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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-08-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 4 August 2010 Issue No: 3558


  • [01] PM hires Italian banker Padoa-Schioppa to advise on economy
  • [02] PM Papandreou at UN in September
  • [03] Alt. FM Droutsas met with FRONTEX Executive Director Ilkka Laitinen
  • [04] Dep. Interior Minister Dolios met with prefect delegation
  • [05] Thessaloniki mayor on government-ordered audit
  • [06] Greece to send humanitarian aid to Pakistan
  • [07] FinMin to have final meeting with troika experts on Wednesday
  • [08] Birbili meets troika inspectors
  • [09] Troika presents progress report to FinMin
  • [10] Greek gov't intensifies efforts to boost tax revenues
  • [11] Drive to collect 2.68 million euros in overdue taxes
  • [12] Mykonos bar owner racks up 4 million in back-taxes, fines
  • [13] Labour Minister Loverdos visits Crete
  • [14] Tourist arrivals in Rhodes up 11.45 pct in July
  • [15] Stocks moving higher
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [19] Greece, a 'magnet' for foreign celebrities and personalities
  • [20] Samos fire under control
  • [21] Wildfire near the archaeological site of ancient Nemea
  • [22] Ancient Nemea fire partially under control
  • [23] Passenger ship crashes into Skopelos port pier; no injuries
  • [24] Human skull found in Imathia ravine
  • [25] Campers arrested in a Crete gorge for drug use, littering
  • [26] Fatal stabbing by foreign national
  • [27] Showers on Wednesday
  • [28] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [29] Discussion on unity underway at National Council Politics

  • [01] PM hires Italian banker Padoa-Schioppa to advise on economy

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday announced the appointment of Italian banker and economist Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa to advise the Greek government on economic issues.

    The announcement issued by the premier's office said that Padoa-Schioppa would be advising on macroeconomic, taxation, banking and debt management, giving the prime minister advice on issues of political planning relating to Greece's implementation of a programme of economic, fiscal and structural policy in the framework of the European support mechanism.

    According to the announcement, Padoa-Schioppa has a global knowledge of a complex network of institutional and economic facts and extensive experience in policy-making at the highest international level.

    Padoa-Schioppa served as Italy's Economy and Finance Minister under the Prodi government between May 2006 and May 2008 and has held highly influential positions in a number international financial institutions.

    He is currently a member of the Washington-based financial advisory body, the "Group of Thirty" and president of the Paris-based think thank "Notre Europe", while from October 2007 until April 2008 he was chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the top policy steering committee of the IMF.

    He has also served as president of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 1993-1997 and was a member of the European Central Bank's six-member executive board from its foundation in 1998 until the end of May 2005.

    [02] PM Papandreou at UN in September

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P.Panagiotou)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will represent Greece in a UN Summit Conference on the Millenium's Growth Targets, to be held here on September 20-22.

    Papandreou will then take part in the sessions of the 65th UN General Assembly. He will be accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.

    [03] Alt. FM Droutsas met with FRONTEX Executive Director Ilkka Laitinen

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met at the foreign ministry with FRONTEX Executive Director Ilkka Laitinen on Tuesday.

    On Monday, Laitinen inaugurated in Piraeus the first office of FRONTEX in Europe.

    [04] Dep. Interior Minister Dolios met with prefect delegation

    A meeting between Deputy Interior Minister Giorgos Dolios and a delegation of prefects on Tuesday ended in agreement that the sector of local administration faces problems, mainly financial ones. Personnel transfers and other major changes, due to the implementation of the "Kallikratis" local administration reform, were also discussed.

    "The problems are not related with Kallikratis," stressed Dolios, pointing out that the interior ministry is making a "titanic effort" to improve the finances of the prefectures.

    However, the size of the economic problem is a point of disagreement between the two sides, with the prefects maintaining that prefectural finances are being reduced by 40 pct, while the ministry sees a much smaller decline of 23 pct. The deputy minister suggested that the two sides hold a meeting at the General Accounting Office to determine the exact extent of the reduction.

    [05] Thessaloniki mayor on government-ordered audit

    Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos on Tuesday said the government's decision to carry out an audit of the municipality's finances was a pre-election stunt targeting the Thessaloniki municipality's New Democracy-backed administration.

    He pointed out that the decision to hold an audit, even though the municipality's finances were firmly in the black, had been preceded by a freeze of the municipality's bank accounts and spoke of plans to "sack" the Thessaloniki municipality by "known centres".

    [06] Greece to send humanitarian aid to Pakistan

    The Greek foreign ministry on Tuesday announced that it will send 100,000 euros-worth of humanitarian aid to flood-stricken Pakistan, by order of Deputy Foreign Minister Spiros Kouvelis.

    The aid will be given via the Greek Embassy in Islamabad in order to meet emergency needs in the flooded areas, especially the Citral region where the Kalash people live.

    Financial News

    [07] FinMin to have final meeting with troika experts on Wednesday

    Greek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou will meet with the heads of the troika experts on Wednesday morning before the delegation draft their final report on the Greek economy, on the completion of their official inspection of the economy. Based on their report, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will approve the second tranche of a loan facility to Greece, worth 9.0 billion euros, a move already discounted by Greek authorities.

    The report will envisage specific timetables offered by government ministers for the implementation of commitments undertaken by Greece last May when it signed a memorandum with the troika (such as deregulation of so-called closed professions, stricter control of the wider public sector, combating tax and social contribution evasion, etc).

    The troika pressed on with recommendations over deregulating the domestic energy market through the sale of Public Power Corporation's units, accelerating a program to merge public organizations -particularly loss-making- demanding lay-offs of surplus personnel, or counterbalancing the cost of maintaining personnel with other fiscal measures.

    The troika experts underlined the door must remain open for additional measures in the pension system, while they asked for measures to open up competition in domestic markets to contain inflation in the country.

    [08] Birbili meets troika inspectors

    The European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika's team of inspectors held a meeting on Tuesday with Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili that focused on developments in the electricity market and the trioka's proposal for the sale of 40 percent of the lignite-fuelled and hydroelectric power plants of the state-owned Public Power Corporation (PPC) to private investors.

    According to reports, the Greek minister reiterated the negative stance of the government regarding the proposal.

    Last Friday the ministry's general secretary for energy and climate change Constantine Mathioudakis met the team of visiting European Commission, ECB and IMF inspectors to discuss issues concerning the liberalisation of the Greek energy market.

    In statements to the ANA-MPA, Mathioudakis had confirmed that the EU-IMF team had officially requested the sale of 40 percent of the lignite-fuelled and hydroelectric power plants of the state-owned Public Power Corporation (PPC) to private investors. The general secretary replied that the Greek government did not agree with this proposal because there were technical and other problems in carrying it out.

    During Tuesday's meeting, alternative proposals were discussed which the troika does not reject a priori, as long as they will have equal result, that is the liberalisation of the Greek electricity market. Ministry sources said that the Greek government will announce its final decisions on the issue in September.

    [09] Troika presents progress report to FinMin

    The European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika's team of inspectors presented finance minister George Papaconstantinou on Monday with a draft progress report they drew up after a week-long visit in Athens, containing their ascertations on the Greek economy and recommendations for further changes. Papaconstantinou and the troika heads, European Commission Deputy Director General for economic and financial affairs Servaas Deroose and IMF European Department deputy director Poul Thomsen and ECB division chief Klaus Masuch, will have a final meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

    High-ranking finance officials believe that a 9 billion euros second tranche of the EU-IMF support mechanism loan to Greece has been secured, with disbursement scheduled for September 13.

    The optimism rests on the fact that the commitments Greece had assumed for the first half of 2010 have either been completed or are at a very advanced stage, the budget is being executed normally and the existing risks have been recognised.

    According to a senior finance ministry official, speaking after Papaconstantinou's last working session with the troika on Friday, the next steps concern the Kallikratis local government reorganisation plan, the streamlining of the Hellenic Rail Organisation (OSE), which is the country's biggest loss-making organisation, and the opening of the closed-shop professions, while the commitments contained in the Memorandum will be updated and itemised, but no new issues will be opened up.

    In that context, the government is determined to proceed immediately with the opening, or new manner of organisation, of a series of professions with an omnibus bill by the end of the year, anticipating that no serious reactions will arise, particularly following the outcome of the freight and fuel truck owners' strike. This category includes pharmacies, accounting offices, architects, real estate brokers, liquid fuel stations, taxis and lawyers. Up to now, the state has been setting minimum fees in these professions or safety valves for entering the market.

    The heads of the large troika delegation -- European Commission Deputy Director General for economic and financial affairs Servaas Deroose and IMF European Department deputy director Poul Thomsen and ECB division chief Klaus Masuch -- consider that some fiscal risks remain, particularly in state revenues, which are substantially behind the year's target (i.e. VAT collection).

    As for the time-table for disbursement of the second tranche of the EU-IMF loan, the EU ad hoc working group will meet on August 20 to approve the eurozone's share of the 9 billion euros instalment, following by a formal request on August 23 by the Finance Ministry for disbursement of the amount. The Eurogroup and Ecofin will meet on September 6 and 7, respectively, to approve the request, while the IMF board will meet on September 10 to approve its own share of the second tranche.

    The next visit to Athens by troika inspectors will be in end-October, at which time the 2011 draft budget will also be available, which will contain in detail the commitments for next year and the reduction in the fiscal deficit that will result from execution of the 2011 budget.

    Monday's meeting

    A senior finance ministry official said that Papaconstantinou will not be required to co-sign the troika's report, since it is not a new Memorandum but rather an update and itemisation of the commitments assumed by Greece in May.

    For example, according to the same official, one of the commitments of the Memorandum concerned the deregulation of the closed-shop professions, and now specification is required of precisely which professions these are and how they will be 'opened up' (the government had decided to deregulate all the closed professions with an omnibus bill by the end of the year).

    Also, given that the Kallikratis plan has been enacted by legislation, it now remains to specify the particulars of how it will be applied not only in local administration but, in essence, in the entire state sector, and also what denationalisations are planned (i.e. in the banking sector) and how these will be materialised.

    It arises from the lengthy meeting Monday between the finance ministry leadership and the troika that the course of materialisation of the Memorandum commitments is seen as "positive" and the disbursement of the second tranche has been secured.

    The progress report also contains recommendations, however, for liberalisation of the energy market (electricity and natural gas, and sale of 40 percent of the Public Power Corporation's electricity units), as well as for specific interventions on the basis of a specific deadline, in the context of the May commitments.

    The troika inspectors were also very concerned over control in the DEKO (public utilities and organisations) and the local governments, hospitals and social security funds, given that inclusion in the state budget of the loans they have received with state guarantees is expected to increase the state debt by 5.5 percentage points of GDP. For this reason, the government will proceed with the placement of certified public accountants in all state hospitals.

    The troika also believes that the process of merger of state organisations -- especially the deficit-making ones -- needs to be accelerated, and that layoffs of supernumerary personnel should be considered instead of their transfer to other posts, or, alternatively, the cost of keeping the supernumerary personnel must be offset with other fiscal measures.

    It further considers that, regarding social security, the prospect of additional measures should remain open if such should be found to be necessary by the actuarial study by the employment ministry or collection of social security contributions continues to be problematic.

    The troika was also concerned by the rise in inflation, and believes that further reinforcement of competition on the market is necessary, and by the shortfall in state revenues, although the troika accepted the finance ministry's prediction of a recovery in the second half of 2010 as a result of the measures that have already been taken, such as VAT increases that went into effect on July 1 and intensification of cross-checks and audits, and recommends itemisation of tax audits by professional category.

    [10] Greek gov't intensifies efforts to boost tax revenues

    The Greek government is intensifying efforts to boost tax revenues seeking to achieve budget target goals for the year. Tax agency's cross-checks unveiled 279 debtors with outstanding tax debt of 250,000 each, totaling 2.68 million euros, owners of 1,641 shops located in central Athens (worth 175.48 million euros) and 3,635 real estate property worth 349 million euros.

    The Finance ministry, in an announcement, said it has offered a deadline by August 30 to major tax debtors to begin paying their debts and warned it would resort to legal procedures instead

    Tax agencies imposed a 4.0 million euros fine on a beach restaurant-bar in Mykonos for tax violations in the period 2007-2008.

    [11] Drive to collect 2.68 million euros in overdue taxes

    The finance ministry on Tuesday announced a drive to collect some 2.68 million euros in overdue tax payments and debts from some 279 shop owners of central Athens, each owing less than 250,000 euros.

    Cross-checks carried out by the ministry revealed that the 279 individuals in question are the owners of 1,641 shops in expensive central Athens locations (Syntagma, Kolonaki, Monastiraki and Omonoia) that are worth 175.48 million euros and also own 3,635 property holdings worth an estimated 349.04 million euros.

    The finance ministry said that letters have been sent out to those owing sums greater than 10,000 euros, asking them to settle their debts by August 30. After this debt has expired, the ministry will take action to forcibly collect the debt, including by auctioning off their real estate holdings.

    [12] Mykonos bar owner racks up 4 million in back-taxes, fines

    The owner of the bar 'Nammos' and various other venues on the cosmopolitan Greek island of Mykonos has been asked to pay back taxes and fines amounting to nearly four million euros (3,972,930) after a tax inspection carried out by the financial crimes' squad SDOE for the years 2007 and 2008, the finance ministry announced on Tuesday.

    The ministry announced the results of a drive to crack down on tax evasion in the restaurant and entertainment sector, especially in popular resorts.

    Just for the Nammos bar-restaurant, SDOE inspectors conducting a check in 2009 found tax violations that racked up fines of 2,694,098 euros, while more violations were uncovered during inspections of other venues run by the same owner.

    [13] Labour Minister Loverdos visits Crete

    The keys to twenty newly-built houses financed by the Worker Housing Organization's (OEK) in Kounavi near Heraklion, on the southern Aegean island of Crete, were presented to their owners on Tuesday by Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos.

    Speaking during the event, Loverdos sent a message of optimism that the economic crisis the country is faced with will be overcome.

    Earlier, the minister had visited the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) office in Estavromenos and the Greek Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) office. He also had meetings with the boards of local Trade Union Centres.

    [14] Tourist arrivals in Rhodes up 11.45 pct in July

    Tourist arrivals in the island of Rhodes rose 11.45 pct in July, compared with the same month last year. Figures released by the island's airport, showed that tourist arrivals with charter flights totaled 308,536 in July, up from 276,840 in July 2009.

    The German market showed a recovery in July, while tourist arrivals continued rising from the UK, Italy, Sweden, Israel, Russia and other smaller markets. The Holland and Norway markets were down, along with most markets from Eastern Europe. Domestic tourist was also down 16.93 pct in July compared with the same month last year.

    [15] Stocks moving higher

    Greek stocks continued moving higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, ignoring a negative trend in other European markets. The composite index rose 1.33 pct to end at 1,769.93 points, with turnover at 128.500 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.82 pct, the Mid Cap index was unchanged the Small Cap index eased 0.19 pct. The Telecoms (3.81 pct), Utilities (3.63 pct) and Food (3.51 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (1.21 pct) and Commerce (1.10 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 103 to 74 with another 43 issues unchanged. Atlantic (17.39 pct), Klonatex (14.29 pct) and Iaso (13.98 pct) were top gainers, while Vell Group (10.11 pct), Vovos (10.10 pct) and Galaxidi (7.69 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +1.26%

    Commercial: -1.10%

    Construction: +1.33%

    Media: -1.21%

    Oil & Gas: +1.95%

    Personal & Household: +0.07%

    Raw Materials: -0.16%

    Travel & Leisure: +2.82%

    Technology: +2.49%

    Telecoms: +3.81%

    Banks: -0.63%

    Food & Beverages: +3.51%

    Health: +0.13%

    Utilities: +3.63%

    Chemicals: +0.46%

    Financial Services: -0.08%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 6.11

    ATEbank: 1.22

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.08

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.69

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.40

    National Bank of Greece: 12.05

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.56

    OPAP: 11.90

    OTE: 6.54

    Bank of Piraeus: 5.43

    Titan: 17.21

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 22 million euros on Tuesday, of which 16 million were sell orders and the remaining 6.0 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 750 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 10.10 pct and the German Bund 2.60 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 1.41 pct, the six-month rate was 1.14 pct, the three-month 0.89 pct and the one-month rate 0.64 pct.

    [17] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.52 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday with turnover at 40.818 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,740 contracts worth 29.266 million euros with 25,526 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,964 contracts worth 11.552 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,119), followed by Eurobank (779), MIG (820), OTE (1,542), PPC (665), OPAP (838), Piraeus Bank (759), Alpha Bank (1,424), Marfin Popular Bank (710), Mytilineos (589), Hellenic Postbank (436) and ATEbank (1,306).

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.332

    Pound sterling 0.836

    Danish kroner 7.509

    Swedish kroner 9.439

    Japanese yen 114.42

    Swiss franc 1.382

    Norwegian kroner 7.944

    Canadian dollar 1.365

    Australian dollar 1.462

    General News

    [19] Greece, a 'magnet' for foreign celebrities and personalities

    With or without a fiscal debt or deficit, with or without provoking the criticism of the German or British partners on the good life of 'plastic money' attributed to its residents, Greece has not stopped being a powerful attraction for foreign visitors -- chiefly among the strong critics of the of luxury -- but also economic and political figures, and the people of show biz, from all parts of the planet, who ardently wish to acquire their own, permanent accommodations in one of the country's heavenly spots.

    From Rothschild to Abramovic and Berlusconi to Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Jack Nicholson...

    For the sake of...historical face, Greece is not only the country of the frappe coffee enjoyed by the Greeks in the summer. It is a paradise of plentiful sunshine and endless blue, a part of which the famous around the world wish to secure for themselves, by acquiring land in the Aegean and Ionian Island diamonds of this land at the southernmost tip of Europe.

    In northern Corfu, the "Monaco of Greece', as is called the expanse from Agios Stephanos to Kassiopi and the Nisaki, the house of banker Nathaniel Rothschild, son of Lord Jacob Rothschild and grandson, by marriage, of the great Greek painter Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas opens, with the advent of summer, to receive its 'master' and his friends. The late Lady Diana in the past, today Prince Charles with his new wife, Camilla, and in the future...who knows. In the environs of the Rothschild mansion, the villas of Agnelli and Abramovic are kept up throughout the summer so as to be ready in the summer. In the area between Aghios Stephanos and Avlaki beach is the property of British former junior health minister Tom Sackville. And according to local real estate agents, Bruce Willis is seeking his own home in the wider area.

    "It is indeed an enchanting part of the island, which is an attraction for famous people from abroad," the chairman of the Corfu tourist agents Dimitris Haritos tells ANA-MPA, adding: "The Rothschild mansion serves as a magnet for celebrities, with villas springing up one after the other, and this 'arch' in the north of the island is justifiably called the 'Monaco of Greece'."

    In Oia on the island of Santorini, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt a few years ago acquired their own 'hearth', worth 5.5 million euros, with a breathtaking view of the 'Caldera'. Local tongues have also been wagging about interest in acquiring a house in the same area by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, but Hollywood's famed 'cuckoo' Jack Nicholson is also said to be looking for a 'nest' near the Caldera. According to others, the last two have also been knocking on doors on Symi island.

    "The start was made by Greek singers such as Michalis Hatzigiannis, one of the first to acquire a house on Oia, and then the foreign celebrities followed," Yiannis Fousteris, Santorini's deputy mayor for culture, told ANA-MPA, adding: "Our island has always been an attraction, due to its exceptional natural beauty, but the presence here, with their own houses, of celebrities from abroad adds to its fame."

    Among the long-standing lovers of Greece's natural beauty, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, who is of Greek lineage, explored every inch of several islands in the Aegean before deciding on a seaside Cycladic mansion on the island of Antiparos, outside of Hora.

    Sifnos was selected by Emir Kusturica as his springboard to the surrounding Cycladic Islands, and the sworn admirer of Greece, the popular 'Mister Bean' Rowan Atkinson is now a much loved 'capital' for Andros.

    Patmos, the island of St. John, has also attracted the interest of many celebrities seeking quiet vacations. 'Pretty Woman' Julia Roberts appears to have had a tough time making a choice. Initially she was said to have been interested in Crete, and then in Oia, but finally decided on Patmos, with her movie partner Richard Gere following suit, for his own reasons, given that, due to his devotion to Buddhism, what other spot in Greece except Patmos could offer him the ideal atmosphere for meditation.

    Elafonissos, too, has its own 'fans'. Formula 1 ace Michael Schumacher has displayed interest in acquiring his own summer home there.

    Sean Connery, in turn, with the wisdom of his years, opted for a combination of the mainland landscape with an island aura, and acquired a house in Porto Heli. Next to Poros, just a cigarette's distance by boat to Spetses and a little more to Hydra. Interest in acquiring land in Porto Heli was also manifested in the past by Russia's strongman Vladimir Putin.

    Last but not least, pop queen Madonna most recently (initially she had opted for Antiparos) stated that she was enchanted by the Ionian atmosphere of Cephallonia, where she is said to be searching for a house, while the great fashion designer Armani, according to recent newspaper reports, is interested in the Onassis family's private paradise, the island of Scorpios, off Lefkada.

    [20] Samos fire under control

    A fire which broke out on Monday at the area of Kakoperato on Samos island is partly under control. According to first estimations the blaze burned 2,500 acres of farm expanse and forestland. Six firefighting airplanes and four water dropping helicopters are taking part in the operation.

    The fire came close to residential areas at Votsalakia settlement.

    The Samos prefect on Tuesday lifted the state of emergency on the island and the tourists returned safely to their holiday resorts.

    [21] Wildfire near the archaeological site of ancient Nemea

    A wildfire broke out on a hill near the Ancient Nemea intersection on Tuesday morning at a small distance from the Corinth-Tripolis motorway in southern Greece.

    A strong firefighting force has been dispatched to the area in an effort to contain the fire that was destroying an area of forest. Eight fire engines, 17 firemen and 4 firefighting aircraft participated in the efforts to extinguish the blaze.

    [22] Ancient Nemea fire partially under control

    The fire that broke out near the junction with Ancient Nemea in the Peloponnese was now partially under control the fire brigade reported on Tuesday afternoon. Efforts to put out the fire are still underway.

    [23] Passenger ship crashes into Skopelos port pier; no injuries

    The Coast Guard on Tuesday reported no injuries or fuel leak after the "Flyingcat 5" high-speed passenger vessel (catamaran type) slammed into the pier of the port of the island of Skopelos, in western Aegean, coming from Skiathos island.

    The mishap took place when the "Flyingcat 5" almost touched with the "Express Skiathos" ferryboat that was in the process of departing for Alonnissos island.

    The "Express Skiathos" continued its scheduled route, while the "Flyingcat 5" remained in port to have the extent of the damage determined.

    [24] Human skull found in Imathia ravine

    A human skull found in a ravine near Polidendri in Imathia Prefecture, northern Greece, most likely belongs to a 42-year-old man reported missing in 2006.

    The macabre discovery was made by a local shepherd on Monday and the find is being examined by a medical coroner. The human remains were found in front of the left wheel of an abandoned car.

    The man was reported missing at the Krya Vrisi Police Station on May 23, 2006 and according to the evidence, he was killed when his car crashed into the ravine.

    [25] Campers arrested in a Crete gorge for drug use, littering

    An organized police operation in Kourtaliotiko Gorge, near Rethymno on the southern Aegean island of Crete, was completed with the arrests of 22 campers on Tuesday, four of which had in their possession small quantities of hashish.

    The police intervention was decided following a tip-off according to which a group of campers in the gorge -- a NATURA 2000 protected area -- were littering and engaged in drug use.

    A Rethymno Prefecture health department delegation was present during the police operation and recorded the squalid living conditions of the campers.

    [26] Fatal stabbing by foreign national

    A foreign national stabbed another foreigner and fatally wounded him during a brawl in the village of Agii Theodori in Corinth Prefecture, southern Greece, in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

    The assailant fled the scene and a police investigation is underway for his arrest.

    Weather forecast

    [27] Showers on Wednesday

    Brief showers and storms are forecast on Wednesday, especially from the afternoon, except on the islands of the Aegean. Light westerly winds between 0-5 Beaufort. Temperatures ranging from 18C to 37C. Mainly sunny in Athens with temperatures between 25C and 37C. Cloudy and wet in Thessaloniki with temperatures ranging from 24C to 35C.

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

    The European Commission, ECB and IMF troika's progress report on implementation of the Memorandum, the Finance Ministry's orders for audits in Public Utilities and organisations (DEKO), hospitals and municipalities, reactions against the possibility of part-privatisation of PPC, and the battle against tax evasion dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Second installment of the loan to Greece positive".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Chaos over the unlicenced buildings - Government's safari to impose fines".

    AVGHI: "Bottomless barrel".

    AVRIANI: "Following the finance ministry's administrative audit, storm of shutdowns of municipal enterprises and other organisations that have become scandal-breeding 'industries'."

    ELEFTHEROS: "New storm of taxes drains households".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government admits the scissoring of the 360 euros base pension".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "PPC workers' union president threatens that if the government attempts to sell PPC plants they will turn off the switches".

    ESTIA: "Major losses from the strike - One week wasted for the economy".

    ETHNOS: "Financial Crimes Corps (SDOE) raid in public hospitals".

    IMERISSIA: "The banking rally points at deals - Merger scenarios in the sector rekindle".

    KATHIMERINI: "All excessive expenditures under the microscope - Finance Ministry audit on hospitals and other public organisations".

    LOGOS: "Suffocating pressure for changes - Expenditures and Public Organisations under the troika's microscope".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika expresses serious reservations on materialisation of government's pledge on fiscal and restructuring issues".

    NIKI: "IKA (state Social Security Foundation) on the threshold of defaulting on payments - 16 billion euros 'black hole' devastates 2.2 million insured".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Working class families: Agony over daycare centers and wages for thousands of parents".

    TA NEA: "Closed-shop professions: The enigma with the opening".

    TO VIMA: "Government hires Italian Tomaso Pandoa Schioppa for the country's smooth return to the markets".

    VRADYNI: "Shock...for thousands of households - Troika's order for increases in PPC rates".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] Discussion on unity underway at National Council


    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has briefed the members of the National Council on the course of the ongoing negotiations to solve the Cyprus issue and the three proposals he has announced to help make headway at the talks.

    Speaking after Tuesday's meeting of the National Council, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said that a discussion to achieve unity on the home front is also underway.

    Stephanou said all political parties except AKEL made their views known on the issue and discussion will continue on 12th August.

    "Today (Tuesday), the President of the Republic briefed the National Council on the course of the negotiations and a discussion began concerning the effort to achieve unity on the home front", he added.

    Asked if the political parties submitted specific proposals on the three proposals the president has already announced, Stephanou said "the proposals are there. They have to do with the negotiations, all three proposals are inter-related, the issue of Famagusta and that of an international conference".

    Last month the Cypriot President announced three proposals on the Cyprus issue. The first suggests the linking of the discussion of three of the chapters of the Cyprus problem - those dealing with property, territory and immigration - to facilitate the resolution of the thorny chapter of properties and expedite the dialogue.

    The second proposal urges Turkey to implement UN Security Council resolution 550, which calls for the transfer of the fenced off area of Varosha (on the east), in Famagusta, now under Turkish occupation, to the administration of the United Nations. Part of this proposal is the opening of the port of Famagusta under EU auspices to benefit the Turkish Cypriots.

    The third proposal is to convene an international conference when within range of an agreement on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.

    Stephanou said that these proposals are not anything new. They are based on positions that have been formulated over the years by the Greek Cypriot side and the Republic of Cyprus, as the President of the Republic has said, the Spokesman added.

    He further said that the positions will be conveyed to the parties, although they were informed about their content.

    Asked if there have been any steps on the issue of unity, the spokesman said that "we are discussing. The President's aim is to achieve the minimum unity which is a necessary precondition to continue with good preconditions the fight and pave the way towards a solution of the Cyprus issue".

    The National Council is the top advisory body to the President of the Republic, comprising parliamentary parties. Peace talks began in Cyprus in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who was replaced by Dervis Eroglu in April this year.

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