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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-01-13

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

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

Wednesday, 13 January 2010 Issue No: 3395

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou: State of Greek economy symptom of chronic problems
  • [02] Gov't on first 100 days of governance
  • [03] Gov't on social insurance funds issue
  • [04] Defence ministry leadership on its first 100 days in office
  • [05] Alternate FM Droutsas to visit Latvia, Lithuania
  • [06] Samaras chairs ND shadow government meeting
  • [07] ND on migration policy, local gov't mergers
  • [08] Government rejects ND criticism over migrants' bill
  • [09] President Papoulias to address World Energy Future Summit
  • [10] Tsipras meets with Kyprianou
  • [11] Terrorist groups assume responsibility for bomb explosion
  • [12] Greece raises 2.080 billion euros from state bills auction
  • [13] IMF team in regular visit to Athens
  • [14] Nationwide public sector strike on Feb. 10
  • [15] Primary school teachers to join civil servants' strike
  • [16] Industrial import price index up 4.0 pct in Nov
  • [17] Mutual funds assets total 10.8 bln euros
  • [18] Building activity dropped 21.5 pct in Oct
  • [19] Winter sales start Friday
  • [20] Stocks drop 5.0% on Tues.
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [24] Zakynthos' police station chief's suicide gun found
  • [25] "Lights and Shadows on the Balkans" photography exhibition organised by Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Istanbul
  • [26] Greek aid to flood-stricken Albania
  • [27] Ministry cites personnel shortage for closed museums, sites
  • [28] Auction of rare items on Jan. 20
  • [29] Armed robbers take 82,000 in hold-up
  • [30] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday
  • [31] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou: State of Greek economy symptom of chronic problems

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking after a working luncheon he hosted at the Maximos Mansion for European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Tuesday, said that the present state of the Greek economy "is the symptom of chronic problems and what is most important is the credibility deficit which we guarantee that we shall achieve again both towards the Greek people and our partners in the European Union."

    The prime minister stressed that the stability and development programme that the government will submit to the EU Commission will be an act of recovery for the country and will reflect institutional changes as well.

    He also referred to the administrative reform plan presented at the Ministerial Council, as well as to the target of decreasing the deficit over a three-year period, a target that will be accompanied by the utilisation of funds for the turn of the country's economy to the competitive model of green development.

    "We look forward to close cooperation both with the European Council president and the European Commission," Papandreou also stated.

    Focusing on the discussion he had with Rompuy on immigration and asylum issues, the prime minister referred to the agreement between the EU and Turkey on these issues, to Frontex, to the EU's policy towards third countries and to the incorporation of legal immigrants and pointed out that the EU must play a decisive role on these issues.

    Papandreou also referred the issue of the "Agenda 2014", meaning the proposal he has submitted for the accession of the Western Balkans to the EU in that year, saying that the cycle that opened 100 years ago with World War I must close with stability and rules of law abiding in the region, while this orientation will contribute both to internal reforms in these countries and to solving bilateral and regional problems.

    On his part, the European Council president said that Greece is facing substantive economic, taxation and monetary challenges that are of interest to the Euroezone and stressed that "the Greek government's package of reforms is urgently required for an improvement of the situation."

    He also assessed that Greece's draft budget is a considerable step in this direction, adding that in 2010 a monetary consolidation must begin while the commitment on a decrease in the deficit within three years must be backed with specific and reliable measures.

    The working luncheon was attended by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.

    The prime minister will be speaking at a press conference at the Zappion Mansion on Wednesday where he would be announcing the main conclusions of governance so far and priorities in the coming period, while calling on ministers to act likewise in the sectors of their responsibility.

    [02] Gov't on first 100 days of governance

    "The assessment of the first 100 days of the PASOK government is positive," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis opined on Tuesday. He underlined that Prime Minister George Papandreou will refer to the important government work performed in this symbolic period of time in a press conference scheduled for Wednesday.

    The prime minister will focus on the major upsets launched by the government through the draft laws on ASEP (Supreme Staff Selection Council) approved hirings and relief measures for overindebted households. He will also refer to the state budget that will materialise many of the government election campaign pledges as well as to the "Kallikratis" local administration reform.

    [03] Gov't on social insurance funds issue

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday stated that comments by Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos, who spoke of social insurance funds' empty cash reserves on Monday, concerned the policies implemented over the past decade and not specific government ministers.

    Petalotis said two social insurance reforms made by the governments of PASOK in 1993 and 2002 guaranteed the existence of a social insurance system in the country, which now clearly needs to be changed, as he said.

    He stated that the funds have no assets and accused the former government of New Democracy (ND) for criminal mismanagement.

    [04] Defence ministry leadership on its first 100 days in office

    National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis on Tuesday held a press conference in which they outlined the actions and ongoing initiatives carried out during their first 100 days at the helm of the ministry.

    Venizelos announced that the ministry leadership will give new instructions during a meeting of the Defence Council on Wednesday concerning a draft bill on the command structure and promotions within the armed forces, to be tabled in Parliament by June. He said that the aim of this bill will be to discourage early retirement and ensure that armed forces officers remained in the service for longer, while improving performance at each level of training.

    Another pending piece of legislation to be tabled before the summer is one incorporating an EU directive into national legislation on arms procurements.

    Other changes introduced since the start of the new year are the posting of those due to be enlisted in the armed forces on the Internet, allowing their skills or problems to be entered into the system without the intervention of any third parties when their enlistment is being evaluated.

    The ministry leadership, in collaboration with the finance and Citizens' Protection ministries, is also examining the prospect of creating a single fund for armed forces supplementary pensions, instead of the current three, and a similar fund for the police force.

    Also due in the next 15 days is the ministry's proposal on how military hospitals can work with the national health system.

    Questioned about the impact of the country's poor public finances on arms programmes and payments, Venizelos noted that these might result in some delays in relation to the country's obligations but that Greece was fully complying with its contractual obligations where armament programmes were concerned.

    On the other hand, he stressed that the other parties in such contracts must also meet their obligations and when they were in arrears as producers they should not express complaints.

    The ministers also indicated that the issue of changing the NATO command structure in relation to the Combined Air Operations Centres in Larissa, central Greece and Eskisehir in Turkey was not considered 'closed' by Greece.

    "NATO circles had the impression that in May 2009, Greece had accepted the settlement. This is not the country's position, this is not true. The settlement for the administrative positions must be such that problems are not created in the Aegean," Beglitis said.

    [05] Alternate FM Droutsas to visit Latvia, Lithuania

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will pay a visit to Riga and Vilnius between January 13-15.

    In the Latvian capital, Droutsas will be meeting and attending a working luncheon with the country's Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins. He will also be meeting Latvian Finance Minister Einars Repse and the President of the Latvian Parliament's Standing Foreign Relations Committee Andris Berzins.

    In Vilnius, Droutsas will meet Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas and will participate in the meeting between the Greece-Ireland-Lithuania Troika. The Greek Alternate Foreign Minister will also be participating in a working dinner in the framework of the international meeting that will be taking place in Vilnius on January 14-15 on the issue of challenges for global security in 2010.

    [06] Samaras chairs ND shadow government meeting

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras chaired a meeting of his party's 'shadow government' on Tuesday.

    ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos stated afterwards that the message sent by Samaras was that "the tolerance and patience of the Greek people toward the government of PASOK expired with the completion of its first 100-days in office", underlining that "ND will continue to engage in responsible and composed opposition".

    "The ND leader pointed out that this is a time of very important developments in all sectors namely, politics, institutions, economy, society, national issues, and called on all the members of the shadow government to stay vigilant for obvious reasons," Panagiotopoulos said.

    The ND spokesman added that Samaras gave specific guidelines on handling issues such as the economy, the tax raid being prepared by the government, the local administration reform, the election law reform and corruption, and outlined the policy framework to be adopted by the shadow "ministers".

    The ND leader also referred extensively to migration issues as well, Panagiotopoulos stated.

    [07] ND on migration policy, local gov't mergers

    "For 10 years until 2004, when PASOK was in office, Greece had no migration policy whatsoever and had become a country without borders for illegal migrants," former Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stated on Tuesday.

    Pavlopoulos responded to comments made by the government spokesman on the local government administrative reform and migration policies followed by the previous government of New Democracy (ND).

    Pavlopoulos stated that after 2004 the government of ND legalised scores of illegal migrants in compliance with responsible EU fora and in full adherence to the EU acquis, adding that it also prepared an updated, democratic, humanitarian and socially fair migration policy instituting, at the same time, an updated naturalisation code.

    "The government's legislative initiative confuses the policy on migration with the naturalisation policy in an attempt to solve the immigration problem by granting Greek citizenship to massive numbers of migrants," Pavlopoulos said.

    Referring to the local administration reform promoted by the current government, Pavlopoulos stated that an administrative reform got underway back in 2007 but it was postponed in view of the economic crisis until better conditions were formed.

    [08] Government rejects ND criticism over migrants' bill

    In a reply to main opposition New Democracy, government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday defending planned legislation for giving migrants Greek nationality and urged ND "to rise to the occasion and behave like a modern, European party".

    He had been asked to comment on the "front" that appeared to be forming between ND and the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party in response to the planned bill.

    "We made a clear pre-election promise to solve this major issue," Petalotis pointed out, adding that the government's ideological approach was necessarily opposed to that of LAOS and could hardly be expected to be otherwise.

    He also clarified that the government measures only concerned legal immigrants and stressed that ND leader Antonis Samaras had no right to speak about a 'Trojan Horse' since it was during his time as foreign minister that Greece's borders with Albania had "essentially be thrown open and hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals had entered Greece without papers, visas or any kind of travel document."

    These same immigrants were later made legal en masse by former interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, without any individual evaluation of whether they had a right to Greek nationality, the spokesman added.

    [09] President Papoulias to address World Energy Future Summit

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will be the main speaker at the World Future Energy Summit that will be held from 18 to 21 January in Abu Dhabi, UAE, following an invitation by the UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nayhan

    Papoulias will also meet with the UAE president and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al Nayhan while in Abu Dhabi. The summit will take place under the auspices of the Crown Prince.

    [10] Tsipras meets with Kyprianou

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday met with the leader of the Cyprus AKEL party Andros Kyprianou and expressed to him his support for and confidence in the President of the Cyprus Republic Demetris Christofias.

    Tsipras was briefed on the latest developments and the outcome of the talks between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Ahmet Ali Talat, stressing once again that "we are at a crucial point". He also stressed that everyone must understand that the biggest danger at the moment is not -- given that the Left is the government in Cyprus -- of being taken by surprise and accepting a solution that will not be in Cyprus' interests. "The danger," he said, "is that in the event that these efforts for a solution fail, we will find ourselves before a de facto partition of the island and acceptance of the Turkish military occupation in northern Cyprus".

    "That is a development that must be averted, and Christofias' and the Cyprus government's efforts focus on preventing this very negative development".

    On his part, Kyprianou stated that Talat's latest proposals "are for us unacceptable and outside the framework of UN Resolutions and the framework agreed by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus". He added that Tsipras' and his views coincide -- and also noted the same in all his recent meetings with officials in Athens -- with respect to the substance of the Cyprus issue and also on the relevant handling.

    [11] Terrorist groups assume responsibility for bomb explosion

    Two terrorist groups assumed responsibility for the makeshift explosive device that went off early Saturday evening in front of the Greek Parliament building.

    In a publication in the "Athens.indymedia.org" website on Tuesday evening, the terrorist groups "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" and "Terrorists guerrila group" said they were responsible for the explosion that caused only minor material damage.

    Financial News

    [12] Greece raises 2.080 billion euros from state bills auction

    The Greek government on Tuesday successfully auctioned its first state bills issue for 2010, raising 2.080 billion euros from the market.

    The 12-month state bills auction attracted bids totaling 2.442 billion euros, 3.5 times more than the asked sum, with the Finance ministry finally raising 1.040 billion euros. The interest rate on the issue, however, jumped to 2.20 pct from 0.91 pct in the previous auction of 12-month bills in October 2009.

    The six-month issue attracted bids totaling 3.894 billion euros, 4.87 times more than the asked sum. The ministry finally raised 1.040 billion from the market while the interest rate jumped to 1.38 pct form 0.59 pct in October.

    [13] IMF team in regular visit to Athens

    A staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is visiting Athens from Tuesday for a period of around a week on the request of the Greek authorities.

    The IMF team will explore possibilities for technical assistance from the Fund in the coming months on pension reform, tax policy, tax administration and budget management.

    The mission is within the context of the regular surveillance that the IMF provides to its membership."

    [14] Nationwide public sector strike on Feb. 10

    The public sector umbrella trade union ADEDY (Supreme Administrative Council of Civil Servants' Trade Unions) on Tuesday called a 24-hour nationwide strike for Wednesday, Feb. 10.

    The strike was called in protest of the government policy in the public sector.

    [15] Primary school teachers to join civil servants' strike

    The primary school teachers' union federation DOE on Tuesday announced that it will take part in a 24-hour strike on February 10 announced by the civil servants' union ADEDY.

    The teacher associations that form its membership will hold general meetings on February 19 to decide on further action by the sector, in response to negative developments such as a freeze or reduction of wages, in social insurance rights and terms of employment. This will be followed by a meeting of their respective presidencies on February 22 to make final decisions on further labour action.

    [16] Industrial import price index up 4.0 pct in Nov

    Greece's import price index in the industrial sector rose 4.0 pct in November after a decline of 0.5 pct recorded in November 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed the 4.0 pct rise in the index to a 0.2 pct increase in import prices from Eurozone countries and a 7.6 pct rise in import prices from countries outside the Eurozone area.

    The import price index rose 0.6 pct in November from October, after a decline of 2.4 pct in the corresponding period in 2008. The average index in the 12-month period from December 2008 to November 2009 fell 2.4 pct, after an increase of 8.0 pct recorded in the previous 12-month period.

    [17] Mutual funds assets total 10.8 bln euros

    Mutual funds' assets rose 1.79 pct so far this year to 10.8 billion euros, official figures showed on Tuesday. A report by the Association of Institutional Investors said that Eurobank EFG Mutual Funds Management was the most active company in the sector with assets under management accounting for 25.07 pct of total market, followed by National Asset Management (17.73 pct), Alpha Asset Management (16.33 pct), Pension Funds Asset Management (9.97 pct), Marfin Global Management (5.75 pct), HSBC (4.89 pct), Alico (3.17 pct), Emporiki Asset Management (3.08 pct).

    The remaining 14 asset management companies in the Greek mutual funds market have market shares of less than 3.0 pct each.

    [18] Building activity dropped 21.5 pct in Oct

    Building activity dropped 21.5 pct in volume in October 2009, compared with the same month in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said building activity fell strongly in western Macedonia (55.8 pct), southern Aegean (47 pct) and in northern Aegean (33.5 pct), while it rose only in western Greece (8.5 pct).

    Building activity, measured in the number of permits issued, fell 17.9 pct in October, compared with October 2008.

    In the 10-month period from January to October, volume fell 28.8 pct, while permits were down by 15.8 pct.

    [19] Winter sales start Friday

    Winter sales in Greece will start on Friday, 15 January and will run through Saturday, 27 February. On Tuesday the Greek Consumers Centre released an announcement with information to consumers and how to protect themselves from fraud. Moreover, it also called on the shopowners to be careful and follow the instructions and directions for the sales period.

    [20] Stocks drop 5.0% on Tues.

    Stocks came under strong selling pressure to end sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index of the market dropped 5.0 pct to end at 2,199.53 points, with turnover an improved 270.52 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index plunged 5.70 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 4.55 pct and the FTSE 80 index dropped 4.32 pct. All sector indices ended significantly lower, with Banks (6.99 pct) and Technology (6.40 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Elfico (19.83 pct), Lanakam (17.07 pct), Newsphone (13.64 pct) and Klonatex (11.11 pct) were top gainers, while Xylemporia (19.75 pct), United Textiles (14.29 pct) and Hatzioannou (10.0 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 183 to 26 with another 24 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -5.03%

    Industrials: -3.74%

    Commercial: -3.57%

    Construction: -2.80%

    Media: -4.98%

    Oil & Gas: -2.12%

    Personal & Household: -4.18%

    Raw Materials: -5.86%

    Travel & Leisure: -4.99%

    Technology: -6.40%

    Telecoms: -4.61%

    Banks: -6.99%

    Food & Beverages: -1.92%

    Health: -5.23%

    Utilities: -0.75%

    Chemicals: -4.56%

    Financial Services: -5.98%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 8.00

    ATEbank: 1.82

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.50

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.91

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.65

    National Bank of Greece: 18.58

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.98

    Intralot: 3.81

    OPAP: 14.49

    OTE: 10.15

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.81

    Titan: 21.50

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.29 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a strong 137.545 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 19,952 contracts, worth 114.371 million euros, with 22,663 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,079 contracts worth 23.174 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,735), followed by Eurobank (1,247), MIG (2,635), PPC (1,434), Piraeus Bank (1,496), Alpha Bank (2,407), Marfin Popular Bank (864) and ATEbank (595).

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened significantly to 234 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.64 pct and the German Bund 3.30 pct.

    Turnover in the market totaled 1.765 billion euros, of which 520 million were buy orders and the remaining 1.245 billion euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, intertest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 0.98 pct, the three-month 0.68 pct and the one-month rate 0.45 pct.

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.459

    Pound sterling 0.904

    Danish kroner 7.5

    Swedish kroner 10.303

    Japanese yen 133.47

    Swiss franc 1.486

    Norwegian kroner 8.248

    Canadian dollar 1.507

    Australian dollar 1.579

    General News

    [24] Zakynthos' police station chief's suicide gun found

    Authorities on the Ionian island of Zakynthos on Tuesday reported finding the missing service revolver belonging to a police station chief on the island that was found dead the previous day with a gunshot wound through the head. The weapon, minus one bullet, was recovered from the bottom of the sea at a depth of 30 metres after a search assisted by the Coastguard using special equipment.

    Investigating officers believe the revolver was used by the deceased to commit suicide.

    The body of 50-year-old Vassilis Patsouris, dressed in civilian clothes, was found at "Porto Banana" beach with a gunshot wound through the head.

    [25] "Lights and Shadows on the Balkans" photography exhibition organised by Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Istanbul

    A photographic exhibition titled "Light and Shadows on the Balkans", organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC), will be running at the Municipal Art Gallery of Beyoglu in Istanbul, in the framework of Beyoglu's program "Year 2010, Intercultural Dialogue about Art".

    This year has been designated by the UN as the "International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures", while Istanbul is the Cultural Capital of Europe for 2010.

    The exhibition was inaugurated on Saturday, with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the guest of honor and also attended by Turkish municipal authorities headed by Beyoglu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan, Greece's ambassador to Turkey Fotis Xidas, Greek Consul General in Istanbul Vassilis Bornovas, and HFC vice-president and President of the Academy of Athens Constantinos Svolopoulos.

    The Gallery is located on the renowned and vibrant pedestrianised Istiklal street in downtown Istanbul. The exhibition aims to promote the Intercultural Dialogue and the peaceful co-existence and co-operation of the peoples in South-East Europe. It was already presented in 2009 in Belgrade, followed by Bucharest. Eight photographers from eight Balkan countries demonstrate with their photographs the particularity of each people, the contemporaneous artistic tendencies, the life and historical development in a region which has been constantly changed.

    The photographers taking part in the exhibition are Bevis Fusha (Albania), Timourtas Onan (Turkey), Nina Nikolova (Bulgaria), Milomir Kovacevic (Bosnia), Stelios Efstathopoulos (Greece), Stanko Abadzic (Croatia), Virgil Mlesnita (Romania), and Imre SzabŁ (Serbia).

    Each photographer presents ten photographs demonstrating the contemporaneous artistic activity and creativity, the life and historical development in a region which has been constantly hanged by events, and vignettes from the everyday life of the people of the Balkans.

    Separately and together, the photographs from the small communities of the region which have lived next to each other for more than a hundred years serve to confirm the particularity of each people, while at the same time they bear witness to the common denominator of origin of this art, as momentarily captured by the lens, which is none other than man, regardless of nationality, religion, language.

    "The Balkan region, with its long past, full of wars, incursions, and uprisings, with the fluidity of its frontiers as a distinguishing characteristic, today lays claim to the right to peace and cooperation, and the prospect of democratic multicultural co-existence" stressed Professor Georgios Babiniotis, President of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture. "The Hellenic Foundation for Culture, always a supporter of co-operation on equal terms and of pluralism, in an effort to contribute to the promotion of intercultural dialogue, peaceful coexistence, and the co-operation of the peoples of South-Eastern Europe, has undertaken the initiative of rallying the photographers of the Balkans, of supporting the Light and Shadows on the Balkans photography exhibition, and of choosing it as the opening event at its Centre in one of the oldest cities in Europe: Belgrade, in Serbia."

    The Ecumenical Patriarch was shown around the exhibition by its curator, Magdalena Michailidou, and also spoke with the photographers, while the importance was stressed of the promotion of dialogue between countries and the development of cultural relations, especially between Greece and Turkey.

    On Sunday, a meeting was held on the theme "Contemporary photography and the co-operation in the Balkans", organized by the Municipality of Beyoglu within the exhibition's framework, with the participation of the photographers presenting their work in the exhibition and other well-known Turkish photographers from Istanbul.

    [26] Greek aid to flood-stricken Albania

    Athens on Tuesday expressed its solidarity towards neighbouring Albania and the Albanian people in the wake of several days of catastrophic flooding in the neighbouring country's north.

    In statements to Albanian television, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said Greece did the self-evident in such situations, namely, to immediately dispatch aid in the form of pharmaceuticals and dry goods to the flood-stricken areas.

    Greece also dispatched fire brigade officers, Droutsas said.

    On Tuesday, the Greek alternate minister received the president of the Omonia political party and Himara Mayor Vassilis Doule.

    [27] Ministry cites personnel shortage for closed museums, sites

    More than 40 museums and archaeological sites around the country will remain closed in the coming period due to a personnel shortage and following the cancellation of a tender for nearly 2,600 contract employees, the culture ministry announced on Tuesday.

    Most of the museums and sites are located in the provinces, although major attractions that will be affected include Athens' Byzantine and Christian Museum -- which will nevertheless re-open next week -- and an entire floor of central Athens' National Archaeological Museum, the country's most influential.

    The Athens Numismatic Museum's (the Schliemann Mansion) second floor will be closed and the entire facility will be closed on Sunday.

    [28] Auction of rare items on Jan. 20

    A fine copy of the Complete Works of Plato, published for the first time in Venice in 1513 by famous printer Aldo Manutio, will be among the items to be auctioned on Wednesday, Jan. 20 by the P. Vergos Auction House in Athens. The specific copy was bound into book in Britain in the 1800s and is in excellent condition.

    Other items to be auctioned are a copy of Physics by Rigas Velestinlis (Vienna 1790), rare manuscripts and letters by Theodoros Kolokotronis, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Georgios Averof, Yiannis Ritsos as well as artistic posters dated back to the early 20th century created by Nikiforos Lytras, Pavlos Mathiopoulos and Nikolaos Lytras and blueprints of Greek 19th century banknotes.

    [29] Armed robbers take 82,000 in hold-up

    Two armed robbers on Tuesday got away with 82,000 euros in a hit near the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki that targeted an employee from a firm of contractors that had just withdrawn that sum from the bank.

    The two men held up the victim at gunpoint, while he was driving his car in the Ionia district near the city, next to the EKO oil refinery plant. The man was heading toward the firm's offices in the area with company money he had just withdrawn.

    The two perpetrators got away using the victim's car.

    Weather Forecast

    [30] Cloudy, rainy on Wednesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 1C and 16C. Cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 14C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 10C.

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

    A major reform and merger plan for local governments, proposed by the central government, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras' categorical opposition to a government's draft law granting citizenship to certain eligible categories of non-EU migrants as well as the economic crisis mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "They (government) say one thing, then take it back - Announcement for hikes in VAT annulled".

    APOGEVMATINI: "MPs agitated over Kallikratis (merger) plan - It totally changes structure of and form of governance".

    AVGHI: "Ruling PASOK opposed to Environment Minister Birbili's agenda".

    AVRIANI: "Samaras launches sound attack against draft law that gives migrants Greek citizenship and right to vote".

    CHORA: "Samaras letter to Interior Minister Yannis Ragoussis: "No to Greek citizenship to all migrants".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Samaras against citizenship to migrants".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos revokes 2,584 preferential hirings".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tax Bureau targets those hiding incomes".

    ESTIA: "Dangerous experiments - Repercussions on economy huge".

    ETHNOS: "Vague announcements on real estate".

    IMERISSIA: "Green tax for buildings".

    KATHIMERINI: "Government in chaos over economy and Kallikratis plan".

    LOGOS: "Government appears determined to proceed with Kallikratis".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Inflation hike and climate in economy worsens".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Escalation of struggle with strike against PASOK, ND, EU and big capital's anti-labour storm".

    TA NEA: "Green test to all buildings'.

    VIMA: "They don't believe us - EU document report on Greece".

    VRADYNI: "Employment Minister Andreas Loverdos confession: No money to pay unemployment benefit".

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