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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-08-05

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

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

Thursday, 5 August 2010 Issue No: 3559

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government decides new mergers of public sector bodies
  • [02] Troika experts complete round of meetings with Greek gov't
  • [03] Droutsas meets visiting Albanian foreign minister
  • [04] Alt. FM Droutsas meets with LA.O.S' leader Karatzaferis
  • [05] Phone-tapping case file forwarded to Athens Court of Appeals Prosecutor
  • [06] Labour minister announces crackdown on social security contribution evasion on Crete
  • [07] Biodiesel supply contract awarded to 16 companies
  • [08] Bank of Greece sees gradual ease of pressures on banks
  • [09] Mytilineos Group reports spectacular H1 results
  • [10] Greek economic sentiment index improved in July
  • [11] Stocks end higher
  • [12] Greek bond market closing report
  • [13] ADEX closing report
  • [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [15] Swiss seafarer's vision breathes life into Patmos windmills
  • [16] Thessaloniki City Hall relocated to new building
  • [17] Three suspects charged with setting a forest fire on Samos
  • [18] Police arrest 42 migrants, 7 traffickers in Evros
  • [19] Gang of foreign nationals arrested for burglaries
  • [20] Dutch football fans become targets of street violence in Thessaloniki
  • [21] Pedophile arrest in Thessaloniki
  • [22] Cloudy, brief showers on Thursday
  • [23] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [24] Cyprus President: There are very serious divergences on property Politics

  • [01] Government decides new mergers of public sector bodies

    A government committee chaired by government Vice-President Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday decided on a series of new mergers of public sector organisations and agencies whose operating costs are not justified by the work that they do. The mergers are designed to improve efficiency and better coordinate government policy.

    The organisations to be merged include the National School of Public Administration and the National School of Local Government that are to become a single School of Public Administration and Local Government Administration.

    The Observatory for the Greek Information Society S.A. is to be made a part of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and will also be merged with the organisations Digital Aid SA and HDIKA (Electronic Governance of Social Insurance S.A.).

    The meeting further decided the merger, unification and reorganisation of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), the Labour Housing Organisation OEK, the Home of Labour Organisation (OEE), the Employment Observatory Research-IT SA and Professional Training SA into a single National Labour Organisation (EOE).

    Lastly, the meeting decided to set up a new SA company called "Infrastructure, Transport and Development Networks Crete SA".

    Apart from Pangalos, the committee included Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, Deputy Interior Minister George Dolios, cabinet general secretary Sotiris Lytras and several senior civil servants.

    [02] Troika experts complete round of meetings with Greek gov't

    Greek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou completed a round of meetings with troika experts with a six-hour meeting on Wednesday. The experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will draft their recommendations over the Greek economy and will submit them to Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington, respectively.

    The results of the meetings between the government and troika experts will be presented during two press conferences on Thursday, by the troika in the morning and the Greek Finance minister at noon.

    Finance ministry officials said the recommendations will underline the need to open up the country's energy market, according to a recommendation by the European Commission, dated back in 2008.

    The recommendations will also urge for speedier moves in deregulating closed professions, boosting tax proceeds and social insurance contributions, combating inflation, etc. Special mention will be made to the deficits of general government's agencies (municipalities, hospitals, pension funds), burdening the fiscal deficit and the public debt.

    The officials reiterated that the second tranche of a loan facility, worth 9.0 billion euors, is secured and was expected to be completed by September 13. The big challenge ahead is securing the third tranche of the loan in December.

    [03] Droutsas meets visiting Albanian foreign minister

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Wednesday held talks in Athens with Albanian deputy prime minister and foreign minister Ilir Meta.

    In statements afterward, Droutsas said their discussion covered bilateral relations but especially the latest developments in the Balkans.

    "I would like to emphasise the importance we place on the European approach, on the European perspective of the whole region, and of course of Albania. And, as you know, Greece is a staunch supporter of this perspective. And may I once again mention our Agenda 2014 in this respect," the minister said.

    Meta underlined the excellent relations between Greece and Albania, which he said were also relations "based in particular on the European perspective of the whole region," and noted Greece support for Albania's efforts to meet its European integration goals.

    He noted that Albania expected visa liberalisation soon, to be followed by candidate status in the near future, stressing that Albania counted very much on the support of Greece and of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for the Europeanisation of the region.

    "The Agenda 2014 has been and continues to be a strong encouragement for us, but also for the European Union for addressing the European aspirations of our countries in our region," he added.

    Meta was making a short stop in Athens on his way to Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon.

    [04] Alt. FM Droutsas meets with LA.O.S' leader Karatzaferis

    Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met on Wednesday with opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) President George Karatzaferis and discussed foreign policy issues.

    Karatzaferis stated afterwards that he was briefed on regional issues focusing on the International Court of Justice at The Hague decision on Kosovo, while they also discussed the Cyprus issue and the FYROM name issue.

    Responding to a question by reporters concerning the energy market, Karatzaferis commented that "the deregulation of the energy market cannot be associated with the country's natural resources," stressing that they will have to be protected. He pointed out, however, that the deregulation of the energy market will help in the country's development efforts, underlining that caution and dialogue are necessary.

    [05] Phone-tapping case file forwarded to Athens Court of Appeals Prosecutor

    The case file on the 2005 mobile phone-tapping scandal has been forwarded to the Athens Court of Appeals Prosecutor, who has been asked to decide if there is enough evidence for the case to be reopened, the Supreme Court Prosecutor's office announced Wednesday.

    According to the statement issued, the case file was sent to the Supreme Court Prosecutor's office by the Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee.

    The phone-tapping plot involving Greece's top mobile phone provider Vodafone was revealed in February 2006 by the then government, after a nearly year-long covert investigation by the authorities had failed to find those responsible.

    The roughly 100 phones that were tapped included those of the then prime minister Costas Karamanlis, members of his government, high-ranking police and armed forces personnel, activists, journalists, business people and even one U.S. Embassy employee.

    It was first brought to the government's attention in March 2005 by Vodafone Greece chief executive George Koronias, who said it operated through a piece of sophisticated intruder software that had activated a legal "low-phone interception" system developed by Ericsson to allow legal phone surveillance but was able to mask its presence when inactive.

    Financial News

    [06] Labour minister announces crackdown on social security contribution evasion on Crete

    Labour Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday announced the start of intensive inspections of tourism enterprises on the island of Crete to crack down on uninsured labour.

    Speaking during a press conference, Loverdos said that teams of inspectors will descend on the island's enterprises to check on whether they were abiding by labour legislation and restrict very high reported levels of uninsured labour on the island.

    "It is a first action taken in cooperation with the Crete Regional Authority and we will extend it to all tourist destinations of the country. The phenomena reported by [Communist Party of Greece General Secretary] Aleka Papariga about hotels employing trainee students from the Balkans that come to Greece via fake agreements with Technological Educational Institutes are phenomena that we want to restrict and eradicate," he said.

    Loverdos also gave assurances that all Labour Housing Organisation (OEK) programmes underway will be completed and all promises made to households by the organisation would be honoured, in spite of a planned merger of OEK with other bodies into a single National Labour Organisation.

    According to Deputy Labour Minister George Koutroumanis, meanwhile, the government appeared to be achieving cost-cutting targets in health, where it hoped to save 800 million euro a year, while social insurance fund revenues were seen rising by 850 million euro as a result of inspections and favourable debt settlement measures.

    "On the basis of the current course of things and the assessment of the ministry, it appears that the target to restrict state spending is being achieved by a percentage greater than 80 percent. This means that the sum that will be required to close the second half based on the forecasts will be between 350-700 million euros on the basis of the best and worst scenarios," Koutroumanis added.

    [07] Biodiesel supply contract awarded to 16 companies

    The Environment, Energy and Climate Change ministry on Wednesday announced the results of a tender for supplying the Greek market with 164 million litres of biodiesel in the next 12 months (July 2010 until June 2011), saying contracts have been awarded to 16 companies.

    A ministerial decision ratifying the result was signed on Wednesday by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Deputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis and Deputy Rural Development Minister Mihalis Kahrimakis.

    Biodiesel is produced by energy crops such as sunflowers, soya, rapeseed and cotton but also from used vegetable oils and animal fats, a portion of which are imported.

    The environment ministry said that Greek energy crops account for more than half the biodiesel supply for this year. The biodiesel will be delivered to the Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and Motor Oil refineries to be mixed with conventional diesel fuel and sold on the market.

    In awarding the contracts, priority was given to Greek energy crops on contract that more than doubled relative to 2009, with nearly 100,000 hectares now given over to the cultivation of energy crops in Greece.

    The 16 companies participating in the supply of biodiesel include the Northern Greece Cotton Gins and Cotton Mills SA, Petsas SA - Underwear Industry, Biodiesel LTD, KatOil AEBE, Staff Colour - Energy ABEE, Agroinvest, Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries SA, Pavlos N. Pettas ABEE, Phytoenergeia SA, ELIN Biofuels SA, Biodiesel SA, GF Energy ABEE, Mil Oil Hellas SA, Manos SA, ELBI - Hellenic Biopetroleums ABEE and Oil.B S.R.L.

    [08] Bank of Greece sees gradual ease of pressures on banks

    The Bank of Greece on Wednesday said it expected pressures on Greek banks' financial stability to ease gradually. In a report on the stability of the financial system, the central bank said it also expected markets' confidence to be restored gradually along with progress in adhering to timetables set by a government fiscal and structural adjustments program, and exploiting a financial support mechanism form Greece.

    The central bank urged Greek banks to take initiatives towards reaching strategic alliances and underlined that despite strong pressures suffered, the Greek banking system showed remarkable resistance thanks to its strong capital base. Particularly, in the first quarter of 2010, banks' profitability fell further, along with worsening of banks' lending portfolio quality. The percentage of bad debt rose to 8.2 pct of total loans by the end of the first quarter, from 7.7 pct at the end of 2009. Consumer loans were the most problematic category.

    The report included the results of a recent stress test, held in July throughout Europe. According these, under the extreme scenario, five out of six Greek banks included in the test, managed to successfully pass the test, with the exception of ATEbank, which showed a lower capital Tier I rate. The six banks showed a net capital surplus of 3.3 billion euros.

    The central bank underlined it would continue to closely monitor developments to make sure that all necessary actions to boost banks' capital adequacy will be taken. It added, however, that a restructuring of the banking sector was necessary to strengthen Greek banking groups in order to regain more rapidly their access in international capital markets.

    [09] Mytilineos Group reports spectacular H1 results

    Mytilineos Group on Wednesday said its consolidated turnover totaled 415 million euros in the first half of 2010, up from 328 million euros in 2009, reflecting export activity by Metka (123 million euros).

    The group said its first half results included a non-repeated revenue of 32.4 million euros from the sale of a subsidiary of Metka.

    EBITDA jumped to 111.4 million euros in the January-June period, from 47.7 million euros last year, while net after tax and minorities earnings jumped to 39.7 million euros from 10.2 million euros in 2009. Net earnings were burdened by an extra tax charge of 10 million euros.

    Metka reported a substantial improvement in first half turnover to 256.5 million euros from 101.8 million euros last year. EBITDA jumped to 73.6 million euros in the first six months of 2010 from 15.1 million euros last year, while next profits soared to 48.4 million euros from 8.1 million last year.

    Mytilineos said energy investments were in full swing and stressed that an anticipated full deregulation of the electricity market was offering excellent prospects for the Group.

    [10] Greek economic sentiment index improved in July

    Greece's economic sentiment index improved for the second consecutive month in July to 66.3 points, from 63.8 points in June, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.

    IOBE, in its monthly report, said a slight improvement was recorded in manufacturing and services, while the retail and constructions sectors economic sentiment worsened. Consumer confidence showed a slight improvement with the index remaining very close its historic record lows.

    Business expectations in the manufacturing sector rose slightly in production, while estimates over the current level of demand and new orders remained unchanged and inventories eased. In the services sector, business expectations showed a decline in estimates over the current level of business and a slightly less pessimistic estimates over short-term demand.

    In the retail sector, business expectations fell to new record lows, reflecting very negative estimates over current sales and a slight improvement in demand. In the constructions sector, estimates over works worsened, while employment forecasts improved moderately.

    Consumer confidence remained at very negative levels. Greek households' savings trends fell further, while forecasts over unemployment remained at very lows levels. A 24 pct of consumers said they have raised savings, while 53 pct said they could hardly afford their expenses.

    July's report added three more questions, measured on a quarterly basis, to consumers. Greek consumers' intention to buy a car over the next 12 months showed a slight decline in July, their intention to buy a house in the next 12 months fell to record lows, while their intention to make significant spending for repairing/restoring their homes improved in July.

    [11] Stocks end higher

    Greek stocks managed to end higher for the third consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as the market easily absorbed some profit taking selling. The composite index of the market rose 0.43 pct to end at 1,777.55 points, with turnover at 86.790 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.38 pct, the Mid Cap index was up 0.24 pct and the Small Cap index rose 0.29 pct. Utilities (4.67 pct), Media (2.81 pct) and Insurance (2.76 pct) were top gainers, while Financial Services (2.21 pct) and Industrial Products (1.43 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 102 to 67 with another 47 issues unchanged. Vovos (28.84 pct), NEL (14.29 pct) and Fintexport (10 pct) were top gainers, while PC Systems (12.50 pct), Attica Publications (9.72 pct) and Douros (9.60 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +2.76

    Industrials: -1.43%

    Commercial: -0.33%

    Construction: +0.12%

    Media: +2.81%

    Oil & Gas: +0.10%

    Personal & Household: -0.44%

    Raw Materials: +1.35%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.47%

    Technology: +1.18%

    Telecoms: -0.61%

    Banks: +0.22%

    Food & Beverages: -0.22%

    Health: +0.07%

    Utilities: +4.67%

    Chemicals: -0.61%

    Financial Services: -2.21%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 6.15

    ATEbank: 1.23

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.87

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.65

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.45

    National Bank of Greece: 12.10

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.50

    OPAP: 12.11

    OTE: 6.50

    Bank of Piraeus: 5.42

    Titan: 17.40

    [12] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 25 million euros on Wednesday, of which 20 million were sell orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover 3.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 769 basis points, up from 750 bps on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.29 pct and the German Bund 2.60 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month 1.14 pct, the three-month rate at 0.90 pct and the one-month rate at 0.64 pct.

    [13] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 22.175 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,219 contracts worth 14.035 million euros, with 26,223 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,439 contracts worth 8.140 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,781), followed by Eurobank (579), MIG (1,082), OTE (1,081), OPAP (478), Alpha Bank (1,152), Mytilineos (643), Hellenic Postbank (537) and ATEbank (827).

    [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.331

    Pound sterling 0.835

    Danish kroner 7.510

    Swedish kroner 9.459

    Japanese yen 113.82

    Swiss franc 1.384

    Norwegian kroner 7.950

    Canadian dollar 1.361

    Australian dollar 1.458

    General News

    [15] Swiss seafarer's vision breathes life into Patmos windmills

    It was a Saturday night, on July 10, on the island of Patmos when the meltemi (etesian) winds blew through the small country churches, up from the port of Skala to the hill of the Monastery of St. John the Theologian where, after 50 years of stillness, it breathed life again to the cloth-covered 'sails' (vanes) of Chora's three windmills. The windmills, after having served the island's community for nearly 400 years, were stilled in the late 1950s and gradually fell to ruin, like most of the windmills on the islands in the Aegean.

    The windmills were repaired, and started operating again, thanks to the efforts of Swiss banker Charles Pictet who, while sailing the Aegean for years, was inspired and pledged to salvage the tradition of the windmills, a symbol of the Greek islands.

    Pictet, a banker and seafarer and a managing partner of the private Swiss bank Pictet et Cie, who for four decades has been devotedly visiting Greece, true to his family's philhellene spirit, gave life to the restoration of the windmills, which belong to the Monastery. With the blessings of the monastery's abbot and Patriarchal exarch Antipas and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the assistance of Greek donors and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the permit was finally issued by the urban planning services in November 2009.

    Charles Pictet himself wrote in October 2008, in the text of the agreement for the restoration of the three windmills: "For a family of seafarers, Greece is a paradise: the sea that surrounds it, its meltemi, its islands, its history and its culture, identify with total harmony. We had the luck and the privilege to discover it as a family, but also with friends, many years ago. In a show of tribute and with a sense of recognition, we pledged to provide whatever necessary to safeguard one of the very many symbols of Greece, the windmills."

    It was this harmony and morphological frugality of the Aegean landscape that was aspired to by the group of Swiss and Greek architects and engineers that undertook the project of the windmills' functional restoration.

    Coordinated by architect Daphne Becket, who was christened on Patmos and also desired the restoration of the windmills, a French millstone craftsman, Greek and Swiss millers, aerodynamics engineers from the University of Geneva, a Swiss sail manufacturer and many others worked together to repair the windmills' mechanisms. With them, local woodworker Giorgos Kamitsis undertook the most important part of the project, the construction of the wooden mechanical parts of the windmills' mechanisms.

    The group studied the spirit and art of the old builders (economy of means, harmony in solutions), their techniques and operational wisdom, and sought modern-day means for the restoration of the windmills so that they would be true not only in form but also in spirit to the ancient windmills.

    The first of the three windmills, fitted with French millstones, once again grinds wheat into flour, operating in the summer as a living museum of traditional farming activities. The other two, similar to the first in appearance, have not been fitted with grinding mechanisms but with an electric system that regulates the speed of the sails.

    The inauguration of the renewed operation of the windmills was celebrated on July 10, at the grammar school in Chora, by a plethora of Greeks and Swiss, among them eminent businessmen and personalities, including Swiss Ambassador to Greece Paul Koller-Hauser, Greek deputy culture and tourism minister George Nikitiadis, transport, infrastructure and networks deputy minister Nikos Sifounakis, and noted travel writer and ruling PASOK MP Maya Tsokli.

    The monastery's abbot Antipas, officiating at the blessing during the inauguration, honored the Pictets with the Gold Cross of the monastery and a replica of the windmill, which contained home-made bread baked at the monastery. "I wanted to thank Greece for the 35 years of sailing bliss it has given me," said Pictet, who was declared an honorary resident of Patmos, as he turned over to the abbot the key to the windmills together with a sack of wheat from Switzerland for the first bread to be made from flour ground at the mill.

    Nikitiadis in turn conveyed the appreciation of prime minister George Papandreou to all the Greek and Swiss donors who assumed the cost of the renovation of the traditional windmills, stating: "The symbolism of the reoperation of the four mills is boundless for the Greek people. From wheat, we made flour with the mills which in turn gave us bread to eat in the hard years for your country."

    "After six years of study and hard work by foreign experts and local carpenters, with George Kamitsis and his team, we wanted to give a message and introduce the concept of a different kind of development," local municipal councilor Eleonora Schirlager told ANA-MPA, adding: "The reoperation of the mills is not only for ornamental purposes. Our aim is for the mills to function again, and for one of them to serve as a living museum with the production of products by the local women's cooperative on Patmos and with a 'small, symbolic' production of electricity by the other two windmills."

    [16] Thessaloniki City Hall relocated to new building

    The gates of Thessaloniki's old City Hall building, known as "caravanserai", have closed ending a 52-year history as the house of the city's municipal authority.

    The relocation of the City Hall services to a new building recently constructed at the former "Tsirogiannis" military camp site was completed on Wednesday.

    The contemporary architecture five-storey building, with a spectacular view of the Thermaikos Bay, is the biggest project ever launched by a municipality nationwide and covers an area of 15,000 sqm featuring a 900-space parking area.

    Since 1869 the Thessaloniki City Hall services were housed in rented facilities and for the first time in 141 years the municipal authority has its own building.

    "This was a vision shared by 70 Thessaloniki mayors that finally became a reality," Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos said leaving the old City Hall.

    [17] Three suspects charged with setting a forest fire on Samos

    The Samos prosecutor charged three beekeepers on Wednesday with intentionally setting a fire in a forest region in Kakoperato on the eastern Aegean island of Samos two days ago.

    Meanwhile, three stockbreeders accused of deliberately setting another wildfire on July 28 in Kokkari, Samos, are currently testifying before an examining magistrate.

    [18] Police arrest 42 migrants, 7 traffickers in Evros

    Police in the norther Greek prefecture of Evros on Wednesday reported the arrest of 42 illegal immigrants and seven migrant-traffickers caught in Ferres following a surveillance operation.

    Officers of the Ferres Border Police Illegal Immigration Special Squad spotted the 42 migrants in the Doriskos area, near the Evros River delta. Soon afterward, a truck followed by a car arrived at the same spot, while a second vehicle waited at the Doriskos junction. As soon as the two vehicles arrived, about half the migrants boarded the truck while others waited where they were. Police followed the vehicles and stopped them at Feres.

    During a search of the truck, it was found that the driver was transporting 21 illegal migrants and that three more people were travelling in the two cars that were acting as lookouts that might inform the driver of police check points.

    Further investigation showed that the truck was stolen and had the licence plates of another vehicle.

    Two of the migrant traffickers have a record for similar cases in the past, while one has a record for vehicle theft and attempted vehicle theft.

    The migrants said they had each paid 1,000 euro for their passage and would have to give an additional 1,200 euro on arriving in Athens.

    Police confiscated the three vehicles, 11 mobile phones and the stolen licence plates and led the parties arrested to an Alexandroupolis Misdemeanours Court Prosecutor.

    [19] Gang of foreign nationals arrested for burglaries

    Police arrested three young Georgian nationals as they were leaving an apartment building they had burglarized in the district of Ilioupolis in Athens.

    A DIAS motorcycle police unit patrolling the area noticed the three suspects, aged 15, 17 and 22, exiting the building with the stolen objects in their hands and apprehended them following a chase.

    An investigation revealed that they had broken into at least another five apartments in the same region over the past month. Police found stolen goods, including valuables, electronic devices and money, in their homes.

    [20] Dutch football fans become targets of street violence in Thessaloniki

    Dutch fans of AFC Ajax, visiting Thessaloniki for their team's match with the local football team PAOK FC, held within the framework of the UEFA Champions League 3rd qualifying round, became the targets of two separate street attacks.

    According to police reports, a group of eight individuals wearing PAOK FC shirts attacked a Dutch football fan on a downtown street and started punching him in the early morning hours on Wednesday. The victim was slightly injured and was taken to a hospital to receive medical care.

    A few hours earlier, four AFC Ajax fans walking in downtown Thessaloniki were also attacked by five unidentified individuals wearing PAOK FC shirts.

    The suspects assaulted their victims and stole a mobile phone, 450 euro and a pair of sunglasses.

    A police investigation is underway for the arrest of the suspects.

    [21] Pedophile arrest in Thessaloniki

    A 37-year-old man, arrested in Thessaloniki, confessed to authorities that he has molested more than fifteen young boys, aged between 13 and 17, during the past ten years. He also admitted that he met his underage victims on the internet or in young people's hangouts.

    Police were led to the suspect when the mother of a boy, aged 14, reported to authorities that her son had been molested by the 37-year-old in Jan. 2009, while last March she had found that the culprit maintained electronic and telephone communication with her son.

    The police electronic crime squad arrested the 37-year-old on Tuesday afternoon when he attempted to communicate with the young boy. Authorities found in his possession and seized a mobile phone with pornographic material involving minors.

    Weather forecast

    [22] Cloudy, brief showers on Thursday

    Cloudy weather with brief showers and storms at high altitudes is forecast on Thursday, with sunshine on the islands. Winds variable, between 2 and 4 Beaufort. Temperatures to range from 18C to 38C. Scattered cloud in Attica, with temperatures between 24C and 37C. Showers and storms in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 23C and 34C.

    [23] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The European Commission, ECB and IMF troika's recommendation for the selling of 40 percent of the Public Power Corporation's (PPC) plants and the planned opening of closed-shop professions, mostly dominated the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "PPC burns the Greeks".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Shock ahead of the next loan installment....Troika preannounces even worse days".

    AVGHI: "Blackout in government over PPC - Troika's demands divide the government".

    AVRIANI: "PPC causes blackout in PASOK".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Clash among ministers over PPC's sale - Environment and Energy Minister to Troika: We will not sell off, we have other alternatives".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Blackout in government - Electric shock to consumers".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Plea to troika - Bargaining with the auditors in order to ease their pressure for the sale of PPC plants".

    ESTIA: "Greece refuses to change".

    ETHNOS: "Appointments in schools 'by the dropper'.".

    IMERISSIA: "SDOE-style corps against contribution evasion to be founded - Labour Ministry preparing the draft law ".

    KATHIMERINI: "Final round of discussions with the troika on PPC".

    LOGOS: "PPC's electroshock to the government, which is seeking alternative solutions".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "2010 State Budget revenues a time bomb".

    NIKI: "Golden opportunities for your money".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "PAME (Communist Party of Greece affiliated labor organisation) open letter to judges and prosecutors throughout the country".

    TA NEA: "After the closed-shop professions, what?...Vague scenery for other professions ".

    TO VIMA: "Prime Minister George Papandreou hires Tommaso Padoa Schioppa (banker and economist and former Italian Economy and Finance Minister) to accelerate the country's exit from the crisis".

    VRADYNI: "Nightmare - 1 million unemployed in Greece".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [24] Cyprus President: There are very serious divergences on property

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    There are very serious divergences and disagreements between the two Cypriot sides on the property issue, which was again discussed during Wednesday's meeting between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

    In statements after the meeting, Christofias also said that during the meeting they had a free discussion on various issues, adding that this kind of discussion needs to be made with the Turkish Cypriot leader. He also noted that things with regard to their relations at the interpersonal level are not bad.

    "We continued the discussion on the property issue. Needless to say, there are very serious divergences and disagreements on the issue and at the same time we had a free discussion on various other issues that I believe needs to be held with Mr. Eroglu. At the interpersonal level things are not bad," he added.

    UN-led talks aiming to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, have been going on since September 2008.

    Leaders continue property discussion in a constructive atmosphere

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu continued on Wednesday their discussions on the property issue in a constructive atmosphere, said Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Cyprus, Lisa Buttenheim.

    Speaking after Wednesday's meeting, which took place in the framework of the direct negotiations at the United Nations Protected Area of

    Nicosia, Buttenheim said Christofias and Eroglu will meet again next week on the 10th of August to continue the talks while their representatives, George Iacovou and Kudret Ozersay will meet Thursday "to continue the same discussions and to advance them".

    Replying to a question whether there has been any progress at all in Wednesday's meeting, Buttenheim noted that the fact that these meetings, are taking place between the leaders and at the Representatives' level so many times in August, "is a positive sign".

    Invited to comment on media reports that the UN might be considering pulling out its good offices mission by the end of the year in case a solution is not reached by then, the Special Representative of the UNSG in Cyprus said that she has not seen these reports. However she added that the "important thing is to concentrate on the fact that the talks are taking place now" and that the UN "are fully behind them".

    Peace talks began in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Eroglu, who succeeded Talat in April this year.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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