|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 12 June 2009 Issue No: 3218
 Inner cabinet discusses illegal migrationPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday chaired an inner cabinet meeting on illegal immigration and the positions that Greece will adopt at the upcoming European Union summit. Reporting on the results of the meeting, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that illegal migration was the issue expected to dominate the next meeting of the European Council.
According to Pavlopoulos, the main focus at the moment was to convert the EU's FRONTEX organisation into a European coast guard and to promote re-entry agreements. He underlined that each country separately would be unable to deal with the problem and that this required a common EU effort and policy.
Referring to the problems caused by immigrants but also drug addicts in the centre of Athens, Pavlopoulos said the transfer of the headquarters of the drug rehabilitation agency OKANA to a new location decided by the health ministry would be speeded up, and announced plans to build a mosque in the city and a Moslem cemetery at Schisto. A coordinating committee will be set up in order to ensure the immediate implementation of the measures, he added.
Deputy interior minister for public order issues, Christos Markoyiannakis, said the government intended to introduce harsher penalties for immigrant smugglers, who would henceforth be charged with criminal offences rather than misdemeanours. In addition, the government intends to build organised centres where any illegal immigrants that are apprehended will be able to stay for up to 12 months.
 PASOK leader on immigration policy, government responseMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou made a written statement on Thursday regarding measures on immigration policy which comprise PASOK's plan on illegal immigration.
The measures are summed up as follows: zero tolerance for illegal immigration, border guarding must be stepped up, international and bilateral agreements must be implemented, a common European Union humanitarian policy must be formed that will guarantee the equal assumption of burdens regarding political refugees by all European member-states, Greece's policy towards refugees must be clarified, legal immigrants must be assimilated by society, a specific policy must be shaped and implemented to attract workers to sectors where big seasonal or permanent needs exist and a special programme must be prepared on reorganising cities and neighbourhoods.
Papandreou stressed in his statement that "the citizen's security is a primary need for the democratic party," while referring to all that was done by PASOK governments on this issue and stressing that the country is currently being harassed "by lawlessness, impunity, non-transparency, the lack of meritocracy, the lack of policy and the dominance of clientele petty policy that has brought the state to the verge of dissolution."
The PASOK leader also said that "for five years, the policy of the New Democracy (ND) party on immigration, the political refugee and illegal immigration has been nonexistent. ND also presented no policy during the 1990-1993 period as well, with similar problems of lawlessness in the country."
Responding to the written statement, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that "PASOK, the party that had made Greece a 'free-for-all' for 10 years, PASOK that had no organised legislation on immigration policy, PASOK that had not created even one illegal immigrants reception centre and, in particular, PASOK that had been completely absent from the area of Europe when immigration policy was being discussed, is the PASOK that dares to speak about the present government, the New Democracy government which has an organised immigration policy, which is organising with consistency illegal immigrants reception centres and that has a leading role in shaping common European policy on Immigration."
 FM Bakoyannis dismisses statements by Turkish PMForeign Minister Dora Baskoyannis, commenting on statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, said that "Mr. Erdogan is well aware that respect for religious freedoms and for human rights is first of all an obligation of Turkey towards its citizens."
Bakoyannis added that "in addition Turkey, being a candidate for European Union accession, has committed itself explicitly to respond to principles, criteria and preconditions. It has committed itself to protecting these rights" and that "reciprocity and offsetting on these issues are not compatible in our times. Even more so when comparisons are made on dissimilar matters."
Erdogan had raised an issue of problems for the muslim minority in Thrace, in response to a question on the issue of the reopening of the Halki Orthodox Seminary in Istanbul. Speaking to the Turkish NTV television channel on Thursday, he said that the issue of the Seminary "can be discussed" and that "it is an issue existing since 1972."
The Greek foreign minister further said that "Greece is proud of the policy it is following. In Thrace, we are implementing and deepening the policy of equality before the law and of equality of rights, with full respect for the Lausanne Treaty and for international and European Law. We are taking positive measures to support the status of the muslim minority" and concluded by saying "and a last observation: the Muslims in Thrace are Greek citizens and they are proud of this."
 First parliamentary summer recess session opens TuesdayParliament's first summer recess session opens next week, with a briefing on the course of the economy and the state budget, and discussion of a bill tabled by the tourism development ministry.
The recess session commences on Tuesday afternoon, with discussion on the tourism development ministry's bill on "operational arrangement and sundry provisions", which will be voted on the following day.
On Wednesday afternoon, economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou and deputy minister Nikos Leggas will brief the House standing committee on economic affairs on the course of execution of the 2009 state budget and the management of finances.
Earlier, on Wednesday morning, development minister Costis Hatzidakis will brief the relevant parliamentary committee on the course of the Operational Program on Competitiveness.
On Thursday morning and afternoon, a development ministry bill on "cross-border mergers of capital companies will be discussed and voted on, while on Friday a question tabled by main opposition PASOK on the state of the agricultural sector will be discussed.
Before the recess officially opens on Tuesday, four new MPs will be sworn in: Andreas Makrypidis who assumes the seat of the resigned Christos Verelis for Aetoloakarnania prefecture; Thanassis Tsouras and I. Vlatis (PASOK) who assume the seats of Sylvana Rapti (Athens A' electoral district) and George Papaconstantinou (Kozani) following their election to the European Parliament; and Sophia Andriopoulou (SYRIZA, Athens B' district), who takes the seat of the deceased Michalis Papagiannakis.
According to parliament president Dimitris Sioufas, the first summer recess session will run through July 9, while the second session will be from July 14 to September 3, with a break from July 31 or August 1 to August 23, and the third recess session will be from September 8 to October 1.
 Papandreou: First target met with Euro-electionsMain opposition PASOK attained its first target with its victory in last Sunday's European Parliament elections, which is the foundation for its victory with a self-sufficient majority in any upcoming national elections, PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Thursday, addressing a meeting of his party's political council.
Papandreou also stressed the need for PASOK to address itself to all citizens and social strata, as well as to both those who voted in or abstained in the European Parliament elections, in order to convey to them the party's proposals and the changes it suggests for the political system and governance in Greece.
"Never before has the opposition submitted so promptly so many specific proposals," the PASOK leader said, stressing that the party's goal is to unite citizens behind the major changes the country needs, while he also opined that "the citizens are looking to us" for solutions to the problems.
Papandreou pledged that PASOK will put citizens' problems "back on the agenda" in Parliament and elsewhere.
He also charged that ruling New Democracy (ND) "is in a vortex of its own problems" and "unable to comprehend the message of the elections and to translate it into a change of policy".
Early general elections "are necessary for the country", given that ND was managing its defeat in the Euro-polls in a "petty partisan and public relations" way, Papandreou said, and warned that "its own crisis cannot be allowed to sweep the country along with it".
On the problem of illegal migration, Papandreou charged that the government lacked a structured immigration policy, stressing that "Greece cannot be a free for all", as he outlined steps taken by the past PASOK governments, such as the establishment of border guards, boosting the coast guard corps, the signing of readmission agreements with Turkey.
He also accused the ND government of having left Greece's borders "completely open" and of having made no effort to apply bilateral agreements -- a reference to a landmark November 2001 readmission protocol signed with Turkey that successive governments in Ankara have failed to fully implement.
Papandreou added that the problem requires serious effort, and "not the cultivation of fear and rifts in the Greek society".
 PASOK Parliamentary Group Secretary exclusive interviewMain opposition PASOK Parliamentary Group Secretary Dimitris Reppas characterized the outcome of the Euro-elections as "a great success" that made the party the "dominant political force in the country".
Speaking to ANA-MPA, he said that victory in the Euro-elections is "a first step" for PASOK's return to the government, adding that the New Democracy (ND) government has suffered far greater damage than anticipated and "usually sustained by a governing political party."
He underlined that the current government is faced with an irreversible situation, pointing out that PASOK will have to continue to undertake initiatives.
"The Euro-elections had certain characteristics of a referendum," Reppas said, adding that based on the results it became obvious that ND has the confidence of only one in three citizens. Reppas also stated that PASOK will be "absolutely ready" if general elections are held in the fall.
Referring to the low voter turnout, he said that the abstention percentage in the country was unprecedented and constitutes a strong message for all political parties.
Reppas stated that forming a strong majority government is a feasible target for PASOK even in the case of a six-party parliament, a development that would require a percentage of 41 or 42 pct in the general elections.
He also reiterated that PASOK will support the re-election of President Karolos Papoulias.
 SYRIZA's Secretariat on outcome of EuroelectionsThe Radical Left Coalition's (SYRIZA) Secretariat stressed in an announcement on Thursday that SYRIZA's performance in last Sunday's Euroelections was below expectations, but the toughest message of the elections was the strengthening of the far-Right, while assessing that the outcome of the Euroelections was determined by the record abstention.
The Secretariat added that "defeated in the elections was the (prime minister Costas) Karamanlis government, since the huge losses of the New Democracy party prove the rapid decline of the government that in no way has the right to take even tougher special economic measures which it is planning for the summer."
As far as the main opposition PASOK party is concerned, it believes that it came first but continues to be distant from the creation of a wave of confidence, "since it is not differentiating itself in the least from the nucleus of neo-liberalism that gave birth to the crisis."
Commenting on SYRIZA's ticket, the Secretariat pointed out that "it also feels the need to underline that all the options for the ticket and our political representations took place on the ground of joint agreement. Personal attacks and 'targetings', before and after the elections, are not part of the tradition of the radical Left and must be steadfastly eliminated from the discussion on the assessment of the results."
 SYN meeting on election resultsThe Central Political Committee of the Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, along with SYN's prefecture committee secretaries, will meet on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the results of the European Parliament elections.
The meetings with begin with a speech by SYN President Alexis Tsipras, while the meeting will mainly focus on why the result was significantly lower than the party's goals and expectations.
 'Name issue' talks to resumeSKOPJE (ANA-MPA / N. Frangopoulos)
The United Nations' special mediator for the outstanding "name issue" between Greece and its northern neighbour, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), will meet with envoys of the two countries on June 22 in Geneva, according to a UN announcement on Thursday that comes amid increased recent press speculation regarding a breakthrough in the 18-year-old row.
UN mediator Matthew Nimetz will meet with Greek envoy Amb. Adamantios Vassilakis and the representative of fYRoM, Amb. Zoran Jolevski.
Subsequent meetings are scheduled for July 6 and 7 in Skopje, to be followed in Athens on July 7 and 9, as Nimetz is expected to meet with each country's top diplomatic officials.
 Programmes linking research with production announcedThe government on Thursday announced the launch of three 122-million-euro programmes to further reinforce the links between scientific research and production, with the relevant minister pointing out that innovation can be promoted into a privileged sector for the country while playing a key-role in the improvement of competitiveness.
Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis also stressed that the recently announced mergers of research agencies and institutes that share the same subject will proceed within the framework of the efforts made to reduce expenditures and ensure a better environment for scientific research. The government's goal is to increase spending in the sector of research and innovation to correspond to 1.5 pct of the country's GDP by 2015.
The mergers will not affect the rights or the salaries of the researchers, Hatzidakis said, adding that they materialize based on a relevant government decision last week on the merger or abolition of state agencies. The overall merger plan will be overseen by a committee chaired by the government general secretary. As regards the ministry of development the measure will cut the number of presidents and CEOs from 22 to 8 and the board members from 192 to 66.
 Agriculture minister discusses Swedish EU Presidency priorities with Swedish counterpartThe top priorities of the Swedish Presidency of the European Union, as of July 1, will be the issue of agricultural subsidies, after 2013, quality farming and water management.
This was stressed in a meeting between Agricultural Development and Food Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and his Swedish counterpart Es. Enlandsson.
Hatzigakis said that he does not disagree with the second pylon of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) being strengthened, but this must not take place at the expense of the first pylon which must remain and be promoted.
 Greece ordered to return 244 million in agricultural subsidiesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
The European Court of Justice on Thursday rejected Greece's plea for the annulment of a European Commission decision issued in December 2006, which demands that Greek authorities return an allegedly misspent 244 million euros paid out as agricultural subsidies.
The sums involved concerned funds given by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) for the sectors of olive oil, cotton, grape and citrus fruits between 1999 and 2004, while the Commission also penalised Greece for late payments in the same period.
The Commission excluded the above expenditure from financing after finding that Greece had failed to properly implement the required controls for confirming expenditure.
Greece challenged the decision on the grounds that the Commission had failed to conduct a bilateral discussion with Greek authorities on the assessment of the gravity of the infringements and the loss suffered by the European Community and on the grounds that the Commission had imposed excessive corrections.
The Commission's decision came after inspections showing that the electronic files in the olive oil sector were not in operation and that cotton gins did not give a numerical reference for the fields used but only their general location, thus preventing any kind of cross-check.
For grape and currant crops, the Commission said Greek authorities had failed to note the geographic location of this variety and failed to control the destination of the crop harvested, while for citrus fruits the Commission found weaknesses in the accounting methods of the producer organisation and processing companies.
The Commission also found that Greek authorities had failed to meet deadlines for payments.
 Economist Roubini sees slow recovery in 2010The global economy will recover in 2010 but with slow rates, Nouriel Roubini, a professor of economics in the New York University, said on Thursday.
Addressing a conference organized by KPMG in Athens, Roubini stressed there were still risks for the global economy, while commenting on the Greek economy he noted that a global economic recovery would not be sufficient to bring it into positive growth and supported more rapid structural reforms in the country.
Roubini said his forecast for a slow recovery of the global economy, in contrast with other more optimistic forecasts, was based on the fact that the main factors supporting a recovery have not yet reached their lowest point. He said that unemployment would continue rising in the US and the Eurozone.
In his forecasts for the Greek economy, professor Roubini said it would shrink between 1-4 pct this year and underlined that the problems facing the economy were not fully related to a global crisis but they were domestic and needed to be resolved urgently through reforms and structural changes.
The crisis would mainly affect tourism and shipping, along with problems of high fiscal deficits, public debt and low competitiveness levels. Roubini said a fiscal consolidation and reform was crucial for the country and that there was no room for further tax burdens but a drastic cut of public spending.
 PASOK on OTE shares saleMain opposition PASOK urged the government to stop selling off what it called profitable public enterprises of strategic importance, referring to its policy as regards the Hellenic Telecoms (OTE S.A.)
According to the party's economic sector spokeswoman Louka Katseli, the government continues to promote the sale of an additional 5 pct of OTE shares to Deutsche Telekom, which will bring the Greek State's participation in the company down to 20 pct.
"The government does not hesitate to also promote the sale of Thessaloniki Water Supply and Sewerage Co. S.A. (E.Y.A.Th) and Public Gas Corporation S.A. (DEPA)," Katseli stated.
 Unemployment at 9.2 pct yr/yr in MarchUnemployment in Greece rose to 9.2 percent in March 2009, from 9.0 percent in the same month last year, according to figures released on Thursday by the National Statistics Service (ESYE).
The number of registered unemployed rose to 457,024 in March from 442,558 in March 2008, ESYE said, adding that the group most hard hit was women, with 12.9 percent, against 6.6 percent among men.
By age group, the highest unemployment rate was recorded in the 15-24 age bracket, with 24.5 percent, followed by the 25-34 age bracket with 12.7 percent; the 35-44 age bracket with 7.5 percent, the 45-54 age bracket with 6.0 percent, and the 55-64 age bracket with 3.9 percent, while unemployment in the 65-74 age bracket was 0.7 percent.
By region, the highest unemployment was in the Ionian islands with 18.7 percent, followed by the southern Aegean islands with 15.2 percent, western Macedonia with 11.3 percent, and eastern Macedonia with 12.3 percent.
Conversely, the lowest unemployment rates were in the northern Aegean (4.9 percent) and the Peloponese (8.4 percent).
Finally, the number of employed in March 2009 fell to 4,489,672 from 4,494,724 in March 2008.
 ╔ndustrials' profits slide in '08Greek industrial companies' net profits fell by 1.4 billion euros in 2008, compared with the previous year, a survey by the ANA-MPA showed on Thursday.
The survey, conducted on more than 2,000 enterprises with annual sales of more than 3.0 million euros and total sales of 64 billion euros, showed that net profits totaled 675 million euros in 2008, from 2.11 billion euros in 2007, for a decline of 68 pct -the largest percentage decline recorded in the last 25 years. The figures cover corporate and not consolidated results of 2,084 Greek industries and reflected the impact of a global financial crisis. The survey also showed that more than six in 10 industrial enterprises recorded lower profits.
Despite the crisis, however, 71.6 pct of companies remained profitable (1,499), while half of loss-making enterprises in 2008 were profitable in 2007.
The survey showed that 1,499 companies recorded net profits totaling 2.1 billion euros, of which 1,336 recorded an 11 pct decline in net profits, while the remaining 163 had recorded losses in 2007
Energy companies had a significant effect on total results. Excluding lignite mining and the electricity production sectors, net profits fell by 56 pct to 1.11 billion euros in 2008, while excluding oil refinery, net profits fell by 41 pct to 665 million euros.
Pre-tax profits totaled 1.89 billion euros in 2008, while pre-tax, interest, depreciation and amortization earnings (EBITDA) fell 24 pct to 1.5 billion euros, while pre-tax and interest earnings fell 39 pct over the same period.
The 100 industrial enterprises with the biggest corporate -not consolidated- net earnings, recorded net profits of 1.5 billion euros, down 0.2 pct from 2007, with non-listed companies performing better.
 Athens hotels' occupancy rates down 15.2% in AprilAthens hotels' room occupancy rates fell by 15.2 pct in April, while revenues dropped by 22.6 pct in the same month, the Association of Athens-Attica Hoteliers announced on Thursday.
The Association, in a statement, warned that a surge in petty crime against tourists and hotel employees in central Athens along with limited opening hours of major archaeological sites as well as the lack of proper street cleaning by several local municipalities were damaging the Greek capital's overall image as a favourable travel destination and urged for measures to improve conditions for citizens, employees and tourists.
 Building activity down 14.9% in Jan-MarBuilding activity fell by 8.1 pct in terms of new permits and by 14.9 pct in terms of volume in the January-March period of 2009, compared with the corresponding period in 2008, the National Statistical Service announced on Thursday.
 Stocks end 0.45% higherGreek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday with the composite index rising 0.45 pct to end at 2,386.92 points. Turnover was a moderate 205.3 million euros, of which 7.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Technology (7.10 pct), Financial Services (2.49 pct) and Industrial Products (1.76 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (2.84 pct), Travel (2.32 pct) and Telecoms (1.53 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.47 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.82 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index fell 0.17 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 121 to 105 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.36%
Personal & Household: -0.41%
Raw Materials: +1.40%
Travel & Leisure: -2.32%
Food & Beverages: -1.29%
Financial Services: +2.49%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, PPC, OTE and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.85
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.95
HBC Coca Cola: 14.50
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.70
National Bank of Greece: 20.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.52
Bank of Piraeus: 7.79
Titan Cement Company: 21.78
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.39 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a low 66.194 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,601 contracts worth 46.036 million euros, with 24,983 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 25,865 contracts worth 20.158 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Bank of Cyprus's contracts (8,206), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,487), OTE (2,692), PPC (1,587), Piraeus Bank (1,333), National Bank (2,512), Alpha Bank (955), Intracom (721), Marfin Popular Bank (2,040) and Eurobank (520).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market remained a strong 1.674 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.004 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 670 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 935 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank to 178 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 5.49 pct and the German Bund 3.71 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.66 pct, the six-month rate 1.48 pct, the three-month rate 1.27 pct and the one-month rate 0.96 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.408
Pound sterling 0.857
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 10.888
Japanese yen 138.49
Swiss franc 1.524
Norwegian kroner 8.985
Canadian dollar 1.555
Australian dollar 1.734
 Health minister provides clarifications on smoking banHealth and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos made clarifications on Thursday regarding the way with which measures against smoking will be put into effect as of July 1.
According to what was announced, the special place for smoking will not exceed 30 percent of a store's useful area of hygiene interest, while there should also be a screen reaching the store's ceiling. Moreover, the space must meet certain specifications and have its own air conditioning system.
The licence for the creation and operation of the special space will be provided following an application submitted to the relevant municipal authority. Admittance will not be allowed to the special places for young people of up to the age of 18.
In restaurants, violations of the terms contained in the relevant law will not incur sanctions against the stores and those responsible for their operation, provided that the violation was not indicated by a customer, visitor or employee of the store.
The field of the law's implementation does not include the store's outdoor premises, where tables and chairs are located, even if the premises have a covering.
Avramopoulos also said that as of September 1, 2009, advertising tobacco products through the use of big posters and outdoor advertising in general will be forbidden.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos's Name DayISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos and dozens of clerics from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece prayed together at the Saint George Cathedral at the Phanar on Thursday, during the religious ceremony held on the occasion of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos's Name Day.
Tourist Development Minister Costas Markopoulos, Greece's Ambassador in Ankara F. Xydas and General Consul V. Bornovas represented the Greek government at the religious ceremony, which was attended by many pilgrims from the city, as well as from northern Greece, the islands and the Ecumenical Patriarchate's regions all over the world.
"The Name Day of Patriarch Vartholomeos is a manifestation of love and respect for a very big task that he is doing for Orthodoxy and Istanbul, which is of great value for Turkey and for Greece," Markopoulos said.
 Marks in nationwide exams by end June, Spiliotopoulos saysThe marks received by candidates in the nationwide university entrance exams will be released by the end of June and the final results, when candidates would know whether they had succeeded in getting a place in higher education, will be out by the end of August, Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said on Thursday.
Questioned about the ongoing dialogue for reforming Greek secondary schools, Spiliotopoulos said that dialogue was continuing with good results so far, adding that this was an achievement for all the political forces and other bodies participating in the process, in spite of the difficulties engendered by the electoral battle and the heightened tensions arising from this elsewhere.
"They, as I, believe that education is above and beyond any party allegiances and the inflexibility of the past," he added.
 Lecture on New Acropolis MuseumThe Alliance Francaise in Bern, Switzerland, organised a lecture on Tuesday on the theme of "The New Acropolis Museum. An opportunity for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece?", in the presence of a large Swiss audience.
The speaker was Olivier Vodoz, Vice President of the International Red Cross and Vice President of the Swiss Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles.
He outlined the historic and legal framework of the issue and referred to the efforts made so far, and that are continuing, both by the Greek state and the International Committee for the return of the Marbles.
The speaker further stressed the hope that with the construction of the New Acropolis Museum and the positive progress of internatiaonal law in this sector, the Parthenon Marbles will return to their historic environment which has a unique character.
 Fire at foot of Mt. Parnitha contained, new fire in EviaA fire broke out at the foot of Mt. Parnitha in Athens at noon on Thursday, was placed under control at 1:30 p.m., firefighters reported, but added that another fire has broken out in Evia, at Stoupea, near Styra.
The Evia fire broke out in an expanse of brush, and no occupied areas were at risk. Six manned fire engines, assisted by three helicopters and a ground force of 18 firemen, were battling the blaze.
The Parnitha fire broke out a half hour past noon at the end of Parnitha Boulevard, burning brush, and was contaned an hour later by a strong team of 36 firefighters with 12 fire engines, assisted by a ground force of 32 firemen, three airplanes and a helicopter.
 Wildfire in Trizina partly containedA fire that broke out on Wednesday noon in Trizina, northeastern Peloponnese was partly contained on Thursday morning, after burning 70 hectares of forestland and olive trees.
Twelve manned fire engines and two ground force teams are on the spot to fully contain the fire.
Meanwhile, a fire that broke out between Ano Kerassia and Makrynitsa, in Pelio, was extinguished late Wednesday, but a ground team of firefighters remained on the spot throughout the night to intervene in the event of a rekindling. The blaze, in an inaccessible spread of forestland, burned low brush.
 Hail storm devastates watermelon crop in SerresA brief but devastating hail storm destroyed some 60 acres of watermelon crop on Wednesday night in the Kapetan Mitroussi municipality in Serres.
The sudden strong winds and hail, which lasted only a few minutes, destroyed the greatest part of this year's watermelon crop in the area, as well as damage to corn and rice crops, according to Serres deputy prefect Dimitris Malamakis.
 Deputy Interior Minister Gioulekas receives honorary doctorate degreeDeputy Interior Minister Costas Gioulekas, responsible for mass media, will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Nottingham Trent University Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil T. Gorman in a special ceremony to take place on Friday at the ACS arts center in Athens.
On the same day, postgraduate degrees will also be awarded by the Nottingham Trent University to GSM College (Athens Graduate School of Management) graduates.
 Justice minister visits Piraeus Court BuildingJustice Minister Nikos Dendias visited the Piraeus court house on Thursday. He met with the board members of the Association of Court Employees and the Piraeus Bar Association and was briefed on working conditions in the building.
 Festival of Greek-Turkish Friendship in KavalaThe 8th Festival of Greek-Turkish Friendship will take place this weekend in the port of the northern Greek city of Kavala, jointly organised by the Prefecture of Kavala and the Non-Governmental Organisation Defne-Nea Daphni.
The above NGO, which has members in both countries, aims to strengthen relations of friendship and trust between Greece and Turkey.
Kavala Prefect Thodoros Kalliontzis will open the two-day events on Saturday. The festival will travel, on Monday June 15, to Cappadocia, Turkey.
 'Lahza' exhibition in AthensA unique photographic exhibition featuring the work of Palestinian children living in refugee camps in Lebanon, part of the REMAP2 modern art programme, will debut on June 16 at an art gallery in the Metaxourgio district of central Athens.
The exhibition, entitled "Lahza" or "A moment" in English, is derived from an initiative to given the Palestinian children 500 disposable cameras, with which they shot scenes from daily live in their often squalid refugee camps.
Designed by photojournalist Ramzi Haidar, the initiative provided "500 Children with 500 Cameras", complete with photography training sessions. The initiative began in the Baddawi camp.
A selection of the most compelling photos has already been exhibited in Beirut, Paris, Princeton University and now in Athens.
Palestinian envoy Samir Abou Ghazaleh will be present at the photo exhibition's inauguration.
 Fake credit card ring uncovered in N. GreeceA 52-year-old man from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) is the alleged mastermind of an international ring that manufactured fake credit cards in a clandestine "lab" in the village of Nea Triglia, Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece, police announced on Thursday.
A total of 13 people, including fYRoM nationals, Bulgarians, a local man and a woman from Georgia were arrested in connection with fraudulent transactions totalling 216,000 euros.
A police search yielded 186 ready-for-use bogus credit cards, 101 blank credit cards without names and 209 blank credit cards with magnetic strips.
An investigation is continuing with the assistance of Interpol and Europol for the arrest of bank employees in various SE European countries who allegedly collaborated with the ring.
According to the indictment, the 52-year-old received credit card data via the internet from European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong. He allegedly supplied the ring members with fake identity cards from countries bordering Greece, thus making fake credit cards they used themselves or sold for 100 euros each.
 Police say companion responsible for Bulgarian woman's deathPolice on the eastern Aegean island of Leros announced that they solved a murder case involving a 29-year-old Bulgarian woman, who was found strangled on May 31.
The woman was killed by her 30-year-old male companion, also a Bulgarian national, who was found dead in a remote area on Wednesday. According to the medical examiner, his death was accidental, caused by a fall.
The man was wanted by police and regarded as the main suspect in the homicide.
 Canadian national detected with new flu virusA health ministry announcemnt said on Thursday night that the H1N1 virius (the new flu virus) was detected in a Canadian national, aged 37 who arrived from Canada.
The patient is undergoing medical treatment.
 Arrests in Athens night club on drug trafficking chargesPolice, acting on a tip-off, raided la night club in dowtown Athens in the early hours of Thursday and arrested five individuals on drug trafficking charges, including the club manager.
Nine club employees were also arresed for violation of hygiene legislation.
Police confiscated 4.2 grams of cocaine and 8 grams of cannabis during the raid.
 Attack on MAT squadA group of about 20 hooded troublemakers attacked a MAT riot police squad in the downtown Athens distric of Exarchio on Wednesday night.
The assailants threw a number of home-made fire bombs (molotov cocktails) against the MAT police, causing damage to three parked cars and a motorcycle, but no injuries.
The assailants fled immediately afterwards, avoiding arrest.
 Fair on FridayFair weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 37C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 36C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki with possible local showers, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzeferis' overture to ruling New Democracy MPs , the government 's measures to stem illegal migration and optimism on the end of the financial crisis, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Scientific study: The men are being 'feminised' - Toxic substances, estrogen and medicines causing genetic changes to Y (male) chromosome".
APOGEVMATINI: "Government putting up its sleeves and getting to work- Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' instructions will be implemented immediately".
AVGHI: "Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party has roots in the society - Political Bureau meeting discusses Eur´elections results and political developments".
CHORA: "As ND in its entirety turns its back on him, Karatzaferis persists".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "LAOS ready to take in ND's 'black sheep'."
ELEFTHEROS : "Karatzaferis to Karamanlis: You're opening the way to main opposition PASOK party to win the national elections - ND leadership, ministers says 'no' to a cooperation with LAOS".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Athens district of Aghios Panteleimonas a war zone - Social 'volcano' comprising ultra-Right members, migrants and residents".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Civil war among the Right wing parties - But some ND deputies 'winking' at LAOS for cooperation".
ESTIA: "The economy is now the top priority"
ETHNOS: "Karatzaferis giving ND a hard time - Government in chaos after Karatzaferis overture".
KATHIMERINI: "Government preparing new package of measures against illegal migration".
LOGOS: "The gap between ND and LAOS widens - Government putting stop on all talk of cooperation between the two parties".
RIZOSPASTIS: "¤rganised response by the working class necessary before precious time is lost".
TA NEA: "While ND is in chaos, ministers attempt to put pressure on Karamanlis to take immediate initiatives".
TO VIMA: "Codename: Law and Order - Government will immediately impose measures on illegal migrants - Government takes action to halt LAOS party's rising popularity".
VRADYNI: "Euroelections result ignites clash between government and LAOS".
 Leaders begin discussion on territoryNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, who met Thursday in the framework of direct negotiations for a Cyprus solution, have come closer to an agreement on the Limnitis issue, a crossing point, the opening of which will facilitate movement to and from the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
UNSG Special Representative in Cyprus, Tayee Brook Zerihoun, told journalists after the 32nd meeting between President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, that the two leaders held a tete-a-tete meeting for three hours during which they continued discussion on the Limnitis issue and the chapter on economy.
"The leaders met for a tete-a-tete for about three hours in the company of their representatives, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami. They continued discussion on Limnitis and also on the economic issues. When they came out they informed the meeting that they are close to an agreement on Limnitis", Zerihoun said.
The UN official added that the discussion on the economy was concluded Thursday "at least on the level of the leaders".
Describing the meeting as "good and productive", Zerihoun said that during the open meeting, the introductory statements on the chapter on territory were read out by both sides.
During the next meeting, to take place Monday afternoon, the two sides will give their reactions to the introductory statements on territory.
UNSG's Special Advisor for Cyprus Alexander Downer will not be present at Monday's meeting since he will be in Moscow. Downer will return to Cyprus on Tuesday.
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.
President Christofias expects good news on Limnitis
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said on Thursday that he expected good news soon regarding the opening of a crossing point in Limnitis.
Speaking after his 32nd meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the context of direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said ''we had a good meeting today, we moved forward concerning Limnitis.''
''We are not far from an agreement and I expect soon to have good news,'' he added.
President Christofias said that during their meeting they expressed their views regarding territorial issues and that at their next meeting on Monday they will continue discussions on that issue and exchange views.
He added that they moved forward on issues concerning the economy, noting that this chapter would be set aside and talks would move on to issues concerning territory.
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