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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-09-04

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

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

Friday, 4 September 2009 Issue No: 3288

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM announces early elections on October 4
  • [02] PM addresses Cabinet
  • [03] Sioufas declares end of current Parliament
  • [04] Papandreou addresses rally in Thisio
  • [05] Papariga urges disaffected voters to choose KKE over absention
  • [06] Tsipras sees business interests behind snap election
  • [07] Liapis not to run for Parliament, calls early elections 'historic mistake'
  • [08] Greek, Cyprus FMs discuss upcoming talks on island; Turkey's EU prospect
  • [09] Papandreou to speak at event in memory of Kranidiotis
  • [10] Mixed econ growth for '09
  • [11] Trade unions preparing protest rally on Saturday
  • [12] Cyclon Hellas reports lower H1 results
  • [13] Aug. charter arrivals slightly down in Rhodes
  • [14] Stocks plunge 2.57% on Thur.
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [18] The wondrous world of the deep at the Corfu Shell Museum
  • [19] Tutankhamen at 74th Thessaloniki International Fair
  • [20] First robot thyroid excision in Greece, Europe
  • [21] Robbery at OPAP betting agency in Athens
  • [22] Novel influenza death at Evangelismos
  • [23] Suspected migrant trafficker arrested in Thessaloniki
  • [24] Fair on Friday
  • [25] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [26] Spokesman: Turkish side should synchronise its steps with Greek Cypriots
  • [27] Christofias and Sarkozy reaffirm the high level of bilateral relations
  • [28] President Christofias and Talat discuss pilgrimage issue Politics

  • [01] PM announces early elections on October 4

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday officially announced the holding of early general elections on October 4 and the disbanding of Parlia-ment on September 7, in statements following his meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias earlier the same day to inform him of his decision for a snap early election.

    On the Sunday of October 4, Greek citizens will be called to choose the prime minister that will guide them through the great economic challenges of the time and make crucial decisions for the country's future course, Karamanlis stressed.

    The premier said that he had outlined to President Papoulias his reasons for calling early elections just two years after the 2007 polls that had renewed his government's mandate, saying that it was an act of responsibility imposed by the country's best interests, in order to clear up the political scene.

    More specifically, Karamanlis said a fresh mandate was demanded by the challenges of coping with the global economic crisis, whose effects were now apparent in Greece and promised a difficult two years ahead. He cited 2010, in particular, as the crucial year for the economy.

    The stance of main opposition PASOK, particularly PASOK's stated intention to force early elections in March by refusing to cooperate in the election of the Greek president, also weighed heavily in his decision, Karamanlis added.

    According to the premier, dragging the country through six months of what was essentially an drawn-out pre-election period would have a catastrophic impact on the economy, since the policies for dealing with the crisis demanded a politically stable climate, not one of dominated by tension and election speculation.

    Karamanlis stressed that his original intention had been to use up his entire four-year term in order to implement the policies needed for coping with the crisis in the next two years, until September 2011, but that the country was now up against three major challenges: reducing public-sector spending, conducting a 'war' on tax evasion and carrying out imperative structural changes.

    He also underlined that the progress made under ND governments had largely shielded Greece from the worst effects of the crisis so far.

    "Now, however, difficult and bold decisions are required. What is needed is a government with a fresh mandate that will lead the country to a way out and to growth based on firm foundations. My decision for early elections is an act of responsibility," Karamanlis stated.

    The premier stressed that he could not allow the country to go through a six-month pre-election period simply in order to blame PASOK for forcing elections.

    "The citizens now have to choose between the difficult and the easy path," he noted, adding that the easy path looked pleasant but led nowhere except to more difficult problems and a heavier cost down the line.

    "It is now up to the citizens to choose the prime minister they want, so that he can more effectively face the crisis," the prime minister added, expressing faith in the voters' judgement.

    The pre-election period now officially begins next Monday in what promises to be a difficult campaign for the ruling party, which emerged severely bruised from the European Parliament polls in June and took a further battering during the destructive fires that swept through northeast Attica in August.

    Among preparations for the elections will be the meeting of a cross-party committee on Monday to decide how to allocate free broadcasting time between the political parties and other measures relating to the elections.

    It is also customary during an election period to replace the interior and justice ministers by caretaker ministers, as well as the government spokesman, while the leave of all civil servants and local government staff involved in election preparations is cancelled and recruitment to the public sector suspended.

    [02] PM addresses Cabinet

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was received on Thursday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, after which he chaired a Cabinet meeting.

    Addressing the Cabinet meeting, the prime minister noted that the country was going through an exceptionally difficult period that was decisive for the future, and outlined in detail the effects of the global financial crisis throughout the world, stressing that the impact on Greece was milder than on most other countries.

    Karamanlis stressed that the impact would have been greater if his New Democracy government had not taken steps of progress in the economy in the past years, and accused main opposition PASOK of leaving behind its own term in government a deficit of 7.5 percentage points of GDP and unemployment above 11 percent in 2004.

    "You can imagine what would have happened if the crisis had reached us in the 2004 conditions," the premier said, and noted the measures taken by his government to confront the crisis and to boost the professional branches, as well as the measures to shield borrowers.

    Karamanlis also noted the decades-old problems and structural weaknesses of the Greek economy, which he added could not be remedied in their entirety, stressing that it was now time to take hard decisions.

    The measures that need to be taken are neither easy nor pleasant, but are the only way to take the country out of the problems, Karamanlis continued, stressing that, in the very difficult two years ahead, the country must succeed in fiscal streamlining and meet three challenges.

    The first challenge was a drastic cutback in public expenditures, which Karamanlis said the government has already commenced but more was needed.

    The second challenge was a 'war' on tax evasion, which the premier called a "deeply anti-social attitude". "When I speak of a 'war' on tax evasion, I mean it," he said, noting that the government has also acted in this direction, but "the results should have been better".

    The third challenge was the structural changes, Karamanlis said, stressing that growth could not be achieved without those changes.

    The premier noted that his target had been to tackle those problems and implement his government's policies by the end of its term in office in September 2011. "We made important steps forward, we took difficult decisions," he continued.

    Referring to PASOK, Karamanlis posed the question: "Where do they, the main opposition, find the facility to accuse us of not solving all the problems which they, themselves, created?"

    The premier further noted reactions by the trade unions on such key issues as the social security reform that resulted in two months of social unrest, as well as the reactions to the reform in education with the lengthy takeovers of schools.

    More recently, Karamanlis continued, the government's work was made exceptionally more difficult because the appropriate political environment required did not exist due to PASOK, "whose leader decided to not vote for (President of the Republic) Karolos Papoulias for President (in the presidential election in parliament this coming March) in order to force (early general) elections and then vote for him afterwards".

    He described that attitude as "extreme" and "irresponsible" vis-a-vis the institution of President of the Republic, the economy, and the country, and likened PASOK's stance with that of certain trade unions which have recently started to put forward immense demands, while PASOK was at the same time "promising everything to everyone".

    Karamanlis explained that a climate of social tension had started to be created, which was the worst thing for the country's course.

    The premier recalled that, a few months earlier, he had sought consensus from the political party leaders but had received only denial in response. "What is taking place in other countries is being blocked here in Greece by the opposition," he charged.

    Karamanlis stressed that decisions need to be taken with the social and national interest as the sole criterion, and described his declaration of early elections a "responsible decision taken with the national interest as the criterion".

    It was inconceivable that he would allow the country to be dragged through a pre-electoral climate for six months, Karamanlis said, stressing that ND "will not misinform, will not promise things that cannot be done".

    "We will tell the truth to the Greek people, we will not spruce up the picture," he pledged.

    The citizens, he continued, have to make a selection between two choices. The one choice leads to an exit from the crisis, while the second choice ignores the reality and leads to impasse. The citizens will be called on to choose between an applicable program and empty declarations, he said, adding that "I have confidence in the maturity of the Greek people".

    The government must carry on with its work, he said, stressing that the battle will be a tough one but also expressing confidence that "we will be once again at the country's helm".

    Karamanlis further announced that the Cabinet members will comprise the ND election campaign committee.

    [03] Sioufas declares end of current Parliament

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday announced the end of the present Parliament as the country headed toward general elections on October 4, stressing that it had left behind a significant body of work during the past 24 months.

    "We can all be proud of this work. The work of every Parliament, as of every politician and every person that puts himself in the service of the common good is judged by his contemporaries but also judged by history," Sioufas told MPs.

    He also stressed that in the upcoming pre-election period, Greece's political world will be judged by the people, the policies but also the behaviour shown to Greek voters.

    [04] Papandreou addresses rally in Thisio

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a party rally in the Athens district of Thisio on Thursday evening, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of PASOK's founding, calling for victory with a Parliamentary majority in the national elections due to take place on October 4.

    Papandreou said that "our faith in Greece which is creative, gave birth to our Movement in 1974 and things came in such a way that today, on this symbolic day for all of us we are once again sounding an awakening bell for all the creative forces of the country that thirst to see this country progressing and playing a leading role once again, that toil for a better tomorrow, that cannot tolerate to see the wealth of our country being appropiated by a few, powerful and 'our guys'."

    The PASOK leader added that "I am appealing today to this big and creative majority of our society, sending a clear message of awakening that now is the time for us to set a course of creation and contribution since Greece cannot wait" and stressed that "the sun of hope will rise again on October 4."

    He further pointed out that "two parties are not merely confronting each other in these elections, but two completely different worlds and two different options for the homeland."

    Papandreou said that the one conception led Greece to experiencing its deepest crisis from the time of the restoration of democracy in 1974, while PASOK represents a period of creation for the country, "based on values and principles of justice".

    "They believe that victory in the elections gives them rights. We know that victory in the elections fills us with responsibilities. And whoever does not realise this has no place in my government," he further said.

    Referring to the ruling New Democracy party, without mentioning the party's name or the prime minister's name, he said that "they are avoiding battle, collapsing under the weight of the deadlocks that they themselves and their policies created."

    "I envisage what is self-evident: A fair tax system, a new redistribution in which all of us will pay the share corresponding to us fairly, but we shall know at the same time that our taxes are meaningful," Papandreou stressed.

    The PASOK leader also said that he will be presenting the National Recovery plan at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and added that "just like in 1981 and in 1993 we are not afraid of the challenge of governance."

    [05] Papariga urges disaffected voters to choose KKE over absention

    The two main parties must emerge weakened from the upcoming elections announced by the prime minister on Wednesday and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) stronger, so as to strengthen the movement of resistance and effective counter-attack, KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga stated on Thursday.

    "We call to the army of action not just the members of the Party and the Communist Youth of Greece, all our friends and supporters, but also all those that had considered voting for KKE in the European elections but then joined the fabricated movement of abstention, believing that in this way they would exert pressure," Papariga said in an appeal to the 48 percent of Greek voters that opted to head for the beach instead of the ballot box during the European Parliament polls in June.

    "We call on them to take part in the electoral battle and active show their true opposition. The real battle is being carried out by [ruling] New Democracy and [main opposition] PASOK on the one side and KKE on the other. This is the point where the difference lies, the point at which the ways part and follow roads of different policy, a different way and path to growth," she added.

    According to Papariga, the proof was that when ND came to power in 2004 it did not change a single one of the laws passed by PASOK that undermined labour and working-class rights but instead made them even harsher, while PASOK's leadership had not now pledged to change any of ND's laws that curtailed worker rights, deregulating markets or privatised public assets.

    [06] Tsipras sees business interests behind snap election

    Business interests lay behind the prime minister's decision to call a snap general election, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday after visiting the Association for Protecting Mt. Hymettus from Development.

    "Business interests and the economic establishment pushed the prime minister to early polls, in order to seek a fresh single-party mandate or a grand coalition, so as to pass new, more painful anti-working-class measures," Tsipras asserted.

    According to SYN's leader, whose party is the largest member of the left-wing Parliamentary group Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), the aim on all sides was to "crush SYRIZA so that the votes add up" and he stressed that SYN and SYRIZA would not let this happen.

    The decision for early elections finds SYRIZA and SYN in disarray as they strive to overcome internal bickering and disputes triggered by the left-wing coalition's poor performance in the European Parliament elections, where it gained just 4.7 percent of the vote and saw itself outstripped by the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party.

    Commenting on the state on Mount Hymettus, Tsipras underlined the need to protect what was left of the forests and natural environment of Attica from exploitation by developers and from the policies followed by past governments.

    [07] Liapis not to run for Parliament, calls early elections 'historic mistake'

    Former minister Michalis Liapis on Thursday announced that he would not be a candidate in the snap general elections announced by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for October, which most press sources see taking place on October 4.

    In a statement, the ruling party MP said that he could not take part in these elections and assist with decisions that he radically disagreed with for reasons of ethical and political order, adding that it was an issue of political consistency and personal integrity.

    According to Liapis, the decision to call early elections at this time was a historic mistake for the country and a misstep for the ruling party:

    "I cannot participate in this madness. With what arguments will we once again seek the people's vote when yesterday we appeared to admit that we failed in the years that we were in power? With what moral standing will we ask our voters to do battle when we did not honour their trust by using up our entire four-year term?"

    Liapis continued to say that he would remain faithful to ND and was at the side of the "pure fighters" of the party, taking part in the "current great sorrow and disappointment".

    [08] Greek, Cyprus FMs discuss upcoming talks on island; Turkey's EU prospect

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday received her Cypriot counterpart Marcos Kyprianou in the Greek capital ahead of a second round of negotiations between the two communities on the divided island republic, as both Nicosia and Athens have termed the upcoming round as extremely "crucial" for the future resolution of the long-standing Cyprus problem.

    Kyprianou, in fact, has scheduled a series of visits to European capitals to brief and sensitise European partners over Turkey's mandatory adherence to specific commitments vis--vis EU member-state Cyprus (such as opening up ports and airports to Cypriot carriers), all in the run-up of December's evaluation of Ankara's progress towards EU accession.

    "We solidly support the negotiation process and efforts by President (Demetris) Christofias for the achievement of a Cypriot solution without arbitration, interference by third parties, artificial deadlines and any type of milestones; we support (a solution) based on UNSC resolutions and the principles and values of the European Union," Bakoyannis stressed, reminding that Athens considers the Cyprus issue as a major foreign policy priority.

    Moreover, the Greek foreign minister said Ankara must allow the Turkish Cypriots to "effectively negotiate an agreed to, viable and functional solution," emphasising at the same time that a partition of the island is not a solution.

    "A unified Cyprus in the EU, all of whose citizens will be European citizens, is the best investment for a future of progress and development," she added.

    Along those lines, she condemned a recent incident at the Limnitis crossing point, calling it "disappointing".

    Both sides discussed in detail the prospect of Turkey's evaluation by the EU and the course of individual chapter negotiations in the overall accession process.

    Kyprianou also called on the Turkish side to allow the Turkish Cypriots to negotiate freely and to send out messages that this community wants a Cyprus resolution.

    "Turkey has the primary responsibility for solution of this problem, because the Cyprus issue is, fore mostly, an international problem involving an invasion and (military) occupation," Kyprianou said.

    [09] Papandreou to speak at event in memory of Kranidiotis

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Greek main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, president of Socialist International, will be speaking at an event in Nicosia on September 14 to mark the 10th anniversary since the tragic death of Yiannos Kranidiotis, the Greek politician of Cypriot origin that first envisaged Cyprus' entry into the European Union.

    The event is jointly organised by the University of Cyprus and the 'Andreas Papandreou' Institute of Strategic and Developmental Studies (ISTAME) and will take place on the university campus.

    The family of the late alternate foreign minister of Greece, who died in a freak air accident while on official state business, along with PASOK and the Cypriot EDEK socialit party, will hold the annual memorial service for Kranidiotis at the Aghios Ioannis Cathedral in Nicosia on Sunday, September 6.

    Financial News

    [10] Mixed econ growth for '09

    The Greek economy shrank by 0.3 pct in the second quarter this year, compared with the corresponding period in 2008, although it rose by 0.2 pct from the first quarter of 2009, the National Statistical Service announced on Thursday.

    The statistical service, in a report, said gross fixed capital investments dropped 16.5 pct in the April-June period, compared with the same period last year, with engineering equipment (32.8 pct) transport equipment (30.5 pct) and homes (23.3 pct) recording the biggest percentage declines in the three-month period. Other constructions (8.9 pct) and other investment products (5.9 pct) recorded increases.

    Total consumer spending in the country eased 0.9 pct in the second quarter, with public consumption rising 3.6 pct and private consumption down 2.0 pct. Exports of goods and services fell 10.9 pct in the period (goods down 16.1 pct and services down 7.5 pct, while imports of goods and services dropped 21.8 pct (goods down 21.1 pct and services off 24.7 pct).

    [11] Trade unions preparing protest rally on Saturday

    Stressing the need for a "different policy mix for Greece's society and economy," the president of the influential General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) umbrella trade union group Yiannis Panagopoulos on Thursday said that workers will fight to reverse all policies that harmed their interests.

    "The question is not to just change the government, because if the same policy continues it will further aggravate the dead-ends of Greek society and the economy," he stressed in a reference to the upcoming elections on October 4.

    Panagopoulos was speaking during a press conference about the rally being planned by the major trade unions, including the civil sevants union ADEDY and local labour organisations, in the centre of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Saturday evening, to coincide with the start of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    Replying to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' criticism of trade unions for obstructing government reforms, Panagopoulos said that the trade unions were only guilty of failing to prevent "supposed reforms" carried out by ND.

    Regarding main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, the trade unionist noted promises made by Papandreou during a meeting with GSEE's leadership but remarked that he had expected Papandreou to make a commitment on more issues.

    According to Panagopoulos, Greece now needed a new mix of economic and social policy and a redistribution of income along the lines of that carried out in 1981.

    GSEE general secretary Giorgos Tsalikakis, representing the government-affiliated trade unionists within GSEE, accused Panagopoulos of trying to give a party-political bias to the issues. He noted that the problems faced by Greek workers were real but were not created in the past five years of ND's government.

    [12] Cyclon Hellas reports lower H1 results

    Cyclon Hellas on Thursday reported an 18-pct increase in its volume of fuel sales in the first half of the year, boosting its market share in the sector. Turnover totaled 171.3 million euros in the January-June period, down from 182.9 million euros last year, a decline of 6.0 pct.

    The company attributed its lower turnover to a decline in oil product prices and lower sales of lubricants as a result of an international economic recession.

    Parent pre-tax, interest and amortisation earnings (EBITDA) fell 21 pct to 2.833 million euros in the first six months of 2009, from 3.576 million euros last year, while consolidated turnover totaled 173 million euros (from 184.4 million euros last year) and EBITDA totaled 2.503 million euros.

    Net results showed a 163,000 loss, affected by the results of its subsidiary ELTEPE SA. Cyclon Hellas said it expects its results to improve in the second half of the year.

    [13] Aug. charter arrivals slightly down in Rhodes

    Tourist arrivals fell by 3.69 pct on the Dodecanese holiday island of Rhodes in August, compared with the corresponding month last year, official figures showed on Thursday.

    A report by the Civil Aviation Authority showed that charter arrivals at the island's Diagoras Airport totaled 289,715, down from 300,818 last year. Most tourists were identified, in order, as British, German, Italian and Swedish, followed by tourists from Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Israel and Austria.

    The port of Rhodes reported a significant increase in arrivals, however, totaling 139,496 in August, of which 110,255 were visitors from 99 docked cruise ships.

    [14] Stocks plunge 2.57% on Thur.

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, a day after the prime minister called for early elections on Oct. 4. The composite index of the market fell 2.57 pct to end at 2,414.21 points, with turnover a heavy 375.9 million euros, of which 37.6 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved down, with the exception of the Media sector which ended 15.09 pct higher. Utilities (6.47 pct), Insurance (5.66 pct), Raw Materials (4.28 pct), Constructions (4.15 pct) and Chemicals (3.57 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 2.53 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.54 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index dropped 3.34 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 199 to 24 with another 29 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -5.66%

    Industrials: -3.33%

    Commercial: -1.29%

    Construction: -4.15%

    Media: +15.09%

    Oil & Gas: -3.28%

    Personal & Household: -2.38%

    Raw Materials: -4.28%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.62%

    Technology: -2.02%

    Telecoms: Unchanged

    Banks: -2.35%

    Food & Beverages: -1.64%

    Health: -2.18%

    Utilities: -6.47%

    Chemicals: -3.57%

    Financial Services: -3.34%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Public Power Corporation (DEH).

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

    Alpha Bank: 11.88

    ATEbank: 1.52

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.05

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.67

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.25

    National Bank of Greece: 22.20

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.42

    Intralot: 4.12

    OPAP: 16.50

    OTE: 10.54

    Bank of Piraeus: 10.50

    Titan: 20.34

    [15] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.64 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover jumping to 116.206 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,271 contracts worth 83.770 million euros, with 23,452 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 34,284 contracts worth 32.436 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,228), followed by Eurobank (1,174), OTE (2,251), PPC (1,520), OPAP (982), Piraeus Bank (4,263), Alpha Bank (2,975), Intracom (1,442), Marfin Popular Bank (4,779), Hellenic Postbank (4,049) and ATEbank (1,574).

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 2.364 billion euros on Thursday, of which 972 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.392 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.302 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 144 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.68 pct and the German Bund 3.25 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.29 pct, the six-month rate 1.07 pct, the three-month rate 0.80 pct and the one-month rate 0.47 pct.

    [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.445

    Pound sterling 0.881

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 10.396

    Japanese yen 133.53

    Swiss franc 1.526

    Norwegian kroner 8.689

    Canadian dollar 1.586

    Australian dollar 1.717

    General News

    [18] The wondrous world of the deep at the Corfu Shell Museum

    Collections of seashells, fossils, sponges, corals, lobsters, crabs, sharks, sea urchins and other kinds of marine life are on display in the unique Corfu Shell Museum in Benitses, on the island of Corfu, which takes visitors on a tour of the wondrous world of the deep.

    The Museum is the realisation of a life's dream for diver and collector Napoleon Sagias, who lived for more than 20 years in Australia and used to travel with his team to the Indian and Pacific Ocean for diving excursions and his hobby of shell collecting. In 1989 he moved back with his family to Greece, to his hometown of Corfu, where he established the Corfu Shell Museum.

    "After many years of dangerous expeditions, through cyclones, tides, heat, poisonous snakes, crocodiles and shark-infested waters of the Tropical seas and islands, my family and I managed to collect many specimens from the beautiful world of the deep," says Sagias.

    The Museum contains many thousands of impressive and rare species from most seas of the planet and possesses one of the largest and most complete shell collections in Europe.

    On display are shells, fossils, sponges, corals, stuffed fish, sharks and shark teeth, lobsters, crabs, sea urchins, snakes and more from the Indian and the Pacific Ocean, as well as from the Mediterranean Sea, including a unique exhibit of the Cypraea Fultoni shell, one of the rarest shells in the world.

    The exhibits are mainly from the personal collection of Napoleon Sagias, but also from donations made to the Museum.

    [19] Tutankhamen at 74th Thessaloniki International Fair

    A small "taste" of the priceless treasures of Tutankhamen's unique tomb can be seen by visitors at the exhibition of the KING TUT Museum, that is already being set up on the premises of pavilion 5 at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    Tutankhamen's name is "bound" by myths and legends throughout the centuries, since his passing from earth may have been short, but his premature death and, centuries later, the discovery of his tomb gave him eternal fame.

    Tutankhamen ruled for only nine years in Ancient Egypt and when he hardly had time to become an adult he died and his fame did as well, until he was "reborn" about three thousand years later when his tomb was discovered in 1922.

    Internet users warned of fake tax office e-mails

    The Greek centre for Internet security, Saferinternet.gr, on Thursday issued an announcement warning Internet users to beware a phishing scam involving fake e-mails allegedly sent by the tax office or finance ministry. The e-mails inform recipients that they are eligible for a tax return that they can receive immediately if they fill in an electronic form.

    The message is written in Greek and uses the finance ministry letterhead, so that it appears highly authentic, while the form asks users to disclose sensitive personal information that includes their name and surname, address, tax registration number, user ID and password for access to their bank account and credit card numbers.

    Saferinternet.gr advises those receiving such a message - or similar messages claiming to be from banks and other large organisations and ask them to fill in information of this kind - that they must never reply to the message or divulge the information requested.

    It stresses that no serious and reliable organisation or company uses e-mail to carry out this type of transaction and urges users to delete any such messages and simultaneously inform the organisation or company that appears to have sent them.

    It also advises users to avoid completing forms over the Internet without first reading some text citing the terms of use or privacy policy that outlines how the information will be used.

    [20] First robot thyroid excision in Greece, Europe

    The first thyroid excision in Greece and Europe, with the system of robot Da Vinci surgery, was carried out on a 25-year-old woman patient at the Igia Hospital in Athens.

    The technique allows for the creation of a very small incision, not in the neck, but in the region of the armpit and extends progressively, creating a "tunnel" up to the neck and the thyroid. It is primarily applied in cases of thyroid cancer with a small size.

    The method's advantages include the precision of moves, better visual coverage, almost nonexistent loss of blood and a decrease in complications.

    [21] Robbery at OPAP betting agency in Athens

    An armed robbery with a loot of 50,000 euros was carried out at a state-run OPAP betting agency in the Athens district of Kypseli on Thursday morning at 10:10. The robber threatened the owner at gunpoint, forcing him to hand over the cash in the till, and then fled on foot.

    [22] Novel influenza death at Evangelismos

    A 25-year-old man of Albanian origin died in an ICU at Evangelismos hospital in Athens on Thursday, as a result of contracting H1N1 novel influenza.

    A health ministry announcement said that the young man had a history of heart problems (hypertrophic myocardiopathy) and an implanted defibrillator. He had developed acute pneumonia that led to serious respiratory failure, multiple complications and multiple organ failure that caused his death.

    [23] Suspected migrant trafficker arrested in Thessaloniki

    Police on Thursday reported the arrest of a 34-year-old suspected migrant trafficker in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, just as he was preparing to pick up 20 Iraqi illegal immigrants - including five children - in order to send them on to countries in central Europe.

    The suspect was an Albanian national and was caught during a coordinated operation by the Thessaloniki Police Aliens Department and the Alexandroupolis police. An investigation has been launched to find out if other parties were also involved in the case.

    The illegal immigrants each paid between 5,500 and 6,500 U.S. dollars for their passage via relatives and entered Greece from Evros, while Thessaloniki was only an intermediate stop in their journey.

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Fair on Friday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 35C. Fair in Athens, with variable 2-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 34C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 20C to 32C.

    [25] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis' declaration of snap general elections in an Address to the Nation on Wednesday night dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Thursday. Although no date was cited, press speculation is that the early elections will be held on October 4.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Elections on October 4 - The unbelievable was confirmed".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Elections for ruler - The citizens called on to select who they want for prime minister: Karamanlis or Papandreou (main opposition PASOK leader)".

    AVGHI: "Early elections a catalyst for developments - Life raft sought by Karamanlis with elections on October 4 on the pretext of the economy".

    AVRIANI: "Elections on October 4 - Initiative of national responsibility by Karamanlis to clear up the political landscape and in order that bold measures may be taken to face the financial crisis that threatens to sink the country".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The prime minister declared early elections, attempting a...salto mortale (suicidal jump) from the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters)".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Elections a 'hara-kiri' (suicide) for the liberal party - Karamanlis had time to make deep changes in the economy by February".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Escape after the shipwreck - He (Karamanlis) admitted his failure, but asks us to vote for him again".

    ESTIA: "Whom the early elections benefit - The prime minister's decision incomprehensible".

    ETHNOS: "Voluntary exodus with...early rest - An unable Karamanlis succumbed to the recommendations for escape".

    KATHIMERINI: "Elections in the midst of the financial crisis - The first statements by Karamanlis and Papandreou are ambiguous".

    LOGOS: "Fresh popular mandate...asked by Karamanlis".

    NIKI: "He's coming! October 4 (written beneath picture of Papandreou)".

    PONTIKI (weekly): "He's going, leaving shambles behind him - Metron Analysis opinion poll points to crushing defeat for (ruling party) ND".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Powerful people, with strong KKE, in order to ruin their anti-popular plans - Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga's statement on the elections".

    TA NEA: "I failed but...vote for me again - Karamanlis' declaration-parody".

    TO VIMA: "They're escaping via elections, hoping to avert bankruptcy and devastation - After the general dissolution, Karamanlis again seeking...fresh popular mandate".

    VRADYNI: "All together in the (elections) battle".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [26] Spokesman: Turkish side should synchronise its steps with Greek Cypriots

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Turkish side should move forward and synchronise its steps with the Greek Cypriot side regarding negotiations, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Thursday, commenting on Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's statements regarding the Cyprus problem.

    "A quick solution is also our aim and we have stated many times that we are in readiness, even before the end of 2009, to agree on a solution", Stephanou noted, indicating that there is an agreed basis of solution that is bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    "It's not any solution; we want the solution to correspond to what has been agreed so far since 1977 and 1979. There are UN resolutions for the Cyprus issue, the international and European law," he added.

    The spokesman also underlined that the Turkish side should move forward and synchronize its steps with the Greek Cypriot side, as the Greek Cypriots present positions on the negotiation table "based on all the aforementioned", referring to the UN resolutions, the international and European law.

    "We proved in practice that we want (a solution), and we work and present positions for a quick solution", he added, indicating that the wish for a quick solution is not a vague declaration, but it is proven in practice.

    Commenting on the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat's statements regarding Famagusta, the spokesman noted that the Greek Cypriot position regarding Famagusta is known.

    "There are UN resolutions for Famagusta, there are relevant provisions for Famagusta on the High Level Agreement of 1979, there is also a process on course for comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem; I wonder why we should negotiate on air," he concluded.

    [27] Christofias and Sarkozy reaffirm the high level of bilateral relations

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The high level of relations between Cyprus and France has been reaffirmed at the working lunch between President Christofias and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Wednesday, Cyprus government estimated on Thursday.

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou stated that the meeting between President Christofias and France President Sarkozy during the working lunch that took place in Elysee Palace in Paris "reaffirmed the high level of the two countries' relations". He also pointed out that France supports Cyprus in the efforts to find a just, under the current circumstances, viable and functional solution in the Cyprus problem.

    "We have to argue that during the meeting a common appreciation in several issues of common interest has been observed as well as the mutual wish for further developing of the bilateral relations", he added.

    Invited to comment on the French position towards Turkey's EU accession route, Stephanou stressed that for the Cyprus government it is important that France demands from Turkey to fulfill all its obligations derive from that route.

    Stephanou said that the main issues of the discussion during the working lunch were the Cyprus issue, EU matters and the relations between EU and Turkey. In addition, the two leaders also expressed the will of their countries to develop furhter bilateral relations in various fields such as the financial and commercial relations.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Peace talks are underway between the leaders of the two communities to find a negotiated settlement that would reunite the country.

    [28] President Christofias and Talat discuss pilgrimage issue

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias held a telephone conversation on Thursday with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, to exchange views on the cancellation of a pilgrimage of Greek Cypriots to the church of Saint Mamas in the Turkish occupied areas, via the Limnitis crossing point.

    According to an official press release, President Christofias and Talat ''agreed to discuss the matter further during their next meeting, which will be held on September 10, as agreed.''

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