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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-10-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 2 October 2009 Issue No: 3312


  • [01] PASOK leader addresses Athens election rally
  • [02] PM answers citizens' questions
  • [03] PM Karamanlis addresses rally on Syros
  • [04] PM backs Zagoritis in ANT1 interview
  • [05] KKE leader holds nationally televised press conference
  • [06] Tsipras: SYRIZA proud of its election campaign
  • [07] LAOS' Karatzaferis visits the elderly
  • [08] EcoGreens campaign in Hania
  • [09] Election procedure tested ahead of elections
  • [10] Papoulias: The solution should be the outcome of a Cypriot owned process
  • [11] Privatised OA makes maiden flight
  • [12] IMF: Slight GDP drop in 09-10
  • [13] EFG Bank Group issues 250-mln-euro bond loan
  • [14] Greek PMI falls to 48.5 points in Sept.
  • [15] Greek road show in London
  • [16] Austrian Airlines closes offices in Greece
  • [17] Greek stocks end 0.50 pct down
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Greek bond market closing rerort
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates -Friday
  • [21] Daughter of fugitive Siemens case suspect files lawsuit
  • [22] Two arrests for extortion in Thessaloniki
  • [23] Two pupils in Moudania test positive for novel influenza
  • [24] Cloudy on Friday
  • [25] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [26] President Christofias: We will not accept mediation and timeframes
  • [27] Pope Benedict XVI to visit Cyprus in June 2010 Politics

  • [01] PASOK leader addresses Athens election rally

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressing a rally in central Athens on Thursday evening ahead of Sunday's general elections, stressed that "on Sunday we shall close the door to the past once and for all and we shall open the door to the future."

    Papandreou said that PASOK "is being called on once again to take the country out of the morass and lead it forward." He referred to the two previous times that PASOK "assumed the responsibility of ridding the country of a crisis, as was the case in October 1981 and October 1993," adding that this will also happen in October 2009.

    The PASOK leader said that the country needs a new leadership, a leadership of values that "will have its hands free of dependences, that will never forget that power is given by the people, determined with the people and exercised for the people themselves and for no one else."

    Describing his vision, Papandreou said that he envisages Greece in which "it will not be necessary for one to be rich, or bound to interests and to power to be able to make his dreams a reality, to take care of his family."

    He further said that he believes in this Greece and that Sunday will be a decisive day, "not as to who will win the elections but whether the country will win hope and change."

    Papandreou called for a strong Parliamentary majority, noting that only a government with a strong majority in Parliament can guarantee the big changes that the country needs, a majority and stable government, "since Greece cannot stand any more lack of governance as that which is currently being experienced."

    Replying to the question raised by the government, where he will get the necessary money to implement his party's programme, he said "it will be found where they gave it away, where they wasted it, where they did not dare to look for it and find it."

    Papandreou accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of calling for the vote of the Greeks once again to do the same things, adding that Karamanlis "never dealt with society's fundamental problems".

    Referring to the big changes that the country is in need of, Papandreou mentioned transparency which, as he said, will be imposed in all transactions with the state without exception.

    Also responding to the question whether what he says can be turned into practice, the PASOK leader said that the party "had stressed before the elections clean money, clean environment, clean speech" and committed himself to rule in this way and added that he is committing himself in the same way for an immediate recovery of the country's economy.

    Papandreou underlined that in the first 100 days "oxygen will be provided for the economy, for the the battle against high prices and of wretched practices against the citizen, while a red line will be drawn for the unaccountability of cartels. Increases above the inflation rate will also be given and a fair tax system will be created as a tool for redistributing income."

    Concluding his address, Papandreou called on all to join their forces, not merely for Sunday's struggle to be won, but for the course towards Greece's change to begin.

    [02] PM answers citizens' questions

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday appeared at a nationally televised "town hall-type" meeting where he answered citizens' queries about his five and a half years in power, as well as fielding questions about future policies, while at the same time he repeated his harsh criticism of rival PASOK and what he called its vagueness.

    Karamanlis spoke in the upper and middle-class east Athens district of Ilioupolis, hours before his address in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, traditionally the next-to-last stop by party leaders before last campaign rally in Athens.

    In turning his criticism against main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, the former foreign minister, Karamanlis again charged that the former "is keeping his cards hidden ... This is unprecedented in our election history."

    The Greek premier underlined that his main political rival has "disappeared" over the recent period, charging that Papandreou has avoided answering "difficult questions" in the economic sector, shunned face-to-face press interviews and rejected a second face-to-face debate with him.

    In stepping up his criticism of the foreign minister regarding so-called "national issues", Karamanlis pointed directly to Papandreou's comments over a re-evaluation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project, before listing off a series of incidents that occurred during previous PASOK governments, namely, the Imia incident, the Madrid agreement with Ankara, the Ocalan affair and what he called "pressure on the Greek Cypriots" regarding the Annan peace plan. "They said one thing in public, and discussed other things in a Greek-Turkish dialogue".

    Along those lines, and in response to questions from the audience, Karamanlis again called on neighbouring Turkey to honour its signature on a 2001 migrant re-admission protocol and to "stop covering up for modern-day slave traders (migrant smugglers), while emphasising that the "wall of violence on Cyprus" must fall and the Turkish occupation must cease". Regarding Ankara's high-profile European ambition, Karamanlis uttered Greece's leitmotif of "full compliance, full accession".

    He also referred to a spate of recent Turkish military provocations in the eastern Aegean, noting that "violations, provocations, threats do not change the status quo in the Aegean. Our rights are enshrined by international law, and we will not retreat from those rights, we will not give anything away."

    Turning to domestic issues and the local political situation, Karamanlis again called on his party's supporters to "rally" around the party ahead of Sunday's snap elections, "so that not one vote is wasted; not one vote is gifted ... the victory is in our hands."

    Speaking hours before flying to Thessaloniki, Karamanlis, long elected to Parliament from the city's first election district, he reminded of a series of major projects currently underway in Greece's second-largest municipality, i.e. a new metro, airport expansion and an underwater highway along the seawall.

    [03] PM Karamanlis addresses rally on Syros

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and ruling New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing a rally on the Aegean island of Syros on Thursday evening, expressed confidence that ND will win Sunday's general elections.

    Karamanlis criticised main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, saying that "he speaks about anything else except about what he will do regarding the economy. The issue is not mergers of ministries, as he said yesterday (Wednesday), where in any case there are no considerable differences."

    The prime minister added that the main issue concerning him refers to the biggest challenge for the country: The handling of the economic crisis. And on this, as he said, Papandreou gives no reply.

    "He avoids it because he has no plan, because he is concealing intentions. And for this reason he does not want a face-to-face dialogue. And for this reason he does not give face-to-face interviews on television with journalists. He is avoiding, therefore, the economic issues. He is avoiding questions on these issues, knowing that he does not have answers," Karamanlis said.

    The prime minister further said that Papandreou "cannot say where he will get the 10 billion in benefits that he is promising, he doesn't dare clarify that these benefits will swell the public debt and the deficit, placing the country in a great ordeal and he is not opening his cards on the taxes that he will be imposing."

    "He is telling us that he will change the tax system and he is not telling us what this new system will be. It is unprecedented: On the most crucial front for the country, the economic one, the leader of PASOK, shortly before the elections, is telling us one thing: The absolute nothing," the prime minister stressed.

    Karamanlis referred to the economic crisis which, as he said, is creating special situations and requires immediate interventions and difficult decisions, stressing that the truth is that the next two years will be difficult, as well as decisive for the course of the country.

    Lastly, Karamanlis concluded by saying that PASOK's stance leaves no doubts: "The party that ruled the country for two decades has not changed and nor is it changing. It cannot meet the challenges of the times."

    [04] PM backs Zagoritis in ANT1 interview

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday backed statements made by ruling New Democracy's Central Committee Secretary Lefteris Zagoritis, in response to questions put to him by reporters Stratis Liarelis and George Papadakis during an interview broadcast by the TV station ANT1.

    "What was said and has been said by many and is also right is that, if I, an ND voter, am for some reason displeased with a candidate MP, a current or former minister or deputy minister, it is not necessary for the entire party to have to pay for my displeasure. I can choose someone else among the 30 or 40 other candidates that are running," Karamanlis explained.

    During the interview, Karamanlis underlined that the main dilemma of the elections was between the clear, specific and responsible proposals made by ND for exiting the crisis and the unclear, generalised and vague proposals made by PASOK, which concealed dangers and would plunge the country into problems.

    He stressed the need for tough but necessary measures that would not be pleasant and added that the vague promises made by George Papandreou might sound good but would result in a higher cost and even tougher measures in the future.

    [05] KKE leader holds nationally televised press conference

    A vote for the Communist Party of Greece on October 4 will be a vote in favour of the people's interests, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said in a nationally televised press conference held in the Zappion Building on Thursday. She also urged voters to side-step what she called the "false dilemma" of a Parliamentary majority for one of the two main parties.

    "The news in the elections of October 4 would be to vote in a policy that supports the people's interests, to strengthen the people's opposition, to vote in favour of KKE's ticket," she stressed.

    Papariga also asked whether voters would once again sanction the policy of alternating the two main parties in government:

    "This fruit is over-ripe, there is no saving it. On the contrary, they are becoming worse since they express the class interests of capital and the choices of the European Union and NATO," she underlined.

    Papariga emphasised that KKE was not a "party of protest" but above all aimed to create a large unifying movement of counter-attack, formed of workers, poor farmers and the self-employed in the cities and the countryside.

    She was also even-handed in her criticism of the other parties, not just the two main parties but also the small parties of the opposition, which she said "left gaps and had flexible programmes that made it easy to fall into the trap of cooperating with the top party".

    Regarding the left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) alliance, in particular, she noted that it was a party "with a social-democratic programme, radical slogans, but lacking a radical spine".

    As for the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), she described this as a "dangerous" party that pandered to the policies of the United States and Europe, blaming the country's problems on illegal immigration while cultivating populism, nationalism and racism.

    [06] Tsipras: SYRIZA proud of its election campaign

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alexis Tsipras on Thursday stressed that the left-wing SYRIZA alliance had already posted its first victory before the polls had even taken place in that it had forced the pre-election campaign to focus on crucial issues of policy and social affairs. He made the statement while addressing workers at the Nea Ionia municipality.

    "We have managed to made central to the political discussion the issue of uninsured employment, the issue of flexible labour relations, the issue of the 'Stage' programmes where thousands of young people are rendered hostage to clientist relations with the political parties that are in power and have given them false promises of appointment to a job without social insurance for 480 euros in the public or private sector," he said.

    Regarding the government, Tsipras said that this had disappointed all hopes and expectations people may have had and that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was "unique in the annals, not just of Greece but also on an international level," for leading his party toward elections without caring so much about their outcome as about retaining control of developments within New Democracy on the day after the polls.

    Regarding main opposition PASOK, meanwhile, SYN's leader said it was asking voters to vote it into government with a "blank cheque".

    He contrasted this to SYRIZA, which he said had presented policy positions on a series of major problems and was fighting a "battle that is beautiful and transparent on our part".

    "It is a battle that we are proud to be fighting together and in this battle we ask for your vote," he added.

    Statements were also made by veteran leftist politician Manolis Glezos, who stressed that SYRIZA was his choice because it joined the fragmented left into a vehicle of political cooperation and common action for the rights of the people.

    "We vote in favour of SYRIZA for the yearning it has bred in all the fighters. In order to awaken sleeping hopes and give wings to dreams for a Greece that is independent, democratic and has social justice," he added.

    [07] LAOS' Karatzaferis visits the elderly

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) President George Karatzaferis visited the Home for the Elderly of Athens on Thursday and attended an event held on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons celebrated on Oct. 1.

    Karatzaferis referred to the high-standard services provided to the facility guests stressing that it sets an example.

    [08] EcoGreens campaign in Hania

    EcoGreens election campaign organiser Nikos Chrysogelos on Thursday visited the Cretan city of Hania and called on voters to support his party in the elections and ensure that the EcoGreens got at least one seat in Parliament in order to introduce a different policy that he called a "citizens' policy".

    "On October 4, we do not only vote for a new government. We will vote for policies. Together with the people, we are able to change policies and improve our day-to-day lives", he stressed

    [09] Election procedure tested ahead of elections

    The interior ministry departments directly involved in the Oct. 4 general elections procedure participated in a "dress rehearsal" on Thursday.

    Caretaker Interior Minister Spyros Flogaitis outlined the procedure that will be followed in a presentation of the election results, stressing that the majority of the votes cast will be counted by 6 am on Monday, Oct. 5 giving a clear picture of the election outcome.

    [10] Papoulias: The solution should be the outcome of a Cypriot owned process


    The solution of the Cyprus problem should be the outcome of a pure Cypriot owned process, President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias has stressed.

    In a congratulatory message Thursday to President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias on the occasion of Cyprus' Independence Day,

    Papoulias wished peace and prosperity to the people of Cyprus and stressed that "the termination of the Turkish occupation and the reunification of the island in the framework of a mutually acceptable, just and comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem remains our permanent and firm goal".

    "The solution of the Cyprus problem should be consistent with the UN relevant resolutions, and should be based on EU principles and values. It should also be the outcome of a pure Cypriot process, without foreign interventions and artificial timeframes. Nicosia must finally stop being the last divided capital in Europe", he noted.

    Papoulias also pointed out that the firm and unreserved support of Greece towards the Republic of Cyprus is the cornerstone of the policy of the Greek government on the Cyprus issue.

    "The perpetual and full coordination between Cyprus and Greece in all aspects, are a fact", he added.

    Finally, the Greek president wished the ongoing direct negotiation process to yield a successful outcome and lead to a mutually acceptable settlement that will be to the best interest of the lawful citizens of Cyprus.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

    Financial News

    [11] Privatised OA makes maiden flight

    Olympic Air (OA), the revamped former state-run carrier, formally launched its operations on Thursday as part of the Athens-based Marfin Investment Group (MIG).

    The first official flight by Olympic Air, conducted by an Airbus 320, took off from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) at 7:45 a.m. and arrived in Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport at 8:15 a.m., symbolically retracing the route of the very first flight carried out more than half a century ago by Aristotle Onassis' Olympic Airways (OA).

    The airbus, piloted by captain Sotiris Kalogirou, Olympic Air's flight operations director, carried MIG group chief Andreas Vgenopoulos, the airline's senior executives and reporters on the new airline's maiden flight.

    Before the flight departed, a traditional blessing took place, officiated by Metropolitan Nikolaos.

    Addressing a brief ceremony, Vgenopoulos called the day "historic and moving", noting that it was a unique achievement in the sector of air transports that the new airline was set up, fully operational and flying in just a few short months, and expressed appreciation for the immense support of the public, 'which gives us the strength to push forward with our work".

    Vgenopoulos also stressed, however, that: "We are not the owners of the name 'Olympic', but only its managers. The name belongs to the Greek people".

    During a similar ceremony upon arrival at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport, Vgenopoulos announced that MIG possesses an internationally registered trademark for the title "Macedonian Airlines", which was previously OA's charter unit.

    "We have received the codes, and no one else can fly with this name," he stressed.

    Vgenopoulos said an OA subsidiary, named Macedonian Airlines, will be set up and headquartered in Thessaloniki for the purpose of soon serving the business and tourism needs of the region.

    According to sources, the first flights to be carried out by Macedonian Airlines will be to Germany and Amsterdam.

    The flight was greeted on arrival by several local officials.

    [12] IMF: Slight GDP drop in 09-10

    The Greek economy will remain in recession this year and in 2010, with the country's Gross Domestic Product expected to shrink 0.8 pct in 2009 and 0.1 pct next year, the International Monetary Fund announced on Thursday.

    In its quarterly report, entitled "Global Economy Outlook", which was unveiled on Thursday, the IMF said the Greek economy grew by 4.0 pct and 2.9 pct in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The report said Greek inflation was projected at 1.1 pct this year and 1.7 pct in 2010, after reaching 3.0 pct and 4.2 pct in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

    The country's fiscal deficit is expected to reach 6.4 pct of GDP this year, rising more to 7.1 pct in 2010, while the unemployment rate will rise to 9.5 pct of the workforce in 2009 and to 10.5 pct in 2010. The unemployment rate was 8.3 pct in 2007 and 7.6 pct in 2008.

    IMF's report said that government economic stimulus programs and higher demand in Asia helped the global economy exiting from its worst recession after World War ÉÉ. The International Monetary Fund revised downwards its estimates for this year' s global economic growth, but significantly revised upwards its forecast for 2010. Global GDP will shrink by 1.1 pct in 2009, to rise by 3.1 pct in 2010 (July's estimates were -0.8 pct and +2.5 pct, respectively).

    Eurozone's GDP will shrink by 4.2 pct this year, to rise by 0.3 pct in 2010, the US economy is expected to shrink by 2.7 pct in 2009, rising to 1.5 pct next year, while the Japanese economy was projected to shrink by 5.4 pct in 2009, rising to 1.7 pct in 2010.

    [13] EFG Bank Group issues 250-mln-euro bond loan

    EFG Bank European Financial Group SA on Thursday announced the successful offering of a 250-mln-euro bond loan, by EFG Ora Funding Limited III, through a private placement.

    The bond issue, maturing in 2014, carries Eurobank's guarantee. The bond issue will be accompanied by securities - issued by EFG Bank Group - exchangeable with the bank's shares.

    The exchangeable securities will have a five-year duration and will carry an annual coupon ranging from 1.70 pct to 1.95 pct. The issuer has the right to repay all exchangeable securities prematurely in their nominal price after three years. The new money will be used to fund companies controlled by European Financial Group EFG (Luxembourg).

    [14] Greek PMI falls to 48.5 points in Sept.

    Greece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 48.5 points in September, reversing August's recovery trend, as operating conditions continued worsening in the manufacturing sector.

    The seasonally adjusted PMI - a composite index designed to offer a comprehensive picture of the manufacturing sector's performance -- fell below to 50-point threshold. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.

    The Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by Markit, however fell at a rate slower that the average rate of the last 10 months. New orders fell in September, reflecting mainly a weak domestic market, as demand from abroad rose for the first time in 12 months.

    [15] Greek road show in London

    A total of 28 Greek listed groups are participating in a road show with 200 of the largest fund managers in London Thursday and Friday. Spyros Kapralos, president of Hellenic Exchanges, the organiser of the road show, said the event will help to attracting new funds in the Greek capital market, while commenting on political developments in the country said he could not see any changes resulting from a change in government, noting that investment interest will come from abroad.

    Kapralos said a number of international groups have expressed interest in becoming remote members in the Greek stock market, with five international groups already playing an active role in the market accounting for 10 pct of daily turnover.

    He said a continuing rally in stock markets was fuelled by excessive liquidity and the fact that professionals missed out the dynamic rally after the March lows. "Fund managers are determined to enter the markets after missing the spring rally," he noted.

    Commenting on the Greek stock markets, Kapralos said foreign institutional investors were positive towards the market, saying it has the prospect of strong performance as long the momentum remained positive in international markets.

    [16] Austrian Airlines closes offices in Greece

    Austrian Airlines on Thursday announced the closure of its offices in Greece, following the company recent sale to Lufthansa.

    Austrian Airlines, in an announcement, said all flights will continue according to schedule, while sales and marketing activities will be carried out by an external partner. All personnel will receive full compensation, the company said.

    [17] Greek stocks end 0.50 pct down

    Greek stocks edged lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with the composite index of the market ending at 2,648.05 points, off 0.50 percent. Turnover was a moderate 228.9 million euors, of which 10.2 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with the Food/Beverage (3.04 pct), Travel (2.48 pct) and Technology (1.39 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oil (2.22 pct), Media (2.03 pct) and Personal/Home Products (1.77 pct) scored gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 0.51 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.49 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.45 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 135 to 85 with another 45 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.60%

    Industrials: -0.96%

    Commercial: -1.26%

    Construction: +0.16%

    Media: +2.03%

    Oil & Gas: +2.22%

    Personal & Household: +1.77%

    Raw Materials: -1.05%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.48%

    Technology: +0.28%

    Telecoms: +1.77%

    Banks: -0.36%

    Food & Beverages: -3.04%

    Health: -1.39%

    Utilities: +0.73%

    Chemicals: +0.80%

    Financial Services: -1.23%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 12.24

    ATEbank: 1.56

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.38

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.60

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.96

    National Bank of Greece: 24.75

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.51

    Intralot: 4.70

    OPAP: 17.10

    OTE: 11.50

    Bank of Piraeus: 12.35

    Titan: 23.78

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.58 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 67.745 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,241 contracts worth 50.123 million euros with 23,485 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 17,034 contracts worth 17.622 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,197), followed by Eurobank (829), MIG (1,357), OTE (912), Piraeus Bank (1,074), Alpha Bank (1,169), Intracom (1,048), Marfin Popular Bank (2,697) and Cyprus Bank (483).

    [19] Greek bond market closing rerort

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market remained a heavy 2.851 billion euros, of which 1.450 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.401 billion were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.505 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened further to 138 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 4.55 pct and the German Bund 3.17 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 1.02 pct, the three-month rate 0.74 pct and the one-month rate 0.44 pct.

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates -Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.465

    Pound sterling 0.918

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 10.270

    Japanese yen 131.83

    Swiss franc 1.528

    Norwegian kroner 8.513

    Canadian dollar 1.572

    Australian dollar 1.667

    General News

    [21] Daughter of fugitive Siemens case suspect files lawsuit

    A lawsuit charging abuse of authority was filed Thursday against examining magistrate Nikos Zagorianos and any other responsible party by Salina Karavellas, the daughter of fugitive former Siemens-case suspect Christos Karavellas.

    The 25-year-old daughter of Karavellas maintains in her lawsuit that she was wrongfully accused of legalising income (money laundering) from illegal activities and acting as an accomplice in bribery, based on sums deposited in a joint account with her father. She was released from custody on bail on July 8 following a Council of Misdemeanour Court Judges decision.

    Zagorianos was assigned the Siemens kickback scandal case until he was replaced after being placed under investigation himself for disciplinary offences allegedly committed while handling the case.

    [22] Two arrests for extortion in Thessaloniki

    Greek authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of two Chinese nationals aged 26 and 39, respectively, in Michaniona, greater Thessaloniki. The two were charged with extortion, while another individual is still wanted.

    The suspects are accused of allegedly demanding protection money from the owner of a Chinese retail store in Thessaloniki's "Chinatown" district.

    When he refused to give in to their demands, the storeowner and one of his employees were beaten up by the suspects while the store was virtually taken apart.

    The iron rods used in the attack were found in the possession of the detainees and seized by the police.

    [23] Two pupils in Moudania test positive for novel influenza

    Two siblings in Moudania, Halkidiki prefecture in northern Greece, have tested positive for novel influenza.

    A high school pupil and her kindergarten-age brother were taken to a local hospital in Thessaloniki on Wednesday with mild flu symptoms and were released soon after receiving treatment. They were advised to stay at home for a week.

    Weather Forecast

    [24] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy weather with possible local showers and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 29C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 28C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 26C.

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

    The political parties' clash ahead of Sunday's general elections mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition PASOK's revanchism at the extremes - Countless complaints at government headquarters".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The best opinion poll: The immense turnout at ruling New Democracy's (ND) rally in Thessaloniki ".

    AVGHI: "PASOK leader George Papandreou wants supremacy, not just a self-sufficient government".

    ELEFTHEROS: "George Papandreou: I will govern with 'imported' economists - He excludes the domestic 'golden boys' and will bring others from abroad".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New model of governance - George revealed his intentions ".

    ESTIA: "Politicians use stilted language - Quality of the dialogue deteriorating".

    ETHNOS: "Reversals in state and government - George (Papandreou) pledges for a change of course starting the day after the elections".

    KATHIMERINI: "Orgy of rumors over the results of opinion polls (Publication of poll results are prohibited by law in the final two weeks ahead of elections) - PASOK: New structure in government".

    LOGOS: "Four high schools close for one week after new flu incidents".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party strong, the hope is here - Big turnout at KKE's rally in Athens".

    TA NEA: "George puts an end to the partisan state".

    TO VIMA: "Papandreou's plan for the new government - Fewer ministries, powerful prime minister, associates from abroad".

    VRADYNI: «FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou reveals PASOK's lies on the economy in his interview with the newspaper".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [26] President Christofias: We will not accept mediation and timeframes


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has sent a message in every direction, including the UN Secretariat that he will not accept mediation and strict timeframes in the direct negotiation process underway, for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    "I will not accept, under any circumstances, mediation and strict timeframes. And this message goes to every direction, including the UN Secretariat", President Christofias has said, speaking on Thursday after the military parade in Nicosia to honour the 49th anniversary of the nation's independence.

    Invited to comment a statement made by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, that the delay in the Cypriot owned process opens a window for mediation, President Christofias said that it is up to Talat not to delay the process.

    President Christofias stressed that "if Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side are in a hurry to solve the Cyprus problem due to natural timeframes, they should show the necessary understanding, change their stance and submit positions that fall within the framework of the UN relevant resolutions and the High Level Agreements between the two communities in Cyprus".

    "They should also respect the international conventions on human rights, be in line with the European acquis as well as to respect the principles and values of the European Union", he added.

    President Christofias stressed that the Greek Cypriot side does not protract the direct negotiations' process. "Our intention is to find a solution the soonest, but we cannot violate fundamental principles", he added.

    President Christofias congratulated all National Guard units that participated in the parade and pointed out that the National Guard plays an important role in preserving the peace, independence and integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.

    President Christofias also congratulated the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Latins and Armenians, because as he stressed, "the Republic of Cyprus is an achievement of all the people of Cyprus".

    In addition, he underlined the need for adopting reasonable positions in the talks, and for respecting the High Level Agreements in order to achieve as soon as possible, a viable, functional solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Christofias wished that during the second round of negotiations the two leaders will achieve the target of reunifying the island, under a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal roof.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

    Cyprus marks 49 years of independence

    A military parade was held in Nicosia on Thursday, the capital of Cyprus, to mark the 49th anniversary of the island's independence.

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, flanked by Greek National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Cyprus Defence Minister, Costas Papacostas, took the salute of the parade, watched also by the island's political, military and religious leadership as well as members of the diplomatic corps.

    Participating in Thursday's parade were infantry, artillery and naval forces and members of the Greek military contingent stationed in Cyprus in accordance with the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Republic, the police, the fire brigade, the forestry and the civil defence services.

    [27] Pope Benedict XVI to visit Cyprus in June 2010


    Pope Benedict XVI will pay an official visit to Cyprus next June at the invitation of President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias.

    According to an official announcement, "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, has accepted the invitation extended to him by the President of the Republic, Mr. Demetris Christofias, during his visit to the Vatican, last March (27 March 2009), to visit Cyprus".

    "The official visit of His Holiness, is expected to take place at the beginning of June 2010", the announcement added.

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