|Friday, 15 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 7 October 2010 Issue No: 3612
 PM briefed on 'Clarity' programme for transparencyPrime Minister George Papandreou visited the National Printing Office on Wednesday and was briefed by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis on the programme "Clarity" (diavgeia) designed to promote transparency in the public sector. This will require that all laws and administrative acts by the public sector be posted on the Internet, at the government website http://et.diavgeia.gov.gr.
Afterward, Papandreou stressed that the programme would help combat several bad practices "that we have all experienced". Had this programme been enforced earlier, he added, many of well-known scandals would have been prevented or at least stopped at a much earlier stage.
Papandreou said that the programme would also help reveal weaknesses in the public sector that were not necessarily the result of corruption or graft but simply caused by a bad organisational structure, a surfeit of laws and overlapping legislation.
The prime minister also stressed the programme's potential as a tool for growth, saying that the government intended to "raise the bar" and locate which problems were easily fixed and which required more radical change in order to create a simple and efficient public administration for all citizens and all investors, both Greeks and foreigners.
Elaborating on this point, Papandreou said that many potential investors had expressed reservations about investing in Greece because of the lack of transparency, the multitude of overlapping laws and a labyrinthine public administration system. Congratulating the team responsible for the programme, he also stressed that ordinary citizens should participate in the effort by helping pinpoint the problems.
The premier emphasised that the "Clarity" initiative would convert Greece into one of the leading countries on issues of transparency and said foreign officials had praised the effort as "positive and brave".
"We are here to break down established attitudes, mindsets and practices," the premier told reporters and said that the ultimate goal was to create a fully digital, entirely "paper-less" public administration.
According to Ragoussis, the idea for 'Clarity' belonged to Papandreou and was "perhaps unique worldwide".
"The programme is linked with our decision that no administrative act can be carried out unless it is posted on the Internet," Ragoussis said.
There followed a demonstration of the programme by members of the 'Clarity' team, who informed the premier that it was currently linked to 29 public-sector bodies and that the search engine for decisions was the 'pillar' of the system. Under the system, public documents must be assigned a Internet Posting Number, without which administrative acts cannot be carried out.
As of November 1, all decision of public-sector legal entities and local authorities will be posted at the National Printing Office website 'http://et.diavgeia.gov.gr'.
 Greek PM on Serbian radio: No change in position on KosovoGreece's position on Kosovo has not changed, prime minister George Papandreou said Tuesday night in an interview with B59 radio station in Belgrade during a lighting visit, where he addressed a conference on "Serbia on the Road to Europe" that marked the 10th anniversary of the popular revolt that led to the toppling of the Milosevic regime.
Asked if Greece intends to alter its stance on the Kosovo issue, Papandreou replied: "We have a very close contact with President (of Serbia, Boris) Tadic. We are also in constant contact with the prime minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci. I speak personally with him. We want to help the dialogue, and so long as we maintain that role, our position remains firm, which allows us to be useful and facilitate the dialogue."
To another question, Papandreou categorically stressed that "no, there is no" recognition of Kosovo.
Asked about Serbia's European prospect Papandreou reiterated that Serbia's future lies in the European Union.
After the last EURO enlargement with 10 new member states, which included Romania and Bulgaria, the pace slowed down, Papandreou said, "but now we are continuing".
Papandreou said an effort was being made to advance the Greek "Agenda 2014" initiative, with 2014 as a symbolic year but also a feasible date for the accession of some countries to the EU.
Serbia is moving ahead, but a new era is also coming in Europe, the Greek premier added.
He further said that efforts are also being made within the EU to achieve consensus so that, at the next foreign minister's General Affairs Council, scheduled for October 25, the 'green light' will be given for the commencement of accession negotiations with Serbia.
Papandreou noted that he has personally interceded in order to convince The Netherlands to withdraw its objections, demanding the arrest of (former Bosnian Serb leader) Ratko Mladic, who is accused of war crimes, as a condition for Serbia's EU accession.
"Consensus has nearly been achieved. Today (Tuesday), in Brussels, I talked about Serbia with the Dutch prime minister. I believe that it is important that all the information on the important measures that have been taken by Serbia and all the significant steps being taken for completion of the cooperation with The Hague (UN war crimes tribunal) be clearly presented to the Dutch parliament," Papandreou said.
Earlier, addressing the conference, Papandreou stressed that Serbia's future lies in Europe, and reiterated Greece's support of Belgrade's European prospect.
"The European course is not an easy affair, and courage is needed to meet the difficulties," Papandreou said, adding that "Serbia today is making great efforts to complete its cooperation with the Hague Court and for the arrest of Ratko Mladic".
He also said it is necessary for the speedy and unconditional commencement of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on Kosovo.
Turning to the general developments in the Balkans, he said that the peoples of the region have great potential, provided they overcome the divisions of the past and look ahead to the future.
 Australian PM Gillard invites Papandreou to AustraliaMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA/S. Hatzimanolis)
Newly elected Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has invited Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to pay an official visit to Australia.
In statements to Australian media, Gillard expressed her pleasure over her first meeting with the Greek premier in the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and noted her desire boost trade ties between the two countries. "There is much room for improvement" she said.
"I invited the Greek premier to visit Australia, where 600,000 Greeks live. In Melbourne, which is my home town, and in Australia generally, there is a very strong Greek community, and I'm sure that he (Papandreou) would be a very, very enthusiastic reception if he was able to visit," said Gillard.
The last Greek prime minister to visit Australia was Costas Karamanlis in 2007.
She further said that Australia could contribute with its knowhow in many sectors in Greece.
 Alternate FM in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)
Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou held talks here on Wednesday with Belgian State Secretary for European Affairs Olivier Chastel.
Speaking after the meeting, Xenoyiannakopoulou stressed that the Belgian EU presidency recognises the great effort that Greece is making to tackle its economic and monetary problems.
According to Xenoyiannakopoulou, "it is evident that at this moment at European level all the major important issues concerning the budget and the EU's new strategic policy on the problems of the future are opening again."
She also said that "it is important that precisely at this phase, Greece has again the prestige and the credibility to defend its national interests."
During her stay in the Belgian capital, Xenoyiannakopoulou will also be having meetings with the commissioner responsible for the EU budget Janus Levadovski and the education and culture commissioner Androula Vasiliou.
 Gov't sternly counters ND criticismThe government spokesman on Wednesday sharply criticised main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, charging, amongst others, that the latter is merely trying to overturn the major reforms and changes being promoted by the government.
Spokesman Giorgos Petalotis referred to a "multi-front" effort by the Papandreou a year since it was elected to restore the country following ND's governance.
He also cited what he called the government's intense activity overseas, emphasising that "we now can persuade over our intentions vis-à-vis international community..."
Moreover, he accused ND of talking about the elimination of the budget deficit in a year's time at the same time that a ND government caused the deficit to skyrocket, as he said.
 Gov't on armaments, comments by Turkish PMGovernment spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stated on Wednesday that "it would be advisable not to confuse the comments made by (Alternate Greek DM Panos) Beglitis with those made by (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan."
Petalotis spoke in response to a question by a reporter as regards an earlier statement by the Greek minister that "fortunes were made illegally from armaments transactions" and another statement by Erdogan, according to which "armaments were at the core of the Greek economic crisis."
The spokesman stated that Beglitis voiced the government's determination to put an end to questionable practices as regards armaments, adding that objectivity and transparency in armaments transactions is guaranteed.
"Armaments are a necessity dictated by the not-so-good-neighborly relations we have shared all these years with Turkey," he said, adding that "we have repeated many times, that when Mr. Erdogan speaks about defence cuts he should mean it and Turkey should prove it in practice ... Only then can armaments be reduced," he said.
 ND leader Samaras tours central, southern GreeceMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras continued his nationwide tour on Wednesday with a visit to central Greece prefecture of Fthiotida, where he met with local government representatives.
On Thursday he will launch a tour of the Peloponnese province in southern Greece.
The first stop will be Corinth, while on Friday he will visit the cities of Nafplio and Argos. Afterwards, he is scheduled to meet with the prefects of Arcadia and Laconia, and the mayor of Sparta.
On Saturday, Samaras will be in the town of Dimitsana to meet with mayors from Arcadia prefecture.
Samaras' next stop will be the Ionian island of Corfu in the northwest.
During a later visit to a construction site for a ring road around the town of Stylida, Samaras decried what he called repeated delays, red-tape and funding problems for the project.
Finally, the ND leader also touched on the candidacy of Fthiotida prefect Thanassis Heimaras in the upcoming regional director's election for central Greece, dismissing speculation of internal party in-fighting in the region.
 ND leader Samaras in LamiaMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, speaking in the city of Lamia, central Greece, on Wednesday, accused Prime Minister George Papandreou of "deceiving the electorate", saying that "a lie has short legs as our people say," commenting on a statement by German former finance minister Peer Steinbrück on the state of the Greek economy.
"Today we were all informed by Mr. Peer Steinbrück, the former finance minister of Germany, that Mr. Papandreou who promised everything to win the elections, was aware, if it is possible- as of January 2009, of the state of the economy very well," he said.
Continuing his address at the Labour Centre in Fthiotida he further said "when therefore, he was saying 'money exists', he was lying consciously. From this alone one can realise the responsibility and credibility of this government. To draw his conclusions as to what will follow if Mr. Papandreou considers the election result of November good," adding that "for this reason we shall send to them our message clearly in the upcoming local administration elections."
The ND leader made special reference to the repercussions that the memorandum has for the country, criticising the government that "they are emptying the water from the boat with a bucket with a hole in it. And half of it is spilled into the boat again. And so the boat will never be empty."
He also ascertained that the deficit will be decreased with very slow rates and, in parallel, the debt grows rapidly, as he said, noting that "the deficit must be annulled."
 Papariga criticises both main parties over MemorandumCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday levelled criticism at both main parties and their disagreement over the Memorandum, stressing that both were deliberately restricting the discussion to whether or not it could have been avoided.
According to Papariga, their main concern was to 'exonerate' the strategy that both parties had adopted that had contributed to the crisis and made it more acute, leading to the measures taken in the form of the Memorandum.
 KKE leader on November 7 regional electionsCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, in an address at the Builders' Federation in Athens on Wednesday on the November 7 elections, criticised both the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) parties.
Papariga called on the working class to condemn with its vote the policy of both PASOK and ND, supporting KKE and sending a strong message of disapproval to the power parties and the plutocracy in the upcoming November elections, while also condemning abstention and saying that it is no solution.
She further said that the upcoming regional elections have a strong political character since they are taking place under conditions of crisis and have the memorandum as the focus and stressed that the correlations of forces must change from down upwards.
 Education Minister meets KKE leaderÅducation Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Wednesday met with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga.
Diamantopoulou briefed Papariga on "the effort for the smooth operation of schools in a very difficult period, an issue that concerns the entire Greek society and each citizen individually".
The minister noted the importance of making deep changes in education. "Cooperation is of great importance in order that the dialogue on education, the major changes -- the necessity of which no one denies -- must be carried out in a way that will not be at the expense of the operation of the schools and universities and, by extension, of our children's education," Diamantopoulou added.
 LA.OS leader repeats call for all-party gov'tOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis on Wednesday repeated his proposal for an "all-party government", maintaining that this is the only solution to the crisis, guaranteeing economic and social reconstruction.
Karatzaferis stressed that only such an ecumenical government will put an end to populism, ensuring the composition of innovative and creative ideas and proposals.
 President Papoulias receives Greek elected to Swiss Parliament; children's group from South KoreaPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received the Switzerland-Greece Friendship Group President Iosif Zissiadis, a Swiss MP elected with the Labour Party and the first immigrant to be elected to the Swiss Parliament.
President Papoulias also received a 33-member all-girl music and dance group from South Korea within the framework of its tour of the 16 countries that took part in the Korean War marking its 60th anniversary.
The group is made up of young girls aged 9-15 and later in the evening they will perform at Athens' Concert Hall in honor of the Greek veterans of the Korean War.
 Damanaki begins visit to TurkeyEuropean Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki on Wednesday begins a three-day visit to Turkey, meeting Turkish Agriculture & Village Affairs Minister Mehmet Mehdi Eker on Wednesday evening.
On Thursday morning, Damanaki will have a working breakfast with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and then meet Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yildirim.
On the same day she departs for Istanbul in order to meet representatives of fishing organisations and speak at Istanbul's Technical University on EU fisheries policy. On Thursday afternoon she will visit Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Fanar.
Fishing and fisheries are one of the nine chapters in the accession negotiations with Turkey that are currently being examined by the European Council for which Turkey does not know the results of the initial screening.
 PASOK parliament spokesmen appointedPASOK deputies Petros Efthimiou and Christos Protopapas, elected in the Athens B' district, and Manolis Beteniotis elected in Piraeus A' district, have been appointed as PASOK's parliamentary spokesmen for the new parliamentary session, prime minister and PASOK president George Papandreou announced in letter to parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos on Wednesday.
 Gov't: revised 2009 deficit will not lead to new measuresGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Wednesday ruled out additional measures for 2010, even if Greece's deficit figures for 2009 were revised upward by Eurostat.
"If it is found that the 2009 deficit was higher, this will have minimal impact on 2010 and there is therefore no possibility that we will have new measures, especially not this year," he stressed.
The government pledges that through its policies the country will be able to borrow on international markets more quickly than originally estimated, he added.
Petalotis also denied that the draft budget unveiled by the government was "nominal" and underlined that this covered a span of three years and was the result of very good work done in the past year.
"We are certain that by sticking unswervingly to our programme there will be a reduction in unemployment and the recession will be converted into a new model for growth," he said.
 Commission to finalize Greek statistics this monthBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Spinthourakis)
The European Commission will finalize the exact level of fiscal deficit and public debts of all EU member-states for the period 2006-2009 within the month, Amadeu Altafaj, spokesman for EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, in Brussels, the EU spokesman said Eurostat had underlined during the previous publication of EU member-states public finances in April, that Greece's fiscal deficit and public debt figures were revisable, as the European statistics agency continued to have reservations about the accuracy of Greek statistics.
The spokesman also said that a representation of Eurostat was based in Greece during the last few months and in full cooperation with the Greek statistics authority was trying to reach an agreement over Greek fiscal statistics. He said that the problem was expected to be resolved this month and announced that Eurostat was strengthening its workforce in Athens for this reason. Altafaj said that Greek fiscal data would be revised upwards, probably, although he noted it was not yet safe to accurately determine the revision.
 FinMin in US on ThursdayFinance minister George Papaconstantinou opens a new round of contacts in New York on Thursday to present the progress in Greece's economic policy program and the Greek economy.
He will go to Washington afterwards to attend the 2010 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that opens on Friday.
While in the US, Papaconstantinou is scheduled to have meetings with his US and Russian counterparts Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and finance minister Alexei Kudrin, respectively, and with China's vice minister of finance minister Zhu Guangyao.
On Sunday, Papaconstantinou will meet with IMF managing director Domique Strauss-Kahn.
 Greek economy shrank 3.7 pct in Q2, EurostatBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
The Greek economy shrank by 1.8 pct in the second quarter of 2010, compared with the first quarter, Eurostat said in its final estimates over the country's Gross Domestic Product.
In a report, published on Wednesday, the EU executive's statistics agency said that the Greek economy shrank 3.7 pct in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2009.
The Eurozone and the EU-27 economies grew by 1.0 pct in the April-June period, compared with the January-March period, with Germany (2.2 pct), Finland and Sweden (1.9 pct each) recording the biggest GDP rise, while Greece (-1.8 pct) and Ireland (-1.2 pct) the biggest GDP declines.
The Eurozone and the EU-27 economies grew 1.9 pct in the second quarter compared with the same period last year.
 Most profitable Greek enterprises recorded higher profits in 2009, reportGreek enterprises suffered a decline in turnover but managed to maintain their profits in 2009, ICAP said on Wednesday. In a Business Leaders in Greece report, including Greece's 500 most profitable companies and the 200 most profitable groups, ICAP said that total turnover was 8.6 pct lower in 2009, reflecting a general worsening of the economic environment in the country, while EBITDA grew 11.4 pct and pre-tax profits also rose by 10.6 pct in the same year. The higher profitability reflected mainly higher profits by Public Power Corporation and Hellenic Petroleum.
Group turnover fell 11 pct in 2009, while EBITDA fell 4.5 pct and pre-tax profits were down 9.6 pct.
Commenting on the results, ICAP said that the Greek economy has entered an economic recession, reflecting a rapid worsening of its main macro-economic figures, although it stressed that several dynamic Greek enterprises managed to present very positive results after adjusting to new conditions and intensifying efforts.
The report noted as a positive development a significant increase in equity capital of the most profitable enterprises. The report also noted that only one in five of the most profitable enterprises were listed in the Athens Stock Exchange.
 Maritime Affairs Minister Diamantidis on shippingMaritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis speaking on Wednesday at the Greek Shipping Summit 2010 in Athens stressed that his goal is the development of the shipping industry and the protection of marine environment, which can only be achieved through collective work.
He also referred to the efforts that need to be made to boost the competitiveness of the Skaramangas shipyards.
 Tourist arrivals up 1.2 pct in Jan-Sept, minister saysTourist arrivals were rising in the nine-month period from January to September 2010, a fact underlining the resistance of the country's tourist product during a difficult year for Greece, Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis told ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
The Greek minister said that tourist arrivals were up 1.2 pct compared with 2009, while overnight stays were up 2.0 pct over the same period, although tourism revenues were down 7.8 pct in the nine-month period.
Greek tourism authorities expect tourist arrivals to rise more than 10 pct and overnight stays to rise more than 20 pct in 20011, although there could be no safe estimates yet over tourism revenues for the year.
 ASE chief resignsAthens Stock Exchange (ASE) president and Hellenic Stock Exchange SA (EXAE) managing director Spyros Kapralos on Wednesday announced his resignation, just two weeks ahead of the expiry of his term, during a press conference in Athens.
"I have decided to no longer be at the helm of the EXAE, believing that a cycle has come full term and must close. After six hears at the EXAE, I can assure that we have carried out very substantial work," Kapralos said, announcing his resignation as both ASE president and EXAE chief.
 New air link with AustraliaVirgin Airlines Group member "V Australia", a full service airline, in cooperation with Etihad, will inaugurate an air route linking Australia with Greece in February.
Initially, the company has requested 800 seats per week for Greece with three flights departing from Sidney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
 Flight cancellations Thursday due to strikeDozens of domestic flights have been cancelled and several flights abroad will be delayed on Thursday due to a strike by Greek air-traffic controllers, who walk off the job for four hours at 14:00.
Air-traffic controllers are joining in a 24-hour strike on Thursday by the Greek civil servants' union federation ADEDY in protest against an austerity package introduced by the government. Staff in schools, ministries, local authorities and government services are expected to join in the strike.
 Protest in Leptokarya stalls work on extra road tollsResidents of Leptokarya, Pieria ended a protest at a fly-over on the national road on Wednesday after they successfully prevented the start of work to build additional road tolls on side-roads alongside the national highway.
The residents object to the additional road tolls that they say will force them to pay for short local trips in their own neighbourhoods. The issue was discussed in a meeting held on Wednesday at the infrastructure, transport and networks ministry, attended by Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yiannis Magriotis, three local mayors, four MPs from the prefecture and representatives of protestors.
Magriotis afterward said that the problem had arisen as a result of a "faulty" agreement signed with the contractors "Aftokinitodromos S.A." by the New Democracy government in 2007, which was binding for the state. He promised to seek "the best possible solution in the framework of the law" and said the ministry had called the company to a meeting on Thursday.
After the meeting, residents decided not to carry out a protest at Leptokarya, where they had planned to prevent the collection of road tolls from drivers for a short space of time.
 NBG, positive quips fuel ASEStocks ended significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, reflecting strong buying interest particularly for bank shares.
The composite index of the market jumped 3.29 pct to end at 1,552.55 points, with turnover at 131.170 million euros. Market participants said the end of trading in National Bank's rights, combined with positive comments and reports for the Greek economy, created a favourable climate in the market.
National Bank's shares jumped 6.77 pct, Alpha Bank rose 6.45 pct, Eurobank was up 5.26 pct, Piraeus Bank rose 4.16 pct and ATEbank jumped 7.87 pct.
The Big Cap index rose 3.89 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.81 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.84 pct.
All sectors moved upwards, with the Banks (5.49 pct) and Commerce (4.96 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day. Vioter (20 pct), Paperpack (16.33 pct) and Hatzioannou (15.38 pct) were top gainers, while Compucon (16.67 pct), Motodynamic (10 pct) and Allatini Ceramics (9.23 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.85%
Personal & Household: +4.18%
Raw Materials: +2.17%
Travel & Leisure: +1.87%
Food & Beverages: +1.20%
Financial Services: +2.87%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Coca Cola, Bank of Cyprus and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.28
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.76
HBC Coca Cola: 19.25
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.86
National Bank of Greece: 7.89
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.00
Bank of Piraeus: 4.01
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell further to 761 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 777 bps on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.90 pct and the German Bund 2.259 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 160 million euros, of which 66 million were buy orders and the remaining 94 million euros were sell orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.46 pct, the six-month rate 1.19 pct, the three-month rate 0.95 pct and the one-month rate 0.72 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover at 45.798 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,964 contracts, worth 37.136 million euros, with 31,589 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,740 contracts worth 8.862 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,777), followed by Eurobank (981), MIG (790), OTE (524), Piraeus Bank (885), Alpha Bank (1,196), Cyprus Bank (634), ATEbank (531) and Hellenic Postbank (407).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.396
Pound sterling 0.879
Danish kroner 7.514
Swedish kroner 9.373
Japanese yen 115.9
Swiss franc 1.346
Norwegian kroner 8.098
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.433
 Environment ministry presents 'Green Neighbourhoods' projectThe environment ministry on Wednesday presented its "Green Neighbourhoods" project, under which 70 to 80 buildings in two Athens neighbourhoods will be refurbished so as to maximise their energy efficiency, reduce their energy consumption to almost zero levels, while improving the local microclimate.
By using the latest materials, techniques and methods to minimise environmental impact, creating energy saving systems and use of renewable energy sources, the project hopes to create homes with a zero energy balance. Systems will also be installed to ensure optimal management of wastes and water.
At the same time, there will be work on the surrounding environment to increase plant cover and facilitate air flow, thus improving the microclimate.
Figures published by Eurostat show that Greek homes, relative to their climate, have the highest energy consumption in Europe (so that a Greek home is twice as energy-hungry as a northern European home). This has been attributed to mistaken use of space, use of materials inappropriate for the climate and overly dense construction.
The project seeks to show that targets for energy-efficient homes are both economically and technically feasible and improve local construction and technological skills in this area, thus promoting their adoption on the world market.
A number of sector associations for building materials have so far offered their support for the project, promising discounts for materials and equipment, while the new homes will be designed by young architects and designers chosen through an open competition.
The total cost will be 5.5 million euros and will be funded by the Operational Programme "Environment and Sustainable Development".
Candidate sites for the project include a building block in Egaleo and a housing complex in the municipality of Agia Varvara.
According to Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, this may later be extended to other neighbourhoods with poor energy profiles and, through use of NSRF funds, to mountain villages, ports, traditional settlements and elsewhere. The project is set to start in the next two or three weeks.
 Court trial for the escape of notorious convicts Paleokostas and Rizaj opensCourt trial procedures opened in Athens on Wednesday on the Hollywood-style repeat helicopter escape from the Korydallos Prison on Feb. 22, 2009 by notorious convicts Vassilis Paleokostas, who is still a fugitive, and Alket Rizaj.
Codefendants in the case are Rizaj's companion Aspassia Metropia, an Albanian couple and a businessman. The charges include participation in a criminal organisation, grand possession of arms and ammunition, abduction of the helicopter pilot (in the second prison break in Feb. 2009) and forcing him to commit a criminal action, hijacking of the helicopter, endangering the security of aircraft, moral instigation of a crime, theft, forgery, and repeated counts of illegal possession of a weapon.
The first witness testifying for the state was the pilot of the seized helicopter used in the escape, who was able to identify only Rizaj and none of the rest of the defendants present in the courtroom.
The trial continues.
Paleokostas and Rizaj became Greece's most wanted fugitives for a second time on February 22, 2009 after an unprecedented repeat of their Hollywood-style escape by helicopter from the same prison on June 4, 2006, during which they were spirited away from the courtyard of Korydallos prison near Piraeus, in a spectacular operation masterminded by Paleokostas' brother Nikos, then a fugitive from justice.
Rizaj was recaptured during a police early morning raid on Nov. 16, 2009 in the town of Ano Souli in Marathon, northeast of Athens, together with his companion Aspassia Metropia and an Albanian couple identified as Ervis Stefani and Loule Blerina in their hideout in Ano Souli, while the fifth defendant Chryssanthos Anagnostopoulos was arrested later on that day for having given to Rizaj an armored Mercedes for use although he knew who the fugitive was and that he was wanted by the Greek authorities.
 Chemistry Congress in Mytilene concludedThe 7th AEGEAN ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY DAYS (AACD 2010) which was hosted in Mytilene on Lesvos island, northern Aegean, was concluded on Tuesday.
The congress was organised by the Chemistry department of the Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Northern Aegean Union of Chemists and focused on the new methods of chemical analysis and discoveries in Chemistry, particularly on nanotechnology and its applications.
A total of 286 scientists from 32 countries presented their work on analytical chemistry, with the largest delegation of participants and papers presented coming from Greece, followed by Turkey.
Five scientists, Professors Alan Townsend (UK), Freddy Adams (Belgium), Gurel Nisli (Turkey), Miltiadis Karayannis and Apostolos Grimanis (Greece) were awarded for their works in Chemistry and their contribution to the development of analytical chemistry in general.
The next congress will be held in Izmir, Turkey in 2012.
 Scorpions concert in Athens postponed; organisers promise new dateThe farewell concert by metal rock band Scorpions has been postponed and will not take place in Athens on Wednesday as planned. The last-minute postponement, just hours before the band was due to appear before Athens audiences, was made after singer Klaus Meine was apparently struck down by acute laryngitis.
Organising companies Detox and Sportsunited apologised to fans and announced that all tickets for the gig will be valid for the new date to be announced over the next few days. They said this would probably be October 25 and the venue would once again be the Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF).
The Scorpions were due to perform at SEF in the coast district of Faliro on Wednesday night, as part of their farewell world tour. Only standing room tickets were available, as seats have been sold out.
The Scorpions tour started in May 7 in Germany and performances throughout the world followed. After their gig in Athens, the German metal band were due to appear in Sofia (Bulgaria) on October 9, followed by Moldova, France, Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and back to Germany for two concerts, ending the tour on November 27 in Dortmund, Germany.
The members of the group have announced that they will split up and end their 40 year career after the conclusion of the farewell tour.
 Authorities raid large warehouse full of counterfeit goodsGreek police (EL.AS) and Athens municipal authorities on Wednesday raided a massive "black market" warehouses in the downtown area, with thousands of counterfeit brand name items reportedly detected at the scene.
The warehouse, located on Kolonou street, was equipped with closed circuit television monitors set up inside and outside the building, special installations and hidden passages that led to enormous underground storage areas situated in an adjacent building. The illegal warehouse measured at least 2,000 square metres in total area and hosted a huge volume of counterfeit items found, a press release by the City of Athens stated.
The operation was carried out in the presence of the public prosecutor's office in collaboration with police, the Athens municipal police, the special investigation service and the Athens prefecture's sanitation department.
 Drug arrests in Sitia, ThessalonikiA 21-year-old Algerian man and his 27-year-old uncle were arrested in Sitia, on the southern Aegean island of Crete, accused of peddling drugs outside local school building complexes, it was announced on Wednesday.
Police arrested them acting on a tip-off and a subsequent search in their house revealed 358.1 grams of unprocessed cannabis, 1,298 cannabis seeds and 150 euros of suspected drug payments.
In a separate incident in Thessaloniki, three locals, two men and a woman, were arrested for drug possession and attempted drug trafficking.
Police seized a total of 19 kg and 492 grams of hashish found in the car used by the suspects and in one of the suspects' houses.
 Migrant smugglers arrestedBorder police in Didymotiho arrested on Wednesday two Turkish nationals aged 30 and 34 as they disembarked from a dingy 11 illegal migrants on the Evros River banks.
According to police the suspects received an unknown sum from the migrants to transport them to Greece from the opposite Turkish coast.
Police are investigating the possible involvement of more individuals in the migrant smuggling ring.
 Elderly man found deadÁ 78-year-old man was found dead in his house where he resided alone at Vassilada in Messinia prefecture, southern Greece. The man was found with his hands and legs tied and his mouth sealed with plastic tape and bearing a wound to the head.
Police have attributed the crime to robbery.
Kalamata police are conducting a preliminary investigation.
 Police seize 19.5 kg of hashishThree foreign nationals, among whom two women, were arrested in the region of Diavata in Thessaloniki for possessing almost 19.5 kilos of hashish.
They are an Albanian aged 28, a fellow countrywoman of his, aged 24, and a 22-year-old Armenian woman.
 PM expresses support for Athens 2011 Special OlympicsPrime Minister George Papandreou met on Wednesday with Special Olympics Hellas President Joanna Despotopoulou, offering his wholehearted support, as he said, to the institution, 262 days before the opening of the Athens 2011 Special Olympics.
Two athletes passed the Special Olympics Torch to the prime minister, who congratulated them and underlined that "they set an example of what human beings can do even under adverse situations ... Greece needs the optimism of its young people.
Despotopoulou said that a total of 7,633 athletes from 185 countries, accompanied by roughly 40,000 family members and 2,500 coaches, have registered to compete in the Games, to be launched on June 9, 2011.
 Rainy on ThursdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 11C and 24C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 15C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe rise in real estate objective values, the reactions over the draft 2011 State Budget and main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras' attack on Prime Minister George Papandreou, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Samaras: Irresponsible and dangerous government".
APOGEVMATINI: "Heavy taxes for unlicensed buildings".
AVGHI: " 'Hidden' measures to be applied after the local government elections".
AVRIANI: "Samaras: Prime Minister George Papandreou deceived the people and handed over the country's governance to the IMF".
ELEFTHEROS: "Shocking revelations against Karamanlis government in Siemens scandal".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Samaras: They govern under a state of fear and are terrifying the people".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Taxes are sprouting even from farmland - Higher objective values in all regions".
ESTIA: "Tax-mania does not bring results".
IMERISSIA: "Automatic increases in objective values".
KATHIMERINI: "Greek deficit and debt for 2009 grows - Eurostat: 15.1 percent from 13.8 percent".
LOGOS: "Unemployment and taxes".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "New State Budget targeted".
NIKI: "The list with all taxes up to 2013: 20 billion euros in sacrifices".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Immediate support to the unemployment with relief measures for their families".
TA NEA: "Decongestion of jails - Inmates incarcerated due to inability to pay court expenses and fines will be released".
TO VIMA: "Surcharge on buildings' objective values will be adjusted automatically".
VRADYNI: "Samaras: The people's sacrifices have gone to waste".
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