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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-31

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 31 May 2010 Issue No: 3505


  • [01] Internal elections Sunday in ND for new local organisation leaders
  • [02] Alternate FM calls on Turkey to withdraw occupation troops from Cyprus
  • [03] Simitis on calls that he testify over Siemens in Parliament
  • [04] Pangalos newspaper interview
  • [05] 31st Marathon Peace March held on Sunday
  • [06] Econ minister: Market prices to fall by 20 percent after ministry initatives
  • [07] Meeting on privatisations at finance ministry
  • [08] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [09] AEK-PAOK supporters brawl escalates; Handball Final Four postponed
  • [10] Ninety arrested in police crime sweep
  • [11] 29th Thessaloniki Book Fair opens to public
  • [12] World Naked Bike Ride in Thessaloniki on June 4
  • [13] Eight-year-old hospitalised with gunshot wound
  • [14] Migrant smuggler arrested in Didymoteicho
  • [15] Drug arrests
  • [16] Rethymno man to be charged with raping 10-year-old
  • [17] Quake shakes Evros border region
  • [18] Cloudy, high temperatures
  • [19] Athens Newspaper Headlines
  • [20] President: Greek Cypriot side ready for honourable compromise Politics

  • [01] Internal elections Sunday in ND for new local organisation leaders

    Internal elections took place Sunday in main opposition New Democracy (ND) party for the new chairmen of the party's prefectural and local organisations (NODE). ND leader Antonis Samaras, who cast his vote at a polling station in Athens' northern suburb of Kifisia, spoke of a large and bold overture to society, stressing that ND is the only party that has proceeded with such procedures.

    "Since ND decided to open up and take recourse in society for the election of its leader (in November 2009) and, following that, the leader of its youth organisation ONNED, today it is electing the chairman of every prefectural and local committee. It is a big day, and we are proud to be the only party that has proceeded to such process of making an overture to the Greek society," Samaras said after voting.

    The elections are for the new local organisations' councils and the chairmen of the Prefectural Organisations of the party, and polling stations have been set up at party offices throughout the country, in local government offices and labor centers. Eligible to vote are all registered ND members, including those who had registered for and voted in the internal elections for the new party leader on November 29. It was the first time that the ND leader was elected directly by the party's grass roots, as voting for the ND leader was extended to all of the party's registered voters. In that election, Samaras became the new party leader, taking over from former prime minister Costas Karamanlis, who resigned the post after ND's defeat in the preceding general elections.

    [02] Alternate FM calls on Turkey to withdraw occupation troops from Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    Greece's alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas called on Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fully withdraw the Turkish occupation troops from Cyprus and to return the occupied sector of Famagusta (Varosha) to its legal inhabitants, the Greek Cypriots, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of the Cypriot newspaper Fileleftheros ('Liberal').

    Droutsas also urged Ankara to abandon its "double policy" of verbal assurances of volition for a Cyprus solution while at the same time promoting partitionistic policies.

    The alternate foreign minister explained that such moves as troop withdrawal -- "and I do not mean semi-measures but a clear-cut decision for full withdrawal" -- and the return of Famagusta to its rightful inhabitants are "actions that Mr. Erdogan can make, thus proving that he is a leader who is truly changing the face of his country".

    Droutsas further said that Greece's support of Turkey's EU course is neither "random support" nor provides a "blank check".

    He also warned that those who endorse a special partnership with Turkey instead of full EU membership are undermining the reform effort in Turkey, and stressed that if partitionist policies were advanced distancing a Cyprus solution, "there will be no relationship with Turkey to discuss".

    On the calls for an international conference on the Cyprus issue, Droutsas explained the Greek position that such a conference would be meaningful provided the negotiation process has progressed sufficiently, with respect to convergence of views by the two sides, to enable substantive progress in the international aspects of the Cyprus problem.

    Further, an inviolable condition for an international conference is the participation of the Cyprus Republic in such a conference which, Droutsas said, cannot and should not substitute for the necessary "Cyprus solution" coming from Cyprus itself and a "European solution".

    When the conditions are ripe, an international conference on the international aspects of the Cyprus issue would be useful, Droutsas said, adding that Greece was in full agreement and coordination with the Cyprus government on that issue.

    He also stressed that Greece remains at the side of Cyprus and the Cypriot people "with actions, and not only in words", adding that it has proven this from the very first moment.

    [03] Simitis on calls that he testify over Siemens in Parliament

    Former prime minister Costas Simitis on Saturday replied to main opposition New Democracy's proposal that he be summoned to testify in the Parliamentary inquiry into the Siemens scandal, issuing a statement that said the fact-finding committee had "more serious things to do".

    The only purpose of ND's proposal was to boost the leadership image of its president Antonis Samaras, he noted.

    "When a former prime minister is summoned to a discussion without evidence or witness accounts that concern him personally, what will dominate is conjecture, unsupported assumptions, verbal insults and accusations. The aim, however, is the truth and not personal or party conflict," he asserted.

    Responding to the statement, an ND announcement stressed that the party was neither incriminating nor targeting any one.

    "We do not understand why Mr. Simitis is put out by ND's initiative," it said, pointing out that several PASOK MPs had made a similar proposal after the revelations that two top-flight members of PASOK and close associates of Simitis had taken money from Siemens.

    [04] Pangalos newspaper interview

    Deputy president of the government Theodoros Pangalos said that one must not expect in the future any attempt of a cover-up on the part of ruling PASOK if any direct or indirect indications of party cadre implication in cases of intransparency, in an interview with the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper.

    He said that PASOK's failure, "which was also the failure of the major modernisation venture of the Greek people from 2000 to 2004", was due to the fact that the solidarity that existed among the top-ranking cadres gradually turned into complicity.

    Pangalos explained that when, during the PASOK government of former prime minister Costas Simitis, he had spoken out about corruption "I was not speaking necessarily about corruption among the party cadres...I saw the corruption, I could touch it, it would come and find me in the sense that the victims of the corruption were protesting".

    He also criticised former New Democracy prime minister Costas Karamanlis' governance.

    Pangalos further criticised the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for the decline in Greek tourism due to its (strike) actions.

    [05] 31st Marathon Peace March held on Sunday

    The 31st Marathon Peace March dedicated to slain left-wing politician and peace activist Grigoris Lambrakis was held in Attica on Sunday, starting off at the Tomb of Marathon and ending in Syntagma Square in the afternoon.

    The march was organised by the Greek Committee for the International Recession and Peace and went through Nea Makri, Rafina, Pikermi and Agia Paraskevi. At the finishing line in Syntagma, organisers arranged a rally with World Peace Council General Secretary and KKE MP Thanassis Pafilis as the main speaker, followed by a musical event.

    The central message of this year's peace march was to demand the immediate return of all Greek troops stationed abroad in "imperialist operations", to not concede sovereign rights in the Aegean and "disengage the country from all imperalist mechanisms".

    "We do not accept that the Greek people by decision of the government should finance the aggressive plans of imperalism," Pafilis stressed during his speech.

    Financial News

    [06] Econ minister: Market prices to fall by 20 percent after ministry initatives

    Economy, competitiveness and shipping minister Louka Katseli said Sunday that the first bill on simplification of the procedures for setting up a company is due to be passed through parliament on Wednesday, noting also that with the initiatives taken by the ministry she anticipates prices on the market to fall by approximately 20 percent.

    Addressing an event on the theme "Northern Greece at the crossroads of energy networks and viable development" held on the sidelines of the 19th Panhellenic trade fair Thrace 2010, Katseli said that the bill will reduce the time and procedures required for setting up a company from the present 15 steps and 38 days to one step in one day, through the activation of the new General Register of Companies (GEMI), the link-up of one-stop services including the Citizens' Service Centers (KEP), notaries and Chambers with the TAXIS Tax Bureau service and the social security funds, which will also reduced in a 75 percent reduction in the cost of setting up an enterprise.

    The next step in the process will be the simplification of the procedures for licencing and operation of a company, she said, adding that in the next 1-2 months the second bill in the series will be passed through parliament, which concerns large-scale investments. It is a framework for swift licencing of major projects, large-scale investments, she said. The third bill, she continued, which concerns simplification of all the licensing procedures for all kinds of investments, will be tabled afterwards.

    By the end of the year, she stressed, Greece will have a modern regulatory framework that will truly boost healthy entrepreneurship in Greece.

    Giving an account on the results so far of her ministry's bill for providing liquidity to enterprises, she said that since December, when the law regulating the debts of professionals was passed, some 27,000 enterprises have benefited from its arrangements.

    On the Public Investments Program for Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Katseli said that a 700 million euros developmental program was in progress, while overall programs of approximately 2 billion euros were currently in progress, up to June-July, under the National Strategic Reference Program (NSRF). She explained that these were 'targeted programs' for small and medium-size enterprises in processing, commerce and green development, while next month specialise programs will be announced for exporting companies, in a bid to boost extroversion.

    The minister also noted that two new programs under the Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro Businesses (TEMPME) announced just a few days earlier concern export companies, so as to help lending to them while, in tandem, approximately 600 million euros will be channeled to the TEMPME via the European Investment Bank (EIB) for relatively low-interest loans that will boost the market.

    Regarding the operation of market competition, Katseli noted that there were large concentrations and harmonised practices throughout the entire spectrum of the market and, with very specialised targeted interventions, the ministry was facilitating the opening of the markets and professions.

    [07] Meeting on privatisations at finance ministry

    A lengthy meeting to discuss the privatisation programme announced by the government was held at the finance ministry on Saturday, to prepare for next week's cabinet meeting where final decisions on the issue will be made.

    Taking part in the meeting were Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas and Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.

    Among the plans examined was the sale of shares in the Athens water and drainage company EYDAP, the sale of a minority share of TRAINOSE with the state retaining a 51 percent majority, as well as concession agreements for airports, ports, logistics centres, highways, the sale of casinos and the exploitation of state real estate.

    The government hopes that the programme will yield revenue of at least one billion euros this year.

    In addition to the sale of state companies, the privatisation programme also envisages sales of shares, seeking out strategic investors, and contracts leasing public property for specific periods of time.

    [08] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.248

    Pound sterling 0.856

    Danish kroner 7.500

    Swedish kroner 9.735

    Japanese yen 113.96

    Swiss franc 1.437

    Norwegian kroner 8.025

    Canadian dollar 1.305

    Australian dollar 1.465

    General News

    [09] AEK-PAOK supporters brawl escalates; Handball Final Four postponed

    The Final Four games in the men's handball cup were postponed indefinitely by Greek authorities on Saturday, after scenes of runaway violence between rival supporters of AEK, Athens and PAOK, Thessaloniki in Lamia. The two sides had been scheduled to play a semi-final in the city later on Saturday.

    In an announcement, Sports General Secretary Panagiotis Bitsaksis said that all four games in the final had been indefinitely postoned at the recommendation of the Greek Police because of the violent incidents, that continued with even greater intensity at the city's indoor stadium.

    Bitsaksis said that he had invited the board of the Handball Federation to his office on Monday to discuss the issue and the measures that need to be taken.

    According to reports coming in on Saturday evening, the city was still in an uproar as police pursued some 200 AEK supporters through the streets after the incidents at Lamia's indoor stadium.

    A further nine people, among them a police officer, were taken to Lamia hospital with injuries caused by items thrown at the stadium. Six PAOK supporters and 10 AEK supporters were arrested and this made the climate even more explosive, with the enraged hooligans running rampage through a local supermarket, from which they looted food.

    The incidents have caused extensive damage to the city's indoor stadium, where the rival team supporters initially attacked each other using flares, then started ripping up the seats and throwing them at each other. A group also broke into the stadium toilets and smashed up the tiles to use as missiles, causing the situation to spin even further out of control and prompting authorities to evacuate the stadium and cancel the games.

    The incidents had begun early on Saturday morning, while the city's scant police force had proved unable to contain the hundreds of rival supporters that had poured into Lamia, so that an early morning brawl that left two injured and needing hospitalisation had escalated into an all-out 'war' by later the same day.

    Local residents going about their business were forced to look on in horror as rival hooligans threw petrol bombs, kiosks in the centre of the city went up in flames and streets were choked with tear gas and flash grenades used by embattled police to disperse the combatants.

    Another seven people had to be taken to hospital, six of them team supporters injured in the fray and one passer-by that was overcome by acute discomfort because of the tear gas. According to doctors, all the injuries are minor.

    During the incidents at around 8:00 on Saturday morning, some 100 supporters of PAOK, Thessaloniki had descended on a clubhouse for Athens-based AEK supporters in central Lamia, attacking two people that were there with knives and setting it on fire.

    [10] Ninety arrested in police crime sweep

    Western Macedonia Region police on Saturday announced the arrest of 90 people during a crime sweep through W. Macedonia prefectures the night before, of which 81 were illegal migrants.

    In an operation using 154 officers and all western Macedonia police headquarters on Friday night, police checked a total of 908 people and 667 vehicles.

    They picked up 81 illegal migrants that were all deported back to Albania, while another foreign national was arrested for trafficking. The remaining arrests involved individuals, both Greeks and foreigners, arrested for a variety of offences, including drug-related cases.

    Police also confiscated 35 packets of cannabis weighing roughly one kilo, 9.4 grammes cannabis, five fireworks, three cars, two fake service notes and wrote out tickets for 15 minor offences and 100 traffic code violations.

    [11] 29th Thessaloniki Book Fair opens to public

    The 29th Thessaloniki Book Fair opened on Saturday along the shore outside the White Tower in the Northern Greek capital.

    The annual event is organised by the Publishers' Association of Northern Greece.

    This year, the Fair is dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the birth of the late actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri, who founded the event.

    The Fair will run through June 13.

    [12] World Naked Bike Ride in Thessaloniki on June 4

    The northern Greek city of Thessaloniki is to hold its 3rd World Naked Bike Ride (WBNR) on Friday, June 4 as a demonstration against "the exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution that they generate".

    "We are promoting the bicycle as a means of transport that contributes to lessening dependence on oil while at the same time supporting the elimination of guilt about the naked body," said the chief organiser of the event Constantinos Terzopoulos.

    Nakedness is optional but not mandatory, with riders encouraged to go "as bare as you dare". About 500 people are expected to participate in the bike ride this year, some naked and others wearing body paint or enlisting art to decorate themselves and their bikes in what organisers describe as the "most extreme peaceful action that one can carry out".

    "Painted and decorated bodies and bicycles, natural decoration, accessories, colours and music will be our weapons in striving for cities that are ever more friendly to people and bicycles," organisers said.

    The World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is a global movement that began in 2004 and has now spread to more than 70 cities throughout the world, each of which organise an annual WNBR to promote the use of bicycles and celebrate the human body. The first ride in Greece was organised in the city of Thessaloniki on June 27, 2008 and the following year on June 4, 2009.

    [13] Eight-year-old hospitalised with gunshot wound

    An eight-year-old girl was admitted to Athens' children's hospital late on Friday with a gunshot injury to the head, sustained while playing outside her home in the Athens district of Zefyri.

    The girl was taken to hospital by her step-father, where doctors discovered the wound on the left side of her head and performed surgery. Her condition was described as stable.

    The girl's family said that she was playing outside when she suddenly fell down. They ran to her and discovered the injury to her head. At the hospital, doctors ascertained that the wound was caused by a shell from a firearm.

    An inquiry has been launched by the West Attica Security Police, which is investigating to find where the shot was fired from.

    [14] Migrant smuggler arrested in Didymoteicho

    Border police on Sunday arrested a Turkish national for "facilitating the illegal entrance of foreign nationals into Greece".

    Teams of police officers set up in the framework of combating illegal migration, with the assistance of FRONTEX police, located and arrested the migrant smuggler near Didymoteicho for illegally transporting eight illegal migrants from Turkey to Greece in a plastic boat.

    The detainee will appear before a local prosecutor.

    A total of 28 migrant smugglers have been arrested in the region since the beginning of the year under the special plan for combating illegal migration.

    [15] Drug arrests

    Two people were arrested on narcotics possession charges on Sunday, Kozani police said.

    According to police, the illegal migrants squad arrested a 35-year-old foreign national along the Kozani-Larissa stretch of the national highway after a spot check of his car revealed two satchels containing 35.645 kilos of cannabis in 35 plastic packets.

    During questioning, the detainee confessed that another 39-year-old fellow national in a car ahead of him was acting as a look-out and facilitating the transportation of the drug. The accomplice was arrested later after a chase.

    Both suspects will appear before a Kozani prosecutor.

    [16] Rethymno man to be charged with raping 10-year-old

    A 34-year-old resident of Rethymno, Crete was arrested on Sunday as the main suspect in the rape of a 10-year-old Bulgarian girl living in the area. The suspect, who had a previous arrest on similar charges, was brought in after a police investigation and positively identified by the victim as the man that raped her.

    The man apparently attacked the girl in her home in the old city of Rethymno at around midday on Saturday, while her parents were out at work.

    [17] Quake shakes Evros border region

    An earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale shook the Evros border region at 8:10 on Saturday, though the epicentre of the quake was in neighbouring Turkey, some 100 kilometres east of the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis.

    The tremor was felt by residents of Evros but no victims or damage were reported.

    Weather forecast

    [18] Cloudy, high temperatures

    Cloudy weather is forecast throughout most of the country on Monday, with intermittent showers and storms a possibility from the afternoon. Winds southerly, between 2-5 Beaufort. Temperatures high, ranging from 12C to 33C. Cloudy in Athens, with temperatures between 18C and 32C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 17C and 28C.

    [19] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The investigation into the Siemens slush funds case, catharsis in the two mainstream parties after PASOK former minister Tasos Mantelis' admission of receiving money from the German company, the economy and the new social security system were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "2.5 billion euros breather for the market - The Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro Businesses (TEMPME SA) opens its purse strings".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Complete reversal of labor relations".

    AVGHI: "The Left an embankment against political corruption and political 'desertification'."

    AVRIANI: "Simitis (PASOK former prime minister) fears the parliamentary fact-finding commission (on the Siemens scandal)".

    CHORA: "End to the 'asylum' of prime ministers - Green light from Papandreou and Samaras".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Simitis 'bomb' in Papandreou's hands - The 'controlled catharsis' plan derailed after Mantelis' shocking admission".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Ministers implicated in graft - Siemens: relations of 9 top PASOK and ND officials with the slush funds being investigated".

    ETHNOS: "Invasion of IMF inspectors in ministries and banks - Tens of inspectors coming with...reshuffle in their luggage".

    KATHIMERINI: "Explosive combination of incompetence and corruption - Mantelis' cynical admission rocks the political system".

    LOGOS: "New social security system brings reductions to pensions of up to 30 percent - To be tabled in parliament in the coming days".

    NIKI: "Burning answers on the new social security system".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Seamen on strike on Monday against the government, the EU and shipowners - The lifting of the cabotage restrictions is at the expense of all the people".

    TO VIMA: "The huge anger brings political earthquake - 8.5 billion euros in kickbacks passed through Mantelis' hands".

    VRADYNI: "Pensions: By how much they will be reduced".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [20] President: Greek Cypriot side ready for honourable compromise


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias assured on Sunday that the Greek Cypriot side is ready for an honourable compromise in the Cyprus problem and will do everything possible so that the talks for a settlement reach a positive outcome.

    He added that his aim was a solution that will terminate the occupation and settling, reunify the territory, the people, the institutions and the economy, and will restore and safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people as a whole.

    In a speech at the unveiling of a bust in honour of Tasos Markos who has been missing since the Turkish invasion, President Christofias said the Greek Cypriot side would continue making constructive proposals at the negotiating table, which would lead to reunification, and expressed hope that the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey would show the same political will.

    President Christofias pointed out that a solution must provide for a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in UN resolutions, securing the unity of the state, with a single sovereignty, a single international identity and a single citizenship.

    He said this was the basis agreed on with former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in September 2008, adding that they also agreed that the solution would be the product of an agreement between the two communities in Cyprus, and would be placed before the people at separate simultaneous referenda.

    President Christofias said with Dervis Eroglu as the new Turkish Cypriot leader, the Greek Cypriot side made clear that the negotiations must continue on the same basis.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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