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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-09

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

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

Thursday, 9 July 2009 Issue No: 3240

CONTENTS

  • [01] KYSEA discusses illegal migration, NATO issues
  • [02] UN envoy meets with FM, is "more optimistic" for a FYROM name solution
  • [03] Announcement by UN Secretariat on Nimetz talks in Athens
  • [04] Government spokesman on negotiations on FYROM name
  • [05] Papandreou meets with UN envoy Nimetz
  • [06] PASOK spokesman on Papandreou-Nimetz meeting
  • [07] PASOK: new taxes 'suffocating' markets
  • [08] Ambassador Mitsialis Greece's new permanent representative at UN
  • [09] Bakoyannis receives Greek-British journalist released by Iran
  • [10] Greek economy grew 0.3 pct in Q1
  • [11] IKA Foundation will not be divided, Employment minister says
  • [12] Development minister on legislative framework on competition
  • [13] Athens mayor and OSE sign memorandum of cooperation
  • [14] Greek cooperative banks report higher 2008 results
  • [15] Greek stocks end 1.80 pct down
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [19] Former prison governor under investigation
  • [20] Police arrest 25 for human-trafficking
  • [21] Teens arrested for migrant-trafficking
  • [22] Seven charged over Grammatikos incidents
  • [23] Karavelas' daughter to be released on bail
  • [24] New flu cases in Greece rise to 187
  • [25] European youths meet in Thessaloniki to discuss environmental issues
  • [26] Fair on Thursday
  • [27] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] FM dismisses Ankara‘s demands for direct trade
  • [29] Italy calls on Turkey to contribute to Cyprus' reunification

  • [01] KYSEA discusses illegal migration, NATO issues

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which focused on illegal migration and NATO issues - such as the new structure of the Alliance and Greece's participation in a peace-keeping mission in Somalia to curb piracy.

    In statements afterwards, Defence Minister Evangelos Meimara-kis said that KYSEA had approved plans for NATO drawn up by the defence ministry in collaboration with the foreign ministry, asking that Greece follow the direction laid down in order to be more efficient within NATO and able to deal with issues that have arisen in the fight against pirates in Somalia.

    The minister said that the meeting had not examined the issue of overflights above the Aegean by Turkish military aircraft.

    In response to other questions, Meimarakis said that the number of Greek troops participating in peace-keeping missions abroad had not increased, adding that their number was still much lower than the upper limit set by KYSEA.

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to the issue of illegal migration, saying that there was increased pressure on Turkey to honour the re-admission agreements it has signed and to sign a treaty with the EU.

    EU interior ministers will have another meeting in Stockholm next week and the issue would be discussed again, he added.

    "We will repeat what was stressed by EU Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot," Pavlopoulos emphasised.

    "From now on, especially after the Pact on Migration and Asylum is signed, Turkey's failure to conform to its obligation and European regulations - which include that it implements the re-admission treaty - will have an impact on its accession process," he stressed.

    [02] UN envoy meets with FM, is "more optimistic" for a FYROM name solution

    The UN secretary general's personal envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz said on Wednesday that he was "more optimistic" for a solution to the name issue, but rejected any timetable, following a 90-minute meeting in Athens with foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

    Nimetz, who arrived in Athens on Tuesday night after talks in the FYROM capital of Skopje, told reporters after the meeting with Bakoyannis that he had brought ideas that comprise "minor" changes to the proposals he had submitted in October, which included the name "Republic of Northern Macedonia".

    "I had an excellent discussion with the foreign minister, I conveyed the discussions I had in Skopje (on Tuesday with the FYROM president and prime minister), I briefed her, and I was briefed, on the views of the two sides," Nimetz said, adding that there was encouragement for continuation of the negotiations and "I believe that I will continue my work even better".

    Asked if he was optimistic that there will be progress by the end of the year, the UN envoy replied that "I don't believe in deadlines", stressing at the same time that "there is a strong desire by both sides to find a solution".

    "I believe in the talks for a mutually beneficial solution, I believe that we are very close to finding a solution, and that is why I'm more optimistic than before," Nimetz said.

    Asked to clarify statements he made on Tuesday concerning a national identity and language of the neighboring country, Nimetz explained that: "What we have been discussing for many years is the issue of the name", adding that "some things are considered indisputable, such as the fact that there is a state that is recognised in the framework of the UN with the name of 'FYROM' and, of course, we have for years desired a mutually acceptable name for that state. There is a language, which is spoken by that specific people, but our focus is on the name issue".

    Regarding the next steps, Nimetz said that "Athens and Skopje will study my ideas, and I will be in contact with all the sides".

    "There is encouragement for continuation of the process. This could mean separate meetings or a joint meeting of all," he continued.

    The "common denominator", he added, is "the mutual desire to improve the relations between the two countries, and also the relations among the countries of SE Europe".

    "I know that the government in Skopje desires a solution of the issue, desires to improve its relations with Greece. I also know, from the foreign minister, that Greece desires better relations with its northern neighbor in a way that ensures dignity and justice. There is a strong will on both sides for resolving the issue of the name, and I put forward ideas and proposals in that direction, which both sides are taking into serious consideration," Nimetz concluded.

    [03] Announcement by UN Secretariat on Nimetz talks in Athens

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Matthew Nimetz, the UN Secretary General's personal envoy for talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is currently in Athens, according to an announcement by the UN's Secretariat on Wednesday.

    The announcement said Nimetz met with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. While at the Foreign Ministry, he heard the views of the Greek government. Nimetz also conveyed Skopje's views and presented his own amended proposals for resolving the "name issue". The Greek side agreed to study what was presented to them and to revert with their comments.

    The announcement added that, while in Athens, Nimetz also met with main opposition leader George Papandreou.

    Lastly, it said that Nimetz reported that he is also staying in touch with a number of UN member-states that are interested in the "name issue", as well as European Union officials, to hear their thoughts and provide a general briefing on the progress of the talks.

    [04] Government spokesman on negotiations on FYROM name

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, asked to comment on Wednesday on whether the government shares the optimism of UN envoy Matthew Nimetz that the issue of negotiating with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the "name issue" will thaw and whether there is information that Nimetz is attempting parallel negotiations on some other issues, said that the object of negotiating taking place under the auspices of the UN for many years is known.

    "It is the effort for the finding of a mutually acceptable name. This is the object and we remain adherred to the object of this process. On our part, we have made constructive moves and steps and it is now up to the neighbouring country to respond and to play its own role in this negotiating, that is negotiating through the UN, between the two countries," he said.

    [05] Papandreou meets with UN envoy Nimetz

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Wednesday with UN envoy on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz.

    Nimetz told reporters after the 50-minute meeting that he had a "very good discussion" with Papandreou, but added that he had not submitted his new proposals to the PASOK leader, nor briefed him verbally on them, noting that the proposals have been submitted to foreign minister Cora Bakoyannis in their meeting earlier and that Papandreou would be briefed by the foreign minister herself.

    Bakoyannis is expected to brief Papandreou on the contents of the Nimetz proposal later in the day or on Thursday morning, after two failed attempts at discussion on Wednesday, given that during the one attempt Papandreou was speaking in parliament while in the second attempt Bakoyannis was in a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA).

    [06] PASOK spokesman on Papandreou-Nimetz meeting

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papacon-stantinou said on Wednesday that party leader George Papan-dreou and UN special envoy on the FYROM's "name issue" Matthew Nimetz had an "interesting exchange of views," adding that PASOK's leader once again presented the envoy with the "national red line".

    Papaconstantinou stressed that "they did not go into details," while when asked on contact between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Papandreou, he said that "a telephone commu-nication took place, however, I am not aware whether there was an extremely detailed discussion on specific points."

    Moreover, PASOK's leader met on Wednesday, at his own initiative, with the former president of the Independent Authority on money laundering, George Zorbas, with whom he discussed transparency issues, according to the spokesman, who noted that "the experience of Mr. Zorbas is very great, while there are reports on the way with which he was prevented from carrying out his task."

    Asked why Papandreou met Zorbas, Papaconstantinou said that PASOK's leader "takes initiatives often to meet people who have experience in the country's public life and whose views are useful."

    [07] PASOK: new taxes 'suffocating' markets

    The government's economic policy was further undermining the country's already grim economic prospects, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou charged in Parliament on Wednesday, confronting Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou.

    "The government, instead of boosting the market in the midst of an international crisis is doing the opposite: suffocating the middle-income family and drying up the market even more - thus undermining the country's developmental prospects," PASOK's leader stressed in a comment on the new taxes proposed by the finance ministry to make up for a shortfall in revenue due to the crisis.

    Papandreou was speaking during discussion of a bill on transactions within business groups, to which the new tax measures had been attached as amendments. These call for additional taxes on prepaid 'pay-as-you-go' mobiles, petrol, leisure craft, larger-engine vehicles and the winnings in lotteries and gambling games.

    According to the main opposition leader, the new taxations measures were "unrealistic" and a "direct admission that the government can no longer govern."

    "The economy's problems will not be solved by tax-raising measures but through a different approach to development, a plan that brings investments," Papandreou underlined.

    "Whatever tax the government imposes will go to waste because it is covering 'black holes' without anyone giving any guarantee that there will not be new ones," he observed, adding that the Greek economic crisis was caused by the government's handling of the economy not the global economic crisis.

    "From 2004 until today, [the government] has increased public debt by 100 billion euros. The money went into the pockets of a chosen few, into investments that lead nowhere, into jobbery. The black hole in the budget exceeds 3.5 billion euros," he charged.

    "Those who failed to manage the growth that we handed over to them cannot now manage the crisis that they have created. Therefore our country urgently needs a change of course and a new strong government that has the trust of the Greek people," Papandreou stressed.

    Replying to PASOK's leader, the finance minister rejected his arguments and stressed that, while painting a dire picture of the economy, Papandreou was at the same making promises that translated into some 11 billion euros in spending.

    The minister also denied that the new taxes were targeted lower incomes:

    "The measures concern large mobile phone bills, petrol, leisure boats, and big cars. Do these affect the low-paid and those on low pensions?" he demanded.

    Papathanasiou also pointed out that all countries were affected by the crisis and were taking specific measures to boost their economies.

    "There is not a single country, not one international organisation, that has not had to revise its estimates for the worst. We are taking specific measures based on a specific plan. I remember the prime minister saying three days before the elections: we will make a tally - and if necessary we will also impose taxes," Papathanassiou said.

    PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos countered by pointing out that only 80 million euros of the one billion that the government hopes to raise through the additional taxes will come from luxury cars and leisure craft, with the remaining 900 million euros coming from extra taxes on mobile phones, prepaid mobiles, consumption tax on petrol and the taxation of lotteries.

    [08] Ambassador Mitsialis Greece's new permanent representative at UN

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Ambassador Anastasis Mitsialis is Greece's new permanent representative at the UN's headquarters. Mitsialis assumed his duties on July 1 and succeeded Ambassador Ioannis Mourikis, who was transferred to Bern.

    During the 2007-2009 period, Mitsialis had served as the head of the Foreign Ministry's Protocol Department in Athens, a position that he had also served in the past as well, between 1993-1995.

    [09] Bakoyannis receives Greek-British journalist released by Iran

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday received Greek-British journalist Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden, following his release after three weeks in an Iranian jail. The journalist, who had been working in Iran as a correspondent for The Washington Times, thanked Bakoyannis and the Greek foreign ministry for intervening to arrange for his release.

    In statements to the press afterwards, Athanasiadis said that he felt the need to thank three people for their efforts to secure his freedom: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, whose appeal the journalist described as "very important", the Greek foreign minister, who he said had given assistance in her role as minister but also on a human level, providing support and reassurance for his family at home, and finally the Greek Ambassador in Tehran, Nikolaos Garilidis.

    "I had heard he was a Greek of Egypt, a speaker of Arabic and an excellent diplomat. If it were not for him, my arrest would have lasted much longer," the journalist said.

    "I was certain that I had the help of the Greek side but I didn't know anything because I was in isolation and had no news for the three weeks that I was there," he added.

    Athanasiadis said that he was not mistreated by Iranian autho-rities during his three weeks in jail, even though he had remained in isolation and was subjected to repeated interro-gations.

    "I was respected, especially when they started to deal with me like a foreign journalist and not as a spy and I am glad that it was proved that I am a journalist and not guilty of any kind of crime. I'm just sorry that it took three weeks," he stressed.

    Financial News

    [10] Greek economy grew 0.3 pct in Q1

    The Greek economy grew by 0.3 pct in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report published in Brussels, said Greece, along with Cyprus (1.5 pct) and Poland (1.9 pct) were the only EU member-states to show positive growth rates.

    Eurozone's Gross Domestic Products fell by 4.9 pct, in the EU-27 the GDP shrank by 4.7 pct and in the US the GDP fell by 2.5 pct in the January-March period. Eurostat said the Greek economy shrank by 1.2 pct in the first quarter, compared with the fourth quarter of 2008, while in the Eurozone, the economy shrank by 2.5 pct and in the EU-27 it was down 2.4 pct over the same period.

    [11] IKA Foundation will not be divided, Employment minister says

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Fani Palli-Petralia visited the Social Security Foundation (IKA) on Wednesday and held talks with its board on the bill aimed at IKA's modernisation, which will be submitted to Parliament's summer recess committees, while Petralia clarified that IKA will not be divided.

    "The aim of this bill is IKA's modernisation, the operational separation of the social security sector from the health sector. Our focal policy, the focal policy of the government, as well as of the Employment Ministry, is supporting and strengthening IKA's two basic pylons, those of social security and of health in a unified framework, in the framework of a unified IKA, of an IKA with a unified administration," Petralia said after the talks.

    "We believe that it is a very important step, because our aim is the modernisation of IKA and particular support for the health sector and the fact that we want one sector not to overlap the other. IKA will not be divided," she added.

    [12] Development minister on legislative framework on competition

    Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, speaking in Parliament on Wednesday during the beginning of the processing at the relevant committee of a bill that brings changes to the legislative framework on competition and to the structure and the duties of the Competition Committee in particular, expressed his conviction that the political world in its entirety must find itself on the same side of the hill, opposite the cartels.

    The main opposition PASOK party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) declared their disagreement with the bill, while the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party expressed reservations.

    According to Hatzidakis, the bill has four aims: Strengthening the institutional role and the independence of the Competition Committee, its more effective and speedier way of operation, the further safeguarding of transparency and its riddance of bureaucratic burdens, in parallel to its imposition, for the first time, of penal sanctions as well (fines will be increased up to 10-fold) on those violating terms concerning competition.

    [13] Athens mayor and OSE sign memorandum of cooperation

    Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) managing director Giorgios Giannousis on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on behalf of the City of Athens and OSE, in the presence of Transport and Communications Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.

    The Memorandum establishes a consistent, close collaboration between the City of Athens, the Transport Ministry and OSE, and foresees the creation of a joint body with the following responsibilities:

    - To function as an "Observatory" that will monitor the implementation of environmental study conditions, the progress of works and the solution of potential problems.

    - To create a proposal for the joint upgrading, development and use of the Peloponnese station (Ciller building) as a cultural and recreation space, while maintaining and promoting the timeless history of the railway and its ties to the city.

    The "Observatory" aims to ensure that the terms of the environmental study are implemented throughout the period that works are carried out, so that the greatest possible benefits are derived in favour of citizens.

    The submerging and undergrounding of a large section of OSE railway lines not only puts an end to the splitting of Athens in two but, at the same time, creates open green spaces and sports and recreational areas that will completely change the appearance of the area, for the better. Additionally, green spaces and recreational areas will be created on some 20,000 square metres of OSE-owned property for neighbourhood residents. The construction of a satisfactory number of pedestrian underpasses and overpasses will allow for the unimpeded passage of pedestrians and merge sections of the city on both sides of the railway lines. New road junctions are being created in order to ensure the smooth flow and movement of vehicles, between the areas on both sides of the railway line.

    [14] Greek cooperative banks report higher 2008 results

    Greek cooperative banks on Wednesday reported satisfactory results for 2008, with assets up 14 pct, lending rising by 20 pct, saving deposits up 12 pct, equity capital rising 5.0 pct and profits stable at 2007 levels.

    Presenting the results, Nikos Myrtakis, president of the Association of Cooperative Banks of Greece, said this year's targets included strengthening the operation of the Group of Cooperative Banks with new services, products and an electronic system, upgrading its organizing structure, simplifying procedures, cutting costs and faster settlement of transactions.

    [15] Greek stocks end 1.80 pct down

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index losing 1.80 pct to end at 2,163.22 points. Turnover was an improved 131.7 million euros, of which 6.1 million were block trades.

    Most sectors lost ground, with the Health (4.63 pct), Financial Services (4.55 pct), Insurance (3.97 pct), Technology (3.49 pct) and Banks (2.77 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Travel (1.69 pct) and Utilities (1.22 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 1.97 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.63 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 2.46 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 172 to 46 with another 33 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.97%

    Industrials: -2.65%

    Commercial: -1.63%

    Construction: -1.89%

    Media: -1.78%

    Oil & Gas: -1.65%

    Personal & Household: -2.08%

    Raw Materials: -2.75%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.69%

    Technology: -3.49%

    Telecoms: -1.84%

    Banks: -2.77%

    Food & Beverages: -2.10%

    Health: -4.63%

    Utilities: -2.10%

    Chemicals: -2.09%

    Financial Services: -4.55%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, HBC Coca Cola, PPC and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 7.31

    ATEbank: 1.47

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.00

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.66

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.00

    National Bank of Greece: 16.89

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.30

    Intralot: 4.23

    OPAP: 19.14

    OTE: 10.66

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.00

    Titan Cement Company: 19.27

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German state bonds jumped to 172 basis points on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.02 pct and the German Bund 3.30 pct.

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 1.272 billion euros, of which 567 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 705 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.44 pct, the six-month rate 1.24 pct, the three-month rate 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.66 pct.

    [17] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.42 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover at 35.251 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,781 contracts worth 25.640 million euros, with 26,247 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 9,331 contracts worth 9.616 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,974), followed by MIG (625), Eurobank (632), OTE (650), Piraeus Bank (464), Alpha Bank (569) and Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling 411.

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.401

    Pound sterling 0.871

    Danish kroner 7.506

    Swedish kroner 11.148

    Japanese yen 132.07

    Swiss franc 1.528

    Norwegian kroner 9.149

    Canadian dollar 1.633

    Australian dollar 1.787

    General News

    [19] Former prison governor under investigation

    The justice ministry on Wednesday announced that the governor of the Agia prisons in Hania, Mihalis Kyriakakis had been placed on suspension and an internal inquiry into his actions ordered, to be completed by July 12.

    The announcement said that Justice Minister Nikolaos Dendias ordered the inquiry after the the prison governor suddenly resigned from his post and a senior prison policy official reported that Kyriakakis had shown great interest in the transfer of the prisoner Panagiotis Vlastos from Trikala prisons to the Nea Alikarnassos prisons.

    The transfer was never carried out but Vlastos was later discovered to have masterminded the kidnapping of shipowner Periklis Panagopoulos from within Trikala prison.

    [20] Police arrest 25 for human-trafficking

    Twenty-five people, including four police officers, were arrested in a police operation to dismantle one of the largest human trafficking rings in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which was particularly active in the economic and sexual exploitation of women. The 25 were led before a public prosecutor to be charged on Wednesday.

    Also among the suspects is a former police man dismissed from the force, while a former senior officer in the Greek Police, now retired, is also under investigation but with no firm evidence linking him to the ring.

    The currently serving police officers arrested include a deputy police sergeant stationed at Kallithea, a policeman working at the Aliens Bureau and two brothers stationed in Nikaia. The deputy sergeant from Kallithea and one of the two brothers in Nikaia had been accused of similar offences in the past and one had even been held on remand but was later acquitted and returned to the police force.

    The case was solved after a long investigation by the Attica Security police department against human trafficking, a part of the larger department against organised crime. This culminated in a large police operation on Tuesday, involving more than 150 police officers and the Delta Team.

    More than 200 people were detained and raids were conducted on eight night clubs, four brothels, two yachts and 10 houses. A total of 25 people were placed under arrest, while 42 face charges in Greece and abroad.

    The head of Attica Security Police Brigadier Yiannis Dikopoulos announced that the organisation had been set up around six months ago and had international connections and the structure of an organised company with five different sectors. The aim was to "recruit" foreign women that were then made to work in strip clubs, illegal brothels or as prostitutes through agencies that arranged sex trysts.

    The illegal income was then invested in legal businesses in Greece.

    The leader of the ring was a nightclub owner and the two "lieutenants" were also in the same line of work. Their operation included four strip clubs in Greece and one in Germany, while two more such clubs were being planned in the west Athens district of Peristeri and on the Aegean islands of Rhodes.

    These strip clubs appear to be owned by various companies, with no apparent involvement of the head of the ring, while their management had been assigned to his two seconds-in-command.

    The second branch of their "operation" was 12 illegal brothels in the centre of Athens, which also appeared to belong to various owners unrelated to the leader of the gang.

    A third area of activity for the gang was that of finding women, through cooperation with Russian, Czech, Polish and Romanian criminal organisations and work agencies that brought women to Greece via German and the Czech Republic. So that they would not be tracked when their passports were checked, the women were supplied with fake passports and documents, asylum requests and fake marriage certificates. They were then forced to work as prostitutes or provide other sexual services.

    An important role was played by the four policemen, who protected the gang from inspections and gave them advanced warning in exchange for a fee.

    The gang was also involved in laundering the money collected by the organisation each night, which was "legalised" via car dealerships, the purchase of luxury leisure craft, a cafeteria and legal night clubs.

    During the raids on Tuesday, authorities confiscated two luxury yachts, each 20 metres long, and the sum of 61,760 euros, 800 US dollars, 47 mobile phones, four laptops and two external hard disks.

    [21] Teens arrested for migrant-trafficking

    Police in Thessaloniki on Wednesday announced the arrest of a 15-year-old Moroccan for immigrant trafficking, along with an 18-year-old Iraqi accomplice. The two were transporting 22 illegal immigrants into Greece, seven of whom were minors.

    The group was arrested near Thessaloniki's New Railway Station and their final destination was Athens. Authorities believe that the two teenagers are part of a larger immigrant-trafficking ring.

    [22] Seven charged over Grammatikos incidents

    A public prosecutor on Wednesday slapped criminal and misdemeanour charges on the head of the Grammatikos community in Attica, his driver and five local residents arrested for incidents the previous day, during a protest against a planned landfill site for Attica in the area.

    The Community leader and his driver face charges of assault, moral instigation of assault and resisting arrest and their case has been assigned to the 7th examining magistrate. The five Grammatiko residents have been charged with arson and harbouring a criminal, while their case will be examined by the 25th examining magistrate.

    Speaking in Parliament, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos defended the actions of local residents as "justified" and demanded that riot police be pulled out of Grammatikos.

    "The government failed to act on its promise to introduce a new system for processing wastes, with recovery at source, recycling, composting, turning into fertiliser and biological processing of wastes, which would have left only a small residue to be buried in the landfills, with the result that the EU has stopped funding for Grammatikos," he pointed out.

    He criticised the government for using violence and repression and displaying an autocratic attitude toward local communities, calling on it to withdraw MAT riot police and produce a clear and short-term schedule for building the infrastructure for a new waste-processing system.

    The arrests were also criticised by Greece's newly-emergent Eco-Greens party, which stressed that policy for waste management could not be imposed by riot police but had to be the result of dialogue and everyone accepting their share of responsibility.

    The comment was made by Nikos Chrysogelos, a member of the party's secretariat, during a press conference to present the EcoGreens' positions on waste management in Greece.

    Several people were arrested in the region of Grammatiko in northeast Attica on Tuesday, after riot police clashed with local residents protesting against the start of work on a landfill at the location Mavro Vouno in the area. Protestors attacked convoys of trucks and machinery heading for the proposed landfill site, attacked police forces and also set fires in the area.

    A police announcement said that four policemen were injured in scuffles with the inhabitants and four people taken into custody, one of whom drove his car onto a policeman. Another three people were arrested for setting fires.

    [23] Karavelas' daughter to be released on bail

    The Council of Misdemeanour Court Judges on Wednesday ordered that the 25-year-old daughter of fugitive Siemens-case suspect Christos Karavelas should be released from custody with restrictions on travel, instead of being detained on remand.

    The young woman faces charges of legalising income from illegal activities and acting as an accomplice in bribery based on sums deposited in a joint account with her father, who has fled the country.

    The justices' council ruled that she should be released on bail of 30,000 euros, forbidden to leave the country and required to report to a police station at regular intervals until her trial.

    The council's decision took note of the fact that the accused did not take action to facilitate her escape but returned from abroad in order to answer to authorities and had no criminal tendency.

    [24] New flu cases in Greece rise to 187

    Twenty-two new cases of the new flu virus A/H1N1, or swine flu, were confirmed on Wednesday, raising the total of confirmed cases in Greece to 187, of which 70 have fully recovered and the rest are still being treated. All the new cases again concerned individuals that had recently entered the country from abroad or had come into contact with a confirmed case.

    Authorities are also investigating the people that came into contact with a patient admitted to a hospital in Rio, who was later found to be positive for the swine flu virus.

    Of the total 187 cases, 82 have already fully required, while the rest were undergoing the standard treatment.

    The health ministry, in an announcement, said that the situation was completely under control and there was no cause for concern.

    The ministry further said that although the new flu has acquired the proportions of a pandemic and the number of cases was expected to rise, the cases in Greece continued to be all in mild form.

    [25] European youths meet in Thessaloniki to discuss environmental issues

    Youths of Greek and non-Greek descent up to 28 years of age from Albania, Armenia, Germany, Georgia, the UK, the Ukraine, Russia, Sweden and Greece opened a five-day conference in Thessaloniki on Wednesday on the theme "The youth of European local government discuss the environment".

    The 29 participants in the 7th Meeting of Municipal Councillors and Local Government Officials will be discussing environmental issues and proposals for recycling and the use of bicycles as an alternative means of commuting in cities.

    The meeting is organised by the Network of Oversees Greek elected local government officials of Europe, with the support of the Greek foreign ministry and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).

    While in Thessaloniki, the delegates will visit the Recyclable Materials Sorting Center (KDAY) in the municipality of Thermi, as well as the local Environmental Park.

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Fair on Thursday

    Fair weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 17C and 39C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 24C to 38C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 35C.

    [27] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The police surveillance tapes of the members of the crime ring behind shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos' abduction last January, of which 16 were recently arrested, and labor relations were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Wednesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Investments for energy conservation - Bill introducing the subsidisation of building owners".

    APOGEVMATINI: "10,000 euros per pupil the price for the Baccalaureate exam questions - The Greek professor in Geneva was getting rich by selling the exam questions and answers on the internet, was getting rich".

    AVGHI: "Four-day (weekly) salary, on the pretext of the crisis".

    AVRIANI: "With stolen trucks supplied by the Italian mafia, prominent sub-contractor Tromboukis (one of the two gang leaders of the abduction ring, together with an inmate in Trikala prison, P. Vlastos), the financial manager of the crime ring that organised kidnappings and carried out death contracts, took part in public works projects together with other big-time contractors".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "My hoe dug up antiquities - Case file and (surveillance) phone taps reveal the ring's activitieis", adding that, as a sub-contractor in public works projects, Tromboukis had discovered antiquities and sought Vlastos' assistance to sell them.

    ESTIA: "Inconceivable mistakes with the taxes - The state pushing the citizens to tax evasion".

    ETHNOS: "Vlastos was dreaming of escaping and fleeing to Seychelles - New revealing phone conversations".

    KATHIMERINI: "War over the garbage - Bloody clashes in Grammatiko (Attica prefecture) over the planned construction landfill (XYTA)".

    NIKI: "Four-day workweek and new layoffs - The government toeing the industrialists' policy line".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "As of last night (Tuesday), strike for satisfactory collective labor agreements" by the federation of workers in the dairy, food and drinks industries.

    TA NEA: "Banks settling borrowers' debts in exchange for mortgage of their homes".

    TO VIMA: "Clashes in Grammatikos over the planned XYTA - Political games and local interests".

    VRADYNI: "Record high base passing grades, but also upsets, in university entrance exams".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] FM dismisses Ankara‘s demands for direct trade

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has dismissed Turkish attempts to link Ankara's obligations to the European Union with its demand for direct trade between Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas with the EU.

    "Turkey, as a candidate country, cannot put forward terms and preconditions in order to meet its commitments towards the Union," Kyprianou stressed on Wednesday, commenting on remarks by Turkish Chief Negotiator with the EU Egemen Bagis that if direct trade begins, then Turkey will open its ports to Cypriot vessels.

    Kyprianou pointed out that Turkey has undertaken a commitment to implement the Customs Union agreement and the Additional Protocol, which call on Ankara to open its ports and airports to Cypriot flagged ships and aircraft.

    "Any efforts to link two issues which have nothing to do with each other cannot be accepted by the Republic of Cyprus and we will not allow this to be accepted by the EU," Kyprianou stressed.

    The minister said a careful study of statements by the Turkish side is indicative of Ankara‘s unwillingness to meet its obligations towards the EU.

    "If this policy continues, there will be repercussions in December," when Turkey's EU accession course will be evaluated by Brussels, he added.

    As far as direct trade is concerned, Kyprianou explained that the EU has made no promises either to Turkey or to the Turkish Cypriots in this respect.

    "If there is (such a promise) from certain countries, this is their problem," he noted and added that the proposal for direct trade was one of the proposals by the European Commission to support the Turkish Cypriot community but this specific recommendation was not approved, while others, such as the Green Line regulation, have.

    The said proposal on direct trade must have been withdrawn by the Commission, given that it has been pending for the past five years, which is the normal practice within the EU, the minister explained.

    Kyprianou said that all countries applying for EU membership are obliged to fulfill their obligations and this applies for Turkey as well.

    The minister also dismissed claims by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, in the occupied areas, that the Greek Cypriot side is acting in a hostile and racist manner with a view to "isolate" the Turkish Cypriots even more.

    Turkey which aspires to become an EU member state does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus an EU member state since 2004. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [29] Italy calls on Turkey to contribute to Cyprus' reunification

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Alfredo Mantica expressed hope on Wednesday that Turkey would fulfill its obligations in the framework of its EU accession course and contribute to the reunification of Cyprus in a manner decided by the Cypriots.

    Speaking after talks in Nicosia with Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou, Mantica said the Italian government was interested in stability in the Mediterranean and maintained a positive stance towards negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, noting that the Cyprus problem is one that concerns the Cypriots and ''we do not wish to intervene.''

    ''We are ready, as a friendly country towards Cyprus, to assist the negotiations,'' he said and expressed certainty that the next few months would be important for the EU and for Cyprus.

    Kyprianou said relations between Cyprus and Italy are very good in the political and commercial sector, adding that as Mediterranean countries they shared common views on issues concerning the EU, the broader southern Mediterranean region and the Middle East.

    He added that both countries supported Turkey's EU accession course without any derogations.

    Referring to Turkey's EU course, Mantica said Italy was in favour of Turkey's accession and expressed hope that it would fulfill its obligations towards the EU and contribute to the reunification of Cyprus.

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

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

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