|Wednesday, 21 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 17 June 2009 Issue No: 3222
 KYSEA approves reduction in military service for ground forcesThe government council for foreign affairs and defence (KYSEA) that met Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis approved the reduction of mandatory military service in the ground forces to nine months as well as armaments' spending cuts.
Speaking after the meeting, National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis stated that the funds saved in 2010 will amount to 15 pct whereas for the next 4 years they will reach 10 pct per year, adding that they could be used in other social actions planned by the national economy and finance ministry.
As regards the reduction of mandatory military service in the ground forces, Meimarakis stated that the measure would go into effect for all those presenting themselves in August. Shorter reductions will go into effect for those that presented themselves for military service earlier in 2009. Specifically, those who began their national military service last February will serve 11 months in total, while those that began in May will serve 10 months.
Previously, the length of mandatory military service had been exactly one year.
KYSEA was also briefed by the defence minister and the Chief of the National Defence General Staff on the new structure of the NATO forces and the Larissa headquarters.
Earlier, the prime minister had a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
 FM Bakoyannis to receive U.S. envoy on WednesdayForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will receive U.S. Ambassador to Athens Daniel Speckhard at the Foreign Ministry at 12 noon on Wednesday.
Bakoyannis will also be receiving the President of the Central Jewish Council of Greece Moysis Konstantinis and the President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki David Saltiel at 10:30.
Lastly, Bakoyannis will be making an address at the event to be held at the Zappion Mansion at 20:00 on Wednesday in memory of the Greek Martyrs of the Holocaust 66 years after the Auschwitz.
The event is being held on the occasion of the Foreign Ministry's publication "Greeks at Auschwitz-Birkenau."
President Karolos Papoulias will be honouring the event with his presence.
 Papandreou: gov't lacks voters' trustThe government lacked the voters' trust and was in a more difficult position after the European Parliament elections, where society had rejected its policies, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed on Tuesday.
"The government is a part of the crisis, which it created itself, and a hostage of its own dead-end policies, which is why it cannot offer Greece any prospects," PASOK's leader said.
Addressing a meeting of his party's Parliament group coordinating body, Papandreou stressed that the government was unable to undertake initiatives in this way.
He said that PASOK would continue to exercise responsible opposition and address itself to those groups of voters that abstained from the elections, expressing their displeasure toward the entire political system.
The meeting also focused on PASOK's tactics in Parliament, with Papandreou stressing that the party would have an important role to play in the coming months.
PASOK's president said that the party will focus on issues concerning the economy, agriculture, the proposal for changing laws on ministerial responsibility, illegal immigration, tourism, fires and fire-fighting and the government's role in covering up scandals.
On the issue of ministerial responsibility and changing the law, Papandreou accused ruling New Democracy of trying to raise a "smoke-screen" in order to conceal its responsibility for scandals, cover-ups and non-transparent actions.
 Alavanos on Tsipras leadership, Euro poll resultsThe head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday underlined the need for SYRIZA and its senior coalition partner, the Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN), to radically rethink their entire strategy in light of SYRIZA's poor results in the European Parliament elections. He had been asked whether he regretted backing SYN leader Alexis Tsipras for SYN's presidency after Alavanos stepped down as SYN leader himself.
"I haven't reached the conclusion that I regret it but we must definitely look at everything again from the beginning," he told reporters.
Asked whether SYRIZA would go to general elections with Tsipras at the helm, Alavanos said that this was not the main issue but "whether we can learn the right lessons and whether SYRIZA can give people hope."
The disappointing election result had been a small earthquake for SYRIZA and had been followed by after-shocks that would not, however, last very long, he added.
"What worries me is whether SYRIZA will be able to win society's approval and support," he stressed.
He also denied any plans to resign from SYRIZA's leadership, saying that the party was in the midst of a "brave discussion on how to restructure SYRIZA's presence". He confirmed that "improvements and corrections" in SYRIZA's policy were likely to happen.
Alavanos was speaking after the first meeting of SYRIZA's Parliamentary group after the Euro polls, which focused on the party's initiatives in Parliament in the next few months.
 Tsipras meets UNHCR delegationCoalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday underlined that the prime minister should exert pressure during the upcoming European Council meeting concerning the large number of refugees in the country, during a meeting with the delegation of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Greece.
Tsipras said that the government and local authorities should adopt policies that will deal with the housing and hygiene problems faced by the refugees in Athens districts and other regions in the country.
On behalf of the UNHRC, Giorgos Tsarbopoulos referred to Greece's specific international obligations under the Geneva Convention to guarantee facilities for the reception and hospitality of people requesting asylum. He stressed that it is a mistake to use the term 'illegal immigrant' indiscriminately, pointing out that there are specific countries that produce refugees, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. People coming from these countries should be treated as asylum seekers and there should be reception structures to cater to their immediate needs, he stressed.
 Second Greek-Russian forum held in St. PetersburgThe 2nd Greek-Russian forum opened on Tuesday at the historic Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg, with a delegation of Greek MPs attending.
In a message read out to the forum, Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas noted that the forum was becoming an annual tradition after the founding forum at Athens' Zappion building last November.
A message was also sent by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who stressed Greece's strong interest in cooperation with Russia and referred to the "strategic importance" of relations between the two countries.
Similar messages by Russian officials were also read out at the forum.
More than 400 delegates are taking part in the meeting, among them scientists, business people, journalists, social organisations and the local governments in both countries.
 U.S. State Department releases Trafficking in Persons ReportWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)
U.S. Secrtary of State Hillary Clinton released on Tuesday the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for 2009, as required by U.S. law, and Greece is again assessed at "Tier 2", the midpoint of three levels measuring effectiveness in the prevention, protection, and prosecution of human trafficking.
For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Secretary of State also cited a Greek anti-trafficking proponent, Major George Vanikiotis of the Attica Police, as one of nine "Heroes in the Global Effort to Combat Trafficking in Persons."
The report added that Greece is a destination and transit country for victims of trafficking for purposes of both sexual exploitation and forced labor, with an assessment in the TIP Report for 2009 of "Tier 2", not fully compliant with minimum standards but making significant efforts to do so.
It also noted that the Greek government increased overall funding toward victim protection and demonstrated strong law enforcement efforts.
 Greek-Albanian meeting on protecting underaged trafficking victimsThe first interstate meeting between Greece and Albania, in the framework of the bilateral Agreement on protecting and helping underaged trafficking victims, has been completed in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, with the participation of representatives of the two countries' governments, prosecuting authorities and non-governmental organisations.
Two groups convened during the two-day meeting, one preoccupied itself with issues regarding the prosecution of underaged persons' trafficking and the second with their protection. Issues concerning the conditions and difficulties for solving cases, that are related to the identification of children and the location of their parents or of the persons exploiting them were examined.
The conclusion reached by both sides was that the Agreement has improved cooperation between the two countries considerably and they agreed to another meeting between joint work groups in Albania in October or November.
 NBG announces share capital increaseNational Bank of Greece (NBG) on Tuesday announced a planned share capital increase, through which it aims to raise up to 1.25 billion euros. Previous shareholders will be given first option, with two shares for every nine existing shares at 11.30 euros per share. The bank's board will meet on Thursday to decide the exact size of the share capital increase and the precise terms.
The move was praised by Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos, who said it was positive since it would increase the bank's already strong capital adequacy and also pointed out that increased size also increased competitiveness. The central banker dismissed fears that the share capital increase would drain the Greek stock market of funds, saying that the Greek market was now international and such issues did not arise.
 Political reactions to NBG share capital increaseThe government on Tuesday welcomed news about a planned share capital increase by the National Bank of Greece (NBG), which announced that it intends to raise some 1.25 billion euros on the stock market.
"The government cannot but be positive about such an initiative, since in this way the country's banking system is protected even more and the conditions are created for the stable and healthy growth of Greek banks," a finance ministry announcement said.
It said that the participation of public-sector organisations in the share capital increase, with the percentage due to them based on their existing holdings, will help to further improve their asset positions.
Main opposition PASOK, however, accused the bank's management of attempting to further reduce the state sector's percentage in the country's largest bank, during a time of great upheaval, and to "throw off" the social insurance funds from the bank's share capital.
According to PASOK's spokesman for economic issues Louka Katseli, NBG was attempting to evade all social and public control by 'revoke' the privileged shares recently bought by the Greek State as part of the bank support package.
She called on the government to state whether and how it intended to guarantee the unobstructed participation of social insurance funds in the share capital increase and that the agreements would be kept, without compromising their viability or damaging their portfolios.
 FinMin at 10th Venture Capital Forum: Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunitiesEconomic growth will come from within business activation and through collaboration between the public and private sector, economy and finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou said on Tuesday, addressing the 10th Venture Capital Forum organised in Athens by the Invest in Greece organisation in cooperation with the New Economy Fund (TANEO) and the PRAXIS network.
Papathanassiou also said that the government was and will continue to fulfill its duty with responsibility, a plan and seriousness, adding that it was seeking consensus, unanimity and understanding at national level.
The minister invited all the political, economic and social forces of Greece to the effort for the country's safe exit from the crisis and for the creation of better conditions for the "day after" the crisis.
In the framework of that effort, he said, businesses were called on to assume their significant role with new initiatives, a creative disposition, and investments in sectors on which growth in the new era will be founded.
Papathanassiou reminded the audience that the reaction in Greece to the global financial crisis was immediate and decisive, noting that Greece was among the first countries in the EU in which initiatives were taken to confront the crisis.
From early on, guarantees were given for the security of the credit system, the entirety of deposits in banks were guaranteed, protective measures were legislated for borrowers, and a 28 billion euros liquidity boosting plan for the economy was being applied, the minister elaborated.
Regarding the micro to small size enterprises, the primary target was to maintain liquidity and, in that frame, the government proceeded with the provision of guarantees for bank loans to the SMEs via the TEMPME (Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro Enterprises), he added.
He further referred to the interventions by the TANEO and the reinforcement of the business capital market.
The market's response to the TANEO was noteworthy, he said, adding that the fund succeeded in raising private capital for a total of 11 Venture Capital Funds.
Papathanassiou continued that the legal framework in Greece for venture capital companies was currently among the most competitive in the EU and Greece ranked in the highest positions among the EU member states with auspicious taxation and institutional frameworks.
He added that the timing was positive, given that the governments throughout Europe were backing the operation of venture capital, stressing that this conjuncture should be exploited, while the entire range of the abilities provide by such developmental tools should be taken advantage of.
"We must, together, create the conditions for a better tomorrow, and now is the most appropriate time to take advantage of the opportunities," Papathanassiou concluded.
 FinMin attends Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry eventFinance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, addressing an event regarding the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (EBEA) annual business awards on Tuesday, said that upgrading the economy's reliability in international stock markets and supporting the real economy are the government's main target.
"Greece does not have the luxury to ignore or put in second place the risk of monetary derailment," he said.
The minister pointed out that the high public debt "which has been accumulated over the past two decades and that has been aggravated due to the crisis, currently necessitates the intensification of the effort to decrease deficits, in parallel with the measures in support of the economy."
Papathanasiou further said that "the interest of the country leaves us with no other option. We are obliged to upgrade the reliability of our economy in international stock markets. We are obliged to boost our country's credit receiving capacity and to secure better loaning terms, both for the public sector and for businesses."
 Development minister: Greece will not lose a single euro from the 'Competitiveness' operational programGreece will not ose a single euro from the Operational Program 'Competitiveness' of the Third Community Support Framework (CSF), while the effort has commenced for corresponding results from the 4th CSF (National Strategic Reference Framework-NSRF), development minister Costis Hatzidakis stressed on Tuesday, after a meeting of the ministry's special secretariat for competitiveness.
Actions budgeted at 910 million euros have already been tendered from the new program, while by the end of the year invitations will be issued for another 800 million euros in actions, including that for the energy upgrading of private buildings, which will be tendered in the summer, Hatzidakis added.
He noted that the Competitiveness operational program expires on June 30 and, according to official data, its absorption was currently at 99.45 percent, while by the end of the month it will reach 107 percent compared with just 14.7 percent in April 2004, shortly after the New Democracy (ND) government took office.
 Tourism minister upbeat on tourist arrivalsThe anticipated percentage reduction in tourist arrivals to Greece this year will not reach two-digit figures, Tourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos said in a press conference on Tuesday. The minister stated that he was satisfied with the figures on arrivals at Greek airports during the first five months of the year, which pointed to an overall drop of 8.8 percent.
The minister stressed that Greek tourism had rallied and come through, in spite of a difficult period when bookings had been at very low levels, while pessimistic forecasts predicting a drop in tourist arrivals as high as 20 percent had been proved wrong.
Markopoulos also pointed to a recent spike in legislation concerning the tourism sector, such as a codification of tourism-related laws, laws regulating agrotourism and the operation of travel agencies, with another bill regulating extreme sports in the wings.
He went on to announce plans for a merger between the Hellenic Tourism Development Company and the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation as a means of reducing the size of the public sector, stressing that there could not multiple bodies all handling public real estate.
 Greece among top tourist destinations for the DutchGreece is the fifth most popular tourist destination for Dutch people, according to the Netherlands new ambassador in Greece Kees van Rij, who on Tuesday met the prefect of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, Panagiotis Psomiadis.
The Dutch ambassador underlined that Greece attracts his compatriots to return year after year, while adding that the Dutch are also interested in winter tourism in Greece .
Van Rij referred to possibilities for cooperation between the ports of Rotterdam and Thessaloniki, while also discussing illegal immigration and combatting this on a European level.
 Inflation falls to 1.1 pct in MayInflation in Greece fell to 1.1 percent in May, down by 0.4 percentage points from 0.7 percent in the preceding month of April, according to figures released on Tuesday in Brussels by the EU statistics service Eurostat.
In the eurozone, the average inflation declined from 0.6 percent in April to 0 percent in May, down substantially from 3.7 percent in May 2008, and compared to 0.7 percent in April (against 4.0 percent in April 2008).
The lowest inflation rates in May were in Ireland (-1.7 percent), Portugal (-1.2 percent) and Spain and Luxembourg (+0.9 percent), while the highest rates were in Romania (+5.9 percent), Lithuania (+4.9 percent) and Latvia (+4.4 percent).
In relation to April, ifnlation in May declined in 24 EU member states, remained unchanged in Denmark, and increased in Hungary, while no figures were available for Britain.
 Nutriart arises from Katselis, Allatini, ELVIPET mergerThe name, logo and philosophy of the new company created by the merger of the Greek bread and biscuit manufacturers Katselis, Allatini and ELVIPET was unveiled during a special event held by the management of the new company on Tuesday.
The company's new name will be Nutriart and will include the brand names Katselis, Allatini and Plaza, whose products will continue to be sold under their original names. The new management said that its aim was to make Nutriart products the first choice of consumers and to create conditions for expanding to markets abroad.
 Egnatia motorway blocked by protesting workersFour hundred workers employed by the construction firm that built the Egnatia Odos (a major motorway of Greece traversing the north-northwestern part of the country) on Tuesday blocked the motorway in both directions at the Panagia intersection, demanding four months back pay.
Member of the workers' board said to ANA-MPA that their mobilisations will continue until their demands are fulfilled.
 Athens bourse plunges 4.62 percentThe Athens Stock Exchange general index fell sharply on Tuesday, plunging 4.62 percent to end at 2,279.96 points. Turnover was 322.5 million euros, of which 2.6 million euros were block trades.
The individual sector indexes all moved lower, with Banks (7.63 percent), Health (7.51 percent), Mass media (5.76 percent) and Personal-Household (5.10 percent) posting the biggest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE/20 index ended 5.21 percent lower, the FTSE/40 index posted losses of 4.28 percent and the FTSE/80 closed 3.15 percent down.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 200 to 32 with another 27 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.80%
Personal & Household: -5.10%
Raw Materials: -4.46%
Travel & Leisure: -1.30%
Food & Beverages: -2.30%
Financial Services: -2.74%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, PPC, Alpha Bank and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.87
Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.80
HBC Coca Cola: 14.64
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.50
National Bank of Greece: 18.30
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.95
Bank of Piraeus: 7.50
Titan Cement Company: 19.80
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 0.31 in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 205.295 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 29,012 contracts worth 168.118 million euros, with 26,778 open positions in the market.
Volume on futures contracts on equities totaled 53,103 contracts worth 37.177 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Bank of Cyprus' contracts (10,980) followed by National Bank (8,586), Alpha Bank (3,735), Marfin Investment Group (3,453), Hellenic Telecoms (3,137), Piraeus Bank (3,011), Eurobank (2,324), Marfin Popular Bank (2,148) and GEK (1,960).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.400
Pound sterling 0.850
Danish kroner 7.504
Swedish kroner 10.946
Japanese yen 135.86
Swiss franc 1.519
Norwegian kroner 8.988
Canadian dollar 1.573
Australian dollar 1.746
 Bank of Greece funds study on repercussions of climate changeBank of Greece governor George Provopoulos on Tuesday announced that Greece's central bank has set up a committee of expert scientists and academics from all relevant fields, who will carry out a study on the probable economic, social and environmental repercussions of climate change on Greece.
"The only way to resolve the 'political' problem that climate change represents is to provide governments and society with the broadest possible detailed knowledge on the prospects of climate change and its repercussions, information based on analytical scientific study," Provopoulos said.
Outlining the bank's initiative, the central banker said the expert committee was first formed in March this year and is expected to complete its work within two years, with funding provided by the Bank of Greece.
"Only in this way will today's citizens be concerned - the younger ones about what kind of world they will have to live in during old age, the older ones about the world that their children and grandchildren will inhabit. Only in this way will today's citizens be able to force today's governments to promptly take measures - in other words, ensure that any inertia by governments throughout the world has a "political" cost greater than that of taking measures today for benefits in 2050 or 2100," he stressed.
The study will have two separate phases. The first will cover the larger part of the climate, environmental and socio-economic section of the study, with analysis of the forecasts of climate models in order to estimate the repercussions of climate change on the environment. Then, economic models will be attempt to assess the cost of climate change.
The second phase will combine all the findings and the study will be completed by assessing the cost of the necessary measures and political management, as well as an overall assessment of the environmental and socio-economic benefits of the above approach.
The head of the committee, Athens Academy member Constantine Drakatos, stressed that a number of Greece's most prestigious scientists were voluntarily participating on the committee and expressed conviction that the study would be useful for the national economy but also the start of a permanent surveillance of environmental repercussions on economic affairs in Greece.
 Law to require prepaid mobile users to be identifiedThe privilege of anonymity enjoyed by those using prepaid mobile phones will soon be abolished in Greece, with legislation now being prepared by the transport and communications ministry that will require all users to be identified. The draft law will soon be tabled in Parliament and is expected to become law by next month, with a transition period of roughly a year until June 30, 2010.
Transport and Communications Minister Evripidis Stylianidis stated Tuesday that there are an estimated 13.5 million of the 'anonymous' prepaid mobile phone cards in Greece; 9 million of them are active connections and only 5 million of the users are identified.
Stylianidis stated that the draft law to be unveiled on Wednesday seeks to reduce crime, while adding that it protects personal data.
Current users of prepaid mobile phones can keep their 'pay-as-you-go' plan by submitting an application to their provider that gives their personal details, including name, address, tax number and a Greek ID or passport. Each user will be issued a SIM card with a unique code. Those failing to comply during the transition period will have their SIM cards disabled. As regards immigrants, only those who are legally resident in Greece will be able to get a prepaid mobile phone number.
The issue of ending prepaid phone anonymity was debated after notorious criminal Vassilis Paleokostas staged a repeat jail break last February with help from the outside using prepaid mobile phones.
 New social cohesion programmes announcedDeputy Interior Minister Athanasios Nakos signed a circular Tuesday addressed to the country's municipal authorities with guidelines for the continuation of the social programmes "Help at Home", "Social Welfare Units" and "Day Care Center for the Elderly" to be substituted by new social cohesion programmes funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) 2007-2013.
The framework created will allow municipal authorities to continue operating social care structures for the benefit of those who are in greater need, Nakos stated.
 Archaeological findings in Lake Karla regionPriceless treasures offering valuable information to archaeologists were brought to light during earthworks conducted within the framework of the Lake Karla restoration project.
Jewelry, vessels, coins and parts of buildings, pipes, ducts and dozens of tombs are a few examples of the findings unearthed. A large section of a prehistoric settlement dating back to the late Neolithic Period was also discovered and, following a culture ministry decision, it will be preserved to open to visitors. Hellenistic Age settlements and a Roman cemetery were also unearthed.
The lake is located at the borders of the prefectures of Larissa and Magnesia in the Thessaly plain, central Greece.
A large reservoir filling with flood runoff waters is expected to replenish the previously drained Lake Karla via an ambitious reclamation project, one aimed at meeting the agriculture-dependent area's irrigation needs.
Following its draining in 1962, a portion of the previous lake-bed was cultivated with mediocre results. Conversely, fish stocks vanished and the region's entire micro-climate was negatively affected, suffering from soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and reduced ground water.
 Real estate expropriated to save archaeological findingsA real estate property next to Antigonidon Square, downtown Thessaloniki, in which a section of a 6th century BC temple dedicated to ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite was discovered in 2000 during earthworks for the construction of an apartment building, will be expropriated to ensure that the monument will be salvaged.
The decision was reached by the culture ministry expro-priations committee in response to citizen mobilizations.
The monument protection and promotion works will be funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) 2007-2013.
 Greek medical doctor among the 45 best candidates for the ESA astronaut training programmeA 35-year-old medical doctor, a Thessaloniki Aristotle University (AUTH) graduate specializing in pneumonology, was among the 45 best candidates for the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut training programme.
Evangelos Kaimakamis was selected among roughly 8,500 candidates from across Europe and will participate in the ESA 45-member "think tank".
The six individuals who will become Europe's new astronauts were presented by ESA on May 20. They are Samantha Cristoforetti (Italy), Alexander Gerst (Germany), Andreas Mogensen (Denmark), Luca Parmitano (Italy), Timothy Peake (UK), Thomas Pesquet (France).
The new recruits will join the European Astronaut Corps and start their training to prepare for future missions to the International Space Station, and beyond.
 Days of Italy in Corfu events inauguratedItalian Ambassador Gianpaolo Scarante inaugurated recently in Corfu, together with the city's Mayor Sotiris Mikalev, the first part of the event titled "Days of Italy in Corfu."
The event comprises five days of cultural happenings dedicated to the history of the Ionian islands complex and of Italy: a concert at the Catholic Cathedral, an engravings exhibition at the Old Castle, a lecture at the Corfu Reading Society, dedicated to Italian writer Nicolo Tommaseo and lastly the presentation, in cooperation with the Ionian Islands University, of the book and documentary by Italian journalist Maurizio Crema titled "From Venice to Corfu on the wings of the Lion."
Scarante announced that Italy, through the Veneto Region, will fund restoration work for the belfry of the "Annunziata" cathedral, an important monument for Corfu and the entire region of the Adriatic and the Ionian sea.
 Thomas Struth photography exhibition in AthensA photography exhibition of German artist Thomas Struth will be inaugurated Tuesday at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The first solo show in Greece of one of the most celebrated artists of our times working in the medium of photography will run until Sept. 14.
The exhibition, with photographs dating between 1997 and 2003, is held in collaboration with the German Embassy in Athens and the Goethe-Institut Athen as part of the program of parallel events for the 2nd Athens Biennale, Heaven.
Since the late seventies, Thomas Struth has been known for his architectural and urban photographs, portraits, landscapes, and museum interiors.
Trained first in painting, he took up photography in 1974 while a student at the Düsseldorf Academy of Fine Arts under Gerhard Richter (1974), and later, Bernd and Hilla Becher (1976) who, since the late 1950s, took on the project of creating a systematic archive of anonymous industrial buildings of Germany.
 Fire in Hymettus containedThe fires on Mt. Hymettus in Athens and in Marmari on Evia island have been placed under control, the fire brigade announced on Tuesday morning.
According to a Fire Brigade announcement, the Hymettus blaze has been contained in a gorge at Kremastos Lagos area, while rekindlings at the crest are being tackled mainly by water dropping helicopters.
 Fire near LavrioA fire broke out at 13.45 on Tuesday in woods at Legrena near Lavrio, southeast of Athens. Fighting the blaze are 11 fire engines with a combined crew of 33 on the ground, assisted by two helicopter dropping water from the air.
 Arrests on grave looting chargesTwo deaf-mute half-brothers aged 39 and 15 were arrested on Tuesday at Athens' First Cemeter, charged with grand theft (from grave-lootng) and insulting the dead.
According to police, the two suspects had broken into the cemetery at least four times since last March and destroyed approximately 60 graves, from which they looted several objects including a silver icon.
In the Jewish section of the cemetery, the two men had thrown bones from the graves into garbage bins.
At the time of their arrest the perpetrators had already taken two icons and other objects from graves they had earlier violated.
The two men will be sent later Tuesday before a public prosecutor.
 Two foreign nationals arrested on kidnapping chargesPolice on Tuesday announced the arrest of two Afghan nationals, aged 31 and 20, on blackmail and illegal detainment charges.
The two had kidnapped a 15-year-old boy, also from Afghanistan, and kept him bound inside a cement shack in the Pedion tou Areos public park in Athens, demanding that his relatives pay 400 euros ransom in order to release him.
 Wolf attacks farmerA farmer was attacked by a wolf in a rural area of Klinovos municipality in Trikala, central Greece.
The farmer said that he noticed that something was going on with his flock and ran to the pen, where he saw a sheep attempting free itself from a wolf, and he tried to rescue it. According to the farmer, the wild animal attacked him and injured his hand.
The wolf disappeared into the woods and the farmer sought medical assistance at the Medical Center in near-by Kalambaka.
 Environment minister approves terms for new Panathinaikos fieldEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Tuesday signed an order approving the environmental terms for the construction and operation of a new 40,000-seat stadium owned by the Athens football club Panathinaikos in the city's Votanikos district.
An environment ministry announcement stressed that these terms fully protected the area's environment.
The minister's signature essentially launched the start of work on developing Votanikos and the old Panathinaikos stadium on Alexandras Avenue, which kicks off an environmental improvement for the entire Elaionas area.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy weather and possible local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 38C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northeasterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 23C to 37C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki with local showers, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 34C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceRecent wildfires, the new flu virus A(H1N1) and political developments dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "172 wildfires in three days ......and the summer has just begun".
APOGEVMATINI: "The pneumococcal vaccine shields the elderly from the new flu".
ELEFTHEROS: "Karamanlis is copying (former PASOK Prime Minister Costas) Simitis' fatal mistakes".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New system will be implemented in bank loans interest as of July 1.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The government apparently did not learn a lesson from the 2007 devastation (from the wildfires that ravaged the country)".
ESTIA: "Speculations on parties' cooperations are being spread for other expediencies".
ETHNOS: "Karamanlis now hostage to ND deputy Yannis Manolis due to the government's marginal majority in parliament".
TA NEA: "Government unprepared to battle the wildfires - Only 3 of the 14 firefighting helicopters were ready to take action".
VRADYNI: "Reforested areas in Hymmettus mountain one of the mountains surrounding Athens) in flames".
 Government denounces Turkish exercises in occupied CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus has made strong demarches to the United Nations and the European Union to denounce Turkish military exercises in the Karpass area, on the northeastern tip of the country, still under Turkish occupation.
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said here Tuesday that the exercises violate the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, its air space and territorial waters.
He noted that the Turkish exercises may be linked to efforts by the government to explore and exploit hydrocarbon reserves in its exclusive economic zone.
"If these efforts succeed, whatever benefit may come our way, through a political settlement, this benefit will go to Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' he said.
Replying to a question, Stephanou said that the exercise bears the name of a Turkish soldier who was killed during the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974, adding the exercise will last ''a few days''.
''The essence of the matter is that Turkey continues to violate the air space and territorial waters and obviously the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, that is why we have protested, denouncing such moves'', the spokesman said.
Stephanou said the exercise, as far as he knows, takes place in the Karpass area.
"We have a sovereign right to carry out research in our exclusive economic zone, in accordance with the Law of the Sea convention and this is what we are doing," he pointed out.
The spokesman reiterated that the prospect of benefits from such research could act as an additional incentive to continue efforts to reach a negotiated settlement where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will reap the fruits of a solution.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008 to reunite the island.
 Spokesman: Turkey's EU course should help solution effortNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The government has agreed to the start of accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union with a specific strategy in mind, to help resolve the question of Cyprus, through leverage on Ankara and Turkey's cooperation towards this goal, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said here Tuesday.
"The policy of President of the Republic Demetris Christofias is based on making the most out of Turkey's accession course to ensure that Ankara is persuaded to cooperate for a solution to the Cyprus issue, which will be to the interest of the people of Cyprus," he added.
His statement came following remarks by Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Gunter Verheugen on Monday that the government of Turkey in 2004 fully endorsed a UN-backed solution plan (the Annan plan) which provided for a Turkish military presence on the island of only 600 troops.
Stephanou pointed out however that the Commissioner had said in his remarks that now all this belongs in the past.
In April 2004, a solution plan presented by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was put to simultaneous referenda. The Turkish Cypriot community voted in favour, while the Greek Cypriot community rejected it as unacceptable as it did not meet its main concerns.
Regarding Verheugen's statements on Turkey's EU course, Stephanou said that Cyprus has endorsed the start of accession talks, and has a clear strategic line, that through these negotiations and the commitments Turkey has undertaken, "we can find ways to exert pressure while Turkey can find the incentive to cooperate in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem".
"This is a strategy that not only this government implements but also previous governments have followed", he remarked.
The spokesman said that the strategy to continue towards a solution in relation to Turkey's European aspirations and then its accession course has been mapped out since 1999 and this was the logic that led to the 2004 events, Õeven if these events had been applied in the wrong manner", he added.
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