|Tuesday, 17 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-06-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 17 June 2010 Issue No: 3519
 PM Papandreou arrives at Party of European Socialists summitBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch. Poulidou)
Prime Minister George Papandreou, arriving at the Party of European Socialists (PES) summit here on Wednesday night, stressed that "we are on a good path, we are continuing our efforts with intensive rates for a political rule of law and a social prosperity."
Speaking to reporters, Papandreou said that the issue of the Greek crisis highlighted the weaknesses of the international market and the need for coordinating policies.
"Today we have a support mechanism that must be consolidated, however, enacted and supplemented by a support fund," he said.
"A better supervision is also necessary for the International market which is operating with untransparency and the enactment of rules," he added and stressed that "this is an issue that we also want to be promoted at the G-20."
Papandreou noted that the Socialists believe that fiscal balance is not enough, investments are also needed to support growth, that can take place at European level with new means, such as the taxing of transactions (that can provide 200 billion euros annually), the green tax and the eurobonds.
Lastly, the Greek prime minister said that public policies must support employment and social cohesion as well as the change of the economy into a green competitive economy.
"This is our progressive proposal," Papandreou stressed in light of the discussion that the 27 European Union leaders will be having on Thursday on the strategy of "Europe 2020" and the prospepcts of economic governance.
 Greek PM to meet fYRoM counterpart in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Ch.Poulidou)
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will be meeting with his Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (fYRoM) counterpart Nikola Gruevski here on Thursday morning, on the sidelines of a European Union Summit.
The meeting is being held at the Greek initiative, in the framework of the Greek government's new practice aiming at improving relations between the two neighbouring countries, which are at odds over fYRoM's constitutional name.
Gruevski is in Brussels for contacts with the Eurpean People's Party (EPP).
 ND leader Samaras meets EPP presidentBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras held a meeting with European People's Party (EPP) president Wilfried Martens here on Wednesday and will then be participating in the EPP's summit in light of Thursday's European Union Summit.
Speaking after the meeting, the ND leader stressed the need for better economic coordination in the EU's governance.
In this framework, Samaras said he supports the strengthening of defence mechanisms against profiteers, the need for the creation of a European Assessment Firm under the supervision of the European Central Bank as well as the different role that the European Budget must play and the member-states "according to whether we are in a period of recession or growth."
The ND leader noted that in the assessment of each country's expenditures, Europe must jointly consider the fact that certain countries, such as Greece, spend huge amounts, both for their defence and the guarding of their borders that are at the same time borders of Europe itself as well.
 Papoulias meets Moubarak in Sharm el-SheikhSHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (ANA-MPA/F.Karaviti)
President of the Hellenic Republic met here on Wednesday with Egypt's President Hosni Moubarak. Talks that lasted about three hours focused on bilateral relations, international developments and especially the Middle East in the light of the situation in the Gaza Strip.
President Papoulias reiterated Greece's friendship and solidarity towards the Arab world and the Greek side's interest in peace in the region. The talks also focused on the role apparently Turkey wants to play in Middle East affairs.
Greek-Egyptian economic relations and their prospects were also at the centre of the talks, with President Papoulias underlining that Greece's financial crisis did not imply a decreased interest on its part for develpments in regions such as the Middle East.
The two presidents had also met in Athens on May 20.
 PM to chair meeting on drug issues next weekPrime Minister George Papandreou will be chairing a government ministers' meeting on tackling drug abuse and trafficking problems next week, according to an announcement made in Parliament on Wednesday by Deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister Fofi Gennimata. After the meeting, the premier will announce a series of specific measures for dealing with the problem.
Gennimata was briefing a Parliamentary committee on cooperation between the ministries involved in tackling drug issues.
She said next week's meeting will include the ministers of health, education, justice, citizens' protection, finance, interior and national defence. The aim is to decide upon an integrated programme of action on a national level, both in the short term but also in the longer term, aiming at prevention, the establishment of new treatment centres and rehabilitation.
Gennimata emphasised the need for new detox centres, pointing out that 6,000 people, the majority of them young, were currently on waiting lists to get onto a drug rehab programme, of which 3,500 were in Athens.
Deputy Education Minister Efi Christofilopoulou outline plans to introduce a class on health education in schools, starting as a pilot phase in the 800 largest all-day schools and eventually becoming part of the mandatory curriculum. Part of this course will discuss the problems of drugs.
 Birbili attends Athens Bar Association event, promises action plan on climate targets next weekThe action plan aimed at meeting the national part of the 20-20-20 targets, concerning the reduction of primary energy use and greenhouse emissions and utilization of Renewable Energy Sources, will be presented next week Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said Wednesday in an event hosted by the Athens Bar Association.
"The action plan is not merely a contractual obligation but sets the principles for the country's strategic energy planning, which will have to be long-term in order to be strategic," she said.
Birbili pointed out that "the combination of energy saving and the speedy implementation of RES is the only guaranteed and environmentally friendly solution on which humanity can rely in the long-term."
 LAOS party leader on FYROM issuePopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, referring on Wednesday to the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), accused the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) parties of "moving the red line all the time."
Indirectly, he called for a referendum in Greece, in the event that a bilateral agreement is reached, and invoked a similar move by FYROM's prime minister Nikola Gruevski who, as Karatzaferis said, imposed the "red line."
The LAOS leader further said "on the national issue of the name of Skopje, the two mainstream parties, are moving the red line all the trime. He, however, who imposed it is Mr. Gruevski demanding that a referendum be held in his country, something that both PASOK and ND fear in Greece."
 Mantelis 'friend' banned from leaving the countryAppeals Court Chief Prosecutor I. Sakelakos has imposed a prohibition on leaving the country on businessman George Tsougranis, a close friend of PASOK former minister Tassos Mantelis, who recently admitted before a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the Siemens slush funds that he received a "campaign donation" from the German company and has also been banned from leaving the country.
Tsougranis, who together with Mantelis faces charges of legalising income from illegal activity (money laundering), admitted to the parliamentary inquiry commission of opening a Swiss bank account in 1998 under the name "A. Rocos" on behalf of Mantelis.
A deposit of 200,000 deutschemarks was made by Siemens in November 1998 into that account, while both have testified that they do not know the origin of an additional 250,000 deutschemarks deposited into the account in February 2000.
 ND official on Ecumenical PatriarchateMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party Foreign Policy and International Relations Political Responsibility sector chief Dimitris Avramopoulos, referring on Wednesday to the positive decision taken for the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the European Court of Human Rights on a historic orphanage, stressed that "it is time for Turkey to realise that the History and the Ecumenicality of the Patriarchate cannot be disputed and that they are above national legislation, because they constitute inviolable general principles of International Law, jus cogens rules."
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Turkey to return the historic orphanage on the largest of the Princes' islands to the Ecumenical Patriarchate within three months. The disputed building is on the island of Buyukada (or 'Prinkipo' in Greek), the largest among the nine islands in the Sea of Marmara.
 Archbishop of Albania arrives in CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos/CNA)
Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania Anastasios arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday.
Speaking at Larnaka airport, Archbishop Anastasios expressed the wish God to shorten the time until the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II, welcomed Archbishop of Albania and expressed his happiness for his presence in Cyprus.
Cyprus Archbishop said that this is not the first time Archbishop Anastasios visited Cyprus, noting however that this time he visits Cyprus at the invitation of the University of Cyprus, which will honour him.
"We will find an opportunity to meet and talk in our language, the language of Church", said Archbishop Chrysostomos, noting that they will discuss among others, the issue of the Pan-orthodox Conferences.
"I believe that we will hear his views on many issues concerning the Orthodoxy and the Christian world", he added.
On Thursday, Archbishop Anastasios will be proclaimed an honourary doctor of the Univeristy of Cyprus.
 Greek gov't unveils proposals for reforming labour marketLabour Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday sent to the government's social partners for consultation a draft of a Presidential Decree over reforming labour relations in the country and in particular changes in the monthly ceiling for lay-offs and cutting compensation to laid off workers.
More analytically, the Presidential Decree envisages that enterprises with a workforce between 20 and 150 workers will be allowed to lay off up to six workers per month, while for enterprises with a workforce of more than 150 workers, this figure could reach up to 30 workers per month.
The Labour ministry's recommendations envisages that compensation payment to laid off workers could be cut by 50 pct if employers offered a four-month written warning to workers, while new terms on employment and payment for newcomers in the labour market were also envisaged along with special contribution rights offered to workers over 55 years of age who lost their jobs.
The government recommends that young people aged up to 21 years would be hired with a salary up to 80 pct of minimum wages, while for people aged 21-25 this percentage would be raised to 85 pct of the minimum wage.
 Labour Confederation on Labour ministry's Presidential DecreeThe General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Wednesday termed the Labour ministry's Presidential Decree on reforming the labour market "unacceptable and unconstitutional".
The confederation stressed in an announcement that the Presidential Decree's content "pales before the preceding memorandum," stressing that it categorically rejects it and "returns it to its sender as leniently unacceptable."
GSEE is preparing to resort to Greek and European courts, as well as to the International Labour Bureau.
 Employment minister to confer with EU-IMF troika on ThursdayEmployment minister Andreas Loverdos will meet on Thursday with the team of European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' currently in Athens to review progress in Greece's economic streamlining program.
The discussions will focus on the planned changes to social security and labor, as well as on the social security funds.
The troika will examine if and to what degree the changes being advanced by the Greek government are in line with the content of the memorandum signed by Greece with the troika. They will also evaluate the data to be presented by the minister regarding reduction in state pharmaceutical expenditure.
The ministry's target is to table the social security reform bill in parliament by the end of June, while Presidential Decrees will be issued on changes in labor relations such as increasing the quota of dismissals allowed in private enterprises and reduction of the relevant indemnities.
 Environment minister on policy for hazardous wasteEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Wednesday announced that her ministry intends to place a higher priority on managing hazardous wastes, with a drive beginning in the next few days. She warned that those currently holding or producing hazardous wastes will be given six months to come up with a viable solution for managing them safely.
Addressing a seminar on the recycling and management of urban waste in Attica, Birbili said that companies will be invited to submit their proposals on management sites for hazardous waste within a month and a half. Unless they managed to put their proposal into action within six months, however, the ministry would step in and impose a solution, choosing disposal sites based on current legislation.
"If necessary, we will pass legislation for this. The environment ministry will ensure that applications for environmental permits for installations to handle hazardous wastes are examined and assessed extremely rapidly so that they can be carried out. We are determined to support any viable solution that is proposed by the private sector, in accordance with the principle that the polluter pays," she said.
The minister stressed that Greece could not at this time afford to risk a conviction from the European Court of Justice over failure to comply with EU waste management laws, not just because of the financial and environmental costs but also because the country could not afford yet another blow to its credibility.
"By carrying out the actions and projects planned, combined with the operation of the Ano Liosia unit (mechanical recycling and composting plant) and recycling we achieve the target for processing all waste and more than meet the goal of diverting biodegradables from burial."
She also stressed that Attica had to overshoot targets, taking advantage of economies of scale in order to help other areas like islands to meet the national goals.
On a more general level, she called for a change in consumption and production models that would result in more products using fewer natural resources.
"We must use natural resources, generating less waste during the manufacture of products," she said.
 Vgenopoulos calls for PM's intervention in battered health sectorHigh-profile Greek corporate executive Andreas Vgenopoulos, who manages the Athens-based MIG Groups of companies, on Wednesday called for the intervention of the prime minister himself in the debt-battered health care sector.
Vgenopoulos spoke in his capacity as Hygeia group vice-president, the company that operates some of the largest private hospitals in the country.
"The public hospital sector is on the verge of collapse and if this happens there will be consequences for the Greek economy," Vgenopoulos stressed, adding that "transactions in the sector health in recent years constitute the biggest scandal in Greece. It is 40 or 150 times the Siemens scandal depending on how far back into the past we choose to go."
"Three simple moves and actions implemented within a period of a few months can bring notable improvements in the sector of health," he said. "Namely, to have hospital finances checked by auditors, proceed with computerised applications and online competitions."
As regards the most recently announced settlement of hospital debts to suppliers, Vgenopoulos said "swindlers engaging in overpricing practices, as high as 800 pct, are being rewarded, as opposed to the honest ones," adding that cases of directly assigned contracts that involved overpricing practices should be brought to justice.
Referring to the Hygeia Group investments abroad, he said that the Hygeia Tirana will open on July 1, 2010 and announced that Turkey will be the next investment market.
 Foreign ministry holds 'information day' for businessDeputy Foreign Minister Spiros Kouvelis on Wednesday addressed a two-day event at the foreign ministry held to provide Greek business people with information on countries of potential interest for partnerships and investment, stressing the importance of economic diplomacy during a time of economic crisis.
"Now is the time for Greece to open its wings, get out and strive for the markets and partnerships it deserves," Kouvelis said.
The event was focused on the countries of Egypt, Libya and Turkey, with Kouvelis encouraging Greek business people to work closely with the foreign ministry and shed their reservations about heading abroad.
 Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce on credit rating downgradingHellenic American Chamber of Commerce president Yiannos Grammatidis termed Moody's decision to downgrade Greece's credit rating by 4 units untimely "in a period where it is proved that efforts are taking place to improve infrastructures for the rewarming of the economy."
He also called on the prime minister to urgently create a new National Reconstruction ministry.
 Greek inflation at 5.3% in MayBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
Greek inflation jumped to 5.3 pct in May, up from 4.7 pct in April, Eurostat announced on Wednesday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 1.6 pct in May from 1.5 pct in April (it was zero in May 2009), while in the EU-27, the inflation rate was unchanged at 2.0 pct in May (0.8 pct in May 2009).
Latvia (-2.4 pct), Ireland (-1.9 pct) and the Netherlands (0.4 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates, while Greece (5.3 pct), Hungary (4.9 pct) and Romania (4.4 pct) the highest levels. The inflation rate rose in 12 EU-member states; it was unchanged in five and fell in 10 member-states.
 Analysis on causes of inflation increaseAn anlysis prepared by the Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping ministry on the causes of the increase in inflation notes that structural problems continue to appear in specific products and services markets, such as housing, education and clothing and footwear, reiterating and providing evidence that the upward course of the Consumer Prices Index is mainly the result of taxes.
The ministry stresses that the change, of the Harmonised Consumper Prices Index "in the event that the taxes for basic products remain stable, is presenting a downward trend, since from 1.9 percent in January 2010 it decreased to 1.3 percent in May 2010."
It added that "the increase in inflation during the first five months of 2010, is mainly due to the considerable changes in the tax burden for products and services, that occurred in the March-May 2010 period."
 Greek tourism down 10 pct so far this year, Chamber saysTourism arrivals were down around 10 pct so far this year, while hotel room prices were also down by 10 pct, George Tsakiris, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels said on Wednesday.
In an announcement, issued in reply to a report by New York Times over tourism trends in Greece, Tsakiris underlined that the report -alleging a 30 pct decline in arrivals- was unjustifiable and stressed that the Chamber was in close contact with regional hoteliers' unions to timely updating tourism arrivals figures.
 Papariga expresses support for Shelman workforceCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday met with the workers' union at Shelman SA, urging the government to intervene to protect Shelman's workforce against lay-offs.
According to Papariga, Shelman was a strong monopoly in Greece's wood production, import and trade market and all the signs showed that it was able to continue operating. The choice of lay-offs and showing scorn for workers was a "choice linked to even greater profits with even cheaper labour costs in order to increase its profitability in this way," she added.
 Food industries' earnings down 60 pct in 2009Nearly half of food industries in Greece recorded lower profits in 2009, while the remaining reported improved profitability despite lower production and demand, mainly in sectors where raw materials' prices fell last year. In general, however, the sector's net profits fell by 60 pct, an analysis of 2009 balance sheets -by ANA-MPA- said on Wednesday.
A report, based on the balance sheets of 464 enterprises with sales more than 3.0 million euros and total sales of 9.78 billion euros, showed that 335 enterprises were profitable and 129 were loss-making, with net profits of 77.5 million euros, down from 195.4 million euros in 2008, or 60 pct.
Pre-tax profits fell less, to 68.6 million euros or 24 pct down from 2008.
Nestle Hellas (47.4 million euros), Kraft Foods Hellas (15.5 million), Elanthi (10.4 million), Cadbury Hellas (9.9 million), E.I.Papadopoulos (9.7 million), Olympos (5.2 million), Tyras (5.2 million), Hellenic Catering (4.9 million), Loulis Mills (4.9 million) and Tasty Foods (4.7 million euros) were the top 10 profitable companies in Greece last year, while Hellenic Sugar (49.5 mln), Nestle Ice Creams (32.9 mln), Vivartia (26.1 mln), ELVIZ (10.4 mln) and Nutriart (8.1 mln) recorded the biggest losses in 2009.
Vivartia (585.8 mln), Nestle Hellas (368.1 mln), Soya Hellas (292.1 mln), FAGE (238 mln), Soya Mills (201.3 mln), Mevgal (184 mln) recorded the highest sales last year.
Gross profit margin improved slightly to 25.2 pct last year, while gross earnings fell 4 pct to 107.7 million euros. EBITDA fell 9 pct to 860.7 million euros, while EBITDA margin eased to 8.8 pct from 9.2 pct in 2008.
 OPAP expects Mundial betting revenues around 400 mln eurosOPAP, Greece's state lottery organization, on Wednesday said it expected revenues from betting services related with the World Football Cup to be unchanged around 2006 levels (425 million euros).
Speaking to reporters, during a news conference, OPAP's chairman Haris Stamatopoulos and chief executive Yiannis Spanoudakis, said new betting operations have already attracted a large number of players and stressed that early figures showed a significant increase in its turnover.
Spanoudakis said OPAP will await the government's legislative moves first before deciding its expansion to Internet markets and stressed that any such operations would not be rival to OPAP's network around the country. He noted that OPAP was examining various plans regarding its expansion abroad, although he stressed that this was not a priority for the organization.
 Intralot buys 33 pct stake in KelicomIntralot Group on Wednesday announced the purchase of a 33 pct equity stake in Kelicom -the majority shareholder in Favorit Bookmaker's Office LLC one of the largest sport betting operators in Russia.
Intralot said it has the ability to raise its equity stake in Kelicom to 100 pct and take control of Favorit. The purchase needs approval by market authorities in Russia. Kelicom plans to expand its network in the next few months. It has established its presence in 50 different regions in the country.
 Public transport work stoppage in Athens on ThursdayMass transit employees in Athens will stage a five-hour work stoppage on Thursday, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Athens Metro employees, who staged a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, will also be taking part in Thursday's mobilisations with rolling work stoppages throughout the day.
 Stocks end moderately lowerGreek stocks ended moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, reflecting lack of specific directions in the market. The composite index fell 0.46 pct to end at 1,523.06 points, with turnover shrinking to 82.20 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index fell 0.86 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.41 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.05 pct. The Food (2.21 pct) and Commerce (1.97 pct) sectors scored gains, while the Travel (7.07 pct) and Telecoms (1.83 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 87 to 70 with another 57 issues unchanged.
Edrasi (20 pct), Compucon (20 pct), Klonatex (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while OPAP (8.59 pct), Euroholdings (8.33 pct) and Texparet (8.33 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.64%
Personal & Household: -0.96%
Raw Materials: +0.72%
Travel & Leisure: -7.07%
Food & Beverages: +2.21%
Financial Services: +1.15%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Coca Cola and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.60
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.79
HBC Coca Cola: 17.69
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.97
National Bank of Greece: 10.05
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.18
Bank of Piraeus: 3.91
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 147 million euros on Wednesday, of which 52 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 57 million euros were sell orders. The 32-year benchmark bond (September 20, 2037) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 23 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 674 basis points, form 651 bps on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.38 pct and the German Bund 2.64 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were slightly up. The 12-month rate was 1.27 pct, the six-month rate 1.0 pct, the three-month 0.73 pct and the one-month rate 0.44 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.81 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 122.188 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 27,806 contracts worth 100.904 million euros, with 35,620 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 50,026 contracts worth 21.284 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (11,966), followed by Eurobank (1,855), MIG (6,632), GEK (1,267), OPAP (1,019), Piraeus Bank (1,737), National Bank (6,363), Alpha Bank (2,914), Intracom (2,526), Marfin Popular Bank (4,311), Ellaktor (1,247), Mytilineos (1,212), Intralot (1,799), Cyprus Bank (1,543) and ATEbank (1,054).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.237
Pound sterling 0.837
Danish kroner 7.497
Swedish kroner 9.678
Japanese yen 113.05
Swiss franc 1.399
Norwegian kroner 7.941
Canadian dollar 1.273
Australian dollar 1.437
 Frontex: Fewer illegal migrants in 2009, 88pct arrived via GreeceAll indicators concerning illegal immigration into the European Union were lower in 2009 compared with 2008, according to figures cited on Wednesday by the EU border agency Frontex in Athens. It said arrests for illegal entry at EU sea and land borders had dropped 33 percent.
Frontex Deputy Executive Director Gil Arias-Fernandez noted, however, that 88 percent of illegal immigrants - almost nine in 10 - that entered the EU in 2009 had come via Greece, up from 75 percent in 2008. While this increase did not reflect a rise in the numbers arriving, it showed that a greater percentage migrants unable to enter the EU using other routes were attempting entry via Greece, he said.
The number of arrest for illegally trying to enter the EU had fallen 166,000 in 2008 to 106,000 in 2009. There was a 7 percent drop in the number of those refused entry into the EU (concerning mainly arrests at land borders), down from 121,000 to 113,000. Arrests of illegal migrants resident in the EU (mainly those arriving legally with temporary visas but staying after these expired) fell by 16 percent, from 54,000 to 45,000. There was also a 19 percent drop in arrests of asylum seekers who remained in Europe after their asylum applications were refused, from 19,000 to 16,000.
The numbers for Greece showed 14,000 arrests at the land border between Greece and Turkey in 2008, dropping to 10,000 in 2009. Along the sea border between Greece and Turkey, there were 56,000 arrests of illegal migrants in 2008, dropping to 49,000 in 2009.
During the first third of 2010, EU authorities arrested 3,500 illegal migrants at land borders and 2,900 at sea, indicating a shift in patterns of entry from the sea to the land borders. This shift was also reflected in figures unveiled by the Greek citizens' protection ministry last week, showing a 50 percent decline in arrests of migrants in the northern Aegean and and 65 percent decline in the southern Aegean. By contrast, arrests on land borders in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace increased by 167 percent (from 2,416 to 6,459). In Epirus, arrests went up from 5,616 in the first third of 2009 to 7,889 in 2010.
Fernandez officially confirmed that the first regional FRONTEX Operations Office will open in Piraeus later this year - with the office opening in July but only launching full operations in October. He said this would initially operate as a pilot phase until the end of 2011, manned by 13 experts from various EU countries, after which there will be an assessment of its contribution and a decision on whether it should continue.
He also denied any immediate plans by Frontex to use unmanned drones to help detect immigrants and police borders, saying the agency was "following developments in the industry" but had not made any decision yet.
 International Refugees Day on June 20Deputy Citizen's Protection Minister Spyros Vouyias promised on Wednesday that the bill regarding political asylum and the Initial Reception Centres will have been ratified by autumn at the latest. Vougias was participating in a press conference held by the High Commission for Refugees on the occasion of International Refugees Day on June 20.
The head of the UN High Commission's office for Refugees in Athens, George Tsarmbopoulos, repeatedly stressed during the press conference the need for the bill on political asylum to be ratified as soon as possible and at the same time for the political leadership of the ministries involved to be prepared from now so that when the bill is ratified the measures that are necessary for the law to be implemented to be taken immediately.
From old-woman's fava to fava ice-cream, Santorini's traditional product earns 'Protected Designation of Origin'
The island of Santorini has recently officially received a "Protected Designation of Origin" for its famed fava bean from the EU, which is now designated as "fava Santorinis".
The fava bean has been growing on the volcanic island for more than 3,500 years, according to historical sources, and the local housewives have developed a plethora of ways for cooking it.
The most recent addition to Santorini's fava recipes is fava ice-cream. This is an ice-cream like no other, as it is not sweet but salty, and as such is not served as a desert but as an appetizer. And, naturally, it can be found only in Santorini.
Fava ice-cream, created about a month ago by a local restaurateur who wanted to come up with something "extreme" to show the prospects of this local staple product, will be the showcase item of a culinary event to be held on the island this weekend, titled "From old woman's fava to fava ice-cream" featuring the numerous traditional and imaginative recipes the locals have devised.
"Old woman's fava" (fava tis grias) is one of the oldest recipes passed down through tradition, and is a winter recipe that also used lard from the locally bred pits and tomato paste made from the local small-size tomatoes. Local fava recipes include meatless 'fava meatballs', fava soup, fava porridge, fava with rice and fava omelettes, to more modern dishes such as fava quiches and fava crepes, and a variety of meat and fish dishes topped with a creamy fava sauce.
 Cypriot-Australian author's poetry collection focuses on Cyprus"The Mountains Couldn't Walk Away" by Cypriot-Australian Andrea Demetriou was recently unveiled in Melbourne on the sidelines of the annual Antipodes Festival 2010.
The poetry collection reflects nostalgia and its consequences for a world which was eclipsed by the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974. The edition is illustrated with colour photographs taken by the author and has been published by La Trobe University. More than 170 people from diverse cultural backgrounds attended the launch and a musical performance of the poet.
 Karditsa murder case arrestA 25-year-old Albanian national has been charged in the homicide of a 34-year-old compatriot, who was found dead in his car in downtown Karditsa, central Greece, on May 17.
Police said the 25-year-old and accomplices savagely beat the victim, causing him fatal injuries and abandoned his body in the parked car.
After the murder the suspect allegedly left for Athens where he was arrested when he sought medical care for gunshot wounds he sustained by unidentified individuals.
The suspect, who is still hospitalized under guard, had been detained for drug-related charges. Recently he was released from Koydallos Prison on restrictive terms and was banned from leaving the country.
A police investigation continues for the arrest of other suspects.
 Fair on ThursdayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 18C and 40C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 25C to 39C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 36C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceEU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Olli Rehn and Eurogroup president Jean Claude Junker's attack against Moody's decision to downgrade the Greek bonds, the signing of 14 agreements between Greece and China, the new social security and labour bill and the condition in public hospitals, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The Chinese at Greece's side - 14 Greek-Chinese agreements signed".
APOGEVMATINI: "Public Health and Education in state of nervous breakdown".
AVGHI: "Secret deliberation on the debt - Citigroup and Barclay's exclude Greek bonds from markets".
AVRIANI: "Pharmaceuticals selling 750 percent higher than in the rest of Europe - Major robbery by pharmaceuticals' cartel ".
CHORA: "The great Chinese 'landing' - Government signed fourteen contracts with China".
ELEFTHEROS: "The most extreme waste of state money ".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Health: How the suppliers' robbery started after the abolition of tenders in 2001".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Express reversals in social security and labour system".
ESTIA: "What was in the front page of the newspaper 100 years ago: The launching of the battleship 'Averoff ' ".
ETHNOS: "University entry exams: Examiners continue abstention".
IMERISSIA: "Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's decision to boost employment: Tax incentives, halt to lay-offs
KATHIMERINI: "The new social security and labour bill - Pension at the age of 65 even for those insured before 1993".
LOGOS: "14 agreements signed between Greece and China".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "European reactions against the government".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The people should not pay for the state debts, the deficits and the crisis - New anti-popular measures on the horizon".
TA NEA: "Kallikratis plan (administrative reform) in the Greek Police, too - Attica police departments merged from 148 to 50".
TO VIMA: "Tough bargaining on relief pension and mothers - Social security bill to be finalised by Friday".
VRADYNI: "Everything changes in Civil Servants' social security system"
 Government satisfied with UN resolution, says spokesmanNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus government expresses satisfaction over the UN Security Council's resolution 1930 of 2010, which renews the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for further six months, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said.
Speaking here Wednesday, Stephanou said that the resolution is balanced and the government conceives as important the fact that it reaffirms the agreed basis of the solution, upon which the direct negotiations are taking place.
Stephanou noted that the resolution does not refer to any kind of timeframes for reaching a solution to the problem, despite Turkey's and its friendly countries' efforts to introduce timeframes to the resolution.
Replying to a question Stephanou said that Turkey's reaction clearly shows how is satisfied by the resolution and how is not. "There were efforts by Turkey and by friendly countries and allies of Turkey to introduce timeframes in the resolution and to change the agreed basis of the negotiations", he stressed.
The government spokesman pointed out that this has been prevented by the coordinated and targeted efforts undertaken by the President of the Republic, the Cyprus government and the Cyprus' friendly countries.
Referring to the resolution, Stephanou said that "it reaffirms the agreed basis, upon which the direct negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus are taking place for reaching a comprehensive solution, based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined by the UN SC relevant resolutions. The solution should be mutually agreed, and should be put into simultaneous referenda in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot community".
Stephanou underlined that the basis of the negotiations is described in the UN Security Council's resolution 1251 of 1999. He recalled that the resolution 1251 notes that "a solution of the Cyprus issue should be based on one state in Cyprus, with one and single sovereignty and international personality, and one and single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity to be safeguarded. A state that will include two politically equal communities, as defined in the UNSC relevant resolutions, in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation", he added.
Stephanou stressed that in the preamble of the resolution, the leaders' joint statements including those of 23 May and 1 July 2008 that describe the basis of the negotiations, are also welcomed.
The spokesman pointed out that President Christofias will continue the negotiations with consistency to the agreed basis and with devotion to the principles, showing the necessary realism. "And he will continue to work hard for reaching a solution that will be based on the UN relevant resolutions, the soonest possible, on the principles of the international and the European law, and on the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus", he added.
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 now continue with the President and Eroglu.
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