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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-02-11

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

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

Thursday, 11 February 2010 Issue No: 3420

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: Crisis measures implemented 'to the letter'
  • [02] PM Papandreou holds telephone conversations with EU officials
  • [03] ND spokesman on economic measures
  • [04] Gov't, ND clash over bill granting vote to migrants in local polls
  • [05] Parliamentary com't report outlines problems plaguing ethnic Greek communities in Turkey
  • [06] President asks not to be excluded from fiscal cutbacks
  • [07] Public sector strike on Wednesday
  • [08] Civil servants union to join Feb. 24 strike
  • [09] Nationwide taxi strike on Thursday
  • [10] ACCI President Michalos warns against the tight revenue policy announced
  • [11] Farmers to decide on their further stance - Promachonas closed
  • [12] Farmers suspending mobilisations in central Greece
  • [13] Fuel price rise from adjustment in Special Consumer Tax enter into effect at petrol stations
  • [14] Hellenic Postbank cites conditions for Aspis Bank equity deal
  • [15] Larissa prefecture in Tourism Exhibition in Czech Republic
  • [16] Deficit shrinks 39% in Jan.
  • [17] Stocks jump 2.37% on Wed.
  • [18] Greek bond market closing report
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [21] Sections of Long Walls of Athens discovered during train line upgrade works in Faliro, Moschato
  • [22] Greek mission returns from Haiti
  • [23] Acheloos River diversion works temporarily suspended
  • [24] Convicts escape from police lock-up facility
  • [25] Heroin busts
  • [26] Arrests for pay TV fraud
  • [27] Cloudy, rainy on Thursday
  • [28] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [29] EP calls on Turkey to withdraw troops from Cyprus
  • [30] Bryant: no security in Cyprus with Turkish troops
  • [31] UNSG Spokesman: We focus on continuation of Cyprus talks Politics

  • [01] PM: Crisis measures implemented 'to the letter'

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou reiterated here, moments after his official meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that the Greek government will unwaveringly implement the EU-mandated Stability Programme "to the letter".

    Papandreou arrived in the French capital for talks with French leadership, as he was received by Sarkozy at the Palais d' Elysee.

    In speaking to reporters, Papandreou said the target for 2010, namely, a reduction in the budget deficit by four percentage points (from the current 12.7 percent) remains unchanged.

    Besides the pressing deficit and credit crisis plaguing Greece, Papandreou said issues dealing with the Balkans, the Cyprus problem, climate change and even Europe's position on the international stage were discussed.

    The Greek premier and foreign minister met in the afternoon with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the president of the French National Assembly Bernard Accoyer.

    "We had an excellent meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, where the deep relations of friendship and cooperation between Greece and France were confirmed," Papandreou stressed.

    [02] PM Papandreou holds telephone conversations with EU officials

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, in light of Thursday's European Union summit, held telephone conversations on Wednesday evening with EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy, EU Foreign Minister Baroness Catherine Ashton, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso,, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    The prime minister, who left Paris on Wednesday afternoon where he held a working visit in view of the Brussels EU Summint on Thursday and was due to attend a dinner of the European Socialist Party on Wednesday night and will be having contacts with prime ministers of Portugal, Spain and Great Britain.

    [03] ND spokesman on economic measures

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos on Wednesday warned that the high-profile tax hikes measures announced by the government a day earlier will "dry up" the market and inflict a severe blow to low-income earners and low-pension recipients.

    "ND calls on the government to adopt specific measures and implement regulations in support of the real income of low-salary earners and pension recipients."

    He stated that there is immediate need for developmental measures "as demanded by the ND leader, to support the economic activities of SMEs and prevent skyrocketing unemployment."

    [04] Gov't, ND clash over bill granting vote to migrants in local polls

    Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on Wednesday reassured members of a Parliamentary committee that there is "no question" of local election results being distorted as a result of the participation of legal immigrants.

    According to the minister, "there is no reason for concern", since immigrants, as well as the expatriates, who will receive the right to participate in such elections total approximately 266,000 people who, scattered throughout the country, do not add up to percentages exceeding 1.5 percent in the corresponding regions.

    The minister also accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of "condemning the bill for purely political reasons," and of not responding to the changes inserted by the government.

    On his part, ND deputy Thanassis Nakos charged that provisions in the draft bill will merely open the "floodgates" of illegal immigration into the country, while repeating that the government simply wants to press forth with the bill in order to try and gain politically from the votes of would-be migrant voters.

    "The most obvious proof of the government's intentions is the provision by which immigrants' participation in municipal elections will be considered as documentation towards the granting of Greek citizenship," he charged.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) deputy Athanassios Plevris referred to a massive "wave of naturalisations" if the bill is passed, while underlining his party's standing demand for a referendum on both the right of migrants to vote in local elections and the government's intention to speed up the process for granting Greek citizenship.

    Both parties on the left, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) expressed positive views of the draft bill.

    [05] Parliamentary com't report outlines problems plaguing ethnic Greek communities in Turkey

    The unreserved and continuous support to the remaining ethnic Greeks of Turkey was declared on Wednesday by members of Parliament's standing committee on Greeks abroad.

    The committee stressed that its intention is to establish cooperation on a regular basis with representative organisations of ethnic Greeks originally hailing from Istanbul and the northeast Aegean islands of Imvros (Gokceada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada), and furthermore, to undertake specific initiatives to set into motion necessary interventions both in Parliament and before responsible state bodies.

    The statement is included in the report with the conclusions as regards issues that concern Hellenism in Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos, made public on Wednesday. The report also constitutes a detailed response by the committee to the problems outlined in a Jan. 20, 2010 session by representatives of relevant organisations representing ethnic Greeks in Turkey.

    The representatives of ethnic Greek organisations had presented to the parliamentary committee a historical framework that led, as they charged, to the expatriation of the majority of ethnic Greeks from the neighbouring country; the result of a "systematic policy" of persecution and discriminations implemented by the Turkish governments since 1923, in violation of the Treaty of Lausanne, as they said.

    Among others, non-recognition of the title and legal entity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; the banning of the operation of the Theological School in Halki since 1971; limitations concerning the presence of Christian Orthodox clergy in Turkey (as opposed to other faiths, despite recent positive steps) as well as the non-payment of compensation for property of minority institutions appropriated by the Turkish state and transferred to third parties were cited as "crucial and serious" problems.

    Another problem cited by the representatives is the failure to pay restitution for ownership rights to the hundreds of confiscated properties that belonged to minority foundations, declared as "occupied" (mazbut) by the state and placed under the management of Turkey's General Directorate of Vakufs. Mainly Orthodox Monasteries are included in this category, the legal entity of which is not recognised by the Turkish, as well as churches and community buildings.

    Other problems mentioned include an extensive plan for the confiscation of private properties by the state; unfair and not transparent procedures in drawing up the cadastral map of Imvros, which has led to appeals before the European Court of Human Rights; violation of the inheritance rights of expatriated ethnic Greeks who have become Greek citizens; the non-recognition of the rights of minorities over their communal cemeteries; obstacles to the community organisation of the minority and problems in the education of ethnic Greeks.

    The education problems include: the abolition of the Greek education on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos since 1964 and the confiscation of school buildings; limitations in the registration of Greek students to Greek schools in Istanbul; exclusion of the children with parents of Greek nationality who live and work in Istanbul; lack of minority educators and no subsidies for minority schools by the Turkish state, among others.

    The Greek parliamentary committee report concludes that the respect of fundamental human rights makes it imperative that all necessary measures will be taken to lift past injustices and lead to the restitution of the Greek communities in Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos as dictated by the recent reports drawn up by the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the European Parliament.

    The report added that the increasingly "noticeable presence" of the civil movement in Turkey in support of minority rights and the continuous information of the public is undoubtedly an important development though not adequate, in itself.

    More substantive steps of progress are necessary mostly on institutional level to treat the members of the ethnic Greek minority equally with the rest of the country's citizens and have the issue disengaged from the framework of "reciprocity".

    The role and contribution of the European Union toward this direction can and should be decisive. The same is in effect for the Council of Europe, the parliamentary assembly (PACE) in particular, in view of the 2008 resolution on Imvros and Tenedos and the imminent resolution on the minorities of Greece and Turkey.

    [06] President asks not to be excluded from fiscal cutbacks

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday contacted the finance ministry and asked that the Presidency of the Republic not be excluded from the fiscal cutbacks announced by the government.

    Financial News

    [07] Public sector strike on Wednesday

    Public sector employees staged a 24-hour strike on Wednesday in protest to austerity measures announced by the government that involve changes to income, taxation and social security policy and include salary freezes and cutbacks in benefits.

    Protest demonstrations and marches are scheduled throughout the day in downtown Athens and Thessaloniki and throughout Greece for the duration of the strike, which has been called by the civil servant unions' umbrella federation ADEDY, and backed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated trade union movement PAME.

    The strike has grounded all flights, since the country's air traffic controllers and civil aviation electronics engineers are also participating in the strike.

    Addressing a PAME demonstration in Athens' central Syntagma Square, KKE leader Aleka Papariga warned that if the workers failed to "break this storm of measures" and "conform with the government's dictates, even worse things will be forthcoming in a year's time", referring to the government's announcements on social security, incomes and taxation policy.

    She called on workers to disregard the government's talk about the state of the economy, saying the measures were aimed to salvage the bankers, shipowners, industrialists and big-time merchants.

    "Don't believe them. Turn your backs on them," she urged.

    The PAME protestors later marched to the Employment ministry.

    PAME has also called on workers to take part in a 24-hour nationwide strike on February 24 that has been called by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), being held for the same reasons.

    [08] Civil servants union to join Feb. 24 strike

    The civil servants' union on Wednesday said it would join a strike called by the biggest trade umbrella union in the country for an industrial action on Feb. 24 against recently announced government measures to cut the deficit and salvage the country's pension system.

    [09] Nationwide taxi strike on Thursday

    Taxi drivers throughout Greece will hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday that has been called by the Panhellenic Federation of Taxi Owners and Athens Union of Taxi Drivers (SATA).

    The strike will be from 5:00 a.m. Thursday to 5:00 a.m. Friday, in protest of taxation measures announced by the government which, according to a SATA announcement, creates a series of new problems for the sector and renders the profession "difficult to impossible".

    SATA has also called taxi drivers in the greater Athens area to take part in a demonstration on Thursday morning in downtown Athens.

    [10] ACCI President Michalos warns against the tight revenue policy announced

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) President Constantinos Michalos warned Wednesday that the tight revenue policy adopted by the government in the public sector and the new taxation measures, which he said lack developmental prospects, will bring further problems to the domestic market which has been already hit by the economic crisis.

    Commenting on the new draft law on taxation, Michalos stated that the measures announced by the government in the public sector will result in salary reductions for hundreds of thousands of civil servants, subsequently leading to a dramatic reduction in consumption.

    He stated that the measures announced contain positive elements but the latter are outnumbered by the negative ones, adding that "we are expecting a detailed presentation of the measures in the final form they will have when incorporated into the relevant draft law."

    [11] Farmers to decide on their further stance - Promachonas closed

    Protesting farmers from Serres prefecture kept closed the Promachonas border post only for trucks for the third consecutive night on Tuesday, and will decide Wednesday on further mobilisations following a fruitless fourth meeting the previous day between protesting farmers' representatives with Agriculture Minister Katerina Batzeli.

    The Ormenio border post in Evros prefecture is open, with tractors and farming machines lined up on both sides of the road without however disrupting the traffic.

    Farmers on Wednesday abandoned their roadblock at the Sterna intersection on the Corinth-Tripolis national highway.

    Moreover, Thessaly region farmers continue to keep closed the intersections of Nikaia and Microthebes on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway and will convene later Wednesday to decide whether they will continue or suspend their mobilisations.

    [12] Farmers suspending mobilisations in central Greece

    Farmers mobilisations in the prefecture of Larissa, and Thessaly in general, came to an end on Wednesday after over 20 days of labour action. Tractors began being withdrawn from the roadblocks at Mikrothives, Platykambos and Tyrnavos as of noon, while in the afternoon and following a meeting at the Nikea roadblock, the coordinated withdrawal of tractors from the specific location on Thursday was also decided.

    Farmers are expressing their disappointment over the handling they received both on the part of the relevant minister and the government in general, while speaking of a suspension of mobilisations and giving a rendez-vous at Kileler where the 100th anniversary of the farmers' uprising will be celebrated this year.

    [13] Fuel price rise from adjustment in Special Consumer Tax enter into effect at petrol stations

    The increases recently announced by the government in the Special Consumer Tax on fuel oils went into effect on Wednesday in petrol stations throughout the country, averaging at a price increase of 14.3 euro-cents (.143 euro) per liter, with VAT included.

    More specifically, according to a bill tabled in parliament on Tuesday, the price of petrol increases by 12 cents per liter, which carries a 2.3 cents VAT, bringing the increase to 14.3 cents per liter.

    According to the last price checks by the Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry before the Special Consumer Tax adjustment, the average price of unleaded petrol was at 1.1 euros per liter, which means that after the increase in the Special Consumer Tax, the price rises to 1.24-1.25 euros per liter on average.

    The price of diesel rose correspondingtly by 6 cents per liter, to an average 1.09-1.10 euro per liter (from 1.03), while the price of heating oil remains unchanged at 60 cents per liter.

    [14] Hellenic Postbank cites conditions for Aspis Bank equity deal

    Hellenic Postbank on Wednesday said a board decision to purchase a significant participation in Athens-based Aspis Bank's equity capital was part of a strategy for an "autonomous expansion" of the bank's and the group's activities via a faster implementation of its business plans.

    In a statement, Hellenic Postbank stressed, however, that the main conditions for participating in a forthcoming share capital increase plan by Aspis Bank were to acquire a 30-32.9 pct equity stake from any undistributed shares, or, if the bank's main shareholders opted not to make use of their preference rights and, of course, a clarification over the share capital increase plan to determine the value of its investment.

    If these conditions were met, then Hellenic Postbank will seek approval from Greek banking authorities to carry out the investment.

    [15] Larissa prefecture in Tourism Exhibition in Czech Republic

    The prefecture of Larissa, central Greece, participated in the International Tourism Exhibition in Prague held from 3-7 February aiming to attract tourists from the Czech Republic to the wider region of Thessaly.

    Taking under consideration the economic crisis, the prefecture of Larissa has decided to participate this year in tourism exhibitions in countries from which it hopes to directly attract visitors.

    Larissa prefecture had its own stand in Greek National Tourism Organisation's (GNTO) pavilion at the exhibition, with the aim of promoting the wider region's tourism sites and distributed information and leaflets to visitors, translated into the Czech language.

    According to the prefectural authority, a large number of Czech tourists visit every summer the region's seaside and summer resorts, and the aim is to attract an even larger number.

    [16] Deficit shrinks 39% in Jan.

    Greece's state budget deficit shrank by 39 pct in January to 818 million euros, after a deficit of 1.342 billion euros in January 2009, the Bank of Greece announced on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a report on the country's finances, said regular budget revenues grew to 4.276 billion euros in the first month of the year, from 3.995 billion euros in 2009, while spending fell to 4.379 billion euros from 4.740 billion euros over the same period, respectively.

    Greece's primary budget deficit also fell to 200 million euros in January 2010 from a deficit of 452 million euros in January 2009.

    [17] Stocks jump 2.37% on Wed.

    Stocks ended with spectacular gains for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, helped by speculation of a Greek bailout by the European Union. The composite index of the market ended 2.37 pct higher at 1,940.82 points, off the day's highs of 5.02 pct. Turnover was a strong 385.646 million euros.

    The FTSE 20 index jumped 2.84 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.73 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index jumped 3.50 pct. The Raw Materials (5.78 pct) and Banks (4.28 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (0.32 pct) and Travel (0.25 pct) suffered losses.

    Lanakam (20 pct), Aspis Bank (19.75 pct), Petzetakis (17.14 pct) and Altec (14.29 pct) were top gainers, while Ippotour (8.0 pct), Euroholdings (6.67 pct) and ANEK (6.21 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 172 to 26 with another 49 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +4.08%

    Industrials: +3.25%

    Commercial: +1.21%

    Construction: +3.88%

    Media: +3.21%

    Oil & Gas: +1.04%

    Personal & Household: +1.66%

    Raw Materials: +5.78%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.25%

    Technology: +2.41%

    Telecoms: -0.32%

    Banks: +4.28%

    Food & Beverages: +0.26%

    Health: +0.74%

    Utilities: +2.24%

    Chemicals: +3.06%

    Financial Services: +1.51%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 7.05

    ATEbank: 1.68

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.81

    HBC Coca Cola: 16.08

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.35

    National Bank of Greece: 14.40

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.00

    Intralot: 3.65

    OPAP: 14.95

    OTE: 9.27

    Bank of Piraeus: 6.13

    Titan: 19.75

    [18] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank spectacularly to 286 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, with the Greek bond yielding 6.03 pct and the German Bund 3.17 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 1,648 billion euros, of which 626 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.022 billion euros were sell orders.

    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 the one-month rate 0.42 pct.

    [19] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.49 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 123.485 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 20, 057 contracts, worth 98.588 million euros.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 28,319 contracts, worth 24.897 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (8,599), followed by Eurobank (2,522), OTE (1,477), Piraeus Bank (3,650), GEK (2,572), Alpha Bank (3,886), Cyprus Bank (862) and Hellenic Postbank (572).

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.385

    Pound sterling 0.886

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 10.113

    Japanese yen 123.99

    Swiss franc 1.477

    Norwegian kroner 8.175

    Canadian dollar 1.478

    Australian dollar 1.582

    General News

    [21] Sections of Long Walls of Athens discovered during train line upgrade works in Faliro, Moschato

    The Long Walls of Athens, constructed in the mid 5th century BC, connected the city-state of Athens with its port city of Piraeus. They were begun in 461 BC under Themistocles after his victory at Salamis, possibly by Cimon, and completed under Pericles in 457 BC, with the aim of making Athens an impregnable city and preventing its being cut off from its harbor and from the rest of the world when beseiged by land. This ensured that Athens would never be cut off from supplies as long as it controlled the sea.

    The two well-fortified Long Walls were 1 "stade" (160 meters) apart, 6000 meters long and 20 meters high. There were three harbors at the port of Piraeus at the time, for grain ships, merchant ships and warships, and ensured that Athens could receive supplies during the Peloponnesian Wars.

    The Long Walls were destroyed by the Spartans in 404 BC after Athens was defeated in the First Peloponnesian War and surrendered to Sparta. Conon rebuilt them in 393 BC during the Corinthian War, but they were destroyed again by the Roman general Sulla in 86 BC.

    The two Long Walls, 40 "stadia" (7 kilometers) in length, ran parallel to each other, with a narrow passage between them.

    There are three walls in all, with a third wall running from Athens to the Bay of Phalerum (Neo Faliro, today).

    Initially, the western wall connected the southwest of Athens with Piraeus, while the eastern wall ran from the south of Athens to the Bay of Phalerum, while a few years (445-443 BC) later a third and middle wall, known as the "third wall" or "southern wall", was erected near to and parallel with the western wall. The two walls to Piraeus (western and southern) are known as the Long Walls, while the eastern wall became known as the Phalerian Wall.

    Substantial sections of the southern wall have been recently uncovered at Neo Faliro and adjacent Moschato, during ongoing upgrade works on the ISAP train line.

    [22] Greek mission returns from Haiti

    "Greece, despite the difficult (economic) conjuncture that it is experiencing, fielded a noticeable humanitarian presence in Haiti," Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis stated Wednesday upon the return of a Greek mission to Athens, after delivering 50 tons of humanitarian aid to the quake-devastated island nation.

    Kouvelis noted that the mission was warmly received by the government of Haiti, and he also referred to the contacts he had with the country's prime minister, the president, foreign minister and the leader of the main opposition party.

    [23] Acheloos River diversion works temporarily suspended

    A Council of State plenum has accepted an appeal by WWF Hellas requesting the temporary suspension of works for the diversion of the Acheloos River.

    The plenum annulled relevant ministerial decisions on the Acheloos diversion three times (1994, 2000 and 2005). The Council of State will deal again with the project when replies are sent by the European Communities Court on 14 questions sent by the plenum last year.

    WWF Hellas requested the suspension of the continuation of the Acheloos diversion works.

    [24] Convicts escape from police lock-up facility

    Two convicted detainees, both foreign nationals, escaped on Tuesday night from a Rhodes police station lock-up facility. The two fugitives, 28 and 20 years of age, sawed off the bars of the bathroom window and fled without being noticed. The two culprits, who had been sentenced to long-term imprisonment by a Rhodes court for grand theft and setting up a criminal group, were being held at the lock-up facility pending their transfer to prison.

    Police have launched a manhunt on the island to locate the fugitives

    [25] Heroin busts

    A foreign couple was arrested by Thessaloniki police on Wednesday with more than three kilos in their possession, accused of planning to sell the drug and addicts' hangouts.

    A police announcement said that a search of the car belonging to the couple -- a 65-year-old man and his 49-year-old companion, turned up six packets of heroin weighing a total 3.108 kilos, which were confiscated.

    An investigation revealed that the detainees were smuggling heroin into Greece from abroad.

    In a separate incident, three foreign nationals were arrested by security police in Argos on Tuesday night, in a coordinated operation, and confiscated 1.128 kilos of heroin, in two packages, found in their possession. Police also found and confiscated a precision scale. The detainees are due to be taken before a prosecutor in nearby Nafplion.

    [26] Arrests for pay TV fraud

    Eight local men and two foreign nationals were arrested this week on charges of violating intellectual property and subscriber television services legislation. Another three local suspects also face the same charges.

    The arrests were made by the police electronic crime squad in Athens and Thessaloniki following a lawsuit filed by Multichoice Hellas, the owner of Nova, the only digital pay television platform in Greece. The latter charged that the defendents illegally distributed its electronic subscriber codes via the Internet for a fee.

    The complaint filed by the company underlined that the damage caused to the state, based on a signed contract, is estimated at more than 30 million euros for the years 2008 and 2009.

    The arrests were made during police operations in Athens, Thessaloniki, Irakleio, Rhodes, Syros, Drama and Corinth.

    According to reports, a total of 1,558 internet users were supplied hacked subscriber codes in return for a fee substancially lower than the provider's subscription rate.

    Weather Forecast

    [27] Cloudy, rainy on Thursday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 18C. Cloudy in Athens, with southerly 5-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 7C to 16C. Cloudy and rainy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 11C.

    [28] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The government's changes in social security, taxation, pensions and benefits announced on Tuesday and labour unions' threats to escalate their mobilisations, the Greek economy and EU support and Prime Minister George Papandreou's visits to Paris and Brussels, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Pensions: Up to seven years increase in retirement age".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Pension at 63 and up.....".

    AVGHI: "Three gifts to markets - Social security, salaries and taxation".

    AVRIANI: "Black list with off shore companies' owners at Economy Minister - Heavy taxation on their properties and transactions".

    CHORA: "Pension at 63-65 and halt to early retirements - Sweeping changes in social security".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Thirteen shocking changes in private and public sector".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "15% reduction in pensions - New regulations will be fully applied in 2017".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "New taxation system: VAT for everyone except doctors, cash registers everywhere".

    ESTIA: "Tragic mistakes in the economy".

    ETHNOS: "Retirement at 63 for a 'dignified' pension".

    IMERISSIA: "Everything changes in our lives - Reversals in pensions, taxes, salaries".

    KATHIMERINI: "The changes in taxes, salaries, pensions".

    LOGOS: "The thirteen structural changes - Sweeping interventions on retirement age".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Scenarios of EU support to Greece rekindled".

    NIKI: "Government has a 'wrong' agenda - The country is deprived of vision and development prospect".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Strike on Wednesday against the capital's, EU's and bourgeois parties' totally antisocial attack".

    TA NEA: "Sweeping reversals in taxes and salaries - Blow against tax evasion".

    TO VIMA: "Tax storm for all professionals - Papandreou goes to Brussels with the harsh measures as his weapon".

    VRADYNI: "The changes in the social security system".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] EP calls on Turkey to withdraw troops from Cyprus

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The European Parliament has called on Turkey to immediately withdraw its occupation forces from Cyprus and facilitate the ongoing peace talks on a political settlement in Cyprus, as a necessary precondition for its EU accession course.

    The European Parliament adopted Wednesday a resolution on Turkey's Progress Report by show of hands. The resolution, which was based on a report drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP, NL), says that the Turkish government should contribute ''in concrete terms'' to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    By immediately starting the withdrawal of its forces from the northern part of the island and addressing the issue of settlements of Turkish citizens, Turkey would help ''facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations'', it stated.

    The EP calls on the Turkish government to contribute in concrete terms to the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the principles on which the EU is founded.

    It also urges Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for the Cyprus negotiations by immediately starting to withdraw its forces from Cyprus, by addressing the issue of the settlement of Turkish citizens on the island and by enabling the return of the sealed-off section of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants in compliance with resolution 550 (1984) of the UN Security Council.

    The EP deplores the non-implementation of the Additional Protocol to the EC-Turkey Association Agreement for the ''fourth consecutive year''.

    The report warns that failure to implement fully and without delay, in a non discriminatory way, the Additional Protocol to the EC-Turkey

    Association Agreement could seriously affect its accession negotiations.

    The MEPs also said that progress on concrete reforms remained limited in 2009.

    During the debate before the voting, Spanish Minister for European Affairs Lopez Garrido stressed that the implementation of the Additional Ankara Protocol constitutes a necessity for the continuation of the EU-Turkey accession negotiations.

    "If there is no progress on this, no more chapters can be opened", Garrido underlined.

    He also said that one of the decisive factors for Turkey's assessment includes its contribution to the efforts to reach a solution in Cyprus.

    New EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said that the Commission offers financial aid amounting 259 million euro for the Turkish Cypriot community and works for Cyprus' reunification.

    He underscored that Turkey must do more for its EU accession. "Five years ago Turkey undertook serious commitments for democratization. Today, we are concerned about the limitations towards the Media and the ban of political parties", the Czech Commissioner said.

    Turkey, he went on to add, must make more efforts towards democratization, respect of human rights and individual rights implement all it has promised especially as regards border control and readmission of immigrants.

    In the resolution MEPs regret the Constitutional Court's decisions to close the Democratic Society Party (DTP), and to annul the legislation limiting the jurisdiction of military courts. They say these are ''a serious setback in Turkey's reform efforts'' and therefore call for the Constitution to be reformed.

    The Republic of Cyprus entered the EU in May 2004. Turkey, which aspires to become a full EU member state, invaded Cyprus in 1974 and still holds 37% of Cyprus' territory.

    Turkey, is the only country in the world which refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and does not meet its EU obligations, one of which is the opening of its ports and airports to Cypriot ship and vessel.

    [30] Bryant: no security in Cyprus with Turkish troops

    LONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    As long as Turkish troops are present in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots will not feel safe and will not have proper security, British Minister of State for Europe, Chris Bryant, has said as he referred to the solution of Cyprus problem.

    Talking to Turkish and Turkish Cypriot journalists during a reception at the Foreign Office, in honor of Egemen Bagis, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs, Bryant said that Aristotle's definition of tragedy was the rehearsal of an event that inspires pity and fear and leads to catharsis.

    "And it is certainly a pity in Cyprus because all of us, I think, pity the people living in the north who have no economic opportunities. The people in the south who have been alienated from their properties in the north and people in the north who have been alienated from their properties in the south," he added.

    There is fear, he pointed out, "because a lot of people still live in fear if there are (Turkish) troops there, they will not have proper security."

    What needs to be done is to get to that moment of catharsis when the whole of the island is reunited, he noted, saying that what all agree is the unity of Cyprus ’on the basis of a bi-communal , bi-zonal federation".

    Bagis paid a one-day visit to London where he was one of the speakers in a seminar about Turkey.

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to find a political settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    [31] UNSG Spokesman: We focus on continuation of Cyprus talks

    UNITED NATIONS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The UN focus on the Cyprus talks and their continuation, UN Secretary General's Spokesman Martin Nesirky has said.

    Invited Wednesday to say whether the withdrawal from the Cypriot government coalition of the Social Democrats Movement EDEK will affect the ongoing Cyprus talks, he declined from commenting, saying that ''I don't have anything to say about the fate of the coalition and who is leaving or who is not leaving''.

    "There is a lot of political symbolism involved in dealing with the Cyprus problem. Our focus is very clearly on the political talks, and we do not want to get side-tracked by that particular debate", he said.

    Nesirky added that much more important is to ensure that the Cyprus talks continue.

    ''What I can say is that our focus is very firmly on the talks that have been taking place, and that will continue. Much more importantly, Mr. Christofias has said very clearly that those talks will be continuing", he noted.

    Invited to comment on the negative impact of UNSG's visit to the so-called ”presidential palace‘ in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, and the red carpet welcome, he said "all I can tell you is that I was there and I didn't see any red carpet being rolled out".

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to find a political settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    The self-proclaimed state in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey.

    United Nation resolutions 550 and 541 call on all states not to recognise or facilitate the regime, describing it as ''legally invalid'' and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.

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