|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-09-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 18 September 2009 Issue No: 3300
 PM Karamanlis says economy must be shieldedBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis-M.Aroni) The world economic crisis is not over yet while dangers still exist and what is important is to shield the economy by taking the proper measures in order to protect jobs and the economically weak populations, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis siad here late Thursday night.
Addressing reporters at the end of an informal European Union Summit that focused on shaping a common European position in view of the September G20 Summit, the Greek premier said that what is needed is formulating an economic strategy with perspective and realism, the stabilising of public finances and, as regards Greece in particular, the promotion of structural reforms.
Karamanlis enumerated the six basic sectors on which the EU must place emphasis: The restructuring of the credit system, the restructuring of the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the promotion of a responsible practice of remunerations in the sector of credit, the avoidance of protectionism in trade and the conclusion of an agreement in the Doha round, the reform in the system of represantation and management of the IMF, the greater support towards poorer countries and reaching an agreement at the Copenhagen Conference next December on climate change.
Regarding the issue of climate change, Karamanlis underlined that Greece wishes the conclusion of an agreement in Copenhagen and remains steadfast on increasing efforts for the decrease of emissions worldwide. He said that Greece is in favour of reforms regarding the IMF noting however that there is no need for big changes in the organisation's board.
Regarding control of the banking system, the Greek premier said that he supported the increase in international supervision, more transparency and fixing limits regarding salaries in the credit sector.
Responding to a relevant question on main opposition PASOK leader's position on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, Karamanlsi said that "the country's signature cannot and must not be questioned," adding that the completion of the project of the pipleine is particularly important for national Greek interests.
 PM sends letter congratulating Barroso on re-electionPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday sent a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, congratulating him on his re-election and wishing him every success in his new term as the Commission's president.
According to an announcement, Karamanlis referred to Barroso's five years in office and said that they had proven his leadership qualities, political dexterity and efficient handling of many difficult issues, not least being the global economic crisis.
He also noted that in a time of institutional uncertainty for the EU, the Commission would be able under Barroso's guidance to pave the way for the necessary measures needed to implement the new Treaty.
Lastly, the premier expressed conviction that the European Commission will continue to deal successfully with the serious repercussions of the economic crisis and the other major challenges ahead, such as illegal migration, enlargement and climate change.
 Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman on Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipelineRussian Foreign Ministry official spokesman Andrei Nesterenko praised in a statement on Thursday the importance of Greek-Russian energy cooperation in general and of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline in particular, adding that the promotion of the plan is continuing without any changes or corrections.
"With regard to Burgas-Alexandroupoli, work on this plan, according to our data, is continuing without any changes or corrections," Nesterenko said and stressed that "the most important issue now is, without the pace being decreased, for all the necessary procedures for the starting of the practical implementation of the plan to be completed."
Called on to comment on the recent relevant discussion in the framework of the election campaign in Greece, Nesterenko said that "in Moscow, they recorded the content of the initial statement by the leader of (main opposition) PASOK George Papandreou concerning the possibility of the reconsideration of the agreements, which have been reached, in the event that he comes to power" and pointed out that "at the same time the intention was then expressed to promote the practical implementation of this plan, the initiative for which was assumed at the time PASOK was in power."
The Russian senior diplomat said that Moscow considers "that in Greece they realise, as before, the political and economic importance of the implementation of this plan which aims at securing high level energy security on the European continent and strengthening relations of cooperation and mutual understanding between Russia and the European Union, as well as serving the transformation of Greece into an important transit hub for providing hydrocarbonates to Europe."
Referring to Greek-Russian energy cooperation, Nesterenko said that in past years it became "one of the fundamental directions in Greek-Russia economic relations," since substantive results were achieved "primarily important joint plans, such as the South Stream and the inter-Balkan Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline which are destined to guarantee the continuation of Europe's supplies with Russian natural gas and oil under mutually beneficial conditions."
 PM Karamanlis addresses Greek community members in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Aroni)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing members of the Greek community in a downtown hotel here on Thursday, shortly before attending the European summit on the economy, called on overseas Greeks to vote in the general elections in Greece on October 4 and to take an active position.
"We want your participation in the matters of our country. We want your solidarity in the common struggles," the prime minister said, adding that they were the most crucial elections in the post-junta era.
"Our economy is at stake. Under the crucialness of the circumstances, I did not give out and I am not giving out promises. We are proposing difficult, but absolutely necessary policies for the next two years," Karamanlis further said.
Referring to Thursday's special EU summit, Karamanlis stressed that Greece will support the need for a common European stance on the reforming of the international monetary system, and for the Copenhagen summit on climatic change.
At this point, Karamanlis mentioned the considerable contribution by Greek Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, saying that Greece supports the Commission's efforts for an explicit agreement in Copenhagen.
"The margin is narrowing tightly and the duty of all is great," he stressed.
Focusing in particular on the economic crisis, Karamanlis underlined that his government was absolutely sincere towards the citizens, speaking directly of two difficult years.
"I also spoke clearly about measures that will be unpleasant temporarily, but permanently beneficial for the country," the prime minister concluded.
 Dates set for TV debates of party leadersThe televised debate of the leaders of the six political parties contesting the October 4 general elections will take place on Monday, September 21, it was announced on Thursday after a meeting between government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros with the representatives of the parties.
The debate will comprise questions posed by a panel of journalists on six topics: the economy, the environment, public administration, work and social policy, education, and foreign policy.
According to the proceedings decided, there will be two rounds of questions with three topics each, while the journalists will also be separated into three panels.
At the end of each round of questions, the six party leaders have the ability to pose one question each to another party leader, but without the ability to comment on the response.
A second debate, between prime minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, has tentatively been scheduled for the following day, Tuesday, September 22, and the details will be finalised during the day.
PASOK press officer George Papaconstantinou submitted a request that direct discussion be allowed in the debate between the two mainstream party leaders.
 Papandreou visits IKA facilitiesMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that on October 5, the day after general elections in Greece, "we will put an end to the decline of the public social security system", speaking during a visit to the IKA state social security foundation informatics center.
He charged that mismanagement, wasteful spending, corruption, lack of computerisation and arrangements favorable to banks have put IKA "in the red".
Papandreou pledged a "dignified and fair minimum pension for everyone", and a "viable social security system for everyone, and especially the young generation".
Earlier, Papandreou had visited the IKA branch in the Zographou district of Athens, where he was briefed by doctors and staff on the problems in the sector.
 KKE leader apologises for participation in upcoming debateCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Thursday apologised for the fact she will take part in the televised debate among the political party leaders that has been set for October 21.
"I apologise, both on behalf of the KKE and personally, that we will take part in this debate," Papariga said during a campaign visit to the National Statistics Service (ESYE) headquarters.
"Despite the pressure we exercised as a party, we did not succeed in achieving a dialogue that would respect the public. The televised debate is not the 'battle of battles', but if we don't take part, they only thing they will be discussing up until the elections on October 4 is whether the KKE was wrong or right in doing so," Papariga explained.
Earlier, during a visit to the Training and Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Kallithea, Papariga said that the dilemma in the October 4 general elections cannot be the freeze on salaries advocated by prime minister Costas Karamanlis and the 30 cents per day salary increase proposed by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, but rather a struggle against the central policy line and choices of those two mainstream parties is necessary.
She added that the KKE should be strengthened because it has a general alternative policy proposal that effectively ensures the rights of the working people and is not inconsistent, like that of the other opposition parties.
A fundamental issue arising on the eve of the elections is that of privatisation of the social security system "in order to meet the demands of the EU and Mr. Almunia (EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs)", she said, adding that the KKE advocates prohibition of business enterprises being active in the sectors of health, education and social welfare.
 Tsipras campaign speech in HeraklionCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras expressed certainty that he will be elected MP on the Coalition of the Radical Left (the SYN-led SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) for the Heraklion constituency in the October 4 general elections, addressing a gathering in the Cretan city on Wednesday evening.
Tsipras sharply criticised ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, adding that it was important to make the public aware of why early elections have been called.
According to Tsipras, prime minister Costas Karamanlis propounds a two-year program of austerity, with zero salary increases, while PASOK leader George Papandreou proposes a three-year program within the framework of the inflation rate.
He said that the social state was being destroyed, and public life was marred by scandals. Tsipras further accused ND of not reversing the preceding PASOK government's policy, but of carrying on with the same policy, and even more so.
 SYN on employment issue"Voting for a different political party is not enough. Voting for a different policy is necessary," Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras underlined Thursday, unveiling positions by the affiliated Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leftist bloc on the problem of unemployment.
"The current (economic) crisis is a natural and necessary consequence of the bankrupt policy followed by the two major political parties and at the same time serves as an alibi for the rising number of unemployed," he claimed.
Tsipras underlined the need to abolish what he called "anti-labour legislation", to boost the workers' collective rights and ensure protection and support of the jobless.
 LA.OS leader visits police HQPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President and founder George Karatzaferis expressed support towards the national police force (EL.AS) during his visit Thursday to the Attica General Police Directorate (main police headquarters) in central Athens.
Karatzaferis, who was accompanied by party MPs, stated that police officers must be protected, pointing out that the "trivialisation of the force", as he said, has a negative effect on police work.
"A strong police means greater security for citizens," he stated.
 Ministry announces measures for novel influenza vaccineThe health ministry on Thursday announced additional measures and clarifications regarding the vaccines against novel A(H1N1) influenza, after a meeting at the ministry's operations centre.
The first 100,000 doses of the batches are expected to arrive on Saturday and will be stored at the Public Health Centre in Vari, a brand new, modern-technology building completed a few days earlier. They will be stored in special refrigerators until the all-clear to administer the vaccine to the population arrives from EU health authorities. This not expected before October 15.
Health authorities are also awaiting the recommendation of the Hellenic Vaccinations Committee on Friday on whether the new vaccine should be administered to children as a priority. So far, priority for vaccination is recommended for women in their second or third month of pregnancy, healthcare professionals, doctors and nurses and those caring for children or babies.
Replying to questions regarding the possibility of the virus spreading rapidly in schools, health ministry officials said a likely response would be to close classes where between 40 and 50 percent of the children are infected with the virus.
 French immigration minister to visit GreeceFrance's Immigration Minister Eric Besson will be visiting Greece in order to attend a meeting with caretaker Interior Minister Spyridonas Flogaitis and Greek Coast Guard chief Rear Admiral Theodoros Rentzeperis on Friday morning.
Besson will then visit the Greek island of Samos in the Aegean, where he will visit a vessel of the EU's border surveillance agency FRONTEX and the Immigrant Reception Centre on the island. Besson will hold talks with services on the island dealing with illegal immigration.
 French Senate president visits PhanarISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
French Senate President Gerard Larcher visited Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Phanar on Thursday and praised the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Europe and the entire world.
"It is a very important opportunity," the French dignitary said about the visit, adding that "because the Patriarchate means many things for our history, our values for Europe, for the entire world."
Larcher praised the personality of Vartholomeos, referring in particular "to the Patriarch's wider vision for the freedom of religion and of conscience."
The president of the French Senate is the second post in the hierarchy of the French Republic, following the country's president.
The president was accompanied on his visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch by Senator Hubert Haenel, president of the European affairs committee, as well as by many members of the Senate who are participating in the France-Greece and France-Turkey friendship group.
 Appeals court chief justice assigned Siemens caseThe plenum of appellate court justices on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal by a Supreme Court prosecutor to assign a special appellate-level investigating magistrate the entire Siemens bribery and kickbacks probe.
Appeals court chief justice Maria Nikolakea was appointed as the chief judicial investigator, with Ioannis Fiorakis as the former's deputy.
 Greece's biggest problem its public debt, SoufliasGreece's biggest problem today is its public debt, a problem that must be dealt with serious and sincere measures, which unfortunately are unpleasant, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, Souflias said that recent comments made by EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, over the condition of the Greek economy, was a clear message. "Almunia essentially told us to be carefull, to avoid adopting a policy of promises but to take structural measures to address problems," the Greek minister said.
"New Democracy had to courrage to name these measures in the pre-election period. On the other hand, PASOK does not have this courrage," Souflias said, adding that the October 4 general elections were crucial for the future of the country. "There are many issues, but economy is the top of the pre-election agenda because of the public debt and the fiscal deficit," he said.
 Privatised OA's goals outlined by MIG headA new era will be inaugurated for Olympic Airlines beginning on Oct. 1 as the formerly state-run and debt-ridden air carrier will be turned over to the Marfin Investment Group (MIG) following a recent privatisation, MIG chief executive Andreas Vgenopoulos said on Thursday.
Outlining the new air carrier's business plan, the high-profile Greek business executive announced that the new OA fleet will comprise a total 21 top-of-the-line passenger jets, namely, 16 Airbus 319s and 320s, 10 Bombardier Q400s, five Bombardier Dash 100s and one ATR-42.
Vgenopoulos pledged that the new company will provide excellent service, be highly competitive and execute 65 pct of the old OA flight itinerary in accordance with provisions set by the EU. It will also claim less profitable routes and eye cooperation with a handful of international carriers that he listed off.
Conversely, he categorically ruled out the likelihood of agreeing to jointly manage OA with the Greek state and reiterated his proposal for an immediate re-nationalisation of the company if that is the wish of any new government that will take office after the Oct. 4 election.
"The goal of the new company is to be an uncontested leader in the domestic market and to occupy a leading place amongst European air carriers..."
 Greece improves ranking in global IT Competitiveness listGreece further improved its position in the global ranking of Competitiveness Index in the IT sector, climbing to the 32nd position in 2009, from 33rd in 2008, a report by Economist Intelligence Unit -sponsored by Busienss Software Alliance (BSA)- said on Thursday.
The report said that Greece ranked second globally in the development of mobile telephony (171 pct), with the UAE rank first (173 pct). The report, conducted for the third consecutive year, assesses and compares the IT sector in 66 countries. "The current economic conjucture imposes the support of the technological sector," Katerina Galanopoulou, a member of BSA's commission in Greece said. "Technology can contribute in economic recovery and lead to long-term economic growth,) she said.
Greece also ranked relatively high in the human capital category, ranking 15th.
 FDIs up 165% in 2008Foreign direct investments in Greece totaled 5.09 billion US dollars in 2008, up 165 percent compared with the previous year, UNCTAD said in its World Investment Report 2009.
The report, presented in Athens, said Greece ranked 49th, among 206 countries, in 2008, sharply improving its position from 73rd in 2007, while the United States, France, China, Britain and Russia were top in the world table.
Foreign direct investment outflows totaled 2.65 billion US dollars in 2008, down 50 pct from 2007, with Greece ranking 39th, among 158 countries, down from 37th in 2007. The US, France, Germany, Japan and UK topped the list.
FDI inflow reserves as a percentage of GDP was 10.3 pct in Greece last year, down from 17 pct in 2007, and sharply down compared with a 35.1 pct average rate in the EU. Greece ranked 57th among 206 countries. FDI outflow reserves as a percentage of GDP was 9.1 pct in 2008, down from 10.1 pct in 2007 and 44.2 pct in the EU. Greece ranked 36th among 153 countries.
UCTAD said that mergers and acquisitions in Greece totaled 6.04 billion US dollars last year, while takeovers totaled 2.63 US dollars, with Deutsche Telekom's purchase of OTE ranking 51st globally in 2008.
Global FDI flows were negatively affected by a global financial and economic crisis last year, with inflows expected to fall from 1.7 trillion US dollars in 2008 to less than 1.2 trillion in 2009, with a recover expected around 1.4 trillion US dollars in 2010.
 Greek unemployment at 8.9 pct in Q2Greek unemployment grew to 8.9 pct of the workforce in the second quarter of 2009, from 7.2 percent in the corresponding period in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said unemployment was higher among women (12.5 pct) and less among men (6.3 pct). The number of unemployed people totaled 442,563 in the second quarter of the year, of which 73.7 pct were seeling full time jobs. The unemployment rate in the age group 15-29 was 17.7 pct, in the 30-44 group 8.0 pct and in the 45-64 group 5.4 pct.
The statistics service said long-term unemployed people (those seeking jobs for more than 12 months) accounted for 43 pct of total unemployed. Western Macedonia (12.3 pct), southern Aegean (11.7 pct), Epirus (10.9 pct) and Central Greece (10.5 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, while northern Aegean (6.4 pct), Peloponese (7.5 pct) and Attica and Thessaly (8.2 pct each) the lowest rates.
 National Bank's report on shipping sectorThe most remarkable expansionary cycle in recent shipping market history ended in the second half of 2008, when the more severe phase of the international financial crisis hit the world economy hard, driving dry bulk freight rates down 93 per cent from their historical high reached in June 2008, and 76 per cent below their 10 year average, the National Bank of Greece said in its monthly bulletin Thursday.
Nevertheless, the upturn in demand for commodities from China in the first half of 2009, and successful short-term supply management practices by shipowners, triggered a strong rebound in dry market freight rates in second quarter of 2009, (up by 360 per cent in late-August despite the significant correction during the July-August period).
The NBG analysis suggests that the current level of freight rates is not sustainable unless large adjustments take place on the supply side, in the form of cancellations of high outstanding ship orders, as well as increased scrapping.
Specifically, despite NBG Research's estimated pick-up in demand for dry bulk shipping by 6.3 per cent y-o-y during 2010-2011, and an estimated level of cancellations equal to 100 million dwt during 2009-2011, combined with scrapping amounting to 70 million dwt (out of a total bulker fleer size of 418 million dwt), the BDI level is projected to fall below 2000 in 2010 before rising to 2750 in 2011, approaching its 10-year average of 2870 - a respectable outcome in view of the size of the initial disequilibrium.
Similarly, in the tanker market, the NBG Research projects that demand will pick up by 5.3 per cent y-o-y between 2010-2011 and that about 35 million dwt of single-hull tankers will be scrapped (out of a total tanker fleet size of 390 million dwt as of end-2008), in conjunction with order cancellations of about 40 million dwt, thus pushing tanker freights 45 per cent above their current relatively depressed levels, but to 20 per cent below their 10-year average.
With Greek shipowners expected to participate proportionately in the supply adjustment, total revenue from the shipping sector in the Greek economy is not projected to recover until 2011, implying that the Greek merchandise shipping sector will exert a net drag on Greek GDP growth of about 0.4 of a percentage point in both 2009 and 2010, and will have a positive contribution of 0.3 of a percentage point in 2011.
 Greek trade deficit down in June, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Greece's trade deficit totaled 14.5 billion euros in June, down 4.6 billion from the same month last year, Eurostat said on Thursday. The EU executive's statistics agency said Greek exports totaled 7.0 billion euros, while imports totaled 21.6 billion euros, with exports down 17 pct and imports down 22 pct from the corresponding month in 2008.
Eurostat said Germany recorded the biggest trade surplus (59.4 billion euros), followed by Ireland (19.4 billion), while the UK recorded the highest deficit (46.4 billion euros), followed by France (28.8 bln), Spain (23.9 bln) and Greece (14.5 bln).
The Eurozone recorded a trade surplus of 12.6 billion euros with the rest of the world, while the EU-27 a trade surplus of 700 million euros.
 Stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks edged lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market falling 0.10 pct to end at 2,547.47 points. Turnover remained a strong 237.9 million euros, of which 21.5 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Oil (3.89 pct), Chemicals (3.15 pct), Industrial Products (1.11 pct) and Raw Materials (1.10 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (3.72 pct), Health (3.65 pct) and Utilities (3.10 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.23 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 0.01 pct and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.50 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 110 to 101 with another 47 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +3.89%
Personal & Household: +0.77%
Raw Materials: +1.10%
Travel & Leisure: -3.72%
Food & Beverages: +0.47%
Financial Services: -0.35%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Eurobank and Motor Oil.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.59
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.11
HBC Coca Cola: 17.07
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.60
National Bank of Greece: 22.16
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.85
Bank of Piraeus: 11.46
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.30 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 140.655 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,542 contracts worth 103.248 million euros, with 25,590 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 47,123 contracts worth 37.407 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bank's contracts (8,028), followed by Eurobank (1,828), MIG (2,005), GEK (1,622), OPAP (2,670), Piraeus Bank (1,966), National Bank (2,982), Alpha Bank (1,928), Intracom (1,662), Hellaktor (2,494), Mytilineos (3,375), Cyprus Bank (2,388) and Hellenic Postbank (1,947).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market remained a strong 2.385 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.070 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.315 billion euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.895 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 118 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.54 pct and the German Bund 3.36 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.25 pct, the six-month rate 1.03 pct, the three-month rate 0.76 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 1.483
Pound sterling 0.897
Danish kroner 7.500
Swedish kroner 10.194
Japanese yen 135.46
Swiss franc 1.530
Norwegian kroner 8.695
Canadian dollar 1.579
Australian dollar 1.699
 Environment minister inspects works in burnt areas of AtticaEnvironment, Land Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Thursday paid a visit to areas of Attica burnt in August's fires, where works to prevent erosion and flooding are now underway.
"The environment ministry, in the context of its emergency response to restore areas of northeast Attica that suffered damage in the August fires, has immediately proceeded to carry out anti-flooding and anti-erosion works," the minister stressed.
The ministry also announced that the precise outline and area of the regions involved had been calculated based on aerial photographs and satellite images. Local forestry departments in the Attica Region and the Reforestation directorate have also estimated the amount of wood that can be used to build the necessary log-bundles, woven branches and wooden barriers used to prevent erosion and flooding.
Other ministry experts have used existing flood-risk studies for Attica prefecture to chart the hydrographic network, estimate the size of drainage basins and the percentage of those affected by the recent fires in order to pinpoint those areas that are likely to experience serious flood risk, landslides and subsidence.
According to Souflias, the total expanse of burnt areas, without enclaves, comes to roughly 18,338 hectares.
Since the start of September, three groups of specialised forest workers from north and central Greece have been carrying out anti-erosion works (barriers made of log-bundles and woven branches) in the areas within the Marathon drainage basin (Lake Marathon, Agios Stefanos) and the drainage basin of Rapedosa (Stamata, Rodopolis).
More than 180 kilometres of such wood barriers have been built in the above areas to date, while work in the areas of Varnavas and Grammatikos began on Wednesday. The works are expected to finish by the end of the month.
They have been combined with works being carried out by seven contractors to protect against flooding in the same areas, such as clearing debris from ravines and water courses, as well as works to protect the banks and trap material carried downstream.
These are expected to be completed by mid-October.
On the issue of reforestation of the burnt areas, the Attica Region Reforestation Directorate believes that no work should be done on mature and median-age burnt forests because they regenerate naturally, as long as they are protected from grazing.
The same applies to areas of low-lying vegetation and meadows, that soon regain their original form.
In expanses of dense, young or recently replanted forests, studies for reforestation are being carried out.
 Noted archaeological findings unearthed in Archontiko, Pella prefectureDistinguished citizens in antiquity occupied the most privileged place even after death, based on findings unearthed during this year's archaeological digs at the ancient necropolis of Archontiko, in northern Pella prefecture, northwest of the port city of Thessaloniki.
The excavations, conducted by the 17th ephorate of prehistoric and classical antiquities, focused on 50 tombs in the western cemetery of the ancient settlement.
Ten of the 24 tombs, dated to the Archaic Period (580-480 BC), are believed to have belonged to aristocrat warriors. Based on the findings, the specific tombs are positioned along two paths that crossed each other, confirming that the "best" spots in pre-Classical cemeteries were reserved for the tombs of the wealthy and members of the aristocrat class.
Moreover, the deceased were buried based on their social class while members of the same family were buried close to each, other forming clusters dating back to the second half of the 7th century BC (late Iron Age) and even down to the early Hellenistic era.
Based on the findings, archaeologists believe the advance of the Macedon kingdom to the Axios River region had taken place much earlier than anticipated and not after the Persian Wars, as maintained by most archeologists until recently.
More robust trading and evident prosperity comes from evidence dated to just after the reign of King Alcetas (early fifth century BC) with the population having increased access to luxury items as a result of trade relations forged with numerous states in the Mediterranean Basin.
 Int'l group lobbies for liturgy at Hagia SophiaThe head of an international effort to restore the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as a Christian place of worship on Thursday said affiliated groups want to hold a liturgy on Sept. 17, 2010 in the venerable Byzantine-era basilica, a pre-eminent museum today in the Bosporus metropolis.
Chris Spyrou, a noted Greek-American political leader from New Hampshire who heads the International Congregation of Agia (Hagia) Sophia organisation, said his group has also sent a relevant letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan inviting him to attend the liturgy.
Spyrou spoke at a news conference in Athens.
 NCSR Demokritos key contributor to POWDER web protocolGreece's National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos on Thursday announced that its Institute of Informatics & Telecommunications was one of the key contributors of the new 'Protocol for Web Description Resources (POWDER) that on September 1 became a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation.
The Demokritos Institute of Informatics & Telecommu-nications participated as founding member in the W3C working group that developed POWDER.
According to the announcement, POWDER specifies the way to describe a set of web resources (e.g. web pages, documents, images, multimedia content) using machine readable and processable meta-data. The new W3C recommendation is an important step towards the safer and more effective use of the Internet, since it enables the attachment and automatic processing of information about the content as well as about the content quality for a set of web resources.
It was developed as the basis for building a 'Web of Trust', in which the user receives content according to his/her preferences while avoiding redundant or inappropriate content.
The Institute of Informatics & Telecommunications of NCSR "Demokritos" contributed to the definition and progress of POWDER, as well as in the development of software tools that prove the functionality and the potential of this new protocol.
 Int'l meeting on combating trafficking in humansThe need for international cooperation to combat human trafficking was underlined by Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyannakis, responsible for public order issues, who opened the proceedings of the 3rd Meeting of Anti-Trafficking ILAEIRA Initiative Experts held in Chania on the southern Aegean island of Crete.
Markoyannakis stressed that the Greek government is making coordinated efforts to combat the phenomenon at global level and launched the EU-approved ILAEIRA initiative focusing on international cooperation, pointing out that cooperation is already underway with 21 countries and 5 international organizations.
The initiative concerns cross-border cooperation of law enforcement agencies in combating crime organizations active in human trafficking, mainly of women and children, while improving cross-border police cooperation on bilateral and multilateral level based on the EU acquis.
Addressing the meeting, Greek Police (ELAS) Chief Lieutenant General Vassilis Tsiatouras stated that in the two years the specific initiative has been in effect, police in Greece investigated 81 cases of human trafficking, 31 of which were committed by criminal organizations. A total of 279 people faced charges, while 71 of a total of 175 victims requested the Greek State's assistance and protection. The channels of communication used in the investigations included international organizations INTERPOL, EUROPOL, EUROJUST, SECI.
 Board chairman of SOS Children's Villages charity diesProf. Constantine Sekeris, a noted scientist and board chairman for the past five years of the Greek charity for abandoned or orphan children 'SOS Children's Villages' died earlier this week at the age of 76.
According to an announcement released on Thursday, his death occurred on Tuesday due to heart failure, while he was visiting one of the children's villages.
Sekeris was a highly respected scientist who had taught at Marburg University in Germany and headed the Molecular Biology department at the German centre for cancer research in Heidelberg. He was director of Greece's Institute of Biological Research and Biotechnology of the National Research Institute from 1977 until 2000, as well as professor of biochemistry at Athens university and then the Athens School of Medicine.
The National Research Institute stressed his invaluable contribution as vice-president and board-member and has decided that the institute's flag will fly at half-mast for three days and its administrative services and the biology and biotechnology institute will remain closed on the day of his funeral.
The institute will also establish a scholarship in his name and organise a scientific seminar in his honour.
The funeral service will take place at 11:00 on Friday at Agios Georgios Church in Kypseli, while the burial will take place at his home town of Tolo in the Peloponnese.
 New park eyed for Kerameikos districtThe City of Athens on Thursday announced that it will create a new park in a recently reclaimed green space located in the historic Kerameikos neighborhood of inner city central Athens.
The one-acre site links the Kerameikos train station with Technopolis and a muncipal 3,000-sq-metre green belt.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis spoke during a brief ceremony at the site.
 Fatal road accident on Serres-Thessaloniki national motorwayFour people died and one was seriously injured in a road accident on Thursday morning involving a private car and a truck on the national motorway of Serres-Thessaloniki.
The accident happened when the young driver of the private car lost control of the vehicle due to slippery road conditions and crashed head on with a Thessaloniki-bound truck. Four of the five passengers of the car, all of them under the age of 30, were killed and one was rushed to a Serres hospital critically injured. The driver of the truck suffered no injuries.
 Three arrested in Kiato drugs bustA 25-year-old Greek and a 21-year-old Albanian were arrested in a operation organised by Kiato police after quantities of illegal drugs and weapons were found in their home, a police announcement said on Thursday.
The two were charged with drug dealing after officers found one kilo and 70g hashish in the house, along with four swords, a knife with three blades, a set of electronic precision scales and 270 euros that were the proceeds of selling drugs.
Also arrested was a 23-year-old Greek caught as he emerged from the culprits' home, carrying 12 grammes of hashish that he had bought for the sum of 50 euros.
The Kiato police have launched an investigation and the three suspects arrested will be led before a Corinth public prosecutor.
 Drug arrests in AthensLarge quantities of the drug "ecstasy", cocaine and cannabis were found in the possession of two Albanian nationals, 26 and 41, arrested in Athens on Wednesday afternoon.
Police seized a total of 45,230 "ecstasy" pills, 7 kg of unprocessed cannabis, 3.2 grams of processed cannabis, roughly 500 grams of cocaine, equipment used in drug adulteration and precision scales.
In a separate incident, a 26-year-old Palestinian was arrested in Omonia, Athens on Wednesday night having 185 grams of cannabis in his possession.
Meanwhile, a 39-year-old Afghan was arrested in Athens on Thursday morning after police found in his possession 93 grams of cannabis.
 Hashish dealers arrested in ThessalonikiTwo foreign nationals were arrested on Thursday in Thessaloniki charged with drug dealing.
According to a Thessaloniki police announcement the two men, aged 22 and 25, were arrested when a police search in their car and their apartment revealed a total of 27 kilos and 611 grams of hashish.
 Toddler falls from second storeyA four-year-old boy on Thursday fell off the balcony of his family's second-floor apartment in Kamatero, western Attica.
The boy is hospitalised in serious condition at the Athens children hospital Aglaia Kyriakou.
Police are conducting a preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the fall.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with light winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 29C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 26C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe final stretch to the October 4 general elections and the economic crisis mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ND's hidden card in the event of a marginal self-sufficient majority".
APOGEVMATINI: "Big turnout at Karamanlis' rally in the northeastern Greek city of Serres".
AVGHI: "All parts of society represented in Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) election tickets".
AVRIANI: "The televised debate will be Karamanlis' last chance to narrow the difference with main opposition PASOK".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New polls foresees PASOK easy win in elections".
ESTIA: "Elections laws: Kindergarten! Papandreou preannounced new change".
ETHNOS: "Situation in ND out of control even in its traditional bastions".
KATHIMERINI: "Karamanlis', Papandreou's pros and cons".
LOGOS: "Last-minute agreement on the TV debates".
NIKI: "Karamanlis opens succession issue - The extent of defeat will decide ND's fate".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strong Communist Party will make life difficult for ND and PASOK".
TA NEA: "ND in chaos - Voters and candidates are abandoning the party".
TO VIMA: "Karamanlis leaving behind 292 billion euros state debt".
VRADYNI: "PASOK leader George Papandreou's generalities frighten the people".
 President: Turkish side shifts stance on the powers of the executiveNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said on Thursday that the Turkish side had shifted its stance on the issue of executive powers, in the context of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, adding that the new revised proposals on governance would be sent to experts for further consideration.
Speaking on his return to the Presidential Palace from his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, President Christofias said the meeting scheduled for October 2 has been postponed and that two or more meetings would be held per week.
''We had a tete-a-tete meeting. It was short because I will be departing for Brussels. We have decided that the proposals given by the two sides on the issue of governance, the new revised proposals, will be sent to the experts for further processing,'' he said.
He added that the meeting scheduled for October 2 has been postponed and that meetings would be held on October 7, 8, 14 and 15.
''We will hold two meetings per week and will see if we can arrange more,'' President Christofias said.
Asked if the new proposals bring the two sides closer together, President Christofias said ''the proposals are, in any case, improved,'' adding that ''there is a shift by the Turkish side on the issue of the executive powers.''
To a comment that there have been suggestions at the talks that the president and the vice-president should be elected by the senate, of a reunited Cyprus, President Christofias said ''we have our views, which we will discuss, in any case, and of course our reservations.''
''We have a different view. We want the President and the Vice-President to be elected by the people,'' he added.
Replying to questions, President Christofias said ''today we just chatted about the procedure and of course exchanged views in a broader manner, in a friendly spirit.''
Invited to say if the issue of property would be discussed during the next meeting, since the proposals on governance would be sent to the experts, President Christofias said ''Yes, I think so.''
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
Leaders decide to accelerate pace of meetings
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have decided to accelerate the pace of their meetings, which take place in the UN-controlled buffer zone, in the framework of UN-led direct negotiations which aim to reunite Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974.
President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat held Thursday their second meeting in the framework of the second phase of the Cyprus talks, during which they continued discussion on governance and power-sharing chapter.
UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus Tayee-Brook Zerihoun, in statements after the meeting, said that the two leaders met in private for one hour and thirty minutes, accompanied by their representatives, George Iacovou and Ozdil Nami.
"When they came out", Zerihoun added, "they told us that they had a very good exchange of views and they gave us some details on what they have decided on the schedule of meetings through October".
He said that the next meeting, scheduled for the 2nd of October, has been postponed, but the leaders plan to meet on the 7 and 8 of October, and to hold two more meetings the following week, 14 and 15 of October.
"Two weeks they will meet twice", the UN official said, adding that the leaders "have decided to keep this pace for at least to meet twice in the course of next month and they have decided to accelerate the pace of these meetings at least by meeting twice".
"As you know the pace so far has been once a week, so this is quite positive", he noted.
Zerihoun added that the two leaders have decided that in the interim, their representatives and experts will meet to discuss the proposals that have been submitted by each side on the executive power, "with a view to narrow differences or to come up with bridging ideas". The representatives are planning to meet next week.
Asked whether the leaders concluded the discussion on the executive power, Zerihoun replied negatively and said that this was the only issue they discussed during their meeting.
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