|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-09-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 11 September 2009 Issue No: 3294
 Papandreou chairs PASOK nat'l council meetingMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou chaired a meeting of his party's National Council on Thursday, during which he described the upcoming October 4 general elections as "the most critical battle", adding that "the battle of our lives for the country begins, the people willing, on Oct. 5".
He said that the responsibility for a new course for Greece "is immense", and called on the Greek people to give him the opportunity to assume that responsibility, stressing that he has never been fearful in times of difficulty, and has never fled in the face of problems.
Papandreou accused the New Democracy government of having betrayed the people's confidence twice, wasting the public wealth in favor of the few, meting out privileges and imposing an extraordinary contribution on salary earners and professionals.
He also said that, in his imminent address and press conference at the 74th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), he will unveil PASOK's "integrated plan" for Greece, how the country will exit the crisis and PASOK's vision for the future. The plan, the main opposition leader noted, was based on the five national targets he had outlined recently, according to which PASOK will guarantee a dynamic foreign policy, a free and high-quality public education for all, a "just redistribution of wealth", a state that operates in favor of the citizens and a new developmental model for the country.
 PASOK unveils candidates for Oct. 4 electionsMain opposition PASOK on Thursday unveiled the candidates that will run for Parliament on its ticket in individual constituencies around the country. Their names were announced at the start of a meeting of PASOK's National Council by Piraeus Prefect and Restructuring Coordinator Yiannis Mihas.
Those election tickets that were unanimously decided by the party's Candidate Selection Committee and had been accepted by PASOK President George Papandreou were also unanimously ratified by the National Council.
Some vacant seats still remain in the 1st Athens constituency, the 1st and 2nd Piraeus constitutencies, the Remainder of Attica constituency and 1st Thessaloniki constituency. Candidates to fill these will be selected in the next few days by Papandreou himself, who will also choose the constituency in which he will be a candidate himself.
Also due to be announced in the next few days is the list of candidates on PASOK's deputies of state ticket.
According to press information, former minister Christos Verelis has been excluded from the lists for the upcoming elections.
 PASOK leader addresses rally in KozaniMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed a rally in the city of Kozani on Thursday evening, stressing that his party "is determined to clash with every conception and every establishment that keeps the country behind" and speaking of "establishments that fear a PASOK government".
"Every day that passes with this government is another step towards the degradation of our country," he said and added that "the cost of living, unemployment and low wages are determining a difficult winter."
Papandreou further said that "they have condemned the country to a growth decline, they brought the country to a crisis long before the international crisis, they emptied the state coffers and now they are promising the combatting of the squandering of public money for the third time, they are coming to tell the Greeks the same things again."
The PASOK leader also stressed that "what is necessary for the country to exit from the morass of decline is above all a new leadership that respects values and a framework of of stability and rules that will provide the stigma of the new governance."
He added that "our dreams are feasible, imperative, self-evident and non-negotiable."
Responding to the rhetorical question "where will you get the money," Papandreou said that "money exists if you seek it and if there is a plan that serves public interest."
Papandreou, lastly, called on citizens and the supporters of the ruling New Democracy party who "feel betrayed" to go with him for "a great national effort, for a new national unity, for a Greece with a political leadership that will owe to no one but only to the people."
 PM Karamanlis gives televised interviewPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking in an interview with the "MEGA" television channel on Thursday evening, ruled out the possibility of cooperation after the October 4 general elections and expressed his conviction that his governance proposal to the Greek people which, as he said, is clear and sincere and describes the truth, will meet with acceptance and will be voted for.
"The path will be an uphill one for two years, no doubt, but on the other hand, firstly, I do not believe that an alternative solution exists and I get scared when I hear these vague things and, indeed, accompanied by various promises on the part of PASOK," he said, referring to the main opposition PASOK party and stressing that he does not believe in coalition governments.
"There is no case of New Democracy and Costas Karamanlis cooperating with LAOS (the Popular Orthodox Rally party)," he said. The prime minister also excluded the possibility of cooperating with PASOK, saying that theoretically such cooperation could exist but in reality this could not happen due to completely different conceptions. "However, you can see what the reality is today. And I am not referring to the past or, if you wish, to election recriminations," Karamanlis noted.
He went on to say that "the issue is not for bargaining to begin and merely to allocate persons. The issue is a clear policy. Particularly in today's conditions."
Karamanlis said that the ruling New Democracy party has proposed a difficult policy, while in essence PASOK has not even realised the situation and has no programme.
"I am not saying that I have not made mistakes or that I have not made omissions but, at last, we must see things with their name clearly. And now with the experience that I am carrying I am saying clearly, yes, provided that the Greek citizens so wish, I tell you a difficult programme, a difficult policy, I shall implement it, looking only at the interest of the country and not other so-called policies or other expediencies," Karamanlis stressed.
The prime minister also clarified that he shall not resign from ND's leadership if he loses the elections and that he will remain the main opposition party leader.
 PM's press officer resigns in order to run for parliamentThe director of prime minister Costas Karamanlis' press office Yannis Andrianos on Thursday submitted his resignation from the post. The resignation was tendered to enable Andrianos to be a candidate for parliament in the October 4 general elections, a press office announcement said.
 Papariga: vote for KKE a blow to main partiesCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday visited the Vianex plant and spoke with workers there, reiterating that they should vote for KKE in order to strike against the large, mainstream parties of New Democracy and PASOK.
She stressed that if those who appreciate the role of KKE as a fighting, consistent, and incorrupted political force decided to cast their vote for the party - regardless of whether they agreed with its views or not - then the result would be a lower percentage for both big players and higher one for KKE.
"In that case it is certain that the people as a whole - irrespective of whether they voted for KKE - will have achieved a first victory," Papariga said.
 Tsipras on election, positionsCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras on Thursday spoke from Thessaloniki, where he commented on behalf of the Parliament-represented Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), of which Synaspismos is the biggest partner in the leftist bloc.
Tsipras, who did not serve as an MP in the outgoing Parliament plenum, charged that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has attempted to identify himself with the "good", saying however, that the measures announced by the premier from the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) last week are aimed at "big economic interests".
In terms of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Tsipras claimed that the former foreign minister is using "flowery language" in all of his public appearances of late, at the same time circulating "non papers" for his (Papandreou) upcoming address at TIF, an address that does not include "any vision, nor a detailed plan, nor anything that we can all get behind, just generalities."
Tsipras, who earlier toured the 74th TIF in the northern Greek city, also said there was a huge gap between PASOK and SYRIZA's positions, when asked about the likelihood of cooperation between the two parties. Among others, he said PASOK should now propose common policies and planks instead of after the elections.
Finally, asked about the leftist grouping's target for the Oct. 4 election, he provided a slogan: "We want 3 percent plus your vote", a reference to the 3-percent ceiling a party must exceed to elect candidates to Parliament.
 Papoulias receives Parliament President SioufasPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias received Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas at the presidential mansion on Thursday on the occasion of the dissolution of Parliament, ahead of the Oct. 4 general elections.
Sioufas thanked Papoulias for the "impeccable and creative cooperation" they shared, as he said. No statements were made after the half-hour meeting.
 FM Bakoyannis addresses presentation of Diaspora Hellenism studyThe issue of the voting rights of the Greeks living abroad was highlighted during the presentation on Thursday of a study on Diaspora Hellenism carried out by Kapa Research in a special event addressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis and main opposition PASOK spokesman on foreign affairs Andreas Loverdos.
Speaking during the presentation held under the auspices of the foreign ministry, Bakoyannis underlined: "I want, from my heart, to express my great sorrow over the fact that this draft law was unable to be agreed upon and passed by the Hellenic Parliament. I sincerely believe that the government made every effort so that we could agree that Greeks abroad shall vote."
"Unfortunately, this is in my opinion a typical example of party allegiance trumping national interest," she pointed out, adding that "I would like to hope that in the next Parliament, one of the first bills passed will be the vote for Greeks abroad. They deserve it. It is their right, and in my opinion we have an obligation to satisfy their request. It is their right to have a say in developments in our country. It is their right, because they are mounting their own struggle. It is their right because for us they are a force and rich resource."
The foreign minister referred to the importance of the findings of the study, conducted in cooperation with Harvard University, on the experience of immigration, the family status of immigrants, their relations with Greece, and the views of Greeks of the Diaspora on Greece's foreign policy, the Greek state and all major international issues. She also underlined that "the Greek state stands by the Greeks abroad and is taking measures that will improve communication between the national homeland and Greeks of the Diaspora."
Bakoyannis put an emphasis on Greece's contemporary role as regards the reception of foreign economic migrants, pointing out that "given that Greek society is now a society receiving hundreds of thousands of economic migrants, it is our duty to develop procedures for better incorporating all these people, who are an important part of our societyI think that the experience of the Greek Diaspora is of paramount importance in our adopting good practices - rejecting inhibitive mindsets."
Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis expressed satisfaction because the findings of the research vindicate the policy exercised by the foreign ministry, stressing that "we managed to turn the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) from a field of confrontation to a broadly supported coordinating body."
Kassimis also referred to the education of second and third generation Greeks abroad, underlining that past mistakes are being corrected and that "they are now being taught the Greek language as a foreign language by specially trained local teachers." He added that 4,500 expatriate children are being hosted in the country annually and becoming acquainted with modern Greece.
The deputy FM referred to the work done by SAE and its efforts aimed at establishing networks of expatriate scientists and entrepreneurs.
Referring to the issue of the voting rights of Greeks abroad, Loverdos speaking on behalf of PASOK stated that the dialogue during the draft law debate was "positive and fruitful but we were not able to reach an agreement", adding that "the vote of the Greek expatriates constitutes a factor of cohesion".
On the findings of the study he stated that they correctly highlight the "political dimension" of Hellenism worldwide.
 Athens mayor requests meeting with political leadersAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis has requested a meeting with Parliament-represented political party leaders on Thursday to discuss what he termed as issues of vital importance for the city, according to a press release by the municipality.
The environment, waste management, the controversial dual regeneration project involving the new Panathinaikos sports complex as well as the problem of illegal migration in the Greek capital are the issues that need to be addressed immediately, according to a letter signed by the mayor.
Kaklamanis pointed out that the aforementioned issues constitute a top priority for the Greek capital and its people, stressing that the government that will be formed after the Oct. 4 general elections will have to deal with them immediately.
 Veteran soccer star to run for Parliament with LAOSFormer international soccer player Georgios Anatolakis has been recruited by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party and will run for Parliament in the 2nd Piraeus constituency, according to an announcement by LAOS leader George Karatzaferis on Thursday.
"I am glad that G. Anatolakis will be waging the tough battle of October 4 with us. We will all play offence and he will take over defence, especially the defence against the problems that besiege our young people," Karatzaferis said when announcing the star defender's candidacy.
Anatolakis has worn the Greek national team's blue but also the red jersey of Olympiakos, the home team of the Piraeus district that he will be running in.
LAOS's leader also used the opportunity to announce that signature TV personality and agent Ilias Psinakis will not finally be a candidate with LAOS in the upcoming general elections. Karatzaferis explained the decision by saying that the early elections did not allow enough time for the idea to "mature" though they had discussed the possibility of Psinakis running in the next election.
"LAOS insists on its views about approaching citizens uninvolved in politics, especially younger age groups, by recruiting persons likely to appeal to this group. Democracy will be tested in the coming period. The more widely it is spread, the better it will withstand the challenges of the New Order of Things," Karatzaferis added.
 EU sets out 'global finance blueprint' for carbon cutsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
The European Union may have to contribute up to 2.0-15 billion euros a year by 2020 in order to help developing nations mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, according to estimates included in a "global finance blueprint" released by the European Commission on Thursday. The 'blueprint' seeks to maximise the chances of concluding an ambitious global climate change agreement at the December UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
"The European Union has led the way in committing to ambitious emission reductions and agreeing the measures to achieve them. We are well on track to achieve our Kyoto reduction target. Now we must break the impasse in the Copenhagen negotiations. That is why the Commission is putting forward a balanced blueprint for financing the necessary action by developing countries to limit their emissions growth as well as their adaptation to climate change. Our initiative reflects the strategic priority we attach to a strong Copenhagen agreement," Greek European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas said regarding the initiative.
Based on Commission estimates, assuming an ambitious global agreement, developing countries will need to financing of roughly 100 billion a year by 2020 to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change. The blueprint proposes that between 20-40 percent of this should be covered by domestic private and public finance in developing countries, 40 percent by the international carbon market and the rest by international public finance.
It estimates that international public financing will amount to some 22-50 billion euros a year, to be covered by advanced industrial nations and economically more advanced developing countries "in line with their responsibility for emissions and their ability to pay".
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, on his part, stressed the need to make "serious progress" in negotiations for reducing emissions with less than 90 days left before Copenhagen.
"That is why the Commission is putting the first meaningful proposal on the table on how we might finance the battle against climate change. The sums involved are potentially significant, both ambitious and fair. I am determined that Europe will continue to provide a lead but developed and economically advanced developing countries must also make a contribution," he underlined.
 Eurobarometer on employment, economy, environmentThe Greek citizens are disappointed by the present state of employment in the country, according to the latest findings of a Eurobarometer poll carried out between June 12 and July 6, 2009 released on Thursday.
People in Greece describe the situation as "bad", 94 pct, while equally disgruntled appear to be all Europeans with 85 pct of them expressing disappointment. Worth noting is the fact that 9 in 10 Greeks believe that it is "hard to find a good job in Greece even if someone is highly qualified", (Greece 91 pct, EU 80 pct).
The Greeks are more disappointed compared to the rest Europeans by the bad state of the environment in their country (Greece 84 pct, EU 52 pct).
According to the Eurobarometer, the people in Spain (81 pct), Portugal (81 pct), Ireland (79 pct), Italy (78 pct) and Greece (78 pct) are the most disappointed by the course of the European economy. However, 56 pct of the Greeks, compared to 49 pct in the EU, stated that they "feel greater economic stability because Greece is a Euro-zone member."
Also, people in Greece believe that economy (48 pct) and employment (52 pct) will deteriorate in the next 12 months. Moreover, a considerable portion of the Greeks (41 pct), compared to 36 pct in the EU, predict stagnation in the sector of the economy (Greece 41 pct, EU 36 pct) and in employment (Greece 39 pct, EU 32 pct).
In addition, 56 pct of the Greeks express discontent as regards their daily lives compared to 22 pct in the EU.
It is worth noting that both the Greeks and the Europeans express confidence in the EU as according to the poll, they believe that it has adequate power and means to protect its economic interests in the global economy (Greece 72 pct, EU 66 pct).
The EU is also regarded as more efficient to deal with the economic crisis (Greece 38 pct, EU 21 pct) compared to the International Monetary Fund (Greece 19 pct, EU 14 pct), the United States (Greece 12 pct, EU 16 pct), the G20 (Greece 11 pct, EU 20 pct), or individual state governments in the EU (Greece 8 pct, EU 12 pct).
 Unemployment at 8.6% in JuneGreek unemployment rose to 8.6 pct of the workforce in June, from 7.3 pct in June 2008 and 8.5 pct in May 2009, the National Statistical Service announced on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the number of unemployed people totaled 427,707 in June 2009, from 359,978 in June 2008 and 403,365 in June 2007. Epirus (11.5 pct), eastern Macedonia-Thrace (11.6 pct), western Greece (10.5 pct) and western Macedonia (9.8 pct) recorded the highest unemployment percentage rates, while northern Aegean (4.5 pct), southern Aegean (4.9 pct) and Crete (5.9 pct) the lowest unemployment rates.
Unemployment among women totaled 12.4 pct, sharply up compared with a 5.8 pct rate among men. The 15-24 age group recorded the highest unemployment rate (22.9 pct), up from 22.3 pct in June 2008 and 21.3 pct in June 2007.
 Wholesale turnover index down 15.3% in Q2Greece's wholesale turnover index dropped 15.3 pct in the second quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year, after an increase of 12.7 pct recorded in the second quarter of 2008, the National Statistical Service announced on Thursday.
The statistical service said the whole sale turnover index rose 9.0 pct in the second quarter from the first quarter of 2009, after an increase of 17.1 pct in the corresponding period last year.
 EFG Eurobank Ergasias completes private placement of sharesEFG Eurobank Ergasias on Thursday announced the successful completion of a private placement of 26.3 million shares, representing 4.87 pct of the bank's common voting shares, at a price of 9.55 euros per share and with a discount of 3.9 pct compared with the share's closing price on Wednesday.
The bank said the private placement of its share was fully guaranteed by Goldman Sachs, the underwriter of the issue which was fully covered by international institutional investors.
 Car market turnover index down 12.7% in Q2Greece's car market turnover index fell 12.7 pct in the second quarter of 2009, compared with the same period last year, the National Statistical Service said on Thursday.
The statistical service, in a report, said the car sales turnover index dropped 14.2 pct in the second quarter of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008.
 Stocks end 0.95% downGreek stocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as investors took profits after a three-day rally on the market. The composite index fell 0.95 pct to end at 2,510.56 points, with turnover soaring to 500.8 million euros, boosted by Eurobank's private placement.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Travel (4.0 pct), Chemicals (2.70 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.96 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Media (9.18 pct), Constructions (0.37 pct) and Telecommunications (0.17 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.97 pct, the FTSE 40 index eased 0.19 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.82 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 128 to 77 with another 54 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.74%
Personal & Household: -0.78%
Raw Materials: -1.20%
Travel & Leisure: -4.00%
Food & Beverages: -1.96%
Financial Services: -0.24%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Eurobank, National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.50
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.80
HBC Coca Cola: 16.40
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.31
National Bank of Greece: 22.95
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.56
Bank of Piraeus: 11.35
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.824 billion euros on Thursday, of which 873 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 950 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.059 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 136 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.65 percent and the German Bund 3.29 percent.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.26 pct, the six-month rate 1.05 pct, the three-month rate 0.78 pct and the one-month rate 0.45 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.466
Pound sterling 0.882
Danish kroner 7.503
Swedish kroner 10.324
Japanese yen 134.99
Swiss franc 1.527
Norwegian kroner 8.732
Canadian dollar 1.591
Australian dollar 1.710
 Schools to open on schedule"Schools will open in Greece on Friday according to schedule, but we should be ready to close them if it is deemed necessary," Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos stated on Thursday after a relevant national committee convened to examine the issue.
The minister pointed out that based on the experience so far with daycare nurseries for preschool children the situation is under control.
The ministry's special scientific committee will decide on whether individual classes or entire schools will be closed based on the number of flu incidents recorded in each of the schools. However, schools for children with disabilities, both private and state-operated, will be shut down even after a single incident is recorded and the rest of the children will receive anti-viral medication.
The decision to open schools was based on developments in the United States and Australia, and is justified by the characterisation of "light pandemic", which is widely used to describe the current state of the specific influenza outbreak.
The confirmed novel influenza cases rose to 2,101, after 105 new cases were confirmed in the last week, slightly reduced compared to the week before, according to the local Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
 Prehistoric Theopetra Cave opens to public on FridayThe opening to the public of the prehistoric Theopetra Cave in Trikala prefecture, will be marked with a concert on Friday.
Theopetra Cave is a famous archaeological site, and the first excavated cave in Thessaly, with excavations starting in 1987 and continuing to the present. Its deposits begin in the Middle Paleolithic period and continue without gaps until the end of the Neolithic period (3000 BC). Its uniqueness is that in contains, within a single site, the records of two greatly significant cultural transitions: The replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans, and the later transition from hunter-gathering to farming after the end of the last Ice Age.
The cave, situated just three kilometers from Meteora, consists of an immense 500 square meter rectangular chamber at the foot of a limestone hill, which rises to the northeast above the village of Theopetra, with a very big entrance 17m wide by three metres high. It lies at the foot of the Chasia mountain range, which forms the natural boundary between Thessaly and Epirus prefectures, while the Lithaios River, a tributary of the Pineios River, flows in front of the cave.
Excavations, which have been systematically carried out, have unearthed light geological deposits dating to the Pleistocene and Holocene periods as well as anthropogenic deposits, indicating that the cave had been continuously inhabited during the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic periods.
Specimens found, such as coal and human bones, prove that the cave was occupied from about 50,000 BC to 4000 BC, and that temporary use continued during the Bronze Age and historic times up to 1955. Even after that the cave was used occasionally to by shepherds to shelter their herds right up until the excavations began.
It is the first time that cave dwelling was recorded in Thessaly during the Palaeolithic period. The stratigraphic sequence of Theopetra extends through three cold periods: during the Middle era circa 25,000 BP (BP being the archaeological term for 'years Before the Present', with the 'present' referring to 1950 when carbon dating was first implemented), during the Upper Palaeolithic, and during the final Upper Palaeolithic period (end of the Pleistocene era).
The excavations and study of the finds at Theopetra have been conducted since 1987 by the scientific research group of the Ephorate of Paleoanthropology-Speleology, under the direction of Dr. Ekaterini (Nina) Kyparissi-Apostolika. Objects discovered in the cave include stone tools of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, as well as Neolithic pottery, bone and shell objects, skeletons from 15000, 9000 and 8000 BC, and traces of plants and seeds that reveal dietary habits..
In March 2009, Kyparissi made an even more important and exciting discovery. Excavations brought to light three human footprints which have been dated to approximately 135,000 BP in the cretaceous period. The find consists of four human footprints in a row, from four individuals believed to have been children.
The prefecture of Trikala and the municipality of Vassiliki, to which Theopetra belongs, have scheduled a concert featuring well-known musicians/singers Pantelis Thalassinos and Melina Kana on Friday, to celebrate the official opening of the cave to visitors.
 New cases of illegal industrial waste disposal by ViohartikiThe environment ministry on Thursday announced the discovery of two new incidents of illegally disposed industrial wastes produced by the Aspropyrgos paper plant Viohartiki. The ministry said that environment inspectors backed up by officers from the Greek Police Inspection and Traffic Accident Prevention Squad had caught workers from the organic fertiliser manufacturers Viozoi in the act of trying to conceal wastes that were illegally dumped into a ravine.
They intercepted and arrested as they were in the process of pushing dirt over some 2,000-3,000 cubic metres of dumped waste produced by Viohartiki.
They also discovered that Viohartiki wastes had been illegally stored and transported by the company Kostelidis-Konstantinidis in the Aspropyrgos region.
In both cases, the individuals responsible have been arrested and charged under procedures for those caught by police in the process of committing an offence.
The two latest incidents follow the arrest on Wednesday of a truck driver caught while transporting Viohartiki waste to a firm in Thiva, where it would have been illegally used to make disposable trays for pastries, posing a threat to both public health and the environment.
 Gunman takes hostage and later releases car driver in failed bank robberyAn armed bank robber took a passenger car driver hostage as he fled the site on Thursday morning in western Thessaloniki but later released her, police announced.
The unidentified gunman entered a Bank of Cyprus branch shortly before 9:00 a.m. and demanded of a cashier to turn over the money, but the bank employees reacted and chased him, while at the same time alerting the police.
The would-be robber ran out into the street and forced the driver at gunpoint to stop her car, and boarded the back seat. He forced her to take him to a point near a former conscript camp in the nearby suburb of Stavroupolis, where he released her and fled before police arrived.
Police have mounted a manhunt for the gunman.
The woman was reported as being safe and well.
 4.2R quake near AthensA quake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at 9.04 am on Thursday. The quake's epicentre was located 48 kms northwest of Athens in southern Evoikos gulf.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 30C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 27C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 25C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe clash between ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK over the economy ahead of the October 4, general elections dominated the headlines on Thursday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Which taxes PASOK will increase when and if it becomes government".
APOGEVMATINI: "Door-to-door canvassing for a vote - Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called on the youth to do their best for the victory".
AVGHI: "Bipartisanism in the dock, charged with the nightmare of recession".
AVRIANI: "Karamanlis casts off the 'weights' and radically 'refreshes' ND's ballot (candidates)".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Karamanlis' battle on two fronts (PASOK and Popular Orthodox Rally-LAOS)".
ELEFTHEROS: "The real difference between PASOK and ND is 3-4 percent".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "ND leaves open 'windows' for hiring of its supporters' in the public sector".
ESTIA: "Which percentage gives self-sufficient majority".
ETHNOS: "Blue (ND's colour) flu in 11 regions - Symptoms of collapse in key regions".
KATHIMERINI: "The two mainstream parties clash on the economy".
LOGOS: "The Economy at the centre of the clash".
RIZOSPASTIS: "United working class front against ND and PASOK with a strong Communist Party in the elections".
TA NEA: "PASOK-ND clash over taxation policy".
TO VIMA: "ND in a difficult position - Consecutive refusals (for candidacy) and departures".
VRADYNI: "Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou faces a dilemma: Yes or No to a one-on-one TV debate with Karamanlis".
 President Christofias: we must look to the futureNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President Demetris Christofias believes that the second round of UN-led negotiations began Thursday in a good spirit, saying that discussion on procedural matters will continue at next week's meeting.
The president expressed the hope that events like the ones at Limnitis checkpoint, on the northwest, which led to the postponement of his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, will not be repeated.
Speaking to reporters after the end of his meeting with Talat, signaling the start of the second round of the UN-sponsored direct talks, Christofias said next week, when the leaders hold their next meeting, they will discuss further the procedure, stressing however that "the procedure will not change".
A pilgrimage from the village of Pyrgos in Paphos district to the church of Saint Mamas in the Turkish occupied area of Morphou, via the Limnitis checkpoint, was called off last week, due to long delays caused by the Turkish Cypriot side. This led to the postponement of the September 3 meeting between the leaders of the two communities.
"We have said that the Limnitis incident should be set aside and we should look forward in the hope that from now on, we won't witness similar events", the president remarked.
President Christofias said both he and Talat, after Thursday's first meeting, talked with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists who are exhibiting their work at the "Eyeport" at the now defunct Nicosia International Airport, in the buffer zone.
He said the two talked about art and the role of artists, noting that for "years now artists have reconciled".
"What remains, he added, is for us leaders to act and make real the challenge of the artists for peace, for a solution to the Cyprus issue and reunification of our country and people."
The president refrained from any comment on Greek Cypriot press reports, suggesting that the UN wish to submit proposals and that pressure must exerted on the Greek Cypriot side.
He repeated that the National Council will discuss the course of the talks and the Greek Cypriot side's overall position until December during next week's scheduled meeting.
President Christofias was critical of leaks to the press of confidential documents he hands to members of the National Council, the top advisory body to the president on the handling of the Cyprus question, made up of representatives of parliamentary parties. He also expressed regret that such things should happen.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Peace talks began in September last year between the leaders of the two communities with a view to finding a mutually acceptable solution to reunite the country.
Community leaders discuss bridging proposals on power sharing
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began the second phase of the UN-led direct negotiations, by discussing bridging proposals in relation to the executive power in case of a solution in Cyprus.
In a statement following the meeting, Special Adviser of UN Secretary-General Alexander Downer said that the leaders discussed bridging proposals in relation to the election of the President and Vice-President of the United Republic.
"They had positions which they articulated on the question of the election of the executive in the first round. They had different positions. They have come back here with new bridging proposals and they initially presented those bridging proposals today", Downer told reporters.
The discussions on the new bridging proposals will continue next Thursday.
The two leaders also discussed the cancellation of a pilgrimage by Greek Cypriots to the Turkish occupied areas via the Limnitis checkpoint, in a tete-a-tete session at the beginning of the meeting.
Regarding that controversial for the two communities issue, the UN envoy said that President Christofias and Talat agreed, having discussed the issue of Limnitis, that they would leave it behind them and move on into the second reading of the direct negotiations.
The UN do not want to be too prescriptive about the process, he noted. As Downer said replying to a question, the UN want to see the leaders work it through in their own way and are there only to help.
"They are the principal parties to the negotiations and so they have to take the negotiations forward in ways that they feel comfortable with. We want the negotiations to keep going", he said.
Downer said that UN wish the two leaders to achieve a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality and a single international personality, consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions.
"We help the leaders as they want us to help them to see that become a reality, but they in terms of the details have to carry the process forward and we encourage them to that. And that is what they are doing, so we are pleased with the way it's progressing", he told reporters.
Asked about press reports that the UN wish to put some ideas on the table for the two leaders, Downer answered that "it's a free world, anybody on earth is entitled to have an idea". He stressed however the point in that case is not so much the ideas, but who embraces the ideas that anybody has.
"The important thing here to understand is that these two leaders have to embrace any ideas for ideas to become any reality, so I wouldn't over-interpret this question of ideas", he explained adding that it will be a sad day if anyone decided to ban ideas.
After Thursday's meeting the UN envoy together with the leaders of the two communities attended a reception for Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists who presented their work displayed at UN Good Offices meeting rooms, including rooms where the leaders meet.
Both leaders commended the artists, saying that their joint work presents them with a challenge which they have to meet as it concerns relations between the two communities.
President Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat began direct talks on September 3rd 2008 with an aim to reach a negotiated settlement that would reunite the country under a federal roof.
During the 40 meetings of the first round of talks, the leaders have discussed six chapters: governance and power sharing, EU matters, security and guarantees, territory, property and economic matters, writing down the agreed and disagreed issues.
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