|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-08-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 2 August 2010 Issue No: 3556
 Truck owners vote to end strikeGreek truck owners on Sunday voted to end a strike that had starved the country of fuel and dealt a severe blow to tourist enterprises hoping to make up revenue losses from a lacklustre tourist season during the July-August peak.
The vote was carried by a narrow majority during the truckers' general meeting and not before serious problems had been caused to the supply of goods to markets throughout Greece. Truck owners are now waiting for the government to end the civil mobilisation and warned that they will resume strike action if the government failed to honour its side of the bargain. If all goes well, they go back to work on Monday.
The meeting had been preceded by a flurry of consultations the day before that also involved other professional groups, which mediated between truckers and the government with proposals that truck owners suspend their open-ended strike if the government stopped a civil mobilisation to force truck owners back to work and requisition their vehicles.
The proposal was adopted by both striking truckers and Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, provided that the truckers pledged not to begin any new strike action while dialogue on a draft bill to open up the road freight sector was underway. The draft bill is due to be voted on at the end of September.
The minister said that the dialogue will deal with proposals linked to tax and insurance issues relating to truck owners and ways to make them eligible for assistance under the development law. At the same time, he ruled out any discussion on extending the three-year transition period from the current licensing regime to the new system.
According to the truckers' union president Georgios Tzortzatos, all truck owners will return to their work on Monday morning on condition that the government annuls its civil mobilisation order and a new round of dialogue starts with the government.
"We reached the decision with a sense of responsibility and taking in account all the problems that have been caused by the truckers' action," Tzortzatos said.
According to the latest reports, meanwhile, private, armed forces and requisitioned fuel tanker trucks were making good progress restocking the market with fuel, with a large number of petrol stations in Attica and Thessaloniki now having adequate supplies.
Truck owners began last Monday after the government unveiled a draft bill that opens up the road freight market that is currently only open to government-licensed "public use" vehicles. The last truck licences in the country were issued by the government in the 1970s and there has since developed an informal market in truck licences.
The government commenting late Sunday afternoon on the decision by the truck owners earlier in the day to end their strike said it would withdraw an order for civil mobilisation when market is normalised.
"It is clear that, on condition that transporters return to their duties and the market's functioning is absolutely normalised, civil mobilisation has no sense," a statement by the government said.
"As everybody assertains, the market is becoming normal, yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday). The transports market will open. This reform is necessary for the economy and the citizens and for this reason the draft bill will go ahead," the statement added.
 Athens: Greek position on Kosovo known, unchangedBELGRADE (ANA-MPA / N. Pelpas)
Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas held a meeting here on Saturday with Serbian FM Vuk Jeremic, during which the two men focused on the thorny Kosovo issue and Serbia's European prospect.
At a press conference, Droutsas stressed that his visit to Belgrade was aimed at briefing Serbian leadership on the EU ministers' council, where the Kosovo issue was discussed after an International Court of Justice ruling on the issue.
He underlined that viable solutions based on consensus for all open issues in the region were being sought and reiterated that Greece's position on the Kosovo issue is well known and will not change.
Meanwhile, a cooperation memorandum was signed, which foresees that Greece will offer know-how in all sectors during Serbia's preparation for accession into the European Union.
"Serbia's future is in the EU and the Serbian people, in this course, will have Greece's support," the Greek official said.
On his part, Jeremic said relations between Belgrade and Athens were never better and will get even better.
Droutsas later departed for Pristina, where he will have a series of meeting with Kosovo leadership, while afterwards he will visit a Greek peacekeeping headquarters in the region.
 Droutsas visits Pristina, stresses region's EU prospectsVisiting the city of Pristina on Saturday night, Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met Kosovo's leadership and emphasised Athens' position supporting the accession of the entire Western Balkan region to the European Union, as expressed by its 'Agenda 2014' initiative. During the visit he held talks with the Kosovo administration's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and its president Fatmir Sejdiu.
"The important thing is that all the member-states of the Union - all 27 of them - agree on a very important point, that this region has clear European prospects and that the future of the entire region lies [within Europe]. We, as Greece, are proud that we belong to those countries that have promoted and continue to promote this idea of a European future for the region," he said in a joint press conference after meeting with Thaci.
Droutsas also emphasised that Greece could play a special role in this direction as a country that was part of the region. He particularly highlighted the potential contribution of Prime Minister George Papandreou, saying that Papandreou's personal relations with Serb President Boris Tadic and Thaci could contribute to an open dialogue between the two sides.
Asked whether Greece intended to recognise Kosovo as an independent state, following the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion in favour of Kosovo's independence, Droutsas said that this was a decision taken by each country by itself and again emphasised the need to look at the region's European future.
 ND leader visits Rethymno, CreteMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras was briefed on the problems faced by Rethymno prefecture on Crete during a visit there on Saturday evening.
Samaras attended a meeting at the Rethymno Chamber of Industry and Commerce, also attended by ND MP Olga Kefalogiannis and other Cretan officials. ND's leader afterward described the meeting as constructive and promised to carefully examine a memorandum he was given analysing the area's problems and needs.
According to local officials, income from tourism in Rethymno is reduced 10 percent relative to the previous year and many tourist enterprises were now in trouble. Locals also complained about insufficient transport links to their part of Crete.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.313
Pound sterling 0.841
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 9.508
Japanese yen 113.52
Swiss franc 1.364
Norwegian kroner 8.004
Canadian dollar 1.356
Australian dollar 1.458
 August exodus smaller than in 2009The first wave of city-dwellers leaving urban centres for their holidays peaked this weekend but was significantly smaller than the previous year, according to traffic police estimates.
Partly on account of the economic crisis and the much higher price of petrol but also because of the truck owners' strike and the uncertainty about whether holiday-makers would be able to find fuel at their destination far fewer private cars were on the road.
Seats on inter-city buses or trains were fully booked, however, as were those on all domestic flights.
Those opting to travel to the Aegean islands and Crete by boat were fewer than last year, with both the number of routes and the number of passengers reduced by 8-9 percent relative to last year.
Specifically, the shipping ministry reported that 30 ships carrying a total of 35,814 passengers and 6,684 vehicles left Piraeus on Saturday while on the equivalent Saturday the previous year there had been 33 ships carrying 38,564 passengers and 6,675 vehicles.
A further 31 ships are scheduled to leave Piraeus on Sunday, and another 19 from Rafina.
 Sozopol finds claimed as St. John the Baptist relicsSOFIA (ANA-MPA - B. Borisov)
Bulgarian archaeologists carrying out an excavation on St. Ivan's island off the coast of Sozopol on Sunday announced the discovery of what they say are relics of St. John the Baptist.
Bones from a hand, a face and a tooth were contained in an alabaster reliquary shaped like a miniature sarcophagus. This was found during an excavation of an ancient church on the island that was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and destroyed in a fire. Next to this was a smaller box made of a type of stone typically found in Palestine, on which there were two inscriptions in ancient Greek, one of which was the name of St. John the Baptist.
Professor Kazimir Popkonstantinov, who headed the dig on St. Ivan's, explained that the monastery and church of St. Ivan's were an important religious centre during the Middle Ages.
The relics have been turned over to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and will be probably remain in a local church in Sozopol.
 Fires in the PeloponneseTwo wildfires broke out on Sunday in the region of Kastritsi and Platani in the Achaia prefecture, northern Peloponnese. Eight fire engines with a 20 member crew assisted by a foot division were battling the blaze which continues to burn brushland and farm expanses.
The blaze at Kastritsi has been partly contained.
Another blaze that broke out at the area of Lithopetra, is partly under control.
 Stockbreeders charged in Samos wildfireThree stockbreeders on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, arrested late Friday on arson charges related to a devastating wildfire on the verdant isle days earlier, have been referred to a local prosecutor on felony counts.
According to initial reports, at least one of the three suspects has confessed to starting the blaze.
 Sunny, hot on MondayFair weather and high temperatures with northerly winds is forecast for Monday. Wind velocity will reach 5 on the Beaufort climate. Scattered clouds in the north with temperatures ranging from 17C-35C. Fair in the central and the south parts, 17C-37C and sunny on the islands, 22C-33C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe new economic measures demanded by European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF inspectors and the government's handling of the truck owners' strike dominated the front-page items in Athens' dailies on Sunday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government like a....runaway truck! The first nightmarish 96 hours that dried out Greece and the next that will undo it...".
APOGEVMATINI: "New levy for civil servants. They'll have to dig deeper into their pockets from 2011 in order to pay obligations for retirement lump sums!".
ARTHRO: "New Memorandum at the gates. The government close to signing new document with the 'troika' (European Commission-ECB-IMF)"
AVGHI: "Wintertime in August..." (article criticising "government coups" to completely subjugate labour reactions, along the lines of the truck owners' strike).
AVRIANI: "After the truck owners it will be the turn of the public utilities".
CHORA: "The many forms of political violence and the government's 'papal infallibility'. The imposition of decisions on all classes is done without...an anaesthetic".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Fuel fiasco lights a fire under the government"
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Pensions: who gets away before 65. Two circulars clarify the scene created by the new pension law".
EPOHI: "The army was passing all night...but truckers did not start their engines".
ETHNOS: "One billion-worth in tax evasion through leisure craft discovered by SDOE (financial crimes squad). 'Big catches' at marinas after finance ministry inspections".
KATHIMERINI: "Open wounds and closed professions. First tough clash between the government and truck owners, more expected".
LOGOS: "Growth plan an immediate necessity for the prime minister! Griping over [Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas]-[Finance Minister George Papanconstantinou] within PASOK".
NIKI: "10+1 useful tips before you retire. 'Don't rush into it', warns the legal advisor of ADEDY M. Tsipra".
PARON: "Politician's abduction among the plans of the 'Sect of Revolutionaries'".
PROTO THEMA: "Mega yacht fraud by seven 'Croesuses'. They are renting their luxury craft to themselves"
REAL NEWS: "Poisonous suspicion. They are seeking the author of the proclamation among the MEDIA".
RIZOSPASTIS: "New counter-insurance measures with an unending attack on workers".
VETO: "Petsalnikos...the Great! New grievous provocation for the sorely-tested (by the unbearable IMF measures) Greek people". [Accuses Parliament president of "two-speed" implementation of the cuts and austerity measures decided by the government]
TO VIMA: "Hard rock. Long-drawn-out conflict between George [PM George Papandreou] and trade groups. IMF demanding lay-offs at public utilities/state enterprises".
VRADYNI: "Mammoth plan to combat unemployment. The 150,000 new jobs through OAED (Manpower Employment Organisation). Labour ministry actions to start in September".
 President urges Turkish side to accept his proposalsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
If the Turkish side accepts the Greek Cypriot proposals, recently tabled at the negotiating table, the peace process could make headway, President Demetris Christofias has said, reiterating at the same time his determination to work for a political settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
"We are faced with many obstacles and difficulties on the way to a solution but we address them with hope and optimism. We are committed to a solution based on the fundamental principles for a functional and viable settlement," he said.
To this effect, he added, "we have tabled proposals which, if accepted by the Turkish side, they will give a new impetus to the negotiating process," the president said.
Outlining his proposals, he said the first suggests linking discussions on property to territory and immigration, citizenship, aliens and asylum. Property and territory are considered to be two of the most hotly contested issues at the talks President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu are engaged in.
The second proposal calls for the implementation of Security Council resolution 550 which provides for the return of the fenced off area of Varosha, now under Turkish occupation, to the UN. The objective of the proposal is to restore the town and return it to its legitimate inhabitants. The proposal envisages also the opening of the city's port for trade for Turkish Cypriots, under EU supervision, as well as the restoration of the walled city of Famagusta (old part of the city).
The third proposal relates to convening an international conference on Cyprus, once the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side are within reach of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem. This conference must be called by the UN, and apart from the Republic of Cyprus and the island's two communities, the EU, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Cyprus' three guarantor powers will attend (Greece, Turkey and Britain are the guarantor powers according to the 1960 Constitution).
The president, who was addressing a cultural event in Solea region, in Nicosia district, referred to the common struggles of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot miners of the area, saying that their joint action to claim their rights is a source of strength.
"These people are an example for us all to follow. We draw strength from our history, our traditions and our culture, which have kept us going over the centuries. Culture is a matter of survival for the people of Cyprus and a source of optimism. It unites people and only when we are united, can we reunite our homeland," the president stressed.
Proposals place Greek Cypriots to the front, says President
The set of proposals, which President Christofias has tabled at the ongoing peace talks, have placed the Greek Cypriot side at the forefront, according to the president.
In statements to the press, after a memorial service Subday for the Republic's first president, the late Archbishop Makarios III, President Christofias called for unity, saying that this is the only way to tackle Turkey's offensive communication tactics.
Referring to his proposals, he said "they have placed the Greek Cypriot side ahead" of things, adding that he will continue the dialogue with the Turkish Cypriot community.
"We have no other option but to continue. I am convinced we can make it," he said referring to the current peace effort to find a negotiated settlement.
"Turkey, once it decides on a specific strategy, follows and promotes that strategy faithfully and in a uniform manner. I believe we should act in concert too, in particular these days when Turkey is launching an offensive communications strategy," the president said, noting that various issues will be discussed on Tuesday, at the National Council meeting (the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus question, comprising the six parliamentary parties).
He acknowledged that the main responsibility for unity on the home front lies on the shoulders of the president but pointed out that political parties must also contribute towards this objective.
"We need unity to deal with the repercussions of Turkey's invasion," he said.
President Christofias and Dervis Eroglu are engaged in talks to find a mutually agreed settlement to reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
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