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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-08-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 12 August 2009 Issue No: 3269


  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed on new flu developments, planning
  • [02] KKE reaction on government's measures against flu
  • [03] SYN reaction on new flu measures
  • [04] PASOK on Siemens case, economy and new flu
  • [05] Government spokesman on PASOK
  • [06] Tsipras: The country needs a different policy
  • [07] Tsipras in Vytina on Wednesday
  • [08] Cyprus, Greek Parliament presidents on missing persons issue
  • [09] FM Bakoyannis holds telephone conversation with U.S. government official
  • [10] FM Bakoyannis on new conviction of Burma/Myanmar opposition leader
  • [11] Stocks end 2.70% down
  • [12] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [13] Two shipwrecked Turkish nationals rescued by Greek ferry off Cos
  • [14] 143 kilos of cannabis found in parked truck
  • [15] Drug trafficker arrested on the spot
  • [16] Foreign nationals arrested on antiquities charges
  • [17] French boy injured by falling rock off Mylos taken to Athens hospital
  • [18] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [19] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Karamanlis briefed on new flu developments, planning

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on the worldwide new flu A/H1N1 virus outbreak and developments in Greece during a meeting on Tuesday with health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, which was also attended by government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.

    "We are monitoring the situation," Antonaros said afterwards, noting that there was still uncertainty over its progress in the scientific community while it was developing at differing paces country-to-country.

    He stressed the State officials' vigilance and close monitoring of the situation, as well as its collection of all relevant facts and the State's preparedness, guaranteed that the country will respond to the best possible degree.

    Health minister Avramopoulos, in turn, assured that the entire State mechanism was prepared and on constant alert, and all case scenarios were being examined, while he also stressed that "we will not allow our society to slip into a state of panic", noting that the government, under the prime minister's instructions, was operating in an organised and coordinated way.

    "The government is unceasingly monitoring the problem and immediately resolving any matters that arise," Avramopoulos added.

    The health minister formally announced that nurseries and kindergartens will open for the new school year as scheduled, with private pre-schools opening on August 17 and public pre-schools on September 1, while the final decision on primary and secondary schools will be taken following an overall assessment of the situation.

    Avramopoulos said that a total of 162,380 cases of the new flu have been recorded world-wide, among them 1,154 deaths, whereas in Greece 1,002 cases have been confirmed to date, of which 95 percent have recovered completely "and are back in their homes, in excellent health".

    There are two serious cases in intensive care at the present moment, the minister said, adding that the previous serious cases are well on the way to full recovery.

    Avramopoulos further said that the dispensation of antiviral medicines has been deregulated, while the primary healthcare network for the new flu was being expanded.

    As for the program for inoculation of the entire population in Greece decided by the government, including non-legal residents, Avrampoulos said that the priority will be the vulnerable (high-risk) population groups (i.e. childen, elderly, people with health problems), and on services that are crucial for the operation of the State, including Armed Forces and Security Corps personnel, local government hygiene services, the DEKO (public utilities and state organisations), and large private sector enterprises.

    The minister added that the prospect of new flu testing by certified private laboratories was also being mulled, while the vaccination operational plans were also in the process of completion, in collaboration with the Union of Prefectures of Greece (ENAE) and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).

    In Athens, for example, 27 vaccination centers and seven flu clinics were planned, he explained.

    The areas of action, the minister continued, include: mobilisation and training of human resources; monitoring of inoculation through the use of technology and software, while a record will be kept of those vaccinated; back-up for the prefectural and local governments; doubling of the four-digit '1135' telephone information hotline phone lines; and establishment of an extensive network of doctors for the inoculation process.

    Also, there will be an immediate addition of 50-60 more intensive care unit (ICU) beds, Avramopoulos said, adding that it went without saying that ICUs in private hospitals will also be used if necessary.

    Replying to press questions, Avramopoulos said that the exact number of inoculation centers would be announced soon, but noted indicatively that there would be some 140-150 such centers in the country's two largest prefectures, Attica and Thessaloniki. He added that the vaccination centers would be set up chiefly at schools, and would operate either on Friday afternoons or throughout the weekends.

    [02] KKE reaction on government's measures against flu

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in a statement released on Tuesday commenting on the government's measures on the new flu outbreak in Greece, charged that "the government, instead of undertaking immediate measures to fill the immense voids in the state health system in staff and infrastructures for facing the pandemic, is taking measures that bear risks for the people's health".

    "It is conceding Primary Healthcare to private concerns, and transferring Health System authorities to local government," the KKE said, adding that the measures allowing the dispensation of antiviral medicines by private doctors and diagnosis of the new flu to private laboratories, as well as the relegation of the vaccination centers to the municipalities were also along the same lines.

    "The Greek people should be worried. The policy that accepts and supports business activity in Health and the lack of a uniform and exclusively public Health system not only cost dearly for the people but also leaves them unprotected," the statement said, adding that the provision of health services against the new flu must be conducted under state responsibility and free of charge for everyone, and ensure the prompt and adequate coverage of all areas.

    The KKE called for the immediate operation of mobile vaccination units to cover schools, work spaces and the social groups in need.

    [03] SYN reaction on new flu measures

    Coalition of the Radical Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) spokesman Panos Skourletis, referring to Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos' announcement of measures against the new flu earlier in the day, said on Tuesday that "of course the issue of the new flu must not become another field for petty politics and superficial statements".

    "What we must underline, however, are the current New Democracy and former PASOK governments' responsibilities in failing to establish a Primary Healthcare system that could act as a shield in facing the new flu. Of course, they had other priorities, such as to promote the private interests in the Health sector," Skourletis added.

    [04] PASOK on Siemens case, economy and new flu

    Main opposition PASOK party alternate spokesperson Maria Karaklioumi said on Tuesday that the prime minister and the government had reasons, that are currently being revealed, for ignoring PASOK's proposal on the full clarification of the Siemens issue.

    Karaklioumi added that PASOK had requested that everything should come to light, for all, without preconditions and asterisks and pointed out that whoever makes relevant questions to PASOK now violates open doors.

    Also focusing on economic matters and on reports on the state of households in particular, she said that PASOK, following consultations with those directly involved, submitted a draft law in Parliament regarding loan holders and debtridden households, that the ruling New Democracy party ignored.

    Commenting, lastly, on statements made on Tuesday by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on the question of new flu, Karaklioumi asked for the number of cases reported by the supervision centres, under which conditions will medicines be checked and who will be paying the cost for medicines, meaning the health ministry or the patients.

    [05] Government spokesman on PASOK

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday that neither the Siemens scandal, that is casting a heavy shadow on PASOK, nor the economic crisis and nor, of course, the new flu pandemic are provided for easy and costless opposition.

    "On the contrary, as it is appearing now on a daily basis, the great qualitative difference between deeds and words is being proved in these fields, between responsibility and irresponsibility, meaning between the government and PASOK," the spokesman said.

    "PASOK and its leader, George Papandreou, are exposed in the eyes of the Greeks because they are saying no to everything systematically. They are saying no to whatever serves the public interest, the citizens, the country," Antonaros added.

    [06] Tsipras: The country needs a different policy

    Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology, (SYNASPISMOS) leader Alexis Tsipras, on a tour of the northeastern Aegean island of Samos, on Tuesday met with members of the local tourism industry and discussed their problems.

    After the meeting, Tsipras said "although we are in the middle summer and in one of the most popular tourist destinations, the economic crisis is not on vacation.

    "On the contrary, it is severely affecting the enterprises and the small and medium sized businesses, the tourism enterprises and the tens of thousands of seasonal workers who face the risk of not being paid at the end of the tourism season," Tsipras added.

    "The government, instead of taking initiatives to rejuvenate the demand, making public investments and boosting the small and medium size enterprises and drafting programmes on employment, is in fact occupying itself only in giving 28 billion euros to the bankers and initiatives to major entrepreneurs in order to exchange the permanent jobs with flexible work positions. The country needs a radically different policy, otherwise we will all soon sink in the economic crisis," he added.

    [07] Tsipras in Vytina on Wednesday

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras will visit the mountain town of Mainalos, in Vytina prefecture, near Tripolis, on Wednesday to discuss matters related to the conservation and management of the natural resources.

    During the visit, Tsipras will tour Mainalos before paying a call on the Vytina Forest Inspection Service, followed by a visit to the Vytina town hall, where he will meet with mayor Yiannis Sakellariou.

    [08] Cyprus, Greek Parliament presidents on missing persons issue

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    The Presidents of the Parliaments of Cyprus and Greece, Marios Karoyan and Dimitris Sioufas, held a telephone conversation on Tuesday on the issue of the missing persons, in the wake of the latest revelations concerning the slaying of Greek Cypriot prisoners after the Turkish invasion (in 1974).

    According to an official announcement by the Parliament of Cyprus, Karoyan and Sioufas agreed to the two countries' Parliaments taking joint action to achieve stronger promotion of the question of the missing in the Parliaments of European Union member-states.

    In parallel, the intensive mobilisation of the international community will be pursued to ascertain the fate of every missing person resulting from the Turkish invasion.

    [09] FM Bakoyannis holds telephone conversation with U.S. government official

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held a telephone conversation with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Steinberg on Tuesday afternoon, focusing on the situation prevailing in the Caucasus and other issues related to the OSCE's Greek presidency, as well as developments in the Balkans.

    Also discussed was progress in completing the process for Greece to join the Visa Waiver Programme of the United States.

    [10] FM Bakoyannis on new conviction of Burma/Myanmar opposition leader

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday criticised the latest conviction of the opposition leader of Burma-Myanmar and Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kii.

    Expressing her regret over the development, Bakoyannis said that, in essence, it is a political act directed against every sense of a state of law and justice and causes an international outcry.

    "The regime in Burma/Myanmar must release immediately and unconditionally the leader of the opposition and the rest of the political detainees, it must cease political prosecutions and the country must be led to an open and democratic process," the foreign minister said.

    "The regime must realise that the international community will not tolerate this situation," Bakoyannis added.

    Financial News

    [11] Stocks end 2.70% down

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index fell 2.70 pct to end at 2,276.47 points, with turnover a moderate 164.5 million euros, of which 1.1 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the exception of the Food and Beverages sector which ended 0.85 pct up. Health (8.41 pct), Raw Materials (5.01 pct), Banks (3.98 pct), Financial Services (3.91 pct) and Technology (3.63 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 3.24 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.55 pct down and the FTSE 80 index fell 2.01 pct. From stocks moved, 37 ended up, 179 declined and 36 remain unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.53%

    Industrials: -2.88%

    Commercial: -0.65%

    Construction: -2.78%

    Media: -1.41%

    Oil & Gas: -2.41%

    Personal & Household: -0.59%

    Raw Materials: -5.01%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.33%

    Technology: -3.63%

    Telecoms: Unchanged

    Banks: -3.98%

    Food & Beverages: +0.85%

    Health: -6.41%

    Utilities: -1.67%

    Chemicals: -3.00%

    Financial Services: -3.91%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 8.96

    ATEbank: 1.52

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.70

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.85

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.30

    National Bank of Greece: 19.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.92

    Intralot: 4.17

    OPAP: 17.26

    OTE: 10.00

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.35

    Titan: 20.94

    [12] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.427

    Pound sterling 0.865

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 10.431

    Japanese yen 137.81

    Swiss franc 1.542

    Norwegian kroner 8.897

    Canadian dollar 1.566

    Australian dollar 1.710

    General News

    [13] Two shipwrecked Turkish nationals rescued by Greek ferry off Cos

    Two Turkish citizens, aged 39 and 19, were rescued by a Greek car/passenger ferry after their sailboat sank on the borderline of Greek waters south of the Dodecanese island of Cos on Monday afternoon, after taking on water.

    The skipper of the "Blue Star 2" ferry, which was headed to the port of Piraeus, spotted the two men on their boat's life raft and immediately changed course to pick up the two shipwrecked men, who are safe and well in health, and sailed back to Cos.

    The two men, who thanked the ferry captain for their rescue, were taken to the border island's general hospital for precautionary reasons, and are currently being hosted at a local hotel until the process of their repatriation to Turkey is completed.

    [14] 143 kilos of cannabis found in parked truck

    Port Authorities on Tuesday seized more than 140 kilos of cannabis found hidden in the back of a truck parked in the port of Corfu island port.

    A total of 43 kilos of cannabis was found packaged in 128 airtight packets in the back of the parked truck..

    In a separate incident in the Athens district of Haidari, Piraeus coast guard officers arrested two locals aged 25 and 34, together with three foreign nationals -- a Belgian, an Albanian and a Romanian -- who police believe are involved in drug trafficking.

    [15] Drug trafficker arrested on the spot

    A foreign national attempted to sell on Tuesday 2.5 kilos of hashish to a Patras Narcotics Squad officer posing as a potential buyer. The hashish was covered with nuts and was packed as a halva sweet in order to avoid its detection.

    Police acted after a tip-off on the foreign national's drug dealing activities. An officer posing as a potential buyer approached the suspect on Monday night to clinch the deal, setting up the drop-off rendezvous on a beach in Aspropyrgos, Attica prefecture. Police set up an ambush and arrested the dealer in the process of the transaction.

    A subsequent search of the suspect's house revealed another two kilos of hashish, also packed as halva.

    According to Patras Security Police chief Athanassios Davlouros, the hashish was smuggled into the country from Turkey and the suspect is a member of a drug trafficking ring.

    It is believed that more quantities of hashish disguised as halva have been smuggled into Greece.

    [16] Foreign nationals arrested on antiquities charges

    Two Bulgarian citizens were arrested by security police in Nafplion on Monday night after various ancient artifacts were found in their possession.

    The artifacts, considered of significant archaeological value dating back to the Roman and Byzantine eras, were confiscated by the police, while the two detainees were due to be taken before a public prosecutor on Tuesday.

    Nafplion security police are conducting a preliminary investigation.

    [17] French boy injured by falling rock off Mylos taken to Athens hospital

    A 10-year-old French boy was taken to a hospital in Athens by helicopter on Tuesday after, according to the Merchant Marine and Island Policy ministry, being seriously injured when a piece of rock detached from a cliff on the island of Mylos fell on the tourist vessel "Panormos" that the boy was travelling on with his parents and another 20 fellow countrymen of his.

    According to the vessel's captain, the cruise was taking place in the sea region of Sykia off Milos and the approach to the rocky beach was part of the cruise.

    Weather Forecast

    [18] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather with local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 17C and 33C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 21C to 32C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 21C to 27C.

    [19] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The electronic link-up of companies with the Tax Bureau in order to trace fake invoices and the Siemens scandal were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Earnings and losses for working people, according to official data by Bank of Greece and OAED (state Manpower Employment Organisation)".

    APOGEVMATINI: "On-line linkage of cash registers with finance ministry - The State's war against tax evasion intensifying".

    AVGHI: "Discomfort 'cruise' for 212 passengers, who spent the night on the cruiseship 'Marina' (that suffered a malfunction) awaiting another ship to take them to Piraeus - They finally had to transfer to three ships to return to Piraeus".

    AVRIANI: "New package of graft by Siemens discovered, which were channeled to PASOK during Simitis' term as prime minister".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tax Bureau to assign collection of 20 billion euros in overdue debts to private company".

    ESTIA: "The only solution is inter-party agreement".

    ETHNOS: "Asphyxiation from credit cards and loans - Repayment of installments a nightmare for 1.2 million households".

    KATHIMERINI: "Electronic invoices in order to curb tax evasion to be introduced by economy and finance ministry".

    NIKI: "They screwed up again - The government a simple spectator in the country's defamation", referring to the 'Marina' cruiseship incident.

    RIZOSPASTIS: "KKE: The barbarian attitude of the government and the entire EU (deportations of illegal immigrants) must stop".

    TA NEAR: "Electronic link of Tax Bureau and enterprises - 'Big Brother' on invoices".

    TO VIM: "The 'Bermuda Triangle elections: Alumina (EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner), Christoforakos (Siemens Hellas fugitive former CEO), ND internal critics".

    VRADYNI: "Sweeping changes in the taxation system".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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