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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-26

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

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 Issue No: 3501


  • [01] Gov't on social insurance reforms
  • [02] "Troika" calls for deeper and speedier pension system reforms
  • [03] Commission confirms recommendations on pension reform
  • [04] Pension, econ reforms eyed
  • [05] ND blasts minister over social insurance reforms issue
  • [06] PM on Kallikrates local gov't bill
  • [07] Gov't on PM's 'El Pais' interview
  • [08] Samaras tables Parliament question over economy
  • [09] European Council president optimistic on Greece overcoming crisis
  • [10] LAOS leader on economy; Vatopedi affair
  • [11] US Deputy Secretary of State on Cyprus issue
  • [12] Greek-Israeli 'Minoas 2010' air exercise
  • [13] Greek-Turkish delegations to meet at National Defence General Staff
  • [14] Halki School, Greek Eurodeputies
  • [15] Finance ministry staff under investigation
  • [16] Free online service by cadastre company
  • [17] Draft bill to denationalise handling services at regional airports
  • [18] Meeting focuses on new tourism ad campaign
  • [19] GSEE meeting on Thursday; rally on June 5
  • [20] HOL reports improved Q1 results
  • [21] Stocks end significantly down
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [25] Greece in 4-continent initiative on International Missing Children's Day
  • [26] President tours Acropolis restoration works
  • [27] Culture ministry contract workers stage protest at Acropolis
  • [28] John Malkovich puts on 'Infernal Comedy' for two nights in Athens
  • [29] Felony charges against former Aspis CEO Psomiadis
  • [30] Kiosk owners to begin hunger strike over tobacco tax hikes
  • [31] Police crack Hania murder case
  • [32] Greek drivers take two top spots in first Adriatic-Ionian Classic Rally for antique cars
  • [33] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [34] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] FM: Eroglu must prove he accepts a federatal solution
  • [36] UN host dinner for President Christofias and Eroglu Politics

  • [01] Gov't on social insurance reforms

    "Nothing is under discussion. Only what has been agreed upon stands and is included in the draft law and the memorandum," government spokesman George Petalotis clarified on Tuesday when asked by reporters if the government is considering any of the social security reform proposals included in a letter addressed to the labour minister by a troika comprised of the IMF, ECB and European Commission.

    Petalotis said the letter's contents are beyond what has been agreed to, and that the government has valid arguments to reject the troika's demands. "We do not make secret deals; it is clear that everything that comes to our attention is being reported."

    He also dismissed speculation over new austerity measures.

    [02] "Troika" calls for deeper and speedier pension system reforms

    The International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank are demanding deeper and speedier reforms in the country's pension system. In a letter sent to Greece's Finance and Labour ministers, the "troika" called for a speedier implementation of pension system reforms from 2015, instead of 2018 as originally planned by the Greek government, paying full pensions after 40 years at work, reducing the number of pension funds to three with no exceptions and cutting pensions for divorced or unwed daughters of civil servants and cutting widow pensions.

    Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos, in a television interview, said the government will fight against these reforms, particularly recommendations to cut pensions. The government has presented a draft bill on pension system reforms which is expected to be tabled to Parliament by mid-June.

    [03] Commission confirms recommendations on pension reform

    The European Commission on Tuesday confirmed it has sent a letter to the Greek government asking for deeper and speedier reforms of the country's pension system, although it stressed that its recommendations were basically in line with a memorandum signed between Greek authorities with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

    A Commission spokesman, speaking to reporters in Brussels, said the letter did not include any new element and stressed that similar letters were part of a framework of close cooperation between community agencies with Greek authorities, aimed at fully adhere to an agreed program of reforms.

    [04] Pension, econ reforms eyed

    The government soon will table in Parliament a draft bill equalising retirement ages between men and women working in the public sector, while the draft bill also envisages changes in the country's pension system, the finance ministry announced on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, a Cabinet meeting is expected to be held within the next few days to discuss the government's privatisation programme, the opening of so-called "closed professions" and implementation of provisions in a landmark memorandum signed with the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank.

    Finally, the finance ministry said it plans to raise money from international markets through the issuing of short-term state bills, as the government does not intend to auction long-term state bonds.

    [05] ND blasts minister over social insurance reforms issue

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party social insurance sector head MP Ioannis Vroutsis on Tuesday accused Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos of engaging in a publicity stunt in the case of the social insurance issue.

    Vroutsis underlined that the changes, which according to Loverdos are being demanded by the troika (IMF, ECB, European Commission), were included in the memorandum that has the minister's signature but was not included in the draft law made public.

    [06] PM on Kallikrates local gov't bill

    Prime Minister George Papandreou termed, on Tuesday night, the 'Kallikrates' local government bill as a "precondition for the country's exit from the crisis" and "a democratic revolution".

    Speaking in Parliament during a debate on a government's bill aiming at reforming local government institutions, Papandreou also said that the reform constituted a "foundation stone for the Greece we are building" and an important political option "linked to the Greece of growth, rule of law and social justice."

    He also accused the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of "avoiding to assume its responsibilities regarding the reform of the country."

    [07] Gov't on PM's 'El Pais' interview

    "The degree of Greece's determination has been displayed by the prime minister and the contacts he had until now with foreign leaders resulting to the creation of the European support mechanism," government spokesman George Petalotis said Tuesday, adding that "it is a fact that we need time as a country and that's why we have resorted to the European support mechanism."

    Petalotis made the comment responding to a question by reporters on the prime minister's interview with the Spanish daily "El Pais".

    He ruled out the likelihood for Greece to renegotiate its debt, underlining that the government will meet its goal, has taken tough decisions and will not let them go to waste.

    Referring to the parliamentary investigation committees, he said that "this is a matter of the parliament and not the government," adding that "we observe the transparency principle and we mean it when we say that everything will be out in the open."

    [08] Samaras tables Parliament question over economy

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday tabled his first Parliament question towards the prime minister, a query focusing squarely on the country's borrowing procedures, what he called an attack by speculators and the settlement of Greek state bond transactions.

    Samaras points to specific comments by PASOK deputies in Parliament as well as press reports regarding the country's stance vis-ΰ-vis skyrocketing bond spreads from November 2010 until April 2010, "which essentially led to an inability to borrow", as he said.

    He also referred to omissions and acts that led to a change in the settlement procedure for Greek state bonds.

    [09] European Council president optimistic on Greece overcoming crisis

    BRUSSELS(ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    European Council president Herman van Rompuy expressed his conviction that Greece will overcome the crisis with the responsible attitude manifested by the Greek government and also the solidarity of its European partners, during an address on Tuesday at the annual Brussels Economic Forum.

    Rompuy said that with the decisions taken by the EU on the Greek economy, a safety net was created giving Greece the ability to "put its house in order".

    With those decisions, the EU manifested prudence and courage, he said, acknowledging, however, that finding a solution for efficient action on the Greek crisis had been time-consuming, and coordination a difficult venture.

    Rompuy added that the EU had done its duty, since the risk of the crisis spreading was a serious one and constituted a substantial threat to the euro.

    He noted that, with its decisions, the EU bought time for contemplation and action, and now was the moment to make use of that time in the proper way.

    [10] LAOS leader on economy; Vatopedi affair

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis lashed out at the government on Tuesday, focusing especially on the local administration reform plan "Kallikratis" and the economy.

    He also suggested bank mergers, and referring to the parliamentary investigation committee on the Vatopedi church-state land swap affair, he said the tenacity of the political system is being tested.

    Karatzaferis accused the government of shaping tailor-made electoral districts to serve the ruling PASOK party interests and stressed that the decisions that are necessary for the economy have been delayed.

    Referring to the economic crisis, he maintained that bank mergers are necessary warning that delays will only make the problem bigger.

    [11] US Deputy Secretary of State on Cyprus issue


    The United States are requesting from Turkey to actively contribute to a solution to the issue of Cyprus "since this development is in its own interest", said US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in an address at the annual conference of the "Greek and Cypriot Leadership", taking place in Washington.

    Steinberg, who was honoured by the expatriates for his contribution, said that both he, in the many contacts that he had recently with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and US President Barack Obama in his meetings with the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, have communicated to Ankara that it must utilise the great influence that it has in the Turkish Cypriot community so that there can be progress and ultimately a solution to the Cyprus issue.

    At the same time, after speaking of the great opportunity appearing this year, he stressed that the recent change in the Turkish Cypriots' leadership must not function adversely in the continuation of the effort.

    [12] Greek-Israeli 'Minoas 2010' air exercise

    A Greek-Israeli air exercise with the codename "Minoas 2010" is taking place between Tuesday and June 3 in the framework of the military cooperation programme between the two countries' air forces.

    The exercise is developing on the mainland, the Ionian Sea and the Aegean sea and participating on the Israeli side are five F16s and five F15s and 15 Greek F16s that have been stationed at the 110 squadron in Souda.

    As part of the exercise, training will take place of the crews of the participating aircraft, in air refuelling by the Israeli tanker KC-807 and for this purpose three regions have been bound in the northern Aegean, the central Ionian and south of Crete.

    In parallel, the crews of Greek aircraft not participating in the exercise will also have the possibility of training in air refuelling.

    [13] Greek-Turkish delegations to meet at National Defence General Staff

    Determining activities in the framework of confidence building measures between Greece and Turkey for 2011 will be the focus of Wednesday's meeting between a Greek and Turkish delegation at the National Defence General Staff.

    During its visit (lasting from Tuesday until May 28) the delegation will tour the archaeological Epidavros-Mycenae site and the city of Nafplio, while it will also be visiting the Acropolis Museum and the Turkish military cemetery in Piraeus.

    [14] Halki School, Greek Eurodeputies

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Minister of State Egemen Bagis, replying to a question by PASOK Eurodeputy Marilena Koppa on Tuesday, reiterated that "we are examining all the possibilities for the Halki School to open."

    Bagis added that "we also have an issue with Western Thrace, however we are not raising it as an issue of mutualness" and that "I believe that with the present prime ministers whatever differences with Greece will be overcome."

    Koppa and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputy George Koumoutsakos are in Istanbul to participate in the meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee.

    Speaking to ANA-MPA, Koppa referred to the Greek minority which,as she said "shrinks and decays but conserves its intense presence in Istanbul."

    Financial News

    [15] Finance ministry staff under investigation

    The finance ministry on Tuesday announced that several members of the ministry's own staff were currently the focus of investigations for suspected corruption, either because they own suspiciously large real estate holdings or based on complaints made by the public to the 1517 phone line set up specifically for this purpose.

    The investigations are part of a series of drastic measures taken to improve revenue collection at tax offices and restore transparency, the ministry said.

    The spotlight is currently on some 70 ministry employees that declared an annual income of roughly 50,000 euros each but owned real estate whose worth is estimated between 800,000 to three million euros - an average of 1.228 million euros each.

    The ministry is also conducting internal inquiries into 50 complaints made by the public concerning incidents of bribery, smuggling, illegal financial activity and a series of other irregularities involving employees at tax offices, customs, the financial crimes squad SDOE, and the real estate service.

    Among others, the ministry intends to replace the heads of 20 tax offices for failing to meet revenue-raising targets and has ordered inspections for 234 finance ministry employees that failed to submit a tax statement in 2007-2008 or whose statement has not been cleared.

    Lastly, it will transfer some 70 employees to other posts throughout the country to improve the functioning of tax offices. Some 42 employees will be moved from inspection services to local tax offices, while 25 will be moved from tax offices to inspection services.

    In addition to the above immediate measures, a ministry announcement said, a draft bill for completely reorganising revenue-raising mechanisms and tax offices will soon be unveiled for public consultation.

    [16] Free online service by cadastre company

    The ministry of environment, energy and climate change is offering free access to aerial photographs via a pilot online service by Ktimatologio S.A. established to provide a unified and constantly updated system of information that records the legal, technical and other additional details about real estate property.

    This is the first time that the public can have access to such online map browsing service thus creating a Geographic Information System (GIS). Those interested can view very high resolution photographs taken from airplane or satellite (orthophoto) by visiting the electronic address: <http://gis.ktimanet.gr/wms/ktbasemap/default.aspx>. Further information requests can be made to gis-services@ktimatologio.gr <mailto:gis-services@ktimatologio.gr>.

    The orthophotos available were taken in the period 2007-2009 and concern the entire country with the exception of certain border regions and classified installations.

    An orthophoto or orthophotograph is an aerial photograph geometrically corrected ("orthorectified"). Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph, an orthophotograph can be used to measure true distances, because it is an accurate representation of the earth's surface, having been adjusted for topographic relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt.

    [17] Draft bill to denationalise handling services at regional airports

    The government is currently preparing a draft bill envisioning the full and final opening of ground handling services at the country's 34 regional airports, with the relevant infrastructure, transport and networks ministry expecting to table the draft bill in Parliament in the coming period.

    The ministry expects that the new law will cut costs up to 50 pct, or up to 30 euros per passenger, boosting charter flights to regional airports.

    The bill also includes a deregulation of counter services to ensure the smoother operation of regional airports. Olympic Airways was the exclusive operator of handling services up until 2000, while handling services were freed in the five larger airports of the country in the period 2000-2009.

    The government has also temporarily abolished landing and terminal fees at regional airports for the period April 1-Sept. 30, 2010, in a bid to attract more charter flights.

    Airlines are estimated to save up to 10 million euros.

    [18] Meeting focuses on new tourism ad campaign

    Tourism and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos chaired a meeting of tourism officials on Tuesday focusing on the course of the efforts aimed at dealing with whatever crisis in the sector.

    Geroulanos stressed that the first stage of the "You in Greece" tourist campaign has been completed and will be on air next week, while press kits will also be ready with useful information and statistical figures on the Greek tourism.

    [19] GSEE meeting on Thursday; rally on June 5

    The leadership of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation for private-sector employees, will hold a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss what action it will take in response to the draconian changes to labour law and the pension system being planned by the government, in accordance with demands made by the EU Commission and IMF.

    Regardless of any decisions taken on that day, GSEE has made a firm decision to join the civil servants' union ADEDY in holding a workers' rally at Klathmonos Square on the morning of Saturday, June 5 in protest against the government's harsh austerity measures and pension reforms.

    The announcement also stressed that the proposals and 'demands' put forward by EU and IMF experts concerning pensions were "completely unacceptable and condemnable".

    "They are based on the same dead-end philosophy of reducing the insurance rights of pensioners and employed without ensuring a viable and effective prospect for the insurance system," the trade union asserted.

    [20] HOL reports improved Q1 results

    Hellas Online SA on Tuesday reported improved first quarter results, with EBITDA rising to 11.2 million euros in the January-March period, from 1.4 million euros in the corresponding period last year. The company attributed its improved results to higher gross profit margin and more efficient operations.

    Revenues jumped 49 pct to 47.7 million euros in the first three months of 2010, with amortizations rising to 17.8 million euros, while pre-tax losses fell to 9.3 million euros from a loss of 11.8 million euros in 2009. Consolidated results included Attica Telecoms SA, a subsidiary of HOL.

    Hellas Online said LLU customer base grew 10 pct from last year to 311,856 customers, for a market share of 28.3 pct. LLU customers accounted for 96 pct of total broadband customers of the company. Investments totaled 14.3 million euros in the first quarter, to a total of 297.7 million euros from early 2006.

    [21] Stocks end significantly down

    Worries over the strength of the banking system in southern Europe, the eurozone debt crisis and tension tension in Asia created a very negative climate in international markets, pushing the Athens Stock Exchange significantly lower on Tuesday. The composite index of the market dropped 3.46 pct to end at 1,539.90 points, with turnover a low 115 million euros. The FTSE 20 index fell 3.70 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 4.54 pct down and the FTSE 80 index eased 1.35 pct. The Media (7.62 pct) and Food (0.04 pct) sectors moved upwards, while the Financial Services (7.13 pct) and Oils (6.62 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 146 to 24 with another 49 issues unchanged. Elgeka (19.7 pct), Lambrakis Press (17.86 pct) and Elfico (9.68 pct) were top gainers, while Imperio (18.75 pct), Boutaris (18.75 pct) and Klonatex (16.67 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -2.42%

    Commercial: -4.35%

    Construction: -5.84%

    Media: +7.62%

    Oil & Gas: -6.62%

    Personal & Household: -4.86%

    Raw Materials: -5.33%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.93%

    Technology: -4.34%

    Telecoms: -1.53%

    Banks: -4.04%

    Food & Beverages: +0.04%

    Health: -6.83%

    Utilities: -3.64%

    Chemicals: -3.50%

    Financial Services: -7.13%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.64

    ATEbank: 1.19

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.09

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.64

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.06

    National Bank of Greece: 10.04

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.30

    Intralot: 2.95

    OPAP: 12.30

    OTE: 6.45

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.29

    Titan: 14.54

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 302 million euros on Tuesday, of which 19 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 283 million euros were sell orders. The 12-month state bill (July 16, 2010) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 260 million euros, followed by the six-month state bill with 17 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds widened to 526 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 7.81 pct and the German Bund 2.55 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were mixed. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.06 percent, the six-month rate was 1.10 pct, the three-month 1.10 pct and the one-month 1.05 pct.

    [23] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.75 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to 41.460 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,667 contracts worth 35.248 million euros, with 24,931 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,013 contracts worth 6.212 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts 3,299, followed by Eurobank (571), MIG (1,569), OTE (495), Piraeus Bank (491), Alpha Bank (771) and PPC (357).

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.232

    Pound sterling 0.858

    Danish kroner 7.499

    Swedish kroner 9.906

    Japanese yen 110.41

    Swiss franc 1.435

    Norwegian kroner 8.192

    Canadian dollar 1.331

    Australian dollar 1.516

    General News

    [25] Greece in 4-continent initiative on International Missing Children's Day

    The increase in the number of disappeared children, victims of parental abduction, throughout the world is the central theme of an international campaign on Tuesday, the International Missing Children's Day.

    Eight countries from four continents, among them Greece, join forces aimed at raising public awareness and reinforcing global efforts for locating missing children, putting special emphasis on the worrisome phenomenon of parental child abduction.

    ΤέλοςφόρμαςΑρχήφόρμαςInternational Missing Children's Day, 25 May, is a day where people around the world commemorate the missing children who have found their way home, remember those who have been victims of crime, and continue efforts to find those who are still missing.

    The main purpose of International Missing Children's Day is to encourage everyone to think about children who remain missing and to spread a message of hope.

    Australia, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Romania, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, member countries of the Global Missing Children's Network(GMCN), a programme of the private, non-profit International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), have joined to raise awareness of the impact and issue surrounding missing children and to help bring them home by spreading a global message.

    The theme for International Missing Children's Day 2010 is parental child abduction, an issue that is not only complex but is becoming more common.

    The Greek National Center for Missing, Abused and Exploited Children is an initiative of the voluntary organisation "The Smile of the Child" www.hamogelo.gr , comprised mainly of social workers, psychologists and legal consultants. In Greece, the National Center has developed close cooperation with the Greek Police and the Prosecutor's Office for Minors, as well as the mass media. When police are informed of the disappearance of a child, the AMBER Alert Hellas programme is immediately activated by the Center. The AMBER Alert Hellas is a National Coordinating Program for the prompt and credible alerting of citizens in instances of child disappearance and/or abduction.

    The National Center has also developed close cooperation with the authorities at European and international level, including Interpol, Europol, IOM and other agencies active in the area of child protection and defending children's rights. Its authorities include the operation of the European Hotline for Missing Children 116000, while it is also the authority for activating the AMBER Alert Hellas system.

    In 2009 alone, the National Center received 263 calls for assistance in instances of missing children. Of those, 28 percent of the cases involved children under 12 years of age, and 65 percent involved adolescents. Half of the cases were instances of parental child abduction, a number that is increasingly rising in instances of cross-border parental child abduction.

    To mark International Missing Children's Day, the participating countries will release balloons into the air bearing photographs of missing children from all over the world in the hope that someone, somewhere, will recognise them.

    In Greece, announcements will be made on television stations to raise public awareness on the issue and also to encourage people's active participation in the campaign, under the slogan "Help Bring Them Home".

    A "release" of virtual balloons will also take place on the internet at (www.helpbringthemhome.com), an interactive portal created by the Australian police for the global campaign, with a 30-second social message distributed to the member countries and television stations.

    [26] President tours Acropolis restoration works

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday toured the Acropolis and inspected the restoration works on the archaeological site, expressing satisfaction on the progress and results so far of the project.

    Papoulias was given a tour of the Propylae and the northern side of the Parthenon temple, from which the scaffolding has been removed after several years of restoration works, by the director of the Acropolis Monument Preservation Service Mary Ioannidou.

    The President commended Ioannidou for the excellent work done.

    [27] Culture ministry contract workers stage protest at Acropolis

    Contract workers at the culture and tourism ministry staged a protest on Tuesday at the Acropolis during a visit by minister Pavlos Geroulanos, demanding the payment of 24 months of back pay and that they be used to staff new organic posts created at the ministry instead of new hirings.

    The minister told protestors that a relevant amendment is due to be voted in parliament for payment of the unpaid contract employees and that after October 31, when their contracts expire, an ASEP (civil service hiring examinations board) procedure will begin.

    The Acropolis was open without charge to visitors from 8:00 a.m. to noon, at which time the ticket booths were able to open.

    Geroulanos had accompanied President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on a tour of the restoration works at the Acropolis.

    [28] John Malkovich puts on 'Infernal Comedy' for two nights in Athens

    The exploits of Austrian murderer Jack Unterweger will be brought to the stage in Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday by actor John Malkovich, who will star in two performances of "The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer" at the Hellenic Cosmos arts centre's theatre on Pireos Street.

    The play combines a monologue by the actor with opera and classical music, featuring arias by Vivaldi, Mozart, Haydn and Weber to be the voice of the 11 women killed by Unterweger over his long and covert career as a serial killer, parallel to his public persona as an an author, journalist and favourite child of the Vienna intellectual elite.

    The play opened in Los Angeles last June and has toured several capitals around the world since that time. The play is directed by Michael Sturminger and is accompanied by the Vienna Academy orchestra conducted by Martin Haselbock. The vocalists are the sopranos Bernarda Bobro Louise Fribo and Aleksandra Zamojska.

    The last time Malkovich visited Athens was 25 years ago, when he was acting in the film "Eleni".

    [29] Felony charges against former Aspis CEO Psomiadis

    An Athens prosecutor has filed felony fraud charges against the former president and CEO of the Aspis insurance group, Pavlos Psomiadis.

    The indictment comes after the conclusion of a judicial probe into allegations of widespread fraud insurance policy fraud against retail investors.

    The group's up-until-recently financial director was also charged with simple complicity to commit fraud.

    [30] Kiosk owners to begin hunger strike over tobacco tax hikes

    Kiosk owners and other tobacco product sellers from north and central Greece have decided to start a hunger strike on Wednesday morning, at a central square in the city of Larissa, in protest over the recent hefty tax hikes on cigarettes and tobacco.

    Representatives of the Federation of Kiosk-owners Tobacconists of Greece (OPKE) complained that cigarette manufacturers have passed the full cost of the higher taxes onto the retail sector, leading to a sharp drop in their income. As a resultl, the profit margin for sellers has shrunk from 8.48 percent previously to just 3.3 percent at present, at which level OPKE claims is not viable for several kiosks and corner shops that are largely dependent on tobacco product sales.

    Participants in the hunger strike are OPKE members from the prefectures of Magnesia, Larissa, Ioannina, Trikala and Thessaloniki.

    Among others, the tobacconists are demanding a legislative minimum profit level of 8.2 percent.

    [31] Police crack Hania murder case

    A 49-year-old man from Palaiohori, Hania was identified by police on Tuesday as the main suspect for the murder of a 47-year-old local woman missing since May 13. Her body was found on Sunday morning, hidden in a barrel on the man's farm, by a team of police with a trained sniffer dog.

    Police have been unable to question the suspect, who attempted to take his own life with a hunting rifle on May 20 and is now lying unconscious in an Iraklion hospital intensive care unit. They surmise, based on their investigation, that the suspect tried to hide the evidence of his act by concealing the body in a large 200-litre metal barrel that was on his farm. He had then covered this with an oil-cloth kept in place by a stone and a breeze block and covered the parts of the barrel that extended from this with soil.

    [32] Greek drivers take two top spots in first Adriatic-Ionian Classic Rally for antique cars

    Forty-two antique cars manufactured between 1928-1981 took part in the first Antique Car Rally in Albania's history, the Adriatic-Ionian Classic Rally, that took them through six Albanian cities, including Tirana, Cheimara, Avlona and Sarande.

    The showcase rally is organised by the Albanian Motorized Sport Club (ACA), in cooperation with the Thessaloniki-based Motor Rally Organisation Events (MORE) sport club.

    MORE president George Pontikoyianis told ANA-MPA that the unique antique cars from Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Kosovo taking part in the rally "stole the show" wherever they went.

    The winner of the rally was Thanassis Harmanis from Athens, with a 1977 Lancia Beta, while Ioannis Bisilas from Thessaloniki took second place with a 1967 Porshe 911 S.

    The Adriatic-Ionian Classic Rally covered a distance of approximately 350 kilometers in three days, with 10 special precision stages based on average speed per hour.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 10C and 29C. Fair in Athens, with variable 2-3 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 29C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 28C.

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

    The new harsher austerity measures expected to be imposed on the recommendation of the EU-ECB-IMF troika, the denationalisation programme to be approved on Tuesday by the Inner Cabinet focusing on contracts for ports and airports, and rumors that former prime minister Costas Karamanlis will be expelled from main opposition New Democracy (ND), mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The new social security system is full of bombs - EU and IMF demand measures without exemptions".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Ridicule and callousness - They even abolished the pensions for widows".

    AVRIANI: "Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras ousts Costas Karamanlis and changes the emblem of the party in order to stop the continuous loss of voters".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos ready to abolish widows' pensions - He puts the blame on the foreigners while the 'massacre' is foreseen in his bill".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Plan for splintering of the centre-right into three pieces - The media and former ND deputy and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis are ruling PASOK party's allies".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Revolver against pensions and lay-offs - Commission demands even more onerous conditions".

    ESTIA: "We are heading towards a new impasse - Politicians continue to make the same mistakes".

    ETHNOS: "Under pressure again over social security - Brussels and IMF raise issue of speeding up changes".

    IMERISSIA: "Rapid assignment of contracts for ports and airports".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Recourse to markets in order to raise 4.8 billion euros".

    TA NEA: «The 'troika' has sent a letter calling for 40 years of work for full pension".

    VRADYNI: "The great ridicule - Even harsher changes in the social security system".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] FM: Eroglu must prove he accepts a federatal solution


    The leader of the Turkish Cypriots Dervis Eroglu must prove that he has abandoned his position for a confederation in Cyprus and that he accepts a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution with a single sovereignty, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has stressed.

    Speaking Tuesday at Larnaka airport, before he departed for Madrid to participate in a meeting of EU and Southeast Asia Ministers, Kyprianou said that Ankara has the responsibility to ensure that Eroglu will not revoke the basis of the negotiations and the solution of the problem, and that he will be constructive at the talks.

    Asked what the Greek Cypriot side expects from the first meeting between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Eroglu on Wednesday, Kyprianou said that the discussion on the property chapter will resume, noting that there was no progress on that issue so far.

    "First of all, there should not be any dispute on the basis of the talks, the solution framework", Kyprianou said, stressing that Eroglu should prove that he has abandoned his positions for a confederation and that he accepts a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution of a state with a single sovereignty.

    Asked what should be expected of Turkey, the foreign minister said that Ankara has a special responsibility to ensure that Eroglu will be constructive and will not annul the basis of the talks and the agreed basis of the solution.

    "However, Ankara has not impressed us with its stance, so far", he added.

    Asked if there is a proposal from the Spanish Presidency, regarding the return of the occupied city of Famagusta to its lawful inhabitants, Kyprianou said it was not appropriate to speak on behalf of the Spanish Presidency. "Spain is a friendly country, and as acting President of the EU, if it has an initiative to announce, it will do it", he added.

    "The issue of the return of Famagusta is always on the negotiation table, on the basis of UN resolutions and the UN Secretary General's reports, as well as the recent resolution of the European Parliament," he pointed out.

    The UN considers Turkey responsible for the fenced off area of Famagusta (Varosha), and has called on Ankara to return the city, on the east, to its lawful inhabitants, a call which has so far gone unheeded.

    The minister also noted that the proposal of the Republic of Cyprus on direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the EU and the simultaneous return of the fenced off area of Famagusta and the opening of the port under a European administration within conditions and legal procedures is still on the negotiating table.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began peace talks in September 2008.

    Talks are set to resume on May 26, between President Christofias and Eroglu, who succeeded Talat.

    [36] UN host dinner for President Christofias and Eroglu


    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Dervis Eroglu attended, on Tuesday evening, a dinner hosted by the UN, at a local restaurant, in the UN controlled buffer zone.

    This was the first encounter between the two community leaders, since Eroglu replaced Mehmet Ali Talat in April, as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    Present at the dinner were UN Secretary General's Special Adviser Alexander Downer and the advisers of the community leaders.

    On arrival at the restaurant both President Christofias and Eroglu were asked what they expected from the dinner.

    "This is a social meeting. We shall meet each other, get to know each other. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we have our first formal meeting. Tonight's dinner is informal," President Christofias said. This is a social event, Eroglu replied to press questions.

    Downer had said earlier on that no statements will be issued after the dinner.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began peace talks in September 2008. Talks are set to resume on May 26, between President Christofias and Dervis Eroglu, who succeeded Talat.

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