the big wager for us is a common European policy on the readmission of illegal immigrants, including the humanitarian dimension. It is an issue that we are raising everywhere, we raised it in Stockholm and in Oslo and we shall also raise it at the European Council in Brussels next week."
The foreign minister arrived in the Swedish capital at the invitation of her Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt, in light of the assumption of the European Union presidency by Sweden on July 1.
Speaking to reporters shortly before an informal dinner given by Bildt for 14 of his EU counterparts to outline the Swedish presidency's priorities for them, Bakoyannis said "Sweden is being called on to handle a crucial six-month period, not only at institutional level, as is the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, but also for issues of Greek concern."
The foreign minister reminded that within this six-month period the evaluation of Turkey will be taking place, the prospects of the Western Balkans will be discussed once again and decisions will be taken on such issues as illegal immigration for which "we are requesting substantive European solidarity and a common policy."
Asked about the issue of readmission, she said that "the big wager is the conclusion of agreements with countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. This was the major issue of discussion both here and in Norway. We must agree that we shall sign readmission agreements as the EU, so that there shall be a unified European policy which, however, must always have its humanitarian dimension as well, namely that these people will make a new start on returning to their countries."
 PASOK slams government economic planMain opposition PASOK on Wednesday urged the government to submit a revised and more realistic national Stability and Growth Pact programme to the European Union, stressing that the current targets set by the government's economic team were completely unattainable.
According to the party's economic sector spokeswoman Louka Katseli, the figures regarding the execution of the budget in the first quarter of 2009 showed that it would be impossible to keep the general government deficit at 3.7 percent of GDP, or to less than 3 percent of GDP in 2010.
The government had failed to understand the message of the European elections, just as it had failed to understand that the shortfall in revenues that had derailed the country's finances, the credit squeeze and the 'frozen' markets, the slowed growth and production were a result of its own economic policies, Katseli said.
Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou had "rushed to be the first to turn his back on the citizens by assuring them that economic policy will not change," she added.
 Papandreou attends Distomo memorial serviceMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou attended a memorial service at the Saint Nikolaos Cathedral on Wednesday in memory of the people killed at Distomo, in Viotia, by the German occupation forces during World War Two.
Speaking after the service, Papandreou said that "here, from martyred Distomo, we honour all the dead, of all the martyred places and cities of Greece. We honour the struggles of all who fought against Nazism, for Democracy and the freedom of our homeland."
Papandreou added that "we do not forget, because they taught us. They taught us and are teaching us that if we do not wish to see again similar barbarism and violence, inhumanity, racism and wars, it is neccesary for us to struggle on a daily basis for Europe of Democracy, of the strength of Justice, and not of the right of the powerful, of humanity, of peace."
 KKE on other parties"The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has acquired new experiences from the election campaign and is ready to engage in a tough ideological and political battle, in view of the storm expected in the economic and social policy," General Secretary Aleka Papariga stated on Wednesday, while again sharply criticising all other political parties.
Regarding ruling New Democracy (ND) party, Papariga said that "based on the statements made by the prime minister ND is determined to continue to support the financially stronger (classes) regardless of the cost."
Papariga accused main opposition PASOK party of "blatant demagogy" and of adopting a "provocative stance", adding that it "categorises big capital into bad and good" -- offering no solution to the working classes.
Referring to the rightist Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS), she stated that this party "attempts to highlight, as a problem, the issue of immigration, claiming that it (illegal immigration) affects people's security."
The communist leader said the rival Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) "can offer no solution ... its agenda is a dead end."
On the environmental concerns and the emergence of a Greens party from Greece in the European Parliament, the KKE general secretary stated that "the existing ecological problems cannot be left in the hands of an NGO or political entities."
Finally, commenting on the reduction of the mandatory military service, announced by the defence minister a day earlier, Papariga stated that "serving in the armed forces is not a profession ... such decisions undermine the country's defence capability," while adding: "one is left with a sense that a mercenary army is being formed."
 Karatzaferis invites ruling party MPs to 'find refuge' in LAOSAn invitation to ruling New Democracy MPs afraid for their seats to "find refuge" within the ranks of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party during the next general elections was extended on Wednesday by LAOS leader George Karatzaferis, during a press conference.
He called on MPs rattled by the ruling party's poor performance in the European Parliament elections, "who sense disaster is coming and believe that they will not be re-elected," to join his party but stressed that this invitation only applied for the period of the elections.
Karatzaferis, whose far right, nationalist LAOS party emerged as one of the undisputed 'winners' of last Sunday's Euro polls, nearly doubling its previous percentage and vying with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for third place, also raised the spectre of main opposition PASOK's return to power unless ND and LAOS worked together to prevent this.
He again called for collaboration with ND "in order to ward off PASOK," in spite of the fact that such cooperation has been categorically ruled out by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
According to Karatzaferis, the country was at a "crucial junction" and Karamanlis "appears not to understand this or, even worse, to be assisting PASOK's return to power".
"PASOK demonstrated in these elections that it does not have the strength to come to power," LAOS's leader told reporters, but "Karamanlis has taken George Papandreou on his back in order to make him prime minister".
"We in LAOS are fighting a democratic struggle so that the country will not again be overrun by PASOK. We will face PASOK on our own and, however hard Karamanlis tugs to bring it to power, we will push in the opposite direction," he added.
 Reactions from government, NDResponding to Karatzaferis, the government on Wednesday again ruled out cooperation between the two parties, with government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressing that "everything the premier still fully applies". He denied that there was a greater focus on public order and security issues due to the election result, noting that they had always been a government priority.
He refused to comment on Karatzaferis' invitation, saying only that the members of the party's Parliamentary group conscientiously fulfilled their mission.
ND Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said that ND MPs "fought capably for the party that they had been elected with" and that the prime minister had stated clear positions on the issues raised by Karatzaferis. He was speaking after the first session to organise ND's newly-elected MEPs at the party's headquarters in Rigillis Street.
 Synaspismos political secretariat convenes on election resultsThe Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology's (Synaspismos) political secretariat convened on Wednesday for a first assessment of last Sunday's Euro-elections and SYRIZA's lacklustre results. A meeting of Synaspismos' central political committee is scheduled for this weekend.
Synaspismos leader Alexis Tsipras said during the meeting that leftist forces throughout the European Union recorded poor results, while he termed the high abstention rate and the reinforcement of "extreme right forces", as he said, an "ominous development".
Tsipras also stressed that SYRIZA - the Synaspismos-affiliated leftist grouping -- "did not succeed in persuading voters that it represented something different; that it was the only force that had a programme for the handling of the economic crisis," adding that it an assessment of Synaspismos' and SYRIZA's operation was necessary.
Nevertheless, Tsipras noted, the "party's policies are not at stake".
 Internal criticism following SYRIZA results in Euro-electionMembers of the "Euro left" grouping within the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), dubbed the so-called "renewal wing", on Wednesday offered a harsh assessment on the leftist party's lacklustre results in Sunday's European Parliament elections, stressing that the "outcome was a clear-cut defeat for the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and constitutes an outright rejection of the choices made by the Synaspismos' leadership."
The reference was to the Synaspismos-affiliated SYRIZA leftist grouping, while the written assessment was conveyed to Synaspismos' political secretariat.
The "Euro-left" grouping underlined that "serious rifts between the party and many of its leftist supporters" were created following the recent party convention, citing political positions adopted by the leadership of Synaspismos and SYRIZA, along with: "political arrogance" displayed when opinion polls showed skyrocketing support; mistakes and omissions made during last December's incidents and problems that resulted when the Euro-ballot list of candidates was decided.
The "December incidents" refers to nearly a weeklong cycle of violent urban rioting in central Athens.
"The election results and the unprecedented low voter turnout sent out loud messages of criticism, rejecting political positions across the political spectrum," the statement reads.
Referring to the strong showing by the rightist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), the faction characterised it as"the serious and alarming ascent of the xenophobic right", while calling for "democratic vigilance".
 Alternate Interior Minister discusses illegal immigration with German MPsAlternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis met on Wednesday with a delegation of the German Parliament's Justice and Internal Affairs Committee, headed by German Deputy Dr Max Stadler, for talks on issues concerning illegal immigration and Greece's policy on asylum matters in relation to the "Dublin 2" regulation.
Markoyiannakis stressed that Greece is observing its commitments emanating from the Dublin regulation and, at this point, he called for the European Union's support for Turkey to be obliged to observe the readmission protocol, given that Greece's borders are also European Union borders.
 EU-hosted event for Euro-elections mostly ignored in SkopjeSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
Top office-holders and MPs in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) reportedly stayed away from an election watch event here on Sunday evening, hosted by the head of the EU's diplomatic mission to fYRoM, Amb. Erwan Fouere, to view results of European Parliament elections.
The mostly unattended event was held at the mission's offices in Skopje.
According to a private television station here, not one of the 120 MPs in fYRoM's Parliament took up Fouere's invitation.
 Ex-Siemens Hellas head arrested, to appear before magistrate on Fri.The up-until-recently general director of Siemens Hellas, Dionyssis Dendrinos, will testify before a special examiner on Friday in relation to the ongoing Siemens bribery and kickback investigation in Greece.
Dendrinos was arrested late Tuesday night outside his residence in the Pallini municipality, southeast of Athens proper, on charges of fraud against the state. The arrest warrant was issued on June 4 following information that the one-time Siemens Hellas executive had transferred real estate holdings in Greece to his two sons, a move viewed as a "flight risk".
Dendrinos is accused of complicity to commit fraud in relation to a massive contract between the Greek state and SAIC, a California-based technology applications firm, for the supply and installation of the much-ballyhooed C4I security system, all in the frantic run-up to 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
According to an indictment, between 2002 and Sept. 15, 2003, Dendrinos, together with unidentified accomplices from Siemens and SAIC, maintained before responsible Greek state agencies that both SAIC and Siemens were capable of installing and operating the C4I Olympic security systems within 12 months.
The same indictment charges that Dendrinos' statements to Greek state agencies were "entirely false", given that the aforementioned multinational companies "did not have the necessary technical infrastructure, know-how, personnel, methodology, organisation, management and the capability to prepare the studies necessary for the contract's execution."
Based on the case against him, damages suffered along with claims against the Greek state totaled 254.9 million euros and equals the sum earmarked for Siemens and SAIC in accordance with the contractual terms.
Dendrinos' defence attorneys filed a request with an examining magistrate to recall the arrest warrant as unlawful, maintaining that their client has no bank accounts abroad or off-shore companies and never refused to appear before judicial officials every time he received a summons.
 Second phase of NATO ADRION-LIVEX 09 exercise completedTIRANA (ANA-MPA/I. Pacho)
The second phase of the naval exercise codenamed ADRION-LIVEX 09, taking place in the sea region of the Gulf of Vlore in Albania, came to an end on Wednesday.
It is the first NATO exercise to take place in Albania since the country joined the North Atlantic Alliance on April 5, 2009.
Participating in the exercise, that will end on June 12, 2009, is the Greek gunboat "Aittitos". Ten frigates and gunboats are participating in the exercise.
The purpose of the exercise, according to Albanian Navy officials, is to train naval forces and to boost cooperation in handling crises and sea rescue operations.
Units from the member-states of the "Adriatic Ionian Cooperation ADRION" (Albania, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia) are participating in the exercise which is being organised by the Albanian Navy.
 New MIG board announcedA Marfin Investment Group Holdings SA repeat general shareholders' meeting on Wednesday approved the new composition of its board of directors, including Andreas Vgenopoulos as chairman-executive member, Soud Baalawi as vice-chairman and non-executive member, along with Manolis Xanthakis as chief executive.
Other members include Dionysios Malamatinas, Spyridon Theodoropoulos, George Eftratiadis, Panagiotis Throuvalas, Moustafa Farid Moustafa, Nesham Gohar, George Lassados, Efthymios Bouloutas, Constantinos Los, Markos Foros, Costas Grammenos and Alexandros Edipidis.
 Domestic housing market to recover by mid-2010, surveyThe inventory of unsold residences in Greece is expected to decrease to around 70,000 units by the end of the year and to 40,000 by mid-2010, signalling the end of a declining trend in building activity for the first time since the first half of 2007, according to a National Bank survey, which was unveiled on Wednesday.
Under this specific forecast, building activity would slice 1.6 percentage points from the country's annual growth rate in 2009, while it will have a marginally positive contribution in 2010 whereas employment in the sector was expected to be reduced by 34,000 jobs.
National Bank's analysts estimate that building activity has entered a phase of a "strong correction" with investments in the sector falling by 29 pct in 2008, reflecting conditions of oversupply in the domestic real estate market, while they noted that a significant decline in building activity was a Europe-wide phenomenon that has hit mostly Spain and Ireland.
The Greek market, according to Greece's largest banking institution, does not show the excesses of other European housing markets, explaining why housing prices in Greece fell only marginally in the first quarter of 2009, compared with double-digit decline rates in other European markets (such as Ireland, Spain and the UK).
 Thessaloniki airport traffic down 6.69% in Jan-MayPassenger arrivals at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport dropped by 6.69 pct in the January-May period, compared with the corresponding period last year, totaling 363,154.
Passenger arrivals in May fell by 14.69 pct, according to the Federation of Hellenic Touristic Enterprises (SETE) on Wednesday.
The report said the international economic crisis, however, did not affect the Easter holiday period, with arrivals rising 13.98 pct in April, compared with the same month last year -- 95,939 -- according to Civil Aviation Authority figures.
February was the worst month of the year so far, with a 21.85-pct decline in passenger arrivals.
 TIF Business Forum to focus on int'l financial crisesHigh-ranking officials of international institutions and organisations (World Bank, UN Conference on Trade and Development) will be in Thessaloniki in September to attend the 5th International Business Forum that will take place within the framework of the 74th Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF) on Sept. 5-13.
The forum will focus on direct foreign investments as an antidote economic crises.
Meanwhile, the 15th annual Central European Real Estate Associations Network (CEREAN) Conference on "Mythunderstandings in the Real Estate Industry" scheduled for Sept. 11-12 will focus on international trends, sales strategic objectives and the role of the banks.
 Piraeus merchants call for realistic migration policyThe Piraeus Merchant Association on Wednesday called for the implementation of "an adequate and realistic migration policy that respects the rights of migrants, but without wronging the Greek citizens".
Prompted by the illegal migration phenomenon and the growing illegal outdoor trade in Piraeus, the port city's merchant association sent a letter to interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, alternate interior minister Christos Markogiannakis, justice minister Nikos Dendias, development minister Costis Hatzidakis, the MPs elected in the Piraeus A' and B' electoral districts, Piraeus prefect Yiannis Michas and mayor Panagiotis Fassoulas, outlining their thoughts and concerns on the problem.
 Cretan businesses to participate in ANUGA Exhibition in CologneThe Regional Service of the island of Crete will support the participation of Cretan businesses in the ANUGA Exhibition in Cologne, Germany, again this year, participating in efforts to promote Cretan products.
Cretan Regional Secretary General Serapheim Tsokas, following a meeting with the presidents of Crete's Professional and Biotechnical Chambers and the Exporters Federation, said that the Region "is doing what it considers to be its duty to boost the island's exporting trade, honouring the promise regarding the extroversion of Cretan businesses and it is subsidising their participation in the ANUGA Exhibition with about 115,000 euros."
Tsokas said that 22 businesses from Crete will be participating in ANUGA with adjoining pavilions that will be bearing a common Cretan Regional sign.
 CEDEFOP con'f on skill supply in EuropeThe number of adult employees, over the age of 25, with high level education is expected to increase by 20 million in the EU until the year 2020, corresponding to a 40-pct increase compared to 2007, with the most notable increase recorded among the young and women, according to the "Skill Supply in Europe: Medium-term Forecast Until 2020" -- published by the Thessaloniki-based European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) this week.
The biggest rise is expected in Portugal and Poland, with an annual increase of 5 pct, while Denmark will maintain its lead with the largest percentage of working people with high-level skills.
Meanwhile, during the same period, the number of adults with medium-level qualifications will also increase by an estimated 6 million, mostly in Spain and Portugal.
The results of the study will be presented in a CEDEFOP conference entitled "Matching skills and jobs: anticipating needs in challenging times" to take place at the agency's offices in Thessaloniki on June 11-12.
 Wholesale turnover index down 9.0 pct in Q1Greece's wholesale turnover index fell 9.0 pct in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the corresponding period last year, the National Statistical Service said on Wednesday.
The statistics agency, in a report, said the wholesale turnover index in the first quarter of 2009 was down 16.4 pct compared with the fourth quarter of 2008.
 Car market turnover index down 30.7 pct in Q1Greece's turnover index in the car market fell 30.7 pct in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, the National Statistical Service said on Wednesday.
The statistics agency, in a report, said the turnover index in car sales fell 35.5 pct in the same period.
 Stocks end 2.43% higherGreek stocks rebounded strongly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market rising 2.43 pct to end at 2,376.11 points. Turnover was a moderate 231.2 million euros, of which 23.6 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Raw Materials (5.40 pct), Banks (4.51 pct) and Financial Services (4.28 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (2.28 pct) and Telecommunications (0.67 pct) suffering losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.91 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.73 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 2.0 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 180 to 55 with another 36 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.87%
Personal & Household: +4.25%
Raw Materials: +5.40%
Travel & Leisure: +1.56%
Food & Beverages: +0.05%
Financial Services: +4.28%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, OTE and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.15
HBC Coca Cola: 14.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.52
National Bank of Greece: 20.20
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.37
Bank of Piraeus: 7.65
Titan Cement Company: 21.50
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.76 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 69.956 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,440 contracts worth 45.138 million euros, with 25,343 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contract on equities totaled 26,152 contracts worth 24.818 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Cyprus Bank's contracts (4,165), followed by Eurobank (1,096), Marfin Investment Group (1,804), OTE (3,003), PPC (1,562), Piraeus Bank (1,830), National Bank (3,335), Alpha Bank (2,155), Marfin Popular Bank (2,363), ATEbank (463) and Mytilineos (588).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a hefty 1.6 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 1.027 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 580 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 936 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 182 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.51 pct and the German Bund 3.68 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.67 pct, the six-month rate 1.48 pct, the three-month rate 1.28 pct and the one-month rate 0.96 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.421
Pound sterling 0.865
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 10.815
Japanese yen 139.13
Swiss franc 1.527
Norwegian kroner 8.913
Canadian dollar 1.562
Australian dollar 1.752
 Papoulias visits Valia Kalda, urges all to protect forestsPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday urged all Greeks to work together in order to protect Greece's forests and natural countryside "so that we do not again have a Parnitha, an Ileia, a Taygetus or a Grammos." He was referring to areas that suffered major disasters as a result of the massive mega-fires that swept through Greece in the later 2000s.
Papoulias was speaking during a visit to the Valia Kalda National Forest, following up his visit on Tuesday to the Grevena Caves to mark an 1854 battle that took place there. The Valia Kalda National Forest is part of the Pindos National Park, which lies in the prefectures of Grevena and Ioannina.
It is considered a site of exceptional natural beauty and biodiversity, providing a sanctuary for many species of birds and mammals that have disappeared from most areas of Greece. It also contains many endemic species of pine, fir and beech. The construction of the Egnatia Highway in northern Greece is expected to make the national park more accessible to the public, increasing concerns for its protection.
 Eco groups give high marks to DimasBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas was given the highest ranking (7 out of 10) by a group of the world's most influential environmental advocacy groups on Wednesday for, among others, ensuring that the REACH chemicals regulation was not reduced and for his opposition to the Polish government's plans to build a highway through the Rospuda valley nature reserve.
The evaluation reports were issued by the so-called "Green 10", a coalition that includes the Climate Action Network, Greenpeace and WWF.
Conversely, the coalition gave the Commission only 4.4 out of 10 for its environmental performance over 2004-09, while criticising José Barroso's leadership of Commission.
 Series of events dedicated to Italy to take place in CorfuFour days will be dedicated to Italy on the island of Corfu between June 11-14 with a series of events concerning art, history, music and tradition.
The events are organised by the Italian Embassy in Athens together with Italy's Honourary Consulate in Corfu and with the support and contribution of the Municipality of Corfu and the Ionian Islands Region.
Italian Ambassador to Athens, Gianpaolo Scarante will welcome Gondolone, a historic Venetian vessel that will reach the island from Venice and will be accompanied by 8 rowers of the DIADORA Rowing Group from Lido in Venice, as well as by the Figuranti, the members of the European Historic Re-enactments Group CERS: from Thursday June 11 until Sunday 14, the Gondolone and the Figuranti will accompany the inhabitants and visitors of the island on short trips in the port's waters.
 Arrests of anti-state militants in AthensFive individuals, identified as mostly teens and young adults, were arrested on Tuesday evening in a central Athens district on charges of disorderly conduct and assaulting officers of a rapid response police unit rushing to the scene of a previous confrontation.
A policeman was injured in the incident, which began in the recently strife-plagued Aghios Panteleimonas neighbourhood.
According to police, 100 individuals believed to be from so-called "anti-state" circles attempted to violently open a municipal playground in the neighbourhood, which was locked by local residents to prevent illegal immigrants from camping out at the site.
Riot police intervened when a clash broke out between local residents and the group of protesters, while a portion of the latter group was subsequently intercepted by the "Delta unit" off Patission Avenue.
Five individuals were arrested on the spot, while the remainder fled to a nearby college campus from where they threw stones at police, before dispersing.
 Wildfire raging in TriziniaA wildfire broke out at noon on Wednesday in the region of Karatzas Trizinia, in the Peloponnese, and was burning forest land, while the Fire Brigade, backed by 18 fire engines and two Canadair and three Pzl firefighting aircraft, was making intensive efforts to extinguish the blaze.
The operation to put out the wildfire is being coordinated by the head of the Peloponnese regional firefighting services, Panayiotis Bonatsos.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with northeasterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 22C to 37C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki with possible local showers, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 32C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceThe additional measures on fiscal policy and reduction of the deficit in Greece announced on Tuesday by FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou, the aftermath of the European Parliament elections and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' instructions to his Cabinet, and the reduction of mandatory service in the army to nine months, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: PM says to Ministers "We will change all those things that embittered the citizens".
APOGEVMATINI: "PM makes hard self-criticism: It's our fault and we must change the things that embittered the citizens".
AVGHI: "Karamanlis puts on Sarkozy's clothes - He ruled out the possibility of a cooperation with Popular Orthodox Party (LAOS) but adopted its agenda".
AVRIANI: "Karamanlis turns the page - He put an end to speculations of cooperation with LAOS".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "PM is bothered by leak of ND voters to LAOS and focuses on ways to bring them back".
ELEFTHEROS: "Mr. Karamanlis, wake up and expel the scoundrels from the party".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Karamanlis gives the signal for anti-LAOS attack - Reshuffle on the horizon".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis: Top priority on Law and Order with two new law laws".
ESTIA: "Considering the abstention rate, the true power of parties is: Main opposition PASOK 18.8 percent and ruling ND 16.6 percent".
ETHNOS: "Government afraid of Martha's (daughter of Former Siemens Hellas executive Karavelas who fled from Greece to avoid being arrested") photo album - Ruling New Democracy high profile members had close relations with Karavelas family".
KATHIMERINI: "Karamanlis once more made self-criticism and scolded his ministers".
LOGOS: "It's our fault and we must change".
NIKI: "Retirement at 65 for all women - 7-15 extra years of work for the women".
RIZOSPASTIS: "EU countries' governments decided to impose new harsh measures".
TA NEA: "Turn to the Right - Karamanlis' nightmare: LAOS and deficits".
TO VIMA: "3.5 billion euros wanted - Time for new taxes - FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou returns from EcoFin meeting bringing new orders from (EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner) Joaquin Almunia".
VRADYNI: "It's our fault....we will change" - Karamanlis makes self-criticism and sends ultimatum to Cabinet".
 Community leaders to meet ThursdayNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
A new meeting between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus is taking place on Thursday in the UN Protected Area of Nicosia, in the framework of the direct negotiations, which began last September with a view to reach a solution and reunify the island.
This will be the 32nd meeting between President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
President Christofias has said that some convergence had been achieved in some aspects of the economy during the discussions in the previous meeting, last Wednesday. As he said they will begin discussing the territorial issue.
In their last meeting the two leaders exchanged views on the opening of Limnitis checkpoint, which would ease problems the residents in the area face, who after the 1974 Turkish invasion and the subsequent occupation of the island's northern third are obliged to make an approximately two-hour detour to the south in a bid to reach the capital Nicosia.
As President Christofias said, in Thursday's meeting, they will further examine this issue, the economy and they will start talks on territory.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008 to reunite the island.
 Turkish Cypriot allegations are unfounded, says Cyprus spokesmanNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou described as unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations by the spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, who claimed the Greek Cypriot side has tabled unprecedented ideas at the negotiating table and that it does not concentrate on the negotiating procedure.
Replying to the statements that Hasan Ercakica made on Wednesday, Stephanou said that these are "unfounded and unsubstantiated and I would say arbitrary".
He pointed out that the Greek Cypriot side, "in the framework of the agreed basis for a solution, is tabling its logical proposals on the negotiating table and on the basis of the UN resolutions on Cyprus and international and EU law, is working with determination and realism, to reach a mutually acceptable solution on Cyprus, a solution that will be approved by both communities through separate referenda".
The spokesman added that the course of the negotiations so far, "shows who is exhibiting a constructive role and is making efforts for a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue".
The spokesman remarked that although relative progress has been achieved in the UN-led talks President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged since September 2008 to reunite the island, "surely this progress does not satisfy us, and we would like more progress. There is convergence and divergence and disagreements on issues", he remarked.
"We are determined, he added, to continue the hard work to reach a solution".
The spokesman noted that the key to a solution "lies in the hands of Turkey. And it is of decisive significance that Turkey decides to cooperate to achieve a solution to the Cyprus issue. For us, the December date, (when Turkey is expected to make progress in implementing the additional protocol of the association agreement and normalizing its relations with Cyprus) is very significant in implementing its obligations to continue its European course".
"It is in Turkey's interest to cooperate to solve the Cyprus issue because it will help its EU course, help its European aspirations and help itself, first of all", he added.
"We are also asking the European Union and the international community to take advantage of this date so that Turkey will change its stance and cooperate for a Cyprus solution", he concluded.
Cyprus, which entered the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied CyprusÔ northern territory.
Turkey is the only country in the world, which does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
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