|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-02-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 10 February 2010 Issue No: 3419
 Papandreou: saving the economy the first priorityThe government's efforts to tackle the country's economic problems will move in three main directions, Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Tuesday: reducing the public debt, promoting growth and accelerating legislative and institutional measures.
Speaking after a Cabinet meeting that discussed the draft tax bill and public-sector incomes policy, Papandreou stressed that the government's primary duty was to save the economy and reduce the public debt, striving at all times for fair solutions that protected as much as possible the lower and middle classes.
He also underlined the need to speed up the government's work for encouraging economic growth, stressing the need "for all of us to step on the gas in carrying out developmental measures". Otherwise, Papandreou warned, the cost and repercussions of the crisis would be much greater.
Lastly, he said the government had to pick up the pace of initiatives in terms of institutions, noting that these did not entail a great cost and could provide great relief for ordinary citizens, with better state services and improved living conditions.
Talking about the dire economic situation that made Greece the centre of international discussion, Papandreou said that the current crisis was the result of mistakes and mismanagement in previous years, laying the blame for this on the past New Democracy governments.
The premier also stressed that the crisis did not "come out of nowhere" but was the result of mainly two factors: firstly, the criminal policies of ND that led the country to the edge of the abyss and, secondly, the fact that Greece was the victim of speculative attacks from all-powerful international markets that had been left unchecked, in spite of the great damage they had wrought only a year and a half ago.
On this, Papandreou pointed out to the Cabinet that he will be meeting in Paris on Wednesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has "spoken about the need for other measures to govern markets".
 PM Papandreou visiting ParisPARIS (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)
Prime Minister George Papandreou arrived in Paris on Tuesday evening and will begin his working visit with an interview he will be giving to the French newspaper Le Monde and the magazine Politique Internationale on Wednesday morning.
At 12 noon (local time), Papandreou will be meeting French National Assembly president Bernard Accoyer in Parliament and at 13:00 he will be having a working luncheon witrh French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Presidential Mansion.
At 16:30 the Greek prime minister will be meeting his French counterpart Francois Fillon at the prime minister's mansion.
Papandreou will be leaving for Brussels later on, where he will be participating in the informal EU summit on January 11.
 ND refers to gov't 'insistence' on granting citizenship to migrantsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday reiterated its disagreements with a high-profile government draft law extending citizenship to eligible second generation children of migrants.
ND migration policy secretary Theodoros Soldatos, a former MP, cited conclusions of a recent study (2010) -- conducted by the Athens University philosophy, education and psychology -- showing that approximately 50 percent of young second-generation migrants, responding to a relevant survey, considered themselves Greek, while approximately six in 10 young first-generation migrants said they considered themselves as nationals of their parents' country of origin.
Consequently, the questioned the government's rationale behind granting Greek citizenship at birth, while at the same time rejecting ND's proposal for granting eligible individuals citizenship upon reaching adulthood and assuming they submit a request.
"ND wants immigrants that choose to take root in our country; to assimilate into our society; to feel as Greeks and to become Greek citizens through our education and culture. We do not want them to simply 'get their papers' with summary procedures and prouduce a new 'ghetto' ... We can the assimilation of foreigners in order to combat xenophobia and racism. We do not what 'ghettos' that nourish and produce racism," Soldatos stressed.
He also focused on what he called the government's insistence to grant citizenship under "extremely elastic conditions".
 Samaras chairs meeting of ND Congress organising committeeThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) organising committee for the party's 8th regular Congress convened on Tuesday, chaired by ND leader Antonis Samaras.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, party officer and MP Costas Gioulekas said that ND will back "fair" measures by the government "that are necessary in this difficult period", but warned that it will oppose any unfair, purely revenue-raising measure imposed to cover shortfalls "for something that was lacking from the very first moment, namely a plan on confronting the crisis".
The organising committee's chairman Dimitris Avramopoulos went on to announce radical changes to the main opposition's structure, organisation and strategy that will be decided at the upcoming conference, which he described as a "historic landmark" for ND.
Noting that ND was on the verge of launching a new era, Avramopoulos stressed that the party would once again "become dominant in politics and society and a trustworthy government proposal for the future," and "develop in the broader centre-right and open the door to the modern trends of the time".
 Foreign Ministry sg holds talks with Russian alternate FMMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
Foreign Ministry Secretary General Ioannis-Alexios Zeppos met here on Tuesday with Russian Alternate Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov, according to an announcement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The two officials exchanged views on basic issues of bilateral relations and a series of current international issues, according to the announcement and confirmed "the adherrence to the policy of developing the traditionally friendly Russian-Greek relations in the spirit of mutual understanding and partnership suiting them."
The special importance of regular political contacts between the two countries was also stressed.
 Greek, Turkish coast guard chiefs meet in AthensThe commanders of Greece and Turkey's coast guards met in Athens on Tuesday, with talks reportedly focusing on the now burning issue of illegal migration as well as an exchange of views on "encounters" between each country's patrol vessels around the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean.
Hellenic Coast Guard Commandant Vice-Adm. Athanassios Boussios had a lengthy meeting with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Rear-Adm. Izzet Artunc, after the latter arrived at the Greek service's headquarters in Piraeus.
In welcoming his Turkish counterpart, the Greek coast guard chief underlined that they would discuss issues of day-to-day concern and hopefully the results will be positive.
On his part, Rear-Adm. Artunc underlined that bilateral cooperation will continue and evolve in order to tackle a number of issues.
Responding to a press question on the lack of implementation by Turkey of a 2001 bilateral protocol for the re-admission of illegal migrants and the fact that the port of Izmir is not activated, in accordance with the protocol's provisions, Artunc stated that these "are issues discussed in the dialogue underway between the two countries' foreign ministries."
He added that both countries "are victims" of illegal migrant smuggling rings, and that within this framework "we are trying to find a solution to the problem."
Additionally, the issue of search and rescue missions in the Aegean was reportedly discussed.
Earlier, the Turkish coast guard commandant paid a courtesy visit to Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, whose portfolio includes law enforcement in the country.
The meeting was held in a positive atmosphere, according to reports, and focused on cooperation between the two countries' coast guards, both on the operational level and in terms of information exchange aimed at combating illegal migration and organised crime.
Chryssohoidis stated afterwards that "we ought to cooperate to become more effective and further reinforce stabilisation in the region, allowing our peoples to feel better."
 Farmers representatives hold meeting with agriculture ministry officialsThe fourth and last meeting between the representatives of farmers from various roadblocks along the national motorway with the leadership of the Agricultural Development and Food ministry ended with no conclusive result on Tuesday.
A representative from the Nikea roadblock said that the minister moved along "the same antipopular and antifarmer policy and refused to satisfy the farming world's nine demands" and called on farmers to continue their struggle with decisions that will be taken at the roadblocks.
It was revealed that assemblies will be held at roadblocks in Thessaly on Wednesday morning with a proposal on lifting blockades.
 Promachonas closed for trucksSerres prefecture farmers on Tuesday remained at their roadblocks on the road access to the Promachonas border post preventing trucks from passing through the border into Bulgaria. The Ormenio checkpoint at Evros prefecture is open, but farmers are keeping 110 tractors lined up on both sides of the road without however disrupting traffic.
Doirani border station in Kilkis prefecture was open throughout the night.
Thessaly farmers continue to keep closed the Nikaia and Microthebes intersection on the Athens-Thessaloniki highway.
 Cyprus's DI.SY president Anastasiades addresses the Cypriot associationCyprus' Democratic Rally Party (DI.SY) president Nicos Anastasiades, on a visit to Athens, referred on Tuesday to the catastrophic consequences of the likelihood of no solution to the Cyprus issue.
Addressing the Association of Cypriots in Greece, he underlined that he wants an acceptable solution within the framework of "all that have been agreed from time to time", adding that its key-points are "well known". He clarified that he referred to the agreements of 1977, 1979, and 2006, a number of UN resolutions and the National Council's unanimous decisions
 Intel service's new director briefs Parliament com'tThe new director of Greece's National Intelligence Service (EYP), Amb. Konstantinos Bikas, on Tuesday briefed members of a standing Parliament committee on institutions and transparency on the agency's plans and priorities, while he also outlined its operation and direction.
On his part, Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis reaffirmed that EYP will be open to Parliamentary and independent watchdog authorities' control and will cooperate with the authority for communication security and privacy.
 Journalist Telloglou testifies before Parliament com't on Siemens kickback caseA prominent local investigative reporter on Tuesday referred to direct kickbacks by German multinational Siemens to both major political parties in Greece as well as what he called significant delays in the local judicial investigation.
The statements were made before a recently established Parliamentary committee of inquiry probing the Siemens kickbacks and bribery case by Athens-based journalist Tassos Telloglou.
The "Kathimerini" daily reporter presented a legal brief by the German lawyer representing ex-chief executive Siemens Hellas Mihalis Christoforakos, which he said includes "warnings" over his (Christoforakos) imminent arrest -- a fact that resulted to the latter's fleeing to Germany, according to Telloglou. The same document was submitted to the German Constitutional Court last August within the framework of Christoforakos' defence to avoid extradition to Greece.
Telloglou told the committee that "such warnings could only have come from the government."
He also testified that Siemens began funneling kickbacks in Greece in 1998 at the latest and continued to do so definitely until October 2004, adding that large sums were paid directly to recipients.
According to Telloglou, bribery of former PASOK minister Tassos Mantelis has been documented, while he also claimed that the latter received 200,000 DM in 1998 through bank accounts that belonged to members of his family. Telloglou also opined that former top PASOK cadre and one-time prime ministerial adviser Theodoros Tsoukatos received one million DM in 2000, allegedly on behalf of PASOK.
Telloglou, who has authored a book on the affair, expressed doubts on whether there will be more revelations concerning specific individuals, saying characteristically that a total of 145 million DM were paid in briberies and the only ones that have surfaced were the payments made to Mantelis and Tsoukatos.
Huge payments were made to both major political parties during the 2000 election campaign, Telloglou testified, underlining that the evidence that can be revealed is limited and therefore the only thing that the state can do is to proceed with institutional reforms that will facilitate the investigation of similar cases in the future and change the law on ministers' accountability, which he said essentially leads to impunity.
 Gov't unveils tight incomes policy for 2010The government on Tuesday unveiled its closely-watched incomes policy for 2010, which features a freeze in public sector wages, a cut in pay benefits and, in a more symbolic move, a freeze in compensation paid to the premier, cabinet ministers and ministry officials, as well as a 10-pct cut in extra compensations.
The incomes policy also set a ceiling on wages for the heads of independent authority agencies, chairpersons and CEOs of non-listed public sector enterprises, cuts of up to 50 pct in state-appointed board members' pay and a freeze in bonus payments in public sector enterprises.
Under the plan, public sector pensioners will receive a 1.5-pct pension increase for pensions of up to 2,000 euros.
Moreover, the government also announced a freeze in all public sector hirings for the year, with a partial exception in the health, education and law enforcement sectors, while it reiterated a pledge to hire one employee for every five employees retiring in the public sector from 2011 onwards.
The plan also calls for the establishment of a wages commission to monitor the creation of a single payroll system in Greece's cavernous public sector.
 Finance minister unveils new tax ratesAll tax-payers will have a tax-free allowance of 12,000 euros annually under the new income tax scale unveiled on Tuesday by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.
For annual incomes above this there is a rising tax scale, starting at 18 percent for annual incomes between 12,001 and 16,000 euros and rising to a maximum rate of 40 percent for those declaring incomes above 60,000 euros a year.
There are five intervening taxation rates between these two extremes, with taxes set at 24 percent for the 16,001-22,000 euros income bracket, 26 percent for the 22,001-26,000 euros income bracket, 32 percent for 26,001-32,000 euros income bracket, 36 percent for the 32,001-40,000 euros income bracket and 38 percent for the 40,001-60,000 euros income bracket.
Papaconstantinou also announced the abolition of all independently taxed sources of income and tax exemptions, or cases where income was taxed at a special rate. The measures will not apply to 'vulnerable' social groups but always in conjunction with income criteria, he said.
The minister has also announced an annual property tax for large real estate holdings, equal to 0.1 percent of properties valued between 400,001 euros-500,000 euros and rising gradually to reach 1 percent for properties valued above 800,000 euros.
Also to be taxed are the real estate holdings of the Church of Greece, at the same rate as other public benefit organisations of the broader public sector.
 ND officials on tax bill, economic measuresMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party alternate Political Responsibility of the Economy sector chief and Thessaloniki deputy Theodoros Karaoglou, referring on Tuesday to the government's tax measures announced earlier in the day, said they were a "revocation" of its commitments before the elections.
He further said that apart from the imperative chase of tax evaders a particularly increased tax burden results for small and medium-size enterprises, small and medium-size households and the financially weak, most of whom will have difficulty in collecting the necessary receipts to consolidate the tax-free level anticipated. He also said that ND, being aware of the seriousness of developments regarding the Greek economy, will wait for the specialisation of government proposals in sectors to state its case analytically, placing above all the interest of the country, the interest of Greek citizens.
In another development, ND alternate Political Responsibility for the Economy sector chief, deputy Christos Staikouras, claimed that the government's decisions would lead to a considerable decrease in working people's income.
Staikouras said that the addition of the bills on the social security issue, the tax issue, the taxing of fuel and the incomes policy creates an explosive mixture that will dry up the market and will lead to a great loss of income, particularly of the middle class and of weaker social groups.
 Gov't unveils major pension system reform planThe government on Tuesday unveiled a package of changes to the country's pension system aimed at ensuring the system's viability in the coming decades.
In presenting the measures, Labour & Social Insurances Minister Andreas Loverdos said the plan focuses on four major changes: ending voluntary and early retirement schemes with an aim to raise the average retirement age by two years, i.e. to 63 by 2015; permanently separating pension and healthcare systems; establishing an agency to manage pension funds' reserves and assets, as well as changing the method of calculating monthly pension payments.
The minister said the government was tabling an integrated plan to deal with all the problems plaguing Greece's creaky social insurance system, while he noted that an experts' commission will present recommendations to the government by mid-March.
Loverdos said the government was seeking a "radical and complete restructuring" of the pension system with the creation of a fully viable, restructured, transparent and socially just system, with higher income groups asked to contribute to its smooth operation.
The government has already instructed agencies for stepped up inspections to reduce overspending, social contribution evasion and informal employment.
Loverdos also said pension funds' reserves now total 29.55 billion euros. Additionally, he said the government aims to further integrate social insurance agencies into three groups, while healthcare services will be gradually included in the country's National Health System.
Finally, retirement ages for men and women employed in the public sector will be gradually equalised by 2013, fulfiling a standing EU demand.
 Labour confederation leader on social security issueGeneral Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Yiannis Panagopoulos said on Tuesday that the government's proposals on the social security issue "include great vagueness and omissions, such as on the funding of the basic pension and how this will be achieved," adding that they also include issues that are prohibitive for it and that it will not discuss such as the increase in age limits.
"When the government will undertake the final legislative initiative we then will not discuss but will negotiate and if necessary we shall wage a struggle to achieve solutions that will be compatible with the need for a fair, viable and at the same time socially effective social security system," he pointed out.
 Almunia on Greek economySTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, addressing the European Parliament Plenum during the discussion on handling the economic crisis and referring to the informal Council session in Brussels on Thursday, said "I would like European leaders to tell the Greek authorities that in exchange for their efforts they would able to rely on our support."
He added that "this support will not be free" and that "it is a clear support in exchange, however, for a clear commitment. The Greek government must meet its responsibilities."
At the same time, Almunia acknowledged the Greek government's efforts and termed the recovery programme that it is proposing "ambitious."
Almunia further said that "on January 15 this ambitious programme began to remedy the situation and to have a decrease in Greece's debt by 4 GDP units this year. It is a very ambitious programme because it is necessary that considerable moves are made with specific measures in 2010."
 Legislation to raise consumption tax for fuel tabled in ParliamentLegislation increasing the special consumption tax on petrol and diesel was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday and will be in force from the same day. Calculating the higher tax and the accompanying increase in VAT, the total increase in the price of petrol comes to 14.3 cents per litre and 6 cent per litre for diesel.
 Train workers strike on Wednesday to cut servicesCommuters using Greek Railways trains should steel themselves for a difficult day on Wednesday, due to strikes announced by the rail workers' union in reaction to government plans to freeze wages and raise retirement ages.
The rail company TRAINOSE announced that several services have been cancelled on Tuesday, including the IC 75 from Thessaloniki to Athens and the IC74 from Thessaloniki to Dikaia, the 604 on the Athens-Thessaloniki line, the 2530 Athens-Halkida line, and the 757 Edessa/Kozani/Florina-Thessaloniki line.
All passenger and goods trains on Wednesday are cancelled, with the exception of international services and the following:
- 1597/1598, 1596/1599, 2596/2599, 2597/2598, Thessaloniki-Larisa.
- 738, 739/740, 751/752, 753 Thessaloniki - Edessa-Florina.
- 1580/1581, 2572/2573 Larisa-Volos
- 1530, 1540, 1541, 1543, 1545, 1552, 1554, 1557, 1559 Athens-Halkida
- 20, 23 Kalamata-Patras
- 1383, 3385, 3384, 3388 Pyrgos-Katakolo
- 1386 , 3387 Katakolo-Olympia
- 1332, 1333 Diakopto-Kalavryta
- 7487/7488, 7489/7490, 7491/7492, 7493/7494, 8481/8482, 8483/8484, 8485/8486, 8487/8488 Kalamata-Messini
- 1522 και 1523 Athens-Lamia
The Proastiakos suburban railway will run six Piraeus-Kiato services on Wednesday at 9:44, 10:44, 11:44, 17:44, 18:44 and 19:44; there will also be six Kiato-Piraeus services at 9:36, 10:36, 11:36, 17:36, 18:36 και στις 19:36. There will also be reduced Proastiakos services between Liosia Station and the Airport.
Finally, the Thursday Thessaloniki-Dikaia service will depart at 02:41 and the route 75 from Thessaloniki to Athens will depart at 1:41 on Thursday, while routes 730 (Edessa-Thessaloniki) and 1531 (Halkida-Athens) have been cancelled.
The strike will also affect Athens metro services to the airport.
 Inflation slows to 2.4pct in JanuaryInflation in Greece slowed to 2.4 percent in January from 2.6 percent in December 2009, but remained above a 1.8 pct reading in January 2009, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the consumer price index fell 0.7 pct in January from December, after a decline of 0.5 pct in the corresponding period last year.
The statistics service attributed the 2.4 pct rise in the consumer price index to a 6.3 pct rise in alcohol/tobacco prices, a 4.6 pct increase in housing prices, a 0.7 pct increase in durable goods and services, a 3.3 pct rise in health prices, a 9.0 pct increase in transportation prices, an 1.3 pct rise in communications, a 3.0 pct rise in education prices and a 3.4 pct increase in other goods and services. On the other hand, the food and beverage price index fell 1.9 pct in January
 Exports down 17 pct in 2009Greek exports dropped 17 percent in the 12-month period from January to December 2009, compared with the previous year, according to figures released by the National Statistical Service (ESYE) on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report on the country's merchandise trade, said imports fell 29.3 pct in the January-December period 2009, compared with the corresponding period in 2008.
 Industrial production drops 7.6pct in DecemberGreece's industrial production composite index dropped 7.6 pct in December 2009, compared with the same month in 2008, after a decline of 8.3 pct recorded in the corresponding period in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service said the industrial production index fell 9.4 pct on average in 2009, after a decline of 4.0 pct in 2008.
The statistics service attributed the 7.6 pct fall in the industrial production index to an 8.2 pct fall in mining production, a 7.8 pct decline in manufacturing production, a 7.6 pct fall in electricity production and a 3.9 pct decline in water production.
 Building activity declinesBuilding activityΤέλοςφόρμαςΑρχήφόρμας fell by 28.1 percent in volume in the January-November period last year, compared with the corresponding period in 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Tuesday.
The statistics service said northern Aegean (43 pct), central Macedonia (38.4 pct) and western Macedonia (37.9 pct) recorded the largest percentage declines in volume.
The number of building permits issued in the 11-month period also fell by 15.3 pct, while building activity dropped 20.1 pct in November (volume in private sector activity).
Building activity rose only in western Greece (3.6 pct) and Epirus (175.9 pct).
 Stocks surge 4.96%Stocks recovered spectacularly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reflecting strong gains in bank shares after a four-day sharp decline of prices.
Analysts said the Greek market discounted positive developments in the country's fiscal problems during an EU Summit in Brussels, while a spectacular decline in the Greek bond spread also helped sentiment. The composite index of the market jumped 4.96 pct to end at 1,895.96 points, with turnover a strong 298.407 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index jumped 5.93 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.89 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 2.35 pct. The Food sectors (0.79 pct) was the only one to suffer losses, while Banks (8.64 pct) and Health (5.88 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Elfico (19.23 pct), Aspis Bank (19.12 pct), Texapret (15.38 pct) and Alpha Bank (14.93 pct) were top gainers, while Klonatex (12.5 pct), Crown Hellas (9.72 pct) and Elbisco (9.26 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 147 to 53 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.51%
Personal & Household: +4.13%
Raw Materials: +5.31%
Travel & Leisure: +3.26%
Food & Beverages: -0.79%
Financial Services: +3.44%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.85
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.55
HBC Coca Cola: 16.06
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.26
National Bank of Greece: 13.80
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.60
Bank of Piraeus: 5.86
 Bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank spectacularly to 324 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 367 bps on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.40 pct and the German Bund 3.16 pct. Turnover in the market totaled around 1.0 billion euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.96 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and one-month rate 0.42 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.387
Pound sterling 0.887
Danish kroner 7.504
Swedish kroner 10.202
Japanese yen 124.39
Swiss franc 1.478
Norwegian kroner 8.217
Canadian dollar 1.479
Australian dollar 1.585
 Culture minister announces plan to 'showcase' Plato's AcademyCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Tuesday announced plans to continue and complete the archaeological unification project in central Athens. He made the announcement while briefing Parliament's Environmental Protection committee regarding policy for the historic centre of the city.
Geroulanos said that the ministry planned to carry out small-scale expropriations that would showcase sections of the neighbourhood around Plato's Academy, especially around the archaeological park and leading to the city centre, in order to create 'green spaces with symbolic worth and meaning'.
He said that the area would be used to build the Athens Museum, in which would be housed some 130,000 archaeological finds and to 'highlight' the historic role of Plato's Academy as the world's first university.
 Athens Mayor on Alexandria visitALEXANDRIA, Egypt (ANA-MPA/N.Katsikas)
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis held here on Monday a meeting with Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II.
Mayor Kaklamanis heads a delegation comprising Deputy Mayor for International Relations Sophie Mytilineou-Daskalaki, Deputy Mayor for Town Planning Nikos Avramidis and Athens City Councillors Rigas Axelos and Zoi Valasi, which is undertaking an official visit to Alexandria following an invitation by the city's Governor, Gen. Adel Labib.
The delegation is in Alexandra in order to attend a ceremony to be held on Wednesday, in which Sharm El Sheikh Street will be renamed Constantine P Cavafy Street.
During Tuesday's meeting, the Patriarch briefed Kaklamanis on the social and philanthropic work carried out by the Patriarchate of Alexandria and his upcoming tour of the African continent.
For his part, Mayor Kaklamanis expressed his willingness to support Patriarch Theodoros' philanthropic work and offered assistance on behalf of the City of Athens in the form of clothing and non-perishable food for Aswan flood victims.
Mayor Kaklamanis and the municipal delegation were then taken on a tour of the Patriarchate museum, which is under construction, and library.
 Greek humanitarian aid arrives in HaitiThe Greek humanitarian mission arrived in the capital of Haiti on Monday morning for the victims of the disastrous earthquake.
The mission set out from Athens on Sunday night with 50 tons of pharmaceutical materials and food and included members of Non-Governmental Organisations who arrived in Port-au-Prince to assist the work of Greek groups already there.
The mission is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis who met at the capital's airport with representatives of Greek NGOs that are active in the country and was briefed on the situation.
 Kostas Axelos to be buried in Paris on Thurs.PARIS (ANA-MPA)
Noted Greek philosopher Kostas Axelos' burial will be held at the Montparnasse Cemetery on Thursday afternoon.
Professors of philosophy Jean Lauxerois and Claude Roels are scheduled to speak on Axelos' personality and work, whereas his companion for the past 30 years, journalist and former Greek Eurodeputy Katerina Daskalaki, is coordinating the events surrounding the philosopher's burial.
Axelos died on February 4 in Paris at the age of 85.
He was born in Athens in 1924 and attended high school at the French Institute and the German School of Athens, before later enrolling in the Athens Law School to study law and economics.
During WWII he joined the Greek resistance against the German and Italian occupation, and later took part in the Greek civil war.
Axelos was inspired by the writings of Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Empedocles, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Dostoyevsky, as well as the poets Rimbaud, Rilke and Holderlin.
 MEDSOS seeks probe into reports of toxic waste dumping at seaThe environmental group Mediterranean SOS Network has demanded an immediate investigation into reports that toxic and radioactive wastes may have been deliberately dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, including the seas around Greece, in letters sent to government ministers on Tuesday.
The non-governmental organisation has written to Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili and Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis. It cites reports of deliberate dumping of dangerous wastes made by environmental groups in other countries and stresses the great threat to public health and marine biodiversity that this poses.
MEDSOS says evidence of such a trade in toxics dumped on the seabed has been reported by the Italian environmental group Legambiente as early as 1990, stressing the need for bilateral cooperation between the Italian and Greek governments to tackle the problem and calling for the intervention of the ministries and judicial authorities of both countries.
The environmental groups estimate that there are more than 637 'poisonous' ships currently sunk and hidden in the Mediterranean, some of them in the Ionian Sea off Greece's western coast.
It urges the Greek government to immediately request evidence from Italian authorities regarding the 'suspect' shipwrecks and then set up a committee of experts to assess this evidence in collaboration with Italy.
The letter sent to the four ministries is also signed by WWF Hellas, the Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory at the Institute of Nuclear Technology-Radiation Protection of the National Centre for Scientific Research 'Demokritos', the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, the Laboratory for Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography at Patras University, the Athens University Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) Maritime Transport Laboratory and School of Shipbuilding and Mechanical Engineering.
 Rare Pinus peuce white pine forests in Voras, Rodopi mountain rangesThe Voras and Rodopi mountain ranges have every reason to pride themselves on their magnificant fauna and flora, including forests of the rare Balkans-endemic five-needle white pine tree Pinus Peuce (Molika Pine), two of the just 17 such forests in the entire Balkans.
The molika pine is an autochthonous taxa of five-needle pine originating from the Tertiary Period, and Mt. Voras, the third highest mountain in Greece, has relics of an ancient Pinus peuce forest dating back to the Ice Age, while another remarkable feature are several expanses of aged chestnut woods and abandoned cherry, apple and cereal cultivations that form a beautiful landscape and important wildlife habitat.
The Pinus peuce forest expanses are of great ecological, historic and aesthetic value, and comprise one of the most important forest systems in Europe, and have been declared protected nature monuments.
The Pinus peuce pine differs from all other pine taxa in that it is the only taxa to have five-needle leaves, compared with the two-needle leaves of all other pines, and is strictly protected under Greek legislation.
The two forests are home to important and endangered species of wild goat, deer, bear and boar, and dozens of rare bird species.
All activity, except scientific study, is prohibited in the two forests.
 Greek watchdog cites 149% rise in reports of illegal Internet sitesThe Greek Internet watchdogs 'Safer Internet Centre' and the Greek phone line 'Safeline' on Tuesday published figures showing a 149 percent increase in reports of offences involving Internet sites during the year 2009.
Specifically, reports of illegal content or activities in 2009 came to 1,778 compared with just 715 in 2008.
Of the sites verified as illegal, 29 percent concerned financial fraud through Internet purchases, 20 percent concerned violations of personal data privacy, 15 percent child pornography and 16 percent concerned phishing e-mails.
Also reported but with lower frequency were violations of copyright, racism, abuse, communications privacy violation and intimidation.
A number of reports concerned offences conducted by social network systems such as Facebook, Hi5, Youtube and Myspace, with Facebook accounting for 85 percent of such reports. Most offences related to violation of personal data and communications privacy, abuse and libel and a small number of cases encouraged suicide or racism.
 Microsoft event on safe net surfing tips for pupilsUseful tips on how to stay safe online were given to roughly 300 schoolchildren who attended a special event hosted by Microsoft Hellas in Athens on Tuesday, on the occasion of the Safer Internet Day.
The young pupils expressed a special interest in interactive online games in which they were called to participate to become more aware of the net's "traps" and more familiar with the simple steps that they should take to enjoy safely the benefits of cyberspace.
Microsoft has undertaken a number of similar initiatives on European level with the participation of 25 company branches across Europe. A total of 650 company officials will address information programmes directed to roughly 50,000 schoolchildren, parents and teachers and offer their knowledge on safe internet navigation.
 Police arrest burglars, robbersPolice have arrested four Romanian nationals, three men and a woman, in the town of Filiatra in the Peloponnese after a search at their home led to the discovery and confiscation of at least 147 items of various kinds such as chain saws, clothing, household utensils and drinks, all of which were the result of thefts in various regions of western Messinia. Some of the confiscated items were returned to their owners.
In another development, police in Pylos in the Peloponnese arrested two foreign nationals, a Bulgarian and an Albanian, on Monday for using physical force and the threat of a knife to take 120 euros and a mobile phone from a 78-year old pensioner touring the archaeological site of Kastro in Methoni.
 Event dedicated to Howard Zinn on Thurs.An event dedicated to recently deceased American historian, playwright and intellectual Howard Zinn will include a screening of the film "The People Speak" on Thursday at the Athens law school's amphitheatre.
The film, based on Zinn's influential "A People's History of the United States", will be shown for the first time in Greece with Greek subtitles
The event is organised by the Athens weekly "Epochi".
 Smuggler of illegal migrants arrested in KilkisA 27-year-old foreign national was arrested following a police chase in the northern city of Kilkis on Tuesday, accused of human trafficking.
The suspect was in an apartment with another four fellow foreign nationals, all illegal migrants, when a police raid took place. He tried to escape arrest but was chased and captured.
The 27-year-old had helped the four enter Greece illegally and told police that their destination was another European country.
 Cloudy, rainy on WednesdayCloudy and rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 5-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 17C. Cloudy and rainy in Athens, with southerly 6-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 7C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's draft bill on migrants and Mayor of Athens Nikitas Kaklamanis' statement that the centre of Athens resembles a 'jungle', the changes in taxation and social security, the economy and planned labor mobilisations, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Kaklamanis reveals: Downtown Athens a 'jungle'."
APOGEVMATINI: "Turmoil in ruling PASOK over government's stability measures".
AVGHI: "Progressive front on the migration issue".
AVRIANI: "Public sector 'guilds' are paralysing the economy and dismantling the country - Barrage of strikes over the... (cutbacks on) benefits, as the country is just a step before bankruptcy".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New wave of resignations in the Armed Forces".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Double blow against the middle class".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Social security measures to be announced on Tuesday".
ESTIA: "Chaotic taxation system - Government making it even more complex".
ETHNOS: "Triple shock on salaries, taxes and pensions - Government opens up all fronts simultaneously".
IMERISSIA: "Burning measures on three fronts - Government's decisions on pensions, taxes and salaries".
KATHIMERINI: "The 72 crucial hours for the economy - Stocks plunged 3.86 percent on Monday".
LOGOS: "Drastic cutbacks in early retirements, and reversals in 35-year working minimum for pension eligibility - Government announces nine changes in social security".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Government's decisions on salaries, taxation and pensions - Maximos mansion (government headquarters) gives the green light for the changes".
NIKI: "Five moves to save the country from bankruptcy".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strike on Wednesday against the plutocracy".
TA NEA: "Freeze on pensions over 1,500 - Dramatic meetings on the austerity measures".
TO VIMA: "No one will be eligible for pension before the age of 60!"
VRADYNI: "Households are going bankrupt".
 EDEK Ministers submit letters of resignationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The two Socialist Ministers, members of the Council of Ministers, submitted Tuesday their letters of resignation to President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.
Their resignation came one day after Cyprus' Socialists Party, EDEK Social Democrats Movement, decided by majority vote to withdraw from the government coalition.
Minister of Communication and Works Nikos Nikolaides and Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Michalis Polynikis thanked President Christofias for the "excellent cooperation at the Cabinet".
The two ministers stated that President Christofias has asked them to remain in their posts, until their replacement takes over, probably next week.
EDEK's decision was taken Monday evening by the party Central Committee, with 115 votes in favor, eight against and three abstentions.
In his speech, EDEK President Yiannakis Omirou talked about his party's ''total disagreement'' with President Christofias' strategy on the Cyprus problem.
 President regrets but not surprised by EDEK decisionCyprus President Demetris Christofias has expressed regret over a decision by the Social Democrats Movement EDEK to withdraw from government, saying that he was not surprised.
The president also said that such moves make the pain-staking effort towards a political settlement in Cyprus even more difficult, adding that unfortunately "we are not as close to a solution" as some, at home and abroad, would like to think.
In a statement read out to the press, President Christofias said EDEK had from the very beginning, when he assumed the presidency in March 2008, been acting as if it belonged to the opposition, despite the fact that it participated in the government, with regard both to the Cyprus problem and domestic issues.
He said he would respect EDEK's decision, but noted that this was a hasty move, adding that it would have been more appropriate if EDEK
President Yiannakis Omirou were to have decided on the matter after a meeting of the leaders of the governmental coalition parties. The meeting was scheduled to take place on February 1st but was postponed due to the arrival in Cyprus of the UN Secretary General.
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