|Sunday, 25 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 30 June 2009 Issue No: 3232
 PM: priority to reforms, illegal migrationThe Greek government's priorities are to accelerate reforms and tackle illegal immigration, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday as he delivered the opening address at a European Peoples' Party (EPP) Group Study Days meeting taking place in Athens.
"It is the Greek government's choice to promote reforms in the economy, the public sector, security, education and health," Karamanlis said, adding that the country had to be ready when the crisis started to abate.
"The international economic crisis calls upon us all to proceed more rapidly, to reform whatever must be reformed, to change what must be changed in order to ensure sustainable development," the premier underlined.
At the same time, he noted the necessity for "a balance between the market economy and social justice, between individual enterprise and social cohesion."
Karamanlis welcomed the first signs that the global economy was stabilising but warned that several things remained to be done.
"Only through coordination and cooperation can we restrict the repercussions of the international crisis on the European economy and create a positive environment for growth," he stressed.
The prime minister then referred to the ever-worsening problem of illegal immigration, pointing out that Greece was currently bearing a larger part of the burden in a problem actually shared by all of Europe, since illegal immigrants eventually made their way into all European countries.
"Active solidarity and a fair distribution of the burden involved in dealing with them is needed," he stressed, adding that the issue was a top priority for Athens.
Karamanlis also pointed to the progress made in setting up a European coast guard, adding that joint European exercises had taken place in the framework of the EU's FRONTEX agency.
Regarding protection of the environment, which is one of the themes of the MEP's meeting, Karamanlis said that the EU can and should be at the forefront of efforts to protect the environment and prevent climate change.
"We want tangible results at the Copenhagen summit on global climate change, with commitments by countries for a measurable reduction in gas emissions and a stop to climate change," he stressed.
Finally, Karamanlis underlined the EPP's good results in the European Parliament elections and said this indicated the faith of European citizens that the party was best able to deal with the global recession, illegal immigration and climate change.
At the same time, he stressed that the abstention of 60 percent of voters from the election was important and that the European political agenda had to be made easier to understand, fairer and more accessible for the average European citizen.
PM meets with Yiannakou
Earlier, the premier conferred with former minister and European Parliament deputy Marietta Yiannakou, who headed the ND ticket in the recent Euroelections.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Yiannakou said that they discussed issues concerning Europe, the progress in the Lisbon Treaty, and also the role of the European Parliament ahead of the assumption of the new Europarliamentarians' duties on July 14.
She said they further discussed matters pertaining to the PPE, and the authorities to be undertaken by the ND Eurodeputies in the new European Parliament.
Asked on the priorities she has set out as head of the ND Europarliamentary group, she cited the approval of implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, and contribution to the model of Europe that ensures in the long-term a Europe as envisioned by its founders.
"A new ideology is needed that will enable Europe to press ahead," Yiannakou added.
 Parliament president addresses EPP meeting"The low turnout in the Euro-elections reflects a demand for institutions that care about the people's problems," Greek Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas underlined Monday, speaking in the opening day of the European People's Party (EPP) Group Study Days meeting held in Athens on June 29-July 2.
"Roughly 206 million Europeans, corresponding to 56.9 pct of the electorate, chose not to exercise their right to vote," Sioufas stressed, adding that this move was a "warning and not a farewell." However, he underlined that the EPP has emerged as the strongest power in the European Parliament.
Referring to the global economic crisis, he stated that it is "the deepest crisis the European economy has been faced with," adding that "the signs of stabilization and recovery are a consolation but there is still a long way to rising development and improved employment rates."
On the twofold issue of environmental protection and climate change, he stated that it is of major importance and underlined that Europe should play a leading role in the efforts aimed at dealing with the problem.
On illegal migration, he underlined that the problem is unprecedented and cannot be confronted by a single country.
 MEP Yiannakou at EPP Group Study DaysThe head of ruling New Democracy's delegation to the European Parliament, MEP Marietta Yiannakou, on Monday addressed the opening session of a European Peoples' Party Group Study Days meeting taking placed in Athens.
She referred to the importance of EPP political initiatives for dealing with the global economic crisis, preserving the social model and a new boost needed to the institutional development of the European Union.
The MEP also underlined the need for action to promote greater involvement by voters in European affairs, following the 60 percent abstention rate recorded in the last European Parliament elections.
 Barrot, Pavlopoulos visit Samos migrant centreEuropean Commission Vice-president Jacques Barrot, responsible for justice, freedom and security, on Monday paid a visit to reception facilities for illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. In statements afterwards, he acknowledged that Greek authorities faced a difficult task but also stressed Greece's obligation to provide a refuge for immigrants arriving on its shores.
"I understand the difficulty facing the Greek government, which finds itself having to deal with an ever increasing number of migrants, as well as the obligation for Community solidarity, but also that there is an obligation on the part of the Greek government to offer refuge to the foreigners that come here," Barrot said.
The Commissioner, upon his arrival on the island, was given a tour of the French vessel belonging to the EU Frontex agency and visited the Migrant Reception Centre on the island, where he talked with immigrants detained there.
In statements to reporters, he said that this was a more general problem that cost human lives and required cooperation with non-EU countries of origin or transit in order to be solved.
Pavlopoulos declared himself satisfied with what he had seen at the Samos centre and what the Commissioner had witnessed regarding Greece's efforts to tackle a problem that concerned all of Europe.
"It can be understood that Greece is currently receiving the greater number of illegal immigrants. It is making huge efforts to accelerate asylum processes but, as I explained to Mr. Barrot, and as he has himself acknowledged, this does not solve the more general problem that concerns illegal immigrants who are not seeking asylum," the minister said.
According to Pavlopoulos, coping with the economic migrants required solidarity between EU nations.
"We must carry out the agreement for migration and asylum, which means signing readmission treaties and putting pressure on countries such as Turkey to honour those agreements that exist. The solution, as Mr. Barrot will explain in Athens on Tuesday, is to look at the root of the problem, and this means that we must stamp out all this illegal trafficking of migrants that exploits human lives," he stressed.
 Visit to Evros migrant centreEuropean Commission Vice-president Jacques Barrot, responsible for justice, freedom and security, accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, visited on Monday afternoon the migrant centre in the Evros region, north-eastern Greece, near the Greek-Turkish border.
The Greek minister said that the government's targets regarding illegal immigration included facilitating legal migration and preventing illegal migration and called on Turkey to implement the protocol regarding readmission, which it signed with Greece in 2001.
On his part, Barrot said Europe should adopt a strong stance vis-a-vis immigrant traffickers treating humanely at the same time those who demand political asylum. He also noted that all countries of Europe should demonstrate their solidarity to countries which are more exposed to illegal immigration, such as Greece.
 Greece to insist Turkey honour readmission treatiesGreece will at no time stop demanding that Turkey meet the obligations it has undertaken with the signature of a protocol for the readmission of illegal immigrants, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros underlined in statements to reporters on Monday.
"Our position is clear. It is a position that was very recently accepted by the 27 EU member-states, according to which the agreements signed on a bilateral level must be carried out in full until the signature of an agreement between the EU and the countries is possible, whether these are countries of origin [of immigrants] or transit countries," Antonaros stressed.
Countries aspiring to join the EU, especially, must realise that honouring the agreements they have signed with EU member-states is a starting condition for their aspirations to be realised, he added.
Regarding a visit by European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot to Greece, Antonaros said that he had embarked on a brief tour over eastern Greece early on Monday morning, accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, during which he would visit the reception facilities for immigrants.
"We are asking - and have already made significant progress - both from the EU and our partners, for a joint organisation of the effort to deal with this wave of illegal immigration, which is particularly big for Greece. And it is big for Greece because our country is near the countries of origin of the greater number of illegal immigrants," Antonaros said.
Greece was also working together with Italy, which faced many of the same problems and had a similar policy on this issue, he added.
 Papandreou invites EU to accept western Balkan countries' by 2014BUDVA, Montenegro (ANA-MPA/V.Mourtis)
Greece's main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou called here Monday on the European Union to accept in its rangs the countries of the western Balkans, namely Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM and Albania, by the year 2014, one hundred years after the start, in the Balkans, of WWI.
Papandreou, who was addressing the opening session of a Socialist International (SI) council meeting, called on the EU to reinforce and guarantee the perspectives of peace, security and stability in the Balkan region.
The SI president also referred to the current world economic crisis, terming it an economic and political crisis as well as a crisis of values.
"Democracy is threatened and the threat emanates either from new type authoritarian regimes, or from the concentration, in the hands of few, of an immense economic, political and 'media' power," Papandreou noted.
He added that socialist values "are today as timely as ever and can act as a catalyst for a better world, a world without poverty, without diseases, without corruption and illiteracy."
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting and referring to Greek internal issues, Papandreou did not exclude the possibility of early general elections, claiming that the government was "a hostage", especially after the "closure of Parliament and June's Euroelections".
Accusing the government of "diffusing rumours on early elections", Papandreou said it would be better to let the Greek people decide through elections.
The SI leader also held talks with Montenegrin Prime Minister and leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists Milo Djukanovic and Montegrin Parliament President and leader of the Social Democratic Party Ranko Krivokapi on the sideline of the meeting.
 Russian foreign ministry on Lavrov-Bakoyannis Corfu talksMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th.Avgerinos)
The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday regarding the outcome of talks Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held with his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis on the sidelines of last weekend's Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers' meeting on the Ionian island of Corfu.
According to the statement, the talks of the two foreign ministers confirmed the high level of bilateral cooperation in various sectors.
"The two sides discussed current issues of the OSCE agenda, as well as the prospects of continuing on 'the Corfu process', that is the informal discussions among members of the fundamental international organisations for the shaping of an architecture of indivisible security in the Euroatlantic area," the statement said.
 PASOK on OSCE's council meetingMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou commented Monday on the holding of the informal Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers' council on the Ionian island of Corfu over the weekend, terming it a "positive event" for the country.
The same applies for the holding, in Athens on Monday, of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) Group Study Days meeting, he added.
Regarding the OSCE's council, Papaconstantinou said that "shadows were shed by the arrival of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) foreign minister in a plane bearing the constitutional name of the neighbouring republic and by Turkey's unwillngness to advance as regards bilateral issues, especially the issue of illegal migration."
 Gov't on early elections, reshuffle"The prime minister has been clear on the issue in an interview he gave ten days ago in Brussels," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated on Monday when called to comment on speculations for early elections.
Antonaros underlined that the government is focused on its work and "meeting the commitments it has undertaken before the people," while "proceeding with the necessary reforms for the country in an accelerated pace."
Responding to a question on whether this will be a government reshuffle week, Antonaros stated that the prime minister was clear on that issue, as well adding that such predictions are not confirmed by developments.
 Gov't on Greek-US agreementsAgreements recently signed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg were part of Greece's continued cooperation with other countries to fight terrorism and organised crime, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Monday. He also rejected suggestions that the agreements had been kept secret or in some way compromised Greek sovereign rights.
"I do not share this view. It is well known that the current government protects national interests and especially the rights of the Greek people in every way," he said in response to a question claiming that the agreement had "signed away all trace of national independence and sovereignty".
He also stressed that Greece always cooperated with other countries in efforts to fight terrorism and organised crime, since international cooperation was the best guarantee for dealing with such phenomena that were a constant threat to the entire world.
The spokesman denied, in response to other questions, that the delay in signing the agreements had been a form of "punishment" imposed on Greece for blocking the entry of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) into NATO during the Bucharest Summit.
"Agreements between countries often required a lengthy period of communication, exchange of views, talks and negotiations. When we reach the end of each negotiation, then this culminates in the signature of an agreement. One should not attribute other motives to the time needed in order to complete negotiations for the signature of an agreement," he said.
Greece and the US on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a cooperation agreement on tackling serious crime, which pave the way to Greece's inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program.
"There are just a few steps left, and some administrative actions, to complete this process," Steinberg said in joint statements with Bakoyannis after their meeting, adding that he expected completion of the process before the end of the year.
 KKE's Papariga on the privatization of research centresCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Central Committee General Secretary Aleka Papariga accused the government of proceeding with the privatization of scientific research in comments she made Monday following a meeting with representatives of National Centre for Social Research (EKKE) and the Union of Greek Researchers.
Papariga underlined that her party is unequivocally opposed to the privatization of scientific research because by nature it should be conducted under such conditions that will guarantee social interest.
 Alavanos meets Iran's ambassador; comments on domestic issues"Iran is being subjected to interventions by foreign powers because it is outside the imperialist planning," Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group leader Alekos Alavanos stated after meeting Monday with Iranian ambassador to Athens Mahdi Honordoost.
Alavanos raised the issue of the Greek journalist currently held in Iran and expressed the wish that there will be results soon. He also stated that he referred to issues concerning the immediate release of political prisoners, the freedom to demonstrate, the respect of the Iranian people's rights and the need to have the election results in the country checked by an independent authority that enjoys general approval.
Responding to a question on the election of the Greek President, Alavanos stated that SYRIZA will not back any plan of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and clarified that the specific issue will be examined by the SYRIZA bodies at the appropriate time.
Referring to the taxation measures announced by the government, Alavanos acknowledged the existence of fiscal deficit but said that the burden of dealing with it should not be placed on the average wage-earner through the increase of indirect and other taxes.
On the Siemens bribery scandal, Alavanos underlined that a heavy shadow is cast over the country's political scene and particularly over the two major political parties.
 Tsipras opposes Thessaloniki water company privatisationCoaliton of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday paid a visit to the Thessaloniki water company EYATH, where he stressed that water was a public resource that should not be treated as merchandise.
"No one has the right to buy or sell it," he underlined, expressing his party's opposition to privatisation plans for the state-run water and drainage utility.
 Parliament president on visit to CyprusParliament President Dimitris Sioufas will be departing for Cyprus on Monday, where he is carrying out an official visit.
During his stay on the island, Sioufas will meet Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and his Cyprus counterpart Marios Garoyian, while he will also be made an honorary citizen of occupied Morphou and given the golden key to the town during a ceremony on Tuesday.
Sioufas and Garoyian will also jointly inaugurate an exhibition of "Cartoons in 27-member Europe" organised by the Hellenic Parliament in collaboration with a Greek Cartoonists Club. This exhibition features the work of 91 cartoonists, of which 34 are from Greece and 57 from other European countries, that has attracted a lot of attention and may tour several European cities.
 EU condemnation of Honduran coupEU foreign ministers from Corfu, where they attended an OSCE ministerial summit hosted by the Greek chairmanship of the organisation, on Sunday issued a stern condemnation of the military coup in the central American country of Honduras.
The statement was issued by Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, who chairs the EU rotating presidency.
 Ecumenical Patriarch lodges demarche with Iran for Greek journalistISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew announced on Monday that he had lodged a demarche with the Iranian government for the release of Greek journalsit Iason Athanassiadis.
The Greek journalist was arrested in Iran in the wake of street violence linked with the presidential election in the Middle Eastern country.
The Patriarch said, at the end of a mass on the occasion of St. Peter's and St. Paul's Day, that he had sent Metropolitan Emmanuel of France to Iran's General Consulate in Istanbul to communicate his (the Patriarch's) personal interest in the release of journalist Athanassiadis, as the latter "is a member of the Orthodox Church." The consul, Bartholomew added, asked for a written demand, "so I proceeded with lodging an official demarche to the Iranian government."
"I did what was proper, I pray and I hope," the Patriarch concluded.
The Patriarchate's relations with Islamic countries are considered good, especially with Iran, which Bartholomew visited in 2002.
 President Papoulias receives employment ministerPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday had a meeting with Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, during which they discussed the impact of the global economic crisis on employment and her ministry's actions.
"We are in the midst of a race to alleviate the repercussions of the economic crisis, especially its repercussions on employment," Palli-Petralia said after the meeting.
The minister said that the ministry was treating support for employment as a top priority, in view of the crisis.
"As you well know, in recent years employment levels had fallen in our country as a result of our successful policies and for this reason, I am confident that the cycle of a rising trend that has recently appeared will soon end," she said.
She also stressed that the crisis could not be dealt with through wishes and good intentions but required coordinated action with the participation of all involved.
Asked if there would be a new round of inspections to collect unpaid social insurance contributions after Tuesday, when a deadline for reaching a favourable settlement with the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) expires, Petralia said that "the legal procedures will be set in motion".
 FinMin addresses IOBE eventThe government has the political will and the plan needed in order to tackle challenges following the end of the current economic crisis, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou told an event organised by IOBE (Foundation of Economic and Industrial Studies) on the theme "Challenges of Economic Policy".
The minister said the current period was the most difficult and the most crucial for the future course of the Greek economy, predicting that it would begin to recover by the end of 2009. It would return to a growth pace in 2010, the minister added.
Regarding fiscal measures his ministry announced recently, Papathanassiou said they "are not pleasant, surely, and first of all for the government. But they are necessary and just."
 Greece, Canada sign double taxation avoidance agreementForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Canadian counterpart Lawrence Cannon on Monday signed a bilateral agreement between Greece and Canada on the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Income or Capital and the Prevention of Tax Evasion.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, the agreement settles the taxation of income gained through activities in Canada by natural or legal persons resident in Greece (and vice versa).
It also includes favourable provisions regarding Greek companies intending to do business in Canada. It determines the extent of the contracting parties' tax competencies and ensures a stable tax regime and a level-playing field for investors. The signing of this agreement opens up new horizons for the economic relations of the two countries.
Tax barriers (double taxation) are to a large extent removed, cooperation prospects between the tax authorities of the two countries are strengthened with a view to the prevention of tax evasion, and more favourable conditions are created for the operation of Greek businesses that are active in Canada.
This bilateral agreement is now the most important form of economic cooperation between Canada and Greece and it is expected to work as an incentive towards further improving their economic and trade relations, the ministry announcement said.
 Terna Energy to issue two bond loans worth 32.4 million eurosTerna Energy SA on Monday announced a board decision to issue two common bond loans, worth 12.4 million euros and 20.0 million euros, respectively, with the aim to pay for its short-term debt used for completion of an energy project.
Emmanuel Maragoudakis, chief executive of the company, addressing a general shareholders' meeting said Terna Energy has reached an agreement in principle for the purchase of a wind power park, of 18 MW, currently under development, for 23.5 million euros.
 Greek stocks end flatGreek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index rising 0.19 pct to end at 2,166.86 points. Turnover was a moderate 155.7 million euros, of which 9.5 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Banks (3.48 pct), Food/Beverage (2.10 pct) and Health (1.50 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecommunications (5.22 pct), Travel (3.78 pct) and Oils (3.43 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.38 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.32 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.32 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 112 to 98 with another 42 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -3.43%
Personal & Household: -0.24%
Raw Materials: -1.35%
Travel & Leisure: -3.78%
Food & Beverages: +2.10%
Financial Services: -2.95%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.47
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.30
HBC Coca Cola: 14.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.87
National Bank of Greece: 19.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.28
Bank of Piraeus: 6.73
Titan Cement Company: 19.00
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a reduced discount (-0.98 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking further to 30.963 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index was 3,678 contracts worth 19.890 million euros, with 23,045 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,444 contracts worth 11.073 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,793), followed by OTE (425), OPAP (1,075), Piraeus Bank (523), GEK (591), Alpha Bank (1,184), Cyprus Bank (401), Hellenic Postbank (1,638) and Eurobank (355).
 Greek bond closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank to 160 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with turnover easing to 625 million euros, of which 415 million were buy orders and the remaining 210 million euros sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 240 million euros. The Greek bond yielded 5.06 pct and the German Bund 3.43 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.51 pct, the six-month rate 1.32 pct, the three-month rate 1.10 pct and the one-month rate 0.76 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.417
Pound sterling 0.855
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 10.952
Japanese yen 135.1
Swiss franc 1.538
Norwegian kroner 9.106
Canadian dollar 1.636
Australian dollar 1.759
 Culture minister on New Acropolis MuseumThe New Acropolis Museum received 90,000 visitors in the first seven days since its official inauguration on June 20, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras disclosed on Monday.
Speaking during a press conference, the minister said that the cost of the inauguration events, which were attended by several foreign heads of state and government, did not exceed the anticipated sum of 3 million euros, adding that the targets his ministry had set regarding the ceremony were met, especially the coverage from international mass media.
Four hundred and forty journalists representing 167 international mass media organisations were hosted for the three-day inauguration events, while the cost of the ceremony itself amounted to 1,860,090 euros plus VAT, Samaras explained.
The average number of tickets for the e-ticketing section for the first five days reached 11,000, while visits to the new museum's website exceeded 260,000 from the Americas to Nepal and Mongolia.
The culture minister also announced that the museum will be open from 8 am to 8 pm all year round.
 Talks on reorganising Athens public transportTransport and Communications Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday chaired a meeting on redesigning and reorganising the public transport system in Attica, attended by ministry officials, the OASA Athens public transport organisation, transport experts and Attica local authorities.
The minister underlined that the goal was the reform of the urban transportation network and the services provided to the public, focusing on rail systems as being more environmentally-friendly, fastest and the most reliable.
Stylianidis stated that the majority of the urban transport routes will originate from and terminate at stations of the city's various rail systems, such as the Proastiako suburban railway, metro and electric railway.
Relevant studies have been conducted by OASA in the districts of Peristeri, western suburbs, Thriasio Pedio, NE Attiki, Mesogia, eastern suburbs, Ilioupoli and Elefsina and the measures announced will be put into effect in the fall.
Stylianidis underlined the need to decongest downtown Athens for ecological and practical reasons and boost more distant municipalities with inadequate transportation network. He also announced the launch of an intensive public awareness campaign to convince motorists to leave their cars and use environmentally-friendly mass transportation means.
 New 'tourist ticket' for AthensThe Athens public transport organisation OASA on Monday unveiled a new three-day ticket costing 15 euros that will be valid for travel on all means of public transport in and around the city, that will begin to be offered from Wednesday.
The new "tourist ticket" has been designed to act as a travel card for those visiting Athens for short stays. It gives unlimited travel for three full days after it is first used, including journeys to and from the airport and the 400 OASA Athens sight-seeing bus.
The new ticket will be on sale at the ETHEL buses at the airport, the Proastiakos suburban railway stations at the airport, Larissis and Piraeus, Syntagma metro station and the ISAP electric railway stations at Piraeus and Omonia.
 New flu cases in Greece reach 88The number of the new flu A(H1N1) virus cases in Greece has reached 88, after two new incidents were confirmed on Monday and seven new incidents were confirmed on Sunday, according to the the National Center for Health Operations (EKEPY)
Of the 88 cases, 31 have fully recovered, while the remainder were all in mild form and undergoing treatment, EKEPY said.
 Rouvas to headline in Athens concert for environmentPopular Greek singer Sakis Rouvas, who was Greece's contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest, has agreed to headline a benefit concert for the environment organised by the National Council for Youth (ESYN), to be held at the Kallimarmaron stadium in central Athens on Wednesday night.
The initiative was praised in a press conference on Monday by UNESCO Good Will Ambassador and head of the "Foundation for the Child and the Family" Marianna Vardinoyannis, who pledged her full support for the effort.
"We are united by concern about the fate of the environment in the future, because the first victims of its destruction will be the children and especially those that are more vulnerable because they have health problems," she said.
 Armed robbery victim dies of injuriesA 55-year-old petrol station owner that was shot during a robbery against his petrol station some weeks ago died of his injuries on Monday. The man had been in an intensive care unit at Thessaloniki's 'Papanikolaou' hospital for a month, ever since the robbery on May 27. Doctors said that his death was the result of multiple organ failure.
According to a police announcement, the man had resisted threats by an unidentified armed robber and refused to hand over the money that was in the till at his petrol station in Evosmos, in the northern Greek prefecture of Thessaloniki. The robber had responded by shooting against him, seriously injuring the 55-year-old in the belly.
 Man caught at customs with 7.5 kilos heroinA 24-year-old Lithuanian national was arrested early on Monday morning by customs officers at border crossing at Kipoi in Evros, after they found 7.5 kilos of heroin hidden in his luggage.
The drugs were located by a specially-trained sniffer dog and were concealed in three packages stashed inside a hidden compartment of a suitcase with a double shell.
The 24-year-old, who originally denied all knowledge of the drugs, was travelling on a bus from Istanbul to Thessaloniki in northern Greece. He is to appear before an Alexandroupolis public prosecutor in order to be charged.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial conference held Sunday on the island of Corfu under the Greek OSCE Chairmanship, a Greek-US Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on the sidelines of the conference between Greece and the US that paves the way for Greece's incorporation in the US visa waiver program, Saturday's NATO-Russia Council (NCR) meeting at foreign minister level on Corfu, which was the first NRC high-level meeting since the crisis in the Caucasus and during which the two sides agreed to resume dialogue on a broad range of security threats and their military-to-military contacts, and speculation of early general elections by March were the main front-page items in Monday's newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Russia-NATO relations 'unfrozen' - Corfu: The prime minister's (Costas Karamanlis) initiatives bore fruit".
APOGEVMATINI: "They (NATO and Russia) extended their hands to each other on Greek territory - Greece's major foreign policy success on Corfu: Greek diplomacy brought East and West closer".
AVRIANI: "The OSCE conference a major success of Karamanlis, Dora (foreign minister Bakoyannis) - All 56 OSCE countries attended - Visa requirement for the US (for Greek citizens) to be abolished".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Lasting tribulation with the E9 tax form (on real estate holdings) and the Unified Real Estate Duty (ETAK) - Tax Bureau asking for submission of forms for the third time from 1.3 million citizens, due to chaos..."
ESTIA: "Early elections would be a lethal mistake - Cultivation of election-mongering is wrong".
ETHNOS: "The plan on the semi-enclosed balconies - New duty to be announced this week, following the tax storm".
TA NEA: "The 'A' students' exam results sharply raise the university entry base passing grades by up to 700 grade points".
VRADYNI: "Elections (early general) to be 'locked in' by March - KKE (Communist Party of Greece) rules out any margin of cooperation on election of President of the Republic (due in March in parliament, as failure of the present parliament to elect a President will force early general elections)".
 Stephanou: Limnitis to open when necessary work is carried outNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said that the opening of the Limnitis crossing point, on the northwest of Cyprus, will depend on the work that is needed to be carried out in the area.
Stephanou underlined Monday that the government's aim is to finalize the work as soon as possible.
"The most important thing at the moment is the decision-agreement that was achieved regarding the opening of Limnitis", he said.
On June 26th, the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat reached an agreement for the opening of Limnitis crossing point and the access to and from Kokkina.
The decision was taken during their 34th meeting in the framework of the direct negotiation process aiming at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.
The opening of Limnitis would facilitate movement between the island's northern Turkish occupied areas and the southern government controlled part of the country.
Invited to say whether there is any possibility that the agreement reached between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus on Limnitis may not be met, Stephanou noted "an agreement is an agreement".
"Whatever we agree upon, we realize it and we will continue working towards this direction", he pointed out.
Meanwhile, invited to comment on the current visit of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza to Cyprus, Stephanou noted that "such visits are useful since they offer the opportunity for information regarding the course of the Cyprus negotiations".
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias will receive the US official Tuesday.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
For the past 45 years, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis, on the northwest, have to travel to Paphos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia.
Opening a crossing point at Limnitis would make this journey far shorter. In the recent past, several crossing points to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas have opened to facilitate the movement of people.
 Cypriot, Russian FMs discuss developments in Cyprus problemCORFU, Greece (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, on the sidelines of the informal Ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), held Sunday on the Greek island of Corfu.
Speaking to journalists, Kyprianou said that he had the opportunity to exchange views with Lavrov on the Cyprus problem.
"I briefed him on the latest decision in efforts to open the Limnitis crossing point and we discussed relations between the EU and Russia", he said, stressing that Cyprus believes that Russia should be an EU strategic partner.
Asked to comment on reports that by January direct negotiations aiming at a political settlement in Cyprus will be concluded, Kyprianou said that it was too early to say.
"If someone examines the progress achieved so far (in the UN-direct negotiation process), it is impossible to see the process concluded by January", Kyprianou said, stressing that the Turkish Cypriot side is holding the process back by putting forward unacceptable proposals based on a confederation, namely a two state solution.
"This causes a delay and even the simplest issue has to be discussed extensively. If the Turkish Cypriot side becomes more constructive, we can proceed faster", he added.
Cyprus Foreign Minister stressed that the Greek Cypriot side will not accept any time frames or arbitration.
On the sidelines of the OSCE meeting, Kyprianou met his counterparts from Croatia Gordan Jandrokovic and Canada Lawrence Cannon and discussed bilateral relations.
Speaking at the meeting, Kyprianou said it is a very good opportunity to begin an open and constructive dialogue between OSCE partners, on security in Europe.
"Cyprus, as a small state whose security has been violated and which bases its existence on respect of international law and UN, OSCE and EU principles, supports the revision and improvement of Europe's security structure", he said.
 Bryza: US looks forward to a Cyprus agreement by the end of the yearNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The US has no role in this process except that we care that there will be a settlement that is just, that is lasting, that helps reunify Cyprus into a bizonal, bicommunal federation, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza has said, adding that "we would like to look forward and anticipate there will be an agreement by the end of the year."
Bryza who is currently visiting Nicosia, and met on Monday morning Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, also said the US government was pleased that the leaders in Cyprus, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, reached an agreement on the opening of Limnitis crossing point, noting that this "is the most concrete, constructive step forward that we can all see in quite some time," adding that they look forward to this agreement being implemented as quickly as possible.
Bryza said he had a very in depth and constructive discussion with Iacovou adding that he is "here to listen."
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS